Making pens in San Diego.

When I was at Pamplona in Spain back in July, I met up with, and eventually stayed for the week with a great group of people from San Diego. One of the group, Fipps, who’s first name is actually John, told his folks back home about me and my journey. John’s dad Dennis contacted me via the website, and let me know that many of the family were now following John’s adventures in Pamplona via the fairly regular updates on my blog.

When I started to plan my trip down to San Diego I included Dennis in my emails, and was surprised, flattered and grateful to get an invitation to stay with Dennis and Mary while in town, and enjoy the comforts of their spare room and good home cooking.

While chatting with Dennis on Thursday evening we got onto the topic of his hobby of turning wood on his lathe to make beautiful hand-crafted pens, and I was fascinated with the process. I only did a little woodwork at a young age at school, and have never used a lathe, so Dennis said I could have a go at making a unique, personalised pen in the morning.

From a wide choice of woods, I chose an unknown spalted hardwood, which is a wood where the decay process has begun, and has some wonderful dark grain in it. Dennis guided me throught the process of cutting, drilling, glueing and then setting up the wood on the lathe, and I set to on my creation.

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With some patient and expert guidance, I think I produced a very satisfying final result. My pen has a wonderful light and dark pattern, with small holes where mites have bored through the wood.

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I really enjoyed the process, and after lunch asked Dennis if I could do a little more on the lathe, and once set up, he left me pretty-much to my own devices, and from a couple of bits of really nice walnut I made a pen and pencil set that I am very proud off. It took quite a while and a lot of concentration on the lathe to produce the shape I wanted, and as a pair they aren’t exactly the same, but look great in the case Dennis gave me to store them in.

In the evening John and Ivy picked me up from the house, and we went to the local pub, were we met up with Kurtiss and Willy, who were both out in Pamplona too, along with Willy’s girlfriend Ashley. Nick and Mikey couldn’t make it, as they are both in Iraq at the moment, which is a pretty good excuse!

It was great to catch up again, and laugh over some of the Pamplona adventures we had shared. We all agreed that it was often hard to explain to other friends what Pamplona is really like, and how crazy it all is, and it was good to laugh again with friends who had been there and shared the excitement and craziness of the amazing event.

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