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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

June 24- Leaving Glasgow for home.

Not much to say here folks. Up at 5:30 and finished all my miscellaneous items in my bags and then down to wait for my taxi at 6:20. He was there 5 minutes later and we had an easy 20 minute drive to the airport. Just as agreed the price was 14 pounds with a 2 pound tip. No problem checking in and getting through security in about 45 minutes. Had a small breakfast sandwich with a cappuccino and then headed off towards where I expected my gate would be. I had about an hour before boarding but there are lots of comfortable seating areas. Couldn't connect to internet so my message to Carol telling her I was on the way didn't go until I landed in Halifax. The flight was uneventful and took about 6 hours a little less than usual because headwinds were lighter this morning. Cleared customs using my Nexus pass which has worked really well the last few times I have used it. I was requested to divert for a random interview but when the agent found out that I had only brought 2 shot glasses home for a value of $10 he sent me on.

It was lovely to see Carol's smiling face and the rest of her waiting for me when I got out of customs. This concludes my travels to the UK this year. It has been a good time and I got to experience lots of new things.
It won't be my last trip there.
June 23 Last Full Day in Glasgow, Scotland.

Up at 7:00. Looks like another nice day. I had a confirmation from Westjet that they were refunding my original change fee of $136. I didn't even expect that much so no complaints. Breakfast at 7:30 and afterwards I read until about 9:30 when I was able to check in for my flight home. Apparently it is totally booked but I have a seat. At 10 I started my 2.5 mile walk towards Victoria Park and the Fossil Grove. It was sunny and 10 c. It took me a little over 40 minutes with only one wrong turn. I arrived at Victoria Park at the exact opposite end from Fossil Grove and all their signage has been turned, probably by vandals, to show the wrong direction so after a few missteps I set off to wander through the park. It is a large green space with lots of lawns and trees spaced nicely. There are several garden beds and in some they are planting different coloured succulent plants with different messages such as an organization celebrating 150 years of service or the new motto for the city "People Make Glasgow".

Arriving at the Fossil Grove I looked at the illustrations on the sign boards and could easily have imagined myself at Joggins NS. There are 11 tree stumps in situ found in a whinstone quarry that was being reclaimed tight in the centre of Glasgow. They were found in 1880 and immediately recognized as a significant geological discovery. As a result a museum was built right over the top of them. There is also one tree trunk about 5 metres in length lying down on the ground. The stumps are upright with the roots still radiating out from them.
Muse
Fossil Stump
In Joggins we never get to see this type of preservation because of the destruction caused by earthquakes and upheaval of the geological strata. Nothing is in situ but rather raised up in the cliffs and of course constantly eroding out because of the fragile cliff face and force of the tides. I had a very good talk with the curator and 2 Glaswegian older ladies and told them about Joggins which of course they had never heard of. Nova Scotia and Scotland would have been part of a large continent and at about the same latitude 330 million years ago.

I walked back towards the park exit and before doing so decided to have some apple, cheese and a pint of Jennings Cumberland Golden Ale. I always carry my Caledonian Ale glass with me so it seems so much more civilized. I was close to a small pond that had a group of 6 swans and I think some of them were this years brood as well as a couple of coots. Yes Barry there are more things called coots than old guys like you and me. 
Swan and Coots on nest
Coots and babies



I had a nice walk home but had to stop at a pub on Hyndland to use the washroom and oh well may as well have a half pint, which was the cause of my having to use the washroom in the first place.
Arrived home at 2:00. It is a nice afternoon, 17c and sunny with a little cloud cover. 

Wrote up my diary and had a cup of tea with biscuits and back to updating the blog. At 4 I took a walk down Byres \road to see if I could find some souvenirs without any luck. I may have left this too late. Definitely did. My real regret is that I did not get to Bowness on Solway to find something for Richard. I retook some pictures of the church and Kelvingrove Museum that I had lost in the phone glitch.

Back to the hotel at 5 where I had them reserve a taxi for tomorrow at 6:30. The cost is only 14 pounds whereas I had paid 23 + on the way in. Getting to the end of a trip is always a bit anticlimactic so the blog wears on as I do. For the evening all I did was take a shower, watch some TV and finish getting the blog up to date to yesterday. I probably had a couple of beer too but it will likely come as a surprise to you that I left a full one in my room.Off to bed at 11.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

June 22 - Glasgow

Up at 6:15, breakfast will be at 7:30. Wrote up another blog. Down to the bus stop outside by Hotel by 8:10 to be picked up by Discover Scotland Tours. They arrived on time and drove us to the City Centre where we changed vans and started off on on our tour. There were only two other people in the van,  Moritzio and Jessica a young couple from Orlando and our driver Cliff. It was a 16 seat van so we all had good seats and it was very comfortable. Our first stop was at Loch Lomond one of the largest lochs in Scotland. We also stopped at a a hill overlooking Tarbett named for the place where the Vikings hauled their boats between lochs. Incidentally an unnamed loch is called a lochan.
Loch Lomond
Looking back at Tarbett






