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CONTENT Inside this issue: For those who don’t know me


Rico’s Garden


An introduction to Salvaging


Bull Dog Bash pt one


My French Living and Life


Salvage Challenge TV Show


Salvaged and recycled Ideas


Art and projects for sale Salvager Classifieds



Coming Soon

For those who don’t know me Yes I am the extreme recycler and star of The Salvager, and the follow up Le Salvager - my own series for Discovery Real Time. Each show saw me knock up something weird and wonderful from the most unlikely mix of rubbish and reclamation such as the TV/DVD entertainment unit that was once a galvanised water tank and two 50s fire extinguishers. I am Inspired by my upbringing in the East End of London in the 1950s, I spent a lot of time salvaging from ruined houses and factories around me. When I’m not up to my elbows in rubbish, I like nothing more than a spot of fire-breathing, axe-throwing or knocking out a tune on me blues harmonica. 4

I was born and brought up in the East end of London, in the post war fifties. To me, the ruined houses and factories were a paradise of useful and wonderful stuff that in the hands of an inventive boy could be turned into almost anything - a sheet of rusty corrugated iron could become a sledge for example.

The day a rag and bone man paid me three and six pence (old Money) for a sack of lead I knew that waste material had a real value. 5

Since that day, I have never been far from a bag of brass, copper or lead, as my emergency fund. At 15 I took a Saturday job, which earned me enough money to indulge himself at the local flea market. African spears, fossils, old records were all sold to an excited boy with a bedroom that looked more like a museum with every passing day. I rapidly learned that broken objects are easily fixable and were always extremely cheap. On leaving school I dipped my toe into the job market, first as a civil servant which introduced me to a life of abject boredom, and then I become an art student, but I hated formal art training. I began trading on a market stall, from Brick Lane to Camden Market and my favourite sources of stock were from the auctions of rural Essex. I bought items that required modifying in some way, maybe it was a dresser base that needed stripping and a new top, maybe a table with wonky legs and a missing drawer. In the lean-to at the end of my garden, I dismantled, cleaned and re-glued. I sanded or stripped layers of old gloss paint, made from scratch and re-assembled. In the process I began to understand the technology of Victoria woodwork and learned the techniques to age new wood and merge it invisibly with the old. I also discovered aesthetics. What attracted buyers? Eventually demand outstripped supply and I set up 6 production of furniture made from scratch.

I climbed into a thousand skips and raked over unsightly heaps of junk. The only certain way to obtain enough supplies was from salvage yards. Once I discovered these treasure troves I became locked into the lifestyle and The Salvager was here to stay. Each show of The Salvager sees me knock up something weird and wonderful from the most unlikely mix of rubbish and reclamation. The results of my extreme recycling - my storage unit made out of doors and fruit crates, for instance - are quite something. And even wackier is my coffee table using concrete and 30 tin tea caddies. Then there is a TV/DVD entertainment unit that was once a galvanised water tank and two 50s fire extinguishers.


I won a gold and silver award in the US for my amazing trailer for “Le Salvager” show that has been shown all over the world. I found all the locations, styled my jeep and scripted the ad myself. That's one of the reasons I have come to the online magazine format to publish “Salvager” magazine in conjunction with Red Square Publications, their unique format allows me to publish the magazine and broadcast TV from its pages online, and supply plans for projects to all you crackpots that do me the honour of being fans and “apprentice” salvagers! This format will allow me to introduce a whole new level to my work and how I interact with you, so expect a lot more than just salvage projects in these pages. Some of you will know that I am a bit of a amateur historian with a special interest in the poor of 19th Century London and Jack the Ripper so expect a ripping good read as well, and if you have any stories or projects you want to share the best one each month gets a “Salvager Certificate” and T shirt so you are no longer an “Apprentice” but a official “Salvager”,


