First find some wood… Then add a bit of love…

And so my mind merrily wanders towards making beautiful things from wood, I want people to love wooden items but also, so that they can share them with friends and family.

At this time of year (January), valentines day is just around the corner.  From looking around the workshop for wood to use, seeing items that people like and listening to ideas from friends and family… It’s time to put pencil to wood and wood to blade and await the smiles to appear on their faces.

After looking for wood to use, I find such wonderfully smelling: Oak; Cherry; Ash; Lime; Larch; Acacia and Western Red Cedar (WRC)…

Cue the music…

Firstly I must remind you of an admiration, maybe a fascination that sheep bring to me.  Please refrain from any welsh jokes at present, I will be finished soon enough.

After rattling my brain about the singular and plural definitions of sheep, it was decided to make a small flock of sheep. So these little lovelies are made from: Ash; Oak; Cherry and WRC.
I love ewe… WRC ewe

L – R Cherry ewe, Oak ewe, WRC ewe and Ash ewe
I love ewe



We then head towards some of the lovely, hearty items with hearts galore.
Love on the fridge

Making Love on the band saw
You pair of love birds

What are your thoughts on these??


Something you would like to give to a loved one??

If so stop by the GlastonBees website and get in touch… See you soon

Snow… On a positive note…

So the Met offices “red alert” of snow has came down upon us here in South East Wales.  The ladies of Gwenyn Mel 2 live near the workshop, so this morning I decided to walk the nearly 3 miles, almost all uphill to go and pay them a visit.

I left the house this morning, armed with snow boots, waterproofs, gloves, a very warm hat and a phone.

The streets were quiet from vehicles, instead people were walking, children and adults sledding  on every available slope, snowballs a-flying and everywhere looked so beautiful.

 

As my walk continued, I stopped and said hello to many people, I got a mixed bag of conversations from people, but quite a lot were negative about the snow.  The reasons for the negativity, were their inability to get to work, children at home when they should be in school, panic buying in shops, and that they must resort to walking.

This got me thinking… Why must there be so much negative thoughts?

On a positive note… everywhere and everything looks so different, so beautiful, it gives time for people to have time together where they would otherwise be in work or school.

The streets were reclaimed by pedestrians walking on the roads looking at their surroundings, some taking photos, smiling, walking their dogs, having fun, lots of people seemed to be more friendly talking to otherwise strangers (aka me).

So my journey continues onward and upwards towards the workshop, it begins snowing the further up the hill I go to where I reached the entrance.

The driveway was in at least 8 inches of fresh, unspoiled snow, and everywhere had a very natural feel.


I ignore and walk past the workshop and head straight to the honey bees. Hmmm, boy am I glad I came up when I did.  Their home is a National beehive (one I built naturally) and sits upon two wooden pallets to keep away from the ground.  Even so a snow drift had formed half the way up the brood chamber, that must be 18 inches to 2 foot off the ground.  So I cleared around the hive of all snow and can now only hope that the ladies are fine inside.


To help me out this week, I spoke to the local resident to ask them to check on the hive once or twice a day to clear the hive of any further snow.   I have faith that I will see the ladies again soon.

My return journey home was much the same as coming up, it was great to see so many people outside, dressed appropriately, making the most of the outdoors.  I popped into my mothers place of work and had a lovely cuppa tea made before heading back home.

All in all, it was a great few hours walk, talk to complete strangers, and time to appreciate the natural beauty that the snow has brought. 

Feeding the ladies of Gwenyn Mel 2

It’s time to check on the ladies of Gwenyn Mel 2 (Honey Bee 2).  So I paid the ladies a visit the other day to see how they’re coping with our mild, yet damp winter so far and to check on their food quantities.


This is a normal requirement for a lot of beekeepers alike to ensure that these hard working ladies have enough food to live on and if not, introduce some food into the hive to ensure they make the spring time ready for the next burst in natures life and reproduction cycle.

Honey bees who are being cared for by a beekeeper have been working in partnership through at least, the previous summer, maybe even spring or longer.  This usually means that they have spent considerable time working together to build up enough storage of food to ensure their survival through to the next spring.  

