Archive for February, 2013

How do you say it in the USA ?

This morning I was watching BBC breakfast TV (I’m in the UK) and the presenter was interviewing Richard Gere as he is over here right now and it came up about a hotel he recently purchased and restored and the BBC presenter said “so are you good at DIY ?” – “DOY” said Mr Gere…! – “No, DIY, that’s Do It Yourself, like are you a handyman” – Oh OK he said, I never heard of DIY before”

It reminded me of something I heard once… something to the effect that the USA and Britain were two countries divided by a common language…!

‘Boot or Trunk’, ‘Rubbish’ or ‘Garbage’, ‘Wing or Fender’…

‘Tomarto’ or ‘Tomayto’, ‘Basil’ or ‘Baysil’, ‘Herbs’ or ‘erbs’…

I’m watching a lot of YouTube videos on gardening as I have the allotment now and many of them are American videos and for me as a Brit, it’s great to listen to how certain words are pronounced compared to how we say them over here… – kinda cute….!


My visit to Hook Norton Brewery in Oxfordshire

PhotoNow I should prefix this post with a note… I don’t, as a rule, drink beer so getting a brewery tour voucher as a Christmas present was something of an unexpected surprise and I wasn’t at all sure what to expect but I went yesterday to Hook Norton Brewery and it was a brilliant visit, the tour takes around 1.5 hours.

Much of the equipment used today is still as it was over a hundred years ago, most notably the power delivery system of drive belts, gears and levers which, although mostly driven by a large electric motor now, is occasionally still powered by their original static steam engine.

The family owned Hook Norton brewery is based in Oxfordshire not far from Chipping Norton and is located in the small archetypal English Cotswold village of Hook Norton.

The brewery was first opened in 1849 as a small ‘cottage industry’ by John Harris on the small farm that he had purchased and it went from strength to strength and was significantly enlarged in the 1890’s in the style of a typical Victorian Tower brewery which has been preserved to this day.

The buildings, the processes and the history were all fascinating and well presented by Chris our tour guide and at the end of the tour we got to taste some of the different beers that they produce and as a non beer drinker, I was actually quite taken by their “Old Hooky” beer, it was very nice and I purchased a few bottles to bring home…!

I would strongly recommend a visit the this great brewery which is still family owned and if you get  chance, try out some of their bottled beer selection which is available now in some of the larger supermarkets I think.

Convert an old greenhouse to a Poly-tunnel

2013-02-19 13.59.13When I took on my allotment plot it had two decrepit greenhouses, one was a lean-to off the back of the shed, which subsequently caved in under all of the snow a few weeks ago, and the other was an old aluminium greenhouse that only had glass in one end and nowhere else…!

So I decided to convert the aluminum framed greenhouse into a poly-tunnel. I left the glass in the gable end and covered the roof, sides and front with poly-tunnel plastic film.

The greenhouse is 8 ft 6″ x 6ft and the plastic film cost me £26 and it was enough to do what I wanted plus cover a wooden framed door with a double skin.

Replacing all of the glass would have cost me around £80

The rear gable end faces north and gets no sun directly so I left the glass in and will cover the inside face with bubble wrap and then a piece of black plastic sheet which I’m hoping with act as an insulator and a heat sink to help hold the heat in.

I covered the aluminium ridge and the ends of the aluminium eaves with some old bits of half round guttering that was lying around the plot and this, plus a few bits of tape allowed the plastic sheet to be pulled tight over the frame without snagging anywhere, this is of paramount importance if you decide to do something similar.

Around each end and along the bottom of the two sides I fixed some cheap wooden battens which the plastic was stretched over and then clamped tight with another batten strip over the top fixed with screws.

The plastic film has formed a drum tight skin over the frame and since it has much better thermal and light diffusion characteristics than glass I’m hoping i’m onto a winner… we will see.

2013-02-25 14.03.27

So you want to make a Shave Horse ?

So you want to make a shave horse ?

easy shave horse

easy shave horse

There are a variety of plans and narratives on the internet that will help you make a shave horse and mostly, they describe the traditional ‘old English’ style or the ‘earlier ‘European’ style of horse.

The first shave horse I made, which I have at home, was actually of the ‘old English’ style but my second one was a hybrid which incorporated a simple but innovative base and leg arrangement that I invented whilst trying to design a  rustic style shave horse to be made and used in my woodland outdoor workshop.

It is this innovative style of rustic horse that I want to introduce you to because it is simple to construct with basic hand tools and using timber you can obtain from your local coppice worker, woodland manager, woodland volunteer group, farmer or if you are very lucky, your own woodland.

I have this shave horse in my woodland workshop. It’s wedged between two Alder trees to stop it from being stolen (rustled…!) but it does of course stand up totally on it’s own.

Full instructions on how to make this rustic shave horse can be downloaded in a .pdf file here:

or, pdf better suited to printing off:

you can check me out on You tube here:

Good luck, let me know how you got on if you make one.