Wednesday, 28 October 2015

A Masterclass With Meandmybigmouth, Spectre In IMAX And A Few More Detecting Finds

One of the first accounts I followed when I joined Twitter was publisher Scott Pack who tweets very entertainingly under the handle @Meandmybigmouth and writes a great blog in the same name (see link over there to the right). About four years ago Scott offered to review and critique the work of the highest bidders in a charity auction that he ran in support of the defence in the fiasco that was the Twitter Joke trial. I was fortunate enough to be one of those bidders and Scott gave me some excellent advice on developing Give Me Your Tomorrow which, as regular readers know, I finally self-published last year. 

When Scott tweeted that he was to be the speaker at The Guardian's masterclass aimed at  helping new authors to avoid the publishers' slush piles, I booked straight away. I am half way through my second novel and, as I want to attempt the traditional publishing route this time, the subject matter was perfect for me. Months later the big event finally arrived and, on Saturday, I joined forty plus other hopefuls at The Guardian's plush offices behind King's Cross Station for three hours of very instructive, useful and entertaining advice on getting our books noticed. Scott was a very funny and genial presenter and, if two things are certain in life, all of the attendees will be really, really really sure their manuscripts are ready before sending them out and none of those manuscripts will be in envelopes stuffed full of glitter.

We went to Cineworld in Ipswich today for this week's cinema outing. We've still got loads of Indie and foreign films on our 'to see' list but what better way is there to spend a wet Wednesday afternoon than the latest Bond on the IMAX screen? Marion loves Daniel Craig's version of Bond (Roger Moore was my favourite) and Craig plays the character well but with none of the humour of the earlier films. As always, the movie begins with a spectacular chase and this one, set in Mexico City during the Day Of The Dead Festival is as spectacular as they come. I would have been quite happy to go home as soon as it finished as it would be impossible to better it - brilliant stuff.

After that the film follows the usual formulaic plot, car chases, a female interest or two, a megalomaniac in a weird super villain hideaway and the obligatory ticking bomb. It's all very well done, very exciting and visually stunning (especially in IMAX) but I felt that I knew exactly what was coming next and that the plot was a bit of a cut and paste job on the old scripts. Do watch it if you love car chases in glamorous locations. With just one laugh in the whole movie, give it a miss if you want the old Bond humour with those chases.

It's metal detecting stuff now so stop reading if that's not your cup of tea. With series 2 of Detectorists , filmed here in Framlingham, due to hit our screens on Thursday night I took a friend who, inspired by the first series, fancied trying his hand at the hobby with me for a couple of hours in the fields on Monday.  Having never used a detector before, he did quite well and his finds included the following.

A Charles I Rose Farthing Hammered Coin 

Medieval Annular Brooch Or Buckle
I know detector users who haven't found any hammered coins after years of trying so finding one on his first trip was a good start for my friend. The annular brooch or buckle is also quite rare in that it has its pin intact.

Spurred on by the gloriously unseasonal weather, I returned to the field on my own on Tuesday. There were plenty of signals.

Here's What I Tipped Out Of The Finds Bag When I Got Home

And here's what was included amongst the junk.

More Musketballs

A Silver Groat From The Realm Of Edward III (14th Century)

A James I Silver Penny (Early 17th Century)

A Post Medieval Buckle Probably Tudor Period

Victorian Penny

Unidentified Fragment Possibly  A Strap End

Unidentified Stud (I feel that this is Medieval)

Loop Fastener (Again, I Believe, Medieval)

Half A Victorian Locket

Decorative Drawer Handle

Medieval Bronze Vessel Fragments

Royal Artillery Cap Badge 

Post Medieval Stud

Croatal Bell Fragment

I will be taking all the latest finds to the archaeologists in Bury St Edmunds next week for recording on the Portable Antiquities Scheme. I probably won't get too many more chances to get out in the fields when the winter sets in so I will take advantage of any more of the warm weather and ,when it turns wet and cold, concentrate on finishing the new novel. 

Friday, 23 October 2015

Our Youngest Visitor

Ever since we moved to Suffolk we've looked forward to visits from friends and family and, so far, we've enjoyed welcoming quite a few guests. This week we had a very special visitor as our three-year-old granddaughter Catherine from Rochester joined us for a two night break.

