Rome

 

To offset the anticipation of Spring, Syann and I went to Rome. It could have been Naples, Sicily or southern Spain. We took the discount from Easyjet. We both had ongoing coughs and were worried about passing or affliction on to 120 punters who had to listen to us for 3 hours in the confined space of a plane. We set off at silly o clock in the rain, parked at the Pink elephant and took their bus to Gatwick. Stood in the queues, got in the plain and watched dawn rising over the channel, snow over the alps and little boats over the Med as we came in to land at Rome. We took a coach to the city and got out at the station and started on the learning curve of finding our way to the Mimosa Hotel. New cities are fun. People, scooters, classical ruins. We found the Pantheon, and our hotel just behind it.

 

DSC03561.jpg We went off to Antonio’s restaurant for lunch. The hotels recommendation, very good and a bit expensive, but having Artichokes in Rome is almost obligatory. Looked around the neighbourhood for the first afternoon, the Pantheon, Bellini’s Elephant, a few churches then Ice cream at Dusk amid the buskers in the Piaza de Navona. If I had written this last month I might have given you the names of the churches, but then probably not. Second day, lets get some heavy culture over with while we still have the energy. We walked up past the Spanish Steps, off limits, being cleaned. To the Villa Borghesi park where we rented a couple of lousy bicycles and rode to the Museo Borghesi and went round looking at the mainly Baroque art. Bellini seems to be the main star. We rode past the Zoo and to the Gallery of Modern Art. Ate our sandwich and shared a beer in the sun, before immersing ourselves in culture for a few hours. Tottered out and decided not to see the Museo de Arte Etruscia. I love Bronze age art, but we were bushed. We returned the bikes, got ripped off in the timing and walked back , this time past the Trevi Fountain where we ate an Ice Cream, but did not throw coins in in case we had to return.

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The next day we ventured onto the MetRO and caught a bus to Tivoli and the Villa de Este Gardens. Incredible water engineering and Gardens. Lunch on the street of Tivoli and down the hill to the Villa Adriana where Emporer Hadrian built his retirement Palace a thousand years earlier.

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Another lot of walking involved, but it was amazing and beautiful. back on the bus in time for supper at Antonio. We have earned it. Old mr. Antonio runs it with his Daughter and excellent son in law. Shades of the ‘Godfather’ as we and others got shunted around on tables to make spece for six men who just drank beers and conducted their business meeting, while a line of tables remained empty in anticipation for a party that did not arrive. The tables were dispersed just before we left. We had a man on our table who was from Milan and always ate there when in Rome. Syann booked me in to visit the Sistene Chapel. I received a text giving me the details. The next day we went to the Vatican. I waved my phone and went along the fast queue into the Vatican museum. The text was not enough and I had to access the website and get the real number. I could not get online and the helpful man at the ticket office tried too but no avail. So I bought a ticket for €16 on top of the €26 Syann had spent on me the day before and ploughed along with the considerable crowds looking at all the Catholic Churches Booty until we reached the Sistene Chapel with 2000 people in it all in groups listening to their instructors through their devices. I looked up for 5 minutes and then got out. I found Syann next to the river. We went to a modern restaurant that evening. Called the ‘Fishmarket’ in English, it was run by young people for young people. Children every where. Very trendy and good. Completely different from Antonio’s. The next day we rented a couple of bicycles for the day and rode up the Tiber. We went down to the riverside in a disgusting part full of Hyperdermics, and human detritus, but it cleared up as we left the centre of the city and moved past rowing clubs, floating restaurants, suburbia, onto a beautiful cyclepath, sportsfields and eventually farmland. I nearly got a Whipsnake tangled in my wheel. About a metre long, Google it.

