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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.

44 - Cedar time slip by - August 2018

Updated: Sep 29, 2018

I’ve got a melon.

So here’s the thing – I blogged the other day (they can’t touch you for it) but I thought to myself that not everyone who reads this rubbish when I email it out will read it on-line at so should I include it in my next email?

Initially I decided not to, but now I have changed my mind. I am like that sometimes – indecisive and gorgeous.

Perhaps next time I won’t. So this email/blog will contain a mixture of woodturning news, and some bits of real life. Feel free to share it about a bit.

  1. I’ve been up T’North again (Last weeks www online blog)

  2. Members evening

  3. Newbury Show (or whatever it’s called now)

  4. Shopping (yes my staff don’t do that for me)

  5. Saturday Workshop

  6. Martin Saban-Smith’s generosity

  7. The wonderful South

  8. Not long to go

1. I’ve been up T’North again.

I penned this last week when I was in Yorkshire, if you are a northernist type person, don’t worry – I respond from a Southern point of view later in this piece.

It’s been a struggle. I had a busy weekend trying to get things sorted out at home in time to drive up north again on Sunday afternoon. Yes – I am back up here – apparently the jabs last for 3 years so I am OK.

I am in a hotel in Chesterfield, home of the 10 reasons to stay in Chesterfield – yes – that Chesterfield. I was bored this evening, and having already eaten my tasty pie and chips (there was a wide choice – I could have Pie, Pie and Chips, or just chips) I wondered whether there was something to entertain me for a couple of hours so I went to the interweb and typed in “Things to do in Chesterfield”. Other northern towns are available.

Google rewarded my inquiry with the promise of not just one – but 10 things to do while in this wonderful [their adjective not mine] town of Chesterfield.

I could not help but look with interest at the article – looking possibly for a little excitement or culture while staying in this dim and distant land. It can’t be all bad – can it?

So – lets see what excitement awaits as we look at 10 reasons to visit Chesterfield. (I have left the link to it here so you can see what there is truth in what I am saying.)

I’m moist with anticipation. Here are the ten things in the article, and importantly they are in order…

1. We lead inot the excitement with the famous crooked spire of the Church of St Mary and All Saints. [OK – so you’ve got both a church, and a crooked spire – thereby proving that Chesterfieldists are god-fearing people, who can’t build a church.]

2. Golden Guidance. We are advised here that the Tourist information centre has two gold awards for being polite to visitors. [I wonder if the word “Wow” is to bold here, or should I seek an alternative superlative. No? OK lets move on to more exciting things, there must be something in Chesterfield?]

3. CURIOUS AND CURIOUSER the best spire has a 45 percent twist and a 9 foot 5 inch lean, claims the guide to the top ten best things about chesterfield. [Surely though – this spire was number 1 as well? Have they run out of things already? Let’s bat on in the hope of something exciting.]

4. The star attraction of the Chesterfield Museum is a 20ft-diameter windlass (it’s a treadmill) used by the builders who constructed the medieval church. [OK – it’s that bloody church again. Surely we have other things to gawp at?]

5. The 546-seater Pomegranate is a Grade II-listed Victorian theatre, described as a ‘cracking little venue’ it has its own full programme of shows and events, from stand-up comedy to September’s Spirefest. [I wonder if you can work out which fecking Spire they are talking about here?]

6. Housing a range of indoor specialist shops, Chesterfield’s Victorian Market Hall is open on Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, plus half-day on Wednesday. [OK – No mention of a church here then, so perhaps we are heading once more in the right direction, they have a Market. (Not exactly Las Vegas is it?) Here’s hoping number 7 is going to tease me a little…]

7. DERBYSHIRE’S CHESTER - In addition to its market, Chesterfield has an enormous range of independent retail outlets and national chain stores. The town-centre shops are supplemented by a large Tesco store on the northern side of the town. [Is it me or have they skimped just a little on the Marketing budget? Number 7 is basically not only that we have shops – but we also have a Tesco’s!!]

