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.








Delivery into the past peculier bench

We’ve been to the peculier of Masham. Delivering.

First we went to Hackfall (again) and among lots of other things we saw this elm pipe, water delivery – now in use as a bench (there are a couple of themes in this post).  The hole in this pipe was bored by hand using a large (I would estimate 4 inch) spoon bit with a decently sized handle – I’d be going for about 5 foot long.

Like this:

I think the near end is the butt of one tapered pipe broken off inside the female end of the complete one.  The other end is tapered where it fit into the next one along.  If it was anything to do with me I’d be preserving this in a perhaps more sympathetic way than as a bench.  We don’t really have elms big enough to make pipes from anymore, and I bet those spoon drills are hard to come by, not to mention chaps tough enough to turn ’em, remember spoon bits have no leader and need to be pushed in all the way through.  This one was about 5 foot long.  This pipe must have been used to lead water to the restored fountain that works from a natural spring, but was off today.

The ramsons were out in force.

As was Jack by the Hedge, along with his pals, nettles and goose grass.

Apparently Jack i’th’hedge is a good substitute for garlic for those folk who don’t like their garlic too strong.

The violets were out too.

Did I mention it doesn’t cost anything to visit this wood and is in driving distance of home, and we were on our way to The Old Mill anyway?  No aeroplanes involved.

One of the many pleasure features:

And another:

Feast your eyes on those masonry joints.  This is how Coldstones Cut should have been executed, can’t they do this anymore?

Dead wood felled and lying to rot, also opening up a stream vista  I know dead wood is a great conservation asset, but there were quite a few good straight-grained pieces of ash and oak that would have been great to work.

There was a great rough cut bench in Hackfall, loved it (watch out for forthcoming pale imitations!)

Hackfall is next to the village of Grewelthorpe – very easy on the eye:

Look at those Yorkshire corbels stopping the roof coping stones slipping off the eaves.  The near-to roofs have them absent – watch out below!  Chimneys in variety still in use.

In Masham, we noticed the primary school was still in a very old building, even though extended as recently as 1834:

Great, good to see an offset door and the old school bell.

Masham is just far enough away from everywhere else to have its own personality – like this part of Quaker Terrace:

Get those original Yorkshire sliding sashes – what other type of window is needed? Not sure whether this is a barber’s shop as the pole suggests, but it smelled like one.

The town is well worth visiting, and even had a vegetable shop.  There is a very large market place where the Saturday market is held.  I might also mention that there are both Theakston  and Black Sheep brewery in Masham which has a thirsty population of only about 1,200 souls.

And at last we arrived to deliver the bench – here it is at The Old Mill (you can commission your own in my shop):

As a bonus there is an apotropaic daisy wheel on the window head (click on the image to enlarge) you don’t want the evil one in your mill now, do you?

You maybe can’t see but the arms are styled on sycamore seed wings, but the bench is all solid oak from Bolton Abbey.  Phew, that was a lot of work, must sit down.

Busy, busy, busy

OK, opened the charcoal kiln:

Not a bad burn. Made 29 5 kilo sacks of top class barbecue charcoal. Quite a few ‘brown ends’ where the wood has not quite converted, but these help start the next burn. Looks like I stopped it just at the right time as there is evidence of the charcoal starting to burn at two of the inlet ports. It was quite windy during the burn so some care was required with controlling the air inlets. Very technical involving slabs of wood and socks filled with sand.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I’ve been making a display ladder for the bowls

I borrowed the idea from Saul at Wild About Wood. His is a hurdle construction, while mine is more of a turned affair. I’m afraid I’m going to have to keep this way from visitors’ hands as they will never be able to manage handling them without dropping the bowls (from past experience!)

Just about completed the round three-legged stool

I’ll take another when it’s complete as it looks a little crooked in this one. It is true really, honest!

The ramsons are really thick now that Spring is well under way:

But still awaiting leave flush, although there are signs on the sycamores and hazels. The bluebells are just starting to flower

At least three are round my workshop.

But always at my back I hear / Time’s wingéd charriot hurrying near.

Spring is well under way now in Strid.

The bluebell leaves are everywhere, and where they’re not there is wild garlic:

Most people will see these two easily, but if you look more closely there is an abundance of other plants shooting up.

Wood anenomy, one of my favourite Spring flowers:

Dogs mercury, as it’s name suggest, poisonous and very thickly spread in Strid:

Even the wild strawberries are back:

Down by the River Wharfe the butterburrs are sprouting through. I think they look pretty alien, I assume they are of a very old genesis:

The dipper now is separate from its mate who is presumably nesting. You maybe able to make out the white spot of his breast feathers at the far side in the river, standing on a semi-submerged stone:


I’ve not just been idly snapping photos either. Yesterday I made this bowl (not quite finished yet):

And today I need to get more felled wood back to the woodpile and sheeted before, the plants are too tall, the birds nest, the wood starts to spoil … and people start making shelters & bridges with it or chucking it into the river. Cleared most of it now with the help of some asylum seekers from all the trouble spots in the world.

On with the work; load of logs to make, shift wood, get ready for the Knaresborough Castle medeval do on Saturday, edit bowl carving video (watch this space), chop, chop!