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Goodbye 2009 and Hello 2010


The old year drifted out and...


... the new one in with a few changes and most of them good. I've been busy looking at grants to improve stock, found myself a new and improved Brian and given the business a bit of a shake up.


Dave is now Brian but an upgraded model in that he has his own Pick Up, years of experience running his own business and a genuine love of wood and woodworking and a willingness to share it. Already he has made a difference and I hope that you will notice the improvements when you call.


The grant was frankly...


... a bit of a pain in the arse paperwork and sweat wise. There are fringe benefits like a new contact for Timber William Hamer who is also doing a woodland management plan that I have been talking about doing for some years - but that was as far as I had got !


Having spent many hours trying to tick all the boxes on the grant application I've put it on hold - what the Lord (well the local EU money grant people) giveth he is likely to take away if I don't fulfill the many and various conditions so I'm have a re-think.


We've acquired new stock, been right through the woodsheds and have started to regrade and re price the best and worst timber. There will be some bargains to be had but if you want to get hold of the best stuff before it is priced upwards come on down, the price is right.

Before the weather got too...


... grim I had one of my welcome phone calls from Erwin. Some people only ring when they want something but Erwin only rings when he has something good for me, in this case Cherry which is in my top three woods with Oak and Walnut.


I didn't have far to go either as it was from a very grand old house a few hundred yards from the Kiln. I popped along the next day, liked what I saw and caught Rob in one of his helpful and dynamic let's go moods .


It was milled into transportable lumps before lunch, after which it was planked at the sawmill and stacked drying in the wood shed before tea. Not often I'm that efficient - I needed to lie down for a few days after all the excitement.



Rob doing the honours on what I believe the technical term is : a lovely bit of Cherry !

The website brought in a steady flow of...


... orders for logs most of which I passed on to Erwin unless they were close to Dave and Daniel in the Wallops. A wise man once said ' Give a man some logs he will be warm for a day but set him on fire and he will be warm for the rest of his life '!


Dave the tractor...


... thanks me for the orders by moaning that he is running out of wood to sell but provides me regularly with tea. Erwin returned the favour with a heads up about a Yew he had felled not far from Thruxton. I hadn't acquired any all year so I raced over for a look in my touring car, actually it's only a Yaris but I was being clever re: Thruxton circuit.. get it ? Ok forget it, move on.


At the back of an extremely nice house, owned by an extremely nice couple was what can only be described as an extremely nice little wood full of Yew. Well, obviously if I had a better grip of English and didn't use the word my late English teacher old mum detested 'nice' I would probably more accurately describe it as typical.


Those that know Yew...


... will be aware that half of it is rotten and if the other half isn't cracked to bits you're lucky. Well we were about par for the course. Considering the size of the trunk the good stuff wasn't much but the owner kindly let me have a reasonable amount of branch Yew which wasn't cracked. His delightful French wife popped out for a peek.


She's an artist and was unimpressed with wood being used for boring stuff like furniture when it can be sculpted. She further opined that most wood was boring except Yew, Cherry and Walnut. A lady with excellent and expensive taste - I can't afford a wife like that !


Jonathan the husband...


... was not surprised at his wife's desire for the best. I guess that makes him top quality. He showed me a large bowl he had turned whilst at school for his mum- we're talking quite a few years here.


It's perfectly competent bit of turning but what was interesting was that a school was using top quality Walnut for it's kids to practice on. At the school I went to we used the younger kids to practice on with our wood chiesels/knives.


After milling there was less than half of that pictured worth loading which was disappointing but the standing Yew to the left of the picture is heading for the ground and an appointment with my Alaskan mill !

He's a jolly good feller...


... is Gordon the old master so who better to come over and wave his magic with a chainsaw and turn a Beech tree into a bit of stock. In years gone by we have waited until February but we decided to get it down before Christmas to give us time for other projects at the end of winter.


We were joined by John the Magistrate who likes tree felling and Dave the Tractor and Daniel who like Beech firewood ! It was a bit of a schizo day weather wise pouring with rain one minute and then bright sunshine.. bit springlike if it wasn't November - global warming?


Before you could say timber...


... the tree was on the ground and with five working on it was soon snedded and Dave and Daniel's bit loaded on their trailer. Gordon reminded me about the A frame lift he had flogged me in 2007 and we popped that on the back of my tractor to bring the timber trunks to the top.