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We ate our picnic on a willow tree next to the river possibly 10 miles out of town. Then rode back more slowly as the food, the warmth and our lack of fitness kicked in. The next day we caught the train up to Viterbo. Two hours away. Fantastic views of Lazio. We befriended a lady from Morcombe, who settled there five years previously. She took us to the tourist burough The found us an hotel and explained how to get to the Hot Springs. We had to wait for ages for the bus. Found that the Thermal swimming pool was closed on Tuesdays, so we signed up for the Spa. The Doctor, a pretty girl of about nineteen asked us medical questions and took our blood pressure, then we entered the luxurious marble corridors, put on our bathing costumes and had a real jacuzzi with coloured lights and music. Fun when your ears are under water, sitting on marble chaise longues and getting bubbled. We then walked through alternative hot and cold troughes. Good for our varicose veins? The whole episode reminded us of a Fellini Movie. Back on the bus, we saw people wiser than us swimming in hot springs in the fields. Small town so we looked at every restaurant and eventually chose ‘Quatro Staglioni’ Maitre was lovely and the food was imaginative and delicious.

 

DSC03645.jpg The next and our last day, we walked round the town looked at the Etruscan Exhibition in the museum. A bit wasted on us who do not read Italian, or understand the voice overs of the interactive bits. Caught the two trains back to the Airport. Close on time but there was a hold up and we missed our flight back. They sent me an email, but I could not receive it on the (dumb) smartphone. We and our Japanese friend who had also missed the flight eventually bought tickets for Norwegan Airlines for a small fortune and got back at One am. Did not have to pay extra at parking and got home at three am. or so.

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Wedding

Every once in a while something new happens.
My little girl was getting married. Sometime in the future, after Art in Action. Phew! I couldn’t handle both on the same weekend. I packed all the stock into the attic, carefully around the growing mound of delivered and borrowed goods on the two long planks of Sycamore on trestles for my next job.
I had to make a Chuppah. quick assembly in the woods if the weather be good. in the hall if not. Hazel verticals with a fork and the horizontals wired on to make L shapes and I would wire together on site. This is to represent an house. muslin overhead so that god could bless the union. ( I hope he is not too miffed about six year old Isaac and 3 year old Rosie) I compose a speech. Shortish and gently witty (I think)
Then the guests appear. Syanns sisters, one with daughter and the other with partner, from south Africa at airport. My sister from Station. Then Zan and Scott and the children in our room. It is hard to go to the loo in the middle of the night with little bodies all over the floor. They migrate from the corners to the middle.
Preparation starts in earnest. Chef Tim is in tent at the bottom of Garden. Preparing food in kitchens of two village halls. Bell tent in top garden. Small marquee in bottom garden. Scotts uncle Martin in tent next to house. He soon moves it down to next to small marquee. Flowers being prepared in hall. Thanks Maresie and helpers. Large marquee gets erected next to hall. this offends hall management because it is half a day early and not where the had the last one. Syann and Zan apply magic. The great day. After the non stop pouring rain of Friday, Jehovah