A few days ago I read a post on Yaakov’s blog, A New Breed of Woodworker, and posted a comment. The post stayed with me – it was about people coming to woodworking (as a trade) late in life and the loss of the family woodworking business where children follow in the footsteps of an artisan parent.
On Wednesday I picked up a hardback book in a discount bookshop and read the dust wrapper blurb. Oh! There in print was the sense of Yaakov’s post and my own subsequent comment. Odd.
I haven’t read fiction for a long time – having become weary with the “write-one-it-sells-so-write-another-dozen-in-the-same-line” state of much modern fiction, and getting tired of reading worthy books which seem to have been written simply to ensure a Booker nomination…Zadie Smith take a bow. Anyway…so for a long time I’ve read history, biography (of a certain type), obviously woody books, books on Englishness (don’t ask), and mainly travel/journey/life change books. Hundreds and hundreds of them going back several hundred years. Why do I mention this?
Because in a sense this book I was looking at, Utopian Dreams, was a kind of travel book. A journey. An exploration of an idea. So I bought it.
I came to read it today, and, is my habit I googled the author, Tobias Jones to get a feel for the writer before I began reading. And here’s where the internet begins to look like the glue that holds everything together…
Tobias Jones also wrote a book called The Dark Heart of Italy, right up my street…so it’s on my look-for-list already. He is also a journalist and writes for (amongst others) the Observer, where he has been writing about his year-old venture, namely the purchase one year ago of a 10-acre wood in Somerset to create a retreat for people seeking “a calm place to reflect”.
Okay, so the links are tenuous, at best they relate to travel writing, which interests me, woodland, which also interests me, the purchase of a woodland with the specific purpose of doing something different with his life, which also interests me (or would if he wrote a book about it. No bets on the outcome of this one!), but then…
An old article from the Guardian (here) details the first guest at the retreat…a chap by the name of Barn.
Now some of you may know, or know of, Barn. He is a travelling spoon maker who trained with Mike Abbott and now walks (mostly) around the country with an offical Peddlar’s Licence, making and selling spoons with the desire to share his love of greenwood craft, to show children (especially) that knives can be used for making useful and beautiful objects rather than violence and mayhem. Barn also recently stayed with Robin Wood for a while, and any number of other Woodys you may know. And Barn is…in the most real sense…an artisan. And the whole thing began on a Blog called…Artisan’s Call!
Now you know why I thought the whole thing was worthy of a blog post. I’ll let you know about the book once I’ve finished it.
You can follow Barn here…http://barnthespoon.blogspot.com/m