Archive for October, 2007

Work Hard, Play Hard

October 20, 2007

It’s an attitude that stereotypes archaeologists, and particularly field archaeologists, the world over.  Seldom can it have been more applicable to a group of archaeology students, however, than when considered for the Environmental Archaeology and Palaeoeconomy course at Sheffield.

In barely three weeks, I have already filled a lever arch file and printed and read more articles than I did in the whole of my undergraduate career.  This last week has been fairly representative of it.

Last weekend we all gathered at Craig’s house for drinks on Saturday night, while some of us watched the rugby and others played a game of Risk.  After the match finished, we looked for another party.  After that, of course, I was a little late in rising on Sunday – much to Kura’s chagrin, as she’s become accustomed to me getting up at 6.  The Sunday was spent reading some articles in preparation for Tuesday’s seminar, punctuated by a short walk to look for Ayesha.

On Monday I got up at the usual 6am and did some more reading in preparation for the next day’s seminar, then headed into Sheffield for midday, where we had arranged to meet to discuss any problems anyone may have in preparing for the seminar, had lunch in the pub, and then did some lab. work before returning to cook dinner.  Which I followed with some more reading for the next day’s seminar.

Tuesday was heralded by a lovely bright sunrise.  Which blinded me as I reversed out of the drive; I felt and heard the car rise and drop all of a sudden, by the offside front wheel.  I went forward and back again, and knew something was wrong.  I could see nothing resting up at the side of the road, but managed to get the car to Kwikfit in Chesterfield, where I explained that my tracking rods were probably bent and they, in turn, explained that they couldn’t do anything about that, but agreed to put my car up on the ramp and have a look.

"There’s nothing wrong with it."

"Yes there is", I said, as I left the waiting room and went to have a look for myself.  ""The wishbone’s bent."

"Oh, yeah."

Needless to say, the main dealer in Chesterfield couldn’t help and I needed to get my car fixed asap.  Finding someone who could, I walked the couple of miles back into the town centre and availed myself of the world’s worst ploughman’s lunch.  Getting home sometime around seven, cooking dinner and then doing a little reading for Thursday’s seminar.

Wednesday’s a late start officially, so I spent the morning doing some more reading for the next day’s seminar, as well as going out for another look for Ayesha, and then headed into Sheffield for a lecture in the afternoon.  Getting home some time around half six, I ended up sitting in Jude’s living room until nine, drinking beer.

Thursdays start with a lecture, which is followed by the usual pub lunch, then another lecture and seminar in the afternoon.  Since there was no essay to hand in this week – usually due on a Friday – we went out for a curry and then a couple of beers.  Very nice it was too; Rob and I ordered some dish which was reviewed in The Guardian food section.  We know this because we proudly had photocopies of the review thrust in front of our faces.

On Friday I attended a conference on Neolithisation in honour of Anthony Sherratt.  The conference continued today (I eschewed the traditional conference drinking session in the evening) and after that I went to the library to obtain articles to read for this Tuesday’s seminar.  Tonight, Jude’s coming over to watch the rugby and then tomorrow I’ll do more reading in preparation for the next seminar and the essay due next week.

"What larks, eh Pip?"


I’m in!

October 8, 2007

On Wednesday, the fifth September, I was painfully aware that my course in Sheffield was starting in under a month and was beginning to despair of ever finding a house. That day I saw a new listing on the internet which looked pretty good and promptly rang the estate agent. “Oh no, that’s gone, sorry,” said the girl on the other end of the ‘phone. As I explained exactly what I was looking for – most importantly a place suitable for cats – she said she may have a property to suit, in Doncaster. I didn’t much like the sound of the place but, bearing in mind my already acknowledged desperation, arranged to go and look round that Friday at midday.

The following afternoon I found a whole new button on the main website I was using – “character properties”. Clicking on it hopefully, I saw a great looking farmhouse near Matlock and again rang the estate agent immediately:

“Oh no, sorry, that one’s gone, we’re just about to update the website.”

“Oh right, well, thanks anyway,” I said.

“Have you seen the cottages, some of them are still available,” he added, hopefully.

“No, what’s that?”

“The property is part of a small development with some cottages, some of which are still available.”

After explaining where I lived presently and that having close neighbours wouldn’t bother me overly much, I arranged to look around the cottages on my way back down from Doncaster.

The larger of the two cottages was still absolutely tiny, with an open plan living room-kitchen occupying the loft space and two bedrooms downstairs. I had already been concerned at having to pay for storage, now I was seriously concerned whether or not my bed would actually fit into one of these rooms. Nevertheless, the situation was ideal and I agreed to take it – promising to pay as soon as the banks opened on Monday and asking for dimensions of the rooms, doors and stairway so that I could work out what would fit in and arrange removals.

As the week dragged on, my prospective landlord continually failed to give me these details or the address. On Friday he gave me the address and promised to go up to the property with a tape measure the following day to get me my requested measurements. “By the way,” he added, “the farmhouse is available now, the people who were going to move in have pulled out – do you want it?” The cottage had already been more than I had wanted to pay, and this was £45pcm more again, but thinking quickly, I realised it could work out cheaper if I didn’t have to pay for storage and so agreed to take it pending measurements. I persuaded him to accept the money I’d already paid for the cottage, including the first month’s rent, for the farmhouse and found a website with some internal photos of the property. Suddenly I was feeling pretty chuffed about it.

At 8.30 on Monday morning I began ringing round removal companies – having obtained quotes from some already – and found one who could move me that coming Thursday. Coincidentally, this was also the company who had given me the cheapest quote! Packing proceeded in earnest for the next two and a half days…

I arrived at the house in reasonable time, Ayesha having lost her voice somewhere on the M42, and after having a cursory look around inside with my landlord then proceeded to stand outside and have a chat with him and my new neighbour, Jude.

After a couple of hours, I thought I’d really better ring the removal men and find out where they were:

“We’re on your road now.”

“Excellent,” I said.

“We’re just passing a phone box.”

Jude reckoned this was probably by The White Hart, about half a mile away, and I relayed the information.

“I’ll probably end up down there for dinner at this rate,” I said.

“I don’t think so,” Jude replied, “It’s very posh down there – they do Italian food.”

“Oh right, I don’t suppose there are any takeaways anywhere nearby?” I asked, somewhat hopefully.

“Umm… Not really, no. There’s a chip shop in Crich, about a mile and a half away, they close at 9.30.”

“Fish and Chips it is then, thanks.”

With that, Jude disappeared back into her house as the removal men arrived and, at 8.30, I followed Jude’s directions to Crich and ordered some fish and chips. As I was standing there waiting, who should walk in but the lovely Jude.

“I was going to buy you a bag of chips; I thought you must be hungry.”

“I haven’t paid yet,” I smiled, cheekily.

As the days went by, I slowly began to get everything in the house sorted out:

Friday I got some gas delivered (again arranged thanks to Jude).

Saturday I went out and bought a television aerial in order to watch the rugby.

Sunday my landlord came and removed his furniture, and so on.

At the end of September, I finally had hot water and a working shower and, as I did some work on the car on Sunday morning I took the opportunity to fit a cat flap and let them out since I would be outside for an hour anyway. Ayesha was delighted and slowly explored, periodically returning to rub up against my legs.