In a big city it's sometimes difficult to find a place to sit and be truly alone.
No roommates, no partners, no kids, no pets. Anne Bruinn needed that.
"I wanted somewhere to sit in whenever I wanted," says Bruinn. "For some reason I wanted a hobbit hole."
And that's what she (and her husband) came up with, aka the BNBE Alone. It's based on a she-shed, a refuge for women looking for respite. In this case Bruinn, who writes, wanted a place where she could spend an hour or a few without being bothered by distractions, like phone calls or her dogs who often want attention.
"I needed a place to go close the door and not be interrupted," she tells Vancouver Is Awesome, explaining it can take weeks or longer to get back into the creative frame of mind needed.
And she's opening up to anyone else who also needs that alone time.
"So if you need to be alone, hit me up," she says.
A Hobbit Hole in south Vancouver
The Hobbit Hole, as she likes to call it, isn't a large space (hobbits are famously small). The specs are pretty simple. It stands just over six feet tall and has insulated walls, a huge four-foot square window on one side and a giant round door on another.
Inside the interior is simple and has a few signs of the Lord of the Rings inspiration (though there is power via an extension cord, something not available in Middle Earth). A large chair sits in the middle with a few pieces of furniture and decoration, including a box with a simple golden ring.
Bruinn notes the place is flexible, and the furniture can be taken out if someone wanted to use the space for yoga or something like that. Space for writing can also be set up.
While Bruinn appreciates having a space to go be alone, she realizes it's a thing others would appreciate as well.
She's availing it to anyone, "If you need it for mental health or a good cry or to study for a couple [of] hours," she says. Someone has already booked some time to take a Zoom call in private next week.
There are a few common sense rules, including it's a space for just one person, no couples. There are a few other no-nos like no smoking, no burning incense or candles, and no food (unless she brings you food, which she may do). Also, there's no washroom, and her house is off-limits, so if visitors need one, they'll have to source their own toilet.
It's not an expensive place to rent. In fact, Bruinn isn't particularly about monetary payment. She's looking for interesting
"I want a token of something, maybe write me a poem, or sing me a song," she says. "Something meaningful."
She's open to surprises, too (she has no idea what the woman will offer up before her Zoom call).
"It doesn't have to cost you anything at all, just do something, or show me something or anything," she says.
Those who want to book some time at the BNBE Alone can contact Bruinn at email@example.com; there's more information on its webpage.
A well-known corner
The original idea was for something she could pull out onto her Marine Drive home's boulevard; Bruinn's also the person who set up the set of Central Perk at the intersection of Marine Driver and Balaclava Street. Only her husband built it too solid, so it's become a backyard refuge (though you can still hear the traffic).
But people in the neighbourhood are likely already familiar with the corner property. Bruinn can also be spotted out there in different cosplay; recently she got a full Stormtrooper get-up at a thrift store and can spend a couple of hours out at the corner, waving to cars and pressing the button for cars wanting to turn.
In fact, she thinks it was during one of these times that she came up with the Hobbit Hole; standing in uniform, while often interacting with people, gives her time to think. She also enjoys waving at people who wave to her, noting "it's endorphins for them, and endorphins for me."
"If people see the Stormtrooper, they should wave. Sometimes the glare of the sun on windshields prevents me from catching all the waves and thumbs-up, but if I see a wave I will definitely wave back," she notes. "If you honk, just a tap will do - those blaring honks jolt me awake sometimes when I’m zoning out."
The Stormtrooper gear is also mobile; she went to the Rock Maple Ridge festival dressed up, taking photos with people.
Oh, and for those curious about Central Perk, it won't be back.
"I had a helluva time trying to get rid of it," Bruinn says.
Since it needed to be stored during rainy periods it needed to be stored, and they needed the storage space. It ended up going to a woman and Bruinn's not sure where it's gone from there.