Friday, June 22, 2012

Team Kaims!

For three days this week I've been at the wetlands site called Bradford Kaims. It's about 3 miles from the castle. It's a very different site. It's farming land that was and in places still is marsh land.

Below you can see me opening my first ever 1x1m test pit. I'm not heavy enough to de-turf it all on my own though. I would jump on the spade up to 10 times before it would go in then the supervisor Graham would come along and push it straight in. 

Here's Jackie hard at work supervising us by ear. He swears he wasn't sleeping.

The next morning my test pit was rather wet with ground water which I had to bucket out all day.

It's a bit damp in there!
 Nearer to the end of the day the bog oak is slowly reappearing. I forgot to take another photo so I don't have one of how much oak I uncovered. I also ran out of time to draw my pit :(

On my third day we opened up a massive 2x20m trench elsewhere at the Kaims. I found some stinging nettles with my forearm. Apparently I react badly to them. Jackie was telling me the swelling should go down in about an hour. Well an hour later it wasn't as red as it was but it was swollen as you can see in the below photo. The area remained itchy and tender for another 2 days. Today finally the last of the blotches seems to have gone away.

It seems my olivers have seen better days. They are still water proof some how but the soles are falling off. On the upside I don't have to worry about cleaning them up to bring them home they will just gone in the bin on sautrday afternoon. 
 This is what the field we're working in looks like. The bushes are thistles which really hurt when they prick you and the purple ish coloured plants everywhere are stinging nettles!

On thursday I was at the castle finds sorting while it bucketed down outside. The kaims staff where all wondering around 'supervising' and mocking the students. All in good fun. It was still raining when we got back to camp so we had a beer, got into dry clothes, covered up with waterproofs and went to the pub for dinner and stayed there until 11pm when it closed. Our mess tent is currently a swap!

Friday, June 15, 2012

7th to 15th June

It has continued to rain most of the time. The mess tent has become a bit swampy and most of my clothes had mud on them. My tent also has mud on it from my feet splashing dirty water when I approach it. In front of my tent is pretty sodden now.

On Thursday I was in Trench 3 cleaning all the loose material from a feature the project refers to as the porch, it’s believed to be an entrance into an anglo saxon building. It was tedious work working around and between large slabs of rock. I found a bunch of bone and fragmented shell. In the afternoon I was learning to use a dumpy level to take the level measurement of the cleaned sections of the trench to put on the site map and context plans. It was drizzling so I wasn’t wearing my glasses which made my eyes water but if I wear my glasses in the rain I can’t see anything through them. We also went on a tour around and inside the castle. There was so many different sets of crockery dinner ware and serving wear all displayed in cabinets in different rooms, I was in heaven. The architecture, furniture and armour/arms collections were also amazing. In the gift shop they sell homemade style fudge which is like a little slice of heaven it tastes so good and is just the right texture. I got orange chocolate and mint chocolate. I also got a beanie which is 100 times warmer than my purple Jayne hat that I got from a market.

On Friday I was in Trench 3 in drizzling rain cleaning an anglo saxon wall feature. Apparently I did a good job on the porch feature so I got to clean the loose material from around the wall sections. I was using a spoon and another thin metal scoop tool to get in between all the rocks. I found a cache of snail shells all stacked up together which was interesting. In the afternoon it got too wet so I was on finds washing inside. There was a cool breeze coming in through the door but it wasn’t light enough inside to do anything with the door closed. We cheated a bit by adding boiling water from the kettles in the tea room to the tubs of water so our hands weren’t freezing. It was still a cold job but not unbearable.

After work we caught a bus into Belford to the pub for pub night and dinner at the Indian restaurant that is in the back of the pub. They seemed rather unprepared for us. There wasn’t really enough seating for all of us. They took our orders twice because they got all confused the first time. The food took a while but was really good. I ordered a dish that came with rice and curry sauce and I added a side dish of mixed veggies. It turns out the curry sauce had veggies through it so I barely touched the side dish and was full to bursting. It seems my international sim does charge me to receive international calls which I didn’t think it did from the useless booklet that came with it. I’m still unimpressed that from the packaging it looked like a UK sim (it said UK sim all over it). I spoke to mum briefly with a lot of background noise then it cut off and I got a message saying I only have £0.15 left. I tried to recharge over the phone and it didn’t work. I called the customer service to make sure it hadn’t charged my card. I’m just going to try and buy a local sim like I wanted when I’m in a town.