Back in the van driving through some beautiful countryside. I couldn't enter all my pictures but will try to put in as many as I can. We entered the town of Argyll, the ancestral home of the Campbell Clan. There is a castle there called  Inverary Castle. It was destroyed by fire in the 1975 and members of the Campbell Clan from all over the world made contributions to the restoration totalling about 1 million pounds. The current Duke of Argyll lives there in a portion of the castle and it it is open most days for public viewing for a fee of 8 pounds. I took a picture of the castle then walked back down to the town.
Inverary Castle - Argyll
Piper at Argyll
I walked around, there wasn't a lot to see but I picked up 2 shot glasses my traditional souvenir when I travel. Then I sat on the waterfront and had an ale in my Caledonian glass and some cheese. It was very peaceful. We were back on the bus at 11:45 (yes I had a beer before lunch) and drove through the start of the highlands. We drove by Loch Awe one of the longest in Scotland. Some of the mountains had snow on the top of them. The highlands are very old mountains and have been worn down by glaciers and erosion. Any mountain over 3000 ft is known as a Monroe named for the gentlemen who surveyed them all; there are 282 of them in Scotland and only 3 in England. Mountains between 3000 and 2500 ft are called Corbetts. The highest mountain in Scotland is Ben (meaning mountain) Nevis. 

We saw some Ayrshire cattle and lots of sheep. We stooped and saw Kilcurin Castle the original seat of the Campbell Clan which was abandoned in 1760 after being struck by lightening.






We came to a fork in the road; Right to Crianlarich and left to Oban. Crianlarich was the first place Carol and I had stayed when we first visited Scotland in 1994. So by turning left towards Oban I was entering new territory. We stopped on the way at a small church called St. Conan's Kirk. It was built in 1930 by Walter Campbell who didn't want his Mother to travel too far to go to church. He died during the construction and it was finished by his sister. It looked like it could have been built in the 1600's as it's style was certainly not modern. 
 
It was a magnificent piece of architecture with its own cloisters here which is unusual for a small church. Also a nice display of rhododendrons and azaleas here and on the side of the road.



Cloisters
 
We drove down through Connell which is a fair size community and then on to Oban. It is the gateway to the western islands as ferries leave from here on a regular basis. We got off the bus at 1:15 and I wanted to have haggis one more time. I stopped at a restaurant called Cuan Mor where I ordered a starter of haggis, black pudding with mash and cream. I also had one of their amber ales and to mark the occasion I ordered a dram of Ardbeg Scotch Whisky. For the first time in all my time eating haggis I was disappointed. The black pudding and haggis came separate in a little pastry shell. They just weren't what I was expecting and were extremely small. The mash and cream were good and so was the Ardbeg but then it should have been at 4.50 pounds. I finished my ale sitting outside of the restaurant looking out at the ocean.
Haggis and black pudding
Looking out to sea
I also saw an interesting shop. It was a Funeral Service combined with a Joinery business. I took a picture for Dad who was a joiner by trade.




We were back on the van at 2:30 and drove towards Glencoe. On the way we stopped at Stalker Castle located on an island, for some pictures and a coffee. Actually I had an ice cream.

We stopped at Glencoe where the MacDonald Clan were ordered to be killed by King William in February 1962 for not swearing allegiance to him on time. This was done as a warning to the other clans. There were about 200 under the age of 70 which was the order. 30 were killed immediately, 40 fled and another 40 died of exposure. My math may not be correct so probably more of them fled. There were Campbell Clan members with the government forces . Bad blood existed between these clans before and after. The following picture is of the 3 sisters in Glencoe.

We were back on the road at 4:15 and actually drove back to Crianlarich but due to a new bypass we didn't go through the town which was kind of a shame as I was wondering if I would recognize the B&B we stayed in years ago. The last stop we made was at the Drover's Inn a pub that is 310 years old. It had a wide collection of stuffed animals on it's walls.

The van dropped me off right at the hotel at 5:30. Cliff had been a good tour guide. I ate a sandwich, some cheese and had an ale. I watched some TV, wrote up this blog and was off to bed at 11:00.












































June 21 Glasgow

Up at 6:15. Breakfast is not until 8 and it looks like a really nice morning. Breakfast was really good; sausages, scrambled eggs, beans, toast, yoghurt and a banana. At 9 I called Discover Scotland Tours to make sure they were going to pick me up right outside my hotel which is the main reason I chose them. Good thing I checked as they had me leaving from downtown a few miles away. Got that sorted and was pleased. At 10:10 I started walking down Byres Street towards a church at St. Patrick's Close. I got there about 10:25 right after the sermon and took a seat the the back. The priest had a very thick accent but was very well received by his congregation. After the Mass I lit a candle for Dad on Father's Day and for he and Mom for their 65th anniversary and I put the candles right together.
St. Patrick's Church


