When we came to Demonsdale 23 years ago there were very few trees on what had been a working dairy farm. The previous owners (not farmers) had planted quite a few saplings, mainly along one bank. Amongst these was a horse chestnut which grew quickly, and , as chestnuts do, spread. After a few years we took to having lunch under its branches on hot summer days. In reality, those were few, but memorable.
The tree looked great, but it had an unfortunate habit of shedding branches. Not little ones either. Not arbitrarily. It needed wind, and full leaf, but big ones it did shed.
We stopped having lunch under it. Either the shade was too dense, or there were fewer hot summer days, but in any event we relocated to the lawn.
Then, about two and a half years ago in the autumn, there were strong winds down our valley, and in the morning half the tree was on the floor. We could have left the other half, but it was a mis-shapen half tree. So we got Christian to take the rest down. The grandchildren were mortified - no more conkers. But lots of wood.
I turned a whole series of bowls out of it whilst the wood was green. One large one in particular warped in an amazing manner morphing into an ovoid shape which was vertically as well as horizontally skewed. But the rim was ragged and an unattractive split opened up. So I carved it into a harmonious shape, and drilled a hole through the side to enhance its sculptural appearance. I was so pleased with it, I put a picture of it on my business card.
The annual Peak District Artisans exhibition at Chatsworth opened last
Friday, and I chose to make the sculpted chestnut bowl the centrepiece of my display. This morning someone bought it. I'm sorry in a way to see it go. And Jacky my wife is even sorrier. I think she would have liked us to keep it. But we have far too many bowls anyway. So I'm glad, that someone really appreciated it. I hope the person (I think it was a lady) continues to get pleasure from it for a long time to come. And I hope she reads this and discovers that it was a very special bowl for me too.