A grand afternoon out at Parcevall Hall,Wharfedale

SAMSUNG CSCI nearly saw a magnolia today.

SAMSUNG CSCThey were just bursting their buds.

SAMSUNG CSCBet they’ll be better tomorrow.

SAMSUNG CSCGood setting – masonry to die for.  All this stone has been hauled a long way and worked by hand.  Look how those steps are laid out.  I’d like to have been there when they were laying some of these stones – like that key-stone – must weigh at least 2 hundredweight or more.  Some of the coping stones on top of the walls looked like they would need at least four strong men to lift ’em.  Or perhaps a block and tackle and shearlegs?

More masonry:

SAMSUNG CSCAh, stone, valleys and stone field walls – that’s m’Yorkshire.  Pity nearly all the chimneys are capped off.  The double ones are particularly perverse.

Some one had a good idea about wooden studs in a door.

SAMSUNG CSCTurned out in the long run that it wasn’t so good, even though split-wedged at the back, some fell out.  I think we need more tapered drill bits.

I’d like one of these in my garden.

SAMSUNG CSCAnd mebbee a little one of these.

SAMSUNG CSCBut I would have to move home about ten miles, and it’s higher and colder there. It’s outcrop limestone.  Outcrop means it is the stone of the land coming up to the surface – not laid by man.

The cherry was in good heart, “If there’s not enough room on those twigs, I’m just gunner bloom from my trunk.”



Speaking of trunks, you need to watch out that some invader doesn’t choose yours as a good place to grow.

SAMSUNG CSCMistletoe growing on an apple tree.

So much wood, so many uses.


That’ll keep those bloody sheep out. (Not the underwater swimmers mind – Ed.)

PS In case you were wondering:

Sir Perceval of the Round Table marries Arthur’s sister Acheflour, but is killed in a tournament by the Red Knight. Rejecting knightly culture, Acheflour retreats into the forest with their young son, also called Perceval, taking only some goats and a small spear. After fifteen years she explains Christianity to Perceval and, excited by her stories, he searches for God in the forest. He meets Ywain, Gawain and Kay and, seeing their rich clothes, asks which one is God. When Gawain informs him that they are Arthur’s knights, Perceval resolves to be knighted too. He mounts a wild mare, and although his mother is upset, she advises him on courtesy and gives him a ring.

On his way to Arthur’s court, Perceval enters a hall and finds a lady sleeping; he kisses her and exchanges her ring for Acheflour’s. When he arrives, Arthur recognises his uncouth nephew and agrees to knight him, but as they dine the Red Knight bursts into the hall and steals Arthur’s goblet. Perceval promises to retrieve the cup: riding out of the court before Arthur can give him armour, he pursues the Knight and kills him with his spear. The youth takes his horse but, confused by his armour, attempts to burn it off the body. Gawain arrives and helps him put it on, but Perceval decides to seek more adventures. He kills the Red Knight’s mother, a witch, then encounters an old knight and his sons, who are delighted to hear that he has slain their enemy.

A messenger on his way to Arthur’s court informs Perceval that Lady Lufamour of Maydenland is being besieged by a Sultan. He immediately sets off, and Arthur, delighted to learn that Perceval is alive, follows him with three knights. Perceval arrives in Maydenland and defeats the Saracens overnight. He is welcomed by Lufamour, who promises to marry him if he kills the Sultan. The following day he defeats the Saracen reinforcements then rides against Arthur, mistaking him for the Sultan. He jousts with Gawain but they recognise one another and are joyfully reunited. The Sultan arrives, demanding to fight a champion: Arthur knights Perceval who soon beheads his enemy. He and Lufamour are married, while Arthur returns to court.

After a year, Perceval sets out to find his mother. On his way he meets the woman with whom he exchanged rings: her lover, the Black Knight who gave her the ring (a protective charm), has accused her of infidelity. Perceval fights the knight, but spares him when he promises to forgive his lady. Perceval offers to re-exchange rings, but the knight has given Acheflour’s ring to the Sultan’s brother, a ferocious giant. Perceval beheads the giant and retrieves the ring, but learns from a porter that his mother saw the ring and, believing her son to be dead, went mad and fled into the woods. Perceval replaces his armour with goat skins and sets off on foot. He finds Acheflour by a well and carries her back to the castle, where she is cured. They return to Maydenland together and Perceval joins the crusades where he is slain after many victories.

