Thursday, 25 December 2008

Christmas Tree

We've revived the Christmas Day walk in Epping Forest after a gap of a couple of years.
We decided to look for the Lost Pond which we actually found really easily - then we got LOST ! It was quite exciting - we thought we knew the forest so well . . .

We also found a recent fire site where loads of birch had been cut. I just about managed to get it going again but forgot to take a photo.

Merry Christmas to all my Readers.

Friday, 19 December 2008


As you will no doubt have noticed, nothing has been happening here lately. There are several reasons for this :-

  • A general loss of interest in technology, computers, internet etc
  • Being ill
  • Nothing worth writing about has happened in the last month !

On Wednesday evening I went to the last meet of the year of the E.Herts Woodturners with my mate Bill Monroe. Five weeks ago Bill had a heart attack and had eight stents inserted - he looks really well on it.
Many sausage rolls and mince pies were munched. A big lump of oak was put on the lathe and folk could have a go at helping turn it into a big bowl.

Yesterday went down to Faversham to see my Dad & Velma. Had a great lunch at The Three Mariners at Oare. In the afternoon Frances, my little sister, came round and we all had a good chat and a laugh. My Dad had some bad news - he is going to have an op to remove some of his liver as they have found some cancer cells there . . .

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Wasted timber

We were walking through a part of Epping Forest this morning called Strawberry Plain.

The Tree Spirit of this mad, old Hornbeam was not amused to see . . .

. . . oak trees which had been cut down by one of the Forest gangs and left to rot where they've fallen.

That's the thing that really pisses me off about the way the Forest is managed.

No real reason for the trees to be cut down in the first place.

They call it "biomass" - I call it a wanton waste.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Acker Bilk

. . .

This evening we went to see Digby Fairweather talking with Acker Bilk at the Methodist Church in Loughton. This was organised by David Nathan who runs the National Jazz Archive based at Loughton Library.

Acker was the first British artist to have a No.1 hit in England and America with the lovely tune "Jenny" a.k.a "Stranger on the Shore" - it was great to hear his reminiscences and stories.
Another great tune to check out is his version of "Burgundy Street Blues"

Unfortunately Acker had a chest cold and had travelled over 3 hours from Somerset so he was a bit croaky.

THEN . . . suddenly halfway through the second half the old lady sitting in front of us suddenly had some kind of fit or seizure and I had to try and help her husband and others to drag her out of the hall. Then he wouldn't let us call an ambulance !

It was a strange and upsetting end to an interesting evening

. . .

Surreal Day - from Camden Market to Christmas Dinner

A day of big contrasts yesterday.

Firstly Vanessa had another appointment at University College Hospital to see her specialist physiotherapist. Then as we were quite close, caught the 24 bus to Camden Market.

It's bigger and madder than I remember it from about 20 years ago - a punky-hippy-goth haven.

Then in the evening we attended the East Herts Woodturner's Annual Christmas Dinner at Sawbridgeworth Cricket Club. Apart from the fact that it felt strange eating a Christmas Dinner in the middle of November the food was terrible - a cross between old style school dinners and hospital meals.

At least the company was of good cheer and Vanessa won 4 pints of Theakston's Old Peculier in the raffle !

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Woodland Wondering . . .

Why we are here . . ?

Our camp in Shenley Woods, picture taken around 11am just before the rain, drizzle etc which kept up most of the rest of the day. At least it wasn't windy as well . . .

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Woodland Wonders

Tomorrow is our penultimate event of the year - Woodland Wonders - organised by the Parks Trust at Shenley Wood, Milton Keynes.

Why not drop in and say hello if you're in the area ?

Monday, 10 November 2008

Green Woodwork Gift Voucher

Our new Gift Voucher scheme is proving successful.

Over the years I've had quite a few requests from people who wanted to give someone a course as a Christmas or birthday present and wanted something to "give" on the day. For those people who can't decide which piece of treen to give it's ideal. Just choose the value of the voucher which can be any amount. Give/send me a cheque and I'll send out the personalised Gift Voucher

It's quite funny and feels as if I'm printing my own 'green currency' !

Why not give a Green Woodwork Gift Voucher for Christmas ? If the recipient can't come shopping in person I'll email photos of what's in stock and send their selection by post.

Friday, 7 November 2008

New Gouges

Just taken delivery of some new gouges . . .

3 roughing out gouges for the lathe with different radius curves. These, in my opinion, are the best tools available for roughing out on the pole lathe and are 40mm wide.
They are available from Bristol Design - but not for much longer !
I was talking to Charles Stirling, the owner, and he told me that his accountant had advised him that they were too expensive to make and he wasn't charging enough for them.

