Wednesday 30 December 2009

The best laid plans.....

Well as seems to always be the case at Christmas, things are not quite going to plan. It is almost as if the moment a clear space opens up, there are events waiting in the wings to rush in and fill the void. We've had a sad time, yesterday we were at the funeral of a village neighbour that we have known for 29 years and today, we are travelling to the Cotswolds to visit my ailing mother in law in hospital. She has dementia and it seems can no longer live on her own. It has happened so quickly - she is only 75 and was always so "with it".

We can't wait to see her, she seems quite bright on the phone, which makes the diagnosis even harder to bear. Perhaps we shall understand more about her condition by this evening.

Monday 21 December 2009


A happy and peaceful holiday to everyone! It's a very cold Winter here in Dorset this year, we even have some snow which is unusual. It's very pretty, but causes chaos on the roads and with the postal deliveries, I suppose we're just not geared up for it here. Last year we had snow that only stayed for two days, I rushed out and took some piccies.


The workshop is just too cold to work in at the moment so it's a chance to catch up on all of the administration that tends to get ignored in the warmer months. We shall stop working on Christmas Eve and hopefully not do too much until the New Year begins, a welcome break! Meanwhile I have some shopping to do and a lot of visiting to catch up on. Most of the finished furniture has gone home now so finally we may be able to return the dining room to a state fit for Christmas and Boxing Day meals in front of the open fireplace.

Even the cactus has put on a beautiful show for us this year.

Tuesday 8 December 2009

The Hans Wegner Wishbone Chair

I love these chairs, but they are so difficult to do. Mr Wegner was a brilliant designer, but I often wonder if he ever actually put a seat into one of his chairs especially the ones that have this rush pattern weave! Tension is so critical as is cramming in as many coils as possible, it is the one seat weaving job that is hard on the hands. This particular chair is an original 50's/60's oak version, so has a lovely patina. It had been re-woven once before, but because it was done in the wrong material and pattern it had sagged badly, this is what it looked like.

Here it is now.

It goes home tomorrow. Now I go back to more cane panels, a footstool, some drop-in Magistretti rush seats and the Davenport of course.

The Davenport....nearly there

It been a hard slog, it always is at this time of the year when the bad weather and short daylight hours combine to diminish the time available to work effectively. But at last, the Davenport is going back together. The polish has hardened enough to do the final cutting and waxing of the finish, although the dampness in the air will probably delay that process still longer. I'm pleased with it so far.

Might be finished for Christmas!

Tuesday 1 December 2009

Power cuts

Yesterday was a disaster! At 7am the electricity went off and didn't come back on until 9.30am, then it stuttered and failed every 3 minutes or so until lunchtime when finally it seemed to be sorted out. We had power then until 4pm, when it went off again. Nightmare! We didn't dare to switch on the computers, the heating didn't work because of the electric pumps and timer controls and I had to dash up into the attic clutching a torch to find our old phone, the only one we have that doesn't need an electrical supply to work. I'm sure that some people tried to phone us but couldn't get through because nothing was working properly - sorry if that was you! By 4.30pm it was dark, so we had 10 candles lit and our wind up radio for company. Two customers turned up to collect things and found the sight of us fumbling around looking for things in candlelight quite entertaining and romantic at the same time! The electricity company had a recorded message on their helpline, our area had serious supply problems and there would be no power until mid to late evening as they had emergency repairs to carry out to their equipment. Great - and last night was the coldest we have had so far this winter, between -3 and -5 degrees C.

A bit of a wake up call really, you don't miss something until you no longer have it. It has made us even more determined to set up our own green heating and lighting from renewable sources - watch this space! I sent up a little prayer when I woke up this morning to see the comforting glow of the electric alarm clock.

Saturday 28 November 2009

The U3A course

We had a lovely time at the library yesterday. Everyone bought a project along and we discussed each in turn, everything from stripping and re-finishing a metamorphic table to re-weaving a rush seated fender stool. We also spent some time discussing buying at auction, or more to the point, what NOT to buy. How to spot really serious problems that would cost too much in time and money to restore. Then we had a tea break and afterwards split into two groups, one to discuss restoration techniques and one to try out the steamer method of caning a chair. The time flew by!

