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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.

49 – 18 days in, and all is well.

Updated: Oct 19, 2018

18 days of retirement have passed me by – and all is well. I say well… There is a complete lack of interaction with someone good looking, vibrant, sexy and with big boobs. At least that’s what the girls at work say they are missing since I have been gone. I must lose some weight.

I have been pretty busy doing new things, and starting to plough a furrow, down-which I need to be travelling. More of that later.

I have been volunteered to do some DJ’ing on hospital radio – but I fear for the well-being of the poor patients and have to keep well away in case I cause some relapses. So it will not be happening.

This is probably going to be a long one, sorry about that, but if it is woodturning you want – read the top bit. Just down as far as the first bit of part 6. The rest of it is rubbish, only read that if you can’t sleep.

Anyhow - meantime – here are the news headlines.

  1. Thatcham Festival of Arts and Leisure revealed.

  2. Next Saturday workshop on 27th October

  3. November Club meeting on 13th November

  4. Maintenance day at the club

  5. Up coming competitions

  6. Seasonal considerations

  7. Old and knackered blog

1. Thatcham Festival of Arts and Leisure revealed.

What a wet start!

I have not been, or felt, this moist since the last unpleasantness. Despite the very best weather forecast the BBC could muster – the clouds completely ignored the immaculate advice from our premier broadcaster and dumped rain upon us. The rain came in anger just at the point we had arrived in Thatcham and emptied out the cars – but importantly before we had erected the gazebo so vital in the “keeping us dry” role that we had employed it for.

It is fair to say that the person who took the brunt of the rain was our chairman Mike Allen, and the rain was so efficient at it’s job that once the gear was all erected he had to go home and change because he really was soaked to the skin.

The rain miraculously stopped the minute we were set up and had everything under cover.


Eventually the sun was up-front and centre and things warmed up a little. It would be a lie to say the crowds came – because really they didn’t – but we did see people coming and going during the day which kept us interested. It is possible that the poor weather first thing in the morning kept people away. Ah well.

On the positive side we did secure our place at the Berkshire County Show next year, so it was worth going just to do that. Many thanks indeed to everyone who helped us, with the packing, unpacking and manning the stand for the day – without his sort of help we really would have been stuffed.

2. Next Saturday workshop on 27th October

We are almost upon the next Saturday workshop - 27th October between 10.00am and 1.00pm. This one promises to be really good with colouring as a theme. Lynn Courtney and Mick Hanbury will both be in attendance, and frankly if you have not been lucky enough to see Lynn or Mick Hanbury before you are in for a treat. Actually both of them are a mine of information when it comes to colouring – especially when it comes to the Jo-Sonja paints, so if you are unsure about them or have not seen them then this is certainly the workshop you need to attend. Have a sneak preview here. (If you do watch – it is proof that the Germans have no sense of humour.)

While writing – the November Saturday workshop will be Christmas trees and decorations, and January’s Saturday workshop will be square edged turning. (So guess what one of our competitions will be next year.)

3. November Club meeting on 13th November

We have a returning demonstrator this month and I am delighted to say that we are welcoming Paul Hannaby once again. Paul was with us in March 2015 which is quite a long time ago – and I can’t wait to see him again.

Paul is well established on the demonstration circuit, as well as being a highly accomplished tutor, he is happy teaching beginners as well as offering a variety of topics for more advanced turners. Paul has two web-sites, and go onto either and you will be able to get to see the range of his work, much of which is very artistic. See site one or two. Paul really is a skilful and knowledgeable turner, not to be missed.

Obviously I had to look him up on the web – this is some of what I found which is slightly worrying.

I just hope he wears that low cut number….

4. Maintenance day at the club

Some of you will have noticed that it is getting harder to get the big lathe out of storage because the wheels are struggling to cope and one of them has slightly collapsed. On top of this we need to do some general maintenance on chucks and other equipment, just as we would expect to do on our own equipment at home.

Our plan for the larger lathe is to fit a new plywood sheet to the underneath of the wooden base, and with it - some new heavy duty castors. With enough pairs of hands we can do this in a few hours. What we need is the hands. To be fair – what we really need is a volunteer who is at least an accomplished amateur carpenter. Can I hear the sound of someone volunteering?

Also – does anyone have a good source of 20mm (¾ inch) thick plywood? The date and time for this maintenance is – as yet – undecided but it should not be too long before it is done.

Please email me on if you are able to help at all. In the meantime we will be measuring up the base at the next Saturday workshop so we can pre-order the plywood for the base, and the wheels.

5. Upcoming competitions

The end of the year is almost upon us, so we get a slight interruption to our regular monthly routines. November is good as gold, a Tuesday meeting and then a monthly Saturday workshop. December however is different altogether, because the Tuesday club meeting is replaced by our annual get-together (see below) so we don’t have a members evening or a demonstrator. Between now and January then it means we only have a couple of competitions left.

