To get hold of my Spoons please visit my Shop at 260 Hackney Rd London.

Friday, 29 October 2010


you can't travel very far without having a drink, and if there's no water where you're travelling you've got to carry it. supposedly an adult needs between 1.5 and 3 litres of water a day. i tend to drink a lot of tea or coffee which is not the most efficient method of hydration. The more food you eat the more water you need to drink, so i found my unhealthy diet a real burden in the weight of extra water i was carrying. i just carry 1.5 litre bottle of water, i'll fill it whenever i have an opportunity and i'll also drink water whenever i have the chance. i have sourced all my water from taps, though i know some people that would drink from a puddle even in a town. i say all my water from taps but actually sometimes when i knew i would be without running water for a couple or more days i would buy some water from supermarkets, value/own brand bottled water is very cheap usually around 14 pence that would get you a brand new 2 litre bottle of water everyday for a year for little more than £50. Compare to the water bottle i was recommended the MSR - Dromedary 2 litre £27. It can be hard to source water in towns and cities too, public toilets are a very rare thing these days but even when you do find them they have a weird hand washing machine that dispenses soap and hot water and then attempts to blow dry your hands. 2 litre plastic bottles, they're one piece blow moulded PET plastic with radial corrugations on the base for strength, and they have a resealable screw top, i like them.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

i have had an amazing summer with a fantastic last couple of weeks at Robin Wood's place  i am now settling for the winter which is very exciting, i will blog in the next few days to show you the little home i'm creating. i will also be posting on topics inspired by my experiences in the summer's travels which i hope will be much more interesting than typing my journal. i will also keep up to date on current projects.
bag of spoons, this is a quick way of displaying my spoons, there is my peddlars certificate also, the leather rolls up around the spoons and protects them from damage when they are being transported.
this all goes in the black waterproof bag that sits in the top of my pack along with my tools bag and bag of spoons. i keep my woolly hat in there so it's dry i have a headtorch which at night is always on my head and i'm in two minds about. i keep everything in this bag that doesn't fit elsewhere: a wallet, with my co-op account card, the waterproof match box with matches and a sewing kit, a little note book and usually a bic biro, a little bell, nail clippers and puncher repair kit (which i have a very funny story about). I started my journey with this folding saw but found it very tiresome and soon got rid of it in exchange for the irwin panel saw below.
large frosts knife with scandy grind, small laminated frosts knife with my special grind, Ben Orford spoon knives some other stuff, and sharpening kit including 240 - 1000 wet and dry, a wooden board with a radiused edge leather strop and honing compound. i will go into detail in other posts about the tools and techniques i use for spoon carving etc.
The plastic bag contains a change of clothes and is at the bottom of the pack, the saw slots into the frame and the axe and large spoon hook are loose inside the pack. i will talk much more about axes, but this is a gransfors wildlife hatchet, it's a truly beautiful axe and i feel sorry for anyone that doesn'y own one.
wash kit, this stuff was kept in the annoying pocket on top of the bag, the green bag actually contains a poncho, for the first half of my journey i was carting around a gortex jacket that never got used as i'd have to take the bergen off and root around in it first, inevitably the rain would pass or i'd expect it to or i'd just get so wet i thought i may as well not bother with it, so i dumped it in exchange for the poncho, the poncho is much smaller so was closer to hand, because it was cheap i didn't mind using it as a groundsheet or whatever. Plastic things get you just as wet from sweat if your working so i actually don't think waterproofs are really worth it for a british summer, but a couple of time this poncho saved me from a complete downpour, and if i'm sat on my pack it keeps us all dry, so maybe it's worth it. i normally just use soap and a nail brush for washing anyway, i don't shave so that saves on razor at least, bar of soap is not expensive lasts a long time and is easy to pack, the nail brush gets you and your kit really clean, i normally scrub my clothes with the soap and nail brush too. i pick at my teeth with a stick to keep them clean, and have recently been told by a dentist that they're in good shape, but i'm not convinced (and i don't have a girlfriend).


i'm bald so walking in the summer it was imperative to have a hat, i got the basball cap (which i love) free from a hostel in Canada, it's good because it keeps the sun out of your eyes too, i wear glasses but have no perscription sunnies and cannot cope with the organisation of keeping hold of two pairs of glasses anyway, the hat also shelters the glasses from the rain which is nice. The woolly hat was the only wooll hat i could find in a charity shop in bristol the night before i left (i think 26/04/10), i like it because it's warm! and because the ear flaps help it stay on in the night, which is good to ease my paranoia about earwigs (do they really go in peoples ears?)


a very expensive bivvy bag, it's waterproof and has a zip 2/3 the way down it, it has a fly net and a hoop and all in all did me very well. i can't help resent how much i paid for it though, i did already have a gortex bag and that would have done me fine. There was one night when i woke up with my face covered in catapillars when i wished i had used the flynet but i never did use it. my friend Ben an experienced camper laughed at me for how much i spent on it and i decided not to invest in any other kit until i'd spent 6 months trying out what i already had. a few years ago i bought a thermarest but i got a rip in it and had a sleepless night, so i took just a regular (i think it's swedish army) foam mat with me. The sleeping bag was a softie 6 donated by Kean who is an inspiration (more about him another time), it was perfect for the summer but after the first couple of  frosts i have stayed inside. these three items were rolled as one into a large drysack this required very little efforty as it was not tightly packed and meant setting camp took seconds. i kept my spare pair of trousers in the drysack which i rolled up and inverted into the end of one leg to create a pillow.


