Bodgers’ Ball

Hello!

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We were at The Bodgers’ Ball at Wimpole Hall this last weekend and had a great time. Took the De Waard tent and collected my daughter Nim from Cambridge railway station.

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A bright start to Saturday morning.

SAMSUNG CSCOne of the good things about camping is cooking out-of-doors.  Nim’s tucking into porridge with raisins.  This is real porridge where the oats are just hulled and cut.  This means they need to be soaked overnight and then cooked for about half an hour.  We use charcoal, shavings that have flown, Kelly kettle, dutch oven and a great little Vietnamese charcoal cooker:

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Bolton Abbey charcoal, of course, easy to light, burns hot and long, and a steal at £3 a 2.5kg (easily portable under the arm), made from FSC woodland thinnings (Ok, less of the gratuitous self-advertising – Ed).  On Friday night we had fine couscous with a ladies fingers curry, 4 course dinner on Saturday was, sweetcorn cobs, barbecued veggie kebabs with grilled pitta bread, then sweet followed; barbecued bananas filled with chocolate.  I had a handful of syrup tin potatoes at this point then we had home-made cake and coffee.  Then the residual heat was used to stat the porridge soaking.

As you can guess from above, I did a bit of scything.  I’m just beginning learning this skill so I managed to pick up a few tips from the more experienced people there.  The meadow was a mixture containing fescues which dull your blade quickly because it contains silica.  I wasn’t sure whether it was that or my sharpening or cutting technique causing poor cutting.

There was Doug Joiner there doing some demo horse logging, here’s Simon from The Hall getting a bit of tutoring:

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Simon’s energy in organising and running the Ball was immense  Wimpole Hall and model farm is run by The National Trust and has quite a few heavy horses of its own.  Mostly the breed is Shire horses which apparently are on the endangered list.

SAMSUNG CSCThese are some of their cattle, an Irish breed, you can tell they are a heritage breed from that very square body.  Compare some of the old paintings, here’s out local Craven Heifer, much celebrated in pub names round home:

Even though the regimen is RSPCA Freedom Food it looked to me like the hooves of some of them needed clipping as they were very overgrown, I suppose lying about in crap all day doesn’t help, I suppose they’ll be let out once the grass is long enough.

There was such a lot going on, you really need to go to appreciate that.  Many pole lathes (all different designs) tool auction, log to leg racing, food, AGM, straw-plaiting, hedge laying, scything, timber hewing, purse net making (for rabbit ferreting), new and secondhand tools, and much more.  Such as Mr Nic Westerman making an axe from scratch.  He was using coke rather than charcoal – don’t blame him, an axe is a big chunk of steel!  Have a look on his website – he has some really beautiful leaf fobs that actually look like the species they represent.

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Here’s his natty forge made from what looks to be a wagon wheel, I wonder what the secret of the magic bellows box can be.  Runs from a 12 volt battery and there’s a switch hanging from the forge edge lower left.

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I bought quite a few items including a really beaut. of a plough plane - here it is already in service on the story/shepherd’s chair:
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That router can go back in its box now, noisy, dusty dangerously frightening semi-controllable beggar!

I bought a good flat adze in the auction to replace the one that grew legs and walk off from my workshop whilst unshafted. Also a new pair of large size log tongs. If you handle large lumps of wood get some of these, they will save your back and make life much more pleasant believe me – they are a dream when loading and unloading my trailer with 4 foot felled timbers. They become like an extension of your arm, and with practice you can throw a log and release it by jerking the tongs in a special way (Glad you didn’t try to make that particular point an instructable, remember the cost of your public liability insurance – Ed).

Also on my shopped for list were two hessian sacks, rather hard to come by these days, but good for informal rain hoods, aprons, bagging shavings or small children (Steady on! – Ed) OK small animals then.  They need a good banging with a carpet beater but today it’s going to pour it down all morning – floods appearing already.  Got a couple of presents for friends too.  Sean Hellman sold me a cake of pink honing compound, I’m finding Autosol that I’ve used up to now a bit too messy, so having a swap.

I visited the Shed Therapy setup and I’m rather taken with their ‘Make a Pencil’ activity for kids – should go down well at shows, and it’s Otley Show this coming Saturday.  Gavin has posted me some pencil leads so here’s hoping they arrive in time.

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OK I need to post this or it will be next week.

To finish a few pictures on the shepherd’s chair progress, making lambs tongue stops on the back frame members’ chamfers:

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East Riddlesden Hall Shepherd’s chair

SAMSUNG CSCYesterday we went to East Riddlesden Hall, which is our local National Trust property and is on a scale that suits us best.  It’s really not much more than a farm house, but was enlarged and upgraded by James Murgatroyd of Halifax who made his brass in the woollen industry.  The Hall is also where I’m taking my beginner’s bee keeping course and where The Airedale Beekeepers Association have their apiary.  The Hall exterior has black-faced stone, fairly rare now in the industrial West Riding, and is a relic from the heavily polluted sooty air during the Industrial Revolution.  The parish church in Halifax was another fine example last time I saw it.

I wanted to visit to take a few pictures and measurements of this chair:

SAMSUNG CSCIt is an example of a type of chair made in the Lancashire and Yorkshire Dales in the 18th and nineteenth century.  They are also known as lambing chairs.  I’ve yet to find any evidence to support the theory that they were used by shepherds at lambing time and the dog or a lamb could be housed under the seat.  This one is certainly enclosed on three sides and would work as such, but more often they have a drawer under the seat, and maybe that is just missing from this one – my photos don’t give me enough detail to check, so I’ll have to revisit.  There is a very steep rake to the back, which I think is partly due to the back feet having rotted more than the front ones.

The main features of the style are the framed back. winged sides, arms and framed undercarriage.  Several examples also have the rope support for the seat and some have rather good carving to the back panelling.  There are not a great many survivors and so each one seems to vary from the others quite a bit. Bernard Cotton in his “English Regional Chairs” shows seven examples, none with a maker’s stamp.  He says:

The great variety of individual designs found in this group of chairs suggests that they were made by cabinet makers or carpenters for an individual order, rather than working in th tradition of the turner who made many chairs in the same design.  These chairs were, perhaps, the most comfortable and commodious made in the English common chair tradition.

It strikes a particular chord with me as we had one which used to have rockers (since removed) and my brother now has it.  I’ll be taking some photographs later.  The reason for my current interest is that I’ve been asked to make a story chair for Dales Countryside Museum at Hawes.  The chair will be sited outside in a new wildlife area so I’ll be finishing it off in situ on 23rd May at the opening of the new wildlife area.  The demands of outdoor living mean that the chair will not be a copy of an indoor shepherd’s chair, but inspired by the style.  I hope to have the shaped wings and arms and a panelled back as well as some basic carved decoration, hopefully.  The bottom will need to be very sturdy to create a robust bottom-heavy balance and withstand the rigours of Dales weather.

Last Friday I started splitting out some oak from a massive Bolton Abbey stem that I’ve already used in other work.  Here’s where I’ve got to so far:

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These are the raw splits into the thicknesses I will require adding an allowance for cleaning up, removing bark and sapwood etc.

The whole chair will eventually weather to this colour:

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But when freshly broken out of the oak butt it has this colour and an addictive aroma reminiscent of oak casks, whisky and leather:

SAMSUNG CSC  I’ll be doing some updates on this project as it progresses, maybe even doing one of these jobbies that Tony filmed during his coursework last Friday:

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Meanwhile, I’ve a charcoal burn to do for an order as well as a couple of courses.

More woodland animals on the escape from Strid Wood:

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