Camden Lock Arts and crafts, jewellery, vintage clothing, food stalls. Courtyards and covered Victorian market hall. Sat and Sun 10-6. Also part open weekdays. Stables Market Chalk Farm Road. A dense warren of small shops selling fashion, artefacts, food and drink Sat and Sun 10-6 Chapel Market Local market selling fruit and veg, clothes and household goods. Tues to Sat 9-6, Sun 8-4. Camden Passage Antiques, books and bric-a-brac. Wednesday and Saturday. Columbia Road Bustling Sunday market selling plants, flowers and things for the garden. Sunday 8-3. Brick Lane Hundreds of stallholders and individuals selling everything and anything Sunday 8-3 Spitalfields Commercial Street - Antiques, vintage clothes, Art and fashion, General market. Mon to Fri and Sun 9-5 UpMarket Hanbury Street Covered market. Clothes, fashion accessories, music and crafts. Sunday 10-5 Petticoat Lane Middlesex Street - Hundreds of stalls selling cut-price clothing, Asian fabrics and leatherwear. Mon to Fri 10-4, Sun 9-3 Bermondsey Market Bermondsey Square - Early-start covered market with antiques and bric-a-brac, particularly silverware and decorative items. Friday 6-2 Borough Market Borough High Street - Gourmet food market under the railway. Thurs 11-5, Fri 12-6, Sat 8-5 Brixton Market Brixton Road Afro-Caribbean specialists. Exotic foods and spices and cut-price music and clothes. Mon to Fri 8-6 (Wed 8-3) Covent Garden In the Market Hall. Antiques on Monday, arts and crafts for the rest of the week. The nearby Jubilee Market has souvenirs, clothes and knick-knacks. 7 days 9.30-6 Piccadilly Market St. James's Church, Piccadilly Antiques on Tuesday, art and crafts Wed to Sat. 11-6 Gray's Antique Market Davies Street Indoor market with many specialist antique dealers. Mon to Fri 10-6, Sat 11-5 Bayswater Road Mostly paintings with some sculpture and jewellery. Sunday 10-6 Shepherd's Bush Local market with good selection of ethnic foods and clothing. Mon to Sat 9-6 Portobello Road World-famous market selling antiques, jewellery, second-hand clothes and bric-a-brac. Sat 8-6.30, part open Mon-Fri, Thursday 9-1 Church Street Market Fruit and veg, clothes, household and bric-a-brac, plus Alfie's antiques market. Mon to Sat 8-5 Best markets for antiques? Bermondsey Market, Camden Passage, Brick Lane Market and Portobello Road Best markets for street fashion /clothes? Camden Lock Market, Petticoat Lane, Brixton Market and Portobello Road Best markets for arts and crafts? Covent Garden Market, Camden Lock and Bayswater Best markets for exotic foods and lifestyle? Brixton Market and Shepherd's Bush Market




RICO’S GARDEN Like retro bikers in striped shirts the Americans start to come, in ones and twos at first. Gradually their numbers merge and swell until they seem to be everywhere ,gorging themselves ,and indulging in a frenzy of sex and complete destruction. This isn't Hollister on July 4th but my back garden. The villain of the peace ,the notorious Colorado beetle . Until 150 years ago this insignificant Rocky Mountain beetle restricted its diet to a little known plant called the Buffalo Burr. The chances are that none of us would have ever known about it if the newly arrived settlers hadn't started to plant a temptingly close relative of this tough mountain plant, the "Irish" potato. Without drawing breath ,the fickle insect immediately switched preferences to the potatoes much more tender leaves. The luscious leaves were very much to the beetles taste and it began to retrace the settlers trail back toward the coast ,spreading into fresh territory at a rate of 80 or 90 miles a year and reaching the distant Atlantic by 1874. Along the way it had often destroyed whole crops of potatoes . Desperate and hungry farmers had no way of controlling the voracious pest other than picking off the offending insects by hand . In 1864 help arrived in the form of a chemical compound, PARIS GREEN, containing copper and12arsenic which helped to slow the depredations of this rapacious insect.

