Saturday, 30 June 2012

My kingdom for a horse

I’m only now beginning to realise just how labour intensive it really is making a rocking horse. Steve and Bea (my tutors and mentors) from Tetbury Rocking Horse Works have been in the business for 30 years and are, very kindly and patiently, passing on their skill and knowledge to me. They make it all look soooo easy. I’ve tried to document the days I’ve spent so far putting this knowledge and skill into practice, so here goes....

Step 1: Using the template, mark up in pencil the outline of the components for each horse....head, legs and body. On the head, using a bradawl, mark eye and bit positions where indicated. Note the letter ‘A’ on the plank - this is the size horse I’m have to match all the body parts or you’ll be in trouble!
Step 2: Using a power drill create a cylindrical hole at the bit position.
Step 3: Note how the template is positioned to give minimum wastage when cutting multiples for a large order.
Step 4: Using a bandsaw I cut the outline of the horse head. Steve drew gently curving lines on waste bits of wood for me to practice on. Power tools like this are completely foreign to me. ‘Imagine you’re driving a car and you’re approaching a bend.’ Steve said, ‘You don’t drive right up to the bend, then turn. Start going into the curve before you reach it.’
It took me all morning practicing before the eureka moment kicked in and I stopped going ‘off line’ as Steve called it.
Step 5: Completing cutting the mouth out.
Steps 6, 7 and 8: We move onto the jigsaw for the tighter curves under the horse’s chin. First I used the power drill again to make a cylindrical hole between the neck and jaw as the curve there was just too tight even for the jigsaw. Then I clamped the head to a base to leave both hands free to guide the saw round (what were to me) complex curves. Again Steve set me to practice on waste bits of wood with ‘S’ shaped curves drawn on them. This time it felt much more natural since I’d practiced so much with the bandsaw.
Steps 9, 10 and 11: Shows how the horse’s head looks now the mouth/jaw is complete.
Step 12: The legs have been cut out using the same tools I’ve used on the head. The top of the legs have been cut at an angle of 15 degrees as have the indents to fix the legs to on the body base. This will create the ‘splayed’ legs that will fit over the ‘rocker’. Note the F(ront) and R(ear) pencilled onto the body base. It’s terribly easy to attach the wrong legs to the wrong end! I’ve marked in pencil the screw hole positions on the legs -I checked and re-checked the screw positions and still nearly attached a leg incorrectly. Front and back can look awfully similar to the uninitiated.
Step 13: Clamp the base to a workbench.  Drill screw holes at a 15 degree angle (parallel to the cut of the leg) in position and paint the inside and top of the leg with PVA glue. Position the leg to the body base and screw in tightly. This requires some pressure and the screwhead needs to be indented into the wood (not stand proud at all).
Step 14: All four legs correct and in place. 
Step 15: You can see the splay of the legs at this angle. I’m so proud, yet we’ve barely started.

Future stages will be posted as each part of the project is completed, but for now I need to get rid of a ton of sawdust and shavings that seem to have formed a rather fetching hoodie that goes right down to cover my boots!

Thursday, 7 June 2012

The Big Lunch

Well it may not have been the sunniest day of the year but we had a massive turnout for the Big Lunch here in Amberley. Even if not everyone in our village was interested in the Jubilee, this was a rare chance to meet the neighbours and for the kids to play together in a safe environment which really helps to build community spirit. Just in case the weather was unkind the lunch itself was moved from the school green to inside Trinity Church (upstairs and down) - a very wise move as it turned out. Coronation Chicken and trifle were on the 'set menu' and no amount of rain could dampen everyone's spirits. Congratulations to all those who put in so much time and effort to make this the huge success it was. Our thanks also to Nicholas Bechgaard for all the wonderful photos shown here. Have a look at our amazing Diamond Jubilee party at the link below. 

 click here for link to event Amberley Big Lunch

Friday, 1 June 2012

Celebrating in style

Our Summer issue is out now and wouldn't you know it - just because we've got a feature on cooling summer drinks, the sunshine's disappeared! But everywhere I look there's bunting and balloons and people getting ready for the Jubilee matter what the weather, let's celebrate our local communities getting together and letting rip! (See below for details)


