31 December 2009


It's here, the end of the 'noughties' and the begining of the next decade. To all those who've enjoyed this Blog...

Happy New Year...have a good 'un! - Rob

29 December 2009

Triffid traps...

The last of the projects have been finished off now, so that's probably the end of stuff in the 'shop for the 'noughties'.
The main things to get done and dusted were the three 'shutes which have been fettled in and are now spot on. You can see from the cross grain ply slopes on a couple of the long mitre attachment that there was a small degree of 'spelch' which I filled and smoothed off...nothing ever goes perfectly, the main thing is that they are now highly effective 'shop jigs.

However, after we'd watched a rather excellent programme on the TV last night, SWIMBO came into the dining room and pointed to the long mitre attachments that were on the table (there was some glued dowel setting in the warmth)
Pointing at them rather suspiciously, she wanted to know..." just what are they?"

"Triffid traps" I chortled..."part of my latest project in the 'shop."

"Right" she said slowly...and headed for the sherry.

"Bonkers" I could see her thinking....

The picture for one of the lads at work also got finished and has turned out quite well. If you click on it and have a look at the emblems at the bottom, you'll see that he moves in very elite company...

And finally, what on earth?...why the pic of a door wedge?

This is probably the last and one of the most important projects that I've tackled this year...it's a wedge for the now finished bedroom door.

But why so important?

If you've ever tried to open a door using your knee on a Sunday morning, holding a large tray of tea and biscuits in your hands, with SWIMBO fuming within, you'll know why...

20 December 2009

The Good Earth

Another Christmas is nearly upon us and will soon be gone, but I sit here typing at the keys wondering, as I always do, just who's taken the time and effort to peruse these meanderings of mine over the last year. It's a odd thing keeping a Blog as you never really know who's dipping into it...the odd comment indicates that someone 'out there' has tuned in and has at least a moderate interest in these scribblings.

You will no doubt have noticed a blue 'Stat Checker' on the right hand side of the Blog, so I'm surprised and utterly astonished when I occasionally check it as there appear to be readers from all the dispirit corners ofthe globe, from Saudi Arabia to Australia, Japan to India and South America to the good 'ol US of A.

Wherever you are on this Good Earth of ours, of whatever faith or denomination, I wish you and yours peace and prosperity in this season of goodwill to all men.

Merry Christmas - Rob

19 December 2009

Seasonal indulgencies...

Christmas is nearly here, so I suppose it's time for the annual indulgence in terms of food and drink. I decided this afternoon to have a cycle into town on the Blokebike to pick up a tin or two of biscuits from M&S...something we always do and maybe have a quick seasonal peek into PFT, which is perhaps not the wisest thing for me to do with a pocketful of loose change.

I couldn't resist though, getting hold of this woodie, made from quarter sawn beech and in very decent condition...at least some bloody moron hadn't beaten hell out of it with hammer, which so often happens and irritates me intensely.

As it happens, I've wanted another one of these for a very long time...but why two?

The answer lies inside the late, great Alan Peter's book 'Cabinet Making - the Professional Approach', which, if it isn't on your Christmas list...should be! Inside he talks about essential hand tools, one of which is a wooden jack similar to the one in my pic, where the sole has been planed into a convex profile. These modified jacks are used to plane a concave shape in one of his classic pieces which is a small wooden stool in solid ash or oak with a dished seat...and again is something that I've wanted to make for a long time...

...and now I've got hold of the right plane (with some careful alterations) for that project.

You're probably more focused though, on the green container behind the plane which is of far more interest...

...good job it's Christmas!

15 December 2009

'C' and 'D'

The big picture frame was started the other night...hopefully it'll be the last one of these I have to do for a while. This one was difficult though as the colours in it were a mixture of sombre greens and hues of yellow, with a grey surround. A dark frame would have been best so I tried a bit of mahogany...looked totally wrong though. Maple was better but best of all was some oak (apart from ebony, which looked uber cool)

Fortunately I had a plank of American Oak that was just the right size so it was short work to machine it to size, chop out the rebate and shoot in the mitres. The frame was glued with some TBIII and as it's getting a bit nippy out in the 'shop now, it was brought inside overnight to let the glue fully cure.

By a truly remarkable coincidence, Matthew at Workshop Heaven has had consignment of exciting new planes in from distant climes and by an even more sublime coincidence, the cost of this little job will pay for a rebating block, which is something I've wanted for a while now...and if you believe in the Tooth Fairy and Father Christmas, there's one waiting on the shelves's for me!

The trouble is that I don't really want to shell out on LN prices, for what essentially looks the same plane and a £100ish saving is not to be sneezed at!

What's all this got to do with 'C' and 'D'?..

My daughter (who has perfect pitch) had a quick 'twang' on the steel straps of the mitre clamp and pronounced the long side to be in the key of 'C' and the short one in 'D'...who am I to argue?

12 December 2009

Spline Jig, part trois and BOGOF

At long last, after what seems an absolute age, the bedroom decoration has finally been done and dusted which means that I'll be able to get back to doing a bit of woodwork at the weekends. As it's Sunday tomorrow, I may well treat myself to a whole day in the 'shop, which is just as well really 'cos I've got another big picture frame do for one of the lads at work.

The two pics show the third and final version of a spline jig that I developed, as I like to reinforce mitres with a couple of solid wooden inserts in a contrasting timber. You can see that there's an element of 'slidablity' with the design as the toggle clamp block is free to move in a couple of slots and can then be locked in position.

The first version was very similar, but used the circular saw blade to cut the slot... inherently lethal as the riving knife and crown guard had to be removed and as I'm very partial to keeping all my pink fleshy bits in tact, that one got rapidly put to one side.

The next version used my small router and was really a sort of lash up that was held in the bench vice. It worked, after a fashion, but it was a bit unstable so I thought the ideal solution was to adapt something for the router table.

This final version though, doesn't have to be used just for picture frames. Because of the adjustablity in the design I'll also be able to use it for splines in the corners of boxes...two for the price of one!

09 December 2009

Cheapskate...moi? Surely not.

You may recollect some time ago, if you're avidly gripped by this inept missive, that I was struggling to find some bits and pieces worthy of a Christmas list, but did eventually manage to concoct something, one item of which was a Bessey spring clamp.

All well and good I hear you mutter, and no doubt an excellent product, but hey...a spring clamp is a spring clamp is a spring clamp, isn't it?

