Sunday, 29 September 2013

Metal Detecting With F For Gold & Silver and M Swims In The Grey Grey Sea

I don't think I have mentioned here before that F and I are keen Metal Detectorists. This is partly because of my background in Historical Studies, and partly because most of us respond on some level to the allure of Buried Treasure.

F is by far more of an expert at MD than me and is a veritable mine of information when it comes to IDing the things we find. A career in Archeology looks set to beckon him and he spends many hours walking across acres and acres of fields in all weathers, head bowed, arm swinging, listening to the sing-song tones of his detector calling out to him about the treasures just waiting to be found.

It is something he and I do together, as no-one else in the family is particularly interested in it, and as such is time I treasure.

We hadn't been out for a while (well I haven't been out for months- life for adults intervenes) so this morning I had promised him we would go together, and ten o'clock saw us ensconced in a friend's field with the rain pouring down and our metal detectors alternately pinging or remaining frustratingly silent.

You learn to hear the difference in signal sounds when you've been doing this a while, which means you don't waste hours digging holes for every single pip. There are also settings on detectors which in theory zone out waste metal such as nails and tin cans, although mine seems to ping in a very similar way for both coins and scrap. Oh well, t'is part of the joy of the hobby. For every decent find you get several rubbish ones, and nothing beats the excitement of seeing the shape of a coin peeping out of the earth and wiping the mud off to see what's on it.

F had been desperate for some time to find a hammered coin (ancient things made by placing a blank piece of metal between two dies (types of stamps containing images) and bashing it with a hammer. They date from the first millenium BC up to around the 1700s when they were replaced by Milled coinage which was produced by machinery). Hammered coins are special things and I have yet to find one. Imagine my excitement when we got a near-hysterical call from F back in April to say he had not only found his first hammered coin, but that it was a Gold Quarter Noble dating to the reign of Edward III and that it had been made between 1361-1369.

He brought it down to show us. Here it is in all its glory. Can you believe the detail on it? This coin is nearly 700 years old and probably lay buried in the earth for most of that time. It is his pride and joy, and rightfully so:

All finds are interesting, many because of the social history they inform you of. For example, my favourite find is a tiny child's thimble, dating from the Early Victorian Period, which I found on a field boundary. A little bit of research told me that thimbles are often found in fields because the women and children brought their sewing with them to do during their lunch break from working in the fields. Many thimbles come out of the earth crushed and twisted, so this one is in remarkably good condition. I like to think about who's hands it has been through and what the life was like for the person who did her sewing with it in the field where I found it.... BTW, the penny beside it is a 1p coin of our own Dear Monarch, to give a sense of scale.

Other pieces I am particularly fond of include this Jeton which was made in Nuremberg and dates to between 1500-1570. Jetons are counters used on a chequered board for accounting purposes. This is where we get our modern term "exchequer" from. They were a kind of reckoning counter and by the end of the 1400s came almost exclusively from Nuremberg. Mine is likely to be from the Schultes workshop and shows a Lion of St Mark holding a book of the Gospels on one side with an Imperial Orb within a tressure of three arches and three angels on the other.

The site we visit most often yields a large number of Georgian coins, most of them in a poor state of preservation, and this morning F got very excited when my one and only coin of the day appeared after a very strong signal. It's a Penny from the rein of George III and dates from the first decade of the 1800s. It is huge for a coin. You should be able to just about make out Britannia in the first pic below. The Georgians copied ancient Roman coins who also had this image on their coinage. George's profile in the second pic is less clear, but easily recognisable if you're used to seeing it as F is.

F found a silver Bender Love Token in the same field. This one dates from the reign of William III (1670) and is made of silver. Bender love tokens are rather lovely- the man bent the coin into an "s" shape in front of his lady love (to prove his strength perhaps). If she kept it it was Game On, but if she threw it away into a field he had better look elsewhere for love. So maybe F's love token from this morning was one that was discarded? Rather a sad tale, even if an interesting piece of evidence for social history.

F has always been nicknamed "F The Finder" in our house, and no sooner did he locate his Gold Quarter Noble than he began to find other Hammered Coins, such as this Silver Sixpence from the reign of Charles I (coin date 1639-1640). Note the "Carolvs" for Charles, top right of the pic below.

