Digging Into the Past

A few hours ago Ed came back from his archaeological dig. It was only in Sedgeford, a measly fifteen minutes away by car but I was still not able to see him for a week, which felt weird, considering I was still staying in his house, with his family.

Sedgeford offers a ‘BERT’ course for archaeological beginners to gain the Basic Excavation and Recording Techniques, for a week, which is what Ed was doing there this week, but of course as part of the programme they also have to do presentations to the public on a Friday. Jem, Pookie and I decided to go and see. I personally was looking forward to seeing Sedgeford as I had dug there two years ago and was eager to see how it had progressed since my being there.

“We’ll leave at three o clock.” Jem said. But really what I learned is that when someone says a time they’ll leave at they really mean fifteen minutes later. The thing that stalled us was that Pookie had left her school bag at school and needed to go back and get it, which added ten minutes to the leaving time already. However. At quarter past three all the schools are done for the day and there’s an abundance of cars picking up kids and taking them places that we got stuck in traffic coming out of town. We decided it must be because the schools are done either for summer, or for the weekend that everyone is going off to the beach (doesn’t help that today was meant to be the hottest day). The traffic was so awful it was at a standstill so we didn’t even get out of town until twenty seven past three, just three minutes before the presentation started.

We were frantically trying to call and text Ed to say we were going to be late and to see if he could stall the presentation a little bit, alas no. The presentation has already started. Luckily, the traffic eased up considerably once we left the town and we were quick enough getting there, even if we were twenty minutes late. But it was fine. We made it JUST in time for the BERTs to speak. Ed was first.

The presentation was great. Though the funny thing is that Ed did just about the same thing I did. He dug a trench that was the shape of a quarter circle on the edge of the trench and found…….

nothing. Just a sliver of bone near the top.

Two years ago I also dug a quarter circle (I’m very sorry, my archaeological lingo is a bit rusty at the minute) on the edge of a trench and found nothing but a shard of bone. The only difference is that Ed didn’t lose his bone.

(On my behalf it was not MY fault I lost it. We were called to lunch just as I found it and I asked what I should do with it to which they told me to leave it on the bucket of a lid next to my trench as they couldn’t get a finds tray at that exact moment, and when I came back from lunch the lid, and the bone, was gone. It was fixed, however, because the supervisors told me to write on the context sheet that it went through to enviro because then there’s a scapegoat)

It’s funny though, that Ed and I are dating, and we have done our digs on the same weeks (or just about) that he is two years younger than me and is doing his dig in the same year of school as me and has ended up digging the exact same hole (sort of) and finding next to nothing. However, none of the other BERTs found anything either, unlike when I dug and the people next to me where uncovering cow skulls and bits of metal working.What was the conclusion about the area the BERTs were digging this year is that a lot of it is just natural features from the glacial period (approx 12,000 years ago) which, even though not as cool as a burial or anything is still exciting. Ed did theorise that, because a lot of the deposited rocks were iron rich thought that perhaps it was actually an iron deposit or somewhere in which iron would be dug up and worked which would explain, partly, why there is a settlement.

However, in the next trench (or context, as we like to call it) they found what looks like a house. There was a hearth with what could be a clay floor, some hook thing that they suspect is a door latch and post-holes. Empirical evidence that there is a house. However the coolest find was a piece of daub from a wattle and daub house which had an imprint of the woven wattle on one side and the hand-print of a seven year old[?] on the other. HOW COOL IS THAT! I can’t say it’s every day that mud used to build a house in the Anglo-Saxon period survives.

Of course, while I was there I wanted to find my hole and go through nostalgia, but I think I may have missed that part of the tour. Of course, just being there and seeing familiar people made me nostalgic over Sedgeford, and I think being there again made me realise exactly how much I miss being there and how much I miss digging, and now I am itching to join one again (if I can wrangle some money out of my family Ed and I were going to try and come back as volunteers some time this summer- *hinting towards mum*).

What’s more, is that Sedgeford are actually publishing a book about the archaeology there, called “Digging Sedgeford – A People’s Archaeology”, which is an editorial on the site, which reflects and input on all who have been associated with it, so you never know, you might be able to see my name somewhere, again, HOW COOL IS THAT! The book si being published on the 15th of August this year and will be available in bookshops as of that same date for £19.95 which really isn’t badly priced for an archaeology book. And you can also order it online. They, I believe, are currently doing a pre-publication offer to those who order before the publication date at just £15, and can be delivered outside of the UK too. I’m very sorry if this promotion has bugged you, but you see, Archaeology is a passion of mine and Sedgeford is a site that will remain dear to me for as long as I live, so I would like to share these things with you.