Then I walked towards the Kelvingrove Museum and it is such an impressive building. Admission is free and I spent nearly two hours there. I started off by looking at an art exhibition by the Glasgow Boys, a prominent group of Glaswegian painters in the 1890's such as Hornel, Henry, Mann and others. They were largely known for landscapes though they ventured into other genres as well. Next I looked at some fish fossils from the Devonian period and another that highlighted marine crustaceans and other animals such as ammonites and belamites such as I had seen on the Jurassic Coast in Dorset. They also had a cast of a tree fossil stump that is one of eleven that were found in a stone quarry on the edge of Victoria Park. Sounds like it deserves a visit. 
Kelvingrove Museum
I also looked at a history of Glasgow from the 1100's to the present. Glasgow was the most prosperous city in Scotland largely due to its industrial base helped by an abundance of coal, iron and shipbuilding. There was also a great display of artefacts found indication habitation going back as far as 4000 BC. 

As I started to walk back towards the hotel in a light drizzle I noticed my phone had gone on the fritz. I was unable to make phone calls and my screens had all changed. This was a little disconcerting but I thought once I got back to the hotel it would connect to the internet and hopefully correct itself. On the way back I stopped and picked up some McVittie chocolate biscuits and a pint of whole milk for my coffee. I made a nice ham sandwich and enjoyed a pint of Wainwright Golden Ale. Also had a cup of coffee with my cookies. 

I want to try and update the blog but do have to try and correct the phone. It is 3:00 and in the next hour I published 2 posts and at 4 I went back down Byres St. to the phone store. There a clerk removed the SIM card, put it back in and turned the phone on and off. All was restored and I was thrilled. Back to the hotel and did a variety of puzzles from a paper I had bought. Watched some TV, Morris was on and then an episode of Silent Witness a show I hadn't seen for years. I wrote up a third day of the blog, had a cup of team with a biscuit and a plum. Made a ham sandwich for tomorrow, laid out my clothes and was off to bed at 11:30



June 20 Saturday Leaving Maryport going to Glasgow

Up at 6:20, finished packing and had a cup of tea. Then off to the bus stop a few minutes down the road to check what time the bus goes to Maryport. Scheduled for 7:45 so at 7:30 I left in a light drizzle for the bus stop. It arrived at 7:50 and the ticket to Maryport was 3.80 pounds. I was glad I kept my raincoat out because when I got off in Maryport it was raining a little harder. Bought a ticket to Carlisle for 7.80 pounds and the train leaves in 30 minutes at 8:42. It came on time and I read a book until it arrived in Carlisle at 9:15. There I bought a ticket to Glasgow for 23.90 pounds and waited for about 45 minutes for the train to arrive. It is running a little late due to a strike further back on the line. This is a direct Virgin train with no stops so that makes for a good ride. I had bought a bacon sandwich and a cake at the station and with my apple and usual cheese I had a late breakfast enroute. I was able to connect to the internet too so got caught up a little with my emails.

Arrived in Glasgow Central Station at 12:00 and caught a shuttle to the airport just up the street for 6.50 pounds. I am still quite optimistic at this point. The airport was quite busy when I got there about 20 minutes later but I was able to find the liaison company for Westjet called Menzies. They were super friendly but advised me that the flight for Sunday was oversubscribed and that the earliest I could get out was on Wednesday. Talk about being gob-smacked! (you don't get to use that word very often but it was totally applicable in this case). I did have the option of taking a flight from Dublin, Ireland to Halifax on the 22 but that would have meant me finding my own way there (because doesn't fly between destinations) probably costing $400 and the difference in my flight home was $126. I didn't like the Irish option because there were too many variables including a stopover in. St John's so I changed my ticket to fly out on Wednesday. They actually refunded me $36.

I had a half hour of internet service compliments of Glasgow airport so I started searching for a place to stay. Tried my original Guest House, Amadeus but they were full. I wanted to be in that area because there is so much to do. Staying near the airport was not attractive for that number of days. After calling a few places, remember I had cell phone coverage thanks to Kyle and Jenn (phone) and Julie (Father's Day cash), I was able to find lodging for 4 nights at Kelvin Hotel Guest House. It is at 15 Buckingham Terrace right on Great Western Road. It would have been a 10 minute walk at most from Amadeus House and is right next door to all the shops on Byres Road. A perfect location for sure. I took the shuttle back into the city and was able to catch a transfer on the 6A right to my door. I checked in shortly after 2:00 and was shown to my room on the first floor (not the ground floor).

This must have been a grand home in its day.















 It has nice decorative mouldings, a large staircase and big windows. The dining room is right next to my room and the gust lounge is just down the hall.
My room has a double bed, wardrobe and a few drawers. There is a sink in the room.




