Wonder what’s happening here? You’ll have to find out later!!!!!!!!!!!!
For the first time Wimpole had a Produce Fair which was held in the gardens; quite a few local producers were asked to come along and they had some rather interesting things for sale! First to catch the eye were the craft vinegars- I bought a few to cook with as they had some wonderful flavours: plum, blackberry, apple, raspberry etc. In the end I plumped for the small pack of three which let me choose three different flavours: plum for the pigeons, blackberry ‘cos I liked it and. … horseradish! Yes, horseradish -it was very nice, just got to work out what to put it with… maybe rabbit?
Simply Herbs had a good selection of essential oils and creams whilst next door the local home bakery from Kingston village had lots of sourdough breads and pasties. I had to eat about three of the goats’ cheese pasties- most excellent!
On Sunday a new man was on the block (the produce fair was open both days over the weekend); he had started to make all sorts of sausage which I tested. What I really liked were the sausages made of venison and pork, these were brilliant and I had to buy a few of them. Apparently he will be running courses in how to make these sausages, I will have to go on one to help me turn the muntjac into a chorizo or such like.
Well, I had not known that there was a spirit distillery in Cambridgeshire! There was a lot of interest in this stall and most people were buying the toffee vodka but I had to get some apple brandy. I did try the gin but it was their English Spirit vodka that stole the day for me- mostly vodka is tasteless and I can’t see the point of it but this vodka had a taste and a very fine flavour it was indeed ( a hint of vanilla, caramel and fennel apparently ). They make it from sugar beet, and I reckon it is a must buy if you have never had première vodka before; I will have to visit their distillery in Dullingham before Christmas!
There were a number of pie stalls and of course I had to have a pie from each of them (saved making any lunch or supper). Brocklebys pies were quite big and, being rather greedy, I ate a whole pie save for the few bits the two jagdterriers had.
The Farm had a stall too and was selling linseed oil, flour, bread and eggs. I think they did quite well and the stall was looking very good with all the extra information about how the Farm harvested and produced the final product.
The produce from the Gardens was also on sale and made quite a colourful addition what with the purple cabbages and orange squashes.
It was the Wympole Green Woodworkers meeting on Sunday so we decided to help the Produce Fair by setting up the pole lathes etc for both days. This would add an extra dimension (and of course food was readily available :-))
Both Jim and I ran the have-a-go pole lathe on Saturday, and Paul did Sunday, but we did also allow some visitors to use the froe and shave horse under strict supervision. Certainly lovely to see children enjoying using proper tools and seeing their faces light up when they produced a wooden item.
By the end of Sunday Jim had amassed a huge pile of shavings under his pole lathe so we awarded him the ‘Most Shavings in a Day’ medal. Seriously though he had been hard at work making dibbers, bats and rolling pins to sell to the public in order to help buy items for the Wympole Green Woodworkers group.
The challenge for October is to make two identical items either turned or otherwise. Tony had taken up the challenge quite seriously and, by the end of Sunday, had produced two lovely ash wood vases. However, he had left them in the sunshine and, alas, they were drying out too quickly which was leading to a rather nasty case of cracking. They were soon put in the shade and I bet he’ll be super glueing them! Apparently super glue stops the crack getting bigger, but you have to look at the green wood daily to check some more cracks have not appeared elsewhere… if they do- add more super glue!
September’s challenge was to make a three-legged stool and the legs had to be turned. As it turned out seven members of the group produced a stool, (two were too late to be judged as they turned up the following week). I have a recollection that David won with his rather simple design- the legs were bat shaped and clean without beading. We judged the stools by peer choice- each one of us had to choose which one they would take home (but not their own, that would be pretty pointless otherwise ;-)). David’s stool was chosen the most times and therefore he won… well done.
Alistair had brought a sharpening tool along, it was a draw knife sharpener and came in a round tin from America. You have to read the instructions but actually it’s quite easy to use and really quick (that’ll be on the shopping list).
Monday was a bit damp and we had to clear up after the Produce Fair. Once that was done we rescued our splitting ram- it had spent a little too much time outside so was in need of some TLC. A good soaking with diesel and some repair work soon had it working properly and, of course, it just had to be tested out. I wonder… if we made the bed six-foot long and split the oak into fencing stakes… would it work?