With that in mind, I was doing a little casual sightseeing in one of my favourite retail establishments when I came across some really powerful, and quite well made clamps, priced from 75p to £1.50. These were so strong that it was an effort to open the larger sized ones...so I had an armful and felt mightily chuffed with myself.

Eight for less than the price of two...winner, can't be bad.

However, 'you pays your money'...and how true is the old adage 'cos as soon as I used one for the first time, the plastic pins broke in the shoes!

My initial thought was one of bitter foolhardiness at having squandered such a vast amount on cheap and nasty tools...but then I had a cunning thought? (an all too rare occurrence these days) How about replacing the broken pins with something a little stronger, maybe some pieces of silver steel or perhaps something a little less esoteric like mild steel rod?

A little bit of ferreting around produced a few steel nails that just happened to be exactly the right diameter for the pin, so with little judicious drilling and cutting, my cheap and nasty cramps are now as good as some costing over three times as much.

The only down side to this happy tale of ingenuity is that I'm now one item short on my Christmas list. As in most things though, there's a silver lining as SWIMBO has promised me an 'extra' present this year on account of my strenuous efforts with the decorating.

Don't hold your breath though...

06 December 2009

A little bit of fluff...

Nearing the end of the mammoth job of decorating our bedroom, we took the possibly rash decision to get ourselves a new bed...perhaps not the most impressive idea we've ever had just before Christmas. The old one was nearly thirty years old and didn't owe us anything so when you see a £950 solid oak bed going for £350...that was too good to miss!

This left me with the slight problem though, of disposing of the old divan base...just how do you get rid of a king size bed base?

As you can no doubt see from the pic, I decided to drag it from the upstairs bedroom, down the stairs, round the side of the house and up some more steps into the 'shop...in the dark and in the wet!
The only way that I could see to get it to the dump was to cut it somehow into four manageable lumps that could easily be transported in the back of the Landy.
This proved to be a bit of a nightmare though, as I had to cut off the cover, rip away the ticketing and grind through the springs (and I did try and cut them with wire cutters) with an angle grinder and then use an old but trusty handsaw that belonged to my Grandad to finally hack through the pine frame.

The mess was unbelievable with bits of sharp spring steel and fluffy ticketing littering the 'shop floor, but, thankfully it's all gone now and I'm back to a pristine 'shop once more...

...'cept the roof leaks now, and needs to be replaced next Summer.


03 December 2009

Mad dash...

With the onset of colder, wetter weather I leave work in the dark and after a sometimes very wet ride home am usually first through the door. The house is cold, black and empty and the first thing to do is to get some illuminations on, then fire up the heating so that after about an hour it's getting moderately toasty.

After we've had supper, I often get this slight nagging, guilty thought that I ought to go outside to the 'shop to see what's happening (just to see that everything's fine, if you follow) so I peer out of the kitchen window...and it's cold and dark and it's hammering down with rain!

...and I really don't want to make the effort.

I go and have another look at what's on the TV that might be worth half a view and inevitably there's some reality garbage or a 'soap' or some idiot in the jungle, any of which might cause me to instantly throw up!

That gnawing itch still hasn't gone though... I have another look outside and decide that maybe, perhaps, I'll just chance it. Sorting out keys, I make a dash for the 'shop door in the pitch black and driving rain. After some fumbling with the locks...I'm in!

Close the door and wait for the lights to flicker on, one by one.

The effort is always worth it... the peace and quiet of the 'shop once the lights are on. That irritating feeling has instantly vanished to be replaced by one of quiet contentment.

The only problem is that I know I've got to do it all again tomorrow.

30 November 2009

Senior moment...biggy!

Not a great deal of time spent in the 'shop over this last weekend as the call of the paint pot has still been beckoning but the finishing line is now a broad stripe more or less in front of me rather than a smear on the distant horizon.

What time I did manage to have though was spent in veneering the last of the picture frame mitre attachments for the 'shutes, made from 18mm mdf, lipped in iroko (horrid, nasty stuff) and veneered in teak. The next thing to do is to shoot all three in so that they're a dead 45deg and after that it'll be the long mitre attachments. One good aspect of this job is that I've got another one to make after Christmas . When that's all done and dusted I have it in mind to get hold of another router with a Micro Fence at some later date, as my current Bosch is now over ten years old and was never a 'state of the art' machine when I bought it...so it's probably time for a replacement. I'm not completely sure about the additional fence as it depends on the accuracy of the one supplied with the Trend, which by all accounts seems quite good.

The current project (which is really only constructed out of gash materials loafing in odd corners of the 'shop) is a 'drop box' for the circular saw. There was a good piece on UKW on how they work and how to make one, so I'll give it a go and see how it works...beats all the faff of making a cyclone!

I usually like to take a pic or four of the stuff I make in the 'shop, just as a record of what I've made. I should have taken a couple of shots of both of the items I recently produced for the Secret Santa event, which have now been parceled up and are winging their way speedily northwards, courtesy of Royal Mail...

but I didn't...I forgot.

What an numpty!.. particularly appropriate today as it's St. Andrew's day.

26 November 2009


An interesting development has happened at Axminster as they are sponsoring a hand tool event at Oxford and Cherwell College, which is one of the premier training establishments in the country. UKWorkshop forum have been generously offered a bench space at this event by Ian Styles from Axminster, to be manned by forum members over the course of the weekend.

Several of the 'great and the good' from the stratospheric, top-end furniture making world including Robert Ingham and David Charlesworth will be holding workshops during the course of the weekend, so it promises to be an event to savour...

I'm in the process of recruiting likely bodies to man the bench...so far we're up to seven

I'm the one second from the left!

23 November 2009


When I had my music system set up a few years ago, I used to like listening to quite of lot of current stuff. One band I used to like a lot (amongst many others) was Dire Straits and indeed, I had all their albums as LP's (remember them?...and 'specially the long, LOUD version of 'Telegraph Road'!) Occasionally you do hear them now on Radio2 with the 'Woohoo'track seeming to be one of the most popular.
So what has this inane preamble, got to do with woodwork activities...if anything remotely at all?

It so happens that I've been laying a laminate floor over the weekend in our bedroom which was tiring as it's all at floor level, so it's up and down all the time. Of necessity, of course, you need to cut the stuff to get the end section and then the return for the start of a new row.

Therein lies the issue...sawing the laminate boards!

I decided to use my best, newly sharpened panel saw from the 'shop to do this, thinking that as it's only some thin 8mm mdf covered with a smear of paper thin plastic, it ought to sail through it...wrong...BIGGY mistake.
To be completely truthful it did to start with but after about an hour of supposedly cutting, it then began to 'rasp' it's way through as if all the points had been stripped off the saw teeth.

