Hippos, hedgerows & Facebook!

A while since I posted last I know!
The season started early for us (if it did actually stop at all!) and it has been reallly busy with lots of time in the woods.
The weather has been amazing and it has definately an effect on everyone.
As well as our regular clients the last few weeks has seen us working with fashion models (getting back to nature) in the woods for a tv production company, to some large groups of family campers at Forgewood campsite and this weekend just passed, the “Row Zambezi” team (survival skills, plus a dawn “hippo-attack”).
We have also set up a Facebook page, where people can post photos of time spent with us (its looking good- go have a look).

Tracks,trails & disappearing snow

Well we got out together for a walk (Leon is in Devon & I’m normally in Kent), the festive season has taken me to Devon to spend time with my family (the usual – eat too much – drink too much, the same as everyone else over Christmas).
When we meet up we normally head for the moors – either the open tops and wild expanses of the north or south moors or a wander into one of the many wooded valleys.
The moors today was a place of crumbling atmospheres, the mist was clinging heavily to the ground and so we came off the tops and headed for the woods, a place that time seems to have forgotten.
The moss hangs from the trees and clings to the rocks like an expensive carpet.
The melt from the snow had caused the river to rise to almost deafening levels.
The focus of our day was one of the most elusive residents of the valley – the otter.
On certain parts of the river the local otters live and if you choose your time and look in the right places, then you can see plenty of evidence that the population is healthy and still as secretive as ever.

No Snow…..

Just had another few days out teaching bushcraft.
Excitedly I had checked the forecasts for the week (snow in northern Britian and cold).
I packed accordingly – plently of layers, my new homemade underblanket for the hammock (and my snow shovel just in case!!).
Well it was cold …. and very wet. Just keeping the students warmer than the bunnies they were preparing was a battle. My down-time between groups was spent sawing and splitting fire wood.
My usual carving by the fireside in the evening was modified to short bursts, stopping to re-warm my hands by the fire.
The only snow I saw was just starting to fall as I arrived home!
But hey the holidays are on the way so maybe a night in a quinze will still happen.
Here are a couple of photos of some more carving (but this one is for me!!)

Me Time…….

This year ……. where has it gone?

It has been a busy year, I seem to have been on jobs everywhere! Scotland, Cornwall, Wales and just about everywhere in between.

But now things start to wind down a little and I get to spend some time in the woods (we spend most of our time in the woods, I know, but normally we have clients along and our focus is on them). So at this time of year is when you get a chance to try new things, experiment with new recipes or learn new skills.

I got up  early, packed my daysack, called in to see a client for a job for next year and then headed for a little patch of local woodland that is always quiet. Under my arm I carried a freshly cut log of Alder that I had picked up on a job ealier in the week.

So what shall I make?…….Another spoon? (I have hundreds!!!)……A Kuksa?………Then I remembered……..the festive season is approaching (one of the joys of not having a regular tv – I’m not bombarded with Xmas adverts from the end of September onwards!).

So here are a couple of pictures of what I made…..

Looking like I am going to be a little busy.

Well things have been changing over the last year or so. I currently have a certain amount of leatherwork, some teaching and the dreaded changes to the site are due.

The leatherwork is not really a problem, I keep my clients informed and let them know if the delays will be longer than stated in the terms and conditions (this is due to other work constraints and some family matters). The teaching is great and I am thoroughly enjoying it.

The website on the other hand is always one of those things that makes me cringe. Neil has asked for certain things to be done, new web pages added, old web pages removed and de-registered from the search engines and a change of fonts. It doesn’t initially sound like a lot, but effectively it will involve changes to every single web page on the website.

I am not complaining as I have agreed that some of the changes need to be done, I just dread having to do them.

There are also certain things that need to be done to the gallery (we’ve been talking about categories being introduced along with reviewing and adding pictures).

Beyond that I keep checking Al Marconi’s website, he was saying that he was looking at releasing a new album, so I am keeping my ear to the net and at the moment I am looking after my Mum’s German Spitz “Banshee” who is a little madame at times, but she is also exceptionally cute 😀


A Quick Rant

A while ago I got a netbook through Amazon, it’s been a very impressive piece of kit, to the point that when my Brother’s laptop died I actually recommended a netbook to him.
Due to one reason or another Neil didn’t have a lot of disposable income, so I had a good dig around to see what I could find for him.
What I found was a company called Laptops Direct, now if they had proved to be any good I would have placed a link into the blog for them, but since they turned out to be pretty awful then I would rather have skewers placed through my thumbs than drive any business their way.
Some of you may know that I am a qualified computer engineer, so Neil’s opinion is swayed by mine when it comes to matters computing.

Neil had a look through a number of items that they had to offer from an internet cafe, then phoned me to find out my opinion. My opinion was that what they had to offer and what he had to spend the best bet would be an Asus EeePc 1005HA. Neil wrote it down and phoned them up. Asked that they deliver to one of his places of work (we Sub-contract), which is what they did.
They did send Neil e-mail’s to say that they would be delivering, not that it did him any good as he couldn’t pick them up, he had a dead laptop hence he had phoned the order through.
The day arrived and they delivered, Neil opened the package when he got home and proceeded to plug in the unit and get everything sorted.

