Saturday, 17 August 2013

Post 6, Tinsmithing

 Tinkering or tinsmithing

Tinsmithing is one of the ways I can earn a living. It is a traditional craft of the road. In the picture I am making a small bucket out of some galvanized sheet that I unscrewed from the back of a scrap tumble dryer and a cooker. Sometimes I show other people how to make a small item, and in the picture below my friend John has made a copper candle sconce out of a scrap immersion heater. He worked hard on this and was really pleased with it. While he was stopped with me he cooked some lovely meals and it was a fair exchange.

 In this picture my friend Gabrielle is learning how to make copper rivets, so that she can rivet a handle on.
 Here Gabrielle is finishing off her candle holder. We were stopped by a lovely old-fashioned hay stack. The little girl was holding her pet hen, (called Henrietta, I think).
 Gabrielle is making the handle using the stake for folding.
Here is a picture of the tools I use for tinsmithing. It's really satisfying making items to sell on the way, and people come over to watch and like to buy what I've made.

Post 5, Scotland

I love travelling in the Scottish borders, it's really nice countryside and the people are very friendly. I stopped in Kirk Yetholm, (which was a Gypsy village, in the old days), then I headed for Jedburgh and then Hawick. I busked with my bagpipes in both these towns and got a good reception.
This is typical countryside in this area, nice and wild and remote. The midges are very aggressive and torment the horses. Midges cannot fly in wind of more than 5 miles an hour so I headed down to the coast, where the sea breeze keeps the midges away. At this time of year the Cleggs, (horse-flies) are bad too.

Stopped on the river Nith a few miles south of Dumfries. 

A lovely romantic stop at New Abbey. 

Followed the coast round to Auchencairn and then Kirkudbright where I stopped on Doon Bay. This area was a traditional stopping place for Scottish travellers in the past.

 Stopped on the shore at Carrick. This is a beautiful stop. I have a childs fishing net that I bought for 99p and  I used it to catch prawns as the tide came in. They were delicious. I also had a good swim in the sea. While I have been travelling around the coast I've been swimming as much as I can. I have also swum the horses in the sea, which they love.
 On the shore near Port William.
 I went and stayed with my friends Jim and Julie near Port Patrick. They travel to Appleby horse fair each year. During the holiday season they work a horse on the sea front giving rides to holiday makers.
I enjoyed seeing Stranraer pipe band marching through Port Patrick. 

 I got my cob reshod at Jim's by Jimmy Stewart the farrier. Another of Jimmy's clients had given him a bottle of whiskey, and we sat around the fire that evening drinking and chatting and I played the pipes. I felt a bit dehydrated the next morning but I like to join in with the customs of the people I'm with if I can and had no regrets.
The Rhins of Galloway

 Watched a seal fishing.
 Cattle came down in the morning and ate sea weed.
 Played my pipes in old tower on end of quay at Port Logan, sounded good.
 Great country.

Post 4, Over the Pennines to Northumberland

 Melmerby is a lovely place to stop for a night. It's nice to be able to sit in the pub, looking out over the wagons and horses and have a drink with the lads on their way back to Scotland and Newcastle. I travelled over the Pennines to Alston the next day and about 20 other wagons were also headed in the same direction.
It's a long climb up the pass but not too hard on the horses. There is a cafe at the top and a kind lady bought me a hot chocolate and a cake, while I let the horses eat some grass. The lady had seen that it was awkward for me to go into the cafe, as there wasn't anywhere to tie the horses. When travelling, people are often kind and considerate, but exceptionally, some people are very mean-spirited. Sometimes petty officials try and impose their mean-spiritedness and small-mindedness over me. Last year I pulled out of Appleby, early on the Sunday evening to a verge near Brampton, the police put signs up everywhere saying, "No Stopping" this is inconvenient for people travelling with horses. Just before dusk a policeman pulled up and told me I couldn't stop there. I told him that the sun was just going down and I couldn't move as I didn't have any lights. He replied, "If you're still here in half an hour I'll give you a fixed penalty notice!" I said to him, "Well officer, how much is the fixed penalty?" He replied, "£30", so I said, "Well in that case officer, I might as well stay," he drove off and never came back.

 Stopped at the Cart's Bog.
 Stopped in the park at Hexham with Mala and Liam. All the other wagons had gone their different ways.
On my own again at Cresswell, on the Northumberland coast. Coal washes up on the beaches around here and you can collect it and use it as fuel. There is an interesting film on ( about collecting sea coal with horses and carts. At one time 80 horses and carts were working on the beaches near here. This was a big coal mining area. An old man came and talked to me and told me that in the 1970's he'd worked down the mine with a spotted pony just like my one.
The next day I went to Amble and stopped by the docks on some nice grass. Somebody rang the council to complain and two traveller liaison officers came to see me. They were very friendly and gave me a leaflet about unauthorized stopping places in Northumberland. They also asked me if I needed anything, like a doctor. The leaflet is an Unauthorized Encampment Guide. It starts by saying, " Gypsys and travellers have been part of the community in Northumberland for hundreds of years. Northumberland County Council respects the right and choice of travellers to live a nomadic way of life... [They] have an agreed protocol for managing unauthorized encampments that reflects government guidance. .

