I like being busy but it doesn’t half make the time fly by. The last thing I remember I was expecting the Summer to start and suddenly here we are at the Weald & D0wnland Open Air Museum’s Autumn Countryside Show, the last of my long season which stretches from March to October. Where did the summer go?
Another consequence of being too busy is that I don’t seem to find the time to post so it’s time to get back in the habit with a quick write up of the show last weekend, heavy on pictures and light on prose.
Jon Warwicker,sitting on the shave horse and wielding a small Adze, discusses the finer points of his bowl carving with Besom Broom maker Arthur Hafendon.
We managed to put on a good show in the horticultural tent where for the first year a woodcraft category was included. Congratulations to everyone who entered as the standard of the work was very high – giving the judge (yours truly) a very hard time indeed. I wanted to award at least 6 winners but well done Wayne – the spoon master – Bachelor who won with, yes you guessed it, his spoon. To Jon Warwicker who came second with his oak bowl and Sarah Ridley who came third with her sculpture.
Yes it’s a show, but the autumn is a busy time and it’s built around a lot of things that do happen on traditional farms at this time of year. The steam powered threshing drum works all weekend, weather allowing, as it threshes the museum’s crop of traditional longstraw thatching wheat which will be used on the museums thatched buildings in the coming year.
Well almost all weekend, as even the threshing has to stop for a cup of tea now and then.
Barbara came by with one of her donkeys giving me the opportunity to admire the replacement pins I made for the pannier harness last year.
Up in the farmyard behind Bayleaf Guy was masterminding the scratting (shredding) of the apples and pressing to make the juice that will be fermented into cider at the museum. While this seasons apples are being pressed, on the Saturday night we were sampling the cider made two years ago – which was voted an excellent vintage by the experienced team of greenwood working cider tasters.
The Sunday morning was a cold one as the thick ice on one of my display tables shows. I don’t care what the weather forecast said – this much ice means a temperature well below zero degrees C in my book. Chilly.
But with lots of sun we soon warmed up and Alan’s plum tart was delicious – thank you Alan.
There is plenty going on at the Museum as well these days, with a new cottage ‘Tindalls’ being erected on site. I say new, but it’s hundreds of years old and has actually been in store for about 30 years since it was taken down by the museum awaiting an opportunity to reconstruct it. To me the frame at this stage of construction looks really spectacular and has a beauty all of it’s own.
In the blacksmith’s forge Martin Fox is fast becoming a devotee of the English Scythe and has taken on the restoration of a really long old English blade which he found in the scrap metal pile and has been busy straightening out. I reckon a lot of old English blades have been scrapped partly because people don’t know how to use them and also because they don’t know where to find a blacksmith that can repair them – so it’s very good to see a blacksmith working on repairing scythe blades again.
If you’ve visited the museum you will know that the gardens around the buildings are busy and productive places as well, especially in the autumn as harvesting the last of the summer crops and protecting the winter crops from the birds is key to preventing a hungry wintertime.
As if there wasn’t enough already going at the show we decided to run a besom broom making competition – and I’ve run out of space here so I’ll post on the brooms at the show next.