Anatomy of a forester, Day 7


In search of culinary kelp.SAMSUNG CSCWhat’s wrong with this picture?

SAMSUNG CSCNot all things beautiful and crafty are in wood.

SAMSUNG CSCSee that little white cottage at the far right? Sitting on the seawall top:


Obviously a problem with the foundations if this lot of sack concrete had to be laid down.

Well, guess what it’s roofed with?

SAMSUNG CSCYup, straw – it’s thatched justabout.  Looked to us as though stormy seas might send waves crashing down the chimney, although the bay is pretty sheltered.

Here’s how you get to it:

SAMSUNG CSCThe vehicular road stops quite a bit short of many houses in this quaint village by the sea.  And there was no sign of donkeys, nor mules to bring in your stuff for the holidays.  About half the cottages are for holiday use.

Meanwhile …

SAMSUNG CSC… a couple of miles further North. Another, still justabout operational fishing village:

SAMSUNG CSCHow pretty …

SAMSUNG CSCWhere am I? East or West coast, of which county?

Anatomy of a forester, Day 6

Bill Evans extraordinary musical genius, slave and victim (1980) to class A drugs.


Jazz has a hold on me.  I think of it as being the vernacular sitting alongside the classical.

If you never dibbed your toes in, now’s the time to try it out.

Bill in brief

Way in: “The studio album Everybody Digs. Peace Piece (which starts at 26m 50s ) is one of the simplest jazz tracks ever, a thing of extraordinary beauty: same theme all the way through, a series of soft chords in the left hand with the gentlest improvisation in the right.”

If you don’t believe me, read the notes on the sleeve. E.g. “I’ve sure learned a lot from Bill Evans.  He plays the piano the way it should be played.” – Miles Davis.

Anatomy of a forester, Day 5

Woody organisations.

While I became a member of the human race at birth (or possibly before), my memberships are now few, but useful to my current job.

The Regional Furniture Society

People with deep understanding of, among other styles, English vernacular furniture.

Dales Jam

A local Skipton/Settle community band in which I play clarinet badly, fortunately most other members play their instruments better than I do.

The Heritage Crafts Society

Promoting and championing people who make things with their hands (and I’m not including computer programmers).

Coppice Association North West

Name says it all really.

The Association of Green Woodworkers and Pole Lathe Turners, AKA The Bodgers.

The association with the longest title I’ve ever had to repeat to interested parties.

Some societies I regret not being a member of, but there’s still time:

The Society of Friends

William Penn, English member of the Society of Friends, popularly known as Quakers, 1837.Getty Images.

If ’twere possible for all the world to belong to this society, I think the world would be a better place.

  • You can believe in an afterlife, or not.
  • No leaders or preachers.
  • Silence
  • Thoughtfulness
  • Inclusion
  • No shared form of words or ritual
  • Unity with each other and strength to act for justice, peace and truth
  • What is right; not what is expedient.
  •        Courage and conviction not to seek submission to incipient evil.
  •        Peace and brotherhood among nations; not war and preparations for war.
  •        Good taste and simplicity; not dead conformity and display.
  •        Fair and honest dealings; not injustice and avarice.
  •        Broad cultured minds; not selfish intellectualism and coldness.
  •        Wise aid to those in need; not demoralizing charity.
  •        Inward revelation of truth; not dogmatic theology. (Thanks to the article below: “Society of friends Mystery Worship” for these last 7)

Mind you, I’m struggling with the divine presence.

Anatomy of a forester, Day 4


I was never a member of parliament, anyone who wishes to be a member of parliament should be automatically disallowed from standing for election. (That is not why I never sat in The House).  I’m with Groucho Marx here (he of the burnt-cork mustache & eyebrows).

At 5m:49s

I was a member of a grammar school (Although on occasions you would not believe it – Ed) and a comprehensive school. It changed over whilst I was there, well it already had a bit of an identity problem, it used to be called Keighley Boys Grammar School, but that was mostly burnt down in 1962


It was easier getting to school when snowy as there were less horses and carts on High Street.



Memory Lane 1 NovemberAfter:

Mechanicsafter Relocated to Oakworth in 1964 into a new building, KBGS took the name Keighley School (Don’t fall behind here, there were other schools in Keighley).  I started attending when it was six months old.  Four years later, following a national trend it became a comprehensive school (open to all sexes and intelligences), and at the same time renamed itself Oakbank Grammar School – no kidding!

This is what it looks like today (it was about half that size when I attended):

oakbank-school-airOver to the far right of the campus is what used to be the Sixth Form Common Room, built while I attended.  We were, incredibly, allowed to smoke in there.  Surely the health risks were known at that time (1970)!  Mad times, decimalisation, Britain’s new membership of the then Common Market.  I suppose we’d already started smoking shortly before – in the Dutch Barn – ironically a sports facility which looks to have been built over in the latest photo.

