Sipi Falls.

Uploading photos is a slow process so tomorrow I’ll try uploading fewer photos at a time. But right now it’s time for me to head home. Details of ‘home’ will come later and might cause shock and horror amongst those living in relatively civilised homes.

After the work came the recuperation. Sipi Falls.

I don’t think we had a full day off when we were working with John and Figious.

So, for a bit of ‘relaxation’ we went on a taxi ride for about 90 minutes. We had the treat of sitting in the front alongside the driver. Usually we are crammed in the back. The cost was the equivalent of about £2 I think.

We met an official near the Falls trek entrance and were then introduced to Simon our personal ranger and guide.

He quickly proved to be friendly, helpful and informative. The pace was nice and steady as the terain was rugged. After a short time we reached the first water fall. Photos show the approach to the area within the Mount Elgon range.


On Monday 28th January we travelled to Namagumba to meet Figious. He had been one of the students provided by the PONT Workshop in 2017. Back then he quickly showed a talent for decorative turning. Figious has suffered from epilepsy since childhood and as such he missed a lot of his time at school. This lack of education has limited his understanding of English, especially with technical words and expressions.

During the last two years he has had a fair amount of time on the lathe and this has acted as a form of therapy. He has had fewer and less severe epilepsy attacks.

We presented a wide range of tools to him which should give him more opportunities to produce a bigger and better range of products.

After tweeking his lathe and shaving horse I set a couple of tests for him. He produced some good results.

After this I showed him my way to turn a stool /chair leg. Part of the aim was to produce a fairly simple pattern which could be reproduced quite quickly. His preferred pattern was a series of beads and hollows that would be more challenging to quickly repeat. We left him with the task of making more legs of my suggested pattern so that we could return the tenons after the wood was dry. Our schedule for the following three days was to return to Nampangala to finish John’s lathe.

When we did return he had turned another five legs which had all dried. Each leg was returned to ensure that any ovalness caused by shrinking was removed.

The best matching four legs were drilled for receiving the stretchers which had also been turned.

Due to the thinness of the seat we made two boards to double the thickness. After adding these pieces we drilled the holes for the legs.

We had a dry assembly to check everything. With adhesive added we did the final assembly and used the cramps to help secure everything in place.

The ends of the legs were cut to equalise their lengths and the surplus was cut flush with the seat.

After lunch we tentatively removed the cramps to pose with the finished stool.

All in all it worked quite well despite some unequal angles.

Figious seemed very pleased with the finished product and also appreciated the speedier leg production time. He also spotted the obvious advantage of having the spacers much lower down the leg. His previous placement put them just under the seat, as handles, which did nothing to strengthen the overall structure.

I really hope he is able to achieve his plan to make many more and sell them.

The photos show a selection of shots including the test piece where I copied a section of Figious’ turning. The next phase was for him to copy some of my turning. I deliberately turned a complex series of beads to really challenge him. His response was really quite impressive. Part of the aim with this exercise was to emphasise the consistency needed for repeated bead turning and control of the skew chisel. Other shots show Lillian with her undoubted abilities with children. Figious’ mother and sister are also shown. One of my favourite shots is with me on the lathe with banana trees and other exotic trees in the background.

Tree selection at Nampagala village.

Here’s a selection of trees found on John’s fathers plot. Local names, in no particular order and a ‘H’ or ‘S’ to indicate whether hard or soft. The local system only describes whether the wood is hard or soft unlike the UK system.

Muvule H, Music H, Music S, Mukoko S, Mukunyu S, Margon H, Carpkus S, Syprus S (not Cyprus, this is a broad leaved tree), Iera S, Pina S. Included in there is a cashew nut tree. The tree with no obvious leaves has opening leaf buds in anticipation of the wet season. The tree with Lillian reaching up to a branch is a Jack Fruit tree, a photo shows a relatively small fruit. Also included is a mango tree and an orange tree. The tree with John reaching up to some dry, seeds/flowers has a bark that can be peeled from the living tree and worked to produce a fabric like material traditionally used used for clothing in the old days. Part of the trunk is shown separately. A branch had been lopped off so that goats could feed on the leaves. Later the wood was converted into firewood.