I watched some TV and was quite tired after all the travel back and forth and making all these arrangements. At least I don't have to relocate for 4 days. I called Carol and she and Jenn had just had a great day together doing Mother/ Daughter things. She was very understanding and encouraged me to explore. My first trip was to a grocery called Waitrose where I picked up some fruit, cheese, rolls, sliced ham, olives and wait for it, beer. (Actually a couple of ales). I didn't feel like going out to supper, it's not as much fun on your own all the time, so this will make a good meal for a few days.

Back to the hotel and got some butter from the dining room and made a nice sandwich which I ate with my cheese, olives and beer. Not too bad. The hotel also allows me to put my cheese and ham in the fridge. No need to refrigerate the ale.

There were several brochures in the guest lounge from tour companies so I booked one to Oban with Discover Scotland Tours for Monday for 38 pounds. Watched some mystery shows on TV and was off to bed at 11:30.








Monday, June 22, 2015

June 19 Day 6 Maryport

Up at 6:30, left for breakfast at the cottages at 7. Off to the site with John. Tony gave us an explanation about the trench beyond the hedge to the east of our site. Looks promising with several ditch like features.

Then we continued work on our feature. In this case Antonio from Spain worked with me. We continued to remove a little more topsoil down to the original soil. We now have a trench with a post hole beside it but not intersecting. We took pictures of it from both north and south views before lunch. After lunch we used the string that we had placed at each end on either side of the feature and graphed it in by using the elevation from both the top and the bottom. This would like like a drawing of it in profile. We used the surveying equipment to determine the elevation of the feature as well. We are now totally finished with this feature such as it is.

At the end of the day Tony updated us on the ditches and what looks like a cobble stone plaza which both would have reached the old Temple at Maryport. It is felt that the cobblestone plaza would have been used to display the Roman altars to their gods, mainly Jupiter. All this was found within a week and they still have 7 weeks to go. Hope they find more.









These don't look like much in this photo but are pretty impressive in real life.


Back to the hotel and am not able to contact Westjet to change my flight. Long story short there was a glitch in their system when I originally booked my flight so my booking did not show up on my profile and therefore I was unable to make the changes on-line. So I think the easiest thing to do is to go to Glasgow tomorrow and go right to the airport to make the arrangements. I would have to stay overnight on Saturday and fly out the next morning. There are lots of trains going to Glasgow from Maryport and I should be able to take a taxi or bus to Maryport.

So with that looked after (or so I thought) I joined the 5 team members who came down to the Ship for a drink. David, Elliott, Sam, Amy and Skylar were there and we all ordered supper. I had a pretty good steak and ale pie. Also a couple of beer, Yates Bitter and Sun Goddess. Tony and |Antonio showed up after supper and we all joined in on a 4 on 4 game of billiards. Our team won 3 out of 4.

We all headed for bed at 10:30. I am all packed and ready to go in the morning. I read part of anew Jeffrey Archer book before going off to sleep. I had paid my bill and it came to 192 pounds including two suppers.



I had taken a photo of a plaque outside the Ship Hotel which may give it a little more status. Apparently Charles Dickens stayed there on Sept 8. It does not say that he booked in for a subsequent night however.








Sunday, June 21, 2015

June 18 Day 5 Maryport

Up at 6, had a coffee and left for the cottages at 7. After breakfast left for the site at 8. Had an overview by Tony of the work being done in the field next to our site by the excavator. They have dug two smaller sites and intend on digging a large trench. All theses are hopeful that they will reveal some of the ditches that go under the Roman Temple closer to the museum.

Today we continued to work on our features. I am looking at what appears to be a post hole that may intersect a ditch that runs the length of the west side of our site. The idea is to remove the fill (topsoil) from the features. Each one would have two contexts; the sides of the feature where it was dug in and the fill. It was still quite cold and windy. After lunch I put on my raincoat over my jacket and it seemed a little warmer. We had to collect several samples of the fill from the features in buckets for further sieving and floatation to determine what biological items such as seeds, small bones and charcoal that might provide evidence of habitation. It is all a very logical process but labelling the material and placing the information on context sheets can be a little tedious. We finished up at 4:30.

You can see that most of the fill has been removed from the feature. The ditch is quite obviously the large depression and the post hole is sectioned and cleared only 50% so we will be able to see the cross section in profile.
The kneeling pad gives an idea of the length which is about 4 feet.




Note the string along this line that was placed here to guide the cutting of the section. The post hole (half) is on the left.






During the afternoon I had been able to connect by phone with Carol and let her know I was probably going to try and come home on Sunday. I think she was thrilled and I am glad I made the decision to do so. Now all I have to do is change my reservation, book a train from Maryport to Glasgow on Saturday and find a hotel for one night.

Getting back to the Ship I was miraculously able to regulate the shower temperature so I had a shower. Les came to pick me up at 7 for a Rotary meeting at the Waverley Hotel in Maryport . He bought me a pint of beer and we put in our order of 3 choices for our meal. I had soup, battered cod and a creme broulee. It cost 10 pounds which I paid but the treasurer refunded it to me because they get so few guests from away that they didn't want to charge me even though I tried to insist. At the end of the night I donated it to 3 members who were doing a fund raising bike ride event next week. I also bought 2 tickets on their weekly lottery and told them to donate it to one of their charities should I be the winner when they draw next week.