I’ve been a member of various organisations over the years, but now only four – all woody – see tomorrow.

Anatomy of a forester, Day 3

The feast of St Jude, a first century apostle who, with St Simon, preached in Persia where they were both martyred. He is the patron saint of lost causes. Not as obscure as his namesake.


Unlike Jude I live in Yorkshire, England.  The county of broad acres. The’re more acres in Yorkshire than there are words in t’bible,  it says here (Have you counted them? -Ed).

map Yrks

OK, The Bible’s exact word count depends on who is doing the tallying, but multiple sources put the King James version at around 788,000 words or more. And “The number of acres covered by Yorkshire is more than the number of letters in the King James Bible.” – The Yorkshire Ridings Society.  Not too difficult – 26 or so letters in King James unless there are a few odd Greek and Hebrew letters kicking about in there. So just how many acres are there in Yorkshire? Well, popular sites quote 3.9M but Vision of Britain puts the figure at 3,671,800 for the ancient administrative area of Yorkshire in the 1831 census, way more than the words in James’ bible.  Mind you the Vision of Britain site says Yorkshire was abolished in 1889 – that one had escaped me!  Supposed to be 3,566,840 letters in the bible (slightly extended alphabet) according to but they are not quoting a source.  Those figures give 4.5 letters per word which doesn’t sound unreasonable. The Guttenberg text version has 824,149 words and 4,251,622 letters, but that probably includes all the verse numbers!

There’s an interesting database of pictures, one per kilometer square here: the Geograph Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike project.

I also live in Craven.  The area now known as ‘Craven’ was once part of a much larger area that was in existence from post-Roman times onward – indeed it may have been one of a number of similar local ‘kingdoms’ scattered throughout the country – and in Domesday Book the whole area was referred to as ‘Cravescire.’ Hence we have various remnants of that historic district – various villages that proudly call themselves Thronton in Craven, Sutton in Craven, and then the excellent Craven Arms pub,  here are the said arms: Craven Arms 010In the 16th century William Craven was born to a pauper’s family in Appletreewick (where the pub is). The Rector of Burnsall found him a job in London, and he travelled by cart to London where he rapidly worked his way up through his employers’ firm, eventually taking it over, making his fortune, and finally becoming Lord Mayor of London.  On his return to Appletreewick he enlarged the High Hall, made the road from Appletreewick to Burnsall, built Burnsall Bridge,

English: Burnsall Bridge, Wharfedale, Yorkshir...

English: Burnsall Bridge, Wharfedale, Yorkshire This bridge carries a minor metalled lane leading to Appletreewick and Parceval Hall (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

built Burnsall School, and repaired St Wilfrids church.

We are also withing the historic wapentake of Staincliffe.

Just to add a silly modern confusion, our postal address is Farnhill, Keighley, West Yorkshire, even though we live about a mile within the borders of North Yorkshire, and pay taxes to North Yorkshire. Doh!

Anatomy of a forester, Day 2

Boxing Day, Saint Stephen’s Day (patron saint of bricklayers). When the snow lay round about deep and crisp and even. Possibly the day when Christmas boxes, or gifts, were handed out to servants, or alms boxes opened and the contents distributed.
The admonitions to “Remember the Poor” were familiar to all who entered the church; for near to the door stood a pillared alms-box of stout oak, made secure with iron bands and padlocks. Post Reformation alms-boxes may still be found at Beeston, Eakring, Edwalton, Car Colston, Fledboro’, Hickling, Hockerton, Kelham, Kirton, Rampton, Sutton-cum-Lound, South Muskham. They are all very similar in design, and bear the initials of the churchwardens, date, and a bold request to “Remember ye. Poore,” while the pre-Reformation alms-boxes, which alas! have all disappeared, were often ornate in design, and bore a variety of texts chiefly taken from Tobit’s instruction to his son Tobias with respect to almsgiving. (Tobit. Chap. IV. v. 7—11.) (Acknowledgement to Nottinghamshire History)

alms-boxesalms box StGregories almsboxBeeston, Nottinghamshire: St John the Baptist

an-extremely-rare-mid-15th-century-english-oak-and-iron-alms-box-roche-abbey-circa-1450-18-5 Funny, the church in Giggleswick, Craven also has an alms box dated 1684. The mathematician and astronomer Bishop Seth Ward was born in Buntingford, where he erected almshouses in 1684.  Well, well, a row of almshouses were built in 1684 in Berkhampsted. They were founded by John Sayer, chief cook to Charles II. They were originally for poor widows.  There are three alms houses dated 1684 with John Brabin’s name in Chipping, Lancashire.  Seems to have been a good year for the poor… but wait! “… the Great Frost of 1683–84 is still the worst frost recorded in England. During the bleak winter of 1684 the River Thames froze for two months solid, leading to London’s legendary Frost Fair being established. Gambling, ice-skating and bear-baiting, all took place on the river which according to contemporary reports was covered in 11inch thick ice. The ground across parts of the UK was also frozen solid meaning no ploughing or planting of crops could take place. 1684 remains the coldest winter in the English instrumental record.” I wonder how many died of starvation and cold.