This lovely gentleman bought along a steamer chair and his cat mauled fender stool!

Thursday 26 November 2009

A cane, rush and restoration course for the U3A

Tomorrow we will be holding an afternoon training session for a few people who are members of the local U3A or to give it its full title, The University of the Third Age. This self help organisation is a brilliant idea, I hope they don't mind me linking to them or quoting from their website:

"U3A stands for the University of the Third Age, which is a self-help organisation for people no longer in full time employment providing educational, creative and leisure opportunities in a friendly environment. It consists of local U3As all over the UK, which are charities in their own right and are run entirely by volunteers. Local U3As are learning cooperatives which draw upon the knowledge, experience and skills of their own members to organise and provide interest groups in accordance with the wishes of the membership. The teachers learn and the learners teach. Between them U3As offer the chance to study over 300 different subjects in such fields as art, languages, music, history, life sciences, philosophy, computing, crafts, photography and walking. A typical U3A has about 250 members but could be as small as 12 and as large as 2000"

We have met quite a few of the local members over the past few years as each in turn has tackled a new project. Some are learning upholstery whilst others have worked on cane and rush seated chairs. Tomorrow we will try and fulfill their "wish list" - I asked the organiser to ask everyone what knowledge they would like to leave the session knowing, a "wish list" if you like of skills and information. It's going to be fun, we will be covering everything from removing stains on wood to how to shop for antiques, passing through cane and rush weaving tips along the way. We are holding the session at our local library so none of us has far to go. Our last course was in Leamington Spa, a very long journey for us, but we had a lovely day in a pretty village church hall teaching about a dozen people cane and rush work. The organiser bought a magnificent home cooked feast for lunch which included home made soup, sandwiches and cake - fantastic! We didn't get home until 10 o'clock at night! At least this time we can walk home in five minutes from the library!

Tuesday 24 November 2009

Cane panels

Just like the glut of close canework a few weeks ago and Danish furniture before that, the latest influx of work seems to be all pre-woven or "slab" cane panel replacement. Virtually all of the seats so far have been from the typical black framed Bauhaus/Habitat chrome framed dining chairs. Strange how fashions go in waves, the 60's/70's and black are back!

The trouble is most of the time it's only the seat that needs replacing on a chair, not the back, so you end up having to colour the new cane to match the old stuff, so the next (mucky) stage is to tint them to the right shade. We keep the old cut out panels for reference.

So another days wait now until they're dry enough to seal............ back to the Davenport restoration.

I'm nearly there now, the polishing process has begun! All of the silly little bits of missing veneer are replaced and the loose areas relaid. I've received the new brass gallery for the top from the manufacturer and already have the skiver writing slope leather cut and tooled. Can't wait to re-assemble it finally.

Friday 20 November 2009

Back to the uses of Scirpus amazing all purpose plant

Okay, so tedious work has got the better of me, waiting for glue to dry and newly laid veneer to settle is time consuming to say the least! The Davenport desk is coming along well, albeit slowly - having eleven pre-woven cane panels to replace in the meantime just adds to the monotony - but I'm not complaining, it's good to be busy.

Back to the uses of Scirpus lacustris, the amazing rush/cattail plant...............

In many places throughout history in England, rush festivals were held to celebrate the new harvest each year. Come the end of July, private homes, churches and other public buildings would remove all of the old rush material from the floors of their buildings and replace it with the new seasons crop. Rush, (as anyone who has used it knows) smells wonderful, just like newly mown hay or sweet tobacco. So imagine - you clear out the one year old soiled rush from the floor and replace it with the new highly scented, (and antiseptic) new material - a good reason for celebration! The population had a real excuse for a good knees up.

Then there were rush lights. Bundles of rush soaked in "tallow" or clarified animal fat. Large rush lights could provide all of the light needed in the cavernous buildings of the past.

Of course, chair seating we all recognise as a sensible and practical use of rush, a skill practised for centuries throughout the world in lots of different ways. Then there is basket making. Near to us here over the border in Hampshire, lunch baskets of a particular design were woven for the farm workers as well as other baskets to carry goods around, plaited floor mats kept the dust down in homes. Place mats and hats were also easy to make, functional and popular. Rush is such a sympathetic material.