Also a Hans Karlsson dog-leg gouge for carving in the bottom of bowls. This is a beautiful, handmade and expensive tool available from Jon Warnes at Woodland Craft Supply.

The only gripe I have with it is that the pistol-grip handle isn't very ergonomically designed or made - the corners are too square. I'll have to spend some time shaping it to fit my hand comfortably - unfortunately this may mean carving away the HK makers mark.
It's quite liberating to accept that you can cut pieces off (or add bits on) tools, handles etc to make them feel right for YOU.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008


Yesterday Vanessa had an appointment at University College Hospital to see a specialist physiotherapist at 9am ! We had to get the 7.30 train with all the switched-off commuters.
Afterwards we walked down Tottenham Court Road and Charing Cross Road to Covent Garden - what a cheap dump that is now. So we walked up Neal Street where I managed to get a pair of shoes in a sale then came home.

Today I had an appointment at Guy's Hospital at London Bridge to have a look at a problem I've got with my teeth. Basically the two teeth that support my bridge are going rotten and my dentist said he couldn't fix it so referred me. I'll probably get an appointment in 3-4 months. Hope I don't die in agony before then. Teeth - huh - bad design fault.
After that I walked along the South Bank, past Shakespeare's Globe Theatre which is currently being rethatched, to the Tate Modern. I went in, immediately felt dehumanised and walked straight out again ! So I crossed the Millenium Bridge, which doesn't wobble anymore, through St Paul's Churchyard and back to the station and home.

That's my fill of London and hospitals for a while.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Weekend Blues

Wow ! what a spectacular waste of time that was.

Weather was appalling, the punters were like zombies on Valium. We got cold and bored and only took £8 on Saturday. Sunday was slightly better and I enjoyed myself turning some fresh Hornbeam and Apple wood.

Friday, 31 October 2008


It's that time of the year again . . .

Ness carved this wicked face and has been answering the door to loads of kids with her vampire teeth in (I've got some too).
Of course the kids don't realise it's the ancient fire festival of Samhaine - they call it something else. The beginning and end of the witches year as they parade in their plastic finery munching sticky, unhealthy sweeties as they squeal and shriek their way down the road !

We'll be on Safari tomorrow - we've been and bought some charcoal sticks for our handwarmers.

Woburn again

We've spent most of this week recovering from last week and making up stock for the last Craft Show of the year at Woburn Safari Park on Saturday & Sunday.

Shame Winter's come so early as we're going to be in an open fronted marquee brrrrrrr !

Sunday, 26 October 2008

The Last Straw


Jo, Vanessa, Me, Tony (Chadwick of the Woodland Trust) & Andy.

Amazingly the smiles look quite genuine at the end of our event.

No scouts had booked in for our afternoon session but we were greeted by pouring rain all morning. I would have rather been anywhere than there today. What made it worse was that someone had destroyed the willow figures Jo had been weaving with the kids. We somehow made it through in our shell-shocked state and this photo was taken just before we packed up.
I would never do a 7-day event like that again and certainly not under the circumstances and in that location.


Friday, 24 October 2008

Fun, learning & hard work in Hainault Forest

What an exhausting week running the Hainault Forest Woodland Craft Workshop - but good fun! We've had schoolchildren visiting in 2 hour sessions - up to 30 in a group, aged 5-11. A lot were special needs including handicapped, emotionally disturbed, blind & partially sighted. They had a go at turning, willow weaving and we all had fun playing in The Woodland Orchestra . . .

Jo Hammond showed them how to make
A God's Eye - ancient lucky charm -
from willow and rush.

In both photos you see a big blue container. This is where we had to pack everything away each night as Hainault is a public Forest and there are quite a few vandalistic neds around. So we had to put up and take it all down each day - not ideal.

Also I've been working with Sweet Chestnut (Castanea sativa) all week. It's a lovely wood but it's full of tannic acid. This reacts with the iron in the steel and builds up as a purple gunk on all the tool edges. It also does my hands in something rotten - my thumb and finger ends are all split and cracked.

This weekend we are entertaining the Scouts and Beavers although only a half day on Sunday. I'm looking forward to next Monday morning's lie-in !

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Sunrise to Sunset

They say the best things in life are free . . . we drove up to Ely accompanied by a gorgeous sunrise and home watching a glorious sunset plus it was sunny all day but with a bitter little wind nagging at the edges. However takings were well down on previous years as the recession and general uncertainty begin to bite - mercifully we get a demonstrators fee !

One thing about keeping this blog is that when I meet people who read it regularly I can't tell them about what I've been up to - they already know !

Today we're gearing up for a whole weeks event at Hainault Forest organised by the Woodland Trust. During the weekdays we will have special needs kids - blind, partially sighted, wheelchair bound and emotionally disturbed - and at the weekend some Scouts & Beavers. I'll report how it's going during the week. Andy Bisgrove will be there, me and Vanessa and Jo Hammond who's going to weave some dancing figures to fit in with our "Woodland Orchestra" theme. Should be fun . . .

