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April 1, 2016

Has once again, sprung! Hoorah! There has been (some) sunshine, there has been (a little) less rain, it’s bordering on warm (ish) and the daffodils are out. This is all good. This gives me hope that summer will come and maybe, just maybe, the sun will shine for whole days at a time. And, of course, there are lambs and chicks, including peregrine falcons, because nothing says spring like tiny fluffy predators.

In other good news, you’ll have seen the CfP for HARN 2016. Finally! It’s all very exciting and hopefully will be a) well attended b) get HARN lots of new members c) won’t be too stressful to organise and manage and rather than running around Rome like a fool, I’ll get a bit of a holiday – a Roman Holiday.  Although, obviously I’m telling Rick and children that I’ll be working non-stop. Obviously.

Not only is HARN 2016 semi-sorted, but HARN 2017 is being planned too. Again it will be a themed conference, possibly on ephemera since it turns out you’re all very enthusiastic about ephemera and how they shed light on archaeology. (I just looked up synonyms for ephemera and kept getting ‘guest’ leading to a Princess Bride moment.) It’s also conceivable we’ll be splitting the conference locations so it’s more easily accessible to European and HARN members in the Americas. Or that plan may come to nothing, I’ll let you know – of course, if the plan does come to nothing I’ll simply pretend I never mentioned it in the first place.

In less-good news, spring is the traditional time to have a clear-out and tidy up. Rick and I have been talking about tidying up the shed and garden for several years now and we finally ran out of excuses got round to it last week. It quickly turned into a nostalgia trip/vicious recrimination. When we moved it was from a larger house, things got stuffed into the loft and shed in the hope we’d work out what we really needed and off load the rest. It didn’t quite work out like that. We did winnow some stuff, then we became parents and acquired more (much more) stuff and rather than sorting anything we just added to the piles of tat. The shed became the invisible dumping ground, if we could open the door and fit whatever it was into the space then we’d ‘tidied’ it. Job done. Until last week. Now, I would have said that neither of us are hoarders but the shed tells a different story: why had one of us felt it necessary to keep a carrier bag full of empty jam jars and plastic boxes? Does anyone really need that many plant pots? Why do we have so many planes/nails/broken deckchairs/candle holders? We have several trowels, a mattock, a hard hat, shovels, steel toe cap boots, there’s probably a level in there, if not a theodolite and planning table. We could have run an excavation from that shed. What am I saying? We could have run an excavation in that shed – there were layers and features, sediments and stratigraphy, obviously any amount of material culture. In fact, forget archaeology, it was bordering on the geological.

We now have a much emptier shed, I’d show you pictures but given it’s still quite full I’d have to do before and after photos and even I realise no-one else cares. More surprisingly, we are still married, although it was touch and go for a while there and I’d say it was only because we had cake that we didn’t file for divorce in between chucking paint cans at each other. And, talking of cake – neat segue here – I mentioned the other week that the 9-year-old and I had achieved a long held ambition. We were asked to judge a cake competition. I know! And, not just any old cake competition, an archaeological cake competition! At UCLan there is a tradition of a baking competition at the end of the Neolithic module where the students submit cakes in the shape of various monuments. And we were asked to judge them! It was superb! We got to be the Paul ‘n’ Mary of the archaeology department, and eat a lot of cake. I don’t have photos but when/if I get them I’ll post them. I have to say UCLan students bake a fine cake and do an excellent line in recreating ancient monuments through the medium of comestibles.

Still talking of cake:


I swear this is the last hedgehog cake I’m making. I’m over hedgehog cakes now, particularly ones covered in white chocolate which is a pain to melt and despite getting everywhere doesn’t want to stick to the cake when it is melted. However, my lovely son asked for an arctic hedgehog cake (is there such a thing as an arctic hedgehog? I must have been thinking albino hedgehog when I gave it blue eyes) with 10 candles and so that’s what I produced. But, no more. This blog is my witness that the hedgehog cake production ends here.

Reading this back I realise I’ve talked about the weather, sheds and cake – if I ever need to prove I’m British then I’ll use this blog post as proof. I’ll try and be more histories of archaeology next week.

In the meantime, have a great weekend,


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