The President John Shanks and one other member said they had seen me on ITV Border News at 6 from a filming that was made on Tuesday. Here is the link. There are 3 items, a picture of volunteers on the site, a video of Tony and another of three of us. Here is the link if you care to view:
http://www.itv.com/news/border/story/2015-06-18/roman-dig-in-maryport-nears-conclusion/

The meal was great and since it was a business meeting for them with the ADG David Collins in attendance who gave them a bit of a pep talk. They have 22 members and are not growing. They are a jolly bunch but don't accept women in their club and are being encouraged to do so. They will certainly have trouble surviving if they don't change this aspect. One of the members came up to me afterwards and said he travels to Alberton PEI on a semi regular basis as he has in-laws who live in that area. That's pretty neat considering my Mother comes from Piusville, near Bloomfield 20 kilometres away.

Les drove me home at 9:30 where I bought him a pint at the Ship. He new everyone there. Off to bed at 10ish, wrote up my diary and read for a while before going to sleep. (My usual habit|)
















June 17 Day 4 Maryport

Awake and up at 6. Took a (not shower) - hair washed leaning over the tub trying to catch the transition between scalding hot to freezing cold. I got it done reasonably. Off to breakfast at the cottage and left for Maryport Co-op for a sandwich before hitting the site. Up there at 8:30. It was cold and windy and damp. One of the advantages of the damp site was that it made the contrasts of the colours of the soil very distinct. There was a sort of circular area in the east and a defined wall or foundation straight down the south margin of where we had worked yesterday. Here is a picture of me working on a feature - described as a dark colour of soil forming a shape against the orange natural clay. Also another of one of the team working on another feature.

The dark earth is removed to reveal the shape of the feature. Mine is suspected to be a post hole.
Here is a picture of the other Brian from Michigan gearing up for today's weather.


It sure felt good to get back to my room and change out of my wet clothes. I read for a while then had my lunch at noon with my last Wainwright Golden Ale. I got dressed in some warm clothes and walked in the sunshine up to the cottages. The decision had been made to return to the site and we got there at 1:15. The trowels worked easier because of the still damp soil. I worked alongside John a repeat volunteer about my age with a good eye and technique. He was a pleasure to work with. We knocked off at 4:30




Back at the hotel I had a message waiting for me from David Telford of the Rotary Club of Maryport advising me that one of their members, Les would pick me up at the hotel at 7 tomorrow night. I was able to connect my computer to the Cloud WIFI and was able to start updating the blog for Sunday so now I am only 3 days behind. I am seriously starting to give consideration to going home early and will make a decision by Friday. The dig is fine but the weather has been a little disappointing and I have lots of things I can do at home after being away for two weeks. I did this downstairs in the pub before it opened at 7.

When the pub opened I came back down and had a pint with a couple from Maryport, Sue and Vin and their dog. We talked about a lot of things and they complimented me on  my travels and general knowledge of the UK as well as my appreciation for good traditional ales. At 7:30 the weekly gathering of the Ship Hotel Ukulele Club arrived. They ordered lots of beer and began playing a wide variety of songs in an adjacent room and were still going strong at 10:30.

As for me I ordered a rib of roast beef dinner and it was delicious. Steve suggested I try the Yates Sun Goddess for a change which I did but I will be switching back to the bitter next time. Same brewery but a milder taste. At 8:30 six of our team arrived and we had a good conversation. I told Mark I probably wouldn't be back next week just to give him a heads up. He was broken hearted (well not really but somewhat disappointed because we should be making more progress next week). I do have to figure out my plans. I decided to have another half pint - that usually helps and was off to my room at 11. I read for a while and went to sleep


June 16 Day 3 Maryport Second day on the dig.

Up at 7 and off to the cottages for breakfast which consisted of a bowl of muesli, a plum and coffee. It was fine for today. I've got a sandwich and an apple and a piece of cheese for lunch, better than yesterday. We were on site by 8:30. Weather is a little cool likely 15 and breezy.

We started where we had left off yesterday. I estimate the site is 150 feet x 60 feet and we had done about 6% so far. This morning we worked from 8:30 to 10:30 then took a tea break for 45 minutes. I ate my lunch and then was able to connect to my email in the Senhouse Museum. I had paid for an annual membership (10 pounds) before going over so I can go in whenever I wish.
 

We have lunch sitting in a compound outside a large storage container where all the tools we use are kept locked overnight. These include wheelbarrows, shovels, spades, pick axes, buckets, kneelers, surveying equipment, trowels and scoops for removing   dirt. You will notice the clothing being worn which indicates just how cool it is. I wouldn't be surprised if it is only 10-12 with the wind chill. We spend most of our time low to the ground which has a moderating effect.
We worked again until 12:30 til lunch and after an hour break were back on site from 1:30-4:15.

