QUIVIS - whoever, whatever.

What Became of Kilvert's Pips

Click HERE to find out.

Goldfish bowl The sequence of images in the link above shows how to turn a wooden bowl from green apple. ‘Green apple’ refers to the wood rather than the fruit, ‘green’ timber in general being timber that is unseasoned and wet. Turning such wood is referred to as green turning. When fresh felled, apple is VERY wet; so wet that water is thrown from the turning wood in a fine, refreshing, mildly-scented, drizzle in sufficient quantities to soak the turner. Green apple is heavier than water as the image at right attests as well as giving a different perspective on gold-fish bowls. Yes, that's a real picture and no, I did not nail a piece of lead to the bottoms of the bowls!

Newton's Farm The images arose out of my acquiring some twenty tons of apple logs from an old cider orchard on Newton's Farm in Herefordshire. This has no connection with Sir Isaac that I know of, in spite of the apple theme. The orchard was cleared of all its fine old trees in favour of planting small, nondescript modern, easy picking things by a commercial maker of chemical beverages, who shall remain nameless, which has the effrontery to market the stuff as cider. Converting twenty tons of timber into bowls leaves one with plenty of time for thought. The images in the slideshow resulted. The butts in the foreground of the image at left of the vandalised orchard were over 4 feet in diameter.

The twenty tons I acquired was but a tiny portion of the timber that was felled. From memory [this was back in the early 1990s] I'd say I took less than ten percent. Some of the remainder was sold as firewood by the owner; the bulk went up in a massive conflagration - not green at all! Living, as I now do, in Somerset, another area famous for its cider, I have been struck by how small the local apple trees are in comparison with those I got from Newton's Farm and elsewhere in Herefordshire. Either apple trees grow bigger in Herefordshire or all the big old trees in Somerset have vanished. Apple wood has very limited use. Even as firewood, it requires twice as long as any other timber to dry adequately on account of its initial wetness and its density. The latter contributes to its propensity to split during drying; even sawn into planks it tends to shake and split. Once dry, it is very, very hard indeed. I know of only one commercial use for apple apart from small turnery; it was cleft and used as inserted teeth in milling cog-wheels where, because of its hardness, it lasted well when alternated with metal cogs. Metal on metal cogs can produce sparks; especially undesirable when milling gunpowder, but generally undesirable as many substances reduced to fine powder are potentially explosive as the wood-burner in my workshop could testify.

Rev. Francis Kilvert The Rev. Francis Kilvert (1840-1879) had the cure of souls in three parishes on the English-Welsh border in the second half of thre 19th century. He was an inveterate walker who recorded his extensive peregrinations in diaries kept between 1870-79. Some of them have been published - much emended. Parts of them were destroyed by his family for reasons that are not hard to guess. Some passages from the published diaries suggest that the Rev. Francis Kilvert, in common with another celebrated reverend gentleman, shared a fascination with small girls that today would probably have clapped in the tolbooth or worse. See here for one rather charitable view of Kilvert, although Mr Corfield clearly deserved horse-whipping.

Kilvert's Diary is worth reading for other reasons. Begun in 1870, it records, in evocative and humorous detail, the people and places he visited on his extensive parochial wanderings and opens a window on the wretched condition of the rural poor in Victorian Herefordshire. Among many places he visited was Kinnersley, the location of Newton's Farm, which is only some five miles from two of the places where Kilvert lived, Bredwardine and Clyro. Kilvert died in 1879 aged 38. Among the mourners was his wife of five weeks.

Just below grew an apple tree whose bright red boughs and shoots stood up in beautiful contrast against the light blue mountain and grey town and the blue valley.

And the grey tower of Clyro Church peeped through the bright red branches. From the stile on the top of the hill the sun set in a crimson ball behind the hills or rather into a dense ball of dark blue vapour. In the afterglow scarlet feathers floated in the sky, and the gorse deepened into a richer red gold in the sunset light.

Did he pick such an apple and eat it one day on his way to Kinnersley? It struck me as not beyond the realms of possibility that some of the trees at Newton's Farm could trace their lineage to the said Rev's pips. Unlikely, admittedly - but it all helped pass the time at the time.

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