It rained all night again. On Saturday there was no chance of going into the trenches so we were all in the windmill on finds duties. I was downstairs for the first context then went upstairs afterwards to do some illustration of finds. It took a few hours for my to do a 1:1 sketch of a decorated bone (from front and back) and a 2:1 sketch from the front with the line details in black ink. I really enjoyed it even though I kept getting frustrated at it not being perfect so I would rub out a section and start again. It was also difficult getting used to a 4H pencil which is lighter and harder than a HB pencil. The supervisor told me I did a really good job so I’m pretty happy with it. I guess I just had the patients to perceiver with it for hours. 

After work we headed to the pub. I had a berry cider at the pub and cheesy chips which seemed like a good idea at the time but I felt rather sick afterwards. A few hours later around 9pm a group of us decided to go for a wonder down to the beach. Once we reached the beach we decided to go for a walk down the beach towards the castle. We walked for about an hour and a half hoping to see a glimpse of the castle but we couldn’t see it. The beach is a lot curvier than we thought. The problem we then faced was it gets dark at 11pm and we had walked a fair way along the beach and the tide was coming in. So we were concerned the tide would catch us against the giant dunes (which are not easy to scale) and we wouldn’t be able to see the path off the beach.

We decided to keep heading towards the castle in hope of finding a path to the main road before it got really dark. None of us had a torch or a phone. We found a path heading off the beach so we climbed the steep path only to emerge onto a golf course. Dave and I climbed up a ridge on the green to see if we could work out where the road is. We could see the castle from the top of the ridge which was really pretty all lit up at night. We could see a road heading through the green so we followed it. It went to a fork so we went left because that’s closer to where the road is. The gravel road ended at a wooden set of stairs. At the top of the stairs was another green. Sigh, I was getting rather concerned at this point. We decided stuff it, and walked across the green towards the direction of the road. We came to the edge of the gold course which was a field of tall grass or barley. We could see a road leading to the main road on the other side of the field so we cut through it. My pants and shoes were soaked by the time we got to the other side and I pricked my hand on something. We did find the road though and made it back into the campsite just after 11pm lights out.
Sunday 10th of June. Today three of us headed into Alnwick (pronounced as anick). The harry potter castle and gardens were £24 to go through which is really expensive. We wondered around the awesome second-hand bookstore which is a converted railway station full of interesting and limited edition books. I loved that the encyclopaedia Britannica was next to the holy bible and the science section was on the other side.
We found a little cafe that was open, not much was being a Sunday in a country town. We had Sunday roast with Yorkshire pudding, roast potato, gravy and steamed veggies and a pot of tea. It tasted so good after not having a lot of veggies all week. We explored the little village, looking at the little craft and food stores. They were celebrating the torch relay with a weeklong fair. We went to a little tea shop that had these really cute flower teas where a ball of tea blooms into a colourful flower, it was very cool. When we got back to site we put our clothes in the wash. After three cycles in the dryer the clothes were still damp. My tent was turned into a washing line inside which was interesting.

On Monday 11th I was in trench one for the first time. We cleaned the whole trench in one day. We have still been cleaning the loose layer off the top of the site that had blown in over the winter. Unfortunately it was too sunny to take the photos. The trench needs to be photographed at the beginning of the season after it’s been cleaned and after the end of season for reference. The issue with the sun is though it needs to be shaded by clouds so the higher features don’t make shadows across the trench. After work we went to the pub to watch England vs France in the Euros. The crowd wasn’t as loud or crazy as I expected. The reffing was shit so I understood the little bit of anger. I tried the strawberry and lime cider, it tasted so good and went down to easy and too quick. I avoided getting drunk and just had the one.

On Tuesday 12th I started in Trench one cleaning off all the loose material that had blown in overnight. It was a really windy day so dirt was blowing in my eyes and by the time we finished a section it would be dirty again. We managed to get it clean enough, wetted down and cloud cover so we got the photos. Afterwards though, we lacked the planning squares to plan the site before we start excavating.

I went to trench 3 to do some hammer scale sampling. Hammer scale is the flakes of metal that come off when metal is being smithed. We take samples in 1m squares with 20cm quadrants. The proportions are worked out across the site and mapped. When mapped we should be able to see where walls were because the scale would have hit the wall and bounced back in and outside the walls will be sterile. Under the anvil would also be sterile with the most dense area around it.

