Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Hard digging

As I mentioned in the last post I have been back at Chester Farm doing archaeological work.  Last week I was in a group excavating at the bottom of a wall.  We found the first pieces of broken glass which were put in the 'finds' tray.  Next was a neck piece of a bottle with 'North' written on it and finally the top and screw stopper with 'NBC' written on - the Northampton Brewery Company!  Not that old after all but a piece of social history.

This is the final week of 'digging' before the contractors come in and start clearing some of the site during August. 

In the picture below the barns in the background will be pulled down.  One of the ladies was excavating the lines of stones you can see in the foreground.

It is thought that these were originally cart tracks that were filled in when they got too deep.  This is the type of fine detail that has to be undertaken on a dig before it is all covered over.  It also adds more information about the history of the site.

Most of the volunteers were working on the main driveway -
Note the stone well in the middle.

I myself was working on a line of ironstone stones that ran across the driveway, at an angle.
Our wheelbarrow is on the right hand side
It was hard, tough, digging with the trowel, as the soil round the stones was very compacted and dry and though there were four of us working on it we all found it hard going.  However by the end of the day it was looking good (no picture - too tired!) and the resident archaeologist was pleased.  Still more to dig out but we had done our stint for the day. 

As the house is at the bottom of a drive there would be extra drainage added to stop flood water entering the house, so was it either part of a Roman road or a soakaway for rainwater;  I shalln't know until I return later this week.

Though I am not allowed to show a picture of it, the 'find' of the week was a bronze Roman ladies hairpin about 8" long and it caused a great deal of excitement.

For relaxation at home and trying not to think about my aching bones, I have been making my 'Mini Mania' for July and it is nearly finished.  This month we have to make 'Seminole', that is a technique I quite  enjoy but would I manage to get anything made during a very busy month?  Well it is nearly complete
and quite small!  I may not get it finished off this month but the top will be completed on time - I hope.

BUT my shawl was finished last night and I have to block it today.  Show you next time.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Frustration and Demolition!

Not all of us in the UK live in large houses; some of us like me have a small house and it was built back in the 1950s when car parking in front/beside your house was not the norm.   I have to park in the road outside my house so imagine my frustration when during the first weekend in May a car parked outside my house AND stayed there.  I contacted the police who said I had no way of getting it moved because it had all the necessary legal requirements for being on the road and though it did not belong to anyone in my road the owner lived in the 'vicinity'!

However in these days of the Internet by putting in the car's registration I could find out some information - whether it was taxed and when the MOT was due which was 6 July 2016.  Brilliant - it had to go to the garage for that and the car duly disappeared so I could park once again outside my house.

In the meantime I was exploring other avenues to get rid of it and decided that I needed a dropped kerb so now I am in the process of applying for one.

This weekend my younger son came to help and this is what we have done -
Front garden in May

Nearly all gone
I have kept the tree, but the wild flower meadow, hedge and wall have all gone -
An overflowing skip!

Whilst the chainsaw was around I raised the canopy of my bay tree

as the bushes around were being swamped.  The bay tree was planted as a small 6 inch plant in 1999 and has just grown!!  I don't know how it got so big; maybe I should have trimmed it more.

From 16-31 July it is the Festival of Archaeology so I shall be at Chester Farm today, working round the old farm buildings.  I haven't been on this part of the farm for sometime so it will be interesting to see what has been found.  Will it be something Roman, Medieval, or Victorian; it's s exciting!!

Monday, 11 July 2016

Up in the air and down underground

I had my third 50+ Adventure Club outing in a week yesterday.  Last weekend it was the canal trip that I blogged about last time, then midweek we played Pétanque at a pub and followed by a sit down meal.  Great social evening.

Yesterday was a new activity and we were going to climb the only wind turbine in the world to it's viewing platform.
The door at the bottom ....
with the viewing platform at the top
We had a briefing before we started and looked at the meter connected to it -
Wind speed 10.8 miles/second - 19.5 rotations per minute 

- looked at the ladder used by the maintenance men -
Up the outside - gulp!!

- then went inside to start the climb up the 305 spiral stairs.

The whole structure was shaking because it was windy and there is also a certain amount of movement anyway.  The 'pod' where the blades are attached also moves to catch the wind and so when this occurred there was a loud noise and because it was windy we could hear the blades swishing as they went round.  I hung onto the banister and climbed and felt so relieved when I got to the top!!