So what's this got do do with Dire Straits?..remember 'Skateaway'?

That's what my saw was like at the end of the day..slip sliding away!

21 November 2009

A tool too far...

The official Blokelist has now been compiled for Christmas and has been distributed to all parties concerned. It reads thus:

The Big Christmas List (BCL) '09

Countersink Axminster, 410039, £30
Countersink Axminster, 202213, £30
Plug cutter Axminster, 501265, £12
Kell Sliding bevel, Workshop Heaven, £28
Kell Centre finder, Workshop Heaven, £15
Chattahoochee pencil, Workshop Heaven, £3
Bessey XC5 clamp, Workshop Heaven, £5 each
Bevel Box, Axminster, 211591, £28
Zona 300 saw, Chronos, £10
Clifton 466 awl, Workshop Heaven, £16

I did though, for the tiniest nano-second, think about adding just one small and insignificant item to the list:

Domino Axminster 574256 £580

...but that would have ensured a very unhappy Christmas and would have been a tool too far.

20 November 2009

Shiny trinkets, part deux

Concerted efforts in the 'shop have come to a bit of grinding halt at the moment as I'm plodding ever onwards with the decorating. I'm happy to say though, that the finishing line is in site, even if it is on the horizon...the good thing however, is that it's getting closer all the time. Paint work on one of the doors and laying the laminate floor has to be done this weekend, so by COP on Sunday night the room should be almost finished, with just a few bits and pieces left to tidy up...hopefully.

In between time, one of the 'shutes will probably have to be finished by mid-December, which is doable but will need a bit of careful planning to get it sorted. The same person though, very kindly sent me a selection of toggle clamps which were surplus to his requirements. Although I've used clamps from Axminster for these 'shutes I'll no doubt find these ones will come in very handy for jigs later on.

On a different note, Ian Styles from Axminster has very generously set up a special Hand Tool event for UKWorkshop members at the High Wycombe branch. It's going to be a LN affair with Tom L-N and Denib P (whose name is unpronouncable anyway!) demonstrating all manner of shiny toys.

As it's being held at an Axminster 'shop though I daresay there'll be lots of other goodies to play with...

17 November 2009

Of shiny trinkets

It doesn't take too much common sense to realize that a cosy evening in front of the telly with a bottle of vino collapso and a bag of crisps is now constantly interrupted by adverts (especially the 'smelly' ones) for the impending 'season of goodwill'...Christmas.

Say what you will, but I think most people round about now (once Nov 5th is out the way) start to think about what sort of arrangements they're going to have for the festive season.

Goose or turkey, a bottle of malt perhaps and what about Boxing Day...cold 'cut up' or another roast?

With that in mind, I've been trying to put together a suitable list of stuff that I'd like, in much the same way as I did last year. Nothing too expensive, but a selection of items that would be useful in the 'shop.

But, therein lies a slight problem...I can't think of anything!

Now you might find that amazing, but I've got almost all of what I need to make the sort of stuff that I like to do, so this year it's been a bit of a struggle. However, rising manfully to the challenge I've come up with a few bits and pieces such as some countersinks (really exciting) and a set of Veritas plug cutters, which would be quite useful in a limited sort of way. The LN countersink though is desirable, but is it actually required?..a nice trinket to have though. A couple of items that I don't exactly need but would be very pleasant to have is a Kell sliding bevel and centre finder which would add a dash of extra 'bling' to the Tool Wall. Perhaps one of the most useful things would be a Zona 300 saw for cutting very fine dovetails as you might find in box corners.

What I'd really like though is a new bandsaw but there are just a couple of teeny weensy little problems with that idea, the first being that I've now blocked up the chimney...(how else do you expect presents get delivered?) and the second is...

...it won't fit into my Christmas stocking!

14 November 2009

The demon drink...

Like most woodies I like to make sure that everything's 'just so' before lights out...tools are oiled, electrical sockets switched off, bench swept down and floor reasonably clean...you know the sort of drill, so the last time I saw my two shooting boards they were nestling side by side being as good as gold...apparantly.

Somehow though, by pure cunning as only 'shutes know how, they'd managed to smuggle in a drop of the demon drink and were getting more than a bit cosy with one another.
"Oi,oi" says I... "you can pack that mucky game up right now!"...all to no avail as the next time I turned round...

they were at it like rabbits!

Now I'm fairly broadminded like most blokes, but this is stretching the bounds of credibility just a smidgen too far...shooting boards having a bit of unsolicited nooky!...whatever next?

Well, the results of that brief, steamy and passionate affair...

... a baby 'shute!

You'll note though, that the progeny has some slight genetic differences (as you would expect, naturally) to it's parents but somehow seems to have been born full sized which is to me a puzzle as I always thought new born infants were smaller...maybe not so in this case.

I wonder if it's worth letting Sir David know that some weird and wonderful 'goings on' are happening in deepest, darkest Wiltshire?

10 November 2009

The Blokeblade Special

I thought it was worth taking a couple of decent pics of the 'Blokeblade Special' before it's dispatched to it's new owner. The handle is made from Australian Lace Sheoak and finished with several dozen coats of white polish. The blade is tool steel hardened and tempered...I also engrave my initials on each of these knives, together with the date in Roman numerals.
The box is made from an oddment of Indonesian rosewood and lined with maple. The two blade supporting blocks should also have been made from maple as there was a bit cross-contamination when I polished the lining and the blocks together...the polishing rubber was picking up rosewood dust and depositing it on the maple.
All in all though, not a bad effort.

08 November 2009

A hole too far...

After a couple of crappy weeks as far as the decorating goes, I've finally managed to get a the first coat of paint on the walls, so it's all downhill from here...still a lot to do, but it's looking a bit better instead of worse.

But do you know why I detest it so much?..here's a bunch of reasons.

Stripping off wallpaper for starters. Not too bad until you find much later on that there's still bits of the beige lining paper stuck to the plaster that you missed...nnnngh!
Then there's the dings left in the plaster made by the scraper...which need to be filled again...and again ('cos I missed a bit)...and again ('cos I found another bit I'd missed)
There's also all the 'leccy sockets that have been surface mounted and need to be hacked into the brickwork at floor level amidst clouds of choking dust...great.
Wallpaper that's been fitted around light switches 'cos the eejit who did it in the first place couldn't be arsed to unscrew the fitting and stick the bloody stuff underneath!
Perhaps the most intensely irritating thing though, is when previous owners haven't removed ironmongery (like hinges on doors) and have just painted nonchalantly over it, so that there's about ten bloody layers of paint to chip away before you can get to the screw slots!

