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Summer Blog 2007



With Gordon recovered...


... from his virus and dodgy back by April he was in the mood to sell me a bit of wood, a handy device for my tractor and to try out his new mega chainsaw. The wood: Yew, Lime and Ash he had gathered with Dave from Nether Wallop near the army camp. The tractor thing goes on the back and is handy for lifting heavy trunks with a chain.

The chainsaw doesn't look as impressive as it is on it's own so I'' ve pictured it by one of my standard saws to give you an idea of how big it is. This is the same theory as one I' ve followed with women - find ones with small hands so that they make your willy look bigger.



I hadn' t realised...


... that Gordon was competitive about his toys, probably because as his are better than mine he was happy. When he found Rob Walker had got a new saw and a 5' bar he rang Rob up." Hello, Gordon here, just to let you know my new saw is 10cc bigger than yours.. well must go, my tea' s ready, byeeeeeeeeeee". Gordy claims this isn' t true but why spoil a good story with the truth.



I was looking at...


... various wood forums on the Net recently - well you can' t look at porn all the time and found someone stating that they thought my 2005 newsletter bit about spalted Beech was quite interesting. They probably meant crap but it spurred me into having another experiment.


The last results weren' t conclusive. I know that the spalt, the two fungi who meet in the wood and cause the spalt lines only occur with a moisture content of more than 20%. There are several theories about how best to encourage this. One being, leave in undergrowth for a few months, another to bury and yet another to soak in water.


Picture below: I put one bit in a butt for a couple of weeks. One half in and half out for a bit longer and some on the ground behind the sheds part covered with sawdust. I' ll leave them until later in the year and report in the new blog style updates which works best.

A glance at...


....the Beech a couple of weeks later showed checking appearing so we covered in sawdust. Of course I forgot about the one in the butt but when I remembered about a month later I was fascinated to find it had a reddish film on it and a strange smell , then I found the dead rat in the butt which was falling to bits so I expect it was essence of rat rather than some interesting new type of spalt.



Smoking Wood Supplies...


... proved more complicated than I first thought. I realised quite quickly I needed a chipper. Unfortunately I needed to spend over £10k to buy one man enough for the job. So I decided to bring in a business partner with the necessary equipment.


They say if you want anything done, ask a busy man. Tony Ponting who has his yard near Mark' s at Andover Down, is the busiest I' ve met. In fact Roger Hargreaveswere he not dead could have used Tony as his inspiration for Mr Busy. Tony provides all the usual woodland services but in addition has been branching out into timber buildings. A workaholic, he was interested in the new venture and had loads of useful tips. He ran a few bags of different woods through his chipper and we agreed to split any profit.


Unfortunately, although Tony works from dawn to dusk and beyond each day he really just couldn' t fit this in. I' d eventually catch him but his phone would be ringing constantly and there was always 2 people waiting to see him and he was always late for somewhere else.


So we agreed I' d stop bothering him and I phoned Rob who provides similar woodland services. Rob was very interested for the same reason as me. He liked to find a use for all bits of wood not just the perfect easily saleable planks and blanks.



Rob' s chipper is ...


... just the job.

We are still getting organised size of chip and distribution wise but progress is ok. Sales are not what you would call exciting but I guess this could take some time to build. It' s starting to look like Rob will supply the chips in various grades and I' ll do the chunks but for now just get in touch with what you need and we' ll see what we can do.



The great weather in April...


... disintegrated somewhat in May and we didn' t do much. The rain got the grass growing so it was time for a bit of woodland maintenance. Gordon came over on a sunny Saturday morning with Dave and Daniel - an annoyingly good looking and talented young bloke who is whiz with tractors and who had agreed to sand blast my rather knackered tractor wheels and paint the worst bits of my old tractor.

Gordon pictured above on the left is driving the big saw whilst Dave helps and Daniel in the background patiently waits for this job to be done so that he can take the tractor wheels and loader back to his workshop for painting.


June came and ...


...went but not before a decent run of sales, which always pleases the accountant brother. He was so overcome with emotion he coughed £250 from the family woods account towards refurbing the Landrover doors. The old girl is over 20 now and the doors are in need of help. I'm currently struggling to source some good second hand doors for the Landy so anyone who can help, let me know.

Daniel sorted the rusty and knackered bits on the old tractor. Unfortunately he was unable to work his magic on David who remains in need of a good service, not unlike Brian.



Brian having turned ...


... 70 in May is another vintage and useful tool. Regulars will know we had him refurbished in January 2006 with a heart job and pace maker. Although he has been running very efficiently with only minimum visible rust his consultant has told him that he has to give up lifting heavy things. Wood experts will know that wood particularly green timber is very heavy so Brian' s role will be just to meet people and take them to the woods when I' m not around rather than work.



So to compensate for the loss...


... of Old Brian I have bought a tractor driven sawbench to be known as young Brian to help me with my wood for the Bodeans Restaurants. The former have opened a fourth place in Westboune Grove area of Notting Hill.

July Blurred by...


...getting the sawbench up and running and trying to build smoking wood stocks. It' s amazing how quickly the bagged stuff goes on it' s weekly trip to Bodeans for cremation. Brian may be getting on a bit but there are yet more signs that I' m joining him.


One of the young lads at my real job in London was talking about his forthcoming night out. He was heading to a foam rave in Hemel Hempstead. Dismissing my first thought that Hemel was tricky place to drive around with it' s roundabout system I enquired what this entailed.


Apparently the crowd get power blasted with foam so that you get soaked and this encourages the ladies who Michael assures me are filthy in this area (probably why they need a wash) to take their tops off. I couldn' t help thinking this sounds rather dangerous and you could slip and hurt yourself.



After a pleasant and thoroughly deserved...


... if I say so myself holiday in France in August the rest of the month was gone before I noticed. Autumn is approaching I have a lot of sawing to do and several projects including a refurb of the small trailer.


The other plan is another website from which I shall update my latest news.. probably not weekly but a bit more frequently than the current twice a year. I've got ideas to link all the wood services from Rob Walker, Mark at the Sawmill, Gordon, David and wood turning services of Chris West but you'll have to tune in later for this.


I also plan to blog a bit more about that lot and the other interesting folk down our way as frankly as I'm on my own a lot of the time now it doesn't make for interesting stories. I ran into Harold who was my old man's oppo for 15 years until Harold got fed up with him and then the old boy croaked. Harold had comee back for a year or three but gave up active service about 5 years ago.


I wrote about his optimism buying a new car for his 80th birthday but six years on it is proving a wise investment. I remarked on this to him and he said " It's a fine motor car, the art of driving is a pleasure I cherish as it enriches my life". Of course he didn't really say that but no doubt the poet in him meant it. What he said was " I'd be fucked without it."

Hope to see you over at the woods with your cash (or someone else's, I'm not fussy) before too long.