Life here in Tarbrax continues well, Fiona's retirement and my part time work means we have much more time for ourselves. It gives us much more flexibility and I think the retirement by stages lets me acclimatise in terms of time and money. One advantage was that we were able to visit The Fossil at the same time as going to my Uncle Tom's 90th Birthday a week or so ago, down south in Hampshire. It can be quite difficult to think of a suitable gift for a chap who has probably accumulated most of what he wants by now, and since Pam, (my Mother's sister) is only a few months younger than him I thought I'd better get one for her too. I eventually decided to make them something on my wood lathe, and you can see them on They are displayed in the order I made them, starting top left and ending bottom right. I gave them the second and third from last. I'd taken along a spare in case anything broke during the baggage handling and Mum decided that she'd like to keep it. The pots have no real value (unless I become a rich and famous pot maker) so the real gift was the time taken, and it gave me a deadline to get out there and practice for, until the product was at least verging on the acceptable. I'm quite pleased with the way they turned out (no pun intended) and, although my carpenter neighbour is infinitely more skilled, he has spared me some time to teach the rudiments of wood turning. It all started with my father, which I suppose is rather obvious, but I was referring to his wood turning, which he took up after retirement. When Dad died he was in the process of turning a bowl, so my first project was to finish the bowl, I think it came out alright. It probably benefited from the extra decade or so of seasoning, and I think he'd be pleased. I owe him a lot, not least for my mechanical aptitudes, based largely on the premise that a farmer's son can do anything. I never took much notice of the additional last word "badly" since it's usually used by people who can only do one thing, and think they do it well. So here in Tarbrax the weather is variable as always, the heavy rain, frosts, blazing sunshine, and high winds get a little more frequent in Autumn, but at the moment the sun is shining in a clear sky and the calm air is melting the frost. To quote Mr Hayward, the Autumn leaves have fallen now, and blocked up all the gutters again, but this time I shall be more careful in placing the ladder, my ankle is almost completely healed from last time. I shall put a mesh over them so that the leaves are kept out and only the water goes through. Still, it's a small price to pay for the pleasant effect of having mature trees all round the house, and there's the added benefit of free firewood as I do a bit of thinning, the Larch are getting too big and their needles were the cause of the previous gutter clearance. Anyway, the outdoor activities are calling and I'd better not ramble on too much, or your seat will be getting numb. This one started as an email to a friend and just grew, interrupted by the odd cat (called Errol) who likes to tell everybody when he comes in, and the slightly less odd cat called Maggie who likes to sit next to me when I'm typing, but requires to be
picked up and given a hug to reassure her.
They both decided that the wood burning stove
in the living-room was a good idea. Once they'd
gotten used to it, their expressions of concern
were quite obvious when they first saw me
set fire to the corner of the room.
They had taken no notice at all when I started
knocking holes in the wall, but Maggie always
watches me turn off the bedroom light to see if
she can work out what it is that I do, and how it
works. Errol likes watching television, though
he prefers action adventure to Have I Got News
For You or Q.I. Strange chaps, cats.
So as I was saying, I'd better get out there
and do something before it gets dark. When
I find an interesting piece of wood I just can't help
making a pot or something, well this time it was
an email to Aleem and just had to be turned
into a newsletter,