The weather was non too promising on Friday as I made my way a few miles southwards to the Queen Elizabeth Country Park for the South Downs Woodfair. But in the event it had stopped raining and though windy I got to set up in the dry and spend the evening preparing for the show.
Thanks to Toni Brannon the Hampshire Coppice Craftsmen Group put on a great display of the things you can do with rods, poles and cleft bits of round wood. With 11 shelters all in a fetching shade of green canvas the group looked well organised, rather unlike some of the characters lurking within!
It’s not easy to photograph a horseshoe shape of stands a hundred yards across. I’ve got most of the display into this one and as a bonus it forms an S, apparently a pleasing natural curved shape, but you might have to use your imagination to find it.
At this time of year the summer season of shows and events is in full swing and I’m very concious of the danger that my posts become a pedestrian progression of places and people rather than the working with wood that I hope to write about. So I will take a slightly less serious look at the event in this post.
But getting out of the workshop and showing people what I do is an important part of my work as well as a great opportunity to meet other greenwood workers doing similar and even stranger things and share ideas. This event is a great one for doing this as I get to meet and work with talented greenwood workers some of whom I haven’t seen since last year.
But first things first. With the pace of events and having had a tooth extracted earlier in the week boiling the kettle was the key thing to get me going in the morning. I’ve never got on with gas stoves (having been brought up on paraffin) despite their convenience and the Volcano Kettle runs on my shavings so it’s about as sustainable as you can get. For anyone who is not aware of them the kettle is a waterjacket around a central flue with the small fire lit in the base and it can be fired on just about anything – plenty of rumours that they also work on Yak Dung!
In amongst the variety of new trugs were these old slats. Apparently a part of a half-bushel trug that Dave recently restored for a customer. It had been in use daily use for over 35years and as they are so large they tend to be dragged rather than carried.
Not quite last, and possibly not least, is Paul. It’s always a pleasure to be with Paul at a show. I almost said work with, but that would be pushing it a bit as that chair does get to do most of the work.
Anyone who attended the event will know that there was a lot more than the coppice group there and the usual complement of bright shiny kit including a few mobile bandsaws. I was very taken with this crusty old woodmizer which clearly works for a living and spent the show producing boards, including spalted beech, using logs from woods surrounding the show site, the Queen Elizabeth country park. I expect this wood would have gone to waste otherwise, not even made firewood. A really good idea and I noticed a lot of people carrying boards away and few coppice group members loading up at the end of the show.
I think we put on a good display for the event and it seemed very popular – I was surprised to see so many friends and neighbours – so I hope it went well for the organisers and will run again next year.