On the first day of meteorological Autumn, as the diary starts to change down through the gears, we offer you an insight into Country Tipis through the mind of Charlie: Tipi flooring extraordinaire. As you can see from the photos he is a natural in front of the lens, enjoy!
If you were stranded on a desert island what three items would you bring with you?
The sensible side of me would bring a boat, some water and a Freddo. In reality, I would first take my samurai sword. I do not know what else is on this island and it’s always better to be safe than sorry. It would also come in helpful when constructing a tree house or shelter to live in. My second item would be some factor 10 suncream. Although a low factor, I can withstand the sun quite well. You wouldn’t want to burn on one of your first few days there because it just ruins the rest of the trip. Hopefully by the time I got through the whole bottle I’d have adapted slightly to the sun. My last item would be a copy of Country Tipi’s pamphlet for when I’m feeling lonely and want to see some Tipis (they paid me to say that).
How long have you worked for Country Tipis?
I’ve worked for country Tipis for 2 summers now. I was lucky enough to join very early on in Country Tipis existence when no-one really knew what was going on. It has been amazing to see how far the company has come and how the construction process has changed. The time taken to take a Tipi up and down has halved in the last 2 years and even now we are learning new tricks.
Walk me through a typical day at work.
If I’m going to run you through a typical day I must run you through the night before first. If I know I’m working the next day I always make my lunch for the following day just before I go to bed, which is usually at a sensible time so I’m full of energy and ready to seize the day the following morning. Most days require a pretty early start. Therefore a few alarms and a few snoozes are necessary. When I finally get out of bed I head downstairs and grab myself a nice of cup of Joe and maybe a slice of toast if I’ve left myself enough time. Then when I see the 15 minute mark approach I dig out my aforementioned lunch, slip into my steal toe capped boots, and rush to work because I’ve left it a bit late. Once we’ve loaded the trailers for either a set up or take down we hit the road. This could be driving just down the road or the other side of the M25. We usually aim to be at the venue by about 8am. We then get to work which can be tough as Rich is a merciless boss who is happy with nothing but perfection. Most of the build is complete by lunchtime, and the period after lunch is always a bit lethargic for me, but we smash it out, put the finishing touches on the tipis and head back to Vanstone Park to unload the trailers. Then Rich tells us thats it’s going to be another early start, Jason grumbles, we all say Ciao for now and head off home.
What aspect of the Tipi build do you specialise in?
Without coming across too arrogant, when it comes to laying the carpet I am second to none. I was born with great hands and for the first 20 years of my life I was endlessly wondering why on earth I had been blessed with these beautiful paws. Then I joined Country Tipis and it became very clear, very quickly that I was destined for the carpet life. There are few things in this world that excite me more than nailing down a tight bit of carpet. There are 3 key processes to laying carpet, and I have perfected them all. Hammering is crucial. You need not be hugely strong to sink a nail as it is more an art of precision. Then there is the gentle velcro-ing of the carpet to the carpet strips which requires steady hands and a keen eye for detail. Finally, (and my favourite) is the chuckie shuffle as I like to call it. This involves shuffling your way down the carpet to remove any rucked bits of carpet and nailing it down tight. Only once you have mastered these techniques can you lay a tight carpet, and ultimately find inner peace.
What do you do with yourself when you’re not erecting Tipis?
This summer, when I haven’t been working, I have been jet setting off on holiday and spending every penny that I’ve earned. Other than holidays I occasionally play cricket. Depressingly I can’t think of anything else I do in my free time.
What’s your favourite thing about working at Country Tipis?
This one time, Rich bought us all Mcflurries. That was the happiest I’ve been in a long time. On a serious note, I enjoy being out and about with an okay bunch of guys and throwing trees & canvas around. It’s a rewarding job: seeing the happy faces of nearly and newly married people definitely makes the long hours and hard work worthwhile.
If a kid walked up to you asking for your advice on Tipi building and you only had a few minutes to give them your best tip, what would it be?
Firstly I would tell the kid he’s not old enough to put up a Tipi because it’s dangerous work. Once I’d wrapped him/her up in bubble wrap I would give them my advice. It would be to work on communication and teamwork. You need a minimum of 3 people to put up or take down a Tipi, and for it all to go smoothly every one needs to know what they are doing, as well as what everyone else is doing. With such heavy equipment flying about you have to be careful and constantly aware.
What makes Country Tipis stand out from the rest?
If I’m brutally honest, I don’t know. All I know is that, despite everything I may have said, we are a very hard working group. Especially Rich, who’s only days off this summer were spent on his own stag do, where he was working hard to not lose his dignity completely. I have it on good authority that he failed. We, however, will never fail to do a top notch job of making your dreams come true.