Those Autumn Leaves

Not long ago there were this many leaves on the trees.  Now there are very few.  Not so bad as the form of the trees shows better without leaves.

Both wood stoves are now running at home, so logging is on the agenda.  Today Theo and I found a decent-sized ash deposited in a cut off of the Wharfe.  We’ll be logging it next Tuesday when he’s back for his regular work experience session.

On Sunday morning (a work day for me) three chaps were busy clearing rabbits from a neighbouring farmer’s field using ferrets and purse nets.

They looked to have quite a haul of game.  These creatures were introduced as a source of food for the wealthy in warrens (some of them royal), but inevitably nature got the better of us and they ran wild, now there are lots of rabbits, and some think too many.  It’s getting to the same pass with pheasants, which look like becoming a popular garden bird (even though they were introduced from Georgia!)

I’ve been busy in the bodgery making deer and table centre pieces:

These boards and the deer are available in my shop.

Woods across the border

I’ve been away in Cumbria for the day with Coppice Association North West in Moss & Heights Spring wood.  It was a good day, and good to meet a few more woody folk.  It was a bit damp at first and the fire was a bit of a challenge:

But it came good in the end:

How much woods vary, this one had a much more open feeling than Strid which lies in a steep valley.  Here the views were open up to the Lake District with its mountains (the lower southern ones in the top picture above)

Some coppicing was done, until Twiggy hit an unseen length of wire with her chainsaw.  She luckily escaped with a minor puncture to her face, could have been a lot worse (and yes the helmet vizor was down).

This was my first experience of proper coppice cutting for useful material.

Only a half-dozen members turned up so it wasn’t a lot of work, but some useful stuff was produced for working on.  I took away birch for elves, shrink pots and spoons.  Others were taking the birch tops for besoms.

Two dogs were out – Jim’s Tilly and Mike’s labrador dog. Tilly’s a typical Jack Russel – here hunting mice:

Reminded me of our old Spot the dog.  Tilly is very protective of her territory, and rather coquettish with Mike’s dog. Her she is reclining in her barge:

I’m hoping to be doing some coppicing nearer home next, fingers crossed.

Away from the woods for a bit.

For woody stuff & quiz, see further down.

We’ve been in Northumberland, “up North” for three days (our ‘main’ Summer (read “Autumn”) holiday).  We stayed in Bamborough with its splendid castle above and below:

It really is a pile.  Seat of Northumbrian kings from time immemorial and more latterly, from Victorian times, belonging to the Armstrong family.  It sits on an old piece of igneous rock formed in a volcano, right next to the sand dunes and sea.  It is complete with a Norman keep, disused windmill, aviation museum and glazed brick Victorian stables.

The building stone looks to be the same red sandstone stuff used for Glasgow tenements – and not terribly durable:

Even the refurbishments look to be going the same way in places,

although much of the restoration (the castle was wrecked in an artillery onslaught in 1464 during the War of the Roses) uses stronger stuff.  Quite a challenge standing up to the German Ocean’s salty winds day after day (well we found an hour or two challenging enough!).

But the setting is stunning, feast your eyes on these beaches:

The beach really is first class: uncrowded (at least in October!); really clean with hardly any plastic stuff and big (for England).

Lots of fauna too:

I also gathered some kelp for kombu, nom, nom.

On our way to Bamborough we called in at dangerous Chillingham:

I didn’t fancy being pierced in the rear end (or anywhere else) by these chaps:

They are members of the very select group – Chillingham Wild White Cattle.  A distinct bloodline back to the wild British cattle, now only living in Chillingham, Northumberland on the estate park and less than 100 in number.  Magnificent beasts, but much smaller in stature than our modern hybrids. Tough and compact.

Woody stuff

On the estate I spotted this avenue of blasted limes (I believe)

If you click on the photo for an enlarged version you will see that the tops have all been killed off, presumably by a blast of wind, except that they didn’t seem to be exposed to the prevailing Westerly winds, oh well, the lower branches looked to be in good order so the tops will be repaired in good time no doubt.

Backtracking a little to Bamborough Castle contents, here is an interesting project for a woodworker – the original bone shaker:

Yes its an early wooden bike.  I particularly like the arrangement of the spokes on the wheel boss (hub).

