Ideas Festival talk

A year in beekeeping aLast night I gave my ‘A year In beekeeping’ talk to a group of very interested people. We looked at a real hive, to understand what goes on inside at different points in the year, and had a 40 minute Q & A session, only stopping when our time ran out.

With my thanks to the Ideas Hub for organising the event, Anglia Ruskin University for great facilities, and of course everyone who came along to listen.




Chelmsford ideas Festival beekeeping talk

Only 5 days to go to my talk ‘A year in beekeeping’, being given as part of the Chelmsford Ideas Festival 2015.

My talk will be on Friday 23rd October at Anglia Ruskin University, 7.30pm-9pm.

With the help of an empty hive and some slides I will take the audience through a year in beekeeping, dropping in some interesting facts and figures. I will also be challenging some of the claims around Manuka honey and explaining the science behind why, without bees, humankind simply wouldn’t survive.

Albert Einstein said it much better than I ever could:

“If all the bees disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have 4 years of life left.”

What’s more, it is free to come along, but booking is necessary to ensure no one is disappointed on the door. Book here or at or call 01245 684723.

I will also have some honey and natural hive products for sale.

The full Chelmsford Ideas Festival programme can be downloaded here. Their website is here and facebook page here.

Field boundaries

There have long been subsidies and allowances for leaving a 10m or so strip alongside a field planted out for crops. This strip then being appropriately planted to encourage wildlife.

Now our experience of this in practice is that the strips tend to turn into weed beds. Come August they turn into a launch site for a million (literally) weed seeds, which are spread far and wide…..including over gardens.

field boundaryWhilst visiting some old friends this weekend we passed through Steeple Bumpstead and saw the most beautiful wild flower strip alongside a field. It clearly took care and money to keep like this, but it just zinged with colour and insects. Well done Mr/Mrs Farmer, you are a credit to the community.


Most disappointing fruit of 2015

2015 has been a strange year for fruit growing. Our peach tree had zero peaches, our plum trees (all types) needed props under the branches to stop them from snapping under the weight of fruit, and our apples are now laden with delicious crunchy fruit.

musc meonsBut, to the title of this post. The most disappointing fruit has been my attempt to grow musk melons.

I have tried half heartedly in previous years and never got beyond a pathetic seedling.

This year, with the time to devote to caring for everything planted, so as not to find odd forgotten and shrivelled pots come Autumn, I went for it with refreshed enthusiasm.

I planted the seedlings in the polytunnel to ensure a good heat and light supply and, by June, I had triffids growing around the top of the tunnel.


james wong musc melons flower

Feeling rather smug with progress, I waited for the flowers and fruit to arrive. I fed and waited and waited…….and waited.

It is now mid-October and I have the first flower. I fear it may be a little late for any melons. Looking at the leaves I am also wondering if I even had melon seeds.

Looking on the bright side I have loads of green material for the compost heap.

The Circle of Engineering

This is my latest sculpture, made on my forge.

I call it ‘The Circle of Engineering’, for reasons I will explain.

blacksmith sculpture

The first stage of my career in engineering was as a technician engineer. This began with my apprenticeship. I spent my first year learning traditional machining techniques, the use of lathes, mills, sheet metal work etc.


blacksmith sculpture

Now, nearly 34 years and a full career later, I am able to fully indulge my hitherto part-time passion for making things, for creating, for designing.

And so I come to my sculpture. If it’s genesis hasn’t become obvious by now, I’ll tell more.

It is made from spanners. All are old whitworth sizes, as used on Mildred, our 1933 Austin Seven, bought from an autojumble for 20p each.

The circle theme is of course a metaphor for life. A working life that has taken me full circle, through an engineering career I would not have changed for anything, back to working with my hands, but now in my own workshop, creating art as inspiration take me.

So there you have it, the ‘Circle of Engineering’.