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The Hideout House Company Ltd
Creators and designers of original product concepts and ideas
Creators and designers of original product concepts and ideas


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How To Incorporate Science Into Outdoor Learning

The whole reason of outdoor learning is, of course, to take lessons outside of the classroom and as this is an area of specialisation for our company, we have developed a unique idea which can help school children understand some basic principles of curriculum based science whilst also actively engaging them in their studies.

The concept is teaching children about how kinetic energy can be created by human power and this is done by our special dynamo bikes and packages which the children have to pedal in order to produce electricity. There are two kinds of systems we can work with:

The first is the Bicycle Hub Generator which replaces a traditional rear wheel with a highly efficient and frictionless motor. It also includes a solid training stand to convert AC to DC and the average power output over a period of time is usually around 5-70 watts per person

The second is the A-Frame Generator which is a compact, collapsible and super efficient generator. A simple and compact way to generate power, these are ideal for use in schools where portability is key or space is limited.

Both bikes have a special in-built dynamo system which touches the back wheel and as the wheel rotates, it turns a magnet inside a coil - thereby turning mechanical rotation into electric power. And the faster and harder they pedal, the more energy they are creating. As part of this system, we supply an LED panel which shows the children how many watts of power they are producing whilst they pedal and they can then use this information to relate back to a wall panel which features every day household items and how much energy is required to power them. So for example, they can appreciate how hard they have to pedal to boil a kettle! These bikes systems can be used for a host of other applications:

Extreme Tea Challenge

An energy awareness challenge; Extreme Tea is a simulation of the amount of human power required to boil water.

A scale of temperature runs between two giant LED ‘thermometers. In a head-to-head challenge, each cyclist must generate the equivalent amount of human energy required to boil a predetermined amount of water (usually between 10-30ml). The first to arrive at boiling point and fully illuminate their thermometer wins.

Fun and competitive, but also educational; the challenge touches on subjects of the Key Stage 2 science curriculum as it introduces the topics of energy transfer


A battery-free, portable and 100% human-powered cinema/sound system that runs on the energy generated by just one or two cyclists and incorporates an all-in-one ‘plug & play’ unit with built-in sound, media player and projector.

Ideal for screening educational films in and out of the classroom, it can also be use as a portable sound system / P.A for school events.

Bulb Board

A demonstration of how much human energy needs to be generated to light four 60 Watt light-bulbs. The Bulb Board is an oversized interactive circuit board with giant switches and incandescent light-bulbs.

Children are encouraged to throw the switches as their classmates pedal to effectively demonstrate the increased resistance as the electricity is shared between bulbs and the cyclists can experience its effects directly.

A pictorial-style circuit diagram introduces the children to basic circuits, symbols and electricity.

With built-in Watt Meter and LED display to encourage pupils to learn to take readings and collect data. This can be paired with a graphic/banner to relate the children's energy output to household appliances. I.e if John generated 300 watts, this is the amount of power required to operate a food blender.

This system explores the subjects of the Key Stage 2 science curriculum; energy types and transfer; conductors; resistance; electricity.

Smoothie Maker

A great way to promote health, nutrition and sustainable energy. Using the energy from a single person, our custom built Smoothie maker blends proportionally to the speed you pedal. The more electricity you generate, the smoother the result!

All of these systems promote science in an interesting, engaging but fun way as well as promoting eco awareness/sustainability and healthy living (which are the basic tenets of the Eco Schools Programme).

These packages can be seen in action on the various videos we have filmed at schools.

For further information, please contact the Hideout House Company on 01832 275902 or email:
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Why Recycled Plastic Is The Future Of Playground Equipment

I used to have a company called Timberline which manufactured a whole range of play equipment and outdoor classrooms for schools in the UK and as the name of the organisation would suggest, everything we produced was made out of timber. That was a few years ago now.

Then recently on my many visits to see schools up and down the country, I began to notice in the playground that a lot of picnic tables/BBQ tables were no longer made out of timber (as we used to supply them) but out of recycled plastic instead. Some I saw were even in bright primary colours to add a bit more creativity to them.

I happened to be on a trip to Germany seeing a potential distributor over there who took me round a few schools and kindergartens and again I noticed that in every school I went to in that area of Germany they had playground equipment also manufactured out of recycled plastic. I managed to track down the German company who manufactured ad supplied this and after undertaking some due diligence found out that this company's turnover had increased seven times over a period of just three years! Seven times. And for love nor money could you find a product in their range made of out timber - not even a component.