As for the ladies of Gwenyn Mel 2 and myself, our lives came together in 29th August 2012.  For those that are unaware, what this means is that, this is not a lot of time for them to produce enough honey for themselves in their own preparations for the looming cold and damp months (not much different to the summer of 2012 really). 

Due to the amount of rain that fell on this area from September on-wards to ensure that there are still lovely ladies in the hive come spring, I needed to introduce an emergency drastic feeding regime.  

I have been keeping a close eye on them, more so than I would normally as they live just metres away from my workshop.  Always managing to spend some quality time sitting near their home just watching their activity, for which time just seems to fly by as I get absorbed by their behaviour.

Because they have not had enough time or suitable weather conditions to build up their own supply, I have needed to step in and supplement them.  Some will agree with me for doing this but some others will not, stating that bees would not normally eat manufactured sugar so therefore I should not feed them and just let nature take its course. 

Well personally my plans are to feed them through this winter into spring (if needed) and allow them to build up their own stores next year ready for the winter of 2013, therefore living a more natural life.  I must point out that I’m not spending my time with Gwenyn Mel 2 so that I can take their honey, I will leave more than enough for them to survive on.  So hopefully next summer will bee a great one and they can bee as natural as possible.

So anyway, back to why I came here… to update you…  The food level for the ladies was low, so some fondant was needed.  Time to get onto the internet to learn how to make my very own fondant, which is needed this time of year.  There was a wonderfully explained video found on how to make fondant which meant I needed to put my chef hat on.  

After a few curious looks from onlookers (there’s just no trust when I’m in the kitchen) I proceeded to make a “slight mess” which was fully cleaned up afterwards, there now proudly sits, made by moi, 5 little trays with fondant in readyness to pass onto Gwenyn Mel 2 as and when required.

Yesterday I paid the ladies a visit and placed a small amount (no bigger than a 10 pence piece) of fondant in through the crown board to see their reaction.  Within seconds, 2 of the little darlings were busy with their tongues, within a minute, there were a few dozen over the fondant.

Woo hoo…  Success…

So as quick as my hands would allow me, I lifted the crown board enough to place the contents of 1 of the trays directly on top of them and lower the crown board again.  Staying briefly to watch the ladies and ensure that my home cooking was not a one off, I returned the roof and stepped back.

I think I will check on them quickly later in the week just to gauge how fast they eat this fondant as this is the first time that I have ever needed to do this as previously they were left copious amounts of their own food.

Take care and will speak to you soon   

P.S
If you are interested, there are a few photos of Gwenyn Mel 2 in their very own photo album which can be found on my facebook page by clicking HERE



Me, Myself and the Trees

Mentioned in the previous post were a little about trees…  With a want, or maybe even a need, for me to expand in exploring and sharing their beauty.

I wanted to keep you updated and have found that, everywhere I have travelled during this winter period I have not been able to walk or drive past woodland, copse or single trunk without admiring their presence and structure and wonder how I can celebrate them better.

So with just a spare piece of wood and a pencil in front of me I began to look at a the trees that were around me.  After applying pencil to wood and just feeling for what felt right my hand began to draw.  

Immediately after the first one was drawn it was sent to the scroll saw to see what I can do with a blade, it wasn’t long until it was finished.

Marvellous, beautiful, proud, yet they will be soooo much better next time…  Thoughts of other types of trees with their differing shapes and sizes were springing to the forefront of my mind.    

Now into double figures with the amount of trees I’ve created, there are the beginnings of my own woodland… No two trees are the same, which in reality makes a lot of sense when thinking about what factors influence their growth.
When I was a young boy growing up, I was quite often found climbing up into a tree, I always loved sitting on a high branch and looking at the world around me, enjoying my new perspective.  Falling was seldom an issue, sometimes a branch snapped under my weight (sorry tree) but whilst reflecting upon this now, a respect for trees has always been with me.  
Trees are unbelievably multifunctional, They produce oxygen which gives life, they are homes to so much wildlife, they produce shade to keep us cool and can be burnt to keep us warm.  Their qualities can be realised in so many other ways, such as: bow and arrows to catch food;  guitars to entertain; furniture; building shelters; transportation, I could go on, but the list is exhaustive. 
Thoughts of different styles and how to present them are still running through my mind, so only time will tell what other creations will appear from me.

