Saturday, 9 August 2014


The thistle flower heads are all beginning to die as the flowers turn to the light downy material that floats through the air on the breeze, sparking interest in the natural world for many children as they rush around trying to catch the "fairies" (I've done this plenty of times :) to make a wish on.

 But they are also useful for a different kind of sparking; they are excellent for use as a tinder. The down catches a spark easily and flares up quickly, perfect for use when trying to ignite coarser tinder materials, such as dried grass. I have also used it on the two rare occasions where I have got an ember from the bowdrill to enlarge the ember; some thistledown placed in the centre of the tinder bundle makes it so much easier to get a flame. This is just an example of how plants that are considered a bane on gardens by others can be useful for others.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Pineapple Weed

This is an interesting little plant. It's very common around where I live and can be boiled in water to make a very nice sweet-smelling drink, tasting similar to chamomile. Great for a quick hot drink while you're out, I find it almost everywhere.
Unmistakable yellow flowers and distinctive leaves
It has very distinctive leaves and flowers, making it very easy to identify. There are no petals on the flower heads, and the plant tends to grow in groups that can cover large areas. Mostly found by roadsides.  This lot in the picture cover half of my driveway.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Willow not-very-longbow

This bow was created as an experiment to see how good a material willow is for creating a bow. As you can see, it is not very large, compared to a full sized longbow, but has so far proven to be more powerful than first expected as I have lost several arrows from accidentally overshooting, which is why I am forced to use a bent garden bamboo cane as an arrow choice in this picture! Willow is renowned for it's flexibility, but I was not sure if it would be strong enough to work, so out came the hatchet and knife and I set about finding out.
In its full glory: You can see there is an uneven bend due to one side being slightly thicker than the other; however this does not greatly affect the performance of the bow
So far this bow has worked very well, despite the lack of fine detail (such as evening out the limbs and sanding) and the wood seems to be very strong, refusing to break even when I stretched it way further than I should have during floor tillering. It is easy to draw, meaning that I don't get tired when using it, while still proving able to send an arrow a fair distance. Overall, I'd say that willow is a good choice of material for a quick bow that works well and is not too difficult to make. I'd say this took just over half an hour to carve.