Updating website September 2016.
After three intrepid and extremely interesting trips to China in 2011, 2013 and 2015 I feel that I have now "done" China. Many years ago, in 1982 and '83, I spent time travelling in India, via today's war zones in the Middle East. There is something about India that holds my heart that China, for all its variety, does not. It may be that if I returned to India now it would be harder to find that magic pull, maybe the comparison should have been made with fewer years between the trips. Modern cities are soulless concrete canyons dedicated to cramming people and making money. I feel the pull for travel less today. However I am discovering, at long last, our own beautiful country, my current favourite for walking being the Lake District.
I now have three hives, two are very active and one has failed. I bought a colony of black bees which are housed in a vertical ("National") hive and I caught a swarm in a bait box which is now housed in one of my horizontal top bar hives. The failed hive was a very small swarm caught in the bait box but it had a drone laying queen, so I allowed them to live out their natural lives and die off. My method of beekeeping is learned from Phil Chandler (see 'biobees' and 'natural bee keeping' on-line) and from Fydor Lazukin (see 'beekeeping with a smile' also on-line). The intention is to leave the bees to live their lives with as little interferance as possible, leaving them all their honey for their over-wintering stores. Feeding sugar syrup and fondant, the modern practice, is to deprive them of the nutrients and antibodies they put into their honey stores which protect them from many of the diseases that are decimating our native bees. If their stores are gone or short during hard times then I would top up with sugar, but only as a stop gap until they can get back on their wings foraging again. There is an image of my bait box below.
Continuing to hold to my decision to do no shows or fairs, I have also reduced my "outlets" - craft shops and galleries - from 14 to 5, so I now have time to experiment in the pottery and to work in my garden and woodland. Taking time to do more gardening is not a euphamism for sitting around reading, it is actually hard graft, excellent exercise and gloriously rewarding, creative in itself and what I see does go on to my pots. Although I am enjoying more time to read as well, so to this end a friend and I set up a book club which I find very rewarding, in turn we each get to choose the next book and so get to read book we may not have (or certainly would not have) chosen ourselves, with mostly happy results..
As a committee member of the Cornwall Ceramics and Glass Group, I have enjoyed workshops and talks with some of our very best potters and glass makers over the years. The CC&GG is an extremely active and informative group of makers. I am also a member of the Cornwall Craft Association, on the committee as vice chairman, this year we have mounted an extraordinary and moving exhibition as part of the Imperial War Museum's WW1 Centenary memorial (have a look on the CCA website).