I should point out that Neil’s main reason for buying a netbook is so that he can use his email, beyond that a little surfing and printing out invoices are the main things that computers are used for with Neil, although he has some music on his system as well as photo’s. Neil has recently started getting into photo editing.

Anyhow, Neil has never really been a great one for labels, so when Laptops Direct sent him an Acer apsire Neil didn’t even notice (They all look the same to Neil). I personally would have gone ballistic and told them where to place it, but that’s just me….

So here we have Neil with the new Netbook, what’s the first thing Neil is gonna do, that’s right check his e-mail. So Neil logs into his e-mail and starts reading through things, great he’s back online, then Neil tries to send an e-mail, this is where things got interesting.

The first thing that Neil discovers is that the “@” button doesn’t work, then he discovers that the “:” button isn’t working either, then he discovers that one of the other keys doesn’t work.

So Neil starts running through the customer support side of life in reporting a fault with his newly purchased item. So they want a description of what’s wrong with the machine, Neil tells them it doesn’t work.

Now any sane and reasoning company would then say “okay we’ll have a look at it”, but not Laptops Direct, they said “Sorry your description is not technical enough”. This goes on for a while Neil reporting through their online facility and them messing him around.

After a while I was up staying with Neil and he described to me the situation and showed me the e-mails.

“Could I fix the Netbook”, the answer is gonna sound rotten, you’ve got a brother who’s a computer engineer and you’ve a broken computer, I told him “No”.

Laptops Direct wanted a technical answer so I told Neil what should be sent (what do they expect, all of their customers to be computer engineers), I also got him to tell them that there were two main reason for me not fixing the netbook.

A). The netbook was not working properly on delivery, this is not Neil’s responsibility, nor is it mine. Neil did not pay for a “Broken Netbook”.

To me either one of the above is a reason that the Netbook be replaced immediately, but according to Laptops Direct what should then happen is that the netbook should be collected and assessed over a period of days before they make a decision.

They messed up by sending out the wrong netbook, they messed up by sending out not just the wrong netbook, but one that then doesn’t even work properly. So all in all I would give Laptops Direct a customer service level of 0 out of 10.

Then they mess the customer about as if it’s their fault, now Laptops Direct are really pushing their luck, I would deduct points here so let’s make that a -10 out of 10 for customer service.

So to conclude Neil did get a working netbook from Laptops Direct in the end, it was still the wrong model, but it worked. Neil did send a query about “Well since it’s not actually what I ordered, but I don’t have time to mess around, what extra are you gonna provide me with”, however I don’t think he ever got anything other than an automated response. Laptops Direct are the biggest pile that I have so far come across, their customer service was poor and the sheer fact that they make mistakes and then expect others to make do is purely ridiculous.

Personally I would rather have my nuts placed in a hydraulic press than buy from them and I would warn any about buying anything from them in the future.


As per every year that I could so far, I attended the bushmoot (organised by BushcraftUK) again this year, as the name would suggest it’s an event revolving around bushcraft skills and skill sharing. This year was as it is every year well attended, but not overcrowded, relaxed and social. It has the feel of being quite organised without having the pressure of having to be at specific places at specific times and the people are friendly and laid back.

The general consensus was that this year was the best that we have had so far.

It is as much as anything else for me as a social event and I get to bump into people that I have never met and have a laugh on common ground whilst re-kindling old friendships and swapping stories with old mates.

Unfortunately I didn’t do the whole event this year, but I will be back again next year and if things keep going the way they are then for many years to come.

Footsteps of Discovery

Neil and I recently had the chance to work with Footsteps of discovery and I have to say that it was a pleasure. Mark and Spanner run a very good outfit, the location that they work from is superb (not just the location itself, but how they’ve set the place up). It is a truly professional setup and the guys themselves are very professional in the way they conduct themselves and their business.
The other instructors that we met (Jim, Ross, Jamie, Ben and Richie) were also very good and everyone at Footsteps sing from the same song sheet.
Apart from that it was also very nice working with the guys as they are all very nice genuine people and I look forward to working with them in the future.

A Change of Direction??

Neil and I have been chatting recently, we discussed what green-craft is and how it started, what the original direction was and we were actually quite surprised with the direction that it’s taken, which is nowhere near what we originally intended.

We never really set out to make kit for people, that has been a bi-product of people asking where we got things, if we could make them one, my being made redundant a few years back and that path is the one which we have seemed to have oozed like pine sap from a tree.

It’s surprising how it’s actually changed the aspect of the site from being a skills based to a craft / production based site.

What of the old direction?

Well, we still practice those skills.

Are there going to be changes??

I would say that it’s more than likely, the website will change, possibly with certain elements of kit being discontinued. Courses and course content may change and be added to. Possibly time to start with the green-path (something Neil wrote many years ago).

I dare say that the website may well get a total re-write as Neil hasn’t had me re-do the whole site for at least a year, but that’s yet to be seen.

The gallery could change in as much as there is a lot more content that could be added along with subsections to it, but all this as yet is to be discussed and arranged at our next face to face.

Apart from that I am starting work on another Jack / Leather tankard using the Jack method of construction, which with the materials in use has caused a number of rather colourfull outbursts.

Well I am going to sit back and wait to see how things develop, in the end that’s pretty much all any of us can do, have a good one,