Afterwards we went home, and bought Ed back with us, who is now very happy to be back in a normal bed and have a good shower in a more private setting, and then we went to the beach for fish and chips and to make ourselves even more muddy, probably making this day perhaps one of the nicest I’ve had in a while.

Feeling Fancy

Today I was in Windsor, with Ed, his sister and his mum. Originally the plan was to go to Oxford and do a bit of pre-holiday shopping just to get the final bits and pieces and look at the universities for Ed as he is thinking of applying, but they got stuck in traffic and decided that going to Windsor would give us more time to do things. 

Originally we started off near Windsor castle although we did not go in. There’s never really much appeal in standing in a long queue to hand over £18 of your own money (if I was being given £18 it might be a different story). But all is well, if we had gone in the castle we may have been sidetracked for a long time, as that’s what you get for being involved with a family of history enthusiasts) and we wouldn’t have done half the things that we did. Silver Linings. 

Instead we walked past the guild hall (or something like that) and found ourselves in a little museum. It was smaller, even, than the local museum back home which is saying something. But what was interesting to find was that around Windsor there had been finds of mammoth tusks, as DNA analysis has managed to identify and date to the pre-historic era, and also a tooth of an Indian Elephant a while later. Not only were there mammoths in England, which is astonishing in itself as all of what I studied in university made me think they were only on mainland Europe, but there were elephants too! That being said, it could have just been another Hannibal episode (he led elephants through Italy to try and attack Rome during the Carthage wars). Altogether we were done in about half an hour, us historians have a tendency to drag these things out for a long time as we discuss samian pottery. 

And then we did a spot of shopping, there was an expensive shop and I really liked one of the shirts in the window. 

“If I tell them my last name is the same as the shop name, will they give me the shirt for free?” I asked. It’s a joke that is old and I say it every time I pass one, but psychologically I think I say it in the hope that one day it will come true. We can’t get answers if we don’t ask the questions. Windsor altogether mainly consisted of these expensive shops and, as a student, I was not emotionally ready to part with much cash. Never the less there is never any harm in pretending you’re a millionaire and looking at the clothes, even if it then depresses you that you aren’t a millionaire. 

Because the shops were too expensive (for me) too old (for the sister) and too much for women (for Ed) we decided that we would take a walk and either go to the castle after-all, go to the gardens or take a walk a down the river and we ended up by the river. Jem was originally looking for row boats to take out on the river, but she couldn’t find them. I’m sort of glad that she couldn’t find them. The last time I stepped foot in a row boat the oar snapped and myself and Vie were stranded in the middle of the lake. We did however end up on a 40 minute river cruise tour thing which told you about the area. I am therefore even more glad we didn’t get the row boats. I probably would have crashed the thing and subsequently drowned. 

On the boat we could see Eton college, the castle, lots of fields and very nice houses that I wished I could own (maybe my estate agent mum could help me out, pleeeeeeeaaaaassse) and some little ducklings. There was also a lot of swans. We reached a bridge and the man on the boat told us the roof needed to be lowered to fit underneath it. We thought it was going to be much like a convertible where the roof splits and folds and gets tucked away, but what actually happened is that the roof literally got lowered, to the point where we were panicking that we would get squashed underneath the roof. Luckily it stopped just as it grazed the top of my head, like it would in some James Bond or Indiana Jones film, and was raised again. I don’t know what the tour man said, his voice was extremely muffled over the speaker.

On board the boat I also decided to test out a new instant polaroid camera thing that I had treated myself to after nearly a year of lusting after one. It was a nice picture of Ed his sister and his mum, and we all found it really exciting to watch it develop in front of our eyes. It quickly became the topic of conversation.

“are you even as old as that thing?” a man in the row behind us asked and jokes were shared among us about technology and whatnot.