Our process involves kneeling down and scraping a trowel across the topsoil. That is then accumulated and put on a small shovel like a coal shovel. From there it is put in a bucket and when the bucket is full it is emptied into a wheelbarrow. When that is full the spoils as they are called are wheeled to an edge of the site and dumped there.  All we had found so far were a few pieces of modern pottery.
Small Pottery Shard
One fellow does scour the site and removed soil with a metal detector and has discovered a few items including coins which may be of interest. We have probably cleared 35% of the ultimate site so far and Tony the chief archaeologist says we are doing great. So far the backhoe has uncovered 3/4 of the site. All our gear gets packed up wheeled down to the containers and secured for the night.

I travelled back to the Ship with Bill but since it doesn't open until 6:30 and the Cod Father's isn't open on Tuesday I walked down to the Surf Bar and ordered fish and chips, a salad and a pint of Atlantic Ale. Up to the cottages at 6:50 where they were just starting to eat. It takes a long time and super organization to cook for a large group. We arrived at the Senhouse Museum at 7:30 where we had another lecture this time by Dr. Ian Haynes and Tony Wilmott. They covered the site excavations from 2011 to today and the rationale behind it. Many altar stones were found in 1870 and reside at the museum. In 1880 a large Roman Temple was excavated and the work carried on since has added to the knowledge gained then and expanded the scope of are to be examined. I won't put a lot of detail here but those who are interested can view the following website:  www.senhousemuseum.co.uk
The lecture was attended by our whole team and an equal number from the public so it shows a good deal of local interest. I did nod off occasionally but again maintained an interested facade. Barry never would have made it through.

I was back in my room by 9 and read until 10 and then off to sleep the sleep of the dead or just extremely tired.



June 15 Day 2 Maryport

First day of the Roman Museum dig. I was awake at 5:30 and finally got up at 6. The tide was mostly in compared to yesterday and the windmills were very visible. Steve had left out a ham and cheese sandwich with mustard and cheese for me so that and my last scone and two cups of tea were my breakfast. I was ready to go and waiting for Bill at 7:40. We drove to the Holiday Cottages where everyone but Bill and I are staying. We are the oldest. They have a pretty nice set-up with 3 cottages with full kitchen facilities in each. I plan to buy some breakfast and lunch items that I can leave here in their fridge and will be able to join them for breakfast. It is only about a 4 minute walk from my hotl.

We were on the site at the Senhouse Roman Museum at 8:30. It was damp and breezy. I had not brought a jacket because the forecast had called for sun and warmth. I put on a t-shirt that I had and with my long sleeved shirt it was bearable. We spent time in the Museum lecture hall and Ian gave us a brief history of the site and previous year's work. Then he gave us a tutorial on stratigraphy analysis. I was totally lost on the first exercise but with the help of Elliott I was able to do much better on the second. For lunch I had slim pickings because I thought there was a food concession on site. There was but all it sold was sweets. I'll know better for tomorrow.

After lunch we had instruction on surveying and how to determine instrument height, back and forshots and calculating elevation. This took about an hour after lunch so at 2:30 we went to the actual dig site. A back hoe had been used to scrape off the overburden and bring the site down to the level just above any potential features. Here are a couple of shots of the site with folks working hard.
 
You can imagine how impossible it would have been to do this by hand. The height of the topsoil (disturbed) on top of the natural soil (undisturbed) is about 2 feet at the top of the site grading down to about 1 foot at the bottom. At this stage the only tool being used is a 3 or 4" mason's trowel to scrape away the remaining topsoil (brown) down to the natural soil exposure (orange). The colouration is quite distinct as is the hardness of the individual soils. It takes a keen eye and patience to identify important artefacts which would generally be very small although so far today none have been discovered. We knocked off at 4:30 and for the first day good progress had been made.

We stopped off at the Co-op store where I picked up some food supplies including a sandwich and cheese for tomorrow's lunch. I stored my stash at the Holiday Cottages. I had a light lunch of cheese and plums and an apple. I had decided to eat in the guest lounge which was like a private club for me. Unfortunately I hadn't taken my key with me so was locked out of the room until I was able to raise the landlady to let me back in.

Then we headed for the Senhouse Museum for 7:30 where we listened to an Archaeology Botanist speak on the topic of the work he does to discover any micro evidence of land use and food consumption by means of a sieving process. It was pretty interesting but after the day in the field I confess to falling asleep several times during the presentation but managed to do so quite unobtrusively so nobody admitted to seeing me awaken sharply.

We went back to the Hip Hotl for a beer. The botanist's name was Don Omeara from Cork in Ireland so I sent a message to my cousin Lori to tell her I was sitting in a pub with an Irish Omeara and would Roy have had any relatives from that area. She wrote back and was pleased to hear from me but couldn't pinpoint Don. I stood a pint for 6 people and then was off to bed at 10.