Flooring, medicine, baskets, clothing, lighting.........a spectacular plant indeed.

Tuesday 17 November 2009

Davenport and Wegner Danish chairs

Yet more Danish design to restore! The first of five Hans Wegner chairs has arrived today for a new seat, this time the famous "wishbone" design, which made us wonder just how many "Scandanavians" have passed through the workshop in the last couple of months. The answer was suprisingly 30 - not counting the various tables and a sideboard. We still get a great kick out of restoring these incredibly useable works of art, thank goodness they are being fully appreciated again.

The Davenport restoration still plods along. Most of the veneer patching is now done, shouldn't be too long before it can finally be put back together again.

Wednesday 11 November 2009

Beginning the walnut veneer patching

The Davenport stationery box interior is almost finished, so time to turn attention to the patching and replacement of missing veneer. Working with burr walnut makes this job easier in some ways, but more difficult in others. The swirling grain can be such a help at times, but when the wonderful random colours play their part, it can make finding just the right replacement piece almost impossible.

The first section to replace was the rear of the stationery box, virtually all of this was missing so I removed what original veneer was left to use as patching elsewhere, then re-veneered the whole section with a highly figured bookmatched pair of veneer leaves.

Then using some of the small pieces of original veneer removed, I started to patch the desk top slope. Movement of the carcass has caused the veneer to crack and split, so over the years with dusting and use, small pieces of veneer have disappeared. This is the fun bit, the furniture makers always used the best and most interesting veneer on the most visible areas of the desk, so this is always difficult to get right. It has to be as close a match as possible, because if it isn't, it will stick out like a sore thumb!

It's getting there, the patches are mid way down in the section on the right.

Friday 6 November 2009

The stationery box

Well the new stationery compartment of the Davenport desk is coming along nicely. All of the component parts are made

Looks like firewood! All of these pieces were made out of two Victorian drawer bases, it is a bit of a jigsaw puzzle, but it does fit together.....

Next stage is to French polish each piece and ebonise the edges.

Wednesday 4 November 2009

Thinking about next Summer and a Davenport desk.

It's only November and already the paperwork has started to arrive for next years shows - much earlier than normal. It seems strange to think about next Summer's events when outside the wind is blowing a gale and it is dark at half past four, but that's what we're doing! Hopefully the diary will be completed by February next year at this rate, which will give us much more preparation time than usual.

Meanwhile thanks to "de-cluttering" the work has begun on some of our own bits of furniture that have been waiting for a bit of TLC for a long time. First patient is a lovely burr walnut veneer Davenport desk. It's a really pretty rococo shape with carved front supports and overall is not too bad. The only real problem is that at some stage someone has removed the contents of the top stationery compartment, so I have to build it from scratch. Luckily it's not the first time I've had to do this so at least I'm prepared for the time it will take! There is so much "waiting time" with this kind of work, things like drying of glue and laying veneer patches, so it's the ideal job to fit in around seat weaving.

So far the first couple of separators have been made from reclaimed Victorian half inch thick mahogany. Remains to be seen how much further along I get by tomorrow.....

Friday 30 October 2009

Scirpus lacustris - what's that!!

Because of the recent surge in demand for rush restoration, there have been a lot of conversations with customers about what exactly "rush" is. It always comes as a surprise to find that so few people even know that it grows in water and those that do, think it is the reed mace "bulrush" with the brown fluffy poker top. So I thought I would revisit a lot of the really interesting stuff that I have learned over the years about this amazing and yet very ordinary looking plant and share it here.

Its botanical name is Scirpus lacustris and it grows in mainly temperate zones from Lapland through Europe to Asia, north, south and central America. The flowers are clumps of tiny brown bracts, they are hermaphrodite, pollinated by the wind. The plants can grow in light, medium and heavy soils, whether acid, neutral or alkaline. They can grow in semi-shade or no shade, moist or wet soil, ponds, lakes and in a moving body of water. The root is edible raw or cooked and is rich in starch. It can be dried and ground into a powder or made into a syrup. The buds at the end of the rhizomes are crisp and sweet. The seeds can be ground up into a powder and mixed with flour for use in making cakes, the pollen can also be mixed with flour and used in baking. But most interesting of all, the root was traditionally used to treat cancer, it is both diuretic and astringent. (But please...., don't try messing about with any of these things without doing some very serious research and taking really good advice on use beforehand....!)