We got off the boat after being told that some tall chimneys in the distance were the chimneys from an industrial state (that was all I heard of the tour) and we headed off to get some dinner, however on the way we passed a traditional fudge shop called the Fudge Kitchen and we had a look inside. The person in the shop was extremely friendly and kind and offered us all sorts of tasters and even brought out a fresh batch (close to closing) so that we could try it. It turns out that the man in the shop also comes from Norfolk but moved to Windsor as a kid, and we were in there for a very long time trying all of the fudges and talking about stuff (it turns out that some work on Windsor castle means that the man’s house was flooded with 8 feet of water a while back) and eventually I decided that I would get some fudge for us all. I decided on a strawberries and cream slice and the specially brought out one called “Loretta”, it was chocolate and orange. Ed decided on an Eton mess one (the sweetest fudge they sold, and very befitting for where we were) and a toffee one while Jem chose a canadian maple and walnut and Pookie (the sister) chose vanilla, and we walked away feeling very happy with ourselves. 

Afterwards we ended up at Nando’s for dinner where most of the time was spent eating in silent appreciation of the food, since most of us had not eaten since breakfast but we had good conversation. The only problem was that Ed started to worry about some exams he had coming up and the only person that could seemingly calm him down was me. 

“maybe you should come back with us for a couple of days, he’s been like this the entire time” Ed’s mum said, worried. So I checked my timetables to find that I had no exams, lectures or events for almost a week and so I agreed that I probably should, if it was going to be a help to everyone. Which is how I suddenly found myself packing a suitcase with a few pieces of clothing and my laptop and have managed to somehow make my way back to Norfolk for three or four days. Don’t worry. I bought all of my necessary books and revision with me, and once I return it is going to be a very intense search for a place to live in second year. 

A.M at P.M

The 24th of May was the concert for the Arctic Monkeys that I was going to in Finsbury Park, not because I’m a band member, a roadie or a ‘groupie’ but because, like any other average person in the world, I bought the tickets. They were a Christmas present to Ed. Luckily I had managed to procure an umbrella and waterproof shoes for if it did rain when I got to London it was raining so hard not even my brollie could save me. Luckily it dried up by the time the concert came around (even if the mud in the park could rival Glastonbury, when we were getting the tube back there was a man with mud up to the hem of his shorts!). We had tried to find rain-coats before hand but the only ones I could find were from Topshop and I wasn’t prepared to spend £40 in plastic. 

Ed and I got to the venue just as the first opening act ended, and that was the opening act we really wanted to see…but the four minutes that we did see them were pretty awesome. The second act was Miles Kane and we figured that if we took the face of the bassist and the haircut of the drummer he would look much like my step-dad. Perhaps he doesn’t actually go on business trips, but is actually a rock star. Some of the (bizarre/retro/iffy) clothes looked like something he would have somewhere in his wardrobe! The other was Tame Impala, but I didn’t really pay attention to them much as I was freezing cold and my feet were killing me. I jut wanted the main act to perform.

In between acts there was an agonising half an hour wait for the next band in which, having no dancing to distract myself from the pain coming from my feet and legs I watched the people. Never in my life have I seen so many people wearing the same combinations of denim and leather, and never have I seen so many people with a Noel Gallagher-esque hair cut. I couldn’t help but wonder how many people wore those outfits as their daily wardrobe or if they were just trying to fit in, but it was entertaining.  When the bands came on there was more dancing (read: jumping and swaying) which made my feet agonise in the long run, but at least all my weight wasn’t on them constantly. 

Arctic Monkeys came on at nine in the evening and their first song was Do I Wanna Know from their newest album which made everyone super excited, but they only played perhaps three songs from their AM album, which the tour was meant to promote, so it felt a little bit lacklustre. I believe it rained again, but I couldn’t tell because apparently a thing you do at Arctic Monkeys concerts is throw beer into the sky and down peoples shirts so it could have just been Fosters raining down on us. The problem with the beer being so readily available was that people were incredibly drunk before we had even reached halfway through the evening. I had to watch as a man vomitted into a cup and put it on the ground, and had to put up with a man who told everyone he “was Boy George”. Arctic Monkeys are a good band but they were only on for an hour which sort of disappointed me because they have tonnes of songs and only performed around ten of them, however they did play our favourites and so we were happy with what we got. 

Ed and I also had to leave at 10pm so that was one reason why I should be glad they finished half an hour earlier than we were told, at least we didn’t miss anything from them, but the problem was now that every other person was also leaving and Ed and I needed to be back at King’s Cross to collect his suitcase and get on a train home, so we had to dash from the stage to the tube station to make it ahead of the crowd and we just managed to get on the train before the mass of people caught up with us. Perhaps if the gig had less supporting acts then we could have seen more of the main act, and I would probably feel a lot less disheartened, but it was fine, I discovered some new music. We got home covered in alcohol and cigarette smoke which wasn’t very pleasant and since Ed went through the full experience of having a glass full of it poured down him we were happy to be home. The way I’m writing this I’m making it out to be less pleasant than it actually was but, believe me, I did have a good time. I’m just glad that I wasn’t covered in mud or booze myself. 