Hells teeth...buggeration doesn't even come close!

On a saner note though, my additional little job for the Secret Santa is coming along quite well, despite a small cock-up when I realised that I only needed to tap one 10mm hole but had, in fact, tapped two. All was not lost though as with a little bit of careful and considered work on the bandsaw, the affected bit was removed and replaced. The bolt for this small project though has turned out rather well which considering the disaster zone indoors is something of a minor miracle.

06 November 2009

Fat ladies

As I mentioned earlier, I spent some time the other night in the 'shop sorting out a Secret Santa gift which turned out quite well, but I'd also had it in the back of my mind to do something else as well, so last night I was out doing a little bit of sneaky experimenting.

The job hinged around being able to screw a thread into wood and although I'd seen it done elsewhere it's something that I 've never attempted...I found it surprisingly easy. I remembered that what's needed is a very hard, dense timber so I retrieved a gash bit of African Blackwood (and they don't come much harder) from under the bench and drilled a 9mm pilot hole in it ready to tap a 10mm thread. As it turns out, 8.5mm was better as the resultant thread seemed to be a bit 'tighter. ' I also tried some rosewood which is slightly less weighty but the thread was a little 'woolly' so it appears the 'harder the better.'

My first foray at this little project seemed to go well to start with but slid downhill rapidly after that as the gluing process went a tiny bit haywire (as it often does) and the timber cracked down the middle...too much crampage. Even with something as straight forward as this it always pays dividends to be completely prepared...

...but I wasn't, so it broke!

Fortunately it was only a very small bit of Blackwood that was rendered unusable so with a little more ferreting around under the bench I dug out a lump of Indian Ebony (which is almost as hard) so I'll have another crack at it over the weekend.

I also need to make a 'Blokebolt' as well but that ought not to cause too much of a problem as I've done a few for various planes that I've made.

Judging for the UKWorkshop Competition is almost complete with three out of the four judges having given me their verdicts, so I'm just waiting for one more. Once that's in I'll should be able to collate everything and sort out the winners and 'runners up.' After that I've just got to sort out my prize for the best WIP thread...

... and then the fat lady really has sung!

03 November 2009


The 'shutes are coming along quite well and you can see from the pic that the iroko fences have been fixed in place. The 6mm coach screw at the left hand end is in a 7mm hole so provides an element of adjustment to enable the fence to be positioned at a dead 90deg. The running boards have also been screwed in place and you can see my LN No9 has been set up to just shoot in the end of the fence.

The Secret Santa event is gradually gaining momentum and I've been really stumped about a suitable present...I just couldn't get any ideas together (how unusual I can hear you muttering) and then today, by an altogether strange sequence of events (don't ask me what or how) I more or less stumbled on something that would be appropriate and hopefully, very acceptable. I've just been out to the 'shop for the last couple of hours having a little fiddle about...and happily it's all now done and dusted, packed away in a drawer, waiting to be wrapped.

The judging in the Competition is now under way and I've had one result in so far. It's way too early to give any indication of who's going to win in each category, but it ought to be a very interesting couple of weeks...

...and if you know where that hyper-link came from, you're probably a grumpy old git like me and Victor!

01 November 2009

The plane that tips...

Much as I detest the paint pot, I have to say that some sort of progress has been made...no paint on the walls yet, but all the electrical sockets have now been sunk into the walls (instead of sitting on top, which again irks me) and all the filling, including re-plastering the original fireplace has been done. All I'm waiting for now is for the stuff to dry and then I can get cracking with the roller.

In the meantime though, I've been asked to make a couple more 'shutes with all the attachments and thus far this afternoon I've managed to sort out the basics of the main boards. The two timbers in the sash cramps (iroko) are the main 90deg fences with a little bit of long grain material biscuited on. This is one of my rather ingenious little adaptations that I've cunningly incorporated so that if the plane tips in use (and it does happen, even with a LN No9) then a little slither of material can be glued on and then shot in again, thus ensuring that break out from the piece being planed is kept to a minimum.

The white material is part of a slightly dimpled chopping board (which can be smeared with oil) and enables the plane to run more smoothly. You can also see in the pic a wear strip made from birch ply that runs on the section of the sole just below the cutter. This is so that the upper surface of the shute won't get worn away, if again, the planes tips...

...and it does happen!

29 October 2009

La Guerre

The saga of the long running competition on UKWorkshop has finally run it's course and is due to finish at midnight on Saturday. We've had a few decent pieces submitted but not nearly as many as I'd hoped for. However, there's still 48hrs to go, so some more may well be posted.
I am disappointed with the turn out though, especially when it's been running for six months with some pretty good prizes to be won. Many competitors seemed to have left it to the very last hurdle before even starting and many more simply fell by the wayside (for one reason or another) as the summer progressed...something about the 'road to hell is pa......' maybe?

C'est la guerre I 'spose.

Those that have made it though are to be congratulated on the high standards achieved...I know there's one particular piece that would get my vote if I were judging, but I'll say no more 'til the event is done and dusted.

On a different tack altogether, we're having another 'Secret Santa' on the forum in a similar way to last year, and at the moment I'm a bit stumped for an idea on something to make as a gift. I've made more than enough 'Blokeblades' for the moment at least and am quietly pondering about something suitable. However, in the best traditions of meeting deadlines (I hope the irony isn't lost..) the nebulous meanderings taking place 'up top' will be converted into something a little more finite before packages need to be posted.

The biggest fly in the ointment though, that's barring all 'shop activity is the bloody decorating (which I generally detest with a passion) now well under way (having taken a few days of work) so hopefully things will take a turn for the better before too long...onwards and upwards!

25 October 2009

A close shave

Yesterday saw the eagerly awaited and much anticipated Great Southern Bash at Waka's (Tony) 'shop in Weymouth. Paul Chapman and Steve Alford called in at Wilton and after a quick brew we made our way south in fairly dismal autumnal weather. Fortunately, just as we arrived, the weather gods smiled favourably on us and we enjoyed a really fine and sunny afternoon. There were a large number of old friends and new acquaintances from UKWorkshop all milling around, as well unlimited amounts of porn...

...that's got your attention!