I also remember reading some time ago that a very large rush bed was planted in Holland to serve as a sewage disposal treatment plant for a very busy holiday camp - it worked, the water was cleaner after filtering through the rush bed than most other modern methods. I also read that another experiment was carried out somewhere, (which sadly ran out of funding!) to see if scirpus could clean "heavy water" ie radioactive and other very dangerously polluted water. It did. More surprisingly when all parts of the plant were tested after filtering the dangerous chemicals, there seemed to be little or no trace of metals, pollutants or radioactivity, amazing.........

And that's just the bit about it's "chemistry", another time I'll put together the folklore and its other practical could take me some time.

Thursday 29 October 2009

Back to the traditional

It's quite strange how things go sometimes - for months you might not see a single close woven chair and then, like buses they all come at once, which is what has happened to us over the past few weeks. For some time now we have also seen more "modern" 20th Century seats for re-weaving than you would normally expect, but it seems that the tide may be turning. This week has been "traditional" week. Loads of hand woven rush and cane seated Victorian chairs have arrived and the enquiries have also been for more traditional antique restoration work. Could it be something to do with the recession I wonder? Perhaps people are more concerned with looking after their antiques now as an investment. Either way, it keeps us busy thank goodness!

These three seats are today's work, they're still very wet but should dry by tomorrow. The weather is so very mild for this time of the year, 17 degrees yesterday - unheard of in late October! There have been some stunning sunsets, here was one I snapped last week...

For me, nothing quite compares with a beautiful sunset.

Sunday 25 October 2009

The big declutter operation

It had to start sometime, so now is as good a time as any! Next week will see the beginning of our massive "Declutter Campaign", 30 years of marriage, (anniversary next week) and 22 years in the same house occupied by four human squirrels certainly add up to a lot of history and acquisitions. Add to this the 25 years of restoration work and the detritus that attracts, there's an awful lot to do. There'll be a lot of soul searching - where on earth do you start?

The big things that are no longer needed will go first, probably through auction or private sale, then we can tackle the backlog of our own furniture in need of restoration, like the old saying, "the cobbler's children are always ill shod", we have definitely neglected our own things.

Then we'll tackle the smaller things, the idea is to have boxes for those, one for the charity shop, one for the rubbish dump and one "I don't know what to do with this" box. Sooner or later it's bound to make a difference - I hope. We've already started the painful process this weekend, walking around the house picking out things and saying, "keep or not keep". How much easier it would be if there weren't four opinions to take into consideration.

We're just going to have to be brutal!

Wednesday 21 October 2009

I spoke too soon

Serves me right for being so smug, thinking we wouldn't see any more close canework for ages - a set of six lapping cane seats arrived last week that we had forgotten to put in the diary! There's been enough time to do five of them so far. It's not especially difficult work, but very time consuming and tedious, you just have to take a break every so often and do something else......anything else.

The very large Danish sideboard in the background has gone home now, so at last there is more free space in the workshop, but it's already in danger of filling up with other things. Everyone seems to have Christmas in the back of their minds, all of the enquiries for restoration are starting off with, " rush, but it would be nice if it could be done by Christmas.." I'm not keen on this time of the year. Apart from the cold, dark and damp it's the thought of the stress of the "deadline jobs" that in the past have been collected as late as Christmas Eve. Don't really want to be in that position this year.

Friday 16 October 2009


Must catch up with household stuff this weekend and then get out into the garden to prepare everything for the Winter. There's a long list of things to do, hedge trimming, splitting old woody plants, planting bulbs, digging over the vege patch plus the usual lawn mowing and edging.

We've always had a vege patch, but have never grown Jerusalem artichokes before this year - so it came as a surprise to find that on average they grow up to 2.5 metres tall. Nobody could have told our plants that they're supposed to stop at that height, because now they are now about 12 feet tall! What concerns us even more is that they are showing no real signs of dying back and it's October, they've been in the ground since March.

