Seasons Greetings

I’m taking a break over the Christmas period but will be posting again soon with some BIG NEWS!!!

HAR GOD JUL OCH GOTT NYTT AR to all my friends in Sweden!!

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Large Alder Bur Kasa/Kuksa – Part 2

Unfortunately as I carved into the wood I found a flaw inside

It’s rather more obvious from the outside

Based on previous experience, I was certain that the kasa would crack here as it dried so I decided not to carve any thinner but instead worked on the shape.

Even if it did crack it was worth continuing to increase my knowledge and skills in working with bur wood and carving.  And after another hours work the shape was looking good.

A couple more hours of sanding and polishing with cotton cloth and it was just about completed

I completed it by cutting in some minimal patterning with a knife and then oiled it to lift out the patterns in the wood.  The kasa holds 3/4 litre of liquad.

I had a small piece of bur left over so I also made four year old Emma her first kasa

and engraved an “E” on the handle to personalise it for her

Large Alder Bur Kasa/Kuksa – Part 1

I’ve wanted to try and make a large kasa for some time and after an area of trees had been cleared on one of our reserves I found a large bur on an Alder (Alnus glutinosa) stump, which I removed with a chainsaw.

I removed the outer bark and using my Fiskars hatchet cut cut away faults and flaws until I reached good wood.  Then I marked the size and shape of the kasa I wanted to carve from the bur.

Using my gouge

I began to shape the inside of the bowl and after a couple of  hours work it looked like this

and after another hour it looked like this

I continued using my hatchet to shape the underside

The patterning in the bur is beautiful

and after another couple of hours work the kasa was really starting to take shape

Singing the “Blue’s” again

Last year I wrote about an evening I spent being entertained by The CC Blue’s Band featuring primitive skills instructor John Lord.

Like last year the band again featured guest guitarist Phil Harding who is more familiar to viewers of the Channel 4 series Time Team.

It was a really enjoyable evening with some great music like this

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and this

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Navigation via moss on trees

Many books tell you that in the northern hemisphere you can find north by looking at trees on moist ground and the side of the tree on which the moss grows highest will indicate north because  of the assumption that all mosses require cool, damp, shaded locations and this can often be true, but not always as you can see in the picture below.  The picture was taken 1 hour after midday and the moss (on the south-easterly side of the tree) is growing about 1 metre up the tree (in this case an Ash tree).

Mosses have no roots but instead have tiny threads called rhizoids that serve to anchor the moss and to supply moisture and nutrients.  Their leaves are thin and cannot retain water so instead they obtain water from rain
and dew and for this reason mosses tend to grow best in wetter places.  You can learn more about mosses here.

So when using mosses on trees for navigation look at a number of trees and take an average to give a rough idea of north but not rely on it.  I would also recommend getting a copy of this book “Finding Your Way Without Map or Compass” which teaches you how to recognise many natural signs and events  to use for navigating.

My first trip to Lapland

I thought I would take a step back in time and write about my first visit to Swedish Lapland in September 2006.

My friend Eckhardt had invited me to visit him and his family and spend some time at his cabin in the forest

This was the first view I had of his cabin and I never imagined that nine months later I would be buying it

I spent time walking in the forest and exploring

helping with work around the cabin

shooting

fishing and rowing on the lake (didn’t catch anything of course!)

and tracking animals

Ekhardt also taught me how to drink warm, salt water through my nose to help treat congestion and cold symptoms.

I had such a great time and was determined to return again soon.

Common Darter Dragonfly

The Common Darter Dragonfly (Sympetrum striolatum) is one of the smaller British species of dragonflies.  The male is a rich bright red in colour

and the female varies from shades of green to orange and even red when mature.  This individual has just emerged from life as a larvae living below water.

The Common Darter is on the wing from the middle of June here in the East of England and when I first became interested in wildlife and nature conservation, books stated “June – October” and it is the last dragonfly species you will see in the year.  In the early 90’s I can remember recording this species into the first few days of November and this year 16 -17 years later my last date was 26th November and I expect within the next 5 years they will be recorded into the first few days of December.

In late autumn they are always looking for somewhere bright and warm to sit and absorb the suns heat