Thursday, 31 December 2009

New Year's Eve

Have a laugh at the picture.  It's from a 1960's McCulloch chainsaw manual.  No protective gear at all and the pipe just cracks me up.  Very cheesy - I'll post more pictures from it sometime.

The first chainsaw I ever had was a McCulloch top handle - it barely worked so I advertised it for £50 and sold it to a guy who ran in, snatched it, threw the money at me and ran out again without even seeing it start... Bet he had a surprise!

That tree climbing dog again...

Could I ask anyone to whom it is relevant to please fill out a survey here if you haven't already done so. 

Wishing A Happy & Prosperous New Year to everyone.

Friday, 25 December 2009

New Toy Tool

The snow's gone, the sun's out and Santa has brought me a lovely, shiny Veritas tenon cutter...

Once I get the knack and fettle it a bit I'll be able to knock out some stick furniture which will be fun.
Strange how the manufacturers assume that you have a pillar drill for sharpening the curved blade?

Right - I'm off to watch The Incredibles...

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Monday, 21 December 2009

Cornmill Stream

It's a real pleasure walking through the Lea Valley Park by the Cornmill Stream on these clear, crispy days with Jed.  He loves the snow and eats it.

The Park authorities have pollarded some of the willows growing beside the stream.

Pollarding waterside willows is traditional management in East Anglia.  The new shoots are out of reach of browsing animals and were cut at varying intervals to use for tool handles, hurdles and baskets etc.
Since there are no cows or deer around and the arisings are all thrown in the bushes and left to rot - why bother?

Friday, 18 December 2009

Jingle Balls

Wocko the Woodman has sent this and I thought I would share it here...

Jingle Balls
It’s going to be a most unhappy Christmas,
Probably the worst we’ve had for years.
I know we’re bound to suffer, the recession’s getting tougher
The situation’s bound to end in tears, I think I’ll go and drown myself in beers.
It’s going to be a most unhappy Christmas

It’s going to be a most unhappy Christmas
With everything that misery entails,
I’m sick of mince-pie munching, and the credit squeeze is crunching,
They’ve even cancelled all pre-Christmas sales.  It’s like a summer holiday in Wales
It’s going to be a most unhappy Christmas

It’s going to be a most unhappy Christmas
The future for the planet’s looking grim.
The temperatures plummet at the Copenhagen summit,
Like modern light bulbs they’re so bloody dim.  The chances of agreement’s looking slim
It’s going to be a most unhappy Christmas

It’s going to be a most unhappy Christmas
The house is all decked out with fairy lights
The opinion is forming to forget the global warming
We’ll solve that problem when it starts to bite, and if we can’t it serves us bloody right
It’s going to be a most unhappy Christmas

It’s going to be a most unhappy Christmas
The long range forecast says it will be wet.
To hell with seasons greetings in the raining and the sleeting
It’s sure to be the dampest Christmas yet..  And the country is a TRILLION pounds in debt.
It’s going to be a most unhappy Christmas

It’s going to be a most unhappy Christmas
Now we have lost the trust in our M Ps
And we’ll suffer from the onus of a banker’s Christmas bonus
They’ve brought this once great country to its knees.
And guess who pays the bill , it’s you and me.
It’s going to be a most unhappy Christmas

It’s going to be a most unhappy Christmas
We’ve cut all Santa’s reindeer up for meat
The fat man’s getting fatter but it really doesn’t matter
The children have seen through all that deceit  That’s why we’ve sent them begging in the street
It’s going to be a most unhappy Christmas

 It’s going to be a most unhappy Christmas
We do it for the children , don’t you know.
But all the gifts we’re buying , they don’t find satisfying
They’re a bunch of greedy so and sos
So just forget the HO HO bloody HO
It’s going to be a most unhappy Christmas

This is one of WOXWORDS 11December 2009

Also the folks at Artichoke who organised Antony Gormley's One & Other sent me a Plinthmas card...

A nice group of sentinel Beech pollards taken on a walk yesterday.

Monday, 14 December 2009

80th Birthday Celebration

Yesterday we went down to Kent for a get together to celebrate my Mum's 80th birthday.

 That's her on the right!

My sisters Jane, Clare, Elizabeth & Frances had organised a lovely party and put on a wonderful spread and it was nice to see old friends, nephews and nieces (and their partners) that I hadn't seen for a while.

We took some hot air balloons and sent our love and good wishes into the night sky...

Saturday, 12 December 2009


I was recently given this lump of Oak by a friend of my Dad's, Leonard Croft, who lives near Scarborough.

Obviously it's only a section of a much longer piece - perhaps part of a beam judging from that cross section?  Maybe from a roof?

Quite a big clue in the photo of the other side...

Hmmm...quite badly fire damaged.

Any guesses??

It came from the roof of the south transept of York Minster when it was damaged by fire after a lightning strike in 1984 so could be 600 years old.  Leonard knew some of the folk involved in the refurbishment and knowing he is a wood carver they gave him some pieces.  Any dendrochronologists out there?

Now what am I going to do with it?


