I've done my bit for Queen and Country and very proud to have served...
CLICK ON THE LINKS BELOW TO VIEW ARCHIVE PHOTOS OF VARIOUS KNIVES I MADE TO DATE
A few snaps of me for the record...
My first attempts at knife making back in October 2005
Happy as one can be that my good friend Bruce Parry - who has several of my knives plus a new one he was collecting - on his visiting me late December 2015 .
Activities I used to do, most of which, alas, I can no longer partake in...
Out in the bush in Oz.
Fishing in at Kyama in Oz
Pest control in the Cheviots.
Pondering on how I could miss so many damn Clays!
A nice day Fly Fishing with something for the pot.
'Four Bowls' Club Champion four years running.
Northumberland Open Gala Team Championship Trophy.
All dressed up on a formal game shoot
My favourite Bike of all time - amongst the many
different bikes I had - the Goldwing Aspencade.
Caravanning - home from home sort of thing,
but too much work and aches for my liking.
Click on image for build project images etc.
Nothing grand or posh, but it's one of my
long held wishes finally fulfilled, albeit a bit too late in life.
Took a few months to build, Mostly trial and error, but
build it I did. So have a look at the project built images..
Click on image for project build photos...
(Now updated to show off a nice Re-spray)
First fishing trip to Loch Etive, near Oban.
A most beautiful place and hardly anyone about.
Another fishing trip to Loch Etive.
this time with my nephew in tow.
Base camp all set up at the Caravan Club site a stone
throw away from the sea near Oban.
OF INTEREST TO VETERANS...
Fishing for Heroes - UK Charity
Free Fly fishing tuition and free regular Regional supervised fishing days for Veterans with service related mental health issues.
If you know of a Veteran who might be suffering from depression, raised anxiety, over alertness or feeling on edge, panicky, easily upset or angry, suffering from a lack of or disturbed sleep, frequent nightmares, flashbacks to military events, irritability and aggressive behaviour, lack of concentration, being easily startled, awkward/odd behaviour or recklessness, anti-social, breaks down emotionally easily at the least upset, abusing drugs/alcohol, indifferent, detached and cold towards family and people in general, avoids crowded places, overly security conscious, finds little or no pleasure in doing things he/she used to enjoy etc., there's a chance that he/she may need professional help.
While the NHS provides many a good professional service, the GP, who's normally the first point of contact, is often not clued up when it comes to dealing with veterans with mental health issues. Therefore, by all means, one should discuss the symptoms with one's own GP, but in addition one ought to self refer to Combat Stress helpline on
0800 138 1619 (24 hrs service)
Combat Stress, will be only too glad to help in any way they can... All the staff at Combat Stress are specialists in dealing with veterans suffering with mental health issues related to their former service in the Armed Forces. With the help of Combat Stress one would be able to access other relevant services, often locally, which one is not normally aware of. Complacency is a thief of time - act and you'll reap the benefits that are there for the asking...
As much as I care about the wellbeing of fellow veterans, I'm not in a position or qualified to help directly. The best I can do is to provide the details as above, which is similar to how I was able to obtain the professional help that gave me hope and an improved quality of life.
Combat Stress supports any veteran from any war or conflict. If you're not sure, contact me!
COURAGE AND FEAR GO HAND IN HAND...
I, like any old army pal of mine, are embarrassed about the all too frequent misuse of the word 'Hero', which seems to be more commonly applicable nowadays to anyone who is or has served in the armed forces. Whether a soldier has seen active service or not, he or she will never think of themselves as heroes, no matter what they've gone through physically and/or mentally. Becoming a real hero is not something one plans for! What we all feel however, is great pride in having served and done our duty, sometimes under very difficult circumstances. Being of service is quite a fulfilling experience in itself. Above all, though, it is the special bond that one develops with fellow comrades in arms that is most gratifying and enduring. Not merely best mates, it's much more than that - best mates forever that neither time or distance diminishes.
