Monday 24 May 2021

Building a coracle

We spent the last weekend building a coracle at Gorfanc. Haven't had so much fun in ages. Gorfanc is an idyllic spot near Carno with lots of lovely things to do, hosted by Pippa and Rob. If you enjoy sleepless uncomfortable nights, you can camp (some people like camping - not me guv'nor).

Here is how you make a coracle (the pictures which follow imply that H did all the work - not so. She will produce a much better blogpost that has pictures of me doing things):

  1. Acquire lots of long thin bits of willow. If they are dry, soak them.
  2. Rob will provide you with a seat plank. Put it on the ground and poke 4 willows into its prepared holes.
  3. Poke 24 more willow sticks into the ground according the the Magic Measuring Sticks you will be gven.
  4. Say hello to Pippa when she comes round (often) to check you haven't made a total pig's ear of anything.
  5. Remove the seat. Start to weave between the poles, according to the instructions you have been given.
  6. Pop the seat back in, and do lots more weaving according to instructions. When finished, take an arty shot of your workpersonship with 2 (two) shadows.
  7. Listen carefully to Pippa's instructions to how to bend the poles over. Then do it. The resulting hoops have to be the same height and curvature. And the willow mustn't snap. Tricky!
  8. Do more tricky bending.
  9. Tie special string around the crissy-crossy bits.
  10. Survey the field of inverted part-made coracles: easily mistaken for a neolithic cemetery.
  11. Detach the coracle from the planet. Notice it looks like a boat when you invert it.
  12. Over coffee, watch a demonstration of paddling technique. Then try it.
  13. Find the immense roll of calico, and measure out a stretch big enough to shroud your colander.
  14. Following instructions, spend a long time sewing the calico over the basket weaving (yeah, all the effort that went into beautiful weaving is now invisible). Unskilled sewers will leave traces of blood all over the calico, facilitating later DNA identification.
  15. Put your coracle in the boot of your car (notice how easily it fits), and drive it home.
  16. At a later date, when the weather is dry (yeah, right), apply bitumen paint to the underside to effect waterproofing of the calico.
Say farewell to a terrific bunch of people and hosts. Take a small detour to try out paddling someone else's coracle on real water. H will provide you with a video of this ... Take care to grab a picture of the super VR wall box near the old Carno post office.
Hope to met Pippa and Rob again. If there's a following wind, I may even buy some bees from them.