RICO’S GARDEN It was by no means contained ,however, and its arrival at the coast precipitated a reaction in almost every European country, A small outbreak in Germany was successfully eradicated in 1877 precipitating an Europe-wide ban on the import of American potatoes. These measures proved effective until the second half of the first world war when the huge numbers of American soldiers landing in France required feeding .Unfortunately the crucial US troop supplies that arrived in Bordeaux had stowaways hiding in their potato stores. The Colorado beetle had arrived in Europe and was to become a pest that needed massive controls. I remember seeing posters in British post offices as a schoolboy that required the statutory notification to the Ministry of Agriculture, of all sightings of stripy beetles. Thirty five years on ,of course I'd forgotten all about that .I was new to France and I desperately wanted a vegetable garden. I had the best part of an acre sitting out front doing nothing .A farmer friend obligingly turned the long uncultivated ground with his lovely old tractor in the autumn giving the winter frosts a chance to kill the roots and break up the clods of earth . 13

RICO’S GARDEN What with one thing and another ,not least the making of a TV series, I never got to plant the land up till May. My potatoes went in late, but were planted strictly according to the instructions of a monsieur Thomas who gave me a full bucket of seed potatoes .They were 'Charlottes' ,a popular French variety, and his planting instructions were explicit. With his huge size 12 feet ,monsieur Thomas mimed the careful spacing of the potatoes. One foot down ,place a potato, next foot down place the next potato ,and so on. It was all very theatrical and wasn't rocket science, but I nodded appreciatively as the spuds i was planting were a gift. My farmer neighbours potatoes were well advanced by this time and as my potatoes grew and flourished I never noticed anything out of the ordinary .The first beetle I found took me straight back to the post office warning poster I'd seen so many years before. The centimetre long ,striped yellow and black beetles are very distinguishable. I was absolutely convinced that this, I must confess, attractive beetle was ,very definitely a beetle of the Colorado persuasion. On its own it seemed innocuous, but impressed by its reputation ,I crushed it and moved on. 14

RICO’S GARDEN The next day i never saw one ,nor the day after. The day after that I found five. With every day that passed their numbers increased dramatically .Soon I was picking dozens of the greedy buggers off the leaves three ,four and even more times a day. This ritual started to include the turning of leaves looking for their clusters of yellowish/ orange eggs. Then I noticed their disgusting fat red larvae crushing became a revolting procedure. I tried squidging them wrapped in a leaf, but the larvae were so fat and full of potato leaf that they popped explosively. I collected handfuls at a time ,placed them in a pile on the ground and then squashed the lot with my foot. Desperate measures. The beetles response to being picked off the plant was to 'play dead' and exude a nasty yellow liquid . This liquid is just like thick piss and is designed to deter predators .It's apparently very effective as I never saw a bird eat a single beetle. At least they don't nip like Ladybirds when you've collected a handful. The thing that makes them so devastating is that there are two generations in a year at this latitude and possibly 3 15 generations further south.

RICO’S GARDEN The early larvae had already pupated and re emerged as adult beetles ,which is why they were arriving in such huge numbers.

Thankfully I only had 4 rows Colorado potato beetle larvae dini of potatoes and my constant attentions were keeping this pest at bay. Spraying can be largely ineffective as the hard little beggars rapidly build up resistance to toxins. When I looked at my neighbours potatoes up on the hill and only 300 yards away ,every plant had been stripped. No foliage means no potatoes. The temptation to spray was overwhelming, but I wanted to keep my produce organic .I knew that they also are inclined to attack other related plants, and though I found a few on my aubergines . My tomatoes and precious Chilli peppers seemed beetle free. I never gave in ,and persevered with the time honoured hand picking technique honed by the American settlers. I was ,in turn ,well rewarded with a couple of 16 barrels full of delicious organic spuds.


Every year now I know exactly what to expect. Adult beetles overwinter underground at the field margins and some farmers afford a degree of protection to their crops by forming a shallow trench lined with black plastic all the way ing on nightshade leaves round the cultivated area. The young beetles are unable to fly and make their way to the potatoes on foot .Once they're trapped in the trench the suns heat on the black plastic cooks them, or that, at least, is the theory. Personally ,I'll just keep picking them off. It seems more natural, somehow, than an ugly plastic lined trench all round my veggies. So if you've done a bike run into Europe and you spot a stripy stowaway in your kit on the return trip do the UK a big favour and squelch the beggar under your boot. Up to now the UK has escaped this pest and will be forever in your debt. 17

An introductio The basics.