From: Mary Flowers Braswell, Sir Perceval of Galles and Ywain and Gawain. Kalamazoo, Michigan: Medieval Institute Publications, 1995.
Manuscript: Lincoln Cathedral Library, MS 91 (Thornton Manuscript)

Old wood, old trees

This log store keeps on needing filled (as they like to grammaticise in Scotland).SAMSUNG CSCAt the moment I seem to be mostly cutting and moving wood around.  The logs above are old.  From about 3 or 4 years ago cuttings.  Straight-grained and ash, but no longer use for much else than fire logs.  I’m needing to move them out of the Bodgery wood pile to make room for more recent stuff, like this ash I collected this morning at 7:20am.

SAMSUNG CSCHere it is in the wild, on the canal bank.  I had to do a 90 degree right-hand turn from a busy trunk road into a fairly narrow field gate opening, hence the early hour.

SAMSUNG CSCYou can see why one of them was taken down by contractors to the canal trust, going hollow.  You may be able to make out a shiny round label on one of the logs.  It has a number on it and shows where there is a geocache. I could see the stash between the roots.  This is going to cause a few people some consternation when they come hunting for it.  Seemed a pity that some of the good-sized straight-grained stuff was going to end up as logs or rot away.

SAMSUNG CSCMaking progress with this beech limb, the wallers can get at the repair work now.  Hope they do a lot better job than this mess, a bit further along the road:

SAMSUNG CSCRight next to this is a rather jauntily leaning beech tree, that really ought to come down before it falls on the road.  I’m finding out about closing the road for a couple of hours to take it down.

SAMSUNG CSCI guess it got a bit carried away with splitting its stem, and then the SW gales have been at it.

SAMSUNG CSCThe wood on the left is where all that action is.  The wood is gradually creeping up the moor side, you should be able to make out the stems of the silver birches climbing up the hill toward the sky-line.  Well at least it used to be all silver birches, but now things are changing a bit.

SAMSUNG CSCHere’s a pretty well established oak tree (with ivy creeping up it).  And in the back ground the underwoods are starting up – small holly bush, good and green in Winter.

Ah Winter, we are on its tail end here, but my walk was peppered with hail showers.

SAMSUNG CSCI was leaning over here to get a look at yet another tree that’s fallen on top of a wall needing removed (as they might say…).  One benefit of living in a valley is that you can see what weather is coming next.

SAMSUNG CSCThe build up of the new woodland now also includes some ash, here are a couple of little saplings.

SAMSUNG CSCSee how the floor is changing as the canopy of this beech tree fills out and blocks the light.  That’s bilberry bushes retreating.

SAMSUNG CSCHere’s some more regeneration; an oak tree which has almost died with dead branches sticking out of its canopy.  But regeneration is coming along with lots of new growth closer in to the stem of the tree.  It almost looks like one tree behind another.  Known as a stag’s horn oak when those dead branches poke out of the top.

SAMSUNG CSCBack at the ranch, hedge laying is finished, just need to burn the brash.

SAMSUNG CSCAnd functional things like guttering, doors, electricity and drains are all coming along at the outstead.


Snow and finish

Spot the bodgery.

snowy bodgeryWe’ve had about four inches of snow, which seems to be hanging around a bit.  It is not terribly cold, but this brings its own problems.  The snow was a bit soft yesterday and it started sticking to my clog soles.  The wooden, unsoled part in the middle welds to slightly damp snow, and then builds up, in the same way as how children roll large snow balls for snowmen.  Add a few shavings and pretty soon you’re a couple of inches taller, until one falls off and then your limping!



I believe there is a dialect word for these clods of snow, but I’m blowed if I can find it.  Any ideas anyone?

We had the return of a little sun in the afternoon which was very welcome, it having been rather cloudy for many days.


