Why the internet is not a good thing …

sometimes, and why it is for other things.

I’m crackers – I ride my bike every morning at 6am.¬† These days it’s no longer training for cyclo-cross – my X bike is hanging up now ūüė¶ casuality of working Sundays in the woods, all the X races were on Sundays.¬† So, to resume, I still go out at 6am for a good brisk thrash, these days it’s up Netherghyll out of Cononley weekdays and a longer ride Saturdays.¬† At 6am here it’s dark (and surprisingly often pretty cold too, but that’s another pair of long johns) so my bike needs lights.¬† I’ve had lots of lights over the years, many pretty bad as I tend to be a cheap skate in most things and expensive lights I’ve always avoided.¬† Avoided until two years and two months ago that is.¬† I decided when the last front light died last time that I’d upgrade myself a bit and bought a moderately expensive Cateye LED front light.¬† One attraction was the onboard rechargeable battery, and the lower power beam with a high power that gobbles the battery power.¬† The light also has a flashing function and the battery lasts for ages in that mode.. I tend to use the flasher where there are street lights and the low beam where there aren’t any.¬† There was an added bonus – when the battery is running low a red LED lights up at the die of the lamp.¬† What luxury, many a time I’ve set off with a bright light that was clap dead 10 minutes later (I devised various strategies for dealing with this).

OK.¬† With me so far?¬† This autumn as the nights drew out (Do you mean dawn was later and later? -Ed) I started using the LED light again, I must have left it fully charged as recommended, as it worked fine for a while.¬† In due course the red LEDs started showing so I plugged the charger in.¬† Hrumph, next morning the red was still showing. Changed the fuse etc, and finally decided the charger was bust.¬† It had a two year warranty, you guessed – it ran out a month before I found it wasn’t working (probably because I’ll have dropped it on the floor at some stage during the Summer (remember those days?)).¬† I contacted the Big Bike Shop on the Internet from where I purchased same and asked if they di a service or replacement service.¬† This is the reply:

Hello Thank you for your email.Unfortunately we don’t stock spares for this item, however we could replace it if any of our customers sends a faulty unit back with a charger. At the moment we don’t have any at the returns office, please come back to us in a couple of weeks should the situation changes.Apologies for the inconvenience.RegardsPaula

Well, I don’t know, not really what I call customer service.¬† I checked out the importer’s website and the charger is a spare, I also found that there’s a supplier 5 miles away.¬† Contacted them, yes they would get a spare in for me.¬† Then a couple of days later they said they had these lights in stock and I could have a charger from one of them to get me going again without delay.¬† That’s more like it.¬† I collected the charger today, and gave them my complements and told them I would have bought the light from them in the first place if I’d know how poor the other lot (Southerners!) were.

So buying from the big fab old Internet does has some advantages (like price), but I worry that local shops like the one in Keighley that gave me excellent service suffer.  Anyway back out before dawn tomorrow with hot flashing light.

On the other hand I made a fresh sheath for my everyday knife today:

These instructions were very helpful.  My stitching would be a little improved by an awl of the correct shape (I used a round one!) but at least I am no longer in danger of the knife tip digging into my leg through the hole at bottom right of the old one.

What we did and how it does itself.

I like this. And this:

Both built.

But inside the latter (Blooming Hill Farm, NY):

And outside:

Diversity I think is the thing.

The work to build the street in the first picture has immense merit and produces a pleasing prospect.¬† Lots of work involved in an age long gone, and the chaps who built it would probably say, “Good riddance, too.”

The informal of the latter in the pictures above has more appeal for me than the formal lines of the former.

Then there’s always this:

And then this:

This is a bike incorporating a wooden frame.

And also this:

Just a library in Brooklyn.

And water that dances to music:

And then split rail fencing, same place, some decades past.

But just who are we fooling?  Can we do this?

Or this?

Or this:

Or this:

I suppose that’s why I’m happy when I find we can do things like this:

But then I get concerned about why the annular rings run across the splint – doh – life quelle cauchmar.

