• Roger Waterhouse

Seduced by the figure

Last week Ray Sylvester, of Temima Crafts and Peak District Artisans contacted me and said, I'm going down to Suffolk next Wednesday to a woodyard which I know has some really interesting wood at very reasonable prices, would you like to come? My initial reaction, although I used to live in Suffolk and love the county, was, No. I have lots of wood in stock, I source locally, and I prefer green wood to turn. But on reflection, I thought I would probably enjoy a trip to Suffolk with Ray, and it sounded as though Jeremy, his supplier, might have some stuff which I could never source locally. That turned out to be right.

So I got up at 6.40 (early for me) and drove over to Ray's so we could leave his soon after 8.0, which we did. The roads between Derbyshire and East Suffolk are not good, but we took them and enjoyed chatting on the way. At the best of times it takes 4 1/2 to 5 hours. It did.

Ray was absolutely right about the woodyard. It's about 35 years since I drove from my (then) home in Suffolk to a traditional woodyard in Norfolk in a borrowed truck which broke down on the way back. (Another story). In the meantime most of those local, genuine, English hardwood dealing woodyards have disappeared.

This one had not survived. It was relatively new. Set up up by a sion of a woodman's family which had fallen apart. Jeremy knew what trees to buy and where, and Ray had been right, he had some wonderful timber. At a personal level, Jeremy makes furniture, particularly chairs to a local design. So he had a personal affinity with workers in wood, and could totally understand what cuts we needed for our personal specialisms. So when Ray wanted 'knobbly bits' for his castles, or I wanted figured birch in a 3 inch plank for turning, he totally understood what we were doing and could provide us with the wherewithal.

So I spent more than I had intended, and came back with more than I could have hoped for.

Except the journey back was horrendous. An accident on the M1 going north prolonged our trip by another hour. We didn't get back to Ray's until nearly 12 hours after we had left. But Ray drove like a Stakhanovite ,waving two fingers (one if you are of Middle Eastern extraction) at any physical limitations age may bring. I hope Kath won't blame me for any after effects.

See you tomorrow Ray!

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