Bodgers’ Ball

Hello!

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We were at The Bodgers’ Ball at Wimpole Hall this last weekend and had a great time. Took the De Waard tent and collected my daughter Nim from Cambridge railway station.

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A bright start to Saturday morning.

SAMSUNG CSCOne of the good things about camping is cooking out-of-doors.  Nim’s tucking into porridge with raisins.  This is real porridge where the oats are just hulled and cut.  This means they need to be soaked overnight and then cooked for about half an hour.  We use charcoal, shavings that have flown, Kelly kettle, dutch oven and a great little Vietnamese charcoal cooker:

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Bolton Abbey charcoal, of course, easy to light, burns hot and long, and a steal at £3 a 2.5kg (easily portable under the arm), made from FSC woodland thinnings (Ok, less of the gratuitous self-advertising – Ed).  On Friday night we had fine couscous with a ladies fingers curry, 4 course dinner on Saturday was, sweetcorn cobs, barbecued veggie kebabs with grilled pitta bread, then sweet followed; barbecued bananas filled with chocolate.  I had a handful of syrup tin potatoes at this point then we had home-made cake and coffee.  Then the residual heat was used to stat the porridge soaking.

As you can guess from above, I did a bit of scything.  I’m just beginning learning this skill so I managed to pick up a few tips from the more experienced people there.  The meadow was a mixture containing fescues which dull your blade quickly because it contains silica.  I wasn’t sure whether it was that or my sharpening or cutting technique causing poor cutting.

There was Doug Joiner there doing some demo horse logging, here’s Simon from The Hall getting a bit of tutoring:

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Simon’s energy in organising and running the Ball was immense  Wimpole Hall and model farm is run by The National Trust and has quite a few heavy horses of its own.  Mostly the breed is Shire horses which apparently are on the endangered list.

SAMSUNG CSCThese are some of their cattle, an Irish breed, you can tell they are a heritage breed from that very square body.  Compare some of the old paintings, here’s out local Craven Heifer, much celebrated in pub names round home:

Even though the regimen is RSPCA Freedom Food it looked to me like the hooves of some of them needed clipping as they were very overgrown, I suppose lying about in crap all day doesn’t help, I suppose they’ll be let out once the grass is long enough.

There was such a lot going on, you really need to go to appreciate that.  Many pole lathes (all different designs) tool auction, log to leg racing, food, AGM, straw-plaiting, hedge laying, scything, timber hewing, purse net making (for rabbit ferreting), new and secondhand tools, and much more.  Such as Mr Nic Westerman making an axe from scratch.  He was using coke rather than charcoal – don’t blame him, an axe is a big chunk of steel!  Have a look on his website – he has some really beautiful leaf fobs that actually look like the species they represent.

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Here’s his natty forge made from what looks to be a wagon wheel, I wonder what the secret of the magic bellows box can be.  Runs from a 12 volt battery and there’s a switch hanging from the forge edge lower left.

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I bought quite a few items including a really beaut. of a plough plane – here it is already in service on the story/shepherd’s chair:
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That router can go back in its box now, noisy, dusty dangerously frightening semi-controllable beggar!

I bought a good flat adze in the auction to replace the one that grew legs and walk off from my workshop whilst unshafted. Also a new pair of large size log tongs. If you handle large lumps of wood get some of these, they will save your back and make life much more pleasant believe me – they are a dream when loading and unloading my trailer with 4 foot felled timbers. They become like an extension of your arm, and with practice you can throw a log and release it by jerking the tongs in a special way (Glad you didn’t try to make that particular point an instructable, remember the cost of your public liability insurance – Ed).

Also on my shopped for list were two hessian sacks, rather hard to come by these days, but good for informal rain hoods, aprons, bagging shavings or small children (Steady on! – Ed) OK small animals then.  They need a good banging with a carpet beater but today it’s going to pour it down all morning – floods appearing already.  Got a couple of presents for friends too.  Sean Hellman sold me a cake of pink honing compound, I’m finding Autosol that I’ve used up to now a bit too messy, so having a swap.

I visited the Shed Therapy setup and I’m rather taken with their ‘Make a Pencil’ activity for kids – should go down well at shows, and it’s Otley Show this coming Saturday.  Gavin has posted me some pencil leads so here’s hoping they arrive in time.

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OK I need to post this or it will be next week.

To finish a few pictures on the shepherd’s chair progress, making lambs tongue stops on the back frame members’ chamfers:

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Wild about Wood

Just returned from a good weekend at Kew at Castle Howard’s Wild about Wood.  Pretty busy with a joint display of turning on the pole lathe, making a stool, have a goes and three charcoal burns:

But Jane was there helping out, and so was Richard D (many thanks for sterling efforts both!)

The Friday burn turned out the usual amount of brown ends, but far too many on Saturday’s burn, emptied Sunday.  I’d closed it down too early, but the brown ends went back in and the outturn of Sunday’s burn, opened today was just two bags of charcoal and NO brown ends at all.  It was a little tricky watching the burn smoke colour and chatting to people and doing demos, sometimes all at the same time.  However, the emphasis of the weekend was education and several groups of people went away knowing much more about charcoal than they did when they came in.  A couple of people also learnt the difference between sawdust and shavings (and they were not children!)  Bit showery on Saturday, but a lovely sunny day Sunday with lots of visitors.

We camped in our classic 2nd hand de Waard dutch tent and cooked all-in-one-pot meals each night in the dutch oven.

The arboretum is really well laid out in what used to be parkland with mature oaks and chestnuts, and much more recent plantings of trees from around the world.  Lots of different oaks etc.  Here’s a sample of the trees and vistas:

The lathe was set up in a little hornbeam copse.

We also had a surprise visit from two German journeymen carpenters who were looking for work at The Arboretum.

They were wearing the traditional carpenter’s dress and were fully trained craftsmen looking for further experience by travelling. You can read more about the German journeyman system here on Robin Wood’s blog.

The Norfolk Coast

Part two of our staycation was at Happisburgh last weekend, where we went for the joint 60th of two old friends, so to speak. (well they’re only 60!). On the way there we called in at Holt for the excellent second-hand bookshop in Fish Hill

We also called in at Felbrigg Hall briefly, to use their facilities – I always enjoy seeing the cropped trees in parkland

Norfolk has such wonderful skies – especially near the sea

I got up early and took my own photograph

There is trouble with coastal erosion at Happisburgh and the greenheart sea defences are crumbling in the face of the North Sea

We had a great party with two live bands

A bonfire

And barbecue

It was a chance to try out our new (to us) 1985 vintage de Waard tent

And to wish that hops grew in the hedgerows where we live