Basking with the Basketmakers

Basking with the Basketmakers

 North Hill Beanpole Fair is a quintessential Cornish village event, with a woodcraft theme. This year, locally sourced bamboo seemed to be the product innovation, with many of us tootling off down the road at the end of the day with bundles of oversized vegetable supports sticking out of the side window.

Wearing our own metaphorical country craft hats, we spent the day introducing the Great British Public to the allegedly strange and ancient art of finding unseen targets and forces in their local landscape. Increasingly, the punters have already tried the skill, or at least have heard of it, so our task has become somewhat easier over the years

One or two passers by, mainly men of a certain age, found finding the invisible water a bit challenging, but almost everyone else had at least a modicum of success, often to their evident delight.

This year, we discovered some form of field drain, which gave our visitors a more tangible target – although there were widely varying ideas of what a field drain might actually look like. Those who visualised it as a stone-lined gulley, or a straight gravel bed seemed to have more success than those who tried to find a large plastic pipe. But it didn’t seem appropriate to dig it up, just to see who had conjured up the most accurate image!

As ever, we came across friendly fellow travellers – and the ones who had never even considered trying to use the skill before turned out to be, as often as not, some of the best diviners. Children, who had few inhibitions, usually picked the basics up quickly, providing they could get a fast enough response in the short period that their spectacularly fractured concentration would permit. Trying to explain to children with an urban internet outlook why they should be looking for underground water just a few yards from a visible external tap was a learning experience in itself.

One lady specifically wanted to experience what a ley line felt like – so, we were able to oblige her there – while others wanted to discuss the merits of applying dowsing to health issues, in both humans and animals.

The sun beat down all day on the wood-turners and the hurdle makers. The dowsers took it in turns to retreat to the tea-room – and the intermittent shade of Alan Neal’s garden gazebo was most welcome.

Many thanks to all those who came along to help – and especially to Gordon, who raised a creditable sum for the group by selling his own homemade rods and a range of items from an eclectic boxful of CDs and magazines.

This year there was live melodeon music to jolly us along – and the cakes were nice too.

 Nigel Twinn, Tamar Dowsers – May 2014

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