And that is why we have just developed a new range of trim trail school playground equipment made of out the same material as that afore-mentioned German company. And do you want to know why this is the future? This material has so many additional benefits over and above timber such as it doesn't rot or decay, it is made from recycled plastic bottles (so instead of filling up landfill and the world's oceans with this wretched stuff we get to use it in a more positive way and help the environment along the way - pat yourself on the back for that one Eco Schools), it lasts about 10 times longer than timber so some real savings here for a school, children cannot get splinters off it, it is a lot harder to vandalise than timber, you can easily dig the posts into the ground without any fear of eventual rot setting in below the surface and it doesn't degrade or discolour with UV light.

For further information on this range, please contact the Hideout House Company on 01832 275902, email or visit the website
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Why Treehouses Are An Excellent Investment For Your Business

If you are looking at offering further accommodation units for your business - you could be a holiday park or glamping/camping site operator, hotel/golf course owner, farmer looking to diversify into tourism or even someone who is running a B&B from home - then you seriously need to consider a treehouse.


The reason being is quite simple - they are one of the most searched for phrases on the likes of Airbnb and other rental booking agencies such as Canopy and Stars and consistently achieve occupancy levels way above the standard norm of 50-60%. We know of sites who are offering treehouses and who are typically achieving 85% + occupancy levels.

We obviously do like sleeping up in the air but the other significant mitigating factor behind this success is that we now value "experience" when booking somewhere for the night, short break or holiday. Just as much as location, price and quality. In the UK, there is now a plethora of pods, yurts, bell tents etc on the market but maybe this is the problem in that there are perhaps too many of them. As a result, your business has nothing to differentiate itself with, the guest also has a choice to search comparative venues (which can be easily achieved nowadays with a simple Google search) and so these choices usually mean a drop in price. "Oh, we found a pod a lot cheaper to stay in" is what a current site owner told me recently when speaking to guests who had enquired.

And this is the good news with boutique treehouses because as at the moment, there aren't that many of them on the rental market so you can easily set yourself apart from the competition and offer something quite unique. And charge a premium rate if you so wish. From the research we have undertaken, treehouses are typically rented out from anywhere between £150 - £450 a night (the most exclusive treehouses can command rates of £1,000 a night but these are in the minority).

And it is how you style the treehouses inside which can have a significant effect too on your bookings and occupancy rate levels. I would always go the extra mile to make it something a bit special and unique and you don't have to spend a fortune to achieve this.

At the Hideout House Company, we offer a range of uniquely styled boutique treehouses which can either just be a "shell" room, with an en-suite and larger structures with a kitchenette facility and outdoor raised decking platforms. And you could go the extra mile and have an outdoor bath or hot tub on the decking - always a crowd pleaser which again goes back to the afore-mentioned experience vibe.

Hideout House treehouses are clad in high quality premium grade external timbers such as cedar or wany-edged Siberian larch with a cedar shingle tile roof to give them that authentic natural rustic look and feel. And an option to have Gothic arched windows.

In the majority of cases, you will require planning permission for these treehouses but we can also help and advise on this important aspect too.

For further information, please contact the Hideout House Company on 01832 275902, email or visit
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We have just completed a unique treehouse outdoor classroom for Marnel Infant School near Basingstoke. The school originally approached us looking for an outdoor classroom which they could use for their outdoor learning sessions. It had to be big enough to cater for a class of 30 and it had to be totally enclosed so that they could use it all year round. And it had to be interesting in order to fully engage the children!

The original discussions started off with us supplying one of our standard octagonal cedar clad outdoor classrooms which we were going to enclose with French doors and window upper panels and some additional eco options but it soon became obvious that the school had more adventurous plans.

By the main school entrance, there is an area which was suitable for what the school wanted to build – namely an enclosed outdoor classroom which is built around an existing tree in the middle which is then linked by a 10m long elevated walkway to a 5m treehouse elevated off the ground on stilts. This is also totally enclosed on all sides and has French doors to the front elevation so can easily be used all year round.

