Another gorgeous object recently passed down through the family to us. A globe, circa 1961. Isn’t it fine? We’re studying history, the children and I, lucky for me as I seem to have been somewhere else when they were teaching this stuff. (It is a shame we’re not in England, just at the moment when we’re reading about Richard III and princes in towers.).
I love looking at the globe as an object so clearly embodying a moment in history, the political landscape drawn out on its surface, the particular, faded shades of ink, the typography. We talk as much about 1960’s history as we do the medieval history we’re into just now. It is a great object to help us get a sense of the world. There’s always the 1990’s atlas, and modern interactive maps online, to round things out.
Such a pleasing old object, and still so useful.
(These images are variations from the traveller, part of the series of photographs I’ve been making of my new short & sweet handwarmers and things I love to do while wearing them. You can see all the images, and choose your own kit, in the shop.)
Since the earliest days of spring I’ve been visiting the pond on Old Plawhatch Farm, to document a project that grew out of a beautiful mentorship. A handmade boat. To celebrate the solstice and long days at the water, swimming days, boating days, I bring you the launch of the Flying Terapin.
When Callum, our 9-year-old mate in bushcraft, woodwork and art, first showed me the coracle, it was a skeleton of young coppiced branches stuck deep into the banks of the spring and woven together along the earth. Logs from a major pruning round the water (the algae on the pond needed to be reduced by exposing it to more sunlight!) weighted the top to create the boat’s shape as the young branches aged.
This is the coppice where the new, bendy, sprouting branches were cut from. I love the tradition of building a boat beside the water where it will be set afloat, and using the materials found around it.
On my next walk on to the farm the framework had been woven together with more young shoots. In the farm shop one day I ran into Callum’s mentor, the affable Daniel Yabsley, and asked him about the project.
Calico would be a traditional cover, but being fairly expensive, Dan helped Callum attach a tarpaulin to the framework instead. Canvas or animal skins were also used for these types of boats. One beautiful day in June a crowd of us joined the boatbuilders down at the old spring to launch the coracle. We flipped it over, off the bank and into the water. You can see the seat wedged in, not an easy project in itself.
I think a mentorship is such a brilliant way to learn. One into the boat, two into the boat;
And they’re off! The boys used just one paddle and a wiggly sort of rowing.
Once round the pond and to the bank for passengers. The coracle is astonishingly stable! A race with the rowboat, and just about everyone (and their dog, truthfully) had a go.
Even me. What a thrill, to be out on the water on a beautiful day, in a handmade boat. Callum popped open a bottle of sparkling blueberry juice to mark the occasion.
(For the coracle thrill-seekers amongst you, you might like to know that one can spin round in circles rather quickly.) Such a wonderful old British tradition, coracle building. Happy summer solstice!