Wednesday, June 17, 2015

June 14
Day 1 Maryport

I've been off-line lately but am back on now. Up at 7:00 - 8c and it will be a little cooler today. We got some rain overnight but I expect it will be After I finished  a nice breakfast I had a talk with a fellow who had just finished the Hadrian's Wall walk from Newcastle to Bowness on Solway. He started on Monday and finished Friday night. That is 82 miles in 5 days. He used a company that carried his gear from campsite to campsite and provided the tents. He had very sore feet and even though he wasn't in the best of shape he deserves credit for accomplishing it. If I haven't said so already and at the risk of repeating myself, the idea of doing long walks such as this has stopped being what I think is a good idea. Some of already think I am mad to be troweling in the dirt whether it be for dinosaurs or artefacts so I am sure you will agree with me in this.
My laundry had been all done and neatly folded by my landlords so packed my bags and basically everything still fits. I say basically because I may have to wear a few extra things home.

I went to church at 10:00 and it was like attending a high mass but it was very tortuous because the organist was on hols (British) and while a capella sounds like a nice concept their are many different ideas of tempo and when they don't converge it can be quite painful to listen to. Sort of like O Canada at Rotary some days. The priest could have been mistaken for Friar Tuck if had on brown robes but he was very nice. The church was pretty full and people were friendly

When I paid for my rooms at 40 pounds per night I certainly didn't mind the extra 5 pound fee for the laundry. Said goodbye to Yvette and Norman and Jack and George and took myself and my luggage off to the train station. I am super pleased that I extended my stay here in Carlisle. Here's a picture of Yvette.












I got to the station early and was able to board at 1:50 for the 2:10 departure. It was nearly full and we went through some lovely countryside again. I spent my time doing some puzzles in the paper I had bought before departure. Arrived in Maryport and there was Mark Potter waiting to pick us up. Six people had come on the train and he could on;y take 3 + luggage so I offered to stay back with two undergrad students, Davis and Elliott. They were nice lads. Mark was back in 25 minutes and collected us.

He dropped me off at the Ship Hotel and I could see perhaps that it may not be up to my usual standards as a couple of letters on the fron of the building had come off and it now read Hip Hotl. I met Steve the landlord and for it being a Sunday there was quite a crowd in the pub.






Steve showed me up to my room and explained the operations of the pub/restaurant. I have a key to the outside door which I am to use in the mornings because he and his wife Val aren't around until 8:30 and I will be gone by 8. I could have breakfast there but in the school of how not to run a hotel according to Steve it would not be served until a minimum of 8:30. Talk about Fawlty Towers. By the way the pub and restaurant only open at 7:00 but not on Monday. Incidentally the Cod Father fish and chips shop across the street only opens until 5:30 most days (never later) but on Tuesdays they close at 12:30. For crying out loud they hardly even got open before they closed. There were only two guests there and the other chap Bill had stayed there before although I am sure he is a rare individual who would stay here twice on purpose.

Here is a picture of my room - note the bunk beds. Also the guest lounge where I can relax because there's no one else there. I have eaten a sandwich and had a pint that I brought with me. It's quite relaxing because the TV doesn't work.

My Buddy Bill





The picture on the left shows the Solway Firth between England and Scotland. Note the 60 windmills
It is a pretty sight right out my window. As you can see it is very tidal but the rise is very small due to the slight slope.


Also in my room is a chest of drawers so wobbly that if I pushed hard on it I am sure would fall down. The bath room would be shared if there was anyone else here but as it is I have it to myself. The toilet is in a long room of its own and the tub/handheld shower is in a separate room. The first morning I tried taking a shower I nearly either scalded myself or froze myself as it is impossible to regulate the temperature. The slightest movement of the cold tap shuts off all the hot. I am sure the thermostat on the hot is 200 degrees. Needless to say it took some ingenuity and did not include standing up for this tortuous event.

There are some good things about this place, the first being that I was finally able to unpack as I had been only 2-3 days any one place before. Oh yes and did I mention there was pub downstairs. I was pleased to find that they had Yates bitter on tap. I was broadly introduced by Pauline the barmaid and had a brief conversation with a few people.

I headed down the road to buy a bottle of water for the dig and picked up a couple of small bags of chips and some licorice. I crossed the road on the way home and walked a short while on the beach which is beautiful. It has coarse brown sand followed by a layer of rocks and then mud where the tide had gone out. It reminded me of some beaches back home.

I couldn't get on-line because Steve in trying to connect me to his Cloud account (no WiFi here) ended up blocking my phone so I'll have to wait until I get to the Senhouse Museum to see if I can connect there.
I went downstairs to the pub at 8:30 pm. A good size number from our crew were already there. I met Mark, Ian, Tony, Antonio, Skylar, Brian, David, Elliott, Amy and Sam. Bill came in about 9:30. The organisers were buying rounds so I had 2 x 1/2 pints of my favourite. I really enjoyed talking to the team and as I was the only stranger there was lots of conversation. There are lots more to meet tomorrow.

