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I write occasional daft emails to fellow members of my woodturning club.  As we get new members, some of them are stupid enough to ask me for some of the older emails.  As time passes and the read them, they will learn never to ask again - but meanwhile I have to dig into my email archives and find old items and then send them one by one to the unlucky recipients.

You would think they would find more useful things to do with their lives than read the sad wittering's of this old fool and try to make something of their lives - but no!  Any that appear here will do so in reverse order, there are many reasons for this, but logic is the main driver.  If there is one thing I have - it is logic.  Not much else to be fair - but I do have logic.

I have only recently worked out how to put the pictures in, so many are still missing.  I will continue to work on it.

25 - November 16 - Re-published Kennet Valley Woodturners - what again!

Updated: Mar 22, 2020

Sent: 03 November 2016 23:20 Subject: Kennet Valley Woodturners - what again!

This is a re-published blog from when I used to work for a living.....

Greetings my Kennet Valley woodturning buddies – I trust you are in good fettle. Boulter here.

This is a quick reminder – we meet next week and are lucky enough to have John Boyne-Aitken ( ) demonstrating for us. Don’t miss it we are in for a real treat. So – this is by way of a reminder. John has been to us before and never failed to amuse, astound and educate. If we are lucky he may even bring a hat. I am in Derby next Tuesday – but will be rushing back to make sure I don’t miss John.

Also remember we are at Axminster in Basingstoke on November 12th from 10am until 2pm – I am a little nervous as I am doing some turning that day.

Plus I am bored – stuck in a hotel a long way from home and nothing to make me laugh – believe me – nothing.

I won’t bore you with work – I like that bit and it keeps me buzzing. Suffice to say I am residing in Gateshead for 2 days in a weird hotel and looking forward to home tomorrow evening. A good 5 hour’s drive with no traffic – but tomorrow is a Friday – perhaps 5 hours is a bit optimistic.

Obviously the memsahib will be pleased to see me – goes without saying of course – I spoil that woman – I have said it before, but I fear this time the return of the hunter brings with it an image of a sad shadow of himself. I need nurturing (no – not Neutering).

Those who know me know I am a picture of health, not an ounce of uncounted fat, and the body of a god, Buddha in my own specific case (other divine beings are available).

OK – what are you babbling about this time Boulter – we wait all year for an email and then two come along at one?

It’s the place I guess, not Gateshead specifically, not even “The North”- although after leaving Hungerford yesterday at 3pm in bright sunshine, it did get darker and more foreboding as I cruised majestically up the A1 through rolling Glens and Dales and the occasional 50mph set of road works “Opening Spring 2019 – we apologise for any inconvenience” – apologise my arse.

No – perhaps it’s the Hotel – it just is not planned right. Gateshead is hilly, I think a lot of “The North” is hilly – frankly when you get as far as Scotland they really shift into top gear – but Northumberland is hilly.

They gave me a postcode for the hotel, so it started badly. My car is German, it doesn’t do postcodes – I am guessing postcodes are not efficient enough for the Teutonic brain – it’s just not in their genes. They can do beer – just look at the Octoberfest. They do lederhosen they do sausages – perhaps should not be mentioned in the same sentence as lederhosen. Their motto is “Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit”. Not too sure what that means – something to do with slapping their thighs while wearing shorts I think.

I digress. The postcode got me to the right road – but the road was 3 miles long and the hotel address omitted to describe the number. What good is a road name and no number? Where do you live? Oh – I live on the Bath Road. See what I mean – that is politician’s information – accurate, attempting to answer the question but no good to man nor beast.

Sorry – I digress again.

The hotel – when I did spot it flashing past me on the opposite side of the road, was on the side of a hill. A steep hill. A very steep hill.

Most good hotels have a carpark. Immediately let’s dispense here with the erroneous and misplaced adjective “good”. I was directed to a pay and display car park at the bottom of the hill, by a traffic warden. He was not smiling, and the hotel was surrounded by a menacing set of very yellow and very double lines. He was still not smiling.

Let us cut to the chase here – I parked my car in what we will call, for the sake of argument, base-camp. I could see the hotel, rising imposingly through the trees. The sunlight glinting majestically from the rusty drainpipe in the corner. It was a long way up, and there was no ski-lift to be seen.

Laptop – suit carrier – small suitcase, large bottle of water.

Did I mention it was steep?

They had steps, I will be fair here – they were very generous with their steps. They did not skimp on the materials, the placement, the accuracy or (sadly) the sheer number of the damned things. I’ll admit – I am not in my prime. I don’t have a marathon in me, a mars bar perhaps, but not a marathon, full or half, not a 5k or even a quick dash down the shops. Up I went, I got to the road, it took an effort – but I made it. Only – as I found out – another 32 steps. It is fair to say that by the time I got to the hotel door I was breathing heavier than I would have done had I parked on the level, even if I had parked in the same street – I was trying to work out how I could actually start breathing again. It was bad.

