A seasonal piece of street art on a sign in Exeter Street, Covent Garden.

I’m not certain, but I think it might be by Clet Abraham.



Just treated the handle with walnut oil – brought it up very nicely. 

It’s sat in front of me now and I think it’s worth a smile of self-congratulation.

000 at last


The photos in the previous post are of a little project I’ve been working on. A couple of weeks ago I came across an ugly little bladed thing that I think was a paperknife. Whilst it was not as a whole attractive, the Sheffield-made blade looked nice enough and so the thought came to me that I might re-handle it.

As I discovered with my previous whittling project  carving wood takes a lot longer than you’d think, to this I was to additionally learn that accurate carving takes even more time and care.

So I found some wood for a handle – a piece of Ash which I knew would be good and dry since it had helped fill the fireplace over the summer - and set to work.

First I taped up the blade to make it safe before cutting it out of the plastic it was embedded in, using a hacksaw and Stanley knife. Once clear it was pretty dull and dirty so I cleaned it up by steeping it in HP sauce for 24 hours. The smell lingered and consequently I was rendered hungry every time I went into the garage for the following week.

The next stage was to trace around the blade and from that draw a blueprint of what I wanted the thing to finally look like. Based on the drawing I produced a cardboard jig/ template for the planned handle.

Next I flattened the sides of the small log that was going to use. Using the blade and the cardboard pattern I gauged where the tang* of the knife would be. I then drilled a small hole accordingly and then widened it by pushing the tapered tang of the knife itself in and out as a primitive file.

(* the tang is the bit that sticks in the handle)

Once the hole for the blade was finished it was time to shape the handle. After drawing out the shape of the handle using the cardboard template I set to work using a knife and sandpaper. This took some time, but was quite absorbing work and became more satisfying as I progressed. What was particularly enjoyable was the feel of the wood itself. I know that Ash is in the same family as the olive (which is why it burns when green), and that may be why it had a soapy, waxy feel when sanded; even with fairly coarse sandpaper.

However once I got to the point where I’d finished, I didn’t like the result. It just didn’t look right – the handle was way too large and it looked out of balance. I also wanted it narrower, but I was concerned that if it was too thin it would not be strong enough to support the tang, making it useless. I was in something of a dilemma. Whilst shortening was definitely called for, surely that would make it look too stubby?

Then I hit on an idea – I could cut it off at an angle, which would make it both shorter in length, and at the same time more elongated in form. At least that’s what I hoped. It seemed like a good idea, but I was slightly dubious as I took the saw to what represented a good few hours’ work.

Luckily I needn’t have worried -the results were better than I had imagined.

Now I need to treat the handle with something to seal it and make some kind of sheath. The latter is unknown territory, but then I’d never made a knife handle before.




#3 4maybe







In the few short years that I have returned to fishing a few traditions have developed. For the opening day of the season I go to the monastery ponds that I fished as a child.

I get up an hour before it’s light (which means about three in the morning) and make my way there by bicycle. This mode of transport is not a nod to days of yore, but rather something that allows the OH to have the car all day. It started as a necessity but has become a tradition.

For the closing day I go, mid-afternoon, to the river that is a short walk from where I live. The tradition that I have control over is that I stay until the bats are out.

There are other traditions which I do not have any say about.

Firstly the penultimate fishing trip of the season will have been better than average, perhaps ridiculously so, which will raise glorious hope that the last day of the season will be an absolute cannonade of angling achievement

Also I will see some amazing wildlife. Last year it was an eerie owl encounter.

And the final tradition is that I do not catch a single bloody thing.

So last Friday found me sitting on the bank hoping the milder weather might produce results. This was countered by the fact that the water was still extremely high. And fast.

I was trying to ignore the signs and omens, not helped that I’d had an amazing session the week before and achieved a personal best by quite a margin.

Anyway I set off with a hopeful heart, and buoyed by a week of dry and sunny weather.

After an hour and a half as the heat began to fade out of the sunlight I heard a bird begin to call loudly. It was immediately apparent that it was coming from a large alder and it took only a moment or two to locate a big bird of prey sitting towards the top of it. The calling carried on for at least ten minutes and although I could not tell what the bird was (smaller than a kite or buzzard, but big) it was a wonderful thing to witness.

I tried to ignore the portent of this remarkable avian encounter and told myself that things would pick up as darkness fell.

So I fished on until the bats came out, the first one wheeling past as it was barely twilight.

I did not catch anything.

I did not expect to.

And tradition was honoured.

PS – My arris was less honoured and took a long time to thaw out.


cone 1

The insides of London phoneboxes are often decorated, though sadly only with flyers showing bare ladies and offers of lurid excitement.

Sometimes there is something a bit different as I blogged about recently, and this sticker of a pine cone is another example.

Quite what it’s all about I don’t know.

Not that it needs to be about anything of course; it’s a fine thing in it’s own right and for fine things just existing is reason enough for, well….existing.

I would like to know what the story behind it is though.

cone 2


Everyone, I’m sure, expects to be brassic during January, but here we are cresting into March and I still have no money.

(To be honest I expect this to be the status quo here at Boot Hall for the foreseeable future.)

If I did have any money I’d head over to Vintage Hiking Depot to make a few purchases.

My VHD T-Shirt is one of my favourite bits of clothing and when I bought it a complimentary VHD sticker was enclosed.

Rather than just slap it on anywhere, I put the sticker, with a couple of others, in a “safe place”. It is the nature of such “safe place”s that they are near impossible to locate within 24 hours.

Or maybe that only applies if, like me, you are an idiot.

Whether you are an idiot or not, I recommend that you get over to the Vintage Hiking Depot sire to have a gander at the merch.

I may have to order another VHD sticker as I’ve now found a really good place to put it. The trouble is there are 2 other stickers in my “safe place” and I‘d need to replace them too. Grrr.


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