Heroes come from all walks of life, of any race, culture or beliefs. In normal day to day affairs, no one considers themselves being special or on the lookout for opportunities to act heroically! Many a selfless heroic act goes unnoticed, which for the true hero is quite alright. They may not even admit to having been brave or uncommonly courageous! There are various forms of courage, which I shall attempt to describe below, even though I appreciate that there's more to selfless courage and bravery than I or anyone else can put into words.
1. Personal courage is one's conscious effort to bear stoically, when experiencing adversity, discomfort, pain, agony and personal tragic loss.
2. Physical courage is one's ability to overcome fear when one is facing danger, threat of severe injury or death at a personal level be it out of duty or voluntarily in order to protect others.
3. Moral courage is to remain steadfast against injustice at any level, unfairness, intimidation, oppression, corruption, abuse of power and threats there from that could result in being ostracised, loss of employment or worse.
It's fair to say that almost everybody experiences fear at some time or other to some degree. The greater the fear, the greater the courage needed to hold that fear in check and go on resolutely to do what you feel is the right thing to do at the time. We are naturally inclined to preserve ourselves and to consciously act otherwise takes some doing no matter the situation. Most people who perform acts of heroism are self effacing and when asked why they acted in the way they did considering that they were putting their life at risk of being injured and even killed, the most common answer is usually; "I just did it without thinking, it was the right thing to do I suppose..."
As an ex-serviceman who took an oath to serve Queen and Country, I did my best to do my duty and on my Discharge book it was noted that I did do my duty and did so in an exemplary manner. I must admit though, that when it comes down to the nitty gritty on active service, it was my mates who I cared and looked out for and likewise, they cared and looked out for me - not merely out of duty, but on account of a special bond that servicemen form amongst themselves, so deeply embedded that such a bond stays with them for the rest of their lives. I served with a good number of real heroes and yet none ever claimed to be deserving of such an accolade. After all, we were just doing our duty to safeguard the innocent and British way of life...
We had a lot to contend with and all of it with our hands tied behind our backs, until such time we were shot at or physically attacked!. I know it's almost impossible for anyone who hasn't been through that sort of living nightmare to understand what it's really like; day in day out, your life is on the line and innocent civilians are maimed or dying. But try to imagine what it would be like having to do seven tours of duty, all during the worst of the so called 'Troubles' and getting caught and hurt in a bomb incident, set on fire a couple of times, stoned regularly and shot at and mortared occasionally! All the while we're based in a dump better described as a 'shit-hole' unfit for anybody, except for us dutiful Squaddies.
One does his duty as that's a soldier's lot, but over time one realises that something isn't quite right, as if we were expendable pieces on a political chessboard played by egomaniacs who care for nobody but themselves! The Internment political debacle shames and haunts me to this day! That was one seriously bad political mistake and it was us who paid the price for it in many a violent deadly instalment forever after! My only consolation is that I went from a regular foot soldier to being a para-medic and did my share of helping to save lives and treat casualties. The Abercorn Restaurant and Donegal Street bomb incidents are still very vivid in my nightmares. I lost count as to how many bomb scares/incidents I attended. I felt sorry for the dead and injured be they civilians or service personnel. I attribute my ability to endure because I served alongside some great guys who I remember with great affection. There's nothing like the special bond that is formed over years of serving with fellow soldiers through thick and thin, where we a looked out for one another at all times became even closer than kin.
What was it all about anyway? According to the Political fuckwits it was just a bit of policing trouble and never anything like a war. So how many soldiers and civilians need to die and suffer for that sort of thing to be called a war?! If it wasn't a war, why were we awarded campaign medals then? Could the compromise that was arrived at eventually have been arrived at much sooner at a much lesser cost in human lives and suffering? Of course it could have, but politicians in their gilded self serving world are, as always, far removed from the real world of the common citizen. This continues to be the case and it's unlikely to get any better. I just hope that the good people of Northern Ireland, whatever their affiliations, will continue to live in the relative peace that is and always will be their right. There's no glory in war; there's only death, destruction and suffering...
If I were able, would I go to war again? Of course I would as long as the Politicians who messed up and voted for war lead the way in person and not hide away at Westminster spouting rhetoric and laughable bullshit in their attempts to heighten their status beyond their already huge ego!
