Category Archives: Spring

Fasten down that Ball

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This long marquee has many extra straps and wooden pegs/stakes to hold it up. No wonder, it was windy.


“Well I woke up this mornin’,
So glad our tent hadn’t blown down.”

We were in territories new and unfamiliar, East Sussex in the South of England, near the sea and the South West wind.  The land where trugs are made and called trugs, not bodges, as in Kent. In Herstmonceux pronounced Herstmonzoo.  Blimey, these names down South very long and complicated, not like Strid, or other Northern simplicities, OK well, there are exceptions like Mytholmroyd and Micklethwaite.

Now here’s Mike Church, working away like a good ‘un on trugs for an American order  (I suppose a “Speed trug-making” video would have been good here – Ed)


Here’s their details:


Sussex trugs have been going for a long time, in fact they are “Royal” because Thomas Smith, their inventor sold some to Queen Victoria on the first day of the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park London in 1851.


Here’s the oblong I bought my wife:


Before we arrived at Herstmonzoo we stopped off to have a look at Great Dixter gardens (& hall/house).  Well worth a detour (as they say in Michelin guides).

GD entrance

Great Dixter Entrance, yes the porch does lean cocked towards the left.


A quite large Great Dixter garden  bench.


A small sample of the planting style at GD.

I took no photos of the house interior, as this wasn’t allowed, but it was a fine mixed collection of 17th/18th/20th century furniture in a stunning timber-framed early 16th century hall.

I was rather saddened to find that the old central heating radiators had mostly been disguised by covering them with a butchered antique chest, must have been when they were out of fashion, the alterations responsible were designed by Sir Edwin Landseer LutyensOMKCIEPRAFRIBA and Nathaniel Lloyd in 1910.  Some of them had rather fine carving in the 17th century style.  Here’s a picture of one from Country Life 1995.

The Bodgers’ Ball was held at Herstmonseux in a strong gale.  In a field provided by Richard Bingham.

English: Sir Richard Bingham (1528-1599)

English: Sir Richard Bingham (1528-1599) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mainly in a massive marquee which billowed and creaked over the whole weekend, occasionally bursting the odd wall pole.

These gatherings are a great way of meeting up with people … you met at earlier Balls and also new people you’ve not met before, but all of whom have a common interest and to some degree a common attitude to parts of life.

What I got from The Ball this year


Breakfast at Mark Allery’s bar. Looks like the wind blew away some of Alan’s hair. (right)


Whoops wrong photo …



In the auction I successfully bid for a French side axe, more of this in a later post.

I discovered that the bodgering world is not yet ready to propel itself back into 17th century green joinery.


But I’m working on it.  Watch out Worshipful Company of Turners, my cricket stool is coming!

A massive G cramp for £10 – it must open about 14″, haven’t measured it yet.



And that the Sussex coast is about 7 hours away from Strid Wood, where herb paris is blooming (again)


Half a pound of tuppenny rice

A few random ingredients from my last few day’s work.

Seen one of these?  Know what it’s called?


Well apart from a pair of chainsaw trousers, it is a nail acting as a button, fastens your braces (suspenders) to your trousers.  We call ‘em a joiner’s button.  Make sure you take them out before they go in the wash – could cause unpleasant disharmony at home.  Mind you if Stihl made their buttons as well as they do their saws it would be very helpful – I’ve used all the spares that came with the trousers (about 2 I think).

I’ve been preparing to make a picnic table with two benches.  It has to be like some the estate have put on the banks of the Wharfe in their car park.  Firmly attached to the earth – the table sits on two 6 inch fence posts and likewise the benches.  However, I’m not doing the tops in treated softwood, oh no my readers, oak for that.

I sometimes miss young Theo, he was a great boon on two handed jobs like hauling a butt onto the trailer.


Heave ho!

At four foot long and about 20″ diameter this butt weighs quite a lot. No the Lugall winch is not fastened to the trailer with that orange bailer band. There’s a strap going down to the tow bar through the grill. Lot of fussing back and forth, work the winch, move the rollers, move the winch, kick the tailgate, work the winch, and so on.

Getting it onto the milling dog is no joke either, especially rolling it round to get the right attitude on top for the first cut.


I use an Alaskan mill and a frame to get the first cut.


The first cut is the fussiest, except for the second one at right angles to it.

And I must say the big old Stihl 66, though a little scary, doesn’t complain about this heavy labour I bought it for.


The milling spread over two days, I can only stand so much at once as the dust is filthy stuff, very fine and mixed with the vegetable oil (sunflower currently) I use for the chain lube. Everything you touch turns light brown.

Anyway, watch this space for more adventurers in picnicing.

More gentle work is stripping bast from elm saplings. A couple of felled stems were lying around and I noticed epicormic buds appearing, so I tested for bark stripping. Yes! Quite a few rolls for a future seat.

The timber will make good mallet heads.


The stripper

I finished the new sales display stand, or whatever it might be called.  At least it looks different, and a change is as good as … well.


On the rapidly developing flower offensive Heb Paris looks about ready to bloom from its four leaves.  This just looks like an invitation to copy into a gouge-work motif.  Reader, that’s why I took the photograph.

SAMSUNG CSCI found these lil yellow and green flowers on a lunchtime stroll.


They are yellow star of bethlehem, apparently Strid Wood is known for them.

I like the contrast of new plants growing from the flood banks of the Wharfe.



And the sun shining on the glossy ramsons.
SAMSUNG CSCBut probably this week’s Number One is this little bunch of violets growing in the river bank below my woodland staff restaurant.