I promise to keep you posted.


Honey bees… looking for love

Honey bees… looking for love
Dammit… Where has this year gone??  I do not really remember the summer but winter is most certainly knocking at the door.

With winter comes the retrieval of the thick coats, alpaca hats, kayaking down rivers, the holiday season and the madness that it brings with it, and with that madness comes a surge in the production of crafts from my workshop.  All of those offcuts of Western Red Cedar (WRC) that have been filling up every available space all year and thus annoying me are slowly leaving after a transformation into something Christmassy (ish).

Honestly…  I should of been thinking about Christmas crafts during the summer but since I am not able to recall a Welsh summer in 2012 I will just plough on with making items to sell at the remaining stalls that I will be attending this year.

As a person who appreciates the environment and our wildlife, my theme just had to be Nature… but how can one sum up Christmas and Nature from several bags of Western Red Cedar offcuts??  

I rattled my brains (which was more of a hindrance rather than helpful to be honest) and “keep it simple” kept springing to the forefront of my mind.

“Impressed” is what I’m thinking about myself this year, to be able to produce in a very short turn around period a collection of multifunctional gifts.  All of the items which are WRC also have the added value of being a moth repellent during the warmer months next year.

Inspiration…

Have you ever really looked at a tree??  I mean really look at a tree, there is something so fascinating about them, their shape, how they compete with each other, how they provide so, so much for our wildlife, how much they change in a season.  I think I will make more trees to capture and exploit their beauty, just cannot seem to get them out of my head.  There are already much bigger plans evolving in my mind (as I’m typing, and yes it is distracting).

Trees and their fascinating shapes
Then there are these boxes, lots of time and effort have gone into producing these.  The wood smells amazing, the joints are perfect and I just love the ideas people come up with to utilise them. 


The Christmassy craft is upon us, so a lovely selection of tree decorations were made but they looked so sad laying down in their respective bundles.  TREE… TREE… TREE… I kept hearing, so a proud Black tree has sprung into existence, for them to lure in customers glancing eyes.


My very own Tree 

So much hassle keeping these giant Honey bees and dwarf Reindeer apart



Finally, there has been certain bespoke items requested, fortunately my imagination and design was allowed to run loose.  Again the “Nature” theme was paramount but for the items that they requested, I think practicality was essential.  So I give you these small but perfectly formed door stops which have my lovely “Burnt Bees” on them.  
Practicality prevails when making wedges for a wonderful valued customer

And last but by certainly no means least… I bring you a Tofu Press…  For the wonderful person who asked for this, my thoughts were drawn to personalisation and the extra effort would really make a difference here.  I have never drawn a butterfly before, well not an accurate one anyhow but since I decided to use pyrography to produce this butterfly, then it best be a great one…  

Mission successful (me thinks)  

Good night everyone
Nos da bawb

P.S If you wish to get in touch please follow the links below to the relevant website.  My contact details are highly visible. 

Thank you
Diolch

www.glastonbees.co.uk                  Facebook                       Twitter 

Tofu Press, personalised with this beautiful butterfly


An idiot’s guide to collecting a swarm of Honey Bees…

Natural beauty…

29th August 2012 


For some time now I have been on the lookout for some Honey bees.  This generally involves a lot of waiting, daydreaming and luck.

Well my luck had changed.  On Wednesday 29th August I got a phone call to let me know of a swarm of Honey bees in a residential garden.  So I downed tools, got my kit, jumped into the car and drove “whilst adhering to the speed limit at all times” and made my way to meet the owner of the house to collect the house keys from them at their work place.

There was a little drive to the house which was quite easy to find but my mind was thinking on what to expect.  I have collected a few swarms before but always assisted by somebody.  This time I was going solo.

