Family fun and a useful education at the Tree and Woodcraft Fair at Fairfield, Castel on 1 October 2011

October 3rd, 2011 by Richard Lord

The Tree and Woodcraft Fair organised by The Guernsey Society of the Men of the Trees in celebration of the International Year of Forests 2011 took place on the hottest 1 October ever recorded in Guernsey, with the temperature exceeding 23 degrees Celsius.

The Tree Fair, which ran from midday to about 4 pm was entertaining and educational for the whole family.  There was a hog roast and a band played music.

Tree surgeons took part in a tree climbing competition, and Richard Loyd, Chairman of the GSMOTT, demonstrated wood carving with a chainsaw.

Former Ray Mears‘ student David Hunt of Native Eyes Bushcraft engaged, entertained and educated adults and children for hours with his bushcraft skills and stories.

David Hunt of Native Eyes Bushcraft entertained adults and children with fire starting skills, soap making, wood turning, and many other bushcraft skills (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

David Hunt engaged adults and children with his knowledge and charisma (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

David Hunt gave several demonstrations on how to start a fire using countryside materials. He used flints to create a spark to light tinder of scraped pieces of an inedible fungus, Daldinia concentrica, called King Alfred’s Cakes, cramp balls or coal fungus.

David Hunt provides one of many demonstrations to an attentive audience on how to make a fire (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

David Hunt used a flint to light tinder made from a fungus called Cramp balls, Daldinia concentrica, or King Alfred's Cakes or coal fungus. David Hunt asked his audience to blow hard on the smoldering tinder to set it alight (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

David Hunt involved the children watching his demonstration by asking them to blow on the smoldering tinder to set it alight.

David Hunt holds a Tupperware container of an inedible fungus, Daldinia concentrica, used to make tinder for starting fires. The fungus goes by the common names of King Alfred's Cake, cramp balls, or coal fungus (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

David Hunt places the lit fire in a metal box (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

David Hunt stressed the importance of having sufficient water available to put out camp fires (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

Bob Paine of Guernsey Gardens Ltd held a tree naming competition on behalf of The Guernsey Society of the Men of the Trees (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

Bob Paine of Guernsey Gardens Ltd. displayed a row 15 beautiful trees in pots, which included oak, alder, beech, ash, willow, cherry and crab apple.  The trees were used for a tree naming competition.  First prize was £25.00 cash or a Guernsey Garden plant voucher worth £50.00.

Bob Paine said the Tree Fair had a good atmosphere, ‘a good vibe’.  “Children are having a nice time outdoors in the lovely weather,” he said.

Alderney Wildlife Trust Conservation Officer, Julia Henney, told visitors about tree planting for the Alderney Community Woodland (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

Julia Henney, Alderney Wildlife Trust Conservation Officer, attended the Tree Fair to tell visitors about the Alderney Community Woodland project.

A display of Bonsai trees at the Tree and Woodcraft Fair (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

Julie Madeley of the Art of Living sold Fairtrade wood toys (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

Mrs P's delicious food sold out and children came to eat the blackberries and apples in the autumnal decoration (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

Dave Morgan hollowed out a bowl as part of the wood working demonstration (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

A beautiful container made of Ivy. Before being worked, the wood was infected with fungi to produce the wood grain pattern (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

Scout leader Alan Ritchie showed visitors how to make tent pegs (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

Some of the tent pegs made for Guernsey Scouts by Alan Ritchie (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

Richard Loyd, Chairman of The Guernsey Society of the Men of the Trees used chainsaws to make a sculpture out a section of tree trunk (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

The large oak tree in the centre of Fairfield was used for a tree climbing competition. Professional tree surgeons raced to touch four numbered signs in the shortest time possible. The competition was won by Simon Marshall of Special Branch in 8 minutes 44 seconds. Sign 2 can be seen at the top of the tree (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

Four professional tree surgeons competed against each other to reach in the shortest possible time four numbered signs high up in the canopy of the large oak tree in the centre of Fairfield.  Simon Marshall of Special Branch won in the time of 8 minutes and 44 seconds.

Professional tree surgeons Chris Stonebridge of Treevolution (left) and competition winner of the tree climbing competition Simon Marshall of Special Branch on the right (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

Tree surgeon Chris Stonebridge shows the chainsaw cuts of a two foot long log for making a Scandinavian fire stick or log for cooking (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

Chris Stonebridge of Treevolution explained how to make a Scandinavian fire stick or log out of a two-foot long log of about six to eight inches in diameter using a resinous wood such as pine.

He made four cross-section cuts down the length of the trunk leaving the last six inches of the trunk uncut.

In Scandinavia the uncut base of the log would be driven into the snow so that the log doesn’t fall over.