And TWO silver sixpences from the reign of Elizabeth I, which I think are my favourites. These date from 1561 and 1582 respectively, and on the latter one you can clearly see the profile of the queen. Gives me goosebumps just to look at it. All three sixpences were minted at the Tower of London. Magic.

My most ancient coin is this Roman Dupondius, only really IDable by its shape and size. It was lying on the surface of the field last autumn, probably brought up by the plough:

Other than coins I have also found this West's Silver Patent Cufflink dating from the 1880's. These are important because the design was a new one meant to hold the cufflink in place using a sort of screw mechanism:

And there have also been some musket balls, one unfired (the one nearest the coin) as it is perfect. The second is harder to tell whether or not it was ever shot. F has some fine ones with lines scraped into them by a knife- soldiers would apparently score the musket ball then roll it in poo so that when it was shot it would infect the wound. Nice eh?

I also found this a few months back and had no idea what it was until a kind person on a forum told me. It's a Jew's Harp, a kind of mouth instrument and as such is one of the oldest designs on the planet. Mine could be a hundred years old or a thousand.

I'll do the odd Metal Detecting Post every now and then as Interesting Things turn up. I've said to F I am prepared to forego my Celtic Coin find if I can find a Viking or Roman or even Saxon hoard instead!

The other thing we did today was to visit the sea. I felt the urge so we bundled everyone into the car and went down to Mudeford. It was grey and the sky was heavy with clouds and the sea did not look inviting, but M has the capacity to swim in the coldest of temperature (it's like a badge of honour with him) so he went in and swam about calling out "It's Warm! Come In!" and we all pretended we couldn't hear him and went off for an Ice Cream instead, which I find I can always manage to eat even in Mid-Winter.... M is that dark blob diving in.

I was rather taken with this holey stone...

Someon had made a whole fortification of Lovely Sandcastles

There was Quite A Lot of Interesting Seaweed...

Ted had fun pretending he was a Salty Seadog

Sexual Equality Hits Mudeford


Well, that's another weekend over with- where did it go? Somehow, it disappeared into knitting (both additions to scarf and almost another square for the blanket too), swimming (until a child was sick in the pool and we had to get out. Yuk), cooking supper for M's sister and the five of us, drinking too much wine, being inveigled into buying an awful lot of crisps, biscuits and chocolates at Asda by L when I'd only gone in for Hula Hoops, washing, hoovering, removing cobwebs (shiver), Over Seeing Computer Time and Chivvying Along Homework, trying to fix the digi box upstairs, writing up trying to make sense of my notes from college AND trying to decide who is going to be my next TV boyfriend. Current thinking is that perhaps assigning one man the role for a whole year is asking too much and what I need to do is have several a la Denise.....

THANK YOU Ladies, for all your suggestions. Food for thought indeed....

...Never a Dull Moment Here

Hope you all have a Splendid Week,

CT :-)

Saturday, 28 September 2013

On The Subject Of TV Boyfriends

I am between TV boyfriends at the moment. 

A nice aspect to being happily married is that you can enjoy looking at Handsome Men without  having to worry about ever actually meeting them and therefore discovering their bad points and so feeling Let Down by them. 

There are a number of possible candidates for my new TV Boyfriend, but I can't choose between them so I thought I would post them here and garner your responses.

M currently has the local Weather Girl for his TV girlfriend, something I consider totally inappropriate because he might one day bump into her for heaven's sake and that is entirely against the rules. And he gets to see her most evenings on tele as well which I think is A Bit Much. 
The whole point of a TV boy or girlfriend is that they are so remote that the chances of you ever actually meeting them are a zillion to one, so you can safely Admire Them From Afar. They also should not, under any circumstance, be cleverer or more attractive than your own dear hubby or wifey, for obvious reasons. Ma went through a Rufus Sewell phase (he even sent her a birthday card, although it had a picture of himself on the front which I thought was a tad narcissistic). He was A Perfect Choice, because there was no hope of them ever meeting and her being embarrassed or let down as a result.