Two People, Two Years

Today is a rather celebratory day for me, even if I have spent the day in lectures, cooking and watching unhealthy amounts of Netflix. The thing is that I am supposed to be celebrating the second year me and Ed have been together. The problem with living in different downs is it makes it too hard to do it properly. I have given him his gift already, a notebook in which I hand-wrote every memory we had together in chronological order, and to celebrate today I decided to share with you the first part of the story: how we came to be dating. 

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It started at midnight, which in fairy tales is when a lot of fateful things happen. It was November 19th 2011. We could have met two days before when we were on the same trip and knew the same people, but we didn’t. Perhaps if I took the hopeless Romantic approach I would say fate didn’t want us to meet then, especially when on that day he had a girlfriend. He did not on the 19th. At midnight I clambered on to a mini-bus (not a coach that used to be a pumpkin) as I was going on a school trip to Greece. As luck would have it the rest of the sixth formers packed too much and there wasn’t a seat for me on the designated “sixth form” bus. I made an awful joke as I sat down and awkwardly waited. Ed climbed onto the bus just a few minutes after and sat down next to me. As luck would have it it was the only seat left. At first it was awkward because we didn’t know each other at all and we were both pretty reclusive in our personalities, but we bonded quickly over music, archaeology and classics and our hobbies. We chatted for a while until we were too tired and fell asleep. I don’t know if I believe in love at first sight, but I knew I kind of liked him. 

When we got to Greece we had an evening in Athens, having been to Sounion, and I asked to hang out with him as the sixth formers (whose only reasons for going on the trip were to drink booze and smoke goodness-knows-what) weren’t the sort of people I enjoyed hanging out with. We went to a shop and I bought a souvenir or two to remember the trip. On the way out I looked at the bracelets they had displayed, and then I walked away. Half an hour later the men from the store approached me. 

“May you show us your pockets?” They said in broken English. 

“Excuse me?” 

“Did you steal something?” What?! As far as my memory serves I have never stolen anything. For some reason at that moment I thought telling them “No. I promise. I’m a girl guide.” would help the situation as I showed them all of my pockets and the contents of my bag. They asked me to be escorted to the shop. I admit I was scared. I was shaking. ED, who at this point I hadn’t even known for 24, came with me as I could barely talk and a second pair of eyes would perhaps help my case. We watched the CCTV footage they showed us and I explained how it must have been my iPod which I had in my hand to keep track of the time. Ed explained that I was the sort of person who would never intentionally against the law while all I could think to say in my head was “ego Britannica sum!”. They accepted my apology and let me go, and for the rest of the evening every time they saw me they patted my shoulder and showered me is “sorry”. 

We hung out a lot on the Greece trip. On the Acropolis, at the museums, and other sites. One evening I came into his hotel room while a person I shared the hotel room with was showering and wanted privacy. There I taught him how to use twitter and he fixed mums camera which I had dropped at the airport (and almost left in Delphi, sorry mum). And we talked and talked. At meal times we sat opposite each other and, like a gentleman would do on a date, he would pour my water. I bet he would have helped me into my chair if he could, but the space was next to the wall. 

One evening some of the students got tipsy and there was a huge row over a boy. Ed and I escaped the room where all the drama was happening and made our way to the fourth floor. We raced there. I took the stairs, two at a time, while he used the elevator. It was a close draw but I won. While we were hiding from the rest of the school we talked a bit and he admitted he liked this other girl. I would be lying if I said my heart didn’t sink, just a little bit. 

On the minibus home from the airport we sat next to each other on the mini-bus again, but the girl he liked flanked his other side. I fell asleep. So did he. And so did she. It was, theoretically a menage a tois, as there were three of us sleeping together, but it wasn’t like that. When we stopped at a station to get food the girl and a boy very much into card tricks traded places and the three of us stayed up the rest of the night. We recited Going On a Bear Hunt off by heart and discussed just about everything. I devised a plan to get his number which included getting other peoples to make it look normal, and it worked. 