So I arrived at the house and immediately went in search of the bees, Ahh excellent… there they are… 8ft up in an apple tree, in the back garden.  They looked beautiful, inspiring, too beautiful to remove in fact, but I was there to remove them nevertheless.  I returned to my car and got all of the equipment needed to retrieve them such as: 
  • 1 x cardboard box
  • 1 x step ladder
  • 1 x bee suit and pair of gloves
  • 1 x mobile telephone (with camera built in)
The colony looked so beautiful in fact that I decided to get closer and take some snaps before I moved them.  So before I got into my full body bee suit, the ladder got put up close to them, then I climbed onto the second rung and was within 2 foot of them.  I took a few pictures and just watched them for a couple of minutes as this was truly a special moment for me.  They were so placid, not a single bee giving any attention to me, I was at one with some Honey bees. 

Upon closer inspection it became apparent that this was not a recent swarm as I was told on the telephone.  This was an established colony with food stores, brood and plenty of comb.

Ah, at this point I have remembered that I have forgotten to mention the weather that day, which was drying up after heavy showers.

As I was moving on the ladder, my wet boot, on the wet rung of the ladder slipped and I lost my balance.  My natural automatic response was to hold onto something to steady myself, this just so happened to be a branch of the tree, naturally… 

Now, what can only be called a “mass of bees” fell from the colony and landed on me; in fact they landed on my head, neck and shoulders.  Suddenly this once placid colony had thought I was there to do them harm.

Oh crap!!!

Luckily my automatic responses kicked in pretty quick and I jumped off the ladder, brushed the majority of the bees off with my hands, and headed inside the house and shut the door behind me to reduce the amount of bees following me.  Then I realised that there were still bees on me.
“Ow, ow, ow stop stinging me” I yelled. 

There were quite a few bees stuck in my hair who thought their best course of action was to sting my head and in doing so committing suicide.

Now frantically brushing bees off me, I realised that I have been stung many, many times, as in dozens, to be honest I wasn’t counting as my chin, cheeks, arms, neck and head were stung multiple times.  I began to think

“I have never been stung this many times before”,
“How will my body cope”,
“I’m here on my own”,
“Where’s my phone if I need to call someone? Oh crap it’s outside on the floor”.

A few minutes later all of the bees were off but I was still buzzing, literally…

The bee suit was now on; all zips were triple checked to ensure no more stings.  I was sweating, pumped on adrenalin but there was still a job to do.

So I watched them for a little while and they all returned to the colony and everything looked normal again.  This time, armed with a bee suit, gloves and cardboard box, I retrieved my mobile phone and returned to the second rung of that ladder to begin to collect the swarm.

The sweat was pouring out of me, but I managed to transfer 75% of the bees and their comb into the cardboard box.  I rested the box on the ground and went back inside for 5-10 minutes to see if I had got the queen and to let them settle down. 

All of their comb was kept and returned to them in a new home

Here is when I phoned a friend to let them know what has happened, after reliving my version of events to them I was greeted with hysterical laughter and some concern, albeit through laughter. 

After the phone call ended I returned outside to see what was going on.  There were still 75 – 80% of the bees and their entire comb in the box but there were still stragglers on their original position.  I saw some signs that showed me that the queen was in fact inside the box so after a couple more attempts to collect the remainder of the bees, I packed my stuff up and headed back to the car.

It was an interesting drive back to this person’s place of work, some of the bees decided to stay on me personally for our journey in the car.  Others helped me change gear by resting on the gear stick, some just stayed on the dashboard and enjoyed the view. 

I got out of the car and walked through a very busy outdoor shopping area whilst still wearing a beekeeping suit with approximately a dozen bees on me, it would not bee a surprise to you when I say that I got an unusual, retreating response from the public.  The crowd just got out of my way, and at this point the funny side of the events were beginning to kick in.

I did offer some bees to members of the public but had no takers sadly, so after handing the keys back and saying the job was complete I headed back to my car with a few less bees still clinging onto me.