Anyway, here is my short-list (I've knocked Damian Lewis off by the way because he was my TV boyfriend last year and it's Time For A New One, so don't suggest him, and I decided against Robert Peston in the end because while I love his presenting style and admire his brains, he is a bit too kooky).

 1. Michael Fassbender 

(An unfortunate name, but as I'll never have to worry about marrying him I don't think we need concern ourselves overly with that aspect of things)

 2. Jason Isaacs

(VERY scary as Lucius Malfoy, but gorgeous in The State Within)

 3. Hugh Laurie 

(What a Surprise he was in House. No sign of the goofy Prince George or Bertie Wooster about him then)

4. Cillian Murphy

(Currently to be seen strutting his enigmatic stuff in Peaky Blinders, which I find myself increasingly glued to. It's those eyes...)

5. Max Brown

(I first noticed him in the Tudors after which he moved to Spooks)

Now, I think this is a reasonable selection of Handsome Men, any one of which would be suitable TV boyfriend material. As you all know me Quite Well by now I trust you to Give Me Some Sound Advice. Be tough in your critiques and honest in your appraisals. I don't want to choose one of them only to discover he has three ears, or eats live rats when the moon is full, or something ghastly like that, which I would certainly Live To Regret. 
Bear in mind that this is an Annual Position for the Right TV Personality, so the new TVBF has to be capable of lasting until this time next year.

M has helpfully suggested a TV Weather Man, but I think this is probably largely to justify his own choice of TV Girlfriend, and besides, I don't think there are any Handsome Weather Men out there are there? L suggested "one of the hunky dancers off Strictly," which was a deal more helpful as a suggestion, J looked at me as if I was mad and F kept his head down.

But I think my five Possible Candidates are enough, don't you? I am prepared to bend the rules if any of you can suggest someone to add to the list that you think would fulfill the criteria (easy on the eye, remote so I'll never meet him and be forced to blush, and not as clever as my husband, who is Pretty Clever as these things go).

Have a  lovely evening all, and Let Me Know Your Thoughts because I need to have a new one in place by the end of the weekend if at all possible, to combat M's smugness every time his TVGF appears on screen talking cleverly about the weather and wearing a dress that makes it clear she's off to some fancy party serving champers and canapes afterwards. I need some ammo of my own to retaliate with.

CT :-) 

Friday, 27 September 2013

Moth Post

It's been a while but I haven't forgotten them. 

The Moth Box was out last night and this morning yielded a very different haul than in recent days. Gone are the Flames and Setaceous Hebrew Characters who have dominated over the past month and in their place have arrived the darkly handsome in a Gothic sort of way Black Rustics, the males of which flash bright white underwings when irritated. There were 11 of these beauties in the box this morning, along with 12 Large Yellow Underwings and 26 Lunar Underwings, the latter in two distinct colourations, dark and light, which made IDing them an exercise in frustration and a certain amount of bewilderment.

There were 75 moths in the box in total, with 14 different species 7 of which were new, taking my total this year to 296 - tantalisingly close to my target of 300. I am fairly confident that we'll get there now.

I brought the box in at 6.30am and overnight temperatures were hovering around the 11 degree mark. I think it was overcast, but won't swear to this. Here they are...

 Dusky Thorn

A Sallow beside a leaf demonstrating their fantastic camouflage

An exotic visitor to the box last night - a Dark Sword Grass, an immigrant come over from the Continent. Amazing to think this little moth has flown across the sea!

The alluring Black Rustic

An Inquisitive Soul

A very pale version of a Lunar Underwing

The delicate-looking Light Emerald

A Large Yellow Underwing sitting beside a Caddisfly

Grey Pine Carpet, a new one for me this year

Agriphila Geniculea, a micro moth and another New Species for me

The Snout, amply demonstrating why he is so-called

There were three sleepy waspy people in the box, all of whom came out docile and not stinging or attacking my moths.

The Sallow (new one for me)

A darker marked Sallow

Another Sallow, to demonstrate the subtle differences in markings these moths can have

Sallow head-on

A third Sallow, again darker than the previous ones


Sallow side-on

And last but by no means least, this beautiful Red-Green Carpet, my final New Species for today.