On the way back from the hols we called in at Alnwick gardens, an interesting modern project:

Much playful water and formal (too formal for me) plantings.  But also a very interesting project:

This is the level entry bridge to a rather large tree house:

This has been skilfully designed and built to float in amongst a grove of 20 lime trees and comply with strict building and fire regulations.  It has a massive deck housing a large restaurant, second floor toilets and private hire space and two fire escapes, as well as an aerial walkway complete with two wibbly wabbly suspension bridges.  Well worth a visit, but … why the heck wasn’t the cladding in shingles done in a craftsmanlike way that did not recall some B-movie cowboy film set? Doh!

Now a double quiz for ye:

What’s my bark?

Should be pretty easy there are some heavy clues there.

Here’s the answer:

betula pendula silver birch.

And, what’s my fruit …

And why would it be described as a DA?

 

Answer – dog’s arse – that the way it looks to some people – even Shakespeare.

I’ll leave you with some interesting rustic chairs I spotted in the tree house:

This is m’fungus.

A stinkhorn (phallus impudicus).  It only takes about an hour to expand once it breaks through the veil, but I had to wait a week for the breakthrough.


Somewhat unfortunately I was unable to take the final photograph in the series as Jane came home before me, and as the stinkhorn truly does stink (rotting flesh) she put it outdoor, opened the windows, burnt two papiers d’Armenie and made a curry.

Here it is in its full stinking glory:

They normally expand vertically, but it must have been hampered by sitting in the glass.

The great destroyers

A couple of weekends ago I went on a fungi foray in St Ives Estate at Bingley.  It’s good to have an expert, in this case Bob Taylor, to guide and explain. I took a walk around my workshop in Strid Wood and found quite a range of fungi.

For identification it’s good to split between fungi with gills (like mushrooms from the store), fungi without gills (mostly with tubes or pores but also where the spores are in slime).  Those that grow on trees, and those that grow on the ground (but the actual plant may be living in association with trees roots, or buried rotting wood).  It is also helpful to note what trees are nearby.

Above there’s the purple gill fungus I’ve seen before in Strid and I reckon it must be the amethyst deceiver.  The darker bracket is the many zoned polypore.  I think the red capped one may be a russula, but there are many!

What I like is the wide variety of colours and forms, look at this beauty:

The blusher, I believe.

The next one is smelt. more frequently than seen as it smells of rotting flesh!

This is the stink horn.  On the foray a stink horn ‘egg’ was found which does look like an egg but contains the above wrinkled up and ready to pop and distribute its spores via flies in a dark smelly jelly.

There are masses of these (I think they’re armillaria cepistipes, a member of the honey fungus family) bursting out of the felled beech tree that forms one leg of my lathe, I hope they are not too efficient  in disposing of it, or I’ll need a new leg.

These are the full-grown ones:

This beech, felled three years ago is gradually blending into the woodland litter, a bramble climbs over it:

Beetles eat away unseen under the bark, apart from the mounds of sawdust they produce.

Well it’s that time of year, and soon it will be time for getting the long johns out of their Summer recess!

The great destroyers

A couple of weekends ago I went on a fungi foray in St Ives Estate at Bingley.  It’s good to have an expert, in this case Bob Taylor, to guide and explain. I took a walk around my workshop in Strid Wood and found quite a range of fungi.

For identification it’s good to split between fungi with gills (like mushrooms from the store), fungi without gills (mostly with tubes or pores but also where the spores are in slime).  Those that grow on trees, and those that grow on the ground (but the actual plant may be living in association with trees roots, or buried rotting wood).  It is also helpful to note what trees are nearby.

Above there’s the purple gill fungus I’ve seen before in Strid and I reckon it must be the amethyst deceiver.  The darker bracket is the many zoned polypore.  I think the red capped one may be a russula, but there are many!

What I like is the wide variety of colours and forms, look at this beauty:

The blusher, I believe.

The next one is smelt. more frequently than seen as it smells of rotting flesh!

This is the stink horn.  On the foray a stink horn ‘egg’ was found which does look like an egg but contains the above wrinkled up and ready to pop and distribute its spores via flies in a dark smelly jelly.

There are masses of these (I think they’re armillaria cepistipes, a member of the honey fungus family) bursting out of the felled beech tree that forms one leg of my lathe, I hope they are not too efficient  in disposing of it, or I’ll need a new leg.

These are the full-grown ones:

This beech, felled three years ago is gradually blending into the woodland litter, a bramble climbs over it:

Beetles eat away unseen under the bark, apart from the mounds of sawdust they produce.

Well it’s that time of year, and soon it will be time for getting the long johns out of their Summer recess!