Tinder is put into the cut surface of the top of the log and lit.  The fire burns down the length of the log, which is why it is also known as a log candle.  A billy or billycan, kettle or skillet can be placed directly on the top of the log for cooking or heating.

Scandanavian way of creating a fire for cooking food and heating liquids (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

David Hunt displayed and operated wood-working tools he had made himself from forest resources.

David Hunt built the pole lathe, which “gets its name from being a lathe, which was originally powered simply by a pole or a sapling that was bent over in the forest and tied to it.”

Every time the pole or sapling springs back from being bent over “it chucks all that energy into the machine.  You don’t have to plug it into the electricity.  You don’t have to have a motor running.  The pole lathe is just powered by the tree and your foot,” he said.

David Hunt explains how the pole lathe works (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

“The piece of string comes down from the tree, around the piece of wood you are turning, and then down to the piece of wood called the treadle so when you press down with your foot on the treadle it pulls the string that turns the wood that pulls the tree, and then you release the pressure on the treadle and the tree pulls back, and pulls the string that turns the wood so it turns one way and then the other way and so on.”

David Hunt demonstrates the operation of the pole lathe he built (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

“It’s the technology you find all around the world where people have come up with the problem of ‘how do I make something round out of wood’,” he said.

“The ancient Egyptians, the Sumerians, the Phoenicians, the Vikings all came up with the same tool.  A piece of wood is rotated at high speed and then you can cut it with a sharp chisel.”

“You can also use it for bowl turning although you would use a more heavy lathe.  The poppets and the bed would be much bigger and massive than this one because the centrifugal forces from the wood are much stronger but you could turn small bowls on this,” he said.

David Hunt helps a young member of the audience use the green wood turning lathe (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

“There is a person in England called Robin Wood who is a fantastic pole lathe turner who makes fantastic bowls, brilliant bowls,” David Hunt said.

David Hunt made this shaving horse for working green wood (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

David Hunt built the shaving horse based on one of Mike Abbott’s designs.  “You get versions of them all around the world where people need to hold wood steady while they’re working on it.  The legs are made of sycamore although ideally they would be made of something stronger like ash,” he said.

The main body is made of pine.

David Hunt also made the tools to produce it.

Use chestnut leaves to make soap and a liquid to catch fish (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

David Hunt told his audience that many plants around the world are used in the field to make soap.  He crushed up a ball of horse chestnut leaves in water to release saponins to produce the soap.

“Wherever you go in the world and discuss plants with people who live in forests, they have a plant they use for soap and the same plant is also used to knock out fish and catch them although doing that in the British Isles is illegal,” he said.

David Hunt recounted meeting a Kurdish refugee from Iraq who was living in London.  She told him that she remembered the men in the fields who had a plant they always used to wash their hands with.

Many visitors to the Tree Fair were fascinated by what David Hunt had to teach about bushcraft skills. Jo Dowding of Guernsey Museum listens intently as David Hunt speaks about Mike Abbott's book "Living Wood" (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

David Hunt was full of enthusiasm for his subject and delivered it in an understandable and entertaining way.  He patiently answered all the many questions he received from his captivated audience.

David Hunt of Native Eyes Bushcraft showed a few of the books that he uses to learn his craft. Ray Mears' Bushcraft book and Living Wood by Mike Abbott had been picked-up (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

Educational material available at the Tree Fair from The Guernsey Society of the Men of the Trees (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

The Tree and Woodcraft Fair raised awareness of the many diverse roles trees and forests play in our lives from their beauty as species to their role in our survival and prosperity.  From the construction material, fuel, food and chemicals trees provide to the tools, machines, and toys created from them, Guernsey’s first Tree and Woodcraft Fair gave recognition to the importance of trees in our lives and was a fitting Guernsey tribute to the UN’s International Year of the Forests 2011.

Many people remember the hours of fun they had as children playing conkers during the autumn (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

 

4 Responses to “Family fun and a useful education at the Tree and Woodcraft Fair at Fairfield, Castel on 1 October 2011”

  1. julie Madeley

    a beautiful description of a unique and successful event.
    Congratulations to the organisers and participants!

  2. Gil Darling

    We came, we saw, we conkered.
    What a fun day – I hope this will be running again next year.

  3. Pat Wisher

    Wonderful photos Richard and a great report for those of us who weren’t able to attend. Well done!

  4. Andy McCutcheon

    Thank you to everyone who turned up for the event and those who were interested but couldn’t make it. As well as celebrating the International Year of Forests the Fair aimed to raise the profile of the Guernsey Men of the Trees and what it aims to do. We decided on free entry and we were free of sponsors which made it a “people’s event” for people. Our aim is to double our membership within 5 years so that we can put more money into tree planting and tree education schemes for both children and adults.
    Andy McCutcheon
    Secretary, The Guernsey Society of the Men of the Trees

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