Oak is a great tree and timber and one of the little known things that you can produce from it is a very drinkable Oak Leaf Wine.

Very simple to make - just pick a bucketfull of leaves, pour boiling water over to cover them and leave for 4 days stirring everyday.  Strain, boil again, add the juice of an orange and lemon + yeast + sugar and ferment in the normal way.
You can vary the flavour by picking the leaves at different times of the year and the amount of sugar used.  Some tastes like sherry others like a Rioja.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Tree Graffiti

I suppose it's traditional for lovers to carve their initials into the bark of trees - it does seem to grow over in time and, if the dates are correct, we've seen some quite old ones.

A group of Beech pollards near The Lost Pond seem to have become a sort of Wailing Wall of the Forest - some of these are quite high up.


This is a nice one again quite high up and in a different area where a load of witchy things like pentagrams etc. have been cut.

Folk do believe some strange things and there's no point moralizing or getting angry - the Forest's pretty big and resilient.

Slightly more worrying are the huge letters and symbols sprayed in florescent colours which are appearing all over the Forest.  They are very annoying, unnatural and intrusive and pointless.  I've got an idea it's part of some 'piece' of conceptual art in the Saatchi School of Art type mould.  So I'm not giving it any creedence.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Eric Sloane

Many years ago before I became a green woodworker I spotted an intriguingly titled book on the shelves of my local library.  It was “A Reverence for Wood” by Eric Sloane (1905-85) and ultimately I tracked down my own copy.

I went to dig it out earlier this year when the line drawings in a book I’d just bought reminded me of it.  Couldn’t find it anywhere... vanished.  So I bought a new copy.  In my travels I’ve also acquired a few of his other books - he wrote 38 in all!  Quite a few are to do with Weather - how to draw clouds and sunsets, how to recognise weather patterns and signs etc as Sloane was an expert meteorologist amongst other things. He also painted 15,000 pictures in his career.

What I really like about all his books is the craftsmanly hand calligraphy and lettering and his deep love and knowledge of the subject.  I’ve pored over them for hours especially The Museum of American Tools.  You can always spot something different and I’ve found them inspiring and full of ideas - a lot of his books are available on Abe Books quite cheaply.

An interesting fact is that he changed his name from Everard Jean Hinrichs and took Eric from the middle letters of America and Sloane from his mentor.

Anyway Vanessa has just found the lost copy of A Reverence for Wood so it’s up for grabs... I’ll send it to the person who posts the most interesting, witty or erudite comment.


Saturday, 5 December 2009

Old Sycamore Bowl

These photos are of an old sycamore bowl belonging to my Dad - it’s been around for as long as I can remember but I’ve only just got round to taking some pictures of it.  They aren’t brilliant shots and I must take some more sometime in better light with a tripod.


The bowl originally belonged to my great-granny Annie Marsh and to her parents, whose name was Whitely, before her so may well date back to the early 19th century.  They were farmers at Hilltop Farm, Cumberworth in West Yorkshire near to Huddersfield.

The bowl was used in the dairy for making butter in. It’s 6 inches high and 16-17 inches in diameter and must have been quite a valued item to consider making the charming and fairly elaborate repairs to the split.  Whether it was still used for its original purpose afterwards we’ll never know - somehow I doubt it.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Old Bean Tree

Earlier this year I put up a photo of this wonderful old Indian Bean Tree (Catalpa bignonioides) outside Rochester Cathedral...

My sister Clare sent me a cutting from the local paper.  Apparently it is 140 years old and is on the site of a graveyard with tombstones in memory of the Dorrit family, thought to be the inspiration for Charles Dickens' novel Little Dorrit.

Apparently the tree is suffering and requires £22,000 to be spent on replacing the props which hold it up with cable bracing, replacing the railings and decompacting around the roots and taking up the grass and replacing it with a mulch.

The campaign to raise the funds is being led by Cllr Sue Haydock and anyone who feels like making a contribution can contact her on 01634 811172.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Forest Hike

Had a big hike through the Forest today with Gary & Jed...we found the Fairies Wishing Well.

Wonder where Jed's going to be spending these long, cold Winter evenings?

Wednesday, 25 November 2009


Right here's the new fire...

Got a Kodak MD 41 from Currys today - its got more than twice as many pixels as the old camera (which was only 4 years old) and was less than a third of the price...

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

New Woodburner

We got back from Yorkshire last Friday and I spent Sunday & Monday fiddling about with oak beams, steel plates, self-tapping screws, bolts and fire cement and last evening we lit the maiden fire in the new log burner and cracked open that bottle of champagne that had been chilling since August! 
I can't believe how efficient it is - we burnt only a fraction of the wood that we would have put on the old fire and the room was so warm we had to open the doors.  That also helped get rid of the awful smell of the paint curing. pics yet.  Hopefully we'll get another camera today.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Camera RIP

This is the last image I'll be able to post until I can sort out another camera (Makes a nice desktop picture).  Unfortunately I dropped the camera and now the shutter won't close or the lens retract...I've got a feeling it's dead.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Birthplace of Aviation

Really enjoying our holiday - walking on the beaches and in the forests.