Next day we had a little bit of a burn up to get rid of the pile of shavings and off cut timber that had piled up around the shed. When the fire bin is empty we’ll fill it again and keep that for the fireworks night in November. Next job of the day was to move more limestone (seems to be never ending), now that the rain has started the track has become very muddy where we have not put the rubble and limestone. Might just have to finish the job as one of the reasons for repairing the track was to stop all the rainwater running down the ruts and into the Cobbs Wood Farm buildings along with the mud.
The Folly is having a makeover at the moment and the scaffolding has been erected so that you can get access to the top of the tower. We were allowed up there in a bid to catch the pigeons who have been evicted from the inside of the tower. The reason? Piles and piles of pigeon dung. Ten years ago we cleaned it out and blocked the holes but unfortunately the pesky pigeons found another way in. So now that they have been evicted again what to do about them soiling the ladders and scaffold? First of all a Harris hawk was brought in to frighten them off. (Not much luck as it appears, I think they know the hawk would be too slow to catch them, perhaps a peregrine falcon would have worked!) Anyway, in a bid to remove the pigeons, we took some cage traps up to the top hoping we will be able to catch some. Anybody want a few pigeons for their dovecote?
Another problem that will need to be dealt with are the rabbits that are undermining the Folly (and now the scaffolding). We will need to call on the ferret team who will ( under great stress) venture into the unknown dark recesses of the rabbits’ home in a bid to flush them out. Counter measures used by the rabbits can be quite extreme. Sometimes the rabbits will find a very narrow point in the warren and won’t budge and I have lost two ferrets because of rabbits blocking the tunnel and all those behind the rabbit suffocated including my best male hob (don’t suppose the rabbit did it on purpose). When I dug down to get the ferret out it was dead along with six other rabbits. We’ll ferret these holes shortly and hope there’s no mishap.
From the top of the Folly we could not help but notice all that rubble in the skip. Just the ticket for the huge ruts in the track just north of Cobbs Wood Farm. Came back with the tractor and trailer and loaded it up with about five tons of rubble. There were some that had observed our behaviour and had made disparaging remarks; these have been noted and, come the great day…!!!!!!! Probably saved some tipping fees (usually £50 per ton) and saved us using valuable limestone which costs £16 per ton. ‘Watch the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves’ as they say.
Finally getting rid of the tyres from around the Estate- filled the skip up and had another check around the estate buildings to make sure we had them all. “Ah, what’s this?” Found another two very old tractor tyres near the East Courtyard. Just as well we hadn’t sent the skip away. Believe it or not it costs £25 per tractor tyre to get rid of them, it’s no wonder that they get dumped on the side of the road.
I had organised an abrasive wheel course for Thursday and, as I had been on one some years back, I was going to have the day off. Well, as usual, everything had changed… you now have to attend a training course to change the grinding wheels AND USE THEM. Before this course you only needed someone who was trained to change the wheel but once changed anybody could use it. Guess there must have been more accidents with grinding wheels so the HSE had to change the rules. It was an interesting day actually as the trainer was very good- one of the main changes I did not know about was the fact that the wheels/discs now have a ‘use by’ date on them because the resin holding the abrasive together can deteriorate. Now that we have been on the course we are allowed to train other people but have to make a record of the training. (I think that’s the case but it does get quite confusing.)
Made a start on the hedge laying on Friday and had a glorious day up on the ridge. The hedge to lay this year is on the boundary of Cobbs Wood Farm and Rectory Farm and is also the parish boundary. The forestry team planted this hedge over ten years ago but it struggled for many years ( mostly because of the rabbits that kept nibbling it).
Didn’t take too long before we had quite a bit of the hedge laid. Meanwhile John burnt up last year’s lop and top as, by the time we had finished last year’s hedge and got around to clearing it up, we found birds beginning to nest in it so it was left. Before the winter comes and hedgehogs go looking for somewhere to hibernate it was time to have a wee fire which seems to be John’s favourite job.
The Harvest Festival had finished in the Hall but Olga took a lot of the items across to the Wimpole church to decorate it for the parish Harvest Festival. For our part we whipped off to the Octagon to collect some fresh reed and rush.
The worst part of the track above Cobbs Wood Farm was finished so we rolled that to make sure the stone was firmly pressed down and level; at least walkers will find it a bit easier to walk this section of track.
Oh dear… a week ago I had an accident with the bridge and on Friday Paul backed into the ditch. To be fair quite a few people have fallen foul of this ditch as it is practically hidden by vegetation. It could do with being piped but, as usual, because of a bend in the ditch, it is not a very easy ditch to pipe. We’ll have a go at sorting out this section in the spring as the entrance to the field is very small anyway which restricts what size of farm equipment can go through the gap.