Back at Christmas Ted was gifted the most incredible Christmas present. A Muddy Kitchen.
Jen had talked about Muddy Kitchens for a while and had been asking me to make one for Teddy. I kept putting it off as I wasn’t really sure what was required and if I could meet her early year’s expectations. (She’s a primary school teacher.)
Then we received a message from The Snug Shepherd, introducing themselves and their new company. We chatted about the muddy kitchens and the shepherd huts and we quickly realised that this wasn’t just your run of the mill business. Not only were their products out of this world but there was something very special about The Snug Shepherd, it’s values and beliefs and its owners.
We were so bowled over by The Snug Shepherd, that we just had to find out more. We caught up with Grandpa Adam, the genius behind these beautiful, handcrafted, wooden huts.
What was the inspiration for the Shepherd’s Hut?
Hannah (my daughter) asked if I could make a playhouse for my twin grand-children’s Christmas present. At first I was thinking of making a traditional playhouse but a few years ago I had made a full sized shepherd’s hut and suddenly thought I could make the boys a small version to suit them. I kept it a secret and revealed the Shepherd’s Hut on Christmas morning. It was an instant hit with the boys and Mum and Dad alike. Hannah’s friends and children loved it too and soon we were getting lots of interest.
Who was your first customer?
We went to our first show in August with one Southdown Hut, one Muddy Kitchen and one Country Kennel, not really knowing what to expect. The response was overwhelmingly positive and our first customer was a manager from a family garden centre in Surrey who wanted one for his two children. He had invested in play equipment for his business but hadn’t come across anything like The Snug Shepherd huts before.
Our Second customer was a Head Teacher from a local school who was totally besotted by The Snug Shepherd huts and talked for ages about how brilliant they would be for her school. She ordered one Southdown Hut and one Muddy Kitchen on the spot. We have since had letters of thanks from pupils and staff at the school telling us about all their activities in the huts.
What makes them special?
We get very positive responses from everyone who sees The Snug Shepherd huts and they are a real magnet for children wanting to play in them. At shows we often get children playing in them for ages and parents can’t get them out! The huts look great; they are a unique style, based on the traditional English shepherd’s hut, and built to last. The children love them because their imagination is fuelled with ideas when they begin to play in them.
The Muddy Kitchen comes complete with all the utensils, bowls, bug hotel, chute, sheep blackboard, sand and stones for instant action. The Southdown Hut provides a great ‘den’ which has a seat, lamb crate, shelf, and fold down table. It can be anything the children want it to be – a tea room, a barbers shop, a reading room, a tool shed, a space ship – anything at all!
What are your hopes for the future of The Snug Shepherd?
The Snug Shepherd has great potential and we are at the start of something that could really take off. We see the huts as a great way for children to expand their learning and creative play in the outdoor environment which we believe is essential for young minds. We want to encourage parents to enable their children to have the freedom of an outdoor play space which stimulates creativity and imagination.
Learning through play is an area where we feel there great opportunity for further development and we intend to support parents with additional tools and ideas to help their children grow and flourish. We already have other ideas in the pipeline which will add to The Snug Shepherd range of ‘learning through play’ resources.
You started off with The Snug Shepherd Southdown huts – what inspired the addition of The Muddy Kitchen?
Well, as we said, the first Southdown Hut was a Christmas present and then for the twin’s birthday Hannah asked if we could do something based on a mud kitchen idea because the boys had started “helping” with the gardening. And within a few moments a Muddy Kitchen, based on the traditional English shepherds hut style, was on the drawing board!
The Muddy Kitchen opens up a whole range of learning opportunities for the children. Using aspects of nature like; leaves, twigs, acorns, conkers, flowers, shells, water, sand and stones, and combining them with the brilliant minds of children’s imaginations anything can happen! Children’s brains are absolutely fantastic and The Muddy Kitchen can help stimulate their imaginations with the help of parents and other playmates.
How important are the educational values of The Snug Shepherd to you and the products you create?
Essential! We love being outdoors and The Snug Shepherd Southdown Hut and The Muddy Kitchen enable young children to be outside in all weathers enjoying being active and learning essential skills and knowledge for life. We want to help parents with ideas that can help them to encourage more creative play.
Young children have the most wonderful minds that have not become constrained by boundaries that restrict us as we get older. We believe it is imperative to encourage creativity and innovation in children so that they are better equipped to solve problems and initiate new ideas later in life. We want to help children to learn how to be entrepreneurial in life!
Without question, Ted’s Muddy Kitchen is one of the best creations I have ever seen. The workmanship and craftsmanship are second to none. The materials used are of the highest quality and ever tiny detail of the kitchen has been very carefully thought out. The possibilities for play are endless and the Muddy Kitchen itself is timeless. The Snug Shepherd has created a beautiful product that will be part of your family for years to come, enjoyed by many children (and adults) along the way.