No, not the fleshy sort...tool porn!... vast quantities of dazzling steel, precious timbers and much else besides, all housed in Waka's recently finished and impeccably made tool cabinet.
I'd been roped in to do a demonstration on lapped dovetails, and was soon busy cutting and chopping on Waka's bench. More by luck than judgement, I managed to do a reasonable joint in aformosia (front) and cherry (sides) which was well recieved when it was finished.
Paul then gave us a very good demonstration of the capabilites of the Domino. Seeing it in action is impressive, but I've come to the regretable conclusion that apart from being able to shave with it, it's still not worth the outlay for a hobbyist 'shop, unlike Tony's planer/thicknesser, the smaller version of which without a shadow of a doubt will find a home in my 'shop in a couple of years.

A great day had by all, but what, I hear you muttering, is the other pic all about?

Today I started decorating our bedroom and the downstairs loo, both of which were badly in need of a lick of paint. After a couple of pleasant steamy hours with the wallpaper stripper, a blocked up fireplace emerged from behind where SWIMBO's wardrobe had been standing. I don't profess to be any good with a plasterer's float (considering it to be the last 'dark art') but the bloody numpty who did this bit of work must have daubed the stuff on with a shovel, left it to set and then papered over it!
I may just be able to get away with chipping off the old stuff and replastering...I hope.

23 October 2009

A fingerfull of goo

Owing to my complete and utter ineptitude with a sealing gun some time ago, I failed miserably to stop the ingress of the elements. If you recollect my pal Pete offered a cunning solution a while ago to the problem which has been quite well documented in these somewhat incoherent ramblings, so much so that the problem has been totally fixed...

...except for one teeny little bit, just where the window closes.

Now we've reached October, there's been a little more precipitation and I've noticed a wet patch (no sniggering at the back there!) just under the windowsill, which has puzzled me as it was bone dry after the 'shop had been been treated.

I thought that I'd give it one more go with some sealant, and if that didn't work then the opener was coming out and I'd replace it with a solid double glazed unit. Not feeling overly confident about the whole thing, the other evening when everything had dried, I gave the suspected area a wipe over with a fingerfull of silicone (especially on top of a screw that had been wet) and left it, hoping against hope that it might have done the trick.

Yesterday evening we had some very heavy rain...really great when you have to load up the Landy after a shopping expedition. Anyway, we got home again, slightly damp... and I thought I'd have a quick peek just to see if my application of goo with the pinkie had worked.

Much to my surprise...it had!

Mary Poppins almost had it right...it's not a spoonfull of sugar that's needed, just a fingerfull of goo.

21 October 2009


I wonder how many of us make lists?...and what do we make them on? I seem to make them for all sorts of things 'cos without one, what's laughingly called a brain that rattles around somewhere inside my head would know nothing.

So I have lists.

A list for things to service the car (when I used to), a list for shopping each week at the local supermarcardo, a 'to do' list of essential things that I need to organise before going on holiday, a list of stuff for the next decorating job, material cutting lists in the 'shop...ad infinitum.

Items on my lists are struck off with a religious zeal as they're done or acquired. On one occasion, which was the driving holiday to France last year, I'd forgotten to add my driving license to the holiday list which meant that I drove 2,500 miles on the continent without the correct documentation, which if nothing else was a trifle worrying. If I'd ever been stopped by the Gendarmarie or involved in an RTA, yours truly would have been dining on gruel for a very long time...

I like my lists, they keep me on a moderately even keel in a sometimes turbulent world.

As you might expect then, I have a list that's more or less ongoing all the time. The current one is pinned up on the notice board in the dining room and is a list of all the gear that I'm going to need for the Great Southern Bash at the weekend. Thus far it runs to one complete sheet of A4 paper, which may seem a lot.

Worry not though...with three days to go it might end up at two sheets of A4!

18 October 2009

Sticky fingers...part deux

Glue, adhesive, what ever you want to call it, is one of those things that woody folk seem to take for granted, I know I have done for years. For ages I've used a bog standard PVA and not really been concerned with it apart from the fact that it sticks stuff together and was cheap...my dears!

Well, that source of cheap glue suddenly got expensive, so I thought it was maybe time to look at other options...and besides, I was getting a bit hacked off with only being able to use half a bottle of glue as the remainder seemed to gel into a glutinous, globby goo at the bottom of the bottle...and then my fingers got covered in the stuff when I tried to get it out of the bottle with a small stick...yuk!

By a coincidence Axminster have a good deal on at the moment (and up to the end of December) on all Titebond glues (25% off) so I thought that I'd give TBIII a punt...got to be worth a shot at that price. I'd used TBI (the yellow stuff) in the past and I'd quite liked it...apart from the fact it ain't waterproof, which I didn't appreciate at the time. It happened that I'd done a bit of veneering and used tape to join a couple of bits together. Usual practice is to use copious quantities of water and a nylon scourer to lift the tape except in this case the bloody veneer started to lift as well, the result of which caused me to read the label on the bottle in a little more detail, where I discovered the reason for the veneering debacle!

The whole thing really put me of Titebond for a while...in this day and age you'd have thought that any glue manufacturer worth their salt would have least have the decency to make the stuff waterproof...apparently not.
So it was with a little bit of trepidation that I ordered the TBIII as I wasn't really sure if it was going to 'cut the mustard', but having used it for a few weeks now I've come to the conclusion that it's pretty good stuff...and I like it!

It's got a slightly longer 'open time' than standard PVA and is much more viscous. Whilst some may think that a disadvantage it's not, because it means that the glue can be applied far more economically with a small stick...I use the point of a bamboo skewer as it's a pretty tough material and doesn't get mushy with prolonged use. It also means that it's easy to get the glue precisely where it's needed, especially using the slidy applicator on the bottle cap, which is a boon.
The glue squeeze out, such as it is, can be cleaned off with little effort using a barely damp brush and best of all the stuff's waterproof, so I can use it in the AirPress for veneering.

Perhaps the thing of most concern though is the supposedly dark glue line on lighter timbers...hence the pic with the two test pieces glued together, one in maple and the other in pine.

I did think I'd need some white TBII for lighter timbers but if that's the colour of the glue line, I'm not going to worry unduly, so there'll be an order into Axminster for a gallon of the brown stuff fairly shortly.

15 October 2009

Sticky fingers

It's often said that a French polisher is born with the gift...it appears to be something that can be learnt, but if you have the knack, well... it's a walk in the park.

Unfortunately, I don't have the gift.