 The next day I stopped by the sand dunes near Bamburgh Castle. There were lots of orchids.
Had a lovely walk and paddle on the beach, sometimes my feet get a bit tired and it does them good to have a paddle.
 Sunset over the castle.
 By Saturday 22nd of June, I'd done 758 miles since leaving Cornwall. The hills in the background of this picture are the Cheviots. Really nice countryside. Belles shoes were worn out, it was a hot sunny day and I knew I'd have to re-shoe her myself. I wasn't looking forward to this but there was nothing else to be done. It's very difficult to find a farrier sometimes and they are often too busy to come out. I had a set of spare shoes for her and they luckily didn't need much shaping, I just had to open the heels out a bit with the pinchers, so I was able to do it without heating the shoes up. It took me an hour and a half but I wasn't in any hurry. I was pleased with the result but I was hot and exhausted by the time I'd finished, and lay down on the bed for 3 hours to rest (I had already walked 9 miles).

Friday, 16 August 2013

Post 3, Yorkshire Dales and Appleby Horse Fair

Sometimes it's difficult to bang the tether pins in deep enough because of rocky ground and the horses pull up their pins. Banana had got loose early in the morning and was wandering around the village green, dragging her chain, she hadn't been taken by aliens, but quite a good crop circle. 

Pen-y-ghent. This photo was taken at an altitude of 436 meters (1430ft) it's great being up high, but the weather can quickly change for the worse and there is very little firewood to burn, so I didn't hang around up here.
 I pulled down to Settle and did some shopping. People often ask me how I get my shopping, well I just go into a town and stop outside a shop or supermarket, just like anyone else. In theory I could get a supermarket to deliver my shopping by ordering it online, but I've never done it. I don't think it would be a problem though. I had just pulled onto this verge and tethered my horses, when some more people on the way to Appleby turned up. The horses all get excited, especially if there is a stallion, but they soon settle down.
29th May, 557 miles from Cornwall. The horses are all pegged out and enjoying the lush spring grass. The weather turned grey, wet and windy. I went to the coal merchant and bought a pail of coal for the stove and monged (begged) an old pallet, which I broke up with my sledge hammer, to use as kindling on the stove. I rested here for a couple of days and got on with painting some scrolls on the wagon and mended some harness. I also chatted to my new neighbours and sold one of them an old solar panel I no longer needed. When I'm stopped with other people it's always a good opportunity to chop or trade horses, harness or even the wagon.
My neighbours set off the next morning, a handy little cob pulling a nice trolly. I stopped a couple of days and did some tin smithing and made some items to sell. The horses had a good rest. I went up passed the famous Ribble Viaduct and almost up to the top of Newby Pass, then I turned left towards Dent. At Lea Yeat I turned right up the old coal road, this is a steep climb of  about a 1000 feet in a mile, and to an altitude of 1761 ft (537 meters). With 2 powerful cobs this is achieveable, with just one cob it would be a struggle. Before I  got to this hill the horses had already done about 15 miles. Once at the top of the hill it was only a couple of miles to the Moorcock Inn. I was glad to get there. Several other wagons were already there and the people were friendly and I tethered my horses in the field behind the pub. There is a real sense of achievement and elation when you have completed a tough journey or got up a bad hill. Only experience  guides you as to what your horses are capable of. It's only by testing yourself and your horses that you really find out what's possible. The hills I'd traversed over the last few days would be too extreme for most people. Many horses are not really fit and in hard enough condition, and it would be unfair to ask them to work so hard, but my horses are very fit.
2nd June, 584 miles,The Moorcock Inn, a nice friendly pub. 

The next day headed north east to Kirkby Stephen. This is stunning countryside and lovely travelling. Went on to Soulby, which is a nice friendly village. Several other wagons already there, I pulled on to some good grass. When the horses are working so hard they need good grass with plenty of clover. Some travellers tried to have a deal with me for Banana and Belle but they were unwilling to offer the money I wanted.
Yoking up the horses in the morning at Soulby.
Other wagons at Soulby.
Banana away (sold) looks a bit odd without her.

On the way into Appleby I sold Banana the Haflinger, for a mutually acceptable price. She had worked hard and done her best, but I cannot have too many horses and the whole reason for going to horse fairs is to trade horses. I had got her in February and had got her much better trained in that time, and did the best I could. Now she was away, it would be much easier for me. 

Going along the flash road to the fair.

On Wednesday 5th June I drove over to Appleby and then out to Brampton.The fair does not officially start until Thursday and you are not allowed to pull onto the fair until 4am in the morning. This seems an eccentric time of day to me and I have listened to travellers yoking up at 3:30am and cursing and queuing in traffic along the flash road, so they can get their favourite pitch. I'm much happier pulling in about 10am and taking my chances. 
Appleby is a good time to chat to old friends.
                 Tam                                        Jim                                            Jock
 Tarateeno and Jock grooming.
Appleby is a great place to see lots of wagons. 

The weather was perfect and Appleby was really good this year, very friendly and mellow I really enjoyed seeing old friends and making new ones. Managed to sell some old harness and make a profit on it.
 There are cobs everywhere 

Ponies have to be tried.
By Monday many people have left.

A bit of rubbish and litter is left but within an hour most of it in this field had been cleared up. A lot of the rubbish is generated by market traders and day visitors to the fair who are not Gypsys or travellers, and the mess is comparable to any rock festival, motor rally etc. The media often likes to focus on litter at Appleby because it is advantageous for them to negatively stereotype Gypsys and travellers.