In November we are looking for Cake Stands. There is no ruling on size – but lets try to make something capable of taking something a damn site larger that a cup-cake!

December sees the competition opening up to be “Ladies Choice” This is voted for at the half-time break in the evening, and is a competition and was traditionally seen as something that would be useful for a lady in some way – whether it be an ear-ring stand, a jewellery box, a ring holder, a rolling pin or whatever. Frankly in these enlightened times one should remember that the rationale for the competition may be challenged going forwards since we have now managed to get three ladies in the club.

Should I re-phrase that?

January on the other hand will see us challenging our members to make Goblets, with at least one captive ring for Novices, two for intermediates and three for advanced. There is no limit to the number of rings, however remember there is an aesthetic value to judging the piece – so calm down!

6. Seasonal considerations – The annual party – plus a rant of sorts.

Once again I find myself having to write about Christmas, or at least the annual party. The annual club celebration which we call (depending on your tastes) – the Xmas Party, The Annual Quiz evening, the Club Dinner, the Annual Disaster etc will happen on Tuesday December 11th. The evening is free – it is included in your membership. Once again we invited Keith Chegwin, and once again he ignored us.

All members are welcome, and so are their partners or loved ones – or both. It is a chance to say thank you for putting up with the shavings, the mess, the house full of turned objects, the shavings, the garden full of drying wood, the other shavings, the dust, the noise coming from the shed/garage when we swear, the shavings, and the bloody monthly emails.

We will have a quiz, there will be food, there will be laughter and merriment – I even might have a couple of poems that you can join in with - as a small taste of something different. I am biased of course – but I think we do have fun every year – and the feedback seems to be that we should not change the format too much. I am not so sure, hence the possibility of the poems….

Please therefore come and join us on 11th December – bring your partners, spouses, S/O’s or whatever – seriously the more the merrier. It is a chance to meet the “other halves” and to raise a quiet riot. It is a chance to exercise your brain with a light hearted quiz, and a chance to join in the chorus of a couple of poems perhaps (lets see how that goes). We do need to know who is coming, so please let us know at the November meeting whether you and your other half will be coming because we need to cater for the numbers.

We do enjoy it – so please come along.

OK – woodturners relax, and if you like turn off here…. We are entering Blog territory.

Meanwhile in Grinch Street

Christmas. I will not be celebrating it again this time round. I prefer to ask people not to waste their money on me, and frankly it is actually quite a relief not to have to worry about all the organisation. Some people love it – and bloody good luck to them, and long may it continue because it brings them happiness and joy – and no doubt the same to their families.

I have not celebrated it for many years, not for any religious reasons for me, and for the last couple of years for no apparent reason except being able to relax after a long and stressful year at work without having to worry about the stress of everything that a busy Christmas brings. I found I needed a holiday away from stress, not a whole lot more of it.

On Christmas Eve and also Christmas day this year I will do what I did last year. The reason I am doing it is because of Kennet Valley Woodturners.

Because of woodturning I was asked to do a turning demonstration for some local cub scouts. This led me to being invited for a drink with the scout leaders a few days later. During a conversation that evening, one of the scout leaders (who seems to be tireless in his efforts to help other people) explained that he and his son volunteer each year to feed people at Christmas. It was also during that conversation that he mentioned that if I could come along I would probably have a laugh. So last year I did, and I loved it.

Christmas eve will be spent putting up tables and chairs, and peeling spuds, carrots and preparing sprouts for about 100 people. Christmas day will see me doing whatever job I am given and helping feed and entertain people for whom the day would otherwise be lonely and perhaps slightly depressing because their families are no longer there, or there is no home to go to, or whatever. I’ll be doing it as much for me as for them. It is organised by a Church that I don’t go to – but that is not a reason for me not to get involved. Last year was a good experience and I laughed for most of the day, and it was very rewarding.

It beat the hell out of watching Mary Poppins, the Sound of Music or The Night Before Xmas. (Although I will admit I recorded Dr Who). This year however I will not be reprising my role of Cinderella.

Deciding who to spend Christmas with is often a major source of tension, especially where families are trying to cover all bases. It is why my route contains this other bonus – I didn’t have to figure out which part of the family (that I really do love so much), I was going to spend Christmas with – it is so easy to say “none of them” and still get away without disappointing ‘all of them’ for the very best of reasons. It is cowardly perhaps – but excusable.

I don’t do it because I don’t love them, I actually do it because I do love them.

In some families the children or siblings can get anxious too if they are asked to choose which parent or family section they want to spend the day with. If you are like me and not at home over Christmas then we remove that choice because we remove ourselves, and thus free up our offspring and immediate family to have a great time doing what they want to do, instead perhaps what they feel they should do.

The other side of the coin is that for some people they would say that they’ve finally reached a point in their life where they get to decide how they want to spend Christmas, and it’s glorious!