relents and the sun appears. Martin and I take Chuppah up and start assembly. As soon as it gets to the tricky part (tieing flimsy 4 metre L shapes together ) Martin leaves to sort out his drum, so I find more technology and my ever reliable wife. We wire it together and fit guy ropes, muslin and bunting. Down to the house into Tuxedo and we are off to the registry office for civil ceremony. Zan and Scott with Hilary (Scotts Mum) his sister and their side of family. Us as late as possible (not difficult) with Isaac and Rosie.Z&S-247  Z&S-290
Back to the house. Zan prepares for wedding in the woods. I am doing finals on Chuppah. Guests appear as I finish off. Down to wait for Zan and bridesmaids. It is normal for the bride to be late they say. Not one hour late I say. Into the car, up the lane, past the cricket pitch to the gate. I take her arm and we walk into the woods and the Chuppah. The ceremony can begin. Scott is waiting. (hey everyone is waiting!) He walks round her three times. She walks round him three times. The celebrant is excellent. The wrote out the service themselves. Hilary sings three Hebrew blessings and repeats them in English for those of us not fluent in Hebrew. At the end of the service Zan and Scott walk off into the woods to consumate the wedding. Rosie is not happy with this (doesn’t want another sibling?) but the world is full of people to distract pretty three year olds and soon we are out on the green quaffing Champagne and posing for photos. I load up the empty glasses when everyone drifts down to the hall because I have a car there                                                                      .Z&S-384
They have thought of everything. Child minders, space hoppers, Lego tent. Juice, booze and people for the adults to talk to. I do not know where the afternoon went, but we are being arranged at the tables and the brilliant food (thanks Tim) is being served. I give my shortish and gently witty speech. Scott’s is longer. He forgives her for stamping on the glass first. Soon we are in the hall dancing to the excellent band. Scott’s friends from east London. by the time the second band takes over, the noise is too much and we slope quietly home where child minder Louise has put Isaac and Rosie down in our room and we take over duties and go to bed, getting up briefly to dampen the after party around 3am.
The next morning and I go up in the rain to dismantle Chuppah and clear up debris, muslin, bunting, stapled wedding signs. I got friendly greetings from dog walkers so all is well. The day was spent clearing up, finding hidden glasses, sharing the left overs with the many people here. Monday and the weather was better. I took down five tents and unpacked the two that campers had packed away sodden, so they could dry. Transported straw bales to our front lawn where the children could play on them till we could work out what to do with them. Tuesday returned small marquee and Scotts hoodie and dark glasses to lender and rented sound system to renter in Bournemouth. Clips missing so he must charge us for replacement legs. I found one missing clip. Buzz it down on motorbike, take away leg he wants to charge us for and make a clip. We return borrowed things to friends. Hilary collects kids and takes them to Devon. We put sisters on plane. Where is Scott’s hoodie and glasses. Chris from sound system left clips on leg. Collect hoodie and glasses again and return repaired leg with made clip and cable clips complete and request to refund Scott. Tom and Tina collect straw bales. Phew, Alone for one night before Lou and Becky return.
Now I can get back to work

