So maybe we all dream about spacious accommodations dug thirty feet deep into the dry Somme chalk, but just because it’s small, doesn’t mean it can’t be cosy. Here are some of the best tips from real British men and women with plenty of experience of roughing it in the Continental mud.
1. Don’t get stuck on ideas on how a home ‘ought’ to be!
Maybe melting snow is trickling into your bed from a leaky tent roof? Instead of getting stuck on the idea that beds should warm and dry, you can turn it into an opportunity to create something new. Like a young nurse did, you can lie under your umbrella and pretend it is a garden parasol, and that you’re “in a hammock, and it’s June.”
2. Don’t be afraid to sacrifice space for overall comfort!
This tip comes from Captain Frank Watson, who discovered that a human foot stuck out from the wall in his dug-out: “It was unpleasing to the senses and unreliable as a clothes peg, so I sacrificed one-sixth of my space by walling it up.”
3. Colour and fresh flowers always make a difference!
Some officers raze the garden in which their trenches are situated, which obviously makes your snug little home away from home nicer – one content officer reports on having “two very nice narcissi which smell ripping”. Meanwhile, Captain Lionel Crouch takes it one step further and takes the trouble of planting various bulbs. He reports: “My daffodils and hyacinths are topping.”
4. Don’t be stingy with light sources!
Morgan Watcyn-Williams shares his experience of why this matters: A “candle made all the difference in a dug-out. It helped us to see the rats instead of merely hearing or feeling them.”
5. Just because it’s tiny and bohemian, it doesn’t mean you can’t entertain!
Alexander Stewart, writing home in 1916, admits that he’s “sitting in a hole dug in the side of a trench 5 feet by 3 feet with a board stuck up in the middle to help support the roof. /…/ It is raining and thick mud is at the bottom of the hole”. Hardly ideal for chilling with your friends, but Alexander doesn’t let that stop him: “At present there are two of us in here; later on I shall try to get my other officer in.”
What are your best tip for making a dug-out or funk hole cozy? Please share!
(all the quotes are quite genuine WWI stuff. And for the record, this is what happens in my brain when I read too much WWI stories and Apartment Therapy at the same time)