We have also supplied an additional "mud kitchen" for their forest schools activities which has opening and closing louvre panels on one side (which allows the building to easily adapt to the weather), barn doors to the front elevation and windows on the back to make use of the natural daylight and setting. Like the treehouse outdoor classroom, it is also manufactured out of premium grade cedar with a cedar shingle tile roof.

The school are already reporting that both the treehouse outdoor classroom and the mud kitchen are a great success with the children who love the fact that they can enjoy their outdoor learning in such a unique and special setting.

For further information, please contact the Hideout House Company on 01865 858982, email
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We have recently completed the installation of three boutique treehouses at Port Lympne Safari Park in Kent which will be used for letting out as accommodation units for short breaks. They are located in a wooded area of the park next to their existing glamping facility.

Each treehouse has an en-suite shower, toilet/washbasin and can sleep up to four people (double bed and sofa bed). And for that added bit of luxury, there is a wood-burning stove for those colder winter nights.

Each elevated treehouse is clad in wany-edged Siberian larch to give it that extra rustic feel amongst the natural wooded environment and features an attractive cedar shingle tile roof. Another design feature are the Gothic arched windows.

Port Lympne are already reporting a healthy level of bookings as they are something completely different and unique and very much add to the overall guest experience...and treehouses always seem to be very popular with high level occupancy rates. We obviously like sleeping up in the air!

Further details for the Port Lympne forest hideaway treehouses can be found on the link given below.

If you are interested in featuring our treehouses for your site or business, then please give us a call on 01832 275902 or email:
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We have taken the traditional open-sided, gazebo style outdoor classroom - in all its sizes and shapes including octagonal, square and rectangular - and adapted it for the many and varied uses that an educational establishment now demands. Typically due to the nature of the need or requirement, the building needs to be totally enclosed and in many cases fully insulated for all year round use.

Schools use these type of buildings for a whole host of reasons and in the past we have supplied them for the following:
•Outdoor learning hub & classroom
•Temporary classroom
•Sensory room
•Meeting room
•Community room
•Nurture or break-out room
•Prayer room
•Quiet study room

The majority of outdoor classrooms that we supply to schools are below 30m2. And there is a reason for this and that is that they do not need to be passed through building control for approval so it is just makes the process a bit simpler and in some cases, cheaper. But that is not to say that the enclosed outdoor classrooms are not built to the exacting standards that building regs would require.

Dependent upon the use and application, it is also possible to fully insulate these buildings and we therefore have two levels of insulation packages to suit different needs, usage levels, budgets and most importantly whether a school intends to heat the building as well. But we also use either cedar or Siberian larch both externally - the roof is also attractive cedar shingle tiles. All timber is a natural insulator anyway but cedar has additional thermal properties which make it the best natural insulator of all softwoods - so its excellent thermal properties can make for some savings if the building is being heated. If it is not being heated however, then insulation still works in two ways - keeps out the heat in the summer and keeps in the heat in the winter!

There are many options to choose from in this range. Firstly the shape as they are available in octagonal, square and rectangular formats. As they are modular, it is very easy to have your own walls, windows and door configurations and specifications. Other options include double glazing, an attractive atrium roof to allow in lots of natural light from above, laminate flooring, the afore-mentioned insulation packages, internal partitioning, timber sub-frame base for uneven ground or grass installs and various eco initiatives such as renewable energy power and rainwater harvesting systems.

For buildings above 30m2, we are also able to offer these in a modular form and typically this size of outdoor classroom allows for WCs, a small lobby area and a kitchenette facility.

For more information on our outdoor classroom and modular school buildings range, please visit our website or contact us on 01865 858982 or email
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Why You Should Trim Trail Play Equipment Made out of Recycled Plastic

There are so many times that I have visited schools and seen picnic tables made out of recycled plastic sitting on the school playground. Not just one but typically quite a few of them. You then ask the school staff why they purchased them and the response is always the same - they simply just last a lot longer than the traditional timber ones, they will never rot or degrade and more importantly they don't require any on-going maintenance.

And in the same vein, there are the same amount of schools I visit where I see trim trail playground equipment covered in out-of-bounds hazard tape as per below.

And when you ask why this is, again the answer is pretty standard. The play equipment is no longer safe because it is starting to rot or the rounded timber has cracked so badly that the children are getting loads of splinters or are putting their fingers into the gaps. So it falls upon the site manager to constantly maintain it or as in a lot of cases, the trim trail equipment is simply condemned because it is beyond repair or is simply uneconomic to do so.