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Sycamore Captains Chair

My captains chairs have been selling well. Three shows still ahead of me again, so I must make another. I had some nice 60mm rippled sycamore. It is worth making a change from walnut. Craft fairs are performing art and when the same people come round and it seems as if I am hawking the same things as last year, a golden chair does make a difference. I laminated the curved backrest from the outer edges of the plank where the ripple is most pronounced and with the shaping of the backrest getting it to the medullary rays where the ripple is most pSycamore Chairronounced. My plank was wide and I could cut the seat from one piece of wood. Each time I make one of these chairs carving the seat becomes a new creative experience. (This sounds too new age, I might re-write it later) Sycamore does not split easily so I can hollow it down till 20mm is left. This gives me a deeper carved seat, a greater feeling of luxury to justify the price. The 60 mm wood allows me to have larger fillets on the joints. Here is a pic taken yesterday evening at the industrial estate just before sunset. That is me feeling happier about  Art in Action  16th. to 19th July 2015. Rums Eg Romsey Dovetail Exhibition 2nd August 2015, leaving early for: Pond House Studio Lewes 22nd, 23rd, August 2015 Made London 22nd to 26th October 2015

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Switzerland

We went on a trip to Switzerland. I agreed to deliver Adrian’s chair and he gave us a week in his holiday apartment in Zermatt. Fair Deal.
We invited Gina and Derek to come along. We were spending two days in Basel with Adrian and Lena so we asked Derek and Gina to arrive there by public transport by Saturday so we could journey through Switzerland together.
We got up at silly o clock and drove through the tunnel, got lost in Calais before zooming down the Peage past Riems and Strasbourg to Basel. Supper on the balcony was a welcome change from both cold and soggy England and driving an hour each for the day. I spent the morning scraping, sanding and re-oiling their old South American table. Adrian took us round the old town of Basel. Ancient, beautiful and loaded with history, tourists and children in the fountains, enjoying the 27degrees of summer. We crossed the river on the ferry that is attached to a cable and uses river power to cross over. Had lunch at riverside cafe with too much midday wine and watched the young people swimming doDSC02699wn the river with their clothes in inflatable bags and walking back upstream wet. Friday afternoon Adrian took us to Dornach to see the Anthroposophical Goethenium (Jugenstile meets Rudolf Steiner meets Royal opera house) it is beautiful and amazing and the avoidance of using right angles as well as the larger budget gives a superior appearance to most exposed concrete buildings.
Saturday and Gina and Derek meet us in Binningen, we load up and in spite of my stupidity, Adrian gets us on the road to Bern. We lunch at the Paul Klee Zentrum, onto the car train through the middle alps at the Lotschbergtunnel. Soon we are parking at the station of Tasch and onto the Zermatt Shuttle. Up to the magical world of high alps Zermatt, Tourists, restaurants, designer shops and money. We slot into the apartment and soon procure food from Co-op and chill out on the balcony.
Being a glacial valley the sides are steep and most of the walks involve trips on funiculars. Derek rushed off early to do some morning skiing. Gina, Syann and I went up to Furi and walked over the suspension bridge, up to see the glacial garden (deep holes in the rocks caused by stones being stirred by glacial meltwater) We lost Gina, who went back down on the cable car. We walked down the path under the caDSC02759ble car. The next day Syann and I went up a scary underground funicular to Sunnigar. The second stage up was not yet open, but we walked past two lakes and up a long zig zag path onto the original path we were due to follow. Nice and gentle to the station where we ducked down to another steep zig zag through the pines and larches to the town, meeting the school kids pushing their bicycles back up home again. Fed up with shelling out for funiculars, we walked up the slope behind our apartment. We left Gina to paint by some farm huts and walked up the warm south facing slope looking at the different plants and views. We watched a couple of hang gliders landing in a field and the helicopter transporting building materials up and down the opposite mountain. We got to the melting glacier and a little line of caterpillars, maybe 50. The path started to get steeper and we lost heart, ate our picnic and walked slowly down. Went to the museum looked at the early history of tourism. 150 years earlier, Englishman Edward Whymper determined to conquer the Matterhorn was at Briel Cervina in Italy and all the guides were hired by the Italian team determined to get there first. He rolled up his tent, crossed over to Zermatt through the Theodul pass, joined and took over leadership of two climbing parties and took them to the top ahead of the Italian Alpine club. He lost 4 out of 7 climbers on the way down, but when one measures his determination and exertion for that week of his life in the days before funiculars. He went up to the glacier the next day to help recover bodies. A 25 year old London woodcarver. Put Zermatt on the map for tourists and they haven’t looked back
We then went up the railway to Riffelberg, walked to Riffelsee and ate lunch looking at the amazing glacier then followed the path towards the Monta Mota Rose emailRosa Hut. We managed to see it just before the rain came. Three hours away on the other side of the glacier. An architectural award winning Larch and aluminium hut sleeping 120 and carbon neutral. Although I bet they didn’t factor in the helicopter flying the prefab pieces from the station where we got off. We followed the Mark Twain trail round to the capricious supermodel of a mountain that demandDSC02865s to be photographed at every opportunity. We were surprised by a low flying hang glider. I failed to get it and the Matterhorn in the same frame. The way down was long and hard. Our toes hurt from the long long downhills. The extra exercise we were getting here was taking its toll. Thursday we tried to take it easy and took the cable car to Furi again and walked round towards Zmutt with Gina. The rain came at the same time as Syann discovered that she had lost her coat so we retraced our steps to no avail. Walked down from Furi on the other side. Better path, more shrines and tourists.
Friday and Syann and I went up to Sunnega and walked down the rent-a-scooter trail a couple of tourists from Missouri let us try their scooters. Horrid. We had a good supper with all our left overs and cleaned the place ready for an early departure. Down to Tasch and on the road by 7.45.
Spent our last Swiss Francs on coffee, had breakfast in France. Stopped at Hypermarket for Champagne for Zan and Scotts wedding next month, got onto an earlier Chunnel train DSC02867and delivered Gina and Derek home at dusk.    DSC02873