I fell through the door into reception, bags and carriers askew and managed to hold myself upright by clinging on to the brass bar at the reception desk.

There was a lady at the desk, at least I thought it was a lady – (I was short of Oxygen)

Marian faced me, (it was written on her badge). I will admit to having a quick thought about whether the name Marian was invented when she was born, but I reminded myself that Robin Hood had a bird called Maid Marion so I kept quiet. Safe to say if she needed her parents to get her into the pictures she would be out of luck, she was 90 if she was a day. Not that that matters of course – I am not ageist – nor sexist. I know harass is one word not two. That said – she had seen a few summers!

“Mr Boulter” – I wheezed – “two nights!”


I slowly and painfully drew another deep breath - “Mr Boulter” – I tried to say – “just arrived – I parked down the hill and I’m a bit out of puff”

“What stuff?”

I should have run. I should have legged it and slept rough – I know that now – but I gave it another go. “Mr Boulter, I am booked to stay here” - I waved a crumpled booking form. It seemed to work. After much shuffling and rattling of the keyboard and some drawers she gave me a key.

“Where is the room?” I enquired, still breathing a little heavily. “Upstairs!” she responded – looking at me like I was some sort of fool, where did I expect the bedrooms to be? Eventually she added – “Second floor.”

She looked at me. T

hen she looked at the stairs.

Then she looked at me, then she looked at the bag, then she looked at the stairs.

She looked at me a last time. “Do you need a hand?”

I am a proud man, and considered it an insult that Methuselah’s mother was offering to carry my bags.

“Of course not” I proffered, “Do you have a lift”

“Yes” she replied.

Not given to lengthy conversations obviously.

It was like trying to ask a Scottish conservative to tell you all the good things about Nicola Sturgeon. “Good” I offered, leaving a pregnant pause and lifting a thoughtful eyebrow as if expecting a follow-up…

It came.

“It’s broken.”

At this point I refused to admit defeat – I was British after all, I had a stiff upper lip (I will admit it was dripping with sweat and stiffer than either of my legs which were starting to shake) “No problem” I smiled and started to pick up my accoutrements.

“We do have a service lift” said Marian, finally trying to be helpful now she recognised I was far too knackered to be any threat to an old lady.

“No problem” I said and I swept disdainfully out of the double doors to the base of the stairs. Everest had nothing on this.

I will skip past the stairs. Just assume it was painful.

When I finally got to the top I entered the corridor, my room was 207 – I was faced with 208 – thank god for that I thought – I must be next door. No, the next room was 209, than 210 etc. I turned 180 degrees to find room 182.

It only requires me to say that all the fire doors opened towards me. 26 rooms I had to walk past. I counted them all.

I think my room had a different postcode to the reception desk.

I collapsed on the bed took a moment to catch my breath. “Catch my breath” – bloody thing was very evasive – but I managed it after a hard fought 20 minutes. I decided I should to the E.T. thing and phone home.

It was at this point I discovered my phone was in the car – which was in base camp, I feared a nose bleed and the immediate bends should I take this too quickly. I wished I was in space, they can’t hear you scream in space.

Did I mention the service lift was outside my room?

I did need a shower. It is fair to say the bathroom put the rest of the hotel to shame, spotless, very white – very very white – my eyes actually hurt and I had to shield them from the glare. It was certainly clean, totally uncontaminated by anything, including soap…

WTF – luckily I had some in my washbag. It had accidentally fallen in there from the hotel last week.

So I got into the shower and turned on the water.

Then I turned it on a bit more – and then some more again.

Did I mention I was on the top of a hill?

The hot water was positively apologetic as it trickled out of the shower – it too was knackered after having made it this high and frankly I think it should be commended for its effort. It tried very hard – I found myself willing it to find the energy to go that extra mile and actually get me wet – but I think the journey got the better of it and it collapsed breathlessly onto the floor of the bath and made a run for the plug hole with a glint in its watery eye, obviously excited at the thought of the long and very exciting journey back down the hill – all of it unsullied by soapy suds as I was only staring blankly at it as it made its escape and was not quick enough with the soap.

I feel I should stop now, there is another story of the shy steak I had in the bar last night, I say shy – it was hiding behind the peas. I would have complained – but I don’t speak the language up here you see – (plus the blonde behind the bar looked like she was taking no crap from anyone) – so I did the British thing and apologised as I left.

Anyhow, I had better send this before the laptop gives up, I haven’t found the plug yet – I can see one behind the wardrobe – but I have not given up hope of finding another one.

It’s OK – I am checking out tomorrow, home awaits me.

One last thing – they have left some PG tips in the room next to the kettle, all I have to do is find where to plug it in.

Phil Boulter

Vice Chairman

Kennet Valley Woodturning Club

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