That said, while I can hold and use a weapon of sorts, I would not hesitate to do my part in defence of this great Country of ours, especially when it comes to preserving the ever diminishing British way of life. In a way I'm glad I'm old and don't have many years to go before I leave this world. Why? I just don't want to be around once the British way of life is diluted and subsequently eroded to an extent that being 'British' is merely a reference to days gone by and is just an historical era as has befallen many a mighty state ...
I came across the couple of paragraphs below in a book I was reading, the title of which I cannot remember. However, as it is so meaningful to us old soldiers, it stuck in my mind. I'm using it as I remember it and of course give full credit to the book's author.
' Those who serve are often brave to the point of giving their lives for Governments and their political causes that use their flesh and blood as mere chess pieces..
Those same Governments always betray those brave men or let them down or abandon them, in the long run. Oh, how easily do Nations partake in remembering with pomp and ceremony and yet, in practice neglect no men more shamefully than the heroes of their wars…’
It's fair to say that until such time that our Politicians don a uniform, bear arms, go to war and experience all the horror themselves, the above will remain true till the end of time...
I have learned, from first hand personal experience that it's folly to trust any Politician no matter how nice they might appear to you. Politicians have two main agendas in life - self promotion and preservation, both of which intended to enhance the politician financial and ranking status come what may!!!
At the time of writing this - 10/09/2019 - British politics is at its lowest treasonous worst. It only goes to prove the above that politicians are wholly self-serving and in it for themselves in contrast to the Oath they took to serve faithfully the people of this great country. Abominable Bastards one and all!!!
Welcome and thank you for taking the time to visit my Website.
Hi, I'm Paul, but also known as 'Frenchy', a nickname that originated way back from when I was in the army. Yes, I've done my bit for Queen and Country and am very proud to have served, for I'm as patriotically British as one can be.
After much travel and adventures during my 18 years in the army, I left in 1984 and settled in Northumberland near where my very best friend Dave lived, who also left the army at the same time as me. I had a bit of a tough time settling back in civvy street and for a few years I tended to venture off on extended 'Walkabouts' and chased road transport related job opportunities in the UK and abroad. Then, in late 2004, I returned to Northumberland and planted my weary carcass close to where my best friend, Davey, lived. Considering my army and Transport management working background, this knife making hobby of mine is quite a contrast by comparison. But life is never a smooth path and as things change, one has to adapt accordingly, be through an enforced change in personal circumstance or one's free will.
My interest in knives goes way back to my early mischievous childhood days. I lost track of how many knives I've bought since, owning one knife was never enough. Nowadays my collection is made up of my own made custom knives together with a number of very nice vintage and high tech modern knives, as well as a few hefty Bowies and and swords! I suppose if I had more space, I would have got more, but I really ought to be scaling down and have of late, become more amendable to parting with the odd knife, as long as I feel it's going to an appreciative and enthusiastic end user. Eventually, I'll have to bring myself to let go of almost all of my collection, but for now, while I can still maintain them, I'll continue to enjoy them for a while longer.
