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.