Irregular Post; Newcastle, England

Tuesday June 28, 2016 HiYa, Typical? Northern England dawning. So often it starts partly sunny, then clouds in, and then perhaps rains in the afternoon/evening. Today the sun woke us up about 5:30A through a narrow slit between the curtain and wall. We rolled over. “OK”. Up at 7:30, we completed the repack. Flightday. We checked the emails for last minute directions and phone numbers, airport shuttle details, EasyJet info for Nice France, etc. Bags were left at the desk and we headed out for breakfast and a look at the Great North Museum at Newcastle University. It is free ;~} and has some stuff from South Shields and along the Wall. It also had many kids on school field trips. Kids with question sheets scampering from exhibit to exhibit. Roman, Hadrian, Iron Age Britain, Anglo-Saxon Britain, Egyptian, Greek-Etruscan. Not to forget dinosaurs and …..> Some last minute shopping and off to the airport; great Metro system. OOPPss. The flight departure board announced the our 5:20P flight was delayed 2 hours. Stay tuned for details!!! Bummer as that would put us into Nice after the airport shuttle to the hotel shut down at 11P :-{. “French airspace control problem. Here is a 3 pound voucher card for some light snacks. No alcohol.” A brie with tomato sandwich cost 9 pounds! The pint; 5 pounds. That’s OK we have pounds to spend or save. If we sell them back, we lose money since the pound dropped about 10% after Brexit. So. Here we sit in the Metro bar; 5:45P. The tarmac is wet with rain. A British couple heading to...

Irregular Post; Hadrian’s Wall – Day 8&9

Monday June 27, 2016 HiYa, Two days; 28 miles. The weather forecast threatened rain for each of the two final afternoons. Both days dawned with some sun through patches of thick grey. Cool and breezy. After not carrying my rain pants on rainy day 7, I did pack them for the final 28. This stretch is not noted for its scenery or many Roman sights. The Wall stones that were there, where there was a Wall, was repurposed. Most wound up making churches. Others went into big houses. Usually the Wall was a timber and turf structure flanked by the Vallum on one side and the Ditch on the other. Now the turf Wall is under roads or dikes or ??. The Vallum and Ditch has silted and partially filled. The excitement of the Wall and Turrets and Milecastles has gone. We are in what has been described in guide books as the “slog”. Saturday, we started promptly and pushed hard. We didn’t want the HardRainSlog of Friday. By 10A, the sun patches had disappeared; replaced by lowering grey rain clouds. But they seemed to be sliding behind us. Scenery, once exciting even in the wild pastures, had turned to rural pastures. Smaller pastures, country lanes of gravel, and farm yards had become the predominant terrain. We now crossed multilane motorways by overpass or underpass. Carlisle structures came into view. Somewhat exhausted by the pace we finally reached our B&B in the Carlisle suburb of Stanwix. My legs said “NOMORE”. I reclined and watched some EURO futbol while Meg felt the need to stretch her legs back into Carlisle...

Irregular Post; Hadrian’s Wall – Day 5-7

Friday June 24, 2016 HiYa, Wednesday after The Old Repeater Station and breakfast with the Legendary Les the owner, we are back up on the Whinn Sill. This east-west geological feature stretches three days long. Each crag has its own name, but they all steeply undulate the crest of the ridge. They all fall precipitously, a couple of hundred feet down and away to the north where the barbarians are waiting to attack. We are on guard at the Wall on the crest-top, at the turrets, at the mile castles. From the crag crests, it slopes to down the south to the Military Road; cars and trucks drive the Road. Today the slopes are populated by sheep and cattle and sometimes horses. The weather is great after the cold and rain of South Shields. 60s and a blowing wind that sweeps the crags. Any sweat from climbing the steep crags is whisked away. Welcome the chill on the downs; until the next climb brings the sweat again. At Housesteads Fort, we begin to see many people besides the hikers; non-walkers and people in tour buses, school kids on field trip. One set of kids is under the charge of the Centurion of the fort’s Cohort. They are on the drill field in costume and drilled to practice Roman Army maneuvers. By 11AM, the sunny day is getting hot, for English summer. We came off Highshields Crag and recognized the famous Sycamore Gap and THE tree. There is a lone sycamore tree sitting in the gap; long famous in subject for photo and paintings. It was made very famous in...

Irregular Post; Hadrian’s Wall – 3&4

Tuesday June 21, 2016 Howsit? Monday long day; 9A until ? probably almost 5P. We are due to do 15 miles from Heddon on the Wall to Chollinford. We had a full English breakfast and set off a bit earlier than others in the farm hostel. An older couple from Minnesota, a young couple from Exeter England, and a single young woman. Fields and pastures with sheep and/or cattle and occasionally some horses. Watch your foot tread to avoid cow flaps and sheep drops. Up and down small rolling hills; green, lush grass. Some woodlands but mostly pastures. There are stiles or gates separating one pasture from another. They go over or trough rock walls that mark the pasture boundaries Breezy-rain, scudding patches of grey and whit and blue. Speckles of sun. Always breezy, almost windy. Low 60s so we need a few layers including rain/wind jacket. Working up hill generates sweat that the breeze evaporates and cools you down. The track follows the Roman Military Road, now the B6318. It is a busy two lane west-east road, as it was in the Roman days. Three hours of walking and we arrived at the Robinhood Pub. It is the only business open on the whole track because it is Monday. A pot of tea, a bowl of leek soup with potato, a smoked cheddar cheese sandwich for us to share. And a half hour of rested feet. Back on track. 2 hours and then a short break for packed snack with a couple of other couple at the closed Errington Arms Pub. Back on track. 2 more hours and...

Irregular Post; Hadrian’s Wall – 1&2

Sunday June 19, 2016 Howsit? DiggingDONE, WalkingBEGUN. Friday broke raining and cool; surprise? It did let up and mostly stop by pit time at 9:00A. A couple of the less hardy souls jumped at the chance to work inside cataloging and photographing. Hardy ones like Meg and I, and 6 others worked Pit A. Pit A veterans had their clay mounds that “needed” to be shaved down with the little trowels. These are small diamond shaped masonry pointing trowels. Their clay is HARD pack and resistant to shaving or digging or most any thing. They are finding LITTLE. But Meg released a major find from the hard pack clay. A small green piece of Roman glass. Not the kind of thing to be museum displayed, like Ceres from Tuesday, but valuable because of its rarity and ability to dated and located in origin. She gets a “finder’s” credit like Amanda did. I was working in a ditch between the Roman road and the hard pack clay. I was removing the black charcoal speckled dirt, slowly working down to hard pack clay. Ditches and middens are great places to dig. I was finding bone and pottery shards; red Samian, and Black Burnished ware, light-tan mortarium (from broad mortar plates for grinding herbs etc). After lunch we had the requisite team photo. The rain came again so we finished cleaning the site for the weekend. Down the hill we walked leaving clay footprints behind. Next week there will be only four on the dig plus 2-4 local volunteers. In the evening, the team went down the street to an Indian place...