Smoke, mud, rain and joint stools.

Hi Folks!

This is your correspondent relaxing at The Commercial in London, an interesting pub:

Not at all like the old pubs of Keighley where I started drinking beer. The Boltmakers Arms, The Friendly, The Volunteers, The Gardeners, The Lord Rodney.  Ah, those past teenage days of Timothy Taylor’s ale and headaches.

The woody highlight of our trip to The Smoke (AKA London) was another visit to the Geffrye Museum.  In one of the period room settings was a stunning oak table with a set of 6 joint stools.

Sorry about the lousy picture, it’s not a brightly lit place The Geffrye, but well worth a visit, with a beautifully calm herb garden (well more like the size of about 4 allotments) at the back.  I liked this green window:

Nim & Jane

But, back to the joint stools.  We met up with my son Will in London, over from Brooklyn, and he brought with him Peter Folansbee’s new book Make a Joint Stool from a Tree.  An excellent book.  I will be making a joint stool using the guidance in said book and I already have the green oak lined up.  Unfortunately, I have now got a bit of a thing going about these stools and I’ve gone and ordered another book:

This has a whole section on period joint stools, and further along some chair leg turnings which are uniquely Yorkshire, so I may be using them as a base for the stool legs.  One of these stools would look well in Skipton Castle or indeed in any other castle which is short of furnishings.

We did quite a lot of culture in London (That’s what London is for innit? -Ed) including a visit to 18 Folgate Street, Dennis Severs’ House.  If you visit London, and don’t visit anywhere else, visit this house – cost £10, you can’t take photos or speak.  It is an experience in warping of reality, history and your senses that you will not forget.  And, a great bonus, you can have a pint of Meantime beer in The Commercial afterwards.

We also did some mudlarking too.  My brother-in-law lives in Deptford in what was once the naval victualling yards, quite near to Drake’s Steps

Hardly now in fit condition for a queen to ascent prior to knighting her circumnavigator. When I went out for a walk on the Saturday the prospects for mudlarking were rather off-putting:

A fine coat of silt over everything.  But by Sunday morning propspects were much better:

London is so old the flotsam and jetsam are very diverse. anything from printed circuit boards to flint arrow heads (I searched for the latter but didn’t find any).  The oldest natural thing I found was a fossilised sea urchin, the oldest man made thing also flint, with a hole in it, but unrecognisable (by me at least), I think I’ll have it as a charm.  It was a good Sunday morning out for all the family:

From here you can see the three-masted Cutty Sark tea clipper which was due to open a couple of days later

On the Monday we saw the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery practicing for a royal salute as the queen shall have been re-opening the Cutty Sark after long and extensive refurbishment.

Typically, as it started raining in Greenwich we headed indoors, and both father and son’s beer noses detected a mash in progress – hah, it was the aforementioned Old Brewery who produce Meantime bitter beer (Geddit Greenwich meantime?)

Well it was back to work on Tuesday and it’s been a rather wet week, to say the least.  Tuesday wasn’t bad, in fact Theo and I dined in the luxurious outdoor canteen in Strid Wood, with view of nesting Mergansers.  Theo finished off his coat rack with double wellington rack – rather impressive I’m sure you’ll agree.

It is surrounded by this week’s paying project – 4 off 8 foot bike racks for The Cavendish Pavilion.  I was working outside The Bodgery, and it was a very pleasant change, the sun even shone a bit.

By Wednesday the weather had turned nasty and I had a course running with a NE wind gusting rain into the bodgery.  I’d advised Bob to wear layers and he had taken my advice – I wish I had taken it in spades.  Anyway, despite my almost catching hypothermia, Bob had a good day and we had some very interesting chat to boot.

This is one of the unfinished bike racks, I was in no mood for taking photos by the end of Thursday’s installation, but ~ I’ll get one on Sunday, hopefully with a few bikes as serving suggestion.

The logs for the base were rather heavy, and I bust the guide bar on my milling saw last week so I had to split the first one:

They were still heavy after splitting as I found to my discomfort when I managed to trap my finger between one and the trailer, doh!

Ah well, after a heavy week I’ve been relaxing today, making beer, granola, shopping for brill and jacket lining repair material, planting beetroot and lettuce seeds, launching a new Twitter account (@FlyingShavings funnily enough) and dreaming of joint stools …

 

Delivery into the past peculier bench

We’ve been to the peculier of Masham. Delivering.

First we went to Hackfall (again) and among lots of other things we saw this elm pipe, water delivery – now in use as a bench (there are a couple of themes in this post).  The hole in this pipe was bored by hand using a large (I would estimate 4 inch) spoon bit with a decently sized handle – I’d be going for about 5 foot long.

Like this:

I think the near end is the butt of one tapered pipe broken off inside the female end of the complete one.  The other end is tapered where it fit into the next one along.  If it was anything to do with me I’d be preserving this in a perhaps more sympathetic way than as a bench.  We don’t really have elms big enough to make pipes from anymore, and I bet those spoon drills are hard to come by, not to mention chaps tough enough to turn ’em, remember spoon bits have no leader and need to be pushed in all the way through.  This one was about 5 foot long.  This pipe must have been used to lead water to the restored fountain that works from a natural spring, but was off today.

The ramsons were out in force.

As was Jack by the Hedge, along with his pals, nettles and goose grass.

Apparently Jack i’th’hedge is a good substitute for garlic for those folk who don’t like their garlic too strong.

The violets were out too.

Did I mention it doesn’t cost anything to visit this wood and is in driving distance of home, and we were on our way to The Old Mill anyway?  No aeroplanes involved.

One of the many pleasure features:

And another:

Feast your eyes on those masonry joints.  This is how Coldstones Cut should have been executed, can’t they do this anymore?