8. SPORT FOR ALL Queen’s Park, opened in 1887 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, has a boating lake [Wow], miniature railway [Golly gosh] and play area [I saw it – one swing and it is broken] . In true Victorian tradition, a brass band often plays in the bandstand on Sundays. Chesterfield FC, known as the ‘Spireites’ [here we go – that bloody Crooked Spire again!!!!] and riding high at the top of League Two. [Not any more they’re not, I just checked and they rank 7th in the Conference Premier – which technically is not in the football league – Spire or not!!] – I bet you can’t wait for number bloody nine!!

9. The Tapton Lock Visitor Centre, situated near the Tesco roundabout and open daily, is a reminder of the great age of canals. [OK – firstly there’s that boast about Tesco’s again, but not only that – read on dear reader and we find that…] Two days before it was due for demolition, it was saved by the Deltic Preservation Society. [ A popular little attraction then, proven by the fact that it was nearly demolished!!]

10. They save the best till last, here we go; “Five of the finest stately homes in England are located within ten miles of Chesterfield”. [Not “in” Chesterfield – but they are a few miles away. Let’s count the number of stately homes that are “in” Chesterfield. Ready… steady… Go!!!

Have you finished – did you get the correct answer – yes I bet you did. NONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ]

Perhaps I should see if we have any customers near Southend….

My Boss James lives a few miles down the road. He is not here at the moment because he is holidaying in France with some of his family. (I say some because his wife Joe was left at home doing the chores) Apparently she goes out next week, then James comes back to the UK. I now know why – he is missing 10 of the very best reasons to NOT go to France – and so he is probably going to go to Chesterfield.

She really should have a girls name – I must have words.

2. Members evening

The members evening this month (14th August) sees us doing bud Vases and Flowers. If you have any Hazel growing near you we could do with some (about ¾ inch thick) for some of the flowers.

The competition is for a Car or some sort of vehicular Toy. That should be a challenge for some of you I am sure.

Also in the run up to the Newbury Show we are asking people to make us some simple spinning tops to give away to the kids at the show.

Bud vases take many forms, and come in many sizes. I did an off centre one a while back which was good fun, but really almost any piece of wood can be turned into a bud vase.

Flowers on the other hand are a bit more of a challenge. Tulips can be made – albeit with the aid of a band-saw. Daffodills are pretty simple, and daisies made from freshly cut Hazel.

Again- if someone can bring along some freshly or recently cut hazel we would appreciate it.

3. The Newbury Show (aka The Royal County of Berkshire Show 2018. Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th 2018 )

We are still going – and now starting to get excited. There are a couple of things you need to know if you want to join in, sell something, contribute - or just come and see us.

Firstly, and this is important, remember the date. It is Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th. The reason this is important is to save you lots of embarrassment, it really is awkward if you turn up on the wrong weekend. Such a waste.

Secondly, we are looking to rotate staff on the stand for the weekend. A couple of us (me included) will be there all day on both days. Be careful – it is liable to be a 12 hour day, and we can’t leave early. Let a committee member know if you are happy to be on the stand to lend a hand. We will have a limited number of tickets – but note the word limited! :-(

Naturally we will be selling items, both to make some money for the club, but also of course for the individuals who make the items. The difference this time is that we have invested in a card payment device which will allow us to accept payment for items by debit or credit card. This, couple with the nature of the event should allow us to sell items for a sensible about of money instead of the lesser amounts we normally charge. So well-made items which are nicely finished should make what they are worth.

If you are wanting to sell something then we will collect all of the items just before the event. This might be at our regular monthly meeting on 12th September – or possibly by arrangement at a specified location on 14th or 14th September.

4. Shopping (my staff don’t do everything for me)

I looked in the fridge this morning, I was wondering what to have for breakfast, and looking for clues for tonight’s tea.

My options were somewhat limited. My morning repast was not one to be taken from a wide list of options. There was some cheese, some very limp celery and just enough milk for a cup of tea. If I am being completely honest this does make a mockery of my large American side by side fridge-freezer which stands very tall and very wide (much like myself – OK perhaps not the tall part). I am fairly sure the bedrock of the design was for a wider variety of food, and I am equally sure that the quantity was also meant to be a tad more enthusiastic.

I wondered if it was time to do some shopping? I pondered the question for a good 10 seconds and on balance, I opted for a positive answer to that well framed question.

