But always at my back I hear / Time’s wingéd charriot hurrying near.

Spring is well under way now in Strid.

The bluebell leaves are everywhere, and where they’re not there is wild garlic:

Most people will see these two easily, but if you look more closely there is an abundance of other plants shooting up.

Wood anenomy, one of my favourite Spring flowers:

Dogs mercury, as it’s name suggest, poisonous and very thickly spread in Strid:

Even the wild strawberries are back:

Down by the River Wharfe the butterburrs are sprouting through. I think they look pretty alien, I assume they are of a very old genesis:

The dipper now is separate from its mate who is presumably nesting. You maybe able to make out the white spot of his breast feathers at the far side in the river, standing on a semi-submerged stone:


Detail:

I’ve not just been idly snapping photos either. Yesterday I made this bowl (not quite finished yet):

And today I need to get more felled wood back to the woodpile and sheeted before, the plants are too tall, the birds nest, the wood starts to spoil … and people start making shelters & bridges with it or chucking it into the river. Cleared most of it now with the help of some asylum seekers from all the trouble spots in the world.

On with the work; load of logs to make, shift wood, get ready for the Knaresborough Castle medeval do on Saturday, edit bowl carving video (watch this space), chop, chop!

What have I been up to?

Well, mostly moving timber around in the woods and getting completely cream crackered. I’ve been getting ready for a group of asylum seekers to come and do some voluntary work getting the recently felled stuff out of the woods back to the workshop.

I’m also working on a table, a stool, coat hooks and bowls

Oh yes, and a child-friendly Aunt Sally game for a local playing field opening next month.

Also reading lots of work-related stuff.

Time for work now see you anon.

Spring in the air

The crows have been paired up for a couple of weeks now, the pairs above were taken on 6th March. Now I’ve finished felling, phew! I’ve a bit of time to look around and get sorted ready for Spring.

But first a brief return to wintery weather for a hedge-laying competition. I won in the speed stakes (no prizes there then!) mainly because it was raining the whole time and as I am normally hiding under the tarp in Strid Wood, my outdoor wet weather gear just wasn’t up to it. I decided to dash home and return in time for the judging, hypothermia could have set in if I’d hung around a couple of hours wet through (well, not really; my feet were still dry). Here’s my length:

I won second prize – a bill hook, lost to the winner because I’d left a couple of gaps at the bottom. It was rather wet:

This guy’s wringing out his gloves.

Earlier in the week I had a chance to tidy up the workshop in Strid, moved the sales booth to the side and raked out some of the two foot of shavings. I think it looks a lot more open:

There are a couple of bowls I’m working on, the far one is a bird bath in chestnut.

I’ve felled an alder tree, that should make some good bowls too – watch this space!

Big bowl

… not one of mine. It was spotted in New York for me by my son Will who lives there.

I rather like the shape of this and I’ll probably have a go at making a similar one. Maybe not quite as big – it is two feet across! I like the shape of the handles though. I wonder just how old it is, it was in an antiques shop.

Felling

Sorry, so busy no time for picture taking. I’ll try get some today as the weather is superb. My brother and I are carrying out heavy thinning work in Strid Wood. Only done two days and already lost count of the number of trees downed. The effect is really good though. There’s an old saying that you can’t see the trees for the wood, which is applied to overcrowded growth. These trees just don’t behave when left to their own devices you know. They just seed everywhere, even where they have little chance of growing to maturity. The beeches are the worst, they would take over the entire wood given the opportunity. However Strid is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and designated as “recovering”. This designation is explained as management of introduced species, like poplar, and reduction of species which are not in the SSSI designation e.g beech. The thinning reduces the call on sunlight, water and nourishment by weedy trees to favour big oaks and ash. This also opens up the ground so that the flora and shrub layers benefit and thus insects and birds and vistas appear between the big trees.

So next time you see a man with an orange hat and a chain saw have a think about what he’s doing, and it may not be a case of “Woodman spare that tree!” so much as “What a good job!”

New gimlet

The new one and a half inch auger arrived yesterday from Japan via a stockist in Germany, Schmid. It is a beauty and much better than the Footprint one that went missing.

The business end has a spur that cuts a circle in the wood fibres before the chisel side comes along and cuts out the bulk of the wood. This makes for a very neat entry and exit hole. The auger screw is great, loads of room for the shavings to clear and very deep milled edges to guide the direction well. And it cost less than my old one delivered! I’m using it in conjunction with my Veritas tenoner which makes neat tenons on the ends of rough work, e.g. legs for benches, lathes etc.

I set up my work bowl lathe with an elastic bungy using these tools yesterday for a demo in York to a wood turning group. The bungy replaces the pole where there are space constraints, like in a village hall. The turn out was very good, about 60 members. I had to judge the competition entries “Something for Easter”. Very fine work compared to my greenwood stuff. It was a good evening, even if rather hot demonstrating the bowl turning in a heated hall, phew!

Next week full on felling as the estate have finally marked up a lot of trees for thinning.

Bowl pix

OK, so here are some photos from the other day.

Here’s the dog bowl

And this is what it turned into

It’s drying out now and then I’ll oil it up. This should bring our the colours.

Here’s the bird bath

You can just make out the iron staining from the reaction between the tools and the tannin in the chestnut.

Good for a bird bath though I think.

Rather heavier than a bowl for food use, but the weight is intended to keep the thing still when it’s windy

Here is the current work in progress. It’s made from a section of the big old silver birch we’ve felled in the garden, so it’s not for sale but will stay at home as a memento of the tree and my father who planted the tree donkey’s years ago. I’ll post another picture when it’s done, it’s rather large!

OK, busy ‘day off’ today preparing for a demo to a group of power turners this evening in York.