We collected her from Kent on Monday morning and spent a lovely two and a half days with her here in Framlingham before taking her back to her mum and dad on Wednesday. Although she missed her family and they certainly missed her, we had a great time and packed the days with playing.

The weather was mostly fine and we were able to walk into town for a visit to Leo's Deli where she selected her favourite salami and cheese before going to The Dancing Goat to sample one of their delicious chocolate brownies.

Monday afternoon at 3 p.m saw the launch of Steven Mulhern's brand new game show Pick Me on ITV1. Our son Paul is a development executive with Possessed TV who produced the show and we were excited to see it after hearing all about it for several months. I liked the bluffing format so much that I had a stab at providing some questions. 

And I am pleased to say that, as you can see, the producers did indeed Pick Me. It's a fun show and very different to what you will usually see on TV at 3 in the afternoon. If you take away the fun element and the colourful costumes there's a very solid game of bluff behind it. Steven Mulhern is a brilliant host and there have been plenty of hilarious moments in its first week. The highlight for me so far was 64-year-old Raden's excitement at winning a trip to the zoo. Judging from the comments on Twitter it's a Marmite programme but the lovers far far outweigh the miseries who post snarky comments.

Catherine loved helping her nanny with the gardening.

We turned the living room into a playroom.

Sadly the visit was over too quickly and we drove back to Kent on Wednesday afternoon after enjoying our little visitor's company so much.

We broke the return journey with a trip to Cochester Zoo which is almost exactly half way. It's a very good little zoo and we had a very enjoyable couple of hours. Catherine was brave enough to handle this enormous stick insect. I am not sure that her grandparents would have been as willing to pick it up.

One of the highlights of the zoo is the underwater viewing tunnel in the sea lion enclosure. It was fascinating to watch the animals glide above us like birds.

After getting Catherine home safely it was back to retirement as usual. We spent yesterday on housework but today was more relaxing and I had a few hours detecting while Marion did some more gardening. Tomorrow we're off to London. I'm going to a Masterclass run by The Guardian which is aimed at helping new authors to get their book noticed by publishers. Give Me Your Tomorrow , which I self-published, has reasonable, but unspectacular, monthly sales. I want my next novel (currently 35% complete) to perform better and I hope that the class,which is being hosted by the brilliant Scott Pack (see Meandmybigmouth blog link to the right), will point me in the right direction.

Friday, 16 October 2015

A Week Of Heroes

It's been a relatively quiet week considering our usual hectic schedule but we've still managed to keep ourselves occupied. I've heroically (or foolhardily depending upon how you look at it) done nine exercise classes at Fram Leisure and they seem to be doing my health good as, together with Jamie Oliver's Every Day Super Food recipes, they've helped me to lose over nine pounds since we got back from Scotland in September. I will be posting photos of the six-pack on a future blog (give me a couple of years). Marion's done plenty of classes too and she's done most of the cooking. She complains that she hasn't lost the weight that I've lost despite eating and drinking less but I think she looks great and there's not a great deal for her to lose.

When we did get out we went to see The Martian in 3D at Cineworld. I really liked this film. I went without knowing anything about it so I didn't know whether or not Matt Damon would survive being stranded on Mars (I did feel that the upbeat disco soundtrack did offer a few clues though). It was good old fashioned adventure stuff, with great 3D effects and some fabulous space scenes. Damon's Mark Watney, the heroic never say die astronaut, was, like me, the eternal optimist who, seeing a bucket full of crap, saw a bucket full of fertiliser. Don't delve too deeply into the feasibility of everything in this film and you will love it. Go with your scientific hat on and you will be laughing all the way home.

There were more heroics on the small screen at home as we found time to finish watching the TV mini series Show Me A Hero. It told the true story of Nick Wasicsko who was the youngest big city mayor in the USA when he was elected mayor of Yonkers in 1987. The big issue of his mayorship was the public housing development and the resistance to it by racist white residents. There were only six episodes but it was gripping stuff with Oscar Isaac putting in a brilliant performance as the honest and heroic Wasicsko who fought for his beliefs despite a horrendous public backlash. It was refreshing to watch a decent TV series that, for once, didn't involve the brutal and voyeuristic murder of prostitutes. If you get the chance I think you can still catch it on Sky Atlantic.   