French polishing, thankfully, is not something that I attempt very often and when I do, I try and keep it as simple as possible... there's no grain filling, use of a pounce bag (whatever that is) and convoluted 'figure of eight' strokes to obtain the perfect surface.
By a curious co-incidence, a very recent entry on Konrad's blog deals with the same subject and it's gratifying to a mere dauber (when it comes to finishing) that we go about the business in much the same way.
I use a 'rubber' with a piece of cotton wool as the reservoir and an old bed sheet as the cloth. I fold it in the same way as Konrad, but there the similarity ends as I don't use a dab of mineral oil as a lubricant.
I tend to make up the polish (using bleached blonde flakes) as a fairly weak solution (aka David Charlesworth), dunk the cotton wool in it, wrap it in the cloth and then use forefinger pressure to exude a thin smear on the surface. Konrad only does two coats a day...I bang on one after another at ten minute intervals (or at least until the meths has evaporated) so by the time two or three hours have elapsed I've probably put on maybe thirty coats of polish, all of which have hopefully blended into on another.

For the first few coats, nothing seems to happen (and I wonder if it ever will)...the job stays a uniform dull colour but then the miracle seems to happen and after an hour or so it begins to take on that fabulous glossy hue. When it's finished all I do is to leave it for 24hrs to harden off completely, then give it coat of wax applied with a soft cloth and polish with a duster.
The 'it' in question is the Blokeblade which I finished last night, so when the Competition is 'done and dusted' I'll put some pics on the Blog. In the meantime, I'm making excellent progress on it's 'accessory' which should also be finished fairly soon and again, is turning out better than expected.

Perhaps the worst part of this French polishing lark is the sticky residue that gets left behind in all the 'crooks and nannies' of your fingers...I seem to have been gnawing polish off with my teeth for days now!

13 October 2009

GSB and the tuit list

Things have been progressing in the 'shop of late on the 'Blokeblade Special'. I didn't quite do what I thought I might have do to the blade, which has now been made and set into the handle. Even though I say if myself and not wishing to blow one's own trumpet too much, this one is going to look very good. When it's all completed I'll post some pics on the Blog. I've also started to make an 'accessory' to go with it, which is turning out quite well, but it's pretty fiddly to do. I'm hoping that the final completed project will form a decent prize in the UKWorkshop competition, which closes at the end of this month.

A pleasant thought which is looming up on the horizon is Tony's bash in Weymouth (or the Great Southern Bash) the weekend of the 24th Oct. There will a lot of woody nutters congregating in his 'shop that day, including yours truly. I've been delegated (said advisedly) to demonstrate dovetails and the cutting thereof, so I've been compiling a tuit list of all the kit I'll need to take down on the day. I don't expect it too be much 'cos Waka's got enough tools to have CHT call on him if they run short! I'm having a personal demonstration from Paul Chapman on the Festool Domino in my 'shop prior to the run down to Weymouth. Should be a very good day.

An equally pleasant thought is that Gareth is coming home this weekend as a break from his bean counting activities in the city. I fully anticipate that he'll want a vast roast dinner as well...only slight downside is that the larder will have to be groaning this coming weekend with all sorts of tasty morsels...and I don't even want think about the fruit bowl.

If I'm very lucky though, he won't come out to the 'shop.

10 October 2009

Picasso it ain't...

Having mailed the latest drawings off to Furniture & Cabinetmaking this morning, I took a shot of the current one before I went down to the Post Office on the 'Blokebike'. This one shows a splined mitre as found in a picture or mirror frame. I used to do this sort of stuff a lot at university for all my design projects and though I'm a bit rusty at doing this type of thing (as it was over thirty years ago) it didn't take to long to get back into the swing of it.
In conversation with Michael Huntley some time ago, I suggested that a few hand tinted sketches might be good to accompany his series 'Tight Joints' in the mag. What prompted it was we were both poring through an issue of FWW trying to decide what, if anything, we liked and what made it better than F&C. There were many areas that we thought were excellent but one of the things that was very obvious to me was the quantity of really good hand drawn and tinted sketches, so one thing led to another...
I use a drawing board, 'T' square and 4H pencil to very lightly draw them in isometric projection, after which I ink in the outlines freehand using the 'thick and thin' rule. The ink is left to dry overnight after which the pencil lines are erased and the colour washes applied. It's then left again to dry overnight and the woody textural rendering is done with ordinary colouring crayons that were loaned to me by Megs.
By the merest fluke, the current small job is a set of three picture frames, constructed using splined mitres...

08 October 2009

We won't get fooled again...

The latest post on The Village Carpenter blog pays homage to the excellent creations of Konrad Sauer, some of which I had the great pleasure to handle and play with at length at my Wilton Winter Wonder Bash just before last Christmas. As you can see from the pics, the dining table was almost collapsing under the weight of some very expensive ironmongery!
However, prior to that event, I'd had a previous chance to look and them in earnest in Waka's 'shop earlier in the year, where I tested them in a side-by-side comparison with a well set up Veritas LA jack (which also belonged to Waka) The wood I used was some of his interlocked rosewood and after some pretty exhaustive planing, there was no perceptable difference in the finished surface using Konrad's BD planes and the BU jack...which rather got me thinking, if not a little baffled because I expected the BD planes to be far superior...but they weren't!
On seeing Kari's blog though this afternoon, I remembered that Waka had let me have some oddments of true birds eye maple, so I came home at full tilt on the 'Blokebike' and straight out into the 'shop.
The results can be seen in the pics, (click on the image to see a huge enlargement) Bear in mind that the my LV BU plane was grabbed from under the bench and wasn't particularly sharp, though the mouth was very tight. In fact the thin wispy shavings were taken first, so I decided to increase the doc a smidge to see what the result was...still a perfect, polished surface, no tear out of any sort.
The only conclusion that I can come to is that although Konrad's planes are fabulous, equally good results can be achieved with planes costing a fraction of the price...but I know that Waka didn't buy them just to use at the bench.
Great though they are...I won't get fooled again into thinking that acres of polished steel and exotic timber is in any way superior.
Shame really...'cos I wouldn't have minded owning one.

07 October 2009

Pack drill

Like most hobbyist woodworkers, I like to keep myself busy in the 'shop, so I generally have two or three projects on the go at any one time. Not necessarily big stuff, but enough to keep me occupied while I do some pondering about the next large project, which is the TV unit.

A few months ago, word got round at work (probably 'cos I was reading F&C at lunchtime) that I did a bit of woodwork... "and did I do any picture frames" which strangely seems to be what everyone wants.