We have a theory, either they will have roots like footballs, or all of their effort has gone into producing these huge plants with pretty sunflowers and we shall end up with pea sized roots. Either way, we love artichokes.

Thursday 15 October 2009

To Restore or not to Restore? - that is the Question

It happens from time to time and this week was no exception. A lovely lady arrived with a very dilapidated chair to which she has a very strong sentimental family attachment. As normal, you look at the work that needs to be done to return it to good useable condition and then calculate the likely cost of restoration. The conclusion is that the chair is just not worth the cost of total repair, (it's almost a complete re-build!) it's too far gone, it's days or weeks of work, you can't justify spending so much of your clients money on this particular piece of furniture, you know that almost the same chair in perfect condition can be bought for much, much less. But equally you can see the love in her eyes, cost is not the issue, it is this chair that is special.

Now the problem - how do you explain this to your client without hurting their feelings?

So many times despite giving a gentle explanation, we have been persuaded to carry out the work needed because we haven't had the heart to say no. The regret comes later when there is inevitably a hidden problem that takes much longer to repair than expected - the job has to be done properly or not at all. On the other hand having done the work, when the owner comes to collect, the sheer delight on their face when they see their "facelifted" old friend is priceless.

So what to do for the best - any suggestions?

Monday 12 October 2009

Larmer Tree

Home again and exhausted. We enjoyed the Cranborne Chase Woodfair, it was hard work, but good fun. Friday was a cold, wet and foggy start, so it was a pleasant surprise when Saturday turned out to be as warm as any day we have had all summer. I think most of us enjoyed the fabulous sunset that evening and the music, food and hospitality, (aka beer tent) arranged for the exhibitors on Saturday night - it was a chance to wind down after a busy day.

It's not often you get the chance to meet so many interesting and passionate people in one place. The show field and gardens were brimming with craftspeople at work - pole lathe turners/chair makers, basketmakers, iron workers, wood carvers, etc., etc.... Our friends, (and neighbours in crafty business at other events!) Neil the Welsh stick chair maker, Owen the oak swill basketmaker, and Kath the willow basket and coffin maker were all there, and we met lots of other inspiring people  that we have not had the chance to meet before - hi to David and James from Fivepenny chairs, Sean with his beautiful wooden birds and Dave the blacksmith/historic toolmaker, it was good to meet you all! I forgot the camera this weekend, so thanks for taking some pics for me James....

Sean and one of his birds

Dave using the bellows

Fivepenny chairs

So that concludes our show season for this year. Now we go back into an increasingly cold and dark winter workshop.

Friday 9 October 2009


We have food, clothes, plenty of work to do, and lots of blankets for the cold nights in the lorry. It is raining again, so we're just hoping that it stops for long enough to unload the French polished furniture into the marquee when we get to the Larmer Tree site this afternoon. At least the forecast is dry for the weekend!

Wednesday 7 October 2009

DIY kits, Danish furniture and Synthetics.

What a couple of days we've had. Everyone seems to want kits just now, so much of the time has been spent making up orders and loads of extra bits and pieces for the show at the weekend. We also grasped the nettle of finally weighing, measuring and "decanting" the synthetic materials into sensible quantities, especially plastic hand cane for canoeists. The air has taken on a strange shade of blue here, and the rest of the household are keeping out of the way - trying to measure materials and then make them sit into nice neat rounds isn't fun, in fact it is purgatory. But, it has to be done!

One set of Danish furniture went home today and the huge sideboard is finished, so I may get some space back in the workshop soon, fingers crossed. Tomorrows another day, back to sorting out for this weekend.

Monday 5 October 2009

No more close canework for a while

The target for today was to finish the polishing of the Danish sideboard and the weaving of the close caned chair. It would just about have been possible except the phone and doorbell rang too many times this morning and it was impossible to get on with the work. Finishing the sideboard will have to wait until tomorrow. At least one target was met today.

Sunday 4 October 2009

Finished cleaning, then the Woodpecker arrived

My fingernails have rarely been so clean and white! It was the bleach, we used half a bottle of it to scrub Bernard's interior mercilessly to bring it up to scratch. The ramp, cab and bodywork have been pressure washed and polished, not an ounce of mud remains. The bed linen is washed and the tinned food stacked in the cupboard, all that's left now is to pack our clothes and stock for next weekend. We'll leave that until Thursday, we're both exhausted!

