“ Brand: TP / Type: Outdoor playhouse / tent structure „
The Sherwood Base Den, pictured above, is a canvas "tent" that attaches to the rather large Sherwood climbing frame we have at the bottom of the garden - with added swings. It's the bit under the deck, which has blue sides and two windows and the door that you can see the small child coming out of. Overall TP toys in general, and the Sherwood range are very good but this actual base den is, in my opinion, one to avoid and actually, I could weep at the £78 or so purchase price as, in three years nearly of installation it's the one and only part of a very much loved item that has been studiously ignored by every child that has come into contact with it.
On paper we thought the base den would be a good addition to the climbing frame. It's a strong canvas affair that fits snugly to the deck (it will also fit the Sherwood tower), and is strongly tethered at the bottom via pegs. Installation is pretty easy though it did involve the use of an electric screw driver as there are screws all the way along the top and the side which secure it very firmly, and pretty well permanently, in place. The canvas is great quality, it's thick and cleans up well, and it doesn't impact at all on how well children can climb up the deck. The problem is, in my opinion, that far from providing the cosy hideaway I thought it would, in actual fact the base den just provides a space that children won't ever use, for various reasons.
The deck itself is 113cm high, so perhaps that is part of the problem - somehow even for smaller children that's not much height, even though they can stand upright there isn't a great deal of headroom, and given that the door is probably only 80cm high, maybe even at 250cm long and a metre wide, the tent itself just isn't that alluring, or so it seems. Certainly, having been installed, even though there are two very good (and well stitched) clear plastic windows, the grass died off under the deck pretty quickly, and perhaps in due partly to this, no child has ever really felt the urge to go into the base den for longer than the time it takes them to have a quick look, decide that it's a bit dark and muddy and move on. This is in contrast to the tented area on top of the deck - which is totally separate - which is well played with.
The fact that the base den is made of a very strong weather resistant canvas that wears well (it's guaranteed for a year but ours is faring well long beyond that time) and is sturdy is, sadly, rather irrelevant as the harsh reality is that this base den just doesn't really "work" and my children just don't like it, and neither have any of the many visitors who we have had to play over the time it's been in place. We've tried putting in a mat, adding chairs, putting the kids' toy kitchen in there but nothing it seems can induce them to play with the den, they'll happily play with a den made from some chairs, a few towels and some pegs, but not this. Sometimes unfortunately with kids, and with toys specifically, as the saying goes you can force a horse to water but....well you know the rest!
Though I am a huge fan of TP and love the Sherwood range in general, I wouldn't really recommend this particular part of the deck, you would probably get better results from draping a sheet down the side of it from time to time, and in actual fact we are considering removing ours all together as I doubt that the children are suddenly going to decide they love it, and doing so would free up the space under the deck for them to move freely from one side to another.
Sadly then, this item is one to avoid, though it's well made and a good idea in theory, for us it has just been one monumental waste of time unfortunately. Not recommended.