So, last year was a different experience for me, and I will do it again this year – still not for religious reasons, but just because. I recommend it.

Once last point – if you are lucky enough to have family – and I am one of those blessed in this way – don’t be a prat and wait for Christmas to see them. Let them enjoy Christmas and then go and annoy them regularly at other times in the year.

That said - bah humbug and all that. Once again, and annoyingly, Christmas is arriving just as the shops are at their busiest, and no doubt it will not snow on Christmas day. When it comes to Christmas, the daily routine usually includes drowning in Bailey's, slobbing out on the sofa and eating our own body weight in Quality Street.

What presents are you going to get people? Also once again we will likely get a load of presents we really don’t want. Not only do we not want them – how bloody long does it take to unwrap some of this crap?

I am seriously thinking of starting my Christmas morning firing up a chainsaw or an oxyacetylene torch to open it all. Not only that – we are risking arrest, torture and deportation if we try to recycle wrapping paper that has glitter in it or still has bows or sellotape attached.

We know we are going to buy too much food, and we know we will be eating Turkey until almost Easter. Sensible people are already boiling their sprouts, and everyone is complaining about seeing Christmas cards in the shops already.

People please - Christmas sweaters are only acceptable as a cry for help, although sending Christmas cards is at least a good way to let your friends and family know that you think they’re worth the price of a stamp.

The amount of time and energy people spend putting up and taking down Christmas decorations tells me our 'top of the food chain' claim is invalid. As I sit and write this there are 46 more shopping days until Christmas. So, guys, that means 45 more days till we start shopping, right?

I was 23 before I realised that the main reason Santa is so jolly is he knows where all the bad girls live.

Worst of all though – worse than any of the above, is the smug bastard who says “I am pretty much done and have done all my Christmas shopping”. It’s October for goodness sake – get a life!

Shooting is too good for them.

  1. Old and knackered blog

As I said at the top – 18 days in and all is well. I have done a couple of blogs on my web-site – this email will join them, and I seem to be filling my time.

Guilt-free naps are the icing on the cake.

I am about to become a motorcyclist again after 40+ years. I used to ride bikes when you could ride up to 250cc as a learner for as long as you liked. I should have taken my test back then, but like and idiot I didn’t. Now it involves a lot of tests and theory exams and all sorts. Oh well I just have to roll with it. I took my CBT training last week and passed that OK. I have booked my theory test for next Tuesday, and if I pass that I will apply the following day for my final training and driving test and get it over and done with.

Luck and a following wind could mean that I pass the test, buy a motorbike, a crash helmet, grow a pony tail, a beard and get some tattoos. (You have to look the part.)

Of course I don’t intend to become a statistic, I am going to buy something sensible to cruise on, and I have absolutely no doubt it will not come out in the rain, that is why I have a car.

What about this retirement malarkey then, so far I have been organising. I have had a couple of shows, a couple of trips out and some clearing up to do. Today for example I moved some eucalyptus, plum and beech-wood from the garage to the garden. I do need to process it, but not until it has dried some more. I am slowly (very slowly) clearing the garage, and want to get it a little tidier ready for my open-house Tuesday sessions which will start (I hope) in November. Do I need to process all that wood in time for an open house – the answer of course is No, that could be part of what I do with other people on a Tuesday, taking advice or suggestions about how to cut or prepare the wood.

Why is the garage clearance so slow? The simple reason is that I have been out seeing some of the people I want to see, having coffee – and making arrangements. I have still not annoyed the kids – they have that little pleasure to come. I have seen both of my sisters, I will see both of them again soon as well. I have seen various people about financial arrangements (I still need money) and have been out exploring motorcycle dealers.

So while I can’t say I have been rushed off my feet – I have been engaged in the process of organising my retirement. The back end of October is certainly emptier than the front end of the month. Dear reader – you will find out what I will be up to in my next email – or my next blog (they will possibly slowly start to separate as I believe they will have separate audiences). I still have not made my mind up how to manage that – and feedback would be welcome as many of you will get bored with the blog element I am sure. If you are really interested then register to receive my blog on Please let me know what you think I should do with these emails (assuming it is physically possible) or any thoughts on the blog. Am I wasting my time? You can add comments to the blog – or email me on

As for the rest of October. I shall hope to at least pass my theory test and then apply for my full motor bike test. My cousin is coming to stay. I am going to see my talented son in a play (The Inheritance) in the West End of London on the 31st October. We have the Saturday workshop on the 27th October where we will see Lynn Courtney and Mick Hanbury and one other very important thing…

I made it. I am retired, relaxed, happy and very VERY lucky.

Look-out life – I am coming your way.

48 views2 comments


Phil Boulter
Phil Boulter
Oct 19, 2018

David - I shall put you on the back as soon as I arrive up there.


You got room for a small one on the back of that new bike?

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