Five ton gates

This morning I went early to:

Five Rise Locks on the Leeds Liverpool canal where the lock gates have just been replaced and British Waterways (soon to become a charitable trust) held an open day to celebrate.  And what a thing to celebrate.  This is a section of the canal where the barges go through five lock either up or down using gates that weigh 5 tons each and are manufactured from green oak in BW’s Wakefield workshops.  The deal was a walk through the lock beds where you can only walk but occasionally, the gates are expected to last for 25 years, so I may not be around next time.  The turnout of people was impressive, a large queue had formed by the time I had chatted my way through attempting to make the many attendant employees’ day less than boring.

One of the otherwise hidden gems was the masons’ marks to show who had worked which stone and therefore needed payment:

See the two top stones with a half arrow pointing left and the star on the one below?  There were many different marks, it must have been a massive operation when they were first built in 1774.

There was a video playing at the canal-side showing in time-lapse photography the manufacture of the gates and their installation.  This is supposed to be on-line in April – watch this space!

I had today away from the woods, as I was there yesterday running a deer and fox making course: great fun:


Ah too much fun!  Back to felling tomorrow.


Cunning little vixen

A prototype fox is now hanging around the deer, and I’m rather concerned about his interest in this prototype mini deer.

My wife, Jane, developed the little deer and that’s what inspired me to try a fox, which has been mooted for some little time.  Recent visitors to the bodgery will have noted that the fox is now a gang of two, and the new recruit has a meaner, hungrier, sharper-nosed look, and looks fleeter of foot.

These should get round the stock problems such as “Can’t fit it in the car/Can’t carry it to the car/Not enough room in the garden for it, now the car has swallowed up most of it etc, etc.

Another deer course today with much auger wielding, shaving making, antler trimming, fun and as a bonus … mallet swinging (note these Bobby-socks feet!)

Squealing of the rounder plane

And of course the usual amount of sitting about drinking tea and eating soup and rolls.

By the way the “Twig Nook” name plate is now on its way to Wales, where it looks like sparking a house re-naming!

Deer me, what fools these humans be. Free etching …& bonus quizzes.

Deer course yesterday, photo report.  Above Harvey learns the old art of releasing the hodfast.  Like the nu mallet, WW1 style?

The soup and home-baked roll went down well. Yes some work was done too and everyone went home with a new pet:

But how it will fit in Harvey’s bedroom alongside his 6 foot t. rex head, I’m not sure.

David put a nose on his deer.

So these were sensible people spending a wet Saturday under cover learning hand drilling and round mortise and tenon joints and designing to their taste.  Some space still left on next Saturday’s course and a Christmas present one coming up in January.

However, blimey, sometimes people just are too difficult to understand.  Like the ones who use a flail machine to “trim” hedges, which involves thrashing small saplings half to death. O man! this really hurts me having to drive past the results every day.  I’ll spare you a picture.

Then there’s the ones who just don’t put the right values on stuff.  I found this in a skip.

I used to pass this house name when I was a boy, and at some point it was replaced by a pottery one.  OK I don’t care for the pottery one, but why throw away this old etched and enamelled one? Really, I’ve got to find a home for this without either confusing the postman or changing the name of my business.  If anyone wants it, drop me an email.

I’ve been having a little exchange with Tico Vogt about yew, its sources and uses as I’ve recently acquired a quantity of this poisonous stuff, I had a walk up to see what the grove of yew looks like at the top end of Strid Wood, where I rarely go.

(OK, there’s a massive oak mixed in there too.)

There are some that would be suitable for making longbows, I think, not that I know much about that, but again, why is this nice butt wasting away?  And it will take some time!


Anyway, there are some good vistas up at that end of the wood, no wonder people are always coming here for walks.  Here is a view of ruined Barden Tower, once the home of the Shepherd Lord.

Spot the fisherman.

Also there are some softwoods up there, which are getting to look rather majestic.

Also up there is this building:

I’m glad to see the roof has recently been repaired – but riddle me, riddle me, what was it for?

Have a think and I’ll edit the post with a clue tonight.

OK, above’s the clue.

A four-legged workshop

Today I ran a workshop for five people making deer.  I was ably assisted by my wife (chief photographer, waitress, tool mistress and adviser for the day).  Two of the chaps on the course shared today as their birthday and the course was a present from their wives.  Although we were surrounded by (melting) snow I managed to keep everyone busy and all went home with a deer (except for me, I’m more of a venison man):

Here are the youngest and oldest 15 to 62 (fortunately my insurance cover goes as low as 9 years old).

These gels had fun:

I should point out that the rips in the jeans were pre-existing and that no humans were harmed in the making of these deer.  The red stains liberally sprinkled around the middle work bench are just Flying Goose hot sauce stains caused during an eating incident at lunchtime.

There were actually six members of the course but the robin just didn’t seem to get the hang of things at all.  He seemed to enjoy the biscuits and home-baked bread nonetheless.

It has been very scenic in the wood this past week, if a bit chilly.  I’m surprised at the very low numbers of visitors considering the sights to be seen:

I think sometimes I like the shape of trees without their leaves better than with.  The shape is so much more clear and stark and beautiful.

Even the messy old bodgery looked not bad:

The sun did his bit too to make things look good:

These pictures take a bit of getting as the sun only shines on my side of the River Wharfe briefly in these short Winter days.

I feel so sorry for the wildlife living outdoors all the time, I know vaguely how they must feel, and they don’t have four pairs of trousers and five tops like me.  Earlier this week at home the temperature dropped to minus 13 centigrade – just how do you sleep out through that?  Maybe the cold is just another state to wildlife, but I guess they must enjoy warmer weather.

And another thing, why do snow pictures usually look as though they were taken on (almost) black and white film?


Today was a good day; I didn’t get a parking ticket for parking on a vacant market lot on the High Street in Skipton, mind you, I’m a market man now though but:

However, it looks as though it might be a good idea to park on the setts lots of times on market day.  The notice says future offences may result in only a fixed penalty.  I wonder how many offences you can have and still get just one penalty.  Perhaps I should write to them.

We are supposed to be having a large silver birch in our garden dismantled tomorrow.   Matthew, the climbing boy, left me a phone message saying that the tree is in a conservation area and that therefore paperwork, inspection etc will be involved.  He’d been informed of this by Craven District Council, funny that, they are the same people who wrote to me in April, telling me that they were not making a tree preservation order on said silver birch, ad therefore I could carry out the felling works.  Not sure why I pay my taxes to pay for people who are so incompetent.

Anyway, it was bright and cold in t’woods today and I put the back together for the final dining chair in the set of 6.  Made a deer, had a chat with a JP, took an order for a bird table (which I may be able to do in chestnut, depending), and sold a broom and two elves.  To cap it all I now also have a disused electricity pole to play with and keep me warm at night.

What a good start to the weekend.  And what’s more I’m making cullen skink for tea with smoaked haddock from George for tea, brill (not the fish!)!