Chippendale International School of Furniture entrance sign

My Home (for 9 months)

As I have already said elsewhere, I am absolutely delighted to be on the Professional Course at the Chippendale International School of Furniture. It will be my home for the 9 month duration of the course (Covid-pending), but why do I feel so comfortable here?

It’s not just the workbench! I have lived in East Lothian my whole life and Gifford (I have only recently come to realise) has been in my subconscious for most of that time.

My father is a bee-keeper in Longniddry and each summer there was an expedition to take the bees to the Lammermuir hills to get to the heather blossom. The route would always go through Gifford and would usually entail a couple of visits with beehives stuffed into the boot of the car and me sitting in the back seat scared-stiff as bees started to work their way out the hives and into the car! I always remember the hill-tops being windy, cold and it was usually dark by the time we got home – unlike in the glorious picture below.

There was also a fairly regular Sunday School summer visit to the park next to Yester House entrance in Gifford (where I avoided everyone by spending the day wading up and down Yester Water). A Boys’ Brigade weekend camp at Longyester and a separate Primary School walk up Lammer Law round off the childhood memories.

In the last 15 or so years, I have walked or cycled over Lammer Law at least 50 times in all weathers and this meant passing the brown “School of Furniture” sign many times. This lifelong association and familarity of the locale has meant I already feel a deep bond with the school – and I’m only 5 weeks in!


  • Saqib Razzaq (previously Furrukh)

    Hi Iain,
    Came across your fab blogs accidentally.
    Great to see you doing well! Looks like you have had several career changes since the days in lab 434 at St. Andrews and Birmingham Uni. I remember you use to bring jars of honey for Jenny and I when we flat shared in Woodleigh Av, Harborne. Your meticulous and organised approach is reflected in your designed pieces I’ve seen so far.
    Best wishes,
    Saqib 🙂

    • Iain Stirling

      Hi Saqib, good to hear from you. I remember our time in Birmingham well. 😉

      Thank you for your kind words. My workbench is a little less tidy than my fume cupboard used to be, but I think you would probably be able to identify it amongst all the other benches in the workshop.

      I hope you and your family are well. Give me a shout if you are ever popping over to the best side of the country.

      Kind regards,


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