Macaroons and strawberry tarts

A belated birthday afternoon tea

Welcome to this week’s missive on a beautiful sunny Sunday.


Last weekend, as the newsletter landed in your Inbox, Chris and I were dismantling various tools and machinery that he kept at his Uncle’s capacious shop. Chris is a huge horror film fan and this back room workshop was dedicated to his home haunting creations. After he lost his sight Chris went through several years of anxiety and other side effects of going blind. His Saturday visits to his Uncle’s shop were therapeutic and an opportunity to spend time with family. Saturdays had a rhythm and routine. Shared tea breaks with Tunnocks and chats. Another downing of tools at lunchtime.

It’s going to take several more trips before everything is boxed up. Apart from this Sunday, when we have a bed to dismantle, you’ll be able to find us there for the next few weekends.

In normal circumstances, we would have been travelling the length and breadth of the country this year, visiting various woodturning clubs, spending weekends at shows or at tool and machinery shops. All of these bookings were gradually cancelled as the year progressed. In their place the interactive remote demonstration has emerged. Known as IRDs, these are demos provided from the comfort of the maker’s own workshop. Often broadcast via Zoom or, occasionally StreamYard, they’re the next best thing to an in person demonstration.

We set up ours on a shoestring. Some makers have invested thousands in new tech. We use a combination of an iPad, two iPhones, my iMac and a video camera (as a contingency). We use the iPad and iPhones for the camera angles. An overhead shot, a front facing view and a ‘tailstock’ view which looks straight along the lathe. I moderate the comments on my iMac, relay questions to Chris and switch the camera angles.

We also bought some splitters to avoid audio feedback. For some reason, with StreamYard, you can’t completely mute an iPhone but by plugging in a headset you can. The splitter also enables us to keep the tech on charge. We added some new clamps to our kit and a ring light. These will double up for any filming I want to do.

On Tuesday we did the last remote demonstration of the year. It went really well and, once Chris’ new workshop is set up (probably sometime in the New Year), we’ll be doing more. By the time we had finished, wound down for an hour with All Creatures Great and Small, it was 1 a.m. when we got to bed. But, we didn’t have to drive home which was a bonus!

We share the Zoom replay with the woodturning club and the video camera backup footage. Whatever piece Chris created as part of the demo is also posted to the club.


Chris had a belated 50th birthday afternoon tea celebration on Thursday. A gift voucher from last year, and one we’ve only just been able to use. We had a nice drive up to Penrith and enjoyed a few chilled out hours, people watching and looking out on to the view of the Cumbrian hills.


Our packing boxes have now arrived and we’ll be starting to fill them in earnest from this coming week - we don’t yet have a confirmed date but are hoping it will be towards the end of October. I’m still working to my masterplan. ClickUp is helping enormously. I can’t sing its praises enough. It really is my mission control.

One of my happy discoveries this week has been Sam West reading poetry. I think I’m a bit late to the pandemic party but there is quite a collection of poems available to listen to on SoundCloud. This is one of my favourites!

And, of course, we are loving Sam in All Creatures Great and Small. Definitely different to the original series but equally as enthralling.

Until next time, thank you for reading.

Nicola