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Woodland Antics

Note my new Link in the sidebar to Mark Allery's blog - Woodland Antics.

Similar to mine, but, completely different . . .

Fires & Woods


Had a proper day off today . . . I went and explored some woods in Hertfordshire with my mate Gary.

and of course, like the honourable chavs/bushcrafters we are, had our fire.

We went to Home Woods & Northhaw Woods both near Cuffley. I spotted this massive pile of fresh butts near the car park at Northhaw - mainly birch and oak.

I think this was the home of some elves . . .

and this beautiful "green tunnel" is framed on the left by hornbeam pollards marking an ancient boundary.

It's suddenly got cold tonight so I lit the fire. I think it's birch, sycamore, *strawberry and ash.

*Arbutus unedo - Strawberry Tree. I got some a couple of years ago but it was too skinny and cranky to be much use apart from firewood.


Wednesday, 15 October 2008

The event team

Christina Joachim of the Woodland Trust emailed some pics of last weekend's event. This is a nice one of the event team . . .

From left - Mike Ryder (Woodland Trust), John Michell, Christina Joachim (Woodland Trust) and her daughter Georgia, Me, Vanessa, Will Wall, Andy Bisgrove & Matt Rant

Tuesday, 14 October 2008


At the weekend I was chatting with John Michell who we met last year at the International Scouts Centenary Jamboree. He manages a wood for the Woodland Trust and burns charcoal. He mentioned that he lives in Mendlesham, Suffolk so I asked if he'd heard about Mendlesham chairs.
"I live at 16 Front Street where Richard Day was born in 1785" was the surprise answer !

Day made his chairs in Mendlesham in the early 19th century. The undercarriage is similar to Windsor construction but the back is framed up in the style of a Sheraton chair. He used yew and fruit wood and chairs nearly all have one or two lines of boxwood stringing in the back rails and splat. However he didn't sign his work and I don't think a marked example has ever been found. If they ever come on the market they sell for a large sum.

Last night about 9 our neighbours little boy knocked on the door in his underpants to ask if we could come and help his mum as she'd fallen downstairs ! She looked in a bad way so I called the paramedics. Vanessa came and sat with her and after getting him to put some clothes on I took him round to our house and tried to calm him down.
I gave him a set of twig crayons and a twig pencil and he did the very sweet drawing of my Goldsmith Windsor - I think there's some talent there, let's hope he gets some encouragement.
The mum is OK.

Happy Birthday Blog

I just realised that last Saturday marked the 1st Birthday of the Bodger's Blog.
The 188 posts works out at around 1 every 2 days.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Change the World

Had a great weekend up in Norfolk at Great Hautbois (pronounced hobbis) House in Coltishall running a workshop for the Guides. This is as part of an initiative by the Guides and the Woodland Trust called "Changing the World".
The event was organised by Mike Ryder of the Woodland Trust - Matt Rant was weaving some willow structures, John Michell was kite making, Andy (our neighbour from across the road) was showing the girls survival skills, firelighting and shelter building and me, Vanessa and Will Wall set up the Bodger's Camp.

They all had a go at everything including twig pencils, gypsy flowers, stoolmaking and turning guiros on the polelathe . . .
The weather was fantastic - bright sunshine and blue skies all weekend with a nice Autumnal mist to start off on Sunday.

I think everyone had a great time including the hosts, organisers, demonstrators and guides. Whether we changed the world or not nobody will ever know but you can just hope !

Two nutty Woodland Vampire boys who somehow managed to infiltrate the event !

Sunday, 28 September 2008

21st Birthday

We set off early this morning and had a lovely drive to Colchester towards the misty, rising sun. The High Woods 21st Birthday Celebration was a great success. Everyone had a great time. The sun shone on us all day and there was loads of interesting things to see and do - specially for the kids who all queued up to have a little go.

This young guy was a natural . . .

Turning a spinning top

Also managed to sell quite a lot of stuff so a great day all round !

Friday, 26 September 2008

Countryside Live (London)

The last couple of years this event has been held at the Lee Valley Park showground at Waltham Abbey - quite handy for us ! Well the 2012 Olympic Canoeing events are going to be held there so we had to crawl down to Leytonstone (only 12 miles but it takes an hour). The weather was gorgeous as it was earlier in the year. I think everyone had a great time - the kids were really good.

On the stand next to ours . . .

Before the onslaught

. . . a lady was showing kids how to make these funky sheep

A beautiful acer "Senkaki" doing it's Autumn thing in our garden at the moment.