Having said that I can frame pictures (as well as make lots of other stuff) I'm now on my sixth framing of NCO's warrants and at £30 a pop it's a nice little earner. I make them from odds 'n ends of mahogany (again...it's what everyone wants) machine the rebates, shoot in the mitres, add a couple of splines at each corner, clean up, polish and assemble. Although they look deceptively simple, there's quite a lot of work involved as there's nothing quite as bad as poorly fitted mitres...they have to be spot on to look the part. Over the last few years I've done so many framings it's something I can almost do with my eyes shut

I've also had an email from Michael Huntley requesting another watercolour drawing for his 'Tight Joints' series in F&C. This time it ties in quite well with the current small projects in the 'shop...splined mitres, so that'll be done over the next couple of evenings.

Finally I have a small package to pick up in town this evening, the contents of which will enable me to make a bit more progress with the 'Blokeblade Special'

As ever...no names, no pack drill!

04 October 2009

Forces for Courses

In the immortal words of the man..."puzzled, confused I am" not over anything significant really, but more whether it's a sound idea or not to dispose of equipment so that something else can be bought? I'm referring to an interesting debate really that I sparked on UKWorkshop about the infamous Festool Domino...do I or don't I need one, that's the question?
The thing is that I've got several pieces of kit, one of which is my rather tasty Norris A2 panel plane that I no longer require (as I now exclusively use low angle planes) I paid well over £400 for this ten years ago, so that's a lot of 'folding' sitting under the bench not doing anything that could be invested better elsewhere in the 'shop. The other side of the coin though is that we (and for that read 'I') as woodworkers develop a strange relationship with our tools...they become almost like old friends and we become loath to part with them.
The debate on the forum though has really crystallized down to the principle facts that:
a. it's hugely expensive
b. the sort of stuff it does could be made with a router and 'shop made jigs
and finally
c. it's not really justified in a hobbyist 'shop (where money is usually tight) as the actual time it's in use would be minimal (different in a professional cabinet 'shop though)
Anyway, cutting a long story sideways, I've been feeling a bit like that stupid old woman in 'Open All Hours' who takes an eon to decide whether to have a tin of beans or a jar of coffee, but my decision has been made...and it's a 'no', so for the time being, my tools are moderately safe (until I want something else!)
Live long and prosper!
Bugger...wrong show.

02 October 2009

Normless...but where's Dixon?

I don't know whether it's me (... probably is) but it seems that the quality of viewing choices on the TV have been going downhill over the last few years at an exponential rate. It appears to be an unrelenting variety of 'soaps' (which I can't tolerate) sport ( 'footy' is diabolical) and the absolute pits being 'reality' shows, which, quite honestly, have me reaching for the barf bag.
It comes as no surprise then, that SWIMBO and I made the momentous decision to drag ourselves kicking and screaming into the 21st century and invest in a satellite TV box, which was installed yesterday.
Once the guy had gone (I hesitate to call him an 'engineer') I had a quick flick across the Discovery channels hoping, with a bit of luck, to come across Norm (beloved of so many) in the off chance that a few juicy morsels of woodworking savvy would be sagely tossed my way.
Alas, 'twere not to be as I couldn't find the right channel amongst the thousands (seems like that anyway) available...so at the moment, it's all a bit of a puzzle.
I'll persevere though, but of far more concern...where's Dixon of Dock Green?
Maybe this Sky stuff is overrated after all. G'night all.

29 September 2009

Designing dilema

I'm continually puzzled by one aspect of woodworking and I don't know whether I should be...design!

Let me explain. I suspect that most people who are interested in building furniture of any sort like to have a go at designing something for themselves which has a unique 'this is me' feel to it, 'it's mine, I designed and made it, for better or worse' and if you don't like it...'well, you can shove it!' But I think that many (including yours truly) want to go some way beyond that and create something with a bit of a 'wow' factor, or maybe a piece that has a timeless, dateless quality...and that's where it starts to get really difficult, as those sorts of pieces can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

I would give my back teeth (if I had any) to create something like a Barcelona chair which is just about the sexiest thing on the planet on which to rest your bum (would you believe it was designed in 1929!) or even a classic Maloof rocker, not quite in the same league though. I would be more than happy as well to create a simple, beautiful cabinet where someone might say "Coo...fantastic, looks just like a Krenov piece"

And therein lies the difficulty, because no matter how hard I strive, my designs (and probably many other people's) are tainted (which seems a grossly unfair description) though coloured is more apt, by these fantastic, timeless creations that others have achieved. It seems to me almost impossible for a mere mortal woodworker to rise above this level of work because I find that all this wonderful stuff is continually kicking around inside my head so it's bloody hard to come up with anything that's remotely original, or perhaps I shouldn't bother... and that's the dilemma.

I want to.

Which then poses another question...how do I (or you, maybe) go about this nefarious and almost ethreal process of design?

Over the last few days, I've been pondering on just how to make this unit for the TV, a simple enough job, but one with a few considerations that have begun to surface. I've started off by looking at what's available on the t'interweb which is always useful and provides interesting comparisons, so now I've got lots of different sorts of images knocking around inside...all very confusing! The next thing I supose is the 'functional' element of the job...how big, what's going into it, what are their sizes?... after which I'll probabley get out the drawing pencils and a ream of A3 paper and start to scribble madly.

But, sadly, I know already... it's the 'form' part of the exercise that'll have the guys in white coats coming for me.

26 September 2009

Unbridled passion...

There are some things that irritate a little but have to be tolerated (such as car drivers with mobile 'fones stuck to their heads) and others that irritate a lot that you just have to do something about. As I get increasingly more senile (some might say that it's happened already) I find smaller things that I might have tolerated a few years ago now irritate me beyond belief.

One such thing is exposed and trailing cables...I hate them with an unbridled passion!

This has prompted the next project in the 'shop which I intend to start after I've finished the 'Blokeblade Special' (the handle of which was finished today...and it is rather tasty)
I won't have exposed or trailing cables either in the 'shop ('Elf & Safety rearing it's ugly head) as all my kit is permanently bolted down, so nothing on ghastly trollys with trip-upable cables trailing behind...even the tablesaur situated in the middle of the 'shop has the power cable running underneath the floor.

So the question remains...why oh why did I have to have bloody things trailing from the TV? If I'd had sufficient foresight when I decorated the lounge a while back to hide them somehow, I wouldn't now have to build this next project...a low unit to stand the TV on and store all the associated gubbins that goes with it, including the HDD player. Currently, all the cables are bunched up in an unruly mess behind the bookcase, but my cunning plan is to neatly coil them behind this new unit so that with a little bit of luck, nothing will be seen.