I made a list in a slightly hurried manner (I was hungry) and headed off to Tesco (Chesterfield are not the only town to have a Tesco you know). Did yo know by the way that the name Tesco first appeared in 1924, after Jack Cohen purchased a shipment of tea from T. E. Stockwell and combined those initials with the first two letters of his surname. I am wasted here you know – I know things.

I digress

Having loaded my shopping trolley with everything I saw and fancied (don’t go shopping when you are hungry) I decided to refer to my list and see if I had forgotten anything. Then I burst out laughing. Here is what I saw.

Can I please point out that at no time did I actually go shopping for what it looks like. I purchased onions, carrots, herbs and chopped tomatoes to go with it, as well as the mushrooms.

The “C” does look a little like a “G”, I will admit that. I am now wondering what was going through my mind as I wrote it?

Ah well. I shall go and have a glass of the other thing on the end of the top line.

(...for the record, I also think mince tastes better.)

5. Saturday workshop 25th August

Every now and then we get cakes – albeit Hazel has not been to see us for the last few months. When she does visit she brings cakes or brownies which are most welcome of course. This does remind me of something recently where I was given a slice of home-made cake.

I fell right into the trap.

“Goodness – this is lovely – very moist!” Why? Why do we feel it is incumbent upon us to say how moist a home-made cake is. Can I just ask, if it isn’t moist – what are we gong to say? I can answer that – here is the correct answer…

“Goodness – this is lovely – very moist!” Apparently this is tradition.

Once again I disgress – where were we? Oh yes, Saturday workshop.

A few weeks away – but nonetheless imminent. The subject on the 25th is Tea lights and Pot Pourri Bowls, and of course our last chance to do some spinning tops. Our last Saturday workshop was great fun, and we had a really good turnout.

While the Saturday events are a good chance for beginners to enjoy some tuition, we should remember there are more advanced – or at least intermediate turners in the club, so hopefully we cater for them as well – if not then let us know for goodness sake.

6. Martin Saban-Smith’s generosity

A very good friend of the club, Martin rang me up recently and told me he was having a clear out in his workshop and getting rid of some bits, including some wood that would be useful for pen blanks. I am a sucker for pen blank materials so I headed down to Four Marks to see what he had.

He also had many “blanks” for Pyrography. Martin was, to be frank, very generous. I now have pen kits, about 30 inserts for egg timers, 25 paper knife kits, bread boards, badge blanks, bookmark blanks and more.

Martin did not want money – but I propose the following. We will have a competition to make egg timers, we sell the entrants an insert each for £1 and then judge the results. The entries should be gifted to St Michaels Hospice, and they can benefit from the sale. Further – I propose we sell other items provided by Martin and allow him to make use of that money for his own charity (he is about to embark on a charity bike ride) as well as use some of the items to make a pound or two for the club. Someone must be happy to buy the paper knife blanks for Christmas gifts?

I will suggest similar at the next committee meeting in a couple of weeks time.

One good turn deserves several others I think….

7. The wonderful South

As I said earlier - other towns are available.

Having ripped into Chesterfield, and in the interests of balance, I decided to try the same thing with my current home town Thatcham. It’s only fair after all.

Unlike Chesterfield, in Thatcham you are not allowed to smoke in the Zumba Fitness classes.

I did have a night out with James (remember James – he is my boss, he has to live up north) – anyway we went to a bar and he told me that he was in there the week before with his friend. There was a lady there on the stage, dancing, topless, and a lot of men staring at her. James said to his friend “Don’t look at her”, his friend said “Why not”, James said – “it’s your mum”.

Where was I? Oh yes – Thatcham.

So I searched for the top ten things to do in Thatcham. This time – in true DJ fashion I will give you the results in reverse order, building the inevitable excitement until the very end.

10. The Dusty Attic.

I have lived in Thatcham since 2002 and I have absolutely no idea what this is. There is no website, it appears to be an antique shop, and I am a tad confused. Lets hope number 9 is slightly better.

9. MFA Bowling alley

Trip advisor has this one placed at nmber 9 – possibly because of a review saying “there was hair in the food avoid at all costs”. Perhaps someone being a bit picky?

Someone obviously loves their children very much though because they wrote this “The sofas in the softplay area have massive holes/sink spots, the toilets are grim and the food is best avoided but it’s still cheaper than Eddie Catz softplay nearby and it’s less cold.” [Sorry kids – but it is cheap!]

