And the answer was, of course, bread:

The round casserole, my usual bread tin, was in use so I had to use an oval one.  Cooking bread in a casserole (or dutch oven, as I think they’re known across by) really makes a good crust, especially with sour dough, yum!

Bet nobody thought it was a tree!

What’s worse than my bark?

What bark is that?

And the above is just a little scary, get those red tips.  Doesn’t look so good for working though but.  And on the same walk we came across this:

I’d just said to my daughter that where we were looked like it had been a stone quarry, there are lots of them round here, very small many of them used to win the wall stones for enclosing the land and robbing the poor.  Much of our landscape looks like this.

Small fields divided by millstone grit dry walls.  So the picture second-above shows where a large piece of stone has been split off using a drill chisel and wedges quite some time ago.

We went to Haworth today for a walk.  It’s only about 20 minutes drive from here, but we usually avoid it like the plague as it is full of Bronte sisters tourists.  We had a good walk round the back lanes, bought a couple of ex-army shirts for work and a good cap with flaps which, though cosy is less full-on than my shearling one which can get too hot at times.  Then we walked back up to the car over the railway bridge.  I like the way the engine driver keeps his tea good and warm!

Delivering two peeled oak gates tomorrow, but mostly enjoying a good break from The Bodgery which was so busy in the lead up to Christmas. So I’m now relaxing installing Linux on my old Mac Powerbook, mending the front mech on me bike, reseating the sound card in the Mac Mini, sawing off the remaining gate post, sawing a few logs, cooking, brewing and generally chilling out … man.

Striding towards Boxing Day

The best day of the year.  All the Christmas bikes are asleep in their sheds.

All the stuff has been sold or burnt.

The lamps doused down.

And the geese are getting ready for the sixth day of Christmas.

A very happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year (despite).

And don’t forget the chestnuts, sloe gin and fast-burning sycamore logs.

“Out of the strong came forth sweetness” Judges 14:14

Huh?  What going on here?

Making glue or summat?


Just lunch – a shallot and a baked potato, soufflé next!

This is an adaptation of my informal firebrick rocket stove, sometime steamer engine, sometime midge repellent, handwarmer, crowd pleaser, but I must say oven is a great hit with me!

Anyway, as we approach the depths of Winter and the shortest day can I offer you this picture?

This is a hazel at the entrance to Strid Wood.  It is showing budding catkins at the same time as a few of last Summer’s leaves still cling on, just what the Heck is going on?  The birds will be making snow nests next!

I can’t resist giving you a link to this video of Susan Greenfield’s sermon on Storytelling.  It’s not about storytelling, but blogging does get a mention – and now read on/watch it.


Serried ranks

Christmas is coming and the elves are selling well.  I am getting an idea for an army of them at Farfiled Mill when the CANW have their exhibition there next April.

The paint shop has been removed from The Bodgery to Rose Cottage por tem.  Not because it’s so cosy painting them in front of the friendly green Troller Brug:

Damn! Wrong one – that’s the Westfire, this one:

The reason for the move is the paint will not dry in The Bodgery – too cold and damp.

Logging today!

Mark and a half and another half – Roughing it.

I’m listening to “Roughing it” by The Most Excellent Mark Twain, courtesy of Librivox an excellent service which provides volunteer-read out of copyright stuff for free.  I listen to it in the LandRover on my commute to & from the woods.  As it was rather a poor sort of frosty then wet, but thankfully not blowy day, the following extract seemed particularly good on the way home this evening.  Why my son & his wife moved from there to New York, is something of a mystery!

Now read on! And don’t miss out on the paragraph on Fort Yuma at the end.

An extract from CHAPTER LVI. Of Roughing It by Mark Twain

San Francisco, a truly fascinating city to live in, is stately and handsome at a fair distance, but close at hand one notes that the architecture is mostly old-fashioned, many streets are made up of decaying, smoke-grimed, wooden houses, and the barren sand-hills toward the outskirts obtrude themselves too prominently. Even the kindly climate is sometimes pleasanter when read about than personally experienced, for a lovely, cloudless sky wears out its welcome by and by, and then when the longed for rain does come it stays. Even the playful earthquake is better contemplated at a dis—

However there are varying opinions about that.

The climate of San Francisco is mild and singularly equable. The thermometer stands at about seventy degrees the year round. It hardly changes at all. You sleep under one or two light blankets Summer and Winter, and never use a mosquito bar. Nobody ever wears Summer clothing. You wear black broadcloth—if you have it—in August and January, just the same. It is no colder, and no warmer, in the one month than the other. You do not use overcoats and you do not use fans. It is as pleasant a climate as could well be contrived, take it all around, and is doubtless the most unvarying in the whole world. The wind blows there a good deal in the summer months, but then you can go over to Oakland, if you choose—three or four miles away—it does not blow there. It has only snowed twice in San Francisco in nineteen years, and then it only remained on the ground long enough to astonish the children, and set them to wondering what the feathery stuff was.