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Dartmoor

Yesterday we went to Dartmoor. Syann was part of a group involved with her CIMBA exhibition at Bovey Tracey. They were walking to a Bronze age Burial site with archeologists and paying guests etc. I took my bicycle and went North. I took the wrong path and carried my bike too far and pushed it the rest of the the first half of the trip. Dodging along the edge of a brook with bike on shoulder and trying not to get deeper thaDSC02411n my ankles in the bog. The path slowly climbed away from the stream, I could push more and carry less. Saturday and there were teams of orienteering teenagers with back packs, bedrolls etc. I stopped at two stone circles in good order. I asked young man whether they were prehistoric or erected by the Boy Scouts in 1936. He checked his map, more recent and twice the scale of mine and it was labeled as restored. I stopped for my lunch (pulverised sandwiches mixed with satsumas and chocolate) Took off my sodden cycling shoes and arranged them with their inner soles on a rock with my socks on the carrier where the keen wind could remove some excess moisture. Greeted several parties of orienteerers in their boots and lycra, me feeDSC02449ling a bit old and second class.
Into the woods where there was a track to cycle along. Sunshine as one got out of the trees. A long downhill to the reservoir another stone circle and through the gate to the car park with some of the many mini-busses bringing the students. The reservoir was beautiful with dark peat stained water reflecting the blue sky. The road out led to Chagford, the wrong way, but I rode down it looking for the tracks getting me back to Postbridge and the car. There was no reception so I could not ask Syann to collect me elsewhere. A young farmer came past on his Quadbike with 4 year old daughter on front and 50 sheep following all baa-ing keen on the hopper with feed on the back. Two farms later and the long ascent to the moor began again. Against the wind this time. At last I reached the main road to Postbridge. Traffic pleasantly light, man several yDSC02452ears older than me overtakes me on his bike ( skinny tyres and lycra) Thirty Motorcyclists come past. I wonder how much one sees in a large group anyway. Surely if they hired a Coach they could chat to their friends. Mind you we are about to tow our boat up to the western isles of Scotland to sail with thirty other boats in two weeks time. Got back to the car park, texted Syann, bought a tart and sat next to the old stone clapper bridge in the sun and ate it. I walked up the hill south, but having done five hours of (for me) fairly strenuous exercise, I returned to the car where Syann appeared. No I didn’t receive her text. That arrived half an hour later on the way home.

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end of 2014

It has been a good year. An incredible year in fact. I had been dragging my feet a bit on shows, Exhibitions and Fairs. Then 2014 I exhibited at the ‘Craft in the Bay’ at Cardiff. It looked great. Up to Louise Darby’s Summer exhibition at the Clay Barn in Warwickshire. then ‘Made’ at West Dean. The Wood Carving exhibition at the ‘Craft Study Centre’ in Farnham, Art in Action in Oxfordshire, ‘Made’ in London, Hants and Berks Guild in Odiham and Garden of Delights at Fontnell Magna. The overall response has been fantastic. I have sold a very high proportion of my stock and must work hard to replenish before it all starts again in the Spring.

If you bought something from me this year, Thank You! If you commissioned me , Again, Thank You!

Two new pics.  Another large Salad bowl from Walnut-  The last one had dips in the ends. A Walnut stool. These must be among my best sellers. An Oak one made to commission.

 

 

 

DSC01427Carved stoolTheddon Stool

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carved vessel

I have carved the inside of the vessel probably 90%.  I have removed wood from the outside so that very little of the vessel is over  30mm. thickness. The vessel now carved vessel A weighs 16kg. I have to get the moisture content down, so the less wood that I have to dry, the better. The ends have been oiled to slow down the drying.I now have it wrapped in plastic and strapped to the kitchen ceiling above the heater so I can sweat the excess moisture out. carved Vessel B

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February 7, 2014 · 10:11 pm