A Nature Walk

When I was a lad at school (this is before the Beatles were invented) we used to go on nature walks from school along the banks of the Leeds and Liverpool canal. We picked wild flowers (imagine that) and brought them back to school to identify and draw.

At work I sometimes treat myself to a post prandial stroll through Strid Wood to see what’s going on. On Thursday it was get your boots on Spring.



Not very much in the way of colour (other than green) but then the ramsons are back!  Wild garlic, a delight to the palette and an intense green.  Here be green flowers.


This is dogs mercury.  The mercury bit gives a clue to its toxicity.  But it is about the first flower to bloom in these woods, and it blows for many months – in fact some of last year’s stalks are still standing with a few dishevelled leaves (mainly through the absence of any snow).

This isn’t wild garlic, Lords and Ladies methinks, not palatable, but also very green.



Look at this – wild strawberry leaves.


And these guys are here almost all the time, sometimes 20 foot up in the trees.



And then there’s moss.



Lots of it, climbing anything raised from the woodland litter.



Sometimes creating a landscape of its own, with sinister companions.

SAMSUNG CSCOk more sinister.

SAMSUNG CSCRather like trees.

SAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSCAnd they like trees.



No fear of man-made sawing horses either.



(These can be used as splitting breaks too.)

I been doing woodwork too. Planing ash.

SAMSUNG CSCTo make a test stool leg.



But really I’d like to do some painted work that would look like this.








Leisurely pursuits of noble ladies of North Yorkshire

Edith Sitwell

English: Portrait of Edith Sitwell

English: Portrait of Edith Sitwell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

was born in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, the oldest child and only daughter of Sir George Sitwell, 4th Baronet, of Renishaw Hall; he was an expert on genealogy and landscaping.  Her mother was the former Lady Ida Emily Augusta Denison, a daughter of the Earl of Londesborough and a granddaughter of Henry Somerset, 7th Duke of Beaufort. She claimed a descent through female lines from the Plantagenets.” -Wikithingamobob.

My brother greeted me today on my return from the woods with a book of North Yorkshire 100 years ago (The North Riding of one hundred years ago by David Gerrard, Alan Sutton ISBN 0-7509-0292-2).  It definitely was another country back then.

Here’s how the mother of Edith (above, famous poet(ess)) got her kicks:


Well, well.  Nothing like a bit of fun and sport.  I hope they used proper rat catchers’ sticks. You know, the ones a bit like a hockey stick but stickier.

1900 The Sitwell Family by John Singer Sargent

1900 The Sitwell Family by John Singer Sargent (Photo credit: Sacheverelle)





Pictures of an English Winter

SAMSUNG CSCWe’re having a rather typical English Winter, wet and cold, not much snow at all, or even frost.  Rather grey, so when the sun shines through the trees covered in raindrops, it looks rather pretty.

All the rain makes the river run high and as it washes away the sand the early Spring plants show through, rather too early.


These are butterburrs which will be in their ‘other planet’ bloom in a couple of months time.  The snow drops are much more seasonal.  I reckon these get washed down into the wood fron gardens upstream.

SAMSUNG CSCAll this moist atmosphere makes for much moss and ferns.


This one looks almost humanoid.

SAMSUNG CSCHere’s some sycamore (acer pseudoplatanus) I’m making into a duck bowl, hopefully.

SAMSUNG CSCIt has an interesting orange hue in the more mature inner wood, not sure if it will stay longer term.

SAMSUNG CSCHere’s some work in hand.

SAMSUNG CSCOn Thursday (my Friday) after above photo was taken,  I discovered that a spoon neck gouge is rather better than a knife or a drawknife for the tricky shaping of the neck and tail transitions where the grain direction is rather like the transition between the handle and bowl when carving a spoon except a much bigger area and challenge.  Watch this space.

Quack, quack.  As the lady mallard ducks have started repetitively calling around here.






Peter Folansbee has a book stand in his workshop.  I didn’t spot it when I visited last year, and I expect it is now packed away awaiting its new home.  Peter wrote these posts about making it, there is also an entertaining (as ever) program on the Woodwright’s Shop.

So, having a growing collection of large books on oak furniture I decided I would make one too.  It’s just about all turned work:



I made the acorn-ended horizontal members and dried them at home along with the two back stays, or the stay and the ratchet.  The stiles were turned and drilled green, and then I found my estimation of sizing had gone awry:



I’d made the ratchet base too short so had to turn another and dry it before the stiles dried too much.  I guess Peter must work from photographs quite a bit and so estimating sizes is a useful skill.  I used this picture of Peter’s post.

I have a copy of Early British Chars and Seats (good pictures) so I could do some sizing using that.  It turned out OK:

SAMSUNG CSCBut now I’d like to make a scaled down version, or maybe a hinged Roubo version.

Back at the workshop the sun came back yesterday!



But we’re not out of Winter yet, so it’s logging today.  Many more fires to be lit before Spring.  May even make a little hazel charcoal for a spot of forging in David’s new hearth.  Phil Gregson reckons it burns hot.