I absolutely love my life. I grow a good deal of my own food now, which takes up part of my time, but I get to spend a good part of the week mooching round boot fairs and auction houses, which suits me. What exactly am I looking for when I’m out and about? On any given day that would be the devils own job to answer as the truth is, usually, nothing in particular. The unexpected is what keeps me turning out of bed summer and winter, but there are always certain things I am hoping to find. For instance I always know when I’m low on the workshop essentials such as nails and screws, and start looking for these well in advance of actually running out. I can nearly always find all I need in boot fairs, usually made up as lucky dip 50 p bags, but if I’m really lucky they’ll come in full boxes at about a quarter of the shop price. I often find bottles of wood glue (PVA) but as this is one of those things that can dry up or otherwise deteriorate, I always undo the cap and check the contents. One guy tried to sell me glue he’d diluted right down with water. I suppose he wanted to increase his profit margins, but I soon got my money back. Another reason for checking is that PVA glue can be affected by frost. 18

on to Salvaging If the glue is old and was stored in a cold shed it may well be curdled and useless. It smells funny when this has happened ,and is a sure way to tell, so its worth the hassle of nosing at the contents. The cheapest way to buy glue, in any case, is by the gallon at Wickes or Jewson's etc. but do save your empty glue pots so you’ve something to decant into. I can usually find all the bits I need including mastics, cheap tins of paint, hinges ,coach bolts, handles and lots of ornamental stuff at these boot fairs . One thing I’m never tempted to skimp on, though ,is sandpaper. A boot fair special is cheap Chinese sandpaper. Without wishing to generalise, I have never had a decent piece of sandpaper from the far east. I'm always willing to be proved wrong ,but I always buy good quality sandpaper by the roll. It saves loads of work, doesn't keep ripping and gives a better finish. Given the extended life you get on a sheet of high grade paper it don’t work out any dearer in the long run, so it isn’t worth saving a couple of pence. 19

An introductio Finding a location.

If you want nice old stuff to play around with, avoid boot fairs in new towns where the more antique bits can be a trifle thin on the ground, instead try the fairs that serve towns with lots of lovely old lofts and sheds. This is where the interesting stuff is easier to find, assuming of course that you’re up early like all the other dealers. Also, try to visit the fairs with plenty of space, and the pitches are cheap. That way, the sellers have got room for all the cheap ,junky stuff . The funny thing about boot fairs is that its so hard to be first to the good gear. It doesn’t matter how early you are, there’ll be a dozen dealers jumping in before you grabbing all the good gear. In my more eager days the only living things I saw on my way to the fairs were urban foxes and the tail end of the late night party goers. I got there so early that I’d be waiting in the dark for the first traders to arrive so I could guarantee first pickings, not forgetting a decent torch of course. It only gives you the advantage for a short while but it seemed part of the game20and I so love the early

on to Salvaging

Boot Fairs and Council Tips. You’ll often find people that do house clearances at boot fairs. These buy lorry loads at a time and in fact often get their stock for nothing ,if they’re the fortunate rascals that clear houses for solicitors and auctioneers.

These move in usually after a bereavement and sounds predatory but every antique in the world belonged to someone now no longer living. The relatives have been round, if there are any, and have taken their pick, sending some stuff off to auction, maybe, but usually leaving loads of saleable bits and pieces they neither want nor care about. This is the stuff that ends up stuffed into tea chests down the boot fair. Whatever these people sell must be sold on fast to leave room for the next clearance, so they will always do a deal. Everybody in the market knows these guys, and descend on them like locusts, climbing on the lorry, fighting to be first to the good gear. This is law of the jungle territory and gentility is nowhere to be seen . Just fill a box with all the bits you want and ask the price as a lot rather than individually. You’ll be surprised at how much you can get for a couple of quid ,and remember, that if it comes from a clearance it usually works .I never trust anything that has the plug cut off. It’s too drastic a move for something in good working order, so avoid like the plague. The distressing thing with clearances is the personal effects no longer wanted such as diaries and photos. 21

22 23

An introductio

I keep any diaries I come across to one side and if I reuse a photo frame I always keep the original picture in the back .

Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty if you are after old fittings ,as these are usually found at the bottom of greasy old boxes. I’ll usually pick out an old screw driver or something similar to help turn the contents over as these boxes invariably contain a good number of sharp and pointy things that make searching ,if not actually dangerous, at least a little uncomfortable. You could always carry a work glove. I always make a little pile of all the things I’m making my mind up about. It stakes a claim ,and you can always put things back if you decide you don't want them. One of my tricks ,though, is to leave the stuff on the ground when I’m asking the price. It implies you aint too bothered about it and the price will be lower than if you have it clutched in eager looking hands. Good derogatory phrases such as,” how much is that pile of rusty old tat ?” or ,”I’ll buy this junk if its cheap “. can also help keep the price low but need a thicker skin to pull off effectively. An even better technique is to actually start to walk off before turning and asking the price. It puts the vendor at the greatest psychological disadvantage and the price will be the lowest. Keep a good eye out for bits you can pull apart and re-use as decoration, such as picture frames, iron castings and turned 24

on to Salvaging

wooden legs. It don't really matter what things are made of as there are many techniques available to disguise even nasty plastics at the finishing stage. Plastic is only a modern replacement for plaster anyway so why worry as long as the end product is good. The ends of curtain poles make great finials on mirror frames, for which we’ll also need the mirror itself. Old wardrobe doors are a favorite of mine, both ancient and modern. The bevel edges of old mirror add instant class to a project. Any carved wooden panels also catch my eye and can be incorporated easily into new furniture.

Good tabletops are also a great buy as its simplicity itself to create a new base for a good top. These cost a fortune to buy and a good well seasoned top will save you loads of work even if you have to belt sand the whole thing back to life. Interesting collections of almost anything can look good if they are designed into a funky piece of furniture .Hammers, nutcrackers, pliers, scissors, spanners, old saws they’re all cheap and I’ll be suggesting ways to use them as time goes on. I have often found good re-usable doors at boot fairs . The six panel old pine doors are my favourites in all sorts of builds ,and tend to be stacks cheaper than salvage yards where they know the real be continued in the 25 Next edition

Bish, Bosh, Bash Well its that time again and Despite the best efforts of assistant chief constable Bill Holland the irrepressible Bulldog Bash is going ahead yet again this year. Celebrating 25 years of hard core revelry, over the next three editions of the salvager I will be bringing you updates and a full report of how it went because I will be there giving it loads. So if you see me don't be afraid to ask for a picture and if you send it to the email below I will put a gallery of all the ones taken in the September issue (names and times in the emails please). Now the grand old lady of biker based festivity, you'll find it all here. A one stop shop for a proper party. Whether your bag is a solid dose of nitrous fuelled entertainment on the drag strip or letting your tongue slather over the custom builds there is something here for everybody. You can dance your backside off or raise your blood pressure with an unhealthy portion of hog roast. There are plenty of good tattooists if you wanna enhance your ink. It don’t matter what the weather throws at you ,the Bulldog always pulls it out of the hat. So get yourself down there and join the party get loads of pictures and get then here for publication 26 Respect to the HAMC 81.


Status Quo join The Damned and Bad Manners for the Bulldog Bash Silver Jubilee! Status Quo will headline the Bulldog’s Main Stage on Friday 12th August 2011.Lining-up with The Damned, Bad Manners and many more. The 25th Anniversary Bulldog Bash promises 4 days of the very best in hard-rocking, nitrous fuelled entertainment from the 11th to 14th of August 2011, Shakespeare County Raceway in Warwickshire. Quo are undoubtedly one of the world’s most enduring live acts, this seminal British band has influenced a generation of musicians and entertained millions with their driving, no-nonsense brand of rock. Francis Rossi commented, “We love playing the Bulldog and it’s fair to say that we are delighted to be back. It’s one of the liveliest shows that the band play anywhere on the circuit and we’re looking forward to giving the crowd a serious Quo28rocking!”