I never planned to be making knives, it just happened. There I was, going along quite happily with my life when, in mid 2004 my health took a bit of a bashing and my life turned into a nightmare. Then my best friend Dave died in November 2005 and other shit happened to sink me further into a quagmire of despair and uncertainty. I just didn't know what was happening to me and started to think that I was losing the plot and going mad! To compound matters, my back and neck injuries sustained during my army service started making life very uncomfortable and limiting. As a consequence, I was very unhappy and went through periods of feeling that life was not worth living. But, I got through the first few years through having found a way of coping by distraction; tucked away in my shed having a go at knife making, which kept me sufficiently safe until early 2007. By now, however, having recently divorced, I was not coping at all well. I applied myself more intensely to keeping myself busy, indoors and outdoors, with my initial knife making efforts helping the most as it helped me focus more on what I can do rather than on what I can't do. As luck would have it, while on the phone to an old army pal, the conversation turned to. "So how are you really?" Well, it turned out that he too fell ill and described to me what he was experiencing; which very much mirrored my own experiences. Then he told me how another pal of ours put him on to 'Combat Stress', a charity that supports service veterans with mental health issues. The long and short of it was that 'Combat Stress' took me in and after a couple of weeks residential assessments and psychiatric evaluation, I was diagnosed with complex PTSD. Rather than feeling worse for it, I was relieved to know that I wasn't going mad as such, and with understanding came a fair measure of acceptance with each subsequent weekly stays at Hollybush House, near Ayr, one of three Combat Stress centres in the UK. Combat related PTSD affects veterans in varying ways and it can even take years to manifest itself - in my case 20 years! No two cases are ever exactly alike, the main symptoms are common enough from parson to person, which makes it possible for affected veterans to relate and empathise with each another. In some case, further psychiatric/psychological trauma related treatment/therapy is also necessary, as happened in my case. At the time of writing - April 2017 - I've been attending the Newcastle Trauma Centre on a weekly basis for a year and a half, with no end in sight at present. It's September 2019 and I'm still attending the Trauma Centre, which is now at the Walkergate Hospital complex, Newcastle. So now, the diagnosis has changed to 'Chronic type two (repeated trauma) Complex PTSD with Chronic Co-Morbid Depression. It is what it is and I just have to get on as best I can...
Combat related PTSD is akin to Pandora's box in a way, as it's made up of a collection of symptoms, affecting sufferers in various ways. At some time or other one is affected by all of the symptoms, but not necessarily all together at the same time. From situations where other sufferers spoke openly about their symptoms during collective therapy, I realised that combat PTSD, complex or otherwise, is very personal and variable in how it impacts on one's life. It took 20 years after I left the army that it surfaced in my case. I manage well enough, but as symptoms and their effect are unpredictable, life is even more up and down, which makes planning ahead a hit and miss affair! I'm often forced to take time out and be kind to myself, which doesn't come easy. With having led such an adventurous and active life before I fell ill, the limitations that have now crept in can be very exasperating at times. A loss is a loss and it's never easy to come to terms with. One simply has to do one's best to accept and endure as stoically as one can manage and soldier on regardless. Why am I baring my soul like this? Well, it's only fair for folk who want to deal with me to know that I can be 'unreliable' at times with regard to time frames as I may need to take some time off from doing physical work. More importantly, there's a chance that a service veteran, or someone who knows of a veteran, might read this and act to seek help as I did. Veterans like me are termed as the 'Walking Wounded', as for most of the time we appear normal, outwardly at least. Sadly, PTSD impacts not only on the veteran, but also on his/her nearest and dearest. Many veterans are denial and it is they who tend to end up in trouble in some way or other. Notwithstanding my own personal circumstances, I'm still very proud indeed to have served. Freedom and safety don't come free, someone has to defend both, lest we are to live shackled and fearful and at the mercy of Tyranny!
This very same website - which I cobbled together from books I got from the local library - and all the knives you see on here, are the direct result of my attempt over the years to get on with my life by actually keeping myself mentally stimulated and physically engaged. I can't claim that all is hunky dory, but I've become more accepting of my situation and go about things as best I can, enough to say that there's some purpose to my life. One thing I don't seem to have lost is my quirky sense of humour and generous disposition in thought and deed towards like minded folk. That said, I'm now rather reserved, wary, cynical and vigilant. I'm rather selective and judgemental than ever with regard to who I associate with as I find some people just drain me. I'm increasingly very intolerant of selfish, bullshitting, ignorant and egocentric greedy types who trample on people's feelings and take advantage of good honest folk at every available opportunity. I'm resolute that if someone betrays your trust the once, giving them a second chance is futile as they have it in them to let you down again if and when it suits them! Some folk are just naturally bad, so avoid them!
