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  • Writer's pictureTwo Skies

Throwback Thursday - an interview with a 15 year old Adam!

Updated: Aug 26, 2021

"Life at Sycamore Towers"

originally published September 1998 by The Herald

DURING the week, 15-year-old Adam McIntosh goes to school, comes home to a hot meal, and sleeps in a comfortable bed in an affluent part of Edinburgh. At weekends and school holidays, Adam spends his days working the land and sleeping in a tree. Partly the green ideal taken to its logical conclusion, partly the opportunity for a real Boys Own adventure, Adam's alternative lifestyle comes after years of being taken to road protest sites by his ecology lecturer father, Alastair. Two years ago, this interest was put to practical use when Adam built his own treehouse in a huge sycamore tree at Craigencalt Farm and Ecology Centre at Kinghorn Loch in Fife. Adam's father used to live on the farm and it is where Adam learned the organic farming methods he now uses, as well as providing the perfect site for his treehouse. ''Sycamore Mansion'' is 30ft high, beside a fetching waterfall leading into a clear mill pond. It has outstanding views across Kinghorn Loch. Adam has cultivated his own organic permaculture garden, where he grows a variety of vegetables, and he plans soon to introduce trout to the pond.

A ladder against a stone wall leads to the trapdoor entrance to the treehouse and, inside Adam's bijou residence, the limited space is very well used. There is electric lighting, running water, and a kitchen area - complete with kitchen sink - a two-ring gas cooker and grill and a stereo system rigged up to a Walkman.

All the construction has been done by Adam, through a system of trial and error. Solar heating is the next big DIY project he is working on. As a safety precaution, Adam regularly abseils down the side of the treehouse to check the knots, ropes, and beams which hold the surprisingly sturdy-feeling structure together.

There is also a woodburning stove in the treehouse which Adam made from an old oildrum and although there is a mattress inside, on warm nights he ties a hammock to the branches of a tree and sleeps outside.

''It's the way all children should be able to live - to have a place of their own where they can be next to nature all the time and learn how to look after themselves,'' said Adam. But despite his Green credentials, Adam does not intend to follow his alternative lifestyle much beyond his school years. He said: ''I want to go to university when I leave school and after I start work, I don't expect I'll still be living in a tree.'' The very idea.

Adam is a pupil at Firhill High in Edinburgh and during the week he lives with his mother in Morningside, Edinburgh. His father now lives in Kinghorn. ''My mum doesn't mind me living here at weekends and in school holidays,'' said Adam, ''but she does worry I might sleepwalk''.

Update, 2021

Well, Adam still has a treehouse, albeit not the one originally featured in this article! He also still lives as much of an eco lifestyle as possible with wife Roberta and son Jasper at Craigencalt Farm and as we know, has applied this ethos to his jewellery business, having caught the 'rock hound' bug just a few years after the original article was published.


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