It was a pleasant drive back to the workshop, where their new home was waiting.  We arrived in one piece “whilst adhering to the speed limits at all times”.  They were now very pleasant bees to bee around as I transported them into a National bee hive.  I returned their comb that they built back to them as it did contain lots of brood and food, which is rightfully theirs.  After ensuring they were settled, I walked away to remove the bee suit.

Now I realised something interesting… the stings that I received in the garden, quite a lot of them were still in me.  So for some 40 minutes the venom sacks were still pumping venom into my body because when it actually happened I didn’t remove them all. 

So I searched for venom sacks and sat down and watched the little darlings for a little while before heading back to the car and going home.  Once home, I was greeted with some sniggers followed by some food. 

When replaying the events in my mind later that evening I thought:

“What a great story that is” 
“Someone will really enjoy listening to or reading that”

So to summarise, what have I learnt from today’s events? 
  • That I can cope with multiple bee stings, even though I do not wish to repeat these events again.
  • To wear non slip footwear.
  • That if somebody did assist me today, there would be a video on its way to “You’ve been framed” or “You Tube” as we speak.
  • To remove all venom sacks ASAP.
  • That my automatic responses are pretty dam efficient.
  • To wear a bee suit when getting close to a colony even though I think I’m safe, something may happen.
  • That I am able to see the funny side in a very unusual situation.
Lovely to see the Ladies coming home
It looks to me their new flyers are getting to grips with flying

Speech problems and talking Welsh…

2nd November 2012

When I was around 6 years old I began to develop a stammer otherwise known as a speech impediment. It was frustrating and exasperating. This continued and the annoyance in the lack of ability to talk fluently was reduced but stayed with me when I joined the Army in my teens. It became quite an obstacle for me, sometimes being too much to handle but had learned excellent avoidance techniques to counter act it.

In around 2004 the stammer returned, only for a few words in any one sentence but enough for it to be a concern. By 2006 it was spreading into many areas of my social and work life, causing mischief and mayhem along the way. At this point I decided to visit a Speech Therapist.

After some horrible sessions of purely analysing my speech by recording me talk, having mock phone calls and conversations to people it was concluded that my stammer was anxiety / stress based.

There was one conversation which I had with the speech therapist, where I showed an interest in learning to speak Welsh. I was informed that the sounds made by the Welsh language would be too difficult for me to produce. This was certainly deflating at the time and almost all hope was lost.

As time moves towards 2008, with help coming in the aid from a supportive boss and my partner, my speech began to return to a fluent manner (ish) but with some hiccups still occurring.

By 2011, I had taken a few unexpected detours on the ride of life. The best analogy that could be used is that my life, a giant etch-o-sketch had someone shake the hell out of it, leaving only a blank canvas to start over again.

So we enter the chapter of my life where I had lost most of what had been previously been achieved, but for me, it meant that there was nothing more to lose… and GlastonBees was becoming less of a fantasy as I made more realistic plans.  There were new challenges that were set and they were massive, but… they were broken down well into bite size pieces.

Times they are a changing…

In the pursuit of happiness, GlastonBees was founded and established. It needed a different me, change was required if I were to succeed.

As a matter of fact, changes were becoming noticeable, confidence was growing, comfort in asking for help was escalating, fantasies were transformed into plans and some of these plans were becoming achieved. This seemed to filter through my life into other areas, teaching me a lot more about myself and life.

A few months ago in 2012 a friend and I were talking about speaking Welsh, we discussed that we have both fancied learning but for me the words of the Speech Therapist were looming in the murky depths of my mind. Thinking back now… things began to become very clear to me.
Thoughts were that I am no longer the man I was back in 2006,

Look how far I have come since I couldn’t even call a taxi company and ask for a taxi… or when I couldn’t order drinks at a bar.

New additions have been made to my life, one of which was to learn to speak Welsh, no longer was I going to just accept what others told me, I needed to find things out for myself and see if it was possible to pronounce the Welsh language.