From the outset, finding myself in a somewhat unusual situation, I've always considered myself and still do, as a hobbyist first and foremost. I never planned to be making knives for other folk; this website was meant for me to share my hobby. But one thing led to another and here I am, making a few knives for folk. Not many people can say that they have a main hobby which is self financing and also helps with my own knife making and collecting activities. With not having to make knives for a living, it's easy for me to plod along at my own pace. If someone wants me to make them a knife, great, but if I go through a quiet period, that's OK too, as I can get on with making my own knives, for my pleasure. I don't have any pretensions of being a naturally gifted craftsmen or concern myself as to whether I'm as good or better than other knife makers. All that I concern myself with is the good folk I deal with, ensuring that their experience with me is a memorable one for all the right reasons, which by itself is very rewarding. As in everything else in life, if you like and enjoy what you do, are dedicated enough and persevere regardless of setbacks, the chance of producing something worthy of admiration and valued by your peers, pays off in eventually. Let's be honest now, who doesn't like genuine praise and a pat on the back for doing well? I'm rather short in self-esteem, sense of worth and confidence, so to do well enough worthy of acknowledgment helps in uplifting me. Besides which, I've had the pleasure of dealings with some very good and kind people and learned much along the way of being of service.
I've always been resourceful and able to fix things, even if they didn't need fixing! What has always stood me in good stead is that I don't spend much time wondering whether I can do something or not; I approach things with visualising what I want to achieve and then get on with it as no matter the end result, I'll always get something out of it. It's only by doing that I get to know whether I can overcome a real or imaginary obstacle. One way or another, I usually get near to where I planned to be, which is ultimately very satisfying and fulfilling. Whenever I go through periods when my mood or pain, or both, getting anything done is very difficult and must therefore take a break from just about everything. Once i recover sufficiently, getting back to immersing myself into knife making is a tonic in itself! Being self taught with regard to building this Website and all the aspects of making knives, I made many mistakes along the way, often going about things the wrong long winded costly way. Ideally I would have liked to learn from the experience of others, but I didn't have the confidence to bother anybody or ask questions as I was in awe of other knife makers. In a therapeutic sort of way, abstinently so, I really needed to do things my idiosyncratic way and solve my own problems come what may. In any event, however frustrating things can be at times, learning from one's own mishaps makes for a more meaningful and long lasting lesson.
Although a bit late in life, I'm now enjoying the opportunity to exercise the latent creativity within me and relish the ongoing varied hands-on learning by progression and discovering new and exciting things along the way. With the passing of time, increased knowledge of the materials I work with and lots of hands on practice, I've been able to improve on my initial efforts and am also much better organised. I'm always looking to be innovative and progressive with materials and the way I go about doing things. There are days and even weeks when I'm preoccupied with other aspects of my life and I dare not mess about with fast spinning grinders, buffers and sharp knives. I've suffered many a cut, including three deep cuts that needed trips to our A&E for stitching! Scrapes and bruises are the norm but that's to be expected. When things go well, I always feel better. I don't have a fancy workshop with all the latest hi-tech tools, but i manage well enough. I do a lot by hand, especially at the finishing stages as that allows me to get close to and actually feel my work. I don't rush through my processes as I like make sure that all is well before I go on to the next stage. Even when I finish a knife, I hold on to it for a little while and look at it often just in case I missed something. Those who have seen my 'set up' find it hard to believe that I can function at the level I do from my couple of little sheds - one for metal work and one for leather work - that are far from being anything like proper workshops. But it's still my little domain and sanctuary, where I can shut the world out and lose myself, for however long I can manage.