I was just writing this and relaxing here with the heat pad on my back in the office, when a green woodpecker landed just outside on the lawn - what a treat! I took this photo.

I'm really pleased it came out because the photo was taken through a double glazed window with the camera on full zoom. We see a lesser spotted woodpecker in the garden almost every day, he loves one branch of the Oak tree, but we've hardly ever seen a green one, that's really cheered me up and made my day special!

Saturday 3 October 2009

Bernard's Bath

One week to go before the last exhibition of 2009 for us and Bernard needs a thorough clean up. The weather was so bad at the Great Dorset Steam Fair that the mud and damp got into everything, especially the ramp. This weekend has therefore been allocated to "do the dirty deed" and give Bernard a bath. Blandford mud dries like china clay, it sticks solidy and won't come off easily. When you do manage to finally dissolve it, it turns into a chalky beige slick and takes three or four washes to remove.

So, this weekend please think of us, we will be removing ultra dry, baked on Blandford mud from the inside and outside of a 19 foot long, 10 foot tall truck! It'll keep us busy for a while and to add to the fun, it looks like it's going to rain all day today. With a bit of luck by Monday we will have a sparkling "after" photo...

Friday 2 October 2009

Close cane weaving

The trouble with weaving close canework is that you can only suffer doing it for so long before you become cross-eyed and irritable. So each day I have a goal, today it was to finish one half of the seat.

I did it!! Now for tomorrows target......

Wednesday 30 September 2009

"Wicker seat"

"I've got these wicker chairs and the seats have broken can you help?"

That's how the conversation usually starts followed by a series of questions from us - what does the seat look like, is it four triangles going into the middle or does it have thin flat strands woven in a kind of star pattern? Is it a basket weave or chequerboard squares? Is the material round or flat? etc.

The problem is that wicker is a word used to describe everything and anything woven and until we know for sure what sort of weaving it is, it's impossible to give a quotation or any advice. Thank goodness for e-mail and the internet! At least now photos can be sent so that you can see the "patient" and know for sure what you're dealing with.

It happened only yesterday. After the usual first few questions we were still confused. Flat material but in a kind of over/under pattern close together - pieces of wood nailed around the edge of the seat - rough funny shaped seat rails - French chairs......There was only one solution, "Can you send me a photo please?"

The photo arrived and eureka, problem solved! What was a French rush chair originally has at some time been reseated with thick lapping cane in a standard basketweave pattern, who'd have ever guessed? Now we know the work needed.

Friday 25 September 2009

Danish furniture everywhere

It had to happen, guess it must be the 40 year generation gap thing, but at last simple form, style and beauty is back in fashion with a vengeance! We started noticing it about 5-7 years ago, more 50's and 60's Danish furniture was turning up at the workshop for "revival" and re-seating, usually with apologies from the owner for it not really being "a true antique", (can you believe it!). Many pieces were the wonderfully thoughtful, sinuous designs of Hans Wegner chiefly made by Carl Hansen - true classics and a joy to restore. We love it, when you start with something that was always exceptional but now age worn and weary, then inevitably after a little TLC you end with something spectacular, it's truly satisfying work.

The trickle of Danish furniture has almost turned into a flood, but the best part about it is that the majority of people wanting to preserve these iconic pieces are getting younger, hooray! A whole new generation with an appreciation of good solid design and craftsmanship, perhaps we'll be kept busy for a while yet. I did finally finish the huge Danish table top yesterday, only the 8 foot sideboard to do now....and then the chairs.....

Thursday 24 September 2009

A synthetic future?

The first shipment of synthetic weaving materials arrived a few weeks ago during the busiest time of the show season. For some time now we have been looking at different materials that could meet the new demands for wearability, texture, good looks and weatherproof outdoor quality. Difficult! When you're used to using mainly natural materials, it is a culture shock at first to even contemplate using "man made" alternatives. However, the pressure was on from artists and creative weavers wanting to break into new territory, to push the boundaries.... and so in response to this pressure, the first batch of new generation materials arrived for assessment.