So I got to thinking that if you consider the above, why not therefore manufacture and sell trim trail recycled plastic play equipment made out this wonderful material? It has so many benefits by doing so and these are some of them:
•It requires very little or nil maintenance as recycled plastic does not rot, corrode or decay
•It does not splinter or have "shakes" like traditional timber does when it naturally dries out
•It is very hard to vandalise (less flammable than timber) and graffiti and is resistant to algae and insects
•It is hard wearing and durable - you can expect a lifetime five times than that of timber
•UV resistant and available in different colours
•It is eco friendly as it manufactured 100% out of recycled plastic bottles

But of course, it is a little bit more expensive than traditional timber but if you factor in the above benefits, it actually represents very good value for money especially when you consider its extended lifespan and reduced (none) on-going maintenance costs.

Our recycled plastic trim trail play equipment range incorporates stepping stones, log weavers, balance beams, net climbers, wobbly log bridges, A frame climbers and chin up bars.

For further information, please call the Hideout House Company on 01865 858982 or email:

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Why We Use Cedar For Our Outdoor Classrooms and School Buildings

A lot of our outdoor classrooms and school classroom buildings feature cedar as the principal default timber or as external cladding on our timber framed buildings. And there are some very good reasons for this from a school's point of view & perspective. We list below some of cedar's principal qualities and why it is of a benefit therefore within a school environment.

Western Red Cedar is a well accepted softwood timber from British Columbia in Canada, renowned for its beautiful appearance, its ability to last for many years without maintenance and its acoustical and warmth insulation properties. Slow growing and naturally durable, it is the product of choice amongst architects and recognised worldwide as being the ideal material for residential and commercial buildings. We buy cedar in container load quantities, direct from the sawmills of British Columbia, and as a result we are able to pass on to our customers the cost benefit of the savings that we can achieve.

Decay Resistance

One of its most well-known and valuable characteristics is its natural high resistance to decay. Cedar has its own built-in preservatives known as thujaplicins, which enable cedar to last for many years and under most conditions. Unlike most other softwoods, it requires no artificial treatment such as tanalith and is therefore one of the most durable coniferous species.

This is the reason we are able to offer an extended 15 year guarantee against timber rot, decay and degradation on our cedar products.

Natural Insulator

Cedar has a low density value which not only makes it an easy wood to work with but also it massively enhances its natural insulation value. Timbers with a low density value typically have the highest insulation properties and values because the cavities within the wood fill with air - and air is one the best known thermal insulators. Timber is a natural insulator anyway (hence the reason why people in northern Scandinavia all live in log cabins for example!) but cedar stands out as being one of the best and is way better than brick, concrete or steel. So this means reduced running costs for a school. And remember insulation is there for two reasons - to keep in the heat and to keep out the heat so the building is kept cool during the hot summer months and warm when winter comes.


It has a very low shrinkage factor which means that it has a high resistance to warping, twisting and checking which can be found amongst other softwood timbers. And it has high acoustical properties which means it can dampen vibrations.

Minimal Maintenance

From the point of view of degradation or rot, no treatment is required. From the point of view of colour change, cedar, like all other timbers, reacts to strong direct sunlight. Either schools can leave it and within two or three years, the cedar will turn from being a brown/red colour to a more mature silver/grey. Alternatively, cedar oil will maintain the original colour for a while but this is purely an aesthetic choice to make. But for those schools wanting to preserve the cedar tint for a longer period of time, then we recommend the use of Sikkens Novatech wood treatment. All our buildings are treated with this preservative and it is recommended that it be re-applied every 4 years or so a simple and it is an inexpensive application.


Cedar, like the majority of timbers, leaves a very small environmental footprint. It grows naturally and therefore produces less waste. It also uses less energy compared to other materials. And a major factor is that wood absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere thereby reducing the world's carbon emissions.

For further details on the benefits of using cedar, please visit the website given below:

The Hideout House Company Ltd

Tel: 01865 858982 or email:
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Rural Tourism Grants from the RDPE Growth Programme

We have become aware of a grant which might be of interest to those of you who are seeking funding for your business or project.