It worked a treat getting the logs to the saw area where in the past it has been a wait until spring and drier ground. I can't show you the action shot - it was still wet and miserable and I was driving the tractor. Actually I was being coached on smooth driving by Gordy with helpful hints from Tractor Dave:


" Try not to rev the bollocks out of it like you usually do! " - charming.

Safely parked at the top, the sun shines on the righteous.


Before Gordy headed...


...for his armchair I got him to knock over a couple of Ash for the firewood stock and to create space and light for the Apple trees who's arrival was imminent. The rather sexy saw he is using is my newish Huskie. Gordon tweaked with the petrol feed and it was running and cutting superbly in his gnarled but capable hands.


He got hold of the rather fetching hat illustrated below from the local undertaker. It's a good tale but not as heart warming as the old boy who gets brought into the undertaker in his black suit. He always wanted to be buried in a blue suit but that's all he has his daughter lamented to the Death man.


A day later she comes back for the viewing and lo there he is in a smart blue suit. It was a bit of luck said the helpful Coffin man another old chap came in in that suit and he wanted to be buried in black apparently. Well you must have gone to a lot of trouble... not really I just swapped the heads round !


Modeling the latest chainsaw safety hat , gloves and protective trousers is a bloke elsewhere !

There are a lot of skilled people...


... who come and buy my wares. I'm always pleased to see pictures of end products of my timber. One of the most local customers Paul who works close to Andover Down sawmill won a turning competition. The prize for which was a week to display his work at a rather smart gallery in Weyhill.


I popped in a for a squint...


... the star piece was an amazing motorbike like a childs rocking chair but with the Harley esk bike, instead of one of those annoying four legged things with long noses ridden by stroppy women of indeterminate age who also have long noses that they look down at you with if you dare to pass them on the road at more than 1 mph.


I digress and write too long a sentance without punctuation. The point of this whole rabbling story is that when Paul was pointing out various items when he said " That was made out of your wood" I felt pathetically pleased as if I has some part in transforming it from a dull slab of wood into the work of art it ended up as.

Enough of what other...


... folk have been doing and more about me, me me. This reminds me of a woman and a rather self obsessed bloke who go a first date. After droning on about himself for a couple of hours he says " Well, that's enough about me, what do you think of me"?


Back to wood, to be specific fruit wood and even more specifically Apple trees. There are a few Cherry trees planted by the old man at the wood but the only Apple was swallowed up by other trees. Colin, the wild man of the wood had decided that before he moved full time to Switzerland in 2012 he would find and plant five quality fruities.


True to his word...


... in the summer he took a train to Kent to a famous grower and picked out 5 beauties for delivery in the Autumn. They arrived just before Christmas and we had a delightful day in winter sunshine planting and making deer fence .



A proud sweaty sock (JOCK) and his wee tree - a lasting reminder of his work in the wood!

You will recall the New Year...


... began a bit on the chilly side, well it was complete brass monkeys and the snow worse than Feb 2009. Unlike last winter I ducked the worst finding paperwork to do in the warm.


I had an email from a BBC Producer who wanted to film a piece on a small firewood business. I couldn't pretend to do more than my few bags of offcuts so made Erwin a star of BBC Breakfast news. As he didn't get a fee I couldn't claim my agent's cut but hopefully the publicity got him a few more orders.

The rather lovely Olive Ash...


... below is from Farleigh School scene of the rotten Oak in the blog of the same name. Again it was a call from Erwin who cut it to my requirements - 6' lengths to fit in the back of your Volvo Sir.


I got the dynamic duo Dave and Daniel to pick it up for me on their very handy trailer and deposit it at Marks so that he could ignore it for a few months like the rest of my timber needing his attention.


Skillfully placed on the trailer by Daniel pictured snow an' all it was soon at Andover Down Sawmill.


Rather shockingly Mark...


... got on and slabbed one of the bits within a week. It could have been guilt at ignoring my Chestnut for months but was more likely that he wanted to borrow my Alaskan mill to trim a flat base on a monster bit of Oak. Either way, cut it was and with Dave's help it was stacked in No 2 shed for the long term.

The second bit of Ash...


... had more metal in it than the local scrappie. More of this and Dave's quest to get the timber properly quartersawn next time. Sales are a bit slack so we could do with seeing a few old faces... the Queen's on £20 notes in particular.


With luck I'll have news of more Walnut. I've heard a whisper of a whopper near where Gordy lives and not quite a monster in Monmouth but the owner sounds a good bloke and it's worth a trip over the Severn Bridge. I've got to look at one in Battersea in the smoke too.


Whether any ends up in the shed for your future delight you'll have to tune in and find out mid summer.