I tried to get a sim card in Sea houses (the closest town) but they didn’t know how to top them up or how much the charges are. I tried to recharge my current sim over the phone with my traveller card but they rejected it. There may have been some swearing had when I hung up.

On Wednesday 13th I was on finds. We washed bulk finds during the morning and then sorted finds after lunch. I used dad’s credit card online and managed to finally get credit on my phone and call home. I called just as the state of origin ended, NSW won. Good and bad timing I guess.

Thursday 14th of June was a huge day for Bamburgh village, today the Olympic torch came through the village with three separate runners. We had a stand in the church yard showing off the project and some of our finds. I was there for just over an hour showing finds to the locals. We had a fairly relaxed day up at the castle, I was doing hammer scale sampling again. Then we were sorting out the hammer scale samples to mark out where we couldn’t sample (because there are rocks in the way). In the afternoon we headed down into the festivities that had been going on all day. We had heard the sea rescue helicopter while we were digging but because it was circling over the village green we couldn’t see it over the castle walls.
We watched the celebrity v locals tug of war. The only one that anyone could identify was Lord Frankie Armstrong on the locals side who owns the castle. He was dressed in track pants and a rugby shirt. The locals of course won. We wondered up towards the pub to get a hog roll which is roasted pork, stuffing, crackle and apple sauce in a bread roll. It tasted so good but was so messy. WE ate it on the side of the road waiting for the torch to come. The hype leading up to the torch relay was more exciting than seeing the runner. There were at least 50 police on motor bikes with flashing lights, may were high fiving people as they went by or reving the shit out of their bikes while waiting to move. The streets of the little village were packed full of people waving English flags and some sponsor stuff from Samsung and coke cola. Both companies had huge buses with people dancing and singing and handing promo stuff out. The finally this young teenager came running along with the torch. We decided not to wait to see the two change overs and headed back to the pub only to find no one working in the pub so we had to wait for the torch to come back passed up the other street before we could get served. I got rather excited at spying a bottle of bundy on the shelf behind the bar. Although it was only under half full so three of us easily finished it; the price did seem to slowly climb during the night which I was not happy with. The walk back to camp was amazing. The hills and the sky were gorgeous.   

I had a lot of trouble uploading photos so they are not in place or in order

Cassey and Lilly at Pub night
Dave, Georgia and Jessie. Off for our walk
Skipping stones on the beach
The model trains in Barter Books
A blooming tea in the Tea House
Olympic torch coming into Bamburgh
The bundy rum! I tried the Mount Gay Rum and didn't like it as much
Walking the hills back to camp
Pretty sunset near the camp :)
The castle in the rain from the windmill
Cool rafters in the castle
A wooden model of the castle
A dinner set with the castle on it.
 Looking across to the castle from the golf course on our adventure
 Drying my slightly damp clothes in my tent after 3 cycles in a dryer
 The public entrance to the castle
 Looking up at the land side of the castle
A slightly different angle of the castle

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Arriving in Bamburgh to 6th of June

I arrived on Sunday afternoon after a rather unexciting train trip for almost 4 hours. It was cold and wet for the first time really though in London. Once I got off the train I was confused by bus time tables and where the stops were, seeing as it was cold and wet I just caught a taxi to site which cost more than a bus would have but I got it over and done with. Immediately the staff swarmed to greet me and help me put my tent up. Although our campsite would only be set up in that area of the campsite until Tuesday, then we had to move. I couldn’t help but unpack because everything was in space bags. Sunday night was freezing. When I woke on Monday I was wishing I’d gotten a blanket and a better jacket with a hood.

On Monday we had an induction at the castle of the various trenches and the history of the site. We have not gone on a tour of the inside of the castle yet. I’ve only seen inside one wall (that’s where the toilets are). Still being the jubilee weekend there was some excitement around the castle; a civil war re-enactment group was in the back paddock. 

On Monday afternoon I was in trench 3 doing ‘gardening’ which is removing the weeds that grew over winter and any loose soil off the top. We found a few bulk finds things like animal bones and some people found some cool small finds like coins. For the second night in a row a BBQ was provided of ‘burgers’ (rissoles) with lettuce and cheese. I enjoyed a new beers, Fosters :p (it was the cheapest in the camp shop).

