New projects can be exciting but also daunting and overwhelming, especially when something as important as your home is at the heart. Having journeyed through many a winding path, I find myself writing for Carpenter Oak. Carpenter Oak isn’t new to me, my partner, Don is a Senior Carpenter and has been working for them since 2002. They are a family orientated company, they started out small and have steadily grown in size.
As a small company it was much easier to be part of the family. We regularly celebrated events together – Christmas, bonfire night, summer camps. We’ve travelled to various Frame events and with Don I’ve joined members of Carpenter Oak at Witteneham Clumps and spent a summer in Wales making pegs whilst Don filled in for a Carpenter who had broken his foot. I have happy memories of our own event ‘Splinter’ social event (held on behalf of the Carpenters Fellowship) attended by many good spirited carpenters, craftsmen and their families from far and wide. Health and Safety would have cringed at the daredevil downhill go-cart racing and we kept the sheep and cows awake until the early hours with our partying and dancing.
As a larger company it’s difficult for everybody to be involved at one time but the essence of family is still there. Regular events are still celebrated even if the whole team can’t make it. Invites are regularly posted in the canteen, this Christmas a few of us have booked for the Jungle Book. We all eat lunch and have our breaks together, a chance to be a whole at regular intervals in the day. Birthdays are celebrated with an abundance of cake (or pasties in Don’s case), brought in by the Birthdayees.
Our most recent big party (2015) was our Devon Yard’s 20th Anniversary, once again full of our own and fellow carpenters, architects and friends of Carpenter Oak. Perhaps our most memorable event however, was the wedding of our very own Stuart Voaden and his wife Caroline, which was held in a workshop transformed into a beautiful venue and much to the delight of the children (young and old) had an ice cream van parked outside.Clients regularly come to visit our Show Barn but what they also get to see is our home, our shared spaces. We have a bespoke kitchen, referred to as the Canteen, but it’s more of an open plan kitchen diner, with beautiful oak and mild steel tables designed and crafted by our talented Chris Amey. The doors open out to an outside picnic area with rough oak benches and tables which reside by our Pétanque pitch surrounded by herb beds and beautiful flowers. You can see all of this and what we do in our ‘Timeless’ video.
Towards the bottom of the yard you can find our garden which has lots of space to play and socialise, a willow maze, large round pond, axe throwing area and the Bothy. The Bothy has ever evolving purposes but has been used for green woodworking workshops, overnight accommodation for visiting carpenters, a quiet place to sit and think and I’ve even sat and fed my children on its shaded steps when visiting the yard.
There are things to be noticed all around if you have the time and space to look for them; textured screens, a quirky oak weathervane and unusual plant plots, plenty to be inspired by. Perhaps the biggest inspiration is the people you can meet, our team, our family. We are as quirky and as individual as the things we surround ourselves with and we are also as welcoming as the space we work in.
You can speak to anyone here but if you are a little daunted you are welcome to call me. Maybe your build project is just a dream or an idea but you’d like to chat things through. I’m no expert, but I know the people who are. I’m here on Fridays if you need me…………….Natalie.