Stroud Valleys Artspace, Stroud Disco Sucks underground disco music plus lights, smoke and patriotic projections. 9pm to 3am. Tickets £5 from Trading Post or £7 on the night.
Whiteshill Playing Field music, attractions, stalls, competitions, barbecue and more. Teas, cakes and icecreams available at the village shop. 2pm to 6pm.
Frampton-on-Severn Street Party Phillimore Gardens. 2pm to 8pm.
King's Head Kingscourt, Rodborough live music featuring Four King Hell, Flee, Rollin' Sixes, Lost Monkey and Three Kicks. Entry free. From 6pm.
The George, Newmarket, Nailsworth right Royal Jubilee cabaret featuring John Broomhall at the piano with Andy Janik singing songs from 50s. Free entry. 8.30pm.
St Joseph's Catholic Primary School, Nympsfield Jubilee Fair. Fairground rides, Punch and Judy, stalls with a Royal theme. 9am to 3pm.


Minchinhampton High Street Jubilee street party with two life-size cardboard cut-out figures of the Queen. Bring and share lunch, activities, noon to 3pm. Ceilidh with fireworks finale, 7pm.
Villa Field, off Selsley Road, Woodchester Big Lunch parish picnic. Bring your own picnic, with games and live 50s music. Children's king and queen parade and adults can dress up in 50s style. Bring-and-buy cake stall and raffle. Family games and a tug of war between North and South Woodchester. Live music from two bands playing tunes from the 50s and later. Diamond Queen steam engine and showman's caravan. Noon to 4pm.
Under the Edge Arts, Chipping Hall, Wotton-under-Edge drop-in children's craft workshop. £3 per child. 10am to 4pm.
Holy Trinity Church, Amberley Celebration Service, 10am. Followed by The Big Lunch on the school green, noon. £6, £3 children.
Uley Village Hall Rock'n'Roll evening with Rhythm Slicks and DJ Simon Flintstone. Bar, 50s dress optional. Prize for best dressed male and female. 7.30pm. £9.


King's Stanley Jubilee Celebration. Starts Marling Close with a pageant by Stanley Players, then grand procession to the church, followed by a children's fancy dress competition. Bouncy castle, barbecue, beer tent, WI refreshments, King's Stanley Band, stalls and games. 2pm to 5pm.
St Mary's Church, Fretherne Grand Plant Sale and Crafts Fair. Plants, locally-produced jewellery, ceramics, turned wooden bowls and stained glass lanterns, wooden toys, handmade chocolates, local honey, farmhouse icecream and cheese. 10am to 4pm.
Conygres, Wotton-under-Edge Diamond Jubilee music festival. Bar and BBQ. Tickets from Ladies' Circle, Bear Street Garage, Paper and Cotton. 6pm to 10pm.
Eastington Community Centre and Owen Harris Memorial Ground Royal Diamond Jubilee Fun Day. Noon until 5pm.
Bisley Soapbox Derby from High Street to the wells. 10am to noon.
Arkell Centre, Nailsworth Jubilee Fun Day. Unicycling, stilt-walking, magic show, balloons and music. Burgers, hot dogs and icecreams. Noon to 2pm. Afternoon tea and cakes, 3pm.
1 Marling Close, Amberley Royal Garden Party. 2.30pm to 4.30pm.


Box Village Green Diamond Jubilee Celebrations. 4pm.
Stratford Park, Stroud Picnic Party in the Park. Bring a picnic and join the old fashioned fun and games outside the Museum in the Park. 11am to 4pm.
Throughout Jubilee weekend:
Nailsworth Garden Centre tips on Jubilee planting with patriotic baskets, tubs and containers.
National Arboretum, Westonbirt bring a picnic and bunting. Fun activity sheets for children. £8, £7 concessions, £3 under-fives. 8am to 8pm.
Under the Edge Arts, Chipping Hall, Wotton-under-Edge Jubilee Art Exhibition from Saturday to Tuesday. Work by pupils from local schools depicting themes from the past 60 years.
Cromhall Treasure Hunt. £5 a team.
Woodchester Mansion open Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Regular guided tours and tea shop will be open. On Tuesday, traditional English teas will be served in the drawing room. Minibus from car park.
All Saints' Chruch, Bisley display of flowers, arts and crafts and memorabilia from Coronation.