The last slab of the oak butt I milled attracted the attention of a cafe proprietor, so I’ve been working that up for a couple of food presentation boards with my usual knife-tooled finish.
SAMSUNG CSCIn the background you can see some progress on the green oak bench I’m working on.  It has a lower back than the last two.  I need to get the trailer down into the woods when the snow melts so I can level the legs in, the front two need taming a bit from their current wild splay.

Felling again today.  I have a new camera that takes pretty decent video – it looks really good on a big TV screen, but this extract is compressed for ease of downloading so quality is just ordinary.  Spot the inattention just before it finally goes down.  Tut, tut!  On this day that was the only tree to fall in one, all other three had to be hand winched down – I’m sparing you the endless video with a click, click, click sound track.

Not wildly exciting.  Today (it took a little while to load up the video) I’ve been felling on the slopes above where the video was taken, rather more snow now, melting stuff.  Keeping a footing is rather important, and the escape route is vital.  I did a lot of dragging timber to the ride, and left some pieces long to fit on the Landy roof rack, I’m not taking the trailer in until the weather improves.  I got the Land Rover a little stuck last week and ended up winching a rock out of the way so I could get home.



I leave the brash piles as shelter for wildlife.  Not that all wildlife is the forester’s friend:

The top of this sycamore had been de-barked by squirrels, the upper one in a full ring and killed the lead growth.



Smoke, mud, rain and joint stools.

Hi Folks!

This is your correspondent relaxing at The Commercial in London, an interesting pub:

Not at all like the old pubs of Keighley where I started drinking beer. The Boltmakers Arms, The Friendly, The Volunteers, The Gardeners, The Lord Rodney.  Ah, those past teenage days of Timothy Taylor’s ale and headaches.

The woody highlight of our trip to The Smoke (AKA London) was another visit to the Geffrye Museum.  In one of the period room settings was a stunning oak table with a set of 6 joint stools.

Sorry about the lousy picture, it’s not a brightly lit place The Geffrye, but well worth a visit, with a beautifully calm herb garden (well more like the size of about 4 allotments) at the back.  I liked this green window:

Nim & Jane

But, back to the joint stools.  We met up with my son Will in London, over from Brooklyn, and he brought with him Peter Folansbee’s new book Make a Joint Stool from a Tree.  An excellent book.  I will be making a joint stool using the guidance in said book and I already have the green oak lined up.  Unfortunately, I have now got a bit of a thing going about these stools and I’ve gone and ordered another book:

This has a whole section on period joint stools, and further along some chair leg turnings which are uniquely Yorkshire, so I may be using them as a base for the stool legs.  One of these stools would look well in Skipton Castle or indeed in any other castle which is short of furnishings.

We did quite a lot of culture in London (That’s what London is for innit? -Ed) including a visit to 18 Folgate Street, Dennis Severs’ House.  If you visit London, and don’t visit anywhere else, visit this house – cost £10, you can’t take photos or speak.  It is an experience in warping of reality, history and your senses that you will not forget.  And, a great bonus, you can have a pint of Meantime beer in The Commercial afterwards.

We also did some mudlarking too.  My brother-in-law lives in Deptford in what was once the naval victualling yards, quite near to Drake’s Steps

Hardly now in fit condition for a queen to ascent prior to knighting her circumnavigator. When I went out for a walk on the Saturday the prospects for mudlarking were rather off-putting:

A fine coat of silt over everything.  But by Sunday morning propspects were much better:

London is so old the flotsam and jetsam are very diverse. anything from printed circuit boards to flint arrow heads (I searched for the latter but didn’t find any).  The oldest natural thing I found was a fossilised sea urchin, the oldest man made thing also flint, with a hole in it, but unrecognisable (by me at least), I think I’ll have it as a charm.  It was a good Sunday morning out for all the family:

From here you can see the three-masted Cutty Sark tea clipper which was due to open a couple of days later

On the Monday we saw the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery practicing for a royal salute as the queen shall have been re-opening the Cutty Sark after long and extensive refurbishment.

Typically, as it started raining in Greenwich we headed indoors, and both father and son’s beer noses detected a mash in progress – hah, it was the aforementioned Old Brewery who produce Meantime bitter beer (Geddit Greenwich meantime?)