Essentially this initiative helps to provide grant funding for projects in England which promote tourism in rural areas and thereby creates jobs and growth in these local economies and communities. These grants are funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.

You can apply even if your project is a commercial one and is therefore open to apply for small businesses and farmers who are wanting to diversify into tourism.

Each LEP (local enterprise partnership) area in England varies (as this is dependent upon the size of your business and your location) but in the main the grants are for a minimum of £35,000 and they help fund capital costs on tourism infrastructure. Basically these grants are aimed at supporting projects which boost tourism in rural parts of the country and to encourage tourists to stay longer outside of the main March to October season. And to encourage them to spend more money of course!

Initially you have to submit an "expression of interest" and if this is accepted, you can then proceed to submit a full application. There is a deadline of 31st May 2018 to register with your expression of interest.

We are not in any way associated with this grant or act as an independent agent but some of our Superglamp products - which include accommodation units encompassing pods, mini lodges, lodges, treehouses and shepherds huts as well as multi functional buildings - could certainly help your business achieve these rural tourism objectives.

More information on this RDPE Growth Programme grant can be found by clicking on this link.

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Is A Garden Annexe The Solution To The Housing Crisis For Young Adults?

If you were to analyse any recent demographic trends, this one is certainly quite significant and important. Firstly though, we need to consider the following facts and statistics:
•Young people aged 20 to 34 years (millennials or Generation Y as they also seemed to be referred by) are increasingly having to live back at home with their parents. In fact 618,000 more of them are living back with Mum and Dad in 2015 than in 1996. So be nice to your children and children, be nice to your parents.
•That is actually about one in four young people with the greater concentration (half) being at the younger end of this age spectrum

These figures are quite remarkable bearing in mind that previous generations (myself included at the grand old age of 53) left home as soon as humanly possible because we valued our independence. Obviously this generation does not enjoy that liberty and here are the reasons principally why:
•Financial reasons mainly. Young adults don't own their own homes - just 30% of 25-29 year olds own their own homes down from 60% thirty odd years ago. The rest are certainly and correctly dubbed "Generation Rent" because at least 91% of them aged between 20-24 were living in rented accommodation in 2015
•Increased deposits for buying a property. This has gone from 10% to a peak of 27% at the height of the financial crisis but has since settled back down to an average of 20% but even so, this can still constitute quite a significant amount of money for someone just starting out on the property ladder. That is why the National Bank of Mum and Dad is now a significant lender of funds in this country
•Other reasons are that we are settling down and getting married later (32 years is now the average age to get married) and women now also have more choice when, or indeed whether, to have children
•We are also staying in further education longer and living at home whilst at university is now the default choice for a lot of students. Again mainly for financial reasons (but also perhaps because you still get all your washing and cooking done!!)

Those are the facts and they don't look like changing for some time. So where does the garden annexe come in?

However nice it is to live back under the same roof as Mummy and Daddy, both sides might wish to have and value their independence. Let's be honest, young adults are no longer children and want to live their own lives as independently as they possibly can. That is why a self-contained garden annexe with bedroom or bedrooms, shower/WC, kitchen and living area is the ideal solution. Another way of viewing this is to imagine that it is your first time buyer's average sized flat - just in your parent's garden! Hopefully the parents will charge minimal (or no) rent so it gives the occupants time to save up for that 20% deposit on a new property and they can come and go as they please, leave their dirty washing on the floor, play their music loud and watch TV till 3am.

But it is not just Generation Rent or boomerangers who are opting for the garden annexe solution. It is also the elderly who are spurning the traditional route of a care home and are moving back in droves to live with their offspring in a so called granny annexes. Or those middle aged amongst us who are having to move back home because of financial reasons or divorce for example.

And that is why we at the Hideout House Company have seen an explosion of enquiries for garden annexes in the past couple of years. We can offer a whole range of sizes and options to suite different budgets, space and requirements and as our buildings are built to conform the definition of a "caravan" (but please eradicate from your mind the immediate mental picture of some white box on a holiday park in Dorset - no disrespect to holiday parks in Dorset by the way or caravan manufacturers!), there are certain excellent advantages. Namely, VAT is significantly reduced, you
may not need planning permission and they do not fall under the remit of building control.

For details on our range of garden and granny annexes, please visit our website given below or call on 01865 858982 or email

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