2011 sees the release of their latest studio album “Quid Pro Quo” and the 12th August show will be one of the first shows in the UK at which the band air a couple of new tracks. Plus of course a whole host of the massive catalogue of hits that made the band’s name. True icons of the British rock scene, Status Quo have sold over 118 million records worldwide and had more hit albums (32) in the UK album charts than even The Beatles. The Quo have recorded a massive 63 British Hit Singles having notched up 22 top ten UK singles since their first, ‘Pictures Of Matchstick Men’, reached number 7 in the UK chart in January 1968.


The Damned, featuring original vocalist Dave Vanian and guitarist Captain Sensible, will Headline Saturday August 13th. The Damned, who are still defiantly challenging audiences, promise an amazing live show to mark their 35th anniversary in the music business at Bulldog 25. Hailed as “pioneers of Gothic Rock” edgy, loud, always entertaining – yet never taking themselves too seriously; The Damned were the first of the London Punk bands to release a single (‘New Rose’) on Stiff Records, in 1976 and have subsequently scored 6 top 40 hit singles out of 17 top 100 chart entries, let alone half a dozen top 40 hit albums. The Main stage kicks off on Thursday evening at 6pm (See for full music listings). 30

Show spokesman Echo said: “We’re as proud as hell to be able to invite everyone to join us in celebrating 25 years of the bash. We beat all the unjustified attempts to stop the event thanks to the support of the biking community, the people of Stratford and the local council - so let’s enjoy the fruits of our victory and celebrate the landmark 25th year of the bash in style.” Custom bike show applications are coming in thick and fast, and spaces are limited – organisers require a full spec sheet, a short covering note detailing why the bike should be considered and a couple of good photos, upload details of your bike via the Bulldog website, a full list of classes can be seen on-line.


RWYB Run Wot You Brung, Drag racing will be the main attraction for speed freaks, thanks to Shakespeare County Raceway’s superb facilities and drag strip surface that is second to none in Europe. Track times are between 9:30 am to 5:00 pm on Friday and Saturday, 9.30 to 1.00pm on Sunday. All bikes must pass scrutineering; which begins at 8:30am Friday and continues throughout the RWYB sessions. The costs for RWYB are just £10 per day Friday, Saturday and Sunday; giving unlimited runs within the days sessions. Top stunt professionals will be performing exhibition displays on the drag strip all weekend, from formation wheelies and doughnuts, to top fuel dragsters screaming down the strip, funny cars, Nitrous Harleys, will ensure a non stop weekend of top class action.


Competitors for the RWYB Drag Racing should be aware of the following: • Drivers license required for signing on • Motorcycle leathers, gloves and helmet (jeans & trainers not permitted). • All Motorcycles must be clean and not dropping oil or fluids • All motorcycles must have an adequate chain guard. Fantastic trophies and prize money for the fastest runs in each of the following classes – American, British, European, Buell, Jap 500cc, Jap 1000cc, Jap Unlimited, Trike, Classic, Ladies and Non Road Legal - which will be 33 presented on Saturday evening on the Main Stage.

Other Bulldog 25 attractions include, a monster funfair, featuring all the latest white-knuckle thrill rides. A huge retail village, packed with all kinds of biking and alternative lifestyle gear, Rave Tent for Dance music fans, A brand new outdoor sound stage, new bars with draft beers on tap, Strong-man competition, plus a host of side-shows and festival attractions to keep visitors entertained.

Ticket are £60 per person until July 15th 2011, after that the gate price of £70 applies – book on-line via the website or send a cheque or postal order recorded delivery for £60 by15th July/£70 after the 15th July per person, plus a first class postage paid SEA, to arrive no later than the 15th of July 2011 to: The Bulldog Bash 25, Ticket office, PO Box 5026, East Reading, RG6 1QZ Cheques should be made payable to: Bulldog Bash Ltd 34

