“Do you mind if I take a yew log from your woodpile?” asked the chirpy visitor at one of my garden open days last year. “Of course not, go ahead” I replied, thinking, but not saying, “Cheeky bugger”. Actually it’s nice to be asked. Open days are liberally interpreted as “open house” days as visitors, mainly of the fairer sex, fill their bags with cuttings, or worse. The truth is, I don’t mind at all; I take it as a compliment and no harm is done.
The ladies who filch cuttings never return with the fruits of their labour but the chirpy chappy did, at my Open day today, and I couldn’t have been more delighted. He had taken a yew log which was destined for the fire and turned it into the most beautiful bowl. Making logs into wooden objects is a bit like cooking it seems, in that you have to make sure the wood is properly seasoned. But seasoning in this case doesn’t mean the liberal application of salt and pepper, but involves allowing the wood to mature.
The chirpy chappy turned out to be Keith Howard, from Stockport, who carves wood for Beechwood Cancer Care for whom he raises thousands each year. His most popular carvings are little yew wood Christmas trees. I let him help himself to whatever he wanted from my wood pile today – I’d love to see one of his Christmas trees.