While I work to the best of my ability to achieve the highest standard of quality, I don't delude myself with thoughts of having achieved perfection! Only nature seems to be blessed with wondrous objects of perfection and even then, it's all down to personal interpretation, values and preferences. I build every knife as if it were for myself, to keep and cherish. It naturally follows therefore, that if the end result isn't good enough for me, then it won't do for anyone else. I don't exactly know why I go about things the way I do, pride, OCD, fear of failure and god knows what else. Primarily though, I keep in mind that doing right by all who trust in me is is always well rewarded in appreciation, satisfaction and fulfilment. I suppose my feedback is testimony enough - Feedback page. I can't say that I'm not pleased with myself when I receive such favourable comments, because it confirms that I've achieved my aim. However, one can only be subjective with regard to craftwork as it's next to impossible to compare like for like with anybody else's work, never mind that personal preferences play a big part in such matters. I admire a few makers myself and my own knife collection proves how eclectic my preferences are. As a knife collector, I admire the work of several custom knife makers and two of my favourites are Alan Wood http://www.alanwoodknives.com/ and Rob Bayley http://www.bayleyknife.com Although quite different from one another, these two are amazing craftsmen and the quality of their work is amazing as. My main concerns are about originality; clever, aesthetically pleasing and functional designs, quality of workmanship and operational integrity. I have only one principle that serves me as a benchmark and that is whether what I produce meets or surpasses the end user's expectations. That's what I always aim for and a positive result pleases me no end! Perhaps on account of my situation being what it is, dealing with folk at a personal level might not come as natural now as it used to be before. I admit that I'm not the most social of people out in the open, but I do better on a one-to-one basis. Although retiring and reserved, my natural desire is to please and do my best to make the whole experience of someone dealing with me as easy and positive as can be. I strive to make sure that anyone who deals with me will feel that I've done right by them and can happily say that "Paul is a good guy, he really cares..." As a principled man this matters a lot to me. Next to making my stuff, the opportunity of sharing them with like-minded fellow enthusiasts who appreciate such handiwork, gives me considerable satisfaction and pleasure. I get a heck of a buzz with a good measure of relief when someone who sees and/or handles a knife off mine says "Wow - that's fantastic, I love it!"
I had planned to do much when I retired, thinking that I would otherwise be bored with so much time on my hands. As things turned out however, what with falling ill and losing my best friend Dave, a lot has remained unfulfilled. Yes, I've many a happy memory to make me smile, but also some not so nice ones, which either haunt me or I tend to dwell on a bit too often. Things could be worse, much worse, so all in all, I cannot but be very grateful for having lived such a full and adventurous life. No matter my current health situation, I can still manage to do things that give me pleasure, none more so than making folk happy with my knife making activities. At the time of writing this last paragraph - April 2017 - I'm not as unhappy as I used to be about what I might be missing out on. There's still much that I can fill my life with as and when opportunities crop up. Good things might well be awaiting me. In the meantime, I shall plod on with my knife making hobby, and be contented with my lot, everything else will be a bonus...
It gives me great satisfaction and pleasure for the opportunity to share with you this wonderful hobby of mine through this website, which I hope you find as pleasurable an experience as I have intended it to be. I wish you good health, happiness and inner peace to your heart's content.
Paul (aka Frenchy)
No matter your circumstances, don't compare your life to others as you really have no idea what their journey through life has been all about. And, if there is something you like to do, get on with it and do it while you can. For should you procrastinate, you might never get the chance later on in life and end up missing out...
Above are part of a collection of Bushcraft type knives I made for myself, which underpin my original intentions that led to my knife making activities. This photo was taken July 2012 during a 'British Blades Forum' wilderness Camping get together at Chesterfield.
Since the above event I made up this unique Damasteel knife set for myself - the first of its kind for me.
It has taken me a while to appreciate Damasteel, but once having produced a few knives using such a wonderful steel, it has become my favourite steel bar none! The two knife set on the left is just one example of how classy the end result is. It's not cheap when compared to other knife making steels, but one has to own a Damasteel knife to really appreciate its stunning finish and real life top cutting performance.
Below: The same set of knives as featured in the April 2013 issue of G Q Magazine alongside knives from other highly regarded and well known professional knife makers!
Damasteel is one of the most desirable and expensive steel I ever worked with.
Damasteel is sold by the Centimetre, with each pattern type priced accordingly. On average, a Bushcraft knife's blade size bar of 200mm long by 3mm thick raw Damasteel will set one back near to £200. Then there's the cost of machining the bar into a knife blade - involving hours and several changes of grinding belts - which could all go wrong within a second's lapse of concentration! Once that's done, it has to be sent off for specialist heat treatment and cryogenicpossessing. After which one has to spend a lot of time grinding/sanding to get the blade ready for use. Yes, a Damasteel knife isn't cheap, but to own one is a life long pleasure of owning and using...