Tuesday I woke up sweating, I’d worn a jumper to bed and two pairs of socks. The sun was out and all was looking good. Today I was on finds washing, so just brushing the dirt off with water. 

Later in the afternoon it started drizzling so our group packed up and headed back to the campsite to set up the mess tent. The mess tent is a large canvas pavilion that is really molding on the inside yucky. Unlike the sca pavilions that we put up with man power alone BRP uses the power of a landrover. We had fun moving our tents in the rain. Seeing as it was raining and we had all just moved tents the majority of us decided to go have dinner at the pub. I had a pint of ginger beer (the alcoholic kind) and Bangers and Mash. There were 4 medium sized sausages covered in gravy, a bunch of peas and a pile of mash potato. I think I may be putting on weight and should cut down the amount of food I’m eating. I really don’t need all the biscuits and snacks I’m eating on top of two sandwiches for lunch.

On Wednesday I was assigned to the Kaims (the wetlands project) but it was too wet for us to head out there in the rain. So I end up spending the day inside sorting finds in the windmill. I’m the sort of person who really enjoys that sort of thing. See the photo below for a pic of the windmill.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

2nd of June

Last night I did my washing but my jeans weren't dry enough in the drier and my hiking pants aren't supposed to go in the drier at all. It was very odd to me that there are specially designed racks that go over the radiator to hang clothes on.

 Today I tried to repack everything to leave for Kev's place this afternoon into one bag and my backpack. I need to somehow fit the food and drink I've gotten as well into my bags. I failed at doing so before we had to go out so it was tidied away until this afternoon. Steve, Jen and I braved the chilly, windy English Summer day to go to the 'Who Shop' which has been open since the 80s. Out the back they have a little museum that they charge a few pounds each to go have a look. There was nothing really in the shop that I can't get cheaper and easier in Australia so I didn't buy anything but the museum was cool. See below the Van Gough costume which is their latest addition.

1st of June

I had planned to get to Westminster earlier in the week but I just couldn't get there quick enough so I decided to get it over and done with first today. It was a cool cloudy grey London day. Much more like what I had been expecting. The clouds actually look really cool in the below photo, well I think so anyway. Westminster was really enjoyable. Not only is it a beautiful building but it is just soo stepped in history. It is the resting place of many famous people or at least the place of memorials of famous people through time. Even though I'm not religious it was nice to just stop and hear the hourly prayers throughout the cathedral and read about all the history of the various stages of building and use. It was very chilling to see some of the royal wedding photos and then to see the coffins laid in state. I get chills every time I see anything to do with Princess Diana's funeral. 
 From one very royal place to another very royal place. In London who would have though? I went to have a look around the Royal Mews, which is where the horses are trained and stabled that pull the state coaches and carriages. The carriages and coaches are also kept here. The blow carriage is the most recognizable royal coach. It has to be pulled by 8 horses and weighs around 4tonnes. Half the room needs to be dismantlement to get it out through a wall, it takes half the staff and several days.

 The Queen's gallery at Buckingham Palace has a Da Vinci anatomical drawings exhibit on which was really interesting. I tried to buy a print or post card or anything with the below sketch on it but I couldn't find any in the gift shop. It is Kurt's favourite Da Vinci drawing and I got to see the real one on display.
 From Buckingham Palace I wandered through a different part of St James Park around the lake, it was beautiful. Although it was teaming with people there was so much nature that it kind of drowned the crowds out while I walked around the lake. Until I tried to cross the bridge then that was a bit of a pain. I made my way to the National Portrait Gallery for an exhibition on the Queen. Most of it was very nice, photographs of her throughout her life and a few formal painted portraits then there was all the weird modern art that I just don't get.

From that galley I wandered along to Summerset house. It is known as one of the best small galleries in the world (I think it was the world). I have to agree with that claim. it wasn't overly big but every painting in there was the work of someone very famous. I looked at two Van Goughs then turned around to see a few Montes and a few Surates all in the same small room.