NE American trees

I think I can count the varieties of trees in Strid Wood on both fingers, lets see: english oak, sessile oak, ash, beech, sycamore, alder, rowan, bird cherry, silver birch, elm, balsam poplar (non-native), holly, yew, hazel OK I’m over ten, but I’m struggling now, there are probably a couple of others, douglas fir etc.¬† On our trip to New York, and especially upstate in the Adirondacks I was bewildered by the tree varieties, most of which I didn’t recognise.¬† I reckon there were at least three types of oak:

white oak:

Scarlet oak:

I think there was red oak too, but I didn’t get my thrift store book (Reader’s Digest North American Wildlife) until we were coming away, so I’m relying on collected leaves and photos.

Here are the oaks (whoops, missed out the white oak):

And then the maples, I was quite at sea with these:

Then what I was thinking were chestnut (which I should have remembered has been wiped out) turned out to be beech with leaves much bigger than the beeches at home:

The one bottom right is something else, some oaks have leaves in this shape too but I don’t think they occur round the NE (live oak I’m thinking of, like to see one of these one day)

Then miscellanea:

The biggest one is Moosewood, this had puzzled me as it seemed to be a prolific bush, but this was just regeneration, it has an interesting stripey bark:

Then there seems to be basswood and cottonwood. You’ll know this tree my blogger friend Tico said (it is obvious when you know it – the bark is diagnostic) “Nope!” I said, well it’s shag bark hickory:

Back to the workshop and continuing the riven theme I made a tealight holder yesterday:

Oriental chairs in the West

Here’s a chair I visited on the recent trip to New York.¬† It lives in The Scholar’s Garden in Snug Harbour Cultural Centre on Staten Island.¬† This Garden is a recent addition to the Botanic Gardens made in what used to be a retreat for ‘aged, decrepit and worn-out sailors’. The chairs are in one of the pavilions which were built by 40 chinese craftsmen in 1998.¬† The chairs are very striking to me. The bow seems to be carved rather than bent:

Dangerously short grain at the curly end, but so elegant.


I was also taken by the friendly method of bracing the front legs.  Not a high rung to dig into the back of your ankle, but a low one to rest your feet on:


The splat at the back was definitely bent, so maybe steaming was used.  I have no knowledge of Chinese chairmaking techniques, just an appreciation for these beauties:

The whole of the garden was an amazing feast for the eyes and the soul.  Here is the Moon Viewing Pavilion of Crispness:

Even the floors are amazing – 100 pebbles in each of these panels:

Surprise views at every turn:

Boo! Autumn, rain and floods. Hurray …




Pretty wet day, continuous rain.  The River Wharfe boiled and roared all day long.  Few visitors and all wet and somewhat bedraggled.  Spent the day turning poles for an overmantle drying rack and hewing a big  alder bowl.  Had to wear gloves as my hands have softened during my two weeks off.  Pictures of bowl to follow.


When in New York I visited Tools for Working Wood in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.¬† After a chat with the proprietor, Joel, I purchased two holdfasts as pictured at top in the above picture.¬† These fine tools hold work fast against the surface of the bench so it can be worked.¬† In the above a small elm seat for a child’s chair is being held for working up with a travisher that I acquired at Wild About Wood this year.¬† Joel tells me that holdfasts fell into disuse in the middle of the 19th century when vices took their place.¬† I suppose shaving horses ought to have disappeared at the same time, but as we know they are such a right tool for the right job that the shave horse never died out.¬† I think there’s a case to be made for the holdfast, simple to use, relatively cheap ($31.95 for a pair from Joel’s), looks the part, and like an Apple, just works.¬† Nothing to go wrong.¬† Just drill 3/4″ holes in your bench wherever required, put a softener between the holdfast and the work (above the holdfasts are seated on what will be a waste section of the wood) and knock it on the head with a mallet.¬† To loosen, knock it with the mallet at the back of the head.¬† A pair make for a more secure fixing than one alone.¬† Certainly made the shaping of this seat easier.¬† By the way the travisher is a Bristol Designs one with the handles modified so you don’t catch your knuckles on the work, not a brilliant tool (e.g. I found the tangs were welded onto the blade and the holes in the handle far too big¬† for them) but, at the price I paid, a bargain.

In the old workshop AKA the garage, I have a Record holdfast which incorporates a screw to tighten the foot against the work.¬† The original hold fast seems better to me on these counts: the Record is a pain to tighten as the foot slips over the work as you tighten the screw down; the Record needs a cast iron collar set in the bench to work so you would need to buy extra ones if you wanted to reposition the holdfast; original is more elegant; the clamping area is bigger on Joel’s version; I like whacking things with a mallet; the original is quicker to set and reset.