Details you need to know if you go Main Stage: Thurs - JILTED GENERATION, GUNS 2 ROSES, BLIZZARD OF OZZ Fri - STATUS QUO, BAD MANNERS, GUN, PIG IRON, THE VIRGIN MARYS, ANDY SHARROCKS & THE SMOKIN JACKETS Sat - THE DAMNED, NICO’S ALCHEMY, SIMON McBRIDE, NECK, IMICUS, THE HOVERCRAFT PIRATES Area 81 Rock Club (second stage): Fri - GODSIZED, STONE KINGS, HENRYS FUNERAL SHOE, RIOT NOISE, LIVIN IN A VALVESTATE, LIBERTY LIES, EMPIRE OF FOOLS, THE SELF TITLED, VIRGINIA SLINT Sat - GENTLEMEN OF DISTORTED SOUND, THE BUFFALO KINGS, THE RAM RAID, HELLBOUND, BLACKWOLF, THE SNORTING DOGS,TEQUILA DEALER, BONEMUD, EYE FOR AN EYE’ Competitors for the RWYB Drag Racing should be aware of the following: • Drivers license required for signing on • Motorcycle leathers, gloves and helmet (jeans & trainers not permitted). • All Motorcycles must be clean and not dropping oil or fluids • All motorcycles must have an adequate chain guard. Fantastic trophies and prize money for the fastest runs in each of the following classes – American, British, European, Buell, Jap 500cc, Jap 1000cc, Jap Unlimited, Trike, Classic, Ladies and Non Road Legal - which will be presented on Saturday evening on the Main 35 Stage.































Life and Livi Most of us lucky enough to own second homes in France, enjoy them almost exclusively in those idyllic months between Easter and autumn when they’re rich with blossom, buzzing insects, lavender fields and long, lazy meal “en plein air “. Winter can be a very different story. Many permanent residents enjoy the mild winters of the south and Atlantic coast, but venture far inland and you’ll likely encounter the harsher continental climate that holds much of France in its frosty grip. I spent most of the long Vosgean winter comfortably ensconced in my hilltop farmhouse, close to my reassuringly massive log pile and well stocked freezers. It was long and unusually severe with deep snow virtually a permanent fixture. The first snow fell heavily in mid November, stayed white for Xmas, loitered stubbornly into the new year and disappeared overnight in early March. Snow drifted against the back door up to a metre deep, jamming the cat flap and forcing my two cats to capitulate and curl up happily indoors in front of the fire. If you can’t tolerate your own company then a permanent move to an area with long cold winters may well be a move 38 too far.

ing in France In the mountains snow ploughs may keep essential roads open, but favourite paths through fields and forest become virtually impassable.. Walking through deep snow is exhausting, it gets down your wellies and can hide all manner of ankle twisting traps. Even short drives to town can be nerve-racking when there are perilous drops to the side and unsalted slippery roads. No matter how cosy you are at home, prolonged close contact can fray tempers sending minor disagreements spiralling out of control. French television is undeniably grim and even francophones may find that a parabolic dish tuned to an Astra satellite and the good old BBC can help quell the desire to tear all your hair out. If you’re more bookish, stock up well as you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can plough through a stack of 3 for 2 bookshop specials. The isolation of winter provided me with uninterrupted opportunity to write and paint and I set myself up to work where I could enjoy a panoramic view across a snow covered valley. Grain and bacon fat scattered just outside the window lured nearly 20 species of hungry birds from woodpeckers to nuthatches that squabbled entertainingly over choice tit-bits. 39

Life and Livi I also visited friends thanks to my trusty jeep, though even that tough little vehicle suffered a damaged fuel line and exhaust pipe, forcing through drifts. Winter building work came to a dead stop, all jobs deferred by the frozen heap of sharp sand that defied even my pick axe. Heavy rain finally dissolved the last 60 centimetres of snow in early March raising river levels 2 metres and sending muddy water lapping against my workshop door in Fontenoy. My desire to own a second riverside house demanded a fatalistic acceptance of freak flooding maybe once a decade and I’d organised the electrics etc. so they stay well out of harm’s way. The vision of a river in full flood swirling angrily on my patio was very disturbing. I was glad to see the back of winter with a much reduced log pile and depleted reserves of home grown vegetables conspiring to remind me of jobs that needed addressing. I buy all my logs directly from my village which is surrounded by dense community-owned, deciduous woods. The normal price is around 25 Euros a cubic metre delivered to my door. A cheaper option, though, is to cut the wood myself so back in February, 40