So, after enrolling on to a Welsh language course, there was a fear of public humiliation, but that was counter acted with downloading MP3 files for learning to speak Welsh. The thinking was that it would give me a boost in confidence and give me a head start. After some 6 weeks in, it is really enjoyable, there are some pronunciations which are troublesome but the anxiety / stress is just not there to give any grief.

After a short period of time, I am now well on my way to speaking a second language, Some days I ask myself, Why do I bother to learn to speak Welsh, when I live and work in an environment which speaks predominantly English? But my motivation is clear to me…

One of my dreams is to speak Welsh, Why?… So that I can watch the Rugby on S4C and understand what it is that they are saying, or that I would like to read and understand the road signs that I see here in Wales. Maybe it’s because I want the option to be able to speak Welsh if needs be, or that it is to prove a point (to myself) that I can achieve anything if I’m determined or passionate enough.

After reading back over this for the umpteenth time for proof reading it has finally became obvious why I am thinking this tonight.  To be honest with you, the message that I’m trying to portray for you tonight, that I hope is coming across, is that anything is possible, if you truly, really want something.  Do not let yourself or someone else diminish your dreams.

“Extracurricular projects”…

My knowledge and skills are being passed around recently and working wonders.

I have been taking time out from constructing beehives and have been fortunate enough to be working from the newly refurbished and wonderful setting of Llanyrafon Manor Rural Heritage Centre, also known as Llanyrafon Farm by some in Cwmbran, http://www.llanyrafonmanor.org/ (lucky for some huh).
The work site

After submitting a competitive tender to Torfaen “Community Foodie” (www.facebook.com/CommunityFoodie a Rural Development programme initiative which encourages community groups to grow their own food).

Glastonbees won the order for construction / installation of 11 large raised beds to go in the Kitchen Garden within the Manor grounds.   A community group will be planting up and maintaining these raised beds of which I cannot wait to see, it will be an impressive sight.

So it began with the arrival of the materials required and the hottest week on record (I believe so anyway), to construct and install these wooden giants.

To complete Phase 1 it needed: 388 metres worth of timber, 600 screws, 440 cuts, 3 volunteers and a bottle of after sun (an after thought). With the time constraints that were imposed on the job, it was completed, hoorah…


To complete Phase 2 it needed: 5 wheelbarrows, 2 shovels, 3 spades, 1 rake, 1 fork, 3 gazebos, waterproof clothing, approximately 36 tonnes of topsoil, yes you did read that right and a total of 15 volunteers to help in transporting the 36 tonnes of topsoil into the raised beds.

In addition to the raised beds I was asked to produce a sign for each raised bed.  Nearby I managed to find some branches which had been cut down, so they got turned into the signs which can be found below.  To produce the signs that I envisaged though, I needed to build a Pantograph and learn how to use it

In total there was 272.5 hours worked between everyone involved, I must point out that the volunteers were amazing. Thank you all so very much to all that were involved for your hard work and banter that was required to complete the work in record time. The job would not have been completed on time, if it were not for the help of these wonderful people.
Signs were needed for all 11 Raised Beds

Wonderful to see the first salad crops on their way

“A constant reminder of the hazards of building beehives”

For this tale to be told, we need to go back in time to Friday 26th November 2011.  I must pre-warn you that this may be a long post as there is a lot to recall.

It began as any normal day does for me, my alarm goes off at 0730hrs, and I press snooze and this goes on until I get up some time later. 

The mornings are not the best time to be me; I am always even more tired than when I went to bed.   My hair looks like crap, I feel like crap and slowly I get myself downstairs to have some muesli and a cuppa tea while flicking through the news channels of RT, France24 and Al Jazeera (I cannot abide watching the British news broadcasting)

So after some 30 minutes of realising that I am actually awake, I drag myself upstairs to wash, clean teeth, use the toilet and decide to get properly dressed for whatever my day may hold for me, a regimental routine that is on autopilot every morning.

It was nearing 1530hrs on this Friday afternoon and I was using my Table saw to carry out some cutting of quite thin pieces of Western Red Cedar.  This is something which I have done before, felt comfortable doing it, so was enjoying my time, looking forward to finishing and going home.