Were at Scarborough this morning

Had the best ploughmans lunch ever in The Anvil at Sawdon and then had a walk in Wykeham Forest.

 Part of the forest nursery at Wykeham - a field of Larch seedlings.

These Yorkshire Forests are huge - mainly conifers with loads of massive Larch.  Yesterday we were at Dalby Forest which bills itself as "The Great Yorkshire Forest".

George Cayley pioneer of manned flight was born just down the road from where we're staying.

Monday, 9 November 2009

A Salty Dog

Jed had his first taste of the sea today when we took a walk along the beach at Filey.  He really loved racing around on those acres of sand with all the other dogs.

One thing I love about Yorkshire are the drystone walls - proper walls. 

I remember travelling up to Yorkshire when we were kids.  There was a constant chorus of “Are we nearly there yet?” - in the end my Dad said “Don’t ask again until you see a drystone wall”.

Had a walk down Wy Dale yesterday and saw this sign...

This blog coming to you courtesy of a ‘3’ dongle (mobile broadband) which only cost £20.  Unfortunately after I have used it the computer ‘freezes’, won’t go to sleep and the cursor vanishes...(any ideas on this gratefully accepted).

Tuesday, 3 November 2009


Chris Hickman of the Woodland Trust has sent me a link to a set of photographs of the scouting event in Croydon last week.

When you're in the thick of it there isn't time to take many photos or to have a look around at the other activities so it's great to see what else was going on.   Archery, Storytelling, Bushcraft & Survival skills, Willow Weaving, Woodland Art and Tree Planting. . . oh yes and Bodging.

See the full set of photos here.


I always tell people that tree surgeons are a good source of a wide variety of timber...

Yesterday I went to visit my mate Tony at the Gaynes Park estate near Epping.  He's the gamekeeper on the estate and also works as a tree surgeon (a very good one).  Had a root through his firewood pile and managed to find Holly, Yew, Hawthorn, Sycamore, Beech, Oak and London Plane logs - he also gave me a couple of slabs of Sweet Chestnut.

Cheers mate . . . should keep me going for a while!

Sunday, 1 November 2009

New Axe

November's started well...

I took possession of a Gransfors hewing axe courtesy of Jon Warwicker.

Carving axe & Hewing axe.

 I'd tried his out when we had a day on our plot a couple of months ago and found it much easier for roughing out bowl blanks than the carving axe. . . he also got it for a 20% discount!

Could the Gransfors standards be slipping?  This new axe has a dreadful handle on it - a really rough finish with splintery patches.  I may have to make a new Ash one.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

All souls

A lot of little trick-or-treaters knocking on the door at the moment as Vanessa has excelled herself this year and put her jack o' lantern in the front window.

Well if you can't beat em...
I scared one little boy who ran away when he saw my fake vampire teeth!

Friday, 30 October 2009

Night shift

Maurice came to have a go at green woodwork today.


It was dark toward the end and you can see his gold badge of courage caused by talking and tiredness but mainly by the bad lighting.  I don't think I'll be able to run courses much later into the dark half of the year.

I gave the new Worksharp a go and sharpened half a dozen knackered chisels in about 5 minutes.

Get one...

Maurice was impressed!

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Scouting in Croydon

Spent yesterday running a workshop for scouts and guides at Frylands Wood Scout Camp near Croydon which was organised by The Woodland Trust.
We drove down on Tuesday afternoon and stayed overnight in their Crew Cabin which was quite luxurious with washing and washing up machines, microwaves, central heating, tv and stereo.  I haven't slept in a bunk bed for years and Jed loved it as there was a plentiful supply of rabbits for him to chase.

Thursday, 22 October 2009


Had a meandering walk today through the Lea Valley Park and up to the top of the hill where the ack ack gun was sited to protect the munitions and explosives works at The Waltham Abbey Royal Gunpowder Mills during WW2.

This is what Jed's looking at...a blurry impressionist image of the Smoke - wish I'd had a tripod.

The big building on the left is the Gerkin in the City of London, the King George Reservoirs in the middle and the M25 in the foreground. The right hand side of the picture is where the Olympics are being held in 2012.

Finally got the new woodburner in place. Vanessa's saving a bottle of champagne that we'll use to toast the first fire so there's some incentive to get on with it!


Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Essex Tyke

I posted on the Bodger's Ask & Answer forum asking for any greenwood leads or don't-miss places to visit in Yorkshire. Someone suggested a disguise of a flat cap and a whippet would help. . .

That's sorted then!
Well Jed's got quite a bit of whippet in him.

Elephant Man Beech pollard.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Work sharp

When John Abel was here last week he brought his Worksharp for me to have a play with. I got this razor edge on a derelict old, chipped, multi bevelled chisel in about a minute with no heating of the edge.

I was so impressed I bought one.
Unfortunately the first one to arrive from Rutlands didn't work but the replacement arrived today.

A clever, innovative sharpening system using abrasive discs.

The back of the chisel is also lapped on a diamond stone at the same time.

Also today the new woodburning stove was delivered which is exciting...and we have organized a holiday in Yorkshire next month...can't wait.