A prefestive mood

It’s not yet 5am 7JUN2017. All is silent save for the rain split splotting on the roof of my digs. I am in a hut called Nonesuch and am eagerly awaiting our next serving of Greenwood (pre)Fest.

I arrived from Boston off the bus and into the care of the ever durable Mike who then took me and another traveller down ever leafier and narrower roads until all of  sudden we were here amongst it all. What a place. Greenwood Fest among the very green woods. Undulating ground, rat run of tracks and little wooden cabins dotted throughout. It is rustic, spare, almost rough but comfortable and perfectly adequate for the event and no doubt the odd types that attend such a thing. It’s cold and wet and the fallen leaves from autumn have yet to completely return to the soil. They make a felted foliage mâché as they meld with the sandy mud. The wet muffles the sound of our footsteps as we tramp about the place with more than a little reverence. I am just a little in awe. Bloody hell, I am 17000km from home in an alien landscape. I know nothing about these plants, birds, soil fungi. It is nothing like the bush, yet it is the same. Canopy, mid-story, groundcovers etc. nature has her order.

Welcome! Welcome! New people to me one and all but some familiar faces. Where do I know him from, oh yes. Internet. Ah look there’s the bowl carver, and there goes the dread locked spoon carving pixie. Hey there’s the big man with the beard who transports us back to the 17th C with his green oak furniture and that other big bloke shambling past who has the nom de craft of The Spoon. To quote Peter Follansbee it’s as if the internet has come to life.

As the ranks swell and new friendships are made or old ones rekindled the dinner bell goes and we file in to feed . “Where you from?”

munch slurp chew

Sydney, Australia .



“All that way for this!?!?”



Speeches are made as last slops of soup are sopped up with bread and then it’s on. I pick up my kit and trundle off down Ampleforth dance hall to meet the newly published Barnaby Carder, known to most as Barn the Spoon. With ten others we fiddle about with birch, axe and knife and before we knew it it was dinner time. Time flies when you’re having fun. Lots to take in. And more today, starting with a bird watching walk at 0630hrs. This should help me to begin to understand the nature of this alien land.


…and here we are.

Here is 40 Berkeley in Boston. A cheap (just like me) hostel in The Back Bay area. I wonder if there is a front bay? Anyway, 24 hours after waving seeyalayder to my family I stepped out into overcast Boston MA. I find it a strange experience. It all seems very familiar yet I’ve never made footfall in this town. My first impressions are  positive, reminding me of Melbourne (Some Sydneysiders may scoff at this). My digs are basic, teetering toward spartan but they are perfectly adequate for my time here. The streets surrounding appear to be crawling with cafes, delis, etc so I shan’t starve. Markets on tomorrow just down the road. I hope to pick up a shirt to replace the one I ripped in transit. Still unsure how. I guess this means farewell to an old favourite and hello to a new one.

For me air travel is a weird experience. It is akin to time travel. You walk in the door, wait a bit and then walk out again into a completely different world. You are isolated from the journey, unlike driving or even going by train. Just like a lift only it goes horizontal as well as vertical and you get movies instead of Muzak.

Hmmmm… sleepy.  Big day tomorrow!

And off we go…

It would appear that the best way to make air travel appealing is to make the waiting not so appealing. I have the privilege of sitting for the next couple of hours waiting in the departure bit at Mascot as my trip to Plymouth becomes a reality. Like any shopping mall it is noisy here. As one with old ringing ears (too close to the speakers as a pub gig goer in my youth) I fear for the hearing of all staff in these places.

But enough about them. Today I do indeed venture forth on a pilgrimage of sorts and what better place for my destination than where the Pilgrims landed in 1620, Plymouth. Plymouth MA USA that is. Greenwood Fest awaits, (https://www.greenwoodfest.org/) six days of cleaving, riving, carving and gouging in the bush with a whole swag of other spoonerds from around the globe. The modern technology that allows me to write and send this around the world has also transported me back to the 17th century and introduced me to woodworking skills and techniques long long left behind in the modern work shop. I am hoping the upcoming event will help me get that workshop outside and among the trees where we can be closer to the source of the material I think we sometimes take for granted when handling those long straight and square board at our  bench or machine.

But that is a long time from now.  After a long flight it’s a couple of days in Boston and then into the bush. 90min before departure. Not long now (what’s 20 odd hours or so…?).