A Day at the Races

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Well, sort of! This is my first visit to Royal Windsor Racecourse but, if today is anything to go by, then probably not my last. The marque is good, solid and heated, and forms an extension to some of the grandstand buildings so no mud, which makes unloading and setup so much easier. Knebworth last weekend was rather messy! It is also a fairly quick run for me round the M25 – at least at the time that I travel.

I didn’t see any horses, though (except some small wooden ones on a toy stall). Perhaps better luck tomorrow!

Too Early?

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Well, here I am again at Knebworth House for the first of this season’s “branded” Christmas fairs. It may be cold and frosty outside but it is still only just November and it all seems a bit early. Anyway, I’m doing my bit to try and get in the mood – I’ve ditched my purple table coverings for a festive red!

I’ve also done a little bit to counter the commercialism. It may mean something to some and bring a smile to others. Hopefully it will also provoke a few deeper thoughts.

Still Standing

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Despite the 40 – 50 mph gusts, all the marquees are still standing here at Knebworth House for the annual Steam and Country Fair. See you later?

And if you can’t face the gales, the forecast is better for tomorrow!

Family Day Out

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It was a family day out today at the Herts Show, as my wife, son, daughter, daughter-in-law and granddaughter all turned up to see me. Quite right, too – even
he judges seemed to like my stall!

However, whilst I’m sure they were pleased to see me, I think the animals, other stalls and entertainment played a large part in their presence. My granddaughter (2) was particularly keen to tell me about the tractors and cows and horses and sheep and bees and….

So we all had a good day out at the Herts Show today. what are you doing tomorrow?

The East Beckons

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Just about finished setting up this afternoon ready for the East Anglian Game & Country Fair, which starts tomorrow (follow the link for details).

Sometimes the setup goes smoothly, other times it simply fights! I had only this week finished a large clock from a piece of beautifully figured Ash, which was going to form a centrepiece on the back wall of my stand, but whilst I turned to get a pair of pliers to adjust the hook I was going to use, the table on which I placed it decided to take life easy and lay down on the floor – rather abruptly! The clock ended up with a dent in the edge of the rim and a box of pepper mills (which also crashed to the floor) shattered as it met with the lathe. Although some of the mills were thrown out, they thankfully survived. I brought the clock (below) home and re-turned the edge, so it is now a few millimetres smaller – but nobody knows what size it was supposed to be anyway!

So the clock is ready to return to the show in the morning, along with the box for the pepper mills – complete with a good few lengths of gaffer tape. An early start awaits, as I still have quite a bit of tidying of the stall to do – don’t look too closely at the photo!

If you want to see it the clock (or me!) – I’ll be there 8.00 – 6.00 tomorrow and Sunday.

Three vases

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Three vases

Just finished these three beauties today – two are Laburnum and the other is Yew.

The Yew has been down the bottom of my garden for some years, so it was about time I did something with it. the Laburnum, however, only came down in a storm a few months ago, so these were rough turned and hollowed whilst green to speed up the drying process.

Both of these timbers are a pleasure to work with, and few other timbers can match the spectacular colour difference between the pale sapwood and the darker heartwood. The shape of these vases was chosen to show off this characteristic to the maximum effect and I think it worked!

There are a few small cracks in each, but that is the nature of wood. Had I left them to season naturally, then I may have reduced the cracking but that’s not guaranteed – nothing is with wood! The yew, after all, had been seasoning naturally for 10 years or more and also has a good number of cracks.

Shopping again!

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I’ve been shopping again! It seems that most of my pupils want to make small dishes and bowls, and I was running out of suitable timber. I have plenty, but either too large (and wanting to save it for something special) or perhaps part decayed (great as a finished article, but not easy to learn on).

So I’ve been out and restocked. I had a trip in the sunshine today down to Dover to my favourite supplier, Stiles & Bates. Always good to go there. Not surprisingly, I stocked up on a few other things as well!

Well, my first fair is fast approaching!

Ready and waiting

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Well, I’ve finished the setup and had a coffee, all with 20 minutes to spare. All I need now is for the fair to open.  I’ve not done this event before, so not sure what to expect, but if you want to see me I’m at the Mistletoe Fair, which is on the Herts showground. Full details on my “fairs” page.

Actually, I wasn’t here at crack of dawn! My wonderful wife came and helped me setup yesterday. Thank you, Jane.

Out with the Old – In with the New

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I decided to treat myself!  After many years of very faithful service from my old Myford Mystro lathe, I have decided to upgrade.  There was nothing wrong with it, but I just decided to treat myself – perhaps I’m reaching that time of life!

Anyway, the first photo shows the good old faithful now sitting outside the workshop waiting to be sold.  Actually, i took so long to write this post, that it’s already been collected and is now hopefully providing good faithful service to its next owner.

But what to replace it with?  I made a shortlist but there’s nothing like seeing them in the flesh, so I decided to pay a visit to my favourite supplier – Stiles & Bates.  For me, that’s a fair round trip but it was worth it.  Both Gordon and Dave were extremely helpful in explaining the pros and cons of each on my shortlist, as well as the “add-on” implications (such as having to change my Nova chucks, not just the inserts).  I eventually (they were very patient!) chose the Galaxy DVR and have no regrets.  As you can see from the second photo, it’s already dusty!!

With all such changes, there are some things that are taking a bit of getting used to, but it’s an excellent piece of kit.  It has everything I want – an extensive range of speeds, extremely quiet, no vibration, holds the speed under load, and good clearance over the bed – although I may still treat myself at some point to the bowl outrigger.  I did have a minor teething problem, but their after-sales service was amazing.  It was sorted so quickly and efficiently that i had no down-time – important at this time of year with all my fairs coming up.

As I said – no regrets!

New Life

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This piece of Monkey Puzzle has been stacked under my carport for about 6 months, waiting for me to find the time to do something with it.  With the dry and hot summer that we have had, the timber has obviously started to dry out but last week, for no apparent reason, it started so sprout!  I don’t know whether it could sense a change in humidity after the recent rains, but all the large lengths had started to do the same.  I did check, but it wasn’t sending roots down through the tarmac!

These sprouts won’t last long as there is no goodness feeding the log – they would simply grow until the reserves in the log are all used up and then wither.  But it is an outward sign of hope for new life.  Imagine, then,  the possibility for new life when the reserves are unlimited by turning to our Lord and depending on His living water.



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