This all fitted in that grey drawstring bag in the photo which came with the bivvy bag i bought. i always carried some museli with me which i usually ate with hot water out of my metal mug with the spoon in this photo (the spoon was made by Dietrich the Journeyman), i found disposable plastic bags from supermarkets an incredibly useful resource and will be posting much more about my views on supermarkets. the brown stuff in the other plastic bag is loose leaf Earl Grey tea, i think Earl Grey is a beautiful infusion and no need for milk and sugar so very easy to prepare, the leaves settle to the bottom of the mug much quicker if the water is properly boiling. throwing tea bags away in the woods always feels awkward but discarding a few leaves seems just fine. being a coffee monster it was a hard decision not to take coffee with me but it takes up a lot more room than tea and is much more expensive, early in the year the urge for a coffee would drive me on to get to the next village/town, but by mid summer i decided to give up coffee in london as it costs so much in cafes. The last straw was watching people getting drunk on special brew for less than it cost me to perk myself up with a bit of coffee (i've got a feeling they're both a waste of money). The lighter was always to hand for making a quick brew, i prefer bic lighters but got this clipper from somewhere. salt and pepper were always worth having about particularly in scrambled egg, though the salt sachets start to go soggy quite quickly. the nutmeg is a hardy companion and always makes me smile even when i don't use it.


ok so there's nothing new here, if you know anything about camping/bushcraft then you'll have seen all this stuff before, but really i'm just setting the seen, so that when i talk a bit more in depth about my experiences you'll know where i'm coming from. This is the only permanent water bottle i've carried around with me, i had an MSR wobbly thing but it always leaked water and the sigg metal thing took up a lot of space and i'd always do it up too tight and you couldn't ever find a tap you could fill it from. i've got quite a lot i want to say about water but that will come in a later post. the metal cup worked fine for tea and cooking, but the metal rim caused quite a lot of wear/tear on my bag.


This is the tarp i use, i'll take a photo with it up at some point so you can see how i usually set camp, it's one of the aussie basha things and i've got para cord on it, i don't think that a bit of plastic sheeting with sheet bent bailer twine fixings would do any worse, but i already had one of these. i love the versatility of them, being able to light a fire under it and adjusting to the environment as it comes.
This is my backpack that i have carried around for the last 6 months. i am already missing the simplicity of having just one container of belongings. the bag is from an army surplus store i got it around 10 years ago went i went on a greyhound tour of oz. The size and weight have not been a problem whilst walking about, but i will try to reduce the weight and size next year. The 2 pockets on each side hold my water and food whilst the front one has my tarp. The main volume holds my sleep roll in one large drysack along with a bag of spoons, a bag containing my tools, and a waterproof bag with bits and pieces in.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

article in the Observer

Nice article about me in the Observer Sunday 19 September 2010

A life less ordinary: Tobias Jones

We've had a great guy staying here for the past week: an itinerant spoon carver called Barn. He hitched here from London and rolled up looking just as I remembered him: wide braces over a woolly jumper, big beard and a big smile.
I met Barn more than a year ago in a wood in Herefordshire. He was the assistant to the green woodworking legend Mike Abbott and was teaching me, and a few others, how to make a chair. Since then he's got a so-called "peddler's licence" (for 17 quid from the West Mercia constabulary), a piece of paper that allows him to sit on any street corner and carve, and sell, his spoons.
What I like about Barn is his idealism: he doesn't sit on the streets because he's a drop-out, but because he's a true artisan who wants to share with ordinary people the beauty of his craft. He undercharges for his delicate spoons because he wants everyone to be able to buy one. Carving spoons, he says, is a way to "spread the love".
He wants, one day, to set up a sort of "spoon club" for schoolchildren so that they can learn knife skills and understand that knives can create real beauty, not just real menace. He talks about his idea of establishing a "pauper's caff" where hot, healthy food is served entirely on, or in, wood; where all the bowls, plates, spoons and chairs have been hewn by hand from trees. He's put his finger on what, I suppose, has always attracted me to wood as a material: it's so simple, so common and democratic. It's not exclusive, like silver or even ceramics. Anyone can find it and work it.
He stops with us for a week and is great company. We start each day sitting together in silence in the chapel, listening to the sounds of the geese and the wood pigeons. Barn is gentle but firm with the kids and is a huge help with all the work around the place. We spend a lot of the week just laughing. We all decide that he should come back and stay with us over the winter.
Each afternoon we sit and carve, creating a pile of shavings that the kitten and the kids distribute all over the place. My spoons are fat and lumpy compared to the smooth, slim models he creates with ease. When he puts a child's initials on a spoon, he does it by hand with a pick-knife, creating an immaculate bevel on the letters.
Barn's so used to sitting on the ground as he carves that we both sit on the floor while he teaches me more about sharpening and about various knife grips. It's obvious stuff if you think about it but I, like most people, have never thought about it.
Each night we offer Barn a bed in a spare room, but he pulls on his woolly hat and heads out under the stars. He's more at home in the woods. He's strung a tarp between a couple of hazels and sleeps happily out there each night.
His next project is to travel round Britain carving spoons in return for board and lodging and to write a book about it. It will be a sort of diary told through the people he meets and the spoons he makes for them. (If you're interested in a spoon or the book, we'll pass on your details to him.)
In the end Barn decides he has to get back on the road. I leave him at a nearby layby as he hitches towards Wales. When I look back and see the sign he's holding up, I notice that he's given the thick, marker- pen letters on the cardboard flamboyant serifs. That's Barn all over… unexpectedly stylish.

Article here