Going up to Highwood Country Park in Colchester on Sunday for their 21st Birthday event.

Saturday, 20 September 2008


I've had a bad stomach bug for nearly a week. I've spent several days in bed hardly eating. Hence no blog, nothing to say, didn't feel like looking at the computer or doing anything.

Tomorrow we're off to do an event and demonstration at Hainault Forest. It's the opening event of the month long Hainault Forest Festival and we'll be back there for a whole week later next month. Next week we're doing a Countryside Live Event with 2000 kids a day for 2 days so it's a good job I feel fit again.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Treadle lathe

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Finally managed to get my treadle lathe unearthed today. . .

It's still foot powered but with the crank, flywheel and pulley it spins around the same way all the time rather than back and forth and there's quite a nice story how I came by it.

I was at the Alexandra Palace Woodwork Show and chatting to Stuart King who was demonstrating on his treadle lathe . . .

Stuart showing how to make flowers on a
treadle lathe at a craft show somewhere.

I was fascinated and asked him if I could get one ? were they still around ?

We chatted for quite a while and when I turned round to leave there was a guy standing behind me who asked if I wanted his ! ! !

The upshot was I went and picked it up from Ampthill, Bedfordshire and have had a bit of a saga with it ever since.

It was made in Luton, late 19thC apparently and was previously back-geared to work off a line-shaft - there are two headstocks, two tailstocks and toolrests - also a sliding rest for metal turning and a pillar drill attachment but there is no makers name on it anywhere. If anyone has any ideas please let me know.

I'll post some more decent photos and tell you a bit more of the saga sometime in the future.


Friday, 12 September 2008

Husband & Wife

First time I've had a husband and wife on a course . . .

George & Wendy from Oxford who look as though they've had a good time ?

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Old pole lathe

We've been to London today to see an old pole lathe in the Science Museum's storage depot near Olympia. I haven't got their permission to publish the photos yet but meanwhile you can see one here.

It's the best view when you get the front seat, top deck of the bus from Liverpool Street through the City, the West End, Park Lane, Knightsbridge - past the Albert Hall & Memorial to Kensington.
A nice, old slow way to travel. So much to see and observe - much better than telly !

We met Matt Jarvis who is also into greenwoodworking & Bodging (new-look Bodgers website) and together we were led through labryntine corridors and into lifts till we finally arrived at a massive roomful of very interesting looking machinery ranging from spinning wheels, mangles, lathes, looms and sewing machines. Everywhere looked very clean considering the massive size of the place. I could easily have spent the whole afternoon examining all these gizmos but we got half an hour to look at our particular lathe, take photos and measurements and there was no time to hang around.
Afterwards we walked up Kensington High Sreet had a nice cup 'o tea and a chat.

Then did the bus trip in reverse . . . only to get back to Liverpool Street at 5 to discover that our tickets weren't valid till 6.30. A New Scheme I think. Had a coffee and just hung around "people-watching".

Monday, 8 September 2008

Come in Earthlings - Over

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I've felt awful lately due to the first really bad cold for a couple of years - haven't done anything much for the last week due to feeling groggy and bunged up. Sitting reading a lot of the time - I kept telling myself that a regular intake of our honey was keeping me healthy . . . but

Anyway we went to Ness's parents 50th Wedding Anniversary party and had a good laugh and a chat and wonderful food on Saturday.

Charlotte Elizabeth with her Aunty Nessa - she already looks au fait with the media gizmos.
The deadpan raspberry is quite an effective pose.

Today I've been with Andy -

Andy at last year's Scout Jamboree
demonstrating the bow lathe.

- to Hainault Forest to arrange for two Woodland Trust events we're going to run. First is a one dayer on 21st Sept and the second, in October, is for a week with schools and scouts. Looks good - more later . . .


Sunday, 31 August 2008

Gorgeous Burr Elm Plank

We were lucky enough to buy this gorgeous burr Elm plank a few years ago for only £20 !

Ever since I've had it it's been challenging me to make something worthy of it's rare and beautiful nature. A bit like an uncut diamond.

I think "that time has come" and a Windsor chair, footstool and a small side table would be good.
Maybe an Arbotech not adze for roughing out the seat though? - what with all that mad grain !

Any other ideas ?

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Spoons & Sculptures

I found this old tool in a junky old antique tat shop. I think it's a grubbing hoe of some type.

I thought it looked quite sculptural . . .

. . . specially from this close up angle

Had loads of cherry lately so I've been carving some spoons and utensils -

I've also reshaped a couple of sycamore spoons that I felt were a bit lumpen. It's surprising how a bit of wood removed and a few strokes of the knife can make things gracefull. The heart came from the top of the spoon 3rd from right.
The implement at left is a Kniforkspoon - there is a blade on the right hand prong.

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