And from Evelyn’s diary:

24th Jan: The frost continuing more and more severe, the Thames before London was still planted with boothes in formal streetes, all sorts of trades and shops furnish’d and full of commodities, even to a printing presse, where ye people and ladyes tooke a fancy to have their names printed, and the day and yeare set down, when printed on the Thames: this humour tooke so universally, that ’twas estimated the printer gain’d £5. a day, for printing a line onely, at six-pence a name, beside what he got by ballads, &c.
Coaches plied from Westminster to the Temple, and from several other staires to and fro, as in the streetes, sliding with skeetes, a bull-baiting, horse and coach races, puppet plays and interludes, cookes, tipling and other lewd places, so that it seemed a bacchanalian triumph or carnival on the water, whilst it was a severe judgement on the land, the trees not onely splitting as if lightning-struck, but men and cattle perishing in divers[e] places, and the very seas so lock’d up with ice, that no vessels could stir out or come in.
The fowles, fish, and birds, and all our exotiq plants and greenes universally perishing. Many parkes of deer were destroied, and all sorts of fuell so deare that there were greate contributions to preserve the poore alive.
Nor was this severe weather much less intense in most parts of Europe, even as far as Spaine and the most southern tracts.
London, by reason of the excessive coldnesse of the aire hindering the ascent of the smoke, was so filled with the fulginous steame of the sea-coale, that hardly could one see crosse the streets, and this filling the lungs with its grosse particles, exceedingly obstructed the breast, so as one could hardly breathe.
[ Was this the first London Smog? ]
Here was no water to be had from the pipes and engines, nor could the brewers and divers[e] other tradesmen worke, and every moment was full of disastrous accidents.


I hail from masons (Saint Barbara), farmers (St. Benedict of Nursia) and weavers (St. Anastasius the Fuller), with the odd inn keeper (St. Amand) cum bailiff (St. Matthew) thrown in. From Yorkshire and Lancashire, from Wrose, Windhill, Bradford and Padiham, Read, Simonstone. My father was a stomemason, his father a weaver, his father a house painter, his father a joiner, his father a farmer.  I wonder how my forebears weathered that awful Winter.


Anatomy of a forester, Day 1, Christmas Day

The first day of Christmas, well we had a flying start with Christmas on 21st December with our daughter who is elsewhere today.

I enjoy my morning walk on Christmas Day – hardly any traffic, and a leisurely start.  Last night we were at The Craven Arms for a meal and The Penny Plain Theatre company’s traditional mumming play. (Yes, those same of Hardcastle’s Amazing Human Vegetable Machine)

We are now 4 days into the new year as the earth journeys around the sun and the days lengthen by a cock’s stride each day and the nights are shorter by a similar amount.

Here’s what happened on Sam Pepys’Christmas Day in 1661:

Wednesday 25 December 1661

In the morning to church, where at the door of our pew I was fain to stay, because that the sexton had not opened the door. A good sermon of Mr. Mills. Dined at home all alone, and taking occasion from some fault in the meat to complain of my maid’s sluttery, my wife and I fell out, and I up to my chamber in a discontent. After dinner my wife comes up to me and all friends again, and she and I to walk upon the leads, and there Sir W. Pen called us, and we went to his house and supped with him, but before supper Captain Cock came to us half drunk, and began to talk, but Sir W. Pen knowing his humour and that there was no end of his talking, drinks four great glasses of wine to him, one after another, healths to the king, and by that means made him drunk, and so he went away, and so we sat down to supper, and were merry, and so after supper home and to bed.

No TV in those days, but Captain Cock sounds to have been just as tedious!

No work today, the Bodgery deserted, left to the birds, no doubt there will be people passing by and wondering why I’m not having Christmas dinner there.  I’m glad I don’t have to go out and milk cows twice like I had to as a boy.  Many people have to work on Sundays, but lighthouse keepers no longer as there are none round the England and Wales,  the last keepers were withdrawn from North Foreland in 1998 by the 500 year old Trinity House, established by royal charter of Henry VIII

Henry VIII of England, who devised the Statute...

Henry VIII of England. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

. Wolf Rock, 8 nautical miles off Lands End.

Have a good and peaceful Christmas, and if you have time polish up your boxes ready for the morrow.

Forester’s Christmas tree (peeled beech twigs, with a little hazel).