Well it was back to work on Tuesday and it’s been a rather wet week, to say the least.  Tuesday wasn’t bad, in fact Theo and I dined in the luxurious outdoor canteen in Strid Wood, with view of nesting Mergansers.  Theo finished off his coat rack with double wellington rack – rather impressive I’m sure you’ll agree.

It is surrounded by this week’s paying project – 4 off 8 foot bike racks for The Cavendish Pavilion.  I was working outside The Bodgery, and it was a very pleasant change, the sun even shone a bit.

By Wednesday the weather had turned nasty and I had a course running with a NE wind gusting rain into the bodgery.  I’d advised Bob to wear layers and he had taken my advice – I wish I had taken it in spades.  Anyway, despite my almost catching hypothermia, Bob had a good day and we had some very interesting chat to boot.

This is one of the unfinished bike racks, I was in no mood for taking photos by the end of Thursday’s installation, but ~ I’ll get one on Sunday, hopefully with a few bikes as serving suggestion.

The logs for the base were rather heavy, and I bust the guide bar on my milling saw last week so I had to split the first one:

They were still heavy after splitting as I found to my discomfort when I managed to trap my finger between one and the trailer, doh!

Ah well, after a heavy week I’ve been relaxing today, making beer, granola, shopping for brill and jacket lining repair material, planting beetroot and lettuce seeds, launching a new Twitter account (@FlyingShavings funnily enough) and dreaming of joint stools …


A four-legged workshop

Today I ran a workshop for five people making deer.  I was ably assisted by my wife (chief photographer, waitress, tool mistress and adviser for the day).  Two of the chaps on the course shared today as their birthday and the course was a present from their wives.  Although we were surrounded by (melting) snow I managed to keep everyone busy and all went home with a deer (except for me, I’m more of a venison man):

Here are the youngest and oldest 15 to 62 (fortunately my insurance cover goes as low as 9 years old).

These gels had fun:

I should point out that the rips in the jeans were pre-existing and that no humans were harmed in the making of these deer.  The red stains liberally sprinkled around the middle work bench are just Flying Goose hot sauce stains caused during an eating incident at lunchtime.

There were actually six members of the course but the robin just didn’t seem to get the hang of things at all.  He seemed to enjoy the biscuits and home-baked bread nonetheless.

It has been very scenic in the wood this past week, if a bit chilly.  I’m surprised at the very low numbers of visitors considering the sights to be seen:

I think sometimes I like the shape of trees without their leaves better than with.  The shape is so much more clear and stark and beautiful.

Even the messy old bodgery looked not bad:

The sun did his bit too to make things look good:

These pictures take a bit of getting as the sun only shines on my side of the River Wharfe briefly in these short Winter days.

I feel so sorry for the wildlife living outdoors all the time, I know vaguely how they must feel, and they don’t have four pairs of trousers and five tops like me.  Earlier this week at home the temperature dropped to minus 13 centigrade – just how do you sleep out through that?  Maybe the cold is just another state to wildlife, but I guess they must enjoy warmer weather.

And another thing, why do snow pictures usually look as though they were taken on (almost) black and white film?

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!

Spring in the air

The crows have been paired up for a couple of weeks now, the pairs above were taken on 6th March. Now I’ve finished felling, phew! I’ve a bit of time to look around and get sorted ready for Spring.

But first a brief return to wintery weather for a hedge-laying competition. I won in the speed stakes (no prizes there then!) mainly because it was raining the whole time and as I am normally hiding under the tarp in Strid Wood, my outdoor wet weather gear just wasn’t up to it. I decided to dash home and return in time for the judging, hypothermia could have set in if I’d hung around a couple of hours wet through (well, not really; my feet were still dry). Here’s my length:

I won second prize – a bill hook, lost to the winner because I’d left a couple of gaps at the bottom. It was rather wet:

This guy’s wringing out his gloves.

Earlier in the week I had a chance to tidy up the workshop in Strid, moved the sales booth to the side and raked out some of the two foot of shavings. I think it looks a lot more open:

There are a couple of bowls I’m working on, the far one is a bird bath in chestnut.

I’ve felled an alder tree, that should make some good bowls too – watch this space!