8. Wyevale Garden Centre

OK – it’s the school holidays and the kids are bored, their faces stuck in their computer games, what’s ther best thing to do in these circumstances – take them to a bloody garden centre! The plaudits are pretty self explanatory. Steve Culshaw on Trip advisor says “It’s and average Garden Centre”. That’s encouraging!

7. Ray Prior Falconry

This is not in Thatcham. It is in Hampstead Norreys. :-)

6. Our Lady of the Assumption Church

OK – this one is in Thatcham, Marting says on Trip Advisor “I love visiting and confessing my sins”. If that is your thing then fair enough. Number 6! ?

5. Wyld Court Alpacas

Again, not in Thatcham, it is round the corner from Ray Prior’s Falconry. Perhaps I should be living in Hampstead Norreys?

4. The Castle Inn

It’s a pub. Thatcham has a pub. Really – this is number 4? [I must admit – I have been there – and the grub is very nice indeed, so is the landlord.]

Here is the top three……

3. Leap Frog Ceramics.

Confusing and sad. Tripadvisor says… “Had a wonderful relaxing time at this friendly venue. Sadly I have just read on their webpage they will be ceasing trading due to the loss of the owner” Truly sad – but such is the lack of excitement in Thatcham it still resides at number three?

2. Bowdown Woods

This is an area of woodlans next to Greenham Common Airbase – which has now been opened up as common land. It has bluebells and lots of paths to explore. I can’t think of anything but – give it a go?

Number 1? What has Thatcham to offer as number 1.

1. Thatcham Discovery Centre

They have a lake. They have ducks.

How far is Southend?

8. Not long to go now

7 weeks. It’s getting both exciting and a little scary. Have I done the right thing, should I have waited a little longer?

I have been getting out a bit, mostly because of work, but also a little social. I went to see Somerset beat Surrey on Friday (after sitting on the M5 on Friday afternoon when they closed it!!!!) Missed the first 6 overs. Bah!

Also the other day I went out for a meal with an old mate of mine – Clive. He lives in Cardiff. We went to a small pub just outside Cardiff to eat, not a bad place I suppose.

I was tucking into my meal when I heard a guy behind me having trouble getting his breath, he did sound like he was in some discomfort. I did what all decent British people would do, I ignored him and kept on eating.

After a few minutes things had not improved. They guy was in trouble and trying to cough, I must admit I started to wonder.

A minute later I was in little doubt, he was making an awful noise and obviously unable to breathe – he was choking. I moved very quickly- much faster than I have in quite a while, I jumped up and ran behind him. I struck him really quite hard on his back in an effort to loosen whatever it was that was causing his difficulty.

I needn’t have bothered.

It turns out he was speaking Welsh.

So retirement is getting closer – as I type this it is 7 weeks away. As mentioned – I am both excited and nervous, but it is heading towards me like a runaway train, and I have stuff to do before it hits me square in the face. I have much to do at work, I have been pretty much working every day for the last three weeks, even doing bits at weekends which is not altogether sensible. I think I am looking forward to the rest, and to the lifting of the stress. Also, the time to do stuff like this in a more relaxed manner – which is now happening at 9.30 on a Sunday evening when I need to get up tomorrow at 5.00am to drive to Canterbury. The trouble is, I want to get it out before the members evening on Tuesday.


One more note – I have a set of pictures to share illustrating some bits for sale. An Ex-member from a few years back who has now very sadly passed away – and his daughter want to try to sell his lathe – tools and odds and sods. I will send that out next week.

Thank you very much and I love you all! :-)

17 views1 comment


Ooh Phil never seen a blog before ! Bet yours is unique and far from typical ! .Was lovely to be at your retirement pub crawl .Russian dolls how strange I was compelled to wear my pinny (apron) with a Russian doll on it !.

I am concerned you were recalling a woman coming into your bedroom in a hotel wearing just underwear to use your hairdryer love ,well I do not drink and am sure it was not me ....maybe Lorraine in Ireland ballooning trip !! .I do not even dry my hair half undressed in front of Geoff .So whilst hav a wonderful time m reputation is in jeopardy!!

too late you say hahah !! .Bless you keep…

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