Much to my satisfaction though, there's a silver lining to this job as I intend to make this unit the full width of the red bricked up chimney breast so that the space either side of the TV will accommodate a small pair of good quality bookshelf HiFi speakers (which is the next project after this one) As well as the HDD player I'll need to build in sufficient room for the CD player and my old amplifier, though when I finish work in a couple of years I'd love to replace it with one of these bad boys but whether that'll ever happen remains to be seen...

23 September 2009

The Blokeblade 'Special'

Having returned from my hols, I got down tonight to starting the Blokeblade 'Special' marking knife that'll be one of the prizes in the UKWorkshop competition that I'm organising. Matthew Platt at Workshop Heaven kindly sent me a range of highly exotic timbers, all of which originated in the land of Oz and it's one of these (not saying which one though...top secret) that I've started to turn. I can't really say much more about it as someone reading this entry may be the owner one day...suffice to say that there will be one or two special features which ought to make it stand out from those I've done in the past. Provided I take it fairly steadily, it should turn out to be a real beauty...in fact I'm tempted to make one for myself as I don't yet have a decent dovetail marking knife. I've made these in small batches in the past and it's as easy to make two together as one, so I may well start the second knife tomorrow, using the second piece of the same timber.

21 September 2009

Holidays...you gota have a good storm!

Having returned safely from distant climes, herewith report from the last couple of weeks. After hanging around Gatwick for what seemed like an age, and an even longer flight, we finally made it to the accomodation in our little hired car at around 1.30 am, not being helped in the least by appaling directions on the instuctions from the rep which sent us off into the countryside past midnight on a wild goose chase.

About half the time was spent loafing around on beaches and coves, just swimming and snorkeling, in water that was as pleasant as stepping into a warm bath. Normally, I'm a little bit sensitive about these things, but I didn't have to worry at all in Cyprus. One of the highlights was a trip up the Akamas peninsula coast in a charter boat to go swimming in the Blue Lagoon where the water was a stunning, vivid turquoise...and there's no photomagic enhancement in the pic, that's how it is! My back paid the price though, so at all other times I wore a T shirt in the water. Offering bread to the fishes as well was a guaranteed way to get a huge shoal of them swimming around you...a few crumbs in the water and they were almost taking it out of my hand.

Another day was spent hiking into the Akamas (which is a national park) to find a secluded 'double horseshoe' bay for a bit of very quiet, relaxed snorkeling. The pic shows the bay but what it fails to show is the hugely depressing amount of rubbish that littered the undergrowth, including squashed water bottles, empty beer cans, remains of BBQ's, toilet paper strewn all around the bushes, used tampons and piles of what I assume was human excrement...not pleasant. In fact this is one of the things that we both found very disappointing about Cyprus (and Malta as well) namely that the locals (and possibly tourists) seem to have little regard for their environment and seem happy to pollute it at the drop of a hat. The other pic from the day shows possibly an extreme example...a beautiful cove with the remains of a beach umbrella that had just been tossed off the road onto the cliff face with no attempt made to recover it. At least they have proper transportation though in the Akamas...

One day was spent looking at the area on the west coast and one of the pics shows the regimented lines of beach umbrellas at Coral Bay, mostly filled with Brits (so it seemed) intent on massively duplicating their chances of skin cancer later on. I have no idea why people cook in the burning sun for hours as there's so much evidence now that it's one of the worst things that you can voluntarily inflict on yourself and besides, to me, that sort of beach is complete anathema. It's equally possible though to drive up to the northern coast through the lower slopes of the Troodos, around the Turkish enclave to Kato Pyrgos to find a totally deserted expanse of pristine beach, inhabited only by some Bloke in a blue T shirt waving his arms about!

We had a couple of days out in the mountains which made for a refreshing change from the heat (about 31degC) of the coast. We went initially to see some of the so called 'timeless mountain villages ' and I quote from the Olympic brochure, the writer of which ought to be nominated for a Booker prize for imaginative writing. Quite honestly, the villages were a shambolic mess of unfinished, drab concrete structures perched on the hillside, in many cases roofed in rusty tin. When there's so much good local stone to hand in the mountains, I found it incredible that they would instead choose to send a concrete lorry from the coast, up the tortuous mountain roads to build these sorts of houses.

In one of the villages though we came across the Kykkos monastery, which has to be the gem of the Toodos mountains. Each of us had to be decked out in purple robes as we had shorts on, but not withstanding that, the quality of exhibits in the church and museum were astounding.

We spent some time at the end of the holiday looking at the Tomb of the Kings, a huge necropolis north of Paphos dating from early Roman period. Vast burial chambers had been carved out of the soft sandstone and at some time in the past must have contained thousands of corpses. Alyson is shown standing by one of the underground columns and there's a shot of me sat in one of the chambers... this one though, above ground.

Some time was spent near Paphos looking at the Roman mosaics which I found remarkable. Even after 2,000 years the vibrancy of the floors was staggering and it's beyond me how the craftsmen in ancient times could have laid such intricate patterns. Many of the floors were not flat but had been deformed by earthquakes but even so, they were amazing to look at.

We also spent a disappointing day in Nicosia, where again, the Cypriots haven't made the most of the historical past...very ho-hum and touristy, something of a turn off. The thing that's always uppermost though is the separation of city into two sectors, the 'Green Buffer Zone' being now a magnet for tourists. It's very evident that there's still a lot of animosity and ill feeling...the Greek Cyriots call their bit the 'free zone' and refer to the Turkish sector as 'under military occupation since 1974' which to me seems futile as they're all Cypriots and have to live on the same island. Perhaps the most exciting bit of that day was a short lived but very nasty little storm with torrential rain and hailstones as big as my finger nail. In fact the wind was so violent that bins were blown over and many trees snapped in half...we saw one new BMW with a tree across the roof!

The last evening before retuning to Paphos airport we spent at Aphrodite's Rock, where the Goddess of Love was supposed to have risen from the waves fully formed and who was then towed to the beach in a giant seashell pulled by dolphins. All complete and utter tosh of course, but it's surprising how many folk come down to the rock and leave paper ribbons festooned on tree branches, supposedly to seek Aphrodite's help in affairs of the heart.

All told, a very good trip but there were things about Cyprus (and the Med environment in general) that we found slightly upsetting, so it was refreshing to get back to England where it's always green and slightly cooler...and somewhat cleaner!