After a solid week of house related (and Science Museum) work, I had today off and spent it with Dawn. I hadn’t seen her for ages and was really looking forward to it. Imagine my surprise when she didn’t cancel at the last minute!
The day, however, did not begin very brightly. The weather was pretty foul with strong winds, evil clouds and drifting sheets of rain. Add to this a frantic and fruitless search for Mirinda’s bank cards and the day was looking decidedly glum.
Mirinda managed to only miss one train and I saw her off to a very important meeting with a leading provider of hat robbing engineers. As I walked back to the house, the sun started to appear and the clouds gradually dispersed.
Dawn was in the highly unusual situation of having Nicktor at home to attend to all the usual duties so she could spend as much time out with me as she wanted. Generally when we have lunch I only get an hour or so before she has to race off to collect, feed and water the boys. But not today!
We started off by driving down to Winchester Uni (where she’s doing her PhD) to see Julie (one of our tutors at Surrey so many years ago) who was sorting finds from a student dig. Actually, she was washing oyster shells. There are an awful lot of oyster shells on the site and it looks like poor Julie is washing all of them. She had a room full of students washing various other finds. She was at her usual acerbic best. And I’m convinced she had no idea who I was. Still, she knew Dawn and that was enough.
She gave us a tour of a few of the better finds from the dig. Some tokens (used instead of money as I’ve mentioned a number of times in prior posts), some wonderful Murano glass fragments and a tray of very small objects which Julie asked us to identify.
We tried a few guesses but couldn’t work it out. Apparently they had to send them away to an expert to find out what they were as well. They looked like tiny little lead weights but were shark denticles (also called placoid scales). These form the sharks scales and are similar to tiny teeth. Shark was used a lot by Medieval monks.
We were also shown a couple of jug handles with faces on them. Brilliant finds! Exactly the sort of thing I’d never find in a million years of digging.
After spending a little time listening to how awful a certain staff member is, we left for lunch in Winchester. We went to the Bishop on the Bridge and had a lovely meal (and beer…except Dawn has gone off beer and enjoyed an alcoholic ginger beer instead which she justified by saying it had ‘beer’ in the name) before going for a short wander and coffee.
We went into a lovely little cafe but they didn’t want to serve us so we popped across the road to the much more accommodating Maison Blanc. we sat outside and enjoyed our coffee and watched people strolling around, cameras in hand, enjoying the gorgeous day.
We then left Winchester and paid an unannounced visit to the dig site. Dawn wanted to talk to the bone expert (to do with her PhD) and we really wanted to have a sticky over the site.
We both felt a very strong pull to get out our trowels and start scraping away but, fortunately, we didn’t have our trowels with us and I had sandals on. Instead we managed to get a look at an exposed skeleton which one of the guys was excavating (actually he was drawing the plan and taking measurements while we were there but it’s all part of the process). I managed to get a photo as we discussed what was wrong with him.
The site used to be a Medieval leper hospital so our assumption was that he (Dawn said it was a ‘he’) was a leper though a person on blip said he was probably misdiagnosed as it looked like he had psoriasis. Anyway, he looked jolly happy, like most skeletons do. This is because the lower jaw falls down after everything rots away from the bones, giving the skull an eternal grin. Death and happiness. Maybe that’s where the crazy stories of heaven come from, the cheerful dead.
We wandered back across the field to the car and drove back to Farnham where we had a brief detour so Dawn could see what the storage unit looked like – she’d never seen one before – as she’s thinking of putting Nicktor in one. Or, at least, his junk collection. Her verdict was that it wouldn’t be even close to being big enough for him.
We then enjoyed a lovely coffee on the patio while fussing with the dogs before she left. It was a lovely day, improved by the fact that Mirinda found her bank cards at work and had an excellent meeting.
After Dawn left, I decided the grass was dry enough to mow (for any prospective house viewers) and set to it. It always looks so much better after a mow and much more inviting. I then rearranged the lounge room to make it look bigger – no easy task but I think it worked.
So, a full and very enjoyable Monday. Tomorrow it’s back to the house improvement programme with, possibly, painting on the agenda.