Just as a footnote and completely unconnected to moths, I thought I would mention that I've been swimming today (the first time since the lurker/stalker episode) and Lo! No lurker/stalker was present in the pool (or if he was he's decided I am a Lost Cause and has moved on to lurking/ stalking someone else). I swam my 20 lengths and rinsed off the pool water free of encumbrances in the form of chubby bald overly-persistent men in trunks. Phew!

Wishing you all a good weekend,

CT :-)

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

What Items Best Sum Up Your Life?

Today I bought two things which I think say pretty much everything a stranger would need to know about my life at this time.

1. Wool.
In varying stages of orange (ish) ready for Knitting Into My Blanket

2. Steel Toe-Capped Boots.
For Not Getting My Feet Squished By Falling Trees When Coppicing.
I'm thinking these will look particularly fetching when coupled with the new Bright Red mini from M&S (that's skirt, rather than car. I haven't quite reached the stage of matching my clothes to my car's paintwork but it may only be a matter of time). 

Anyway, this got me wondering: what two items would you choose to best sum up your life?

My day today went like this:

1. Wake up at 4am and remain awake until getting up at 6
2. Make various packed lunches and eat breakfast
3. Kiss my husband goodbye as he was off to Welwyn Garden City (which I can't say unless it's in a very drawly American accent- apologies to any Lovely American People reading this)
4. Take a very surprised Teddy out for a walk at 7.30 so he would be OK at home until I got back this afternoon (this is unheard of and he was immediately Very Suspicious About What It All Meant)  
5. Get L out of bed (pretty good today- minimal stick and only a small amount of carrot)
6. Leave the house on time (a Major Achievement and one which should, by rights, have been heralded by trumpets playing triumphantly as we drove out the drive)
7. Drop L at school
8. Get to college half an hour early and use the time to begin to find my way around
9. Go through a seemingly endless routine of Admin, Computery Stuff, Health & Safety and Risk Assessment Guff (my favourite of which was (as presented by some second year students) "ALWAYS wear steel capped boots, a hard hat and goggles when using a mattock." I refer you all to this photograph of my boys taken this summer while they were digging out the pond. I point your attention in particular at the Mattock in the hands of an Untrained Eleven Year Old and also in Quite Close Proximity to two pairs of nude feet, which as well as not wearing steel toes, are plainly also not wearing anything at all. I hardly need add that there wasn't a hard hat or a pair of goggles in sight, and LOOK! We all survived the experience, got a pond at the end of it and are fine). 


 I can see I am going to struggle with the H&S aspect of the course. I do not like Nonsense Health & Safety. I grew up galloping fast horses bareback around the countryside and getting stuck in trees for heaven's sake (not stuck in trees on horses- that was just me climbing too high and then panicking) and now I'm not allowed to mend a river bank without first assessing the percentage likelihood of the experience causing me to drown. And who was ever stupid enough to run their finger down the front of a sharpened blade to check it for cutting ability? (apart from me, of course).

10. Drive to Scats during my lunch break to buy aforementioned boots and a pair of gloves to prevent Splinters Occuring
11. Finish Risk Assessments ("if near a fire don't fall in it or you will burn")
12. Collect L from school and go home
13. Go out for a much-needed run (1.5 miles)
14. Have a bath
15. See my friend Lu who dropped in to collect some walking boots
16. Put the washing on 
17. Type up this blog
18. Bring the Sainsburys shopping delivery in and discuss fishing (again) with our friendly delivery man
19. Hang the washing out upstairs
20. Drink a Glass of Wine  (still to come)
21. Cook and eat bacon, eggs, tomatoes, beans, bangers and chips for supper (still to do)
22. Watch Life On Mars and do some knitting (later on)
23. Drink a mug of warm water
24. Go To Bed (if I haven't already fallen asleep on the sofa)

I'll leave you with some beautiful yellow roses my Kind Husband bought me as a Good Luck You Are Starting Uni (again) present...

Our Apple tree, which is groaning with fruit...

And the Delphs, which are looking magnificent in their Blue Towers in the pot on the patio, which I am enjoying every time I step outside...

Hope all is well with all of you?

Wishing you all a Tremendously Peaceful Evening Filled With Many Lovely Things 

A Tired CT :-)