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During eight months of the year, straight along, the skies are bright and cloudless, and never a drop of rain falls. But when the other four months come along, you will need to go and steal an umbrella. Because you will require it. Not just one day, but one hundred and twenty days in hardly varying succession. When you want to go visiting, or attend church, or the theatre, you never look up at the clouds to see whether it is likely to rain or not—you look at the almanac. If it is Winter, it will rain—and if it is Summer, it won’t rain, and you cannot help it. You never need a lightning-rod, because it never thunders and it never lightens. And after you have listened for six or eight weeks, every night, to the dismal monotony of those quiet rains, you will wish in your heart the thunder would leap and crash and roar along those drowsy skies once, and make everything alive—you will wish the prisoned lightnings would cleave the dull firmament asunder and light it with a blinding glare for one little instant. You would give anything to hear the old familiar thunder again and see the lightning strike somebody. And along in the Summer, when you have suffered about four months of lustrous, pitiless sunshine, you are ready to go down on your knees and plead for rain—hail—snow—thunder and lightning—anything to break the monotony—you will take an earthquake, if you cannot do any better. And the chances are that you’ll get it, too.

San Francisco is built on sand hills, but they are prolific sand hills. They yield a generous vegetation. All the rare flowers which people in “the States” rear with such patient care in parlor flower-pots and green- houses, flourish luxuriantly in the open air there all the year round. Calla lilies, all sorts of geraniums, passion flowers, moss roses—I do not know the names of a tenth part of them. I only know that while New Yorkers are burdened with banks and drifts of snow, Californians are burdened with banks and drifts of flowers, if they only keep their hands off and let them grow. And I have heard that they have also that rarest and most curious of all the flowers, the beautiful Espiritu Santo, as the Spaniards call it—or flower of the Holy Spirit—though I thought it grew only in Central America—down on the Isthmus. In its cup is the daintiest little facsimile of a dove, as pure as snow. The Spaniards have a superstitious reverence for it. The blossom has been conveyed to the States, submerged in ether; and the bulb has been taken thither also, but every attempt to make it bloom after it arrived, has failed.

I have elsewhere spoken of the endless Winter of Mono, California, and but this moment of the eternal Spring of San Francisco. Now if we travel a hundred miles in a straight line, we come to the eternal Summer of Sacramento. One never sees Summer-clothing or mosquitoes in San Francisco—but they can be found in Sacramento. Not always and unvaryingly, but about one hundred and forty-three months out of twelve years, perhaps. Flowers bloom there, always, the reader can easily believe—people suffer and sweat, and swear, morning, noon and night, and wear out their stanchest energies fanning themselves. It gets hot there, but if you go down to Fort Yuma you will find it hotter. Fort Yuma is probably the hottest place on earth. The thermometer stays at one hundred and twenty in the shade there all the time—except when it varies and goes higher. It is a U.S. military post, and its occupants get so used to the terrific heat that they suffer without it. There is a tradition (attributed to John Phenix [It has been purloined by fifty different scribblers who were too poor to invent a fancy but not ashamed to steal one.—M. T.]) that a very, very wicked soldier died there, once, and of course, went straight to the hottest corner of perdition,—and the next day he telegraphed back for his blankets. There is no doubt about the truth of this statement—there can be no doubt about it. I have seen the place where that soldier used to board.

A parliament of owls, and things to be glad and brave about.

This is a bunch of prototypes, only one was owl-like enough – guess which.

The prototypes have ended up strung out on a branch of birch on permanent display, whilst I endeavoured to reproduce the best one for sale.  These resulted from some internet research by Theo, my nephew, so that’s something to be glad about.

Also gladness hence; we run two wood burning stoves, which puts heavy demand on newspaper, and as we only get newspaper twice a week, we quickly run out of the easily burning stuff.  I resort to the recycling bins and dive for newspapers (The Church Times is best, big and untreated, burns a treat) today I got a decent handful in the morning and an armful this evening, pure gladness.

The weather here is really horrible (but nowhere near as bad as in Scotland (home of The Brave, as in “Scotland the Brave” not:

They were brave too.)

OK so lousy weather, nearly decided not to put any wares out for sale this morning, but did.  And out of the handful of brave people who passed by, some bought a deer, some bought a (pre-ordered) butter slab, and even some people who said they would come back and buy something (this usually means we won’t come back and buy anything) did come back and buy some elves and a garlic press.  Something-else to be glad about.

Also, the riving wind, I noticed has brought a branch down from a douglas fir (an export from the Land of the Free), seasonal decorations for the Bodgery, photo to follow, when we get a bit of frost.  Yet another thing to be glad about.

And the key event of the day was a simple spring repair to my metal clarinet, that I started repairing and broke last night.

So all in all a very good day.


And … my daughter has an office move into the middle of London from the outskirts opposite the other outskirts(ish) to where she lives, giving her an extra day a month by shortening her journey.  Whizzo!