Steve has put out a sandwich for me for breakfast - yes breakfast! I'll explain more later. I arranged to meet Bill at 7:45 for a drive. At the end of the night some emails are coming through so that is good but I still didn't have full internet access so couldn't update my Blog. Up to the room at 10:30, brewed a cup of tea and had a scone. Read for a while and then off to sleep.


                                                                                                                               

Sunday, June 14, 2015

June 13 Day 3 Carlisle

Slept in until 7:45 but was down to breakfast for my scheduled time at 8. There were two ladies there who were just finishing the Hadrian's Wall walk by trekking to Bowness on Solway today about 15 miles away. Another couple had just arrived from Holland and were driving to Scotland to spend 3 weeks on various islands.
Norman said I could get a load of laundry done so I dropped off a bag before heading to the town centre. I had left an email for the Ship Inn Hotel in Alonby to see if I could arrive a day early. The plaza is full with people today. Here is a picture comparing last night and today. It is sunny and 16 around 11:00.

Plaza Friday NIght 7 pm
Sat. Morning 11 am


I went to the Book Case a used book store on 4 floors. It was chalked full of books, records and CDs. I spent 30-45 minutes moseying through the floors and looking at prints from a variety of locations around Carlisle and Hadrian's Wall that covered nearly every inch of wall space going up a circular stairway.





Then I walked across the road away from the castle and down to a busy part of town I had not seen. Lots of traffic and large malls so not really a place for me. However I did see a sign for the Devonshire Walk and wanted to learn more about that. So I walked back to the train station and bought my ticket to Maryport on the 2:10 tomorrow. Mark will pick me up when I get there.

Back to LH and had my positive response for the Ship's Hotel. It almost seems as I am their only guest as they have been very flexible with accommodating me. Oh well it is a pub. I'll be staying there for at least 7 days and likely more and an really looking forward to being able to take my clothes out of the suitcase. I hope they have that capability. I brewed up a up of tea (which I have been doing far more than I would at home) and had some cheese and scones. I finished up my Blog for yesterday and am up to date. I left for the Devonshire Walk at 3:00 and it looked like it was threatening rain. It took me a while to find it but eventually I was on it and heading to a section of the Hadrian's Wall walk towards Bowness. The next stop was at Grinsdale 2.5 miles away so I thought that would be a reasonable trip out and back and get me home well before dark. I met quite a few people on the way all coming the other direction and ending up in Carlisle. The walk took me along a river, through some light woods and over some fields with cattle in them. I had left at 4:10 and arrived in Grinsdale at 5:00 so that was what I considered reasonable at a 20 minute to the mile pace.  


Grinsdale is a small farming community and there weren't any amenities so after looking around for a few minutes I set out on my return trip to Carlisle at 5:10.







Along the way I stopped for about 10 minutes to eat some cheese and biscuits and consume my last ale, the Wainwright Golden which was delicious although I was so thirsty that anything might have tasted good.

 Here are a couple of pictures of views along the way including a sycamore tree (at last) and an approved pathway











I realized that I had probably set a pretty aggressive pace going out and my legs were a little tired on the return route so I wasn't able to travel at quite the same pace. I arrived back at 5:14 so after a 10 minute stop it rook me 54 minutes. This walk has basically proven to me that while I could certainly do a walk of 80 miles over a reasonable period, I prefer the concept of having a home base and doing side trips from there.
My legs were getting sore so I was really pleased to see the Boardroom Pub just as I entered Castle Street. This was the last real ale pub in the town centre that I had yet to visit. I was disappointed that they did not serve food on Saturday night (go figure) and the full pint of Cumberland Ale that I bought wasn't terrific. Not bad though not great. The King's Head had stopped serving food at 5 so I headed for home determined to find a good fish and chip shop. Here is where Norman proved his worth again as he recommended Fontana's a take away about a 10 minute walk down past the Spar grocery where I stopped to pick up 3 more ales on the way.

When I got to Fontana's the sight of the crowd would have made Dad very happy as it would have proved his adage of eating where the people are. There must have been 20-25 people ahead of me and it took me nearly 20 minutes to get served. While waiting I struck up a conversation with a chap from York who used to live in Ottery St. Mary a place we had stayed for 3 weeks in 2004. Never a shortage of connections when you take the time to talk to people.

I ordered a one piece fish and chips which they packed in a box. I walked straight home and Norman greeted me and sat me in the dining room where I prepared to tuck in accompanied by a bottle of Headless Peg. There was enough food there to easily feed two people but I did it justice.

Fish and chips and a Headless Peg
Jack begging

I had neglected to mention that there were two cocker spaniels at the Guest Home. Their names were Jack and George. I was up to my room by 9:00 and continued to watch a couple of segments of a Miss Marple marathon series. I had noted about the threatening rain today but I walked all day in a short sleeved shirt without a jacket. Temperature probably got up to 16 and was cloudy with sunny periods. I was off to bed about 11.