After all that running around today a relaxed night of movie on the lounge was in order

31st May 2012

Today I wandered across the London Bridge to see a few things including a tour of the Globe. The bridge itself is nothing special, so much so it seems I didn't even take and photos of the bridge itself. The tide seems to have been in when I walked up to the bridge so below is a photo of a staircase that leads to the beach at low tide.
 Woo Shakespeare's Globe Theater! Ok it's not the real Globe and maybe I should have looked into the history of the Globe a bit before going. Oh well, it's interesting none the less. Much of this Globe's design is based on period drawings and the finds from the excavation of the Rose theater which was very close to the Globe and slightly older. Neither theater remains standing. The Globe was constructed in 1990 from 1000 oak trees all crafted by hand with no power tools or anything that was unavailable in the 1500s. On the stage while I was on my tour was a German play company rehearsing a modern play. I think that even if I could have understood what they were saying I still would have been confused by all the oddness that was going on on stage.   
From the Globe I went to the 'London Bridge and London Tombs Experience' which was very much not my thing. It was a very tacky 'horror' experience. It was not at all what I was expecting. I was expecting a tour through the history of the bridge and an explanation of the tombs. Instead I got smoke machines, dark rooms, plastic limbs hanging from the roof, over the top acting and people jumping out at me in the dark. It was a waste of time.

Then I went onto the Winston Churchill Britain at War Experience. This experience was actually a museum and a recreated underground bunker (made to look like the London underground) with footage playing that had diary entries being read over it. It was interesting but it didn't really live up to it's name of the best World War II museum in Europe.

I made my way back across the bridge and started heading back towards Trafalgar square to go see the household cavalry museum. I got sick of walking however and was just tired. I decided to stop at the first pub I came across which was called 'Walkabout' it's an Aussie themed pub that does roo meat things as well as normal beef and chicken burgers. I had a burger and a pint on the cheap and a good sit down while catching up on my diary and abusing their wireless on my phone to check facebook. It was nice to just have a bit of a relax before getting back into it.

I made it to the museum just before 4pm. The nice lady inside suggested I go watch the inspection outside before coming through the museum. It was really interesting just watching the inspection take place. Going through the museum was a good reminder or wake up call that these boys in red are not actors, they are not wearing costumes. They are real soldiers wearing real uniforms. The ideas behind continuing the ceremony were really interesting. By having to take care of a horse and their uniform the young men become more responsible, learn dedication and get good at working with other people (it can take up to 10 hours to clean all their kit).

 I walked through the back of the yard and into St James Park. Where a man was feeding two squirrels. OMG they are soooo cute.
 The park is really nice with all its green and tall trees. Afterwards I made my way to the North of London. I had a few drinks with Kev and Tash then crashed out early.

30th of May

Where better to spend my birthday than the tower of London? I really enjoyed it. I spent almost 4 hours wandering around and if I hadn't of gotten a headache and needed food  probably would have stayed longer. Although they sold food inside I had run out of cash and a lot of places over here don't take card.  The photo below is the main drawbridge entrance.

I found a cash point then tried fish and chips while sitting on the steps over looking the tower of london. They don't seem to put salt on chips, I must remember to ask for it. It just tastes too greasy with no salt. The fish tasted like white goop :P but it hit the spot and relieved my headache.
 On to the tower bridge. The experience was kind of cool; got to go along the raised walkways, hear about the history of the bridge and go into the old engine rooms. They still have the steam powered engines in working order and had one running. As an extra special treat on my way across the bridge it opened :) Apparently this is rare.
 I then climbed 311 steps to the top of 'The Monument' I was rather shaky afterwards and almost tripped down the last few steps. Here's a photo looking down at the ground from the viewing platform around the top.
 I then made my way to St Paul's Cathedral. I was going to go to Westminster today but I ran out of time to get there before they close. St Paul's is really amazing. Again I climbed around 500 steps (in three different stages) to get to the galley inside the dome then the stone gallery outside the dome then to get to the gallery outside the top of the dome. The views were amazing. The cathedral was amazing to look up at from inside but was more amazing to look down at from inside. The cript was a very quiet respectful place which was really interested to wander around.
 Lastly for today I went into the National Gallery to have a look around to kill some day light hours before heading back to Steve and Jen's for my birthday dinner. We had a marvelous dinner of pate and cheese followed by Roast duck in cherry sauce with Roasted Veggies. For dessert fresh strawberries, raspberries and blueberries with real ice cream and fresh made chocolate sauce. It was all amazing and tasty. I ate far too much and felt a little ill after dessert. It was worth it :)