I quite like them - they're different to use insofar as they need no soaking or other  preparation and it takes time to adjust to their "feel" and texture, but there is no doubt, they have some very practical applications, they appear to be almost indestructable and yet recyclable! Imagine never having to worry about spilling blackcurrant juice or red wine on a chair seat again. And then there are all of the garden structure possibilities - yes, I think I might enjoy this experiment! For me personally they will never replace natural materials, but there are times when "man made" is more suitable, but maybe on metal or plastic frames not wooden.....

Monday 21 September 2009

The 100th birthday party

We've never been to a one hundredth birthday party before and I don't suppose it is likely to happen again in the near future - but on the 20th September Gran was 100 years old and a family party was held for her in Bournemouth on Saturday. The weather was the best it has been for months, a glorious blue sky with hours of bright, warm sunshine. All of the family gathered in the gardens of the rest home where she now lives - all 70 odd of us, children, grandchildren, great and great, great grandchildren ranging in age from about 2 to 94. Quite a sight! We didn't have to travel very far from home to the venue, but one part of the family had arrived from Cornwall, so we had the added bonus of seeing the whole extended family for the first time in years.

Gran was on good form, she was mentioned in the local news on Friday night, then on Saturday morning the Mayor presented her with a telegram from the Queen, a lovely buffet lunch was prepared by daughter Mary and grandaughters, then served by the great grandchildren. For the late afternoon a choir came to the home to perform in her honour. What a special day.

If I live that long, I hope that I will be as mobile, lucid and quick witted as Gran - she reminded me that I hadn't visited her recently - it hadn't gone unnoticed! I promised not to leave it so long next time.............What a lady, happy birthday.

Tuesday 15 September 2009

A ton of materials

Well it finally arrived, our top up order for cane materials.....all 900 kilos of it and we had to manhandle it from the lorry to the store shed. The van arrived at 9.30am and amazingly with the drivers help the whole lot was off the pallets and inside the store by 10.00am. No mean feat as the driver is no spring chicken either and we were all wielding cartons weighing upwards of 25 kilos. (Like the doctor said, it's unlikely we'll ever have osteoporosis).

But there was a price to pay next day - one bad back and a clicking hip! Serves us right really for thinking we're still about 18 years old, the last couple of days have seen both of us creeping around gingerly. Now I've got some catching up to do, the 8 foot long Danish table top won't polish itself, but I just couldn't muster up the energy to do it somehow.

Monday 7 September 2009

Our 13th Great Dorset Steam Fair!

Home again after a week of demonstrating chair seating in a field at the Great Dorset Steam Fair. The weather was horrible this year, high winds virtually every day with some torrential rain which created the ubiquitous chalky three inch deep "Blandford mud" for two days - exhausting stuff. Saturday was the busiest and most pleasant day, but even so it was cool for the time of the year - amazing, we're still wearing two or three layers of clothing. As ever it was great to meet up with our "crafty" friends, but tinged with sadness when we discovered that one of our number had died in the Spring. We made a toast in his honour, goodbye Don.

We also toasted Bernard the truck's health - I think we have finally solved the blowing gasket problem after four years and several sets of gaskets- well done to our friend Philip who will never let a problem get the better of him!

Monday 31 August 2009

The Oak Fair at Stock Gaylard

Our first time at the Oak Fair and what a lovely day! A field full of true craftspeople and interested, informed visitors enjoying the stunning scenery and atmosphere of this beautiful place. We would have loved to have been able to look around the Fair ourselves, but were kept very busy for the whole time. We missed the display of items made from the oak felled during the Fair last year which was a shame, but did manage to find a restored antique upholstery hammer - perfect for Danish cord nails!

Already looking forward to next year.......

Sunday 30 August 2009

Blogging at last.

Where to begin! After years of pontification, the decision has finally been made to start a blog of the Former Glory Seat Weaving life, which turned out to be easier to do than I had expected, (so far - I'm not holding my breath.....yet). As time goes by we'll do our very best to give you our news and hopefully a bit of an insight into how our world works. I'll apologise in advance for this, our world will probably seem a bit odd to some folks - as my friend put it, "who names a truck Bernard?"

We did - and a very fine truck he is too!