I suppose that the fact that I ended up showcasing some of my work in the company of some great knife makers was confirmation that I was improving and in good company. My hobby means a lot to me, far more than one can imagine...
"In an unjust and corrupt state, any protest and righteous act of decency is inherently dangerous - But freedom from oppression is a human right and if necessary one has to sacrifice themselves to secure a decent living and the right to live free from fear, injustice and prejudice...
Fishing for Heroes Charity event at Thrunton fishery in Northumberland.
LEFT - JUNE 2015 ........................ RIGHT - JULY 2019
Bruce Parry visits me on his way to see his parents in Scotland whenever time permits. I've made all his knives, but the best ones to date are those commissioned in connection with his 'Tawai - a voice from the forest' film. During the visit before last where he collected his 'Tawai Talisman' presentation knife, he decided to stay overnight and travel onwards early the following morning. We tend to become engrossed in catching up, until that is, the need for food becomes a priority. I decided to treat Bruce to the best fish and chips in the whole of the UK - Gill's - which is situated along the coast at Seaton Sluice, Northumberland. Bruce can eat, but Gill's fish and chips proved a bit too much for him. Time just flies and it's always rather sad when he has to leave to continue on his journey home. Bruce is a busy man and thus I'm very appreciative of his extended visits.
Bruce is canny, a good man through and through. One only need to see his TV programs to appreciate that he's the real deal and cares deeply about the environment and the diversity of people he comes into contact with. With Bruce having spent some time in the army, it was only natural that we got on well. The man is a joy to be with, has great sense of humour and is down to earth and affable as one would hope. With having several of my knives, I've always felt that Bruce takes along a part of me on his adventures, which is always a nice thought to hang on to as I can no longer do much physically nowadays. No matter though as I sort of travel and experience things through him. I can watch repeats of his adventures and each time I do, I learn something new. Bruce is the real thing, kind, considerate and generous with no false airs and graces. It's impossible not to love him...
This is me with Jan Engberg during my trip to Sweden in July 2010. At this point Jan had just got back from the Ludvika knife show where he won a 3rd Prize with one of his creations as well as several Diplomas for other quality work. I had the privilege of spending time with Jan where I managed to see his fantastic range of knives for which he has been awarded many prizes and Diplomas over the years. I also had a chance to see his (ultra tidy) workshop facilities and discussed just about every aspect of how he goes about his work. His style of knives are of the Scandinavian hidden tang types, which allows him to make some exceptional creations.
Jan makes about 20 knives a year, but what he makes are absolute gems. When I asked him why he does it, he said, "The winters are very long here..."
Jan is also a keen Fisherman, living as he does, just a few hundred meters from a very good Salmon river. I have an open invite to Salmon fishing, but getting to where he lives is quite a journey.
While I stayed in the north past Uppsala , Sweden in general, is a fantastically beautiful place, exceptionally clean with very nice friendly people. People started conversations with me at every stage of my journey north and then back south again. They reminded me very much of Geordies, who are just as friendly and helpful.
Jan, thank you for your generosity and hospitality...
I dedicate this website in its entirety in memory of my very best friend of all time, Dave (Geordie) Lisle, with whom I shared so many a memorable experience during our army service and afterwards in civvy street. We had a very special bond that only comrades in arms can fully appreciate.
We had planned to share much more in our late years were it not for his early and sudden demise on 15th July 2005, at the age of 54. The greatest loss in my life and to his family.
Our friendship was unconditional and Davey was a true and steadfast very best friend of all time, the likes of who comes along only the once in a lifetime.
I'm not sure whether he went up or down, nether of us are religious, but we did agree that if there's an afterlife he would let me know about it. Seeing that he hasn't, I can only assume that there's nothing after death; so we won't be going fishing together and act daft ever again. As so many things remind me of him, he's in a way often with me. Still, I better try to make the best of the time I've got left, as our elders often remind us, time waits for no man...
Dave and me - Best of friends together...
Sometime around 1992 or thereabouts - Halcyon days still...