Whilst cutting one of these thin pieces of wood, momentarily my focus and concentration were distracted, I foolishly looked away from the blade to look where my hands were going next, to pick up the next piece of wood, forgetting about the other hand that was still holding a piece a wood next to the 10inch blade spinning at some 4,500 rpm.

An indescribable noise was heard, followed by an automatic response to look at my hand…

I looked directly at my thumb and said several words that are unrepeatable on here…

It was serious, I began to panic as my thumb has never looked like this before, and it was very unnerving.  My thoughts were clear as day to me at that point, I need help and I need it now!!!

My best option was to see if anybody was down at the nearby house, so I rushed out of the workshop holding my left hand in the air.  As I reached the gate I thought that having my mobile phones on me would be a good idea, so I rushed back in to get them and rushed back to the gate.

Then I heard the table saw was still switched on, so I rushed back in to switch it off and rushed back out again.

I needed now to navigate my way past; one gate, followed by two horses, followed by another gate.  It was then a 100 metre dash across to my car, while still holding the left hand in the air, luckily for me I saw another car nearby so I rushed up to the house knocked and opened the door calling for the occupant, there was a reply.

“Hello, you alright”

Once I heard a reply, I kicked off my wellies so not to make a mess in the house and headed straight for the kitchen sink, not knowing that I was leaving a trail of blood across the floor.  

Relief… I was with someone. 

“What’s the matter” I heard

“Ummm, I’ve had a slight accident” I replied

By this time I had already pulled a chair up to the kitchen sink and was leaning with my hand over the sink, trying to come to terms with what has just happened.  This friendly voice appeared, I do not remember seeing a face, and it was the most calming person that I could have wished for at that time.

Only now, this was becoming a difficult time for me, shock was starting to kick in…

This soothing voice told me that they needed to look at my thumb, to see what’s happened, for some reason I looked at my thumb at the same time.

More unrepeatable words came from my lips, mainly because my thumb was looking drastically different to how it did 10 minutes previous when I last looked at it.  Only now after I just looked at it again for the second time, did the pain start, the feeling came back, the shock began to have a massive effect on me. 

I guess previously I was fully alert and realised that I needed to get to help or safety, now that I have found help I can relax but with that came the pain.

What had happened was that the blade spinning at some 4,500 rpm had gone through 90% of the top of my thumb.  Only a little bit was intact and that was acting like a hinge holding the tip of the thumb to the rest of the thumb.  It looked like a mess; it was a bloody mess, I was told 

“It looks like a little bomb had gone off inside my thumb”.

I could feel parts of the thumb, which was very uncomfortable.  After going through what felt like an eternity of time with shock, going through stages of cold, sweating, feeling sick, dizzy, back to sweating, non stop fidgeting, back to cold, dizzy and back to sweating. 

An ambulance had to be called to take me to hospital as the person that was helping me wouldn’t have been able to lift me if I had collapsed.  Listening to the telephone call to 999 was cruel, it took such an age, and the person on the other end of the phone was asking the necessary questions needed to get someone out to me.  I heard her say

“What the pain currently like, marks out of 10”

“12, 12, JUST HURRY UP!!!” I replied

(Patience is one talent that is hit and miss with me sometimes).

So an ambulance and two very calm paramedics arrived and gave me some Morphine which truthfully took the pain from 12 down to 9.  One paramedic spent some time looking for any other bits of my thumb following in my footsteps, none were found.  There was a bouncy drive down to the Newport A&E which made me feel quite sick, probably due to a mixture of shock, morphine and very soft suspension on the ambulance.

The waiting game began, 6 hours had passed which involved squirming around in a bed, walking around the corridor in A&E, seeing some friendly faces turning up to give moral support was nice, having the bandages removed by this sadist member of staff who had no consideration to my pain levels whatsoever and going for an X-ray. 

For my viewing pleasure while I was there, there were a guy with a bandage around his head walking around eating a McDonalds causing mischief which needed security to constantly return him to his cubicle and countless staff rushing around responding to beeps and telephones going off.