ing in France I filled in a form requesting an allotment of “bois de nettoiment” or “clean –up “ wood. Unwanted trees, carefully selected and marked by the forestry department, are divided annually among any locals still active enough to go into the forest to cut them down. I went to a meeting in the village town hall where about 15 applicants, myself included, were given numbers on arrival that corresponded to scraps of folded paper on a plate. The presiding forestry officer drew these one by one, noted the number, and awarded parcels of timber from a list in front of him. My allocation comprised 11 trees numbering 70 to 80 in sector 10. These numbers were precisely noted on the official form that constitutes my licence to brandish a chainsaw in the public forest. Locating 11 numbered trees scattered in thick forest is no easy task so I bribed a fellow villager to help track them down. It took half an hour to locate them, all luckily, within 200 metres of the road. I’ve steamed in to the felling, chainsaw blazing, as living trees should ideally be cut for firewood before sap rises in spring to facilitate drying. I’ll have mine cut and split just in time. 41

Life and Livi It’s no easy task getting the logs back to my house but once they’re stacked the mayor will measure the pile and charge me 5 Euros a cubic metre. Hard work but dirt cheap for hardwood logs. I’m also tapping some trees. I found a Canadian article which described the presence of sugary sap in silver birches and all varieties of maple although more diluted than in sugar maples proper. I Can’t find any maples so I’ve wangled permission to tap some silver birches on a friends land. Birches are easily recognised but must measure 25 cms thick, to minimise damage. They’re tapped by boring a 5 cm deep hole into the trunk a metre above the ground. The diameter should be the same as hosepipe. Once drilled, clean hose is forced tightly into the hole with the other end draining into an equally clean container. Stuff gaps with rag to keep out creepy crawlies and leave the container to fill with oozing sap. At this point the pipe can be removed and the hole plugged. This sap needs boiling to reduce it to syrup a task done preferably outdoors or it’ll make your whole kitchen sticky. It can 42also be fermented to make a palatable birch sap wine.

ing in France Can’t guarantee the results but it’ll be fun to play around with. Apart from relocating some rhubarb and neatening up the strawberries, it’s still far too early to plant up my vegetable plots which total an acre in area. My farmhouse is exposed but south facing and my garden thankfully escapes most of the frosts that cause problems lower down the valley. It’s wise to be cautious so at the moment my kitchen table is covered with seed trays awaiting transfer to the cooler greenhouse after germination. I save a lot of useful seed each year from tomatoes, pumpkins and the like and buy anything else I need here in France. French packets seem to contain lots more seed for less money, I suppose because French gardens are, typically larger. There are a few hard to find seeds though such as parsnips, swede and runner beans which I’ll get my dear old mum to send me. My neighbours were curious about last year’s runner beans but not enough to sample them. I’m also convinced that they’d only use swede to fatten rabbits. I can’t deny a cultural affection for the familiar vegetables I grew up with though the French are probably right about swede. 43

Salvager C We are in pre-production of

Salvage Challenge three Teams of three people have two weeks and £50 to produce as much saleable inventory as possible from reclaimed, salvaged and scavenged items. They use their own workshop area and the location they live to find items. they will have a video link to me for advice on salvage if they run out of ideas but it’s like a wild card only so much time on line with me to get answers. At the end of the two weeks the teams will take all their inventory to market the team that nets the most money win the day. So if you think you can take up the challenge send us a mail and tell us what you have salvaged of late. 44

Challenge Do you have what it takes to be a salvager! If you want to be in a team or you can muster a team of three and want to be considered for the show send a e-mail by the link below. You need to be available for two weeks over 18 and at least one of your team needs to have a valid driving licence. 45







Art and projects for sale


e From Rico & Friends. This picture is by Rico And is titled Football It is 16x20 Acrylic on canvas signed and dated

ÂŁ225.00 inc post and packing, unframed. If you would like to offer your art and projects for sale on these pages email Rico To find out how to 53


Salvager July edition  

The first edition of Salvager Magazine July 2011

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