2 Years Ago Today – First Spoon of 52

2 years ago today I had just completed my first wooden spoon of the year. It was the start of a slightly bonkers challenge for 2015 where I decided to carve a spoon, using only hand tools, for each week of the year. I completed the challenge and ended up giving a handful away, keeping my favourites, and selling about 35 of them – donating half of the money towards the charities I supported whilst swimming the Thames. To see all the spoons take a look here.

So, if you bought one of the spoons, or gave it to someone as a present it is about time it needs an oil. What if I don’t have any special oil I hear you ask? Not a problem, just use regular sunflower oil. Apply it to some paper or a cloth and wipe onto the spoon. This will keep the wood nice and supple and stop it from drying out. Don’t use olive oil though, it will make it smelly.

And don’t oil if you bought:
Spoon 23 – The Paella Server (Just oil the unpatterned side) – Anna Hobbiss
Spoon 34 – The Egg and Spoon Race Spoon (Just oil the spoon bowl) – Antony Joury

Also, I would love to see some pictures of the spoons in use, or wherever they may live now  Happy Spooning!


What Does Adventure Mean to Me?

IMG_7222As part of a recent grant application I was asked to describe What Does Adventure Mean to You? Unfortunately my application was unsuccessful, but by answering the question it allowed me to express something I have often only thought about. So, here in a few paragraphs is my go at an explanation.

Adventure to me is a life choice, a state of mind, one where you choose to challenge yourself, scare yourself, try new things, make new friends, visit new places and get outdoors.

At a personal level the word adventure haunts my every being, I associate it with my greatest fear, a fear of getting old and regretting what I have not done, a fear of lying on my deathbed longing for a richer life. One where I chased adventure rather than money and memories rather than mortgages.

It is a medium in which you can do things that seem crazy in the modern world, where experiences are your friends, long distances underfoot are your meditations, and random encounters and acts of kindness are your lifeblood. They are pure moments devoid of modern day money worries about the bills you have to pay.

In its purest form it is a pining desire to return to a more primitive way. A yearning to be more connected with the world, the landscapes and its people. A deep primitive force that flows through me, begging my body to take a step off the beaten track and explore.

A question like this is so different for each individual, and I wonder what are the universal aspects of adventure that everyone can agree on…?

Most days I am thinking about my upcoming endurance challenge and in many respects it is scaring the hell out of me. But, this is one of the reasons I decided to do it. This post was going to be about what scares me, but I thought my feelings on adventure would act as a good start, before going into detail on my fears about swimming the Thames in a later post.


IWG Exped 05: Conservation Trip – Jungfruskär Island, Finnish Archipelago


This is one of two trip reports that I did not get round to publishing from my time training in Finland. In May 2015, we spent a week on Jungfruskär Island, which is situated in the archipelagos to the south west of Finland. We were here to do some conservation work and study the local flora and fauna. The college has a deal with the Forest and Parks service that allows the class to stay on the island and use the facilities in return for doing some conservation work.

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December Microadventure – In The Back Garden – And Yearly Round-Up


My December Microadventure was by far the least glamorous. It was nearing the end of the year, and rather than walking to a nearby field or wood, I, for some reason chose to sleep in the back garden of my family home. I guess all great adventures start with your friend’s in your garden when you’re a child, where you spend hours putting up your Dad’s mould encrusted tent, filling it with duvets and eventually falling asleep to ghost stories and gurgles from bellyfulls of sugary snacks you’d spent the previous week hording.

This time I had no tent, no friend and no sweets. I could have just stayed in my bed, but where is the fun in that? My mattress was replaced with a couple of patio furniture pillows on top of a roll mat, my duvet was replaced with a sleeping bag, my tent with a bivvy bag. But, even though slightly mad, I was looking forward to it.

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52 Spoons – Making a Spoon for Each Week of 2015 – Project Round up

looking up dark to white

A few weeks ago I completed my New Year’s Resolution for 2015 – to make a spoon for each week of the year. This was by far the best new year’s resolution I had ever done. I can’t even remember any of the previous ones.

I had carved around 3-4 spoons before starting this project, so I knew the basics, but I was still a novice. I made all the spoons using hand tools only – an axe, a carving knife, a hook knife, some chisels, sand paper and oils. I did this because I wanted to improve my knife skills and wood working ability, it meant I could work on the project wherever I was and partly because I didn’t have access to any machinery or power tools.

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Spoon 52 of 52 – The Stirring Spoon from An Old Bench


Spoon 52! I made this spoon this morning, just about managing to finish my weekly challenge for 2015. I can’t quite believe I managed to keep it up for so long. I will do a round up of all the spoons and my thoughts about making them and what I have learnt in a separate post… Mainly because I am about to hop on a train and wanted to post this one before the end of the year.

Whilst making Spoon 50 and 51 a friend of mine paid me a visit, and made his very first spoon. I gave him a bit of wood I found in my mum’s shed, it looked like it once had a former life as a bench of some sort. I was impressed with the finish on the wood, it was black with age and looked as if it had been burnt. So I decided to use another bit of this bench to make my final spoon. A straight edged, un-assuming spoon.

That’s it folks! I need to think of something to do for next year now…

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Spoon 51 of 52 – The Big Knobbed Little Scoop in Spruce


I collected this bit of spruce whilst doing the Bear Ski in Northern Finland earlier this year. The wood was laden with resin which smelt amazing, but made the wood tricky to carve and sand. I made this alongside spoon 50 yesterday and my hands feel sore today.

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Spoon 50 of 52 – The Serving Spoon in Cherry


Half a century of spoons! Never thought I would be saying that. Made this one yesterday from a bit of cherry my granddad gave me earlier in the year. Beautiful wood. After sanding and oiling the colour in the wood really started to show. I made a little finger / thumb holder in the side for no real reason other than I liked the way it looked.

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Spoon 49 of 52 – The Double Ended Leaf-like Spoon in Oak


This spoon is made from a bit of oak I found in my living room a few months ago. How it got there I do not know, but it did and now it is a spoon. I used my foldable saw to help with the roughing out of the spoon rather than doing it all with the axe for a change. Mainly because I didn’t have a chopping block to use.

It is ridiculously thin, the handle is bendy and it should probably be called the one use spoon as it will probably snap the first time someone uses it. It wasn’t too bad to carve even though there were some small tricky sections. I should have hollowed out the scoops at the start of the whittling process as it was bloody tricky with such a thin handle. 3 to go and only 2 days to make them!

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Hitchhiking from Helsinki to London


“If You Know Where To Look You Can Go With A Penny Around The World”

Boz, Netherlands

I graduated as a Wilderness Guide in Finland around June 2015, and instead of getting a flight home, I decided to hitch-hike. Why? Not sure really, just fancied it. The thought scared me but also sounded like fun. 

I felt a real sense of freedom and tranquillity during this trip, which I think was due to the simplicity of my routine. I got up, had breakfast, packed my things, stood by the side of the road, stuck my thumb out, got some lifts, admired the changing landscapes, the changing faces, conversed in English / broken English / extremely broken German / hand gestures / sat in silence, thanked people for their time, looked at my map, ate some food, stuck my thumb out, philosophised about my situation at that present moment, then repeated this until I felt like it was time to find somewhere to sleep.

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