Dead wood felled and lying to rot, also opening up a stream vista  I know dead wood is a great conservation asset, but there were quite a few good straight-grained pieces of ash and oak that would have been great to work.

There was a great rough cut bench in Hackfall, loved it (watch out for forthcoming pale imitations!)

Hackfall is next to the village of Grewelthorpe – very easy on the eye:

Look at those Yorkshire corbels stopping the roof coping stones slipping off the eaves.  The near-to roofs have them absent – watch out below!  Chimneys in variety still in use.

In Masham, we noticed the primary school was still in a very old building, even though extended as recently as 1834:

Great, good to see an offset door and the old school bell.

Masham is just far enough away from everywhere else to have its own personality – like this part of Quaker Terrace:

Get those original Yorkshire sliding sashes – what other type of window is needed? Not sure whether this is a barber’s shop as the pole suggests, but it smelled like one.

The town is well worth visiting, and even had a vegetable shop.  There is a very large market place where the Saturday market is held.  I might also mention that there are both Theakston  and Black Sheep brewery in Masham which has a thirsty population of only about 1,200 souls.

And at last we arrived to deliver the bench – here it is at The Old Mill (you can commission your own in my shop):

As a bonus there is an apotropaic daisy wheel on the window head (click on the image to enlarge) you don’t want the evil one in your mill now, do you?

You maybe can’t see but the arms are styled on sycamore seed wings, but the bench is all solid oak from Bolton Abbey.  Phew, that was a lot of work, must sit down.

Veteran oak and smoke

I’ve just done the first charcoal burn of the year.  Turned out not bad.  Half the load was pre-sold and it was a good outturn 13 hefty 5 kg bags and 20 handy 2.5kg bags, or, technically, big and little bags.

One of the trickiest parts of making charcoal in a steel kiln is judging when to shut it all down by sealing out the air.  Too early and the charcoal can be smoky when burning as all the tar hasn’t been burnt away and more brown ends are produced.  Too late and you’ve burnt some of the charcoal away into the air.  One way to judge the state of the burn is to look at the smoke.

This smoke is dirty-coloured. At the start of the burn the smoke is just about white as the wood’s moisture is driven off as steam.  Then towards the end the smoke gets dirty as the built up tar burns and evaporates away.  This is the sort of smoke you don’t want to inhale.  Next comes the critical point.  The smoke starts to clear a bit.

However, if it is left too long at this stage and the smoke turns blue, then you’re loosing money as the charcoal production starts to go up the chimneys! Notice ruined Bolton Priory in the background?  What a place to work!

The final sign to heed is what is happening at the base of the air intakes.

The tar can be seen burning a pink colour here and it’s about time to shut down.

Theo and I delivered part of the bagged up out turn to Howgill Lodge caravan site and on the way we pass The Laund Oak.  This is a veteran tree that used to mark the boundary between the forests of Barden and Knaresborough.  You can see it’s a veteran from the hollow trunk, the massive girth and the dead limbs.  There is still life in it though, its buds have not burst in this photo but there will be a modest display of oak leaves shortly.

Interesting word Laund; it means a clearing in a forest where deer can graze, and the legal definition in England is an area where deer were raised, principally for hunting by the king and his cronies, and occasionally poached by us peasants on pain of severe consequences at the hands of the verderers, who enforced the king’s law in the forests.

“…yet even from the wide tracts of forest, there was something more substantial to be gained than the pleasures of the chase. They were under the charge of bailiffs, who (in each bailiwick, as it was called) had their staff of foresters, verderers regarders, agistors, and woodwards, who collected and annually accounted for the profits of waifs, agistments, pannage … for the pasturage of hogs on the acorns, etc., … hollies, and perhaps other trees, for we have the word preserved in Anglo-Saxon, hirst, a wood), the croppiugs of which formed a principal article of winter fodder for cattle as well as sheep, and was valuable, as appears from an entry in Henry Younge’s, the forester of Barden’s book, a.d , 1437 : ‘ of husset sold to the amount of IV. iiis. viiid.’ (at least fifty pounds of our money), also of bark croppings, turbery (peat turf), and bee-stock. For in the old economy of the forest, wild bee-stocks were always an object of attention, and in France, as well as in England, officers called Bigres or Bigri (a byke was a bee’s nest in Chaitcer’s day), perhaps from Apigeri (bee-keepers) were appointed specially for pursuing the bees and securing their wax and honey. And it is to be remembered that those rugged districts, now stripped of their woods, are spoken of in the Compotus of Bolton as far from destitute of timber. The manor and chase of Barden comprised three thousand two hundred and fifty-two acres. The forest of Skipton. which comprised an area of six miles by four, or fifteen thousand three hundred and sixty acres, seems to have been enclosed from very early times with a pale, a practice indeed, introduced by the Norman Lord. Here the mast bearing and bacciferous trees, particularly the Arbutus, were planted ; and herein were nourished the stag, the wild boar, the fallow deer, the roe, and the oryx (or the wild bull), which, indeed, during the winter were fed with beans, even as the few remaining deer above Bolton are fed still. There was many a ‘ toft and croft ‘ also, as they were called (i.e., a homestead with a space of clear ground around it), where sheep browsed among the brushwood and glades. And so the forest furnished support for those who dwelt in it, either by fair means or foul.” Edmund Bogg. Extract from “Two thousand miles in Wharfedale; a descriptive account of the history, antiquities, legendary lore, picturesque features, and rare architecture of the Vale of the Wharf, from Tadcaster to Cam Fell. Three hundred and twenty illustrations.”

It’s a bit quieter in the forest today, and there seem to be about as many wooden deer produced as live ones.  Here are two people, Jo and Andy,  who came on a woodland course this week.


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