The views from the viewing platform were spectacular
The blade going round outside

We saw Ely Cathedral on the horizon. though too far away to photograph and looked down at the organic kitchen garden attached to the wind farm.  It provides the café with vegetables.
There are people in the picture but you can't see them

Going back down was quite quick and when I reached the ground I had a strange swaying sensation and felt a little giddy for a while.  After lunch we proceeded to the next activity!

We drove for about 30 minutes to Grimes Graves, a Neolithic flint mine.  If we were expecting any fancy accommodation - forget it,  there was  a large hut in the middle of Breckland with an earth toilet!!  Here we had a guided walk over the landscape that reminded me of the moon's surface with craters covered in a lovely hay meadow with wild flowers.

We had a talk about how the people in this period, between about 2650 and 2100BC, had worked these open cast pits, now infilled.  They were after the black flint or floorstone, which they needed for their everyday life, from axes to arrows, to working tools.  We were shown a modern reproduction of an axe, but using the techniques the Neolithic people would have used.
The large flint head, set into wood with pine pitch and very heavy

The miners would have used antlers from red deer to work the chalk and open the pits.  We climbed down a ladder into the only one that is accessible to the public -
Chalk walls worked in Neolithic times

and were shown a sample of the black floorstone they were looking for.
Black flint or floorstone

A strange feeling looking at something so old and worked with what we consider primitive tools.

I have been busy making pyjamas with these fabrics -
Bought in the sale here

Donated by a kind friend
 People have been brilliant with fabric, which must be 100% cotton.

Finally, I have been using the skein of very expensive silk that I blogged about here as I wanted to make an evening wrap for the summer.  A friend lent me her pattern because I liked it so much and I am getting on well with it -

Once I had worked out the pattern it is so easy to do.  I found following the chart much easier than the words and the amazing thing is that the ball of silk is just not getting any smaller!!

Monday, 4 July 2016

"Messing about on the river"!

What a glorious day we had yesterday, Sunday, and I got quite excited because the sun was shining after the awful weather we have been having.  It was another outing with the 50+ Adventure Club and another annual favourite - the canal boat.  We arrived at the Marina and after being allocated either Rumble, Fumble or Tumble we set off to our first lock.  It is usually the ladies who open and close the locks as the men are being macho and driving the boats or throwing us ropes to tie the boat up.

The sun shone, there was wild life all round us 
A grey heron standing on one leg on a branch
A cormorant and there was another heron on a branch lower down
 We saw these sculptures -
A giant tap and a strange fish on a pole!
turned a corner in the river and saw this horse fair 
'Travellers' horses

A cute foal
We meandered on our way and the sun shone

No touching up of this photo!
and noticed in the distance that some swans were having a go at a small dog that was walking on the towpath.  When we got nearer we saw why.
Protecting their young cygnets

We had a coffee break with biscuits and after about two hours turned round and tied up outside a handy pub where drinks were bought. Each member of each boat had been instructed to bring items so that we had a delicious ploughman's lunch, with the obligatory pork pie!!  Pudding followed!!  We were now on the return journey with three locks to go through with queues of boats waiting.  The return journey was slower but very enjoyable.  We arrived at the deep water lock and I wandered up to see how many boats were waiting to go through.  I saw this
Hydra cycling
and my first thought was a new activity for the club - cycling on water!! I very rarely stay on the boat in a lock but on this occasion I did and watched the water rushing in
and the boats rocked a bit.  But we pressed on
and I took photos of some of the architecture we saw.

Dutch gabled houses - very unusual
An 1860 bridge, though I am not sure that it is still in use.
We had a lovely day and the sun shone. I had been over to Cambridge to do some vegetable gardening and decided that the radishes needed harvesting so chopped this pile up and took them on the boat trip for everyone!
Last week we had our June 'reveal' for Mini Mania which was to make a four-patch block of stars using three colours - aqua, purple and yellow + one other colour.  Big problem straight away as I DON'T DO YELLOW!!!!
Virginia Star - 8" square
However I did manage this in the end - a golden background, purple border and the centres for the star. July's challenge is 'Seminole'!  Thinking cap on for this one.