After Greece we texted a lot and hung out in school and I would spend my lunch times walking in circles to “bump into” him. One day I saw him going through A-block corridor so sprinted across the car park and through the hall and positioned myself to seem as if I had been there forever. 

“You seen Vie?” I asked. I knew perfectly where she was. 

“No. I haven’t.”

“I’ve been looking for her all lunch time. Where are you going?” 

“Library.” 

“I’ll come with you, maybe she’s there doing last minute homework…” Needless to say she wasn’t in the library but I said that if she wasn’t there then I’d never find her, and used it as an excuse to stay in his company. Some people would call that sweet, others would call it creepy. They go sort of hand in hand. 

February was the first time we hung out outside of school grounds. It was a snow day and Vie wanted more sleep  so I texted him asking if he wanted a snowball fight. We met up, and there I met his mum, dog and little sister and we had a snowball fight. By the end we were drenched and I was freezing cold so I was invited back to his house for hot chocolates and to dry off. We spent the majority of the day in his room playing computer games and laughing about it. I was sat on his lap and he had his arms around me and occasionally we snuggled. This was definitely not what “friends” did. But when people asked us if we were a thing we would scoff and say no. I left in the evening and he walked me home. As we parted we hugged, and he may have kissed me on the cheek but I’m not sure. After that day we hung out every couple of weeks doing the same sort of things. 

On march something made me upset, and I knew that I wanted to talk to him about it, so I went to his house in tears. The door was open as he had just got home and I just stood there.

“Hey.” I said pretending to smile. 

“Hey!” He replied a little shocked to see me. And in that instant I broke into tears. He led me into the house and sat me down while I explained everything and he cuddled and consoled me and made jokes until I smiled. When I left he hugged me goodbye which we hadn’t done since February. Honestly, I was fairly confused about us. I knew I definitely liked him at that point, but I wasn’t so sure if he felt the same or not so I kept quiet for another couple of months. We hung out as usual, and I would come to his house every couple of days like I normally did. Around May I knew I didn’t want to be “just friends” anymore, but I was too scared to say it myself as I had tried before but chickened out. So I wrote a letter and walked across the park to post it through the door. I got half way across the park and stood there, stalling myself for forty minutes, to an hour, debating if I should or not. It was raining hard that day. Eventually I ran out of time and I had to go home to make it to Vie’s A.S performance for Theatre Studies so I did not send the letter. 

Instead we met up on Sunday and I packed the letter in to my bag, just in case. I don’t remember the details of the 6th of May 2011, I know I bought white choc-chip cookies as, I learned in Greece on an evening where we all dared him to have his finger nails painted and I bribed him with chocolate, white chocolate is his favourite, and I went to his house. I presented the cookies first thing. They say the way to a mans heart is through his stomach. Perhaps this would work? And we talked and did the usual, I suppose. But at some point we were both sat on the sofa-bed in his room and we were discussing something. I was mid-way through a sentence when, like the usual cliche, he leaned in and kissed me on the lips. I was surprised to say at the least, as I never thought he would. I think I was too stunned to kiss back at first, but I did. And I came away blushing, and smiling. 

When it was time for me to go, as mum had called me to say that dinner was ready soon, I grabbed my shoes and started to out them on. Ed saw the letter in my bag. 

“What’s this?” He asked. I blushed.

“It’s.Um. Nothing.” I mumbled as I his behind my hair. 

“It’s addressed to me?”

“Um, yes. But…I don’t think I need it anymore.” 

“Well, it’s got my name on it, thus it is mine. I’m opening it.” And I watched as he tore open the envelope and read it. I pretended to be concentrating on my shoelaces as I waited for my heart to explode, either through utter sadness and humiliation, or joy. I was preparing to say that if he said no I didn’t want it to affect out friendship and that I would still like to hang out. But just a minute later when I started to say it he looked up from the paper and said “okay.” I smiled and tried to stop myself from dancing there on the spot. We hugged, and kissed a little, before he took me downstairs to wave me out of the door. When the door was closed I skipped all the way home. 

Two years to this day we have been staying strong. Of course we have been through good times and bad times, but we made it through this far. It’s weird to see how it has been this long as he has been my first boyfriend ever, and first kiss. And it seems like an incredibly short amount of time, yet it seems miraculous. We are young, of course, I am only nineteen years old, but still there’s a part of me that is screaming “more!”. who knows if this will end in happily ever after or not, but we’ll see. For now I’m just celebrating two years.