Updated: Jun 7, 2018
A few years ago I visited a little village in the Weald of Kent called Bodsham. Had never heard of it and almost never found it, but I'd booked an overnight stay in a vintage caravan in the garden of the pub 'The Timberbatts'. I found it on Airbnb as a last minute getaway and something a bit different.... I do love quirky things... and this was certainly quirky!
The pub was full of kinds of paraphernalia of the like you'd only find in funky museums and antique markets. I loved it! Flamingos and glitter balls in the ladies toilets, a full size rollercoaster carriage in the main bar....taxidermy lining the walls and all manner of hand crafted items...not what I was expecting for an historical country pub in the heart of Kent, but I was not disappointed! The landlord and landlady were equally characterful and really welcoming, authentic people - they just love 'stuff' so straight away I knew we would get on just fine! I would highly recommend a visit to this quintessentially British pub with a twist!
So whilst there, I discovered that the landlord, Ross, is actually a blacksmith by trade and they bought the pub because it has a forge attached to it! As you do!
He runs knife making and axe making courses, amongst other things, and I was instantly interested in signing up! Blacksmithing has always intrigued me but is one of the traditional crafts I had not yet had a go at and so an opportunity like this was not about to pass me by!
The course was over 2 days and the price included overnight accommodation and all meals and refreshments! Bargain! And I'd walk away with a handcrafted axe at the end of it!
Finally, after what seemed like a long wait, the course dates came around and I headed off to Bodsham again - still got lost! A very warm welcome by Ross and Sarah, like old friends.
Then we got to work on what was to be a very physically demanding but hugely satisfying few days.
The process is long and is not something you can rush or cut corners with, which is a good mindset to practice. I was on the course with a guy called Dan, a tattoo artist from Thanet, who had also never made an axe or done any blacksmithing before, so we were both learning from scratch. The atmosphere was really relaxed and Ross was very good at supporting our learning but not taking over.
The process is quite straight forward really but takes time and patience - not to mention energy and a certain amount of frustration to vent (felt good to release all that pent up anger!! naming no names!!). So after 2 long and tiring but very enjoyable days, this what I ended up with....must say I'm pretty pleased with it!
Sparks fly! this is the fire welding process! Super hot metal has to be hammered fast and hard to weld the 3 pieces together!