It has been a little too quiet on the Apprentice-Ship front as of late, nothing is wrong I assure you [I know you were all worried..] I spent last week on a business course which I decided wasn’t exciting enough to write about. Although I will say – the course was held by Emily Tilling from The Traditional Building Company in Hay on Wye. The same company who I spent my first few weeks placement with [read here and here]. The course was great, really well presented and I learnt a lot in a short space of time.
This week I prepared to spend my time working on Fawley House in South Oxfordshire with a company called Symm. This didn’t happen because, as we all know, the weather decided to go all arctic on us. It was actually caused by a heavy, south east wind pressure. [I have completely made that up] Due to the climate my work with them was put on hold. The work I was scheduled to do included face work on an extension which was being built using lime. Anyone who knows anything about building knows it’s really not sensible building an extension from lime. The fact is you cannot build with cement when the temperature is three degrees and dropping and you cannot build with lime when the temperature is five degrees and dropping, some might say 7 degrees.
This led to a bit of a conundrum; I was five hours from home with no placement. Fortunately I still had some NVQ work to do working towards my Heritage Brickwork qualification so I wasn’t sat inside doing nothing. On my dinner break I decided to go out and explore.
I am staying in a town called Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire.
Many of you might know of, or have heard about the town. Henley-on-Thames holds the Royal Regatta – The world famous Rowing event and has produced many British and Olympic rowing champions throughout history.
[The owner of the BNB told me all that, I thought I would try and sound cleaver]
I personally hadn’t heard about Henley-on-Thames before – I was intrigued to explore. I soon discovered some of the most amazing early gauged brickwork examples I had ever seen!
This gauged entrance it really lovely, I would love a chance to build something like this. The skill it took the Brick Worker to build this was obvious.
I particularly liked this – The post office.
I wish I had a post office like this, it would make the journey that little more worth while.
[You can enlarge all the images on this Blog by simply scrolling over them]
The arches on this building were also really impressive, and still in great condition after all these years.
It was getting dark and the sun was setting so I set myself a mission to get some great photographs of the sunset so I headed towards the top of town. I then stumbled across these huge gates. I had no idea what was inside the gates, if it was a stately home or a town hall or if someone lived here. I was just taken back by the brickwork! There is some really intricate work on display.
[I later found out from the BNB owner]
This was Friar Park - once the home of the late, great, George Harrison MBE.
Unfortunately for obvious reasons I wasn’t allowed inside.
I hope one day I am given the chance to create such skilful and inspiring work as these examples I have included in this post. I will strive to hopefully one day complete work to this standard. I might never achieve it – but I’ll give it a good go!
The next day after discussing the predicament with the Foundation they suggested that I call Dr. Gerard Lynch to see if there was anything he could help me and my predicament. Fortunately Gerard being as he is, offered me a chance to go with him and his son Liam to the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum where he would be giving a lecture and demonstration on lime. I jumped at the chance! I have already had a lecture about lime with Gerard but to have the opportunity to hear one again and see how he works in a group situation was too good to pass up.
I travelled back to Woburn Sands where I spent three weeks previous to Christmas on Tuesday ready for Wednesday morning when we would be travelling to the museum. It takes around three hours to travel from Gerard’s house so we all got up at 4.30am ready for the journey. I can’t remember the last time I got up that early. It might have actually been when I was 16 – I had the very distinguished job of sweeping the floor of the factory where my dad worked at and managed..that was a fun job! Anyway I digress…Once we arrived at the museum I was blown away by how beautiful the place was!
The museum really is something to behold. The buildings they have built purely for educational purposes are astounding and a great sign of dedication on their part to the history they are trying to teach.
Myself and Liam helped set everything up in the room where Gerard would be doing his talk to the MSc students, setting up the computer for the PowerPoint presentation, preparing the pack of notes that everyone received upon entry and then laying out on the table the various samples that Gerard brought to show the students the various states of Calcium Carbonate [lime]. The students arrived and took their places and so we did.
Gerard was presented to the group by the staff and teachers of the group and the Museum. It was great to hear people talk about Gerard in the manner of which I personally speak of him, everyone you meet that has met or has ever been taught by Gerard speaks very highly of him.
During the class I made six back to front pages of notes. It was great to hear the information again, it all made a lot more sense. I think it was due to the fact that I learnt a lot of it already so I was focussing on different areas and different facts, in the end it all tied together and made a lot more sense.
After dinner we all spent time in the practical area where Gerard talked to the class about slaking and mixing lime before myself, Liam and Alan [who is a very dedicated volunteer at the museum] demonstrated, under Gerard’s guidance, How to correctly do this.
This was a great experience and one I enjoyed. It was a good feeling to know that you were helping people to learn.
At the end of the day a couple of people approached me and praised my Blog. I had never met these people before or even spoke VIA email so I was very grateful and touched by it. I don’t think it’s something I will ever get used to.
Throughout the day I was really impressed with how Gerard managed to keep a class of thirty people interested for a whole day. His, as ever, enthusiastic approach kept everyone listening and writing notes throughout. This is a rare talent; I can’t Imagine the best of speakers keeping a group of people interested for over eight hours never mind someone who has just spent the morning driving for three hours and who was now preparing to drive us the same route home.
I find myself once again thanking Dr. Gerard Lynch and his family for inviting me on this great day and once again accepting me with open arms into his home where I have stayed. I am forever grateful.
I would also like to thank the museum for having me – a massive high5 for creating such a beautiful educational centre that I hope stays open for many years! The staff – The pasties and cakes were lovely ! AND all the class members that took part throughout the day for their great enthusiasm and kind words about this Blog.
Actually, whilst I seem to have said ‘thank you’ quite a lot in this post – THANK YOU FOR READING!