My final hero of the week is neighbour Wilfrid. He's ninety now and has had a bad year after being widowed in 2014. Despite his loss and ill health he has been constantly cheerful and, after some great treatment from Ipswich Hospital is now taking a well earned rest at a nursing home nearby. We look forward to visiting him there and welcoming him back when is fully recuperated.

The final bit of heroics was going out with the detector in this weather. I managed to dodge most of the showers but by the time I finished seemed to be carrying most of the field around on the bottom of my wellies. I didn't find a great deal by way of reward but it was good to unearth this thimble which was lost by someone well over five hundred years ago.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Sizzling Times In Framlingham

Rio has its carnival, Edinburgh its tattoo, Munich its beerfest and Siena its Palio but in Framlingham we can go one better with our annual and unique Sausage Festival. Yesterday's event drew in huge crowds and the town was packed with residents and visitors following the sausage trail from Market Hill up to the castle and down to John Grose. At each of the twelve venues we tasted a sausage before voting on our favourites back at the market. In addition to sausage tasting there were street dance displays, buskers and other street entertainment. My favourite sausages were from our local butcher Hall Farm but they were pipped to the first prize by Mills and Son of Southwold. It was a great event in glorious autumn sunshine.

After a drink at The Station and completing our sausage trail Marion headed back home and I walked up to Baddingham Road to watch The Castlemen play in a local derby against Wickham Market. I missed the first half hour in which Framlingham took a 1-0 lead but enjoyed the rest of the game as Fram went on to increase their lead with a well taken header by Mayhew from a free kick. The match was played in a good atmosphere in front of over a hundred fans and ended up a 2-0 home win.  

After stuffing ourselves with sausages during the day we decided on a lighter evening meal and I made this paella with lobster, prawns and mussels from Darren on the market.

I mentioned on my last blog that I had done a bit of detecting again this week but was waiting for the new iPhone before taking photos. The phone duly arrived yesterday so I had a go at photographing the finds from the two sessions I had.

I've been searching a field that appears to have either been used as tip or has possibly been the site of a wartime aeroplane crash (I haven't found any record of this) as there are areas of the field that are littered with scrap metal. This is the scrap from today's couple of hours.

This is the scrap lead that turned up. I always keep this and promise myself that one day I will take it to the scrap dealers and cash it in. Having been detecting for almost thirty years now there's an awful lot of lead - maybe I'll donate it to a favourite charity.

Despite the scores of scrap signals there were plenty of decent finds too. As these were often in the "scrappy" areas it meant that I couldn't ignore any signals.

This small medieval buckle is rare in that it is complete with both its pin and the strap fitting.

There was the usual selection of musket and pistol balls.

And some more nice, early buckles.

Although these look like scrap they are a bronze vessel fragment and a medieval strap fitting.

This long shanked button probably dates to the 16th century.

I am not sure of this piece but it is possibly a bronze medieval vessel foot.

This is a lead alnage or bag seal from around the 17th century.

I find a lot of pre-decimal coppers but they are not usually in such good condition as this Victorian penny.

Most detectorists love finding hammered coins as they are tiny and difficult to find. I managed to find seven in these two visits but, as you can see, their condition leaves something to be desired. 

This tiny farthing is from the realm of Edward 1 - Edward III. I am not sure which yet but it dates from the 13th to 14th century. 


This Elizabeth groat dates towards the end of the 16th century

Elizabeth Half Groat Reverse
A Cut Half Voided Long Cross Penny c 1247-1279


As yet unidentified cut half


Rose Farthing Charles I

Rose farthing Charles I

Unidentified Silver Penny

A Groat or Half Groat Minted in York (Civitas Eboraci)
Obverse Possibly Edward III

This looked to be just another lead weight or disc until I turned it over.

It turned out to be a medieval personal seal matrix.

Here's an impression of the seal. My interpretation of its legend is ROGER DE GRAVE. I was delighted to find this as it is the first I've found in years of searching. Now I need to see if I can find out who Roger De Grave was.