I was very fortunate to meet a very lovely nurse, her smile was reassuring, she was gentle, chatty and friendly unlike the sadist I met a short time earlier.  I’m not sure if it was the morphine or her smile that was taking away my pain.

The X-ray showed a problem, the top part of the bone in my thumb was in many, many pieces, this was not good; however, the X-ray was much easier to look at than my thumb itself.  After speaking with a Consultant about my options and having a final dressing put on by my lovely smiling Nurse, I was sent home, some 6 hours later with my arm in a sling to guarantee my arm stayed elevated.

The following day was spent with 9 hours at Morriston Hospital in Swansea at the Plastic Surgery Ward awaiting emergency surgery.  0900hrs we were there to meet an expert and he gave me two options of which I could not decide, so I asked him this

“If you were in my position what would you choose??”

I went with his choice…

The day was really interesting spending time with the other guys in the ward, chatting about our lives and funny stories, all of us with bandages somewhere on our bodies.   Waking up finding that my thumb had bled out all over my nice shirt, so had to make a phone call to ask for a new shirt to wear home. 

My name was called, so I got dressed into the required attire and went for a stroll with the member of staff to a holding area to be asked a ridiculous amount of questions when my brain was only thinking of one thing.  Previously after I came around after an operation, I had no memory or idea of how I got there and as I initially woke up I bolted upright in bed causing lots of pain, did not want that to happen again (this is not my first time going under a general anaesthetic).

Knowing what the outcome was going to be before I had the operation was hard to take initially; I was told that I would lose half of my thumb, coming to terms with that was hard being a Joiner working with tools needing dexterity, but after the operation, life felt much calmer, later that day I was allowed to go home. 

It was only a few days later that I went for a check-up back at Morriston Hospital that I realised the wonders of the staff in that Plastic Surgery ward.  They managed to save quite a bit of my thumb; I was told that I would lose half of my thumb when in fact I had only lost 7mm.  This made me appreciate my thumb so much more and now you wouldn’t be able to tell that I even had an accident unless I pointed it out to you. 

The finger nail has grown back, sensitivity is impaired and my time as the reigning thumb wars champion may come to an end when I’m next challenged.

Hello and welcome

16/07/12

Hello and welcome to the very first GlastonBees blog, which is to be a written account about the “Adventures of GlastonBees”. There is every intention to create this blog in order for it to be: informative, useful (as in full of use), interesting, with a hint of a humorous perspective view from me regarding my life with the world of bees, bee hives and anything that I think is worth telling you about.

The last time I had to write something for someone else to read like this was my English teacher, a Mrs who shall remain nameless. A few years have passed since I was last marked for my spelling and grammar, so please ignore any deliberate mistakes that you may find; they are there purely for the sake of my English teacher who was always leaving such lovely, friendly comments on all of my work.

I am pleased to inform you (and her) that at least my vocabulary has expanded, which opens up a whole world of interesting verbal concoctions for me but not in a verbal diarrhoea kind of way.

This blog has come about from long and interesting conversations whilst talking to my friends about my adventures of:
  • Bees,
  • Building Beehives 
  • My life and
  • Visiting people’s homes who have bees living with them but who do not really want them there.

I have always tried to portray my story in an articulate manner so that my friends would be able to understand fully, some of the silly, downright amusing situations that I seem to get myself into quite often.

The general consensus thought that these little adventures should be shared with a much wider audience, so instead of utilising the TV broadcasting system and competing with those primetime programs for weekend viewing, we decided that a blog would be much more affordable since I’m working on a smaller budget than the Director General of the BBC.

For the last few weeks I have been delving through my memory banks to recall relevant and suitable memories to begin putting my blog together.

I must point this out now that I will not use any accurate names, places or information of anybody to prevent causing embarrassment to them. This blog is about my thoughts, experiences and how I perceived the events that have transpired and not intended to cause any harm to people that I have met on this wonderful journey.

Welcome to my world…