The Man in the Denim Blue Buff

Sunday, 23rd April 2006


Pheasant came to the bird feeders while we were sitting out at the patio table.

Ash tree, still not in leaf

RichardThe Original Buff (see link below), a birthday present from my mother-in-law Betty, converts from a scarf to a beanie, to a bandana, to a balaclava . . . or alternatively you could end up looking like a grizzled pirate at a St John's ambulance demonstration.

I think it will be useful though; unlike a woolly hat or scarf it doesn't take up a lot of room in your haversack, so this versatile tube of stretchy microfibre is something that you can always pop in with your drawing kit and sandwiches when you head for the hills.

Softwood v. Hardwood

I've put teak oil on the new patio furniture and this is the first time we've tried them out. Our previous softwood table and chairs are sprouting fungus in places so it seemed a good idea to go for hardwood that will last and which doesn't need an initial fungicidal treatment.

But I had an image of homeless orang utans in my mind so I asked William Armitage at Armitage's Garden Centre if he could tell me more about the origins of the hardwood. He tells me that the set we bought is not Teak, it is made from a Malaysian hardwood by an FSC accredited manufacturer so I shouldn't worry too much;


chaffinch, robin, starling
Chaffinch, robin, starling

orangTropical Hardwood and Garden Furniture

William Armitage, Armitages Garden Centre

Tropical hardwood takes several generations before it becomes economically viable to fell.

A sustainable forest is one that is replanted every year with an amount of trees to replace the projected harvest quantities. This is quite simple with temperate region plantation softwood; if it's for paper, chip board or MDF then up to 20 years old, 30 years for construction timber, these time scales are relatively easy to estimate quantities for as the increase in demand is pretty constant, however when you are trying to estimate demand for fashionable hardwood furniture for 100 years in the future, it is impossible. Therefore to say that any hardwood is from a sustainable forest is a bit risky, though plenty of manufacturers do.

The word plantation in this country is given to mean a block of timber planted with the intention of harvesting, in the developing world it is the other way round, it is a block of primary rainforest that the government has given over to be harvested with the intention of re-planting, more often that not, it is not replanted, economical pressure takes over and the land is used for subsistence farming, you can't knock em, people have to eat. (incidentally, the size and shape of the block is not decided by environmental constraints like Orang Utan habitat or river basin flood soaking, there is a direct correlation between the size of the plantations and the amount of debt the government is in).

The only countries that actively re-plant hardwoods are the countries that don't much care for their people, so if a furniture manufacturer wants the closest thing to sustainable they have to buy their timber from Military Dictators.

The furniture we sell is from FSC accredited manufacturers,

FSC, see link belowThe Forest Stewardship Council are backed by (among others) B&Q they monitor the hardwood timber industry and try to regulate it, they are still pretty much in their infancy but they are trying to make a difference, even though it is the saw mill that is accredited and not the logger, the chaps with the big saws will fell anything, but they can get more money for their logs if they are from designated plantations that match the standards laid down by the FSC. I do not believe illegal logging will ever stop, however this system means that illegal loggers don't make as much money, carrots are much more effective than sticks. Next Page


Buff headwear (it will look better on you than it does on me).

Forest Stewardship Council

Armitages Garden Centre

Richard Bell,