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.





“An yll wynde that blowth no man to good, men say.” John Heywood’s A dialogue conteinyng the nomber in effect of all the prouerbes in the Englishe tongue, 1546

The best thing about being on holiday is that you can do a bit of work for relaxation from holidaying.  On Christmas’ Day Even a high wind blew and brought down an old ash tree that has been a creaking gate for some years (I remember a bough falling off it when I was a child about 50 years ago).

SAMSUNG CSCIt fell rather inconveniently partly into The Leeds Liverpool Canal, almost blocking the way:

SAMSUNG CSCIt looked much worse before we started clearing it out with a handy winch, all my straps and a couple of chain saws.  It was a wonder, really that the tree had managed to stand up so long, the root-ball was almost entirely rotten.

SAMSUNG CSCI’m not an expert on tree fungi, but this one has been at work on the tree for a long time, and I’m expecting the stem to be at least partly hollow.

SAMSUNG CSCMost of the wood will end up in my log store, but there maybe a chance of getting out a couple of planks with the BIG SAW and Alaskan mill.  The thinning chain saw is certainly going to need a good sharpening, even though the muddy logs that had embedded in the bottom of the canal were avoided.


SAMSUNG CSCI’ve brushed off the worst of the mud and the wind and rain now falling should help out a lot finishing the job.  We’re certainly going to have plenty of good ash logs for some time.

SAMSUNG CSCAnd then fortuitously our neighbour’s fence blew down too, so that’s the kindling sorted out for this Winter too.  Just a bit short of newspaper now …



Workshops part 1

I’m reading “The Workshop Book” by Scott Landis.

This is in preparation for the building of a Winter bolthole for when the mercury gets way low (for Yorkshire) so I can go inside instead of this:

snowy bodgeryAs I approach 61 years my fortitude diminishes and cold feet become not so much an annoyance as a complete distraction from work.  OK this bolthole is still on the stocks for 2013/14, but I am determined it will be real for 2014/15 (sounds like a long, long way off right now).

Anyway, on a very positive note, Scott refers me to a film of Ben Thresher’s Mill, runs off water power and makes real things.  If you have 58 minutes to spare, I promise you they will not be wasted in watching this film.,187


Not Spring yet

Although March is now with us and it also stopped raining about two weeks ago, the temperature is still dropping to below freezing most nights.  However, it’s sunny, and last week I enjoyed a couple of luncheons at my Riverside Canteen:

SAMSUNG CSCThe river looks good and even has a blue cast in the sunshine:

SAMSUNG CSCWhile actually the water is a tannin brown:

SAMSUNG CSCCoppicing continues at Wood Nook as there are only flower buds, but no leaf-burst as yet.  David did some good dead hedging to keep the deer from getting at the new growth and nibbling off the ends. It looked rather good.


SAMSUNG CSCI don’t think he was too impressed with my attempts, but then we were running out of brash to use as material, it is rather time-consuming to build, and there is more hazel to be cut down this year.

SAMSUNG CSCI used my wigwam construction on the large stool previously mentioned:

SAMSUNG CSCI’m sure the best plan would be a deer-proof fence around the whole coppice land parcel, but the management plan, strangely does not seem to provide for that.



Should have been a stonemason

Well I would have been a stonemason if I’d been born a hundred years ago.


My Great Uncle Martin.

Several of my ancestors worked in stone and what work those old masons used to produce.  Here is a selection I took from around my village on Friday, as the Winter bike having had a new chain fitted, along with new brake blocks all round (occasioning really filthy hands), has done the usual trick of complaining that it would rather like a few new chain wheels as I changed the chain too late and the chain now jumps at those tricky moments like when straining against the pedals uphill.  Anyway, to resume.  Here is a simple ball:

SAMSUNG CSCEach individual chisel mark can still be seen.  This ball is about 18″ in diameter and my brother reckons they used to take a day to make.  And they are not turned. Amazing in their perfect simplicity.

From a mighty ball to really delicate vernacular grave stone style:
SAMSUNG CSCWhat artefact could be more beautiful?

Reminds me of the strapwork of Mr Folansbee, but it appears so free-flowing.  The next is from a later gravestone, probably Victorian, but wow!



Almost makes me want a headstone myself, but I suppose Amazon would charge very highly for delivery.  I’ll make do with an oak sapling.
Now here’s one of the older properties in Farnhill:

SAMSUNG CSCIt has been altered over the years and would have originally had windows all the same as the upstairs ones with stone mullions.  Pure vernacular. I was over the wrong-side of the canal so I couldn’t get close enough in to see what has happened to the date on the door lintel, but here’s a blow up:


Looks like the date in the lower centre panel has been removed. Why?  A mystery.  Maybe it’s 1716, must get a closer look.

I have been doing a little woodwork between felling, tushing and trudging about in the snow.  Mended the horse, attempted three threaded rods for another screw clamp, but found what I thought was cherry was alder (wildly weak and unsuitable.)  Made a brace of hurdles.  The odd badger, preparing for a memory box and a set of these big boys:

SAMSUNG CSCCheese boards for a country wedding.  It’s spalted beech from a tree that has been left in log for three years.  There is just about enough nature left in it to get away with.  Looks pretty eh? Thanks Nature.


Ah well, blue skies returned last week and are still here, feels a bit Spring-like, but there will doubtless be a Wintery sting in the tail to endure yet – remember Candlemas was sunny too. Here it is bursting through over Silsden and Barden Moors:


And here it is over my felling site:




Past Candlemas

Now we’re past Candlemas (2nd of February), I’ve taken down the Winter lights.

Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, London

Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, Candlemas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If Candlemas Day is bright and clear,
There’ll be two winters in the year.
Scottish poem (Anon) Drat it was a really sunny day yesterday.

Also managed to break the glass on the Tilley lamp, but I shouldn’t need it again until next November.  Snowdrops are outSAMSUNG CSC.

And it’s getting lighter of a morningSAMSUNG CSC

The ducks are fratting.  The snow has temporarily retreated.
SAMSUNG CSCSo busy in the bodgery with a few jobs

SAMSUNG CSCOak spindles for a customer’s chair repair.  Quite a chair week last week, I’ve been slowly working on a garden bench, and when David came along he built up enough courage to add the undercarriage to the child’s chair he’s working on.

SAMSUNG CSCIt’s surprising how strong a chair suddenly becomes with rungs and stretcher fixed.  We were quite like a joiner’s shop.


SAMSUNG CSCPlenty of shavings for lighting the fire today, must get that syrup tin swapped over.



Working methods

I don’t work like this but some people probably should (YOU – Ed.) It’s 20 minutes, but a good watch on your day off when you can’t get out for yet another 7 inches of snow.

Not sure about bullet # VIII Knolling, my bench isn’t very big.  Also it’s not entirely square, nor is t’workshop, and Strid Wood no way is square … man.