It’s not all glamour and treasure.

Well since the end of my amaza-site, I have had nothing but blank eval trenches. How the ups come down.

Over the last two and a half weeks I have completed 3 jobs and spent a lot of time in the office writing those reports. In fact it’s probably taken me longer to write the reports up than it took to complete the dig.

First job, got sent to the city of broken dreams (we all have that one place we vowed never to set foot in again. I got sent back to mine)… I went down to take over a colleagues site, he was moving house and needed to not ‘be away’

I arrived and 5/12 trenches had been completed, 4 more were blank and 3 were left to finish, a couple of days down in that pit of a city and the deed was done. Get back up to the office with a couple of days left to spare in the week and I had to stay in doors. Sad times.

Second job, get sent to the city of broken dreams again! Turns out these two eval jobs came as a sort of joint package because they want to build two schools next to each other. Off I go with two other people to do 250m of trenching.

Bish bash bosh, 2 fulls days and then a couple of hours on the third and we’re off again, out of 5 trenches I had two with archaeology in. What’s going on!? I get back to the office with days of the week to spare yet again and I have to be in doors.

This morning I head off for another away job, this time in the beautiful little town of Wall. I was meant to be there for two days. 4 hours on site, 3 test pits and a lot of phone calls later, jobs done, recorded, kit back in the van and back home for 4:30. Now got to spend the rest of the week in the office. Still writing reports.

The fickle life of an archaeologist.

From an amazing site and spending all my days out doors. To the odd days here and there out on site with blank trenches and becoming a computer jockey.

On the upside, come October 12th I’m going back to my amaza-site to complete phase 2. Bring back the barrows and Saxons.

Adding strings to the bow…

In my naivety I thought being a good digger, good at doing paperwork and being good at rectifying other peoples mistakes on paperwork would be the way forward to make it as a good supervisor.

Oh naive little Beki. Since starting my new proper grown-up job in archaeology I have learnt so many new things and have got plenty more to go.

1) I’ve been advancing my experience with those old GPS units.

2) I’ve been learning QGIS (I found this incredibly tricky and convoluted… but turns out with repetition it gets much easier and I can now digitise my plans, sections and set them out all pretty and ready to print!)

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3) I’ve asked to do my First Aid training.. they’ve said I can and are looking into the next available session.

4) At some point I will get to learn about 3D photography and setting all of that palava up!

5) Finally after all that it will be the turn of the geophys team to show me the ways!

Baby steps…

Being mistaken for a tramp…

So my break from work the other day was a bit of a malarky.

I was meeting someone for coffee during my half an hour off, but I couldn’t bare the thought of going out in my orange get up. So as I wear leggings under my PPE trousers and normally only have my hi-vi vest over a couple of vest tops I thought “I know… I’ll take my boots downstairs and chuck my PPE off and change my shoes and I’ll look almost human, just with messy hair”

So I took my boots downstairs, left them at the side of site, break time comes around, my planned changing area is filled with eager-eyed visitors to site, so I pop out the gate and in through the next one to the designated smoking zone, there were two workers in there but, what the heck, when a girls gotta change, she’s gotta change.

I looked at them, told them “thing’s are about to get weird, but just go with it”

Their reply was simply an intrigued look as I reached for my shoe laces and proceeded to rip off my site boots and PPE trousers, I told them not to look so happy, they weren’t about to see anything exciting, to which I got back “Oh but just think that this is Barbados!”

Anywho… in clean shoes, my leggings and vest top off I trotted to meet a boy at the coffee shop. Ordered our drinks and went and sat on the steps of the train station listening to the busker (started with Pink Floyd… devastatingly went to Oasis afterwards!)

While sat on the steps of the station a beggar starts going around to everyone asking for money. The cheek of it! Looked at me and clearly decided that by my appearance (even with clean looking boy on side) that I wasn’t worth the asking. I was almost insulted! I normally resemble a chimney sweep as I’m leaving site, but still!!

After I went back to work I was telling my colleague Rose about this and thank god, something funnier happened to her!

She explained that one day she left work and was waiting at the barriers for her boyfriend to come through, she too wasn’t looking magazine ready. Sitting there waiting… someone threw a £ her way! Probably thought she looked like she could use a hot drink! ha! So as her boyfriend walked through the barriers she ran up to him and said more loudly than necessary “See I’m not a tramp! I have a man”

And THEN after these discussions, I left work, once again having removed PPE, I had made the attempt to wash my hands and face, but lets face it, miracles can’t be made in the small cubicle toilets at work. I was tired and when I got outside to wait for the barage of colleagues who all travel home together, I decided to squat leaning against the fence of site.

I got some funny looks and as one of the supervisors came out of the building I decided to stand up so that I could talk to her face to face to say Ta Ra, she asked me what I was doing, so I quipped “thought I better stand up before someone mistakes me for a tramp”… man in suit walking past laughs and says “good idea!” GOOD IDEA!? By Jove sir!

And like dominoes we fall…

I suppose it is the same on site as it is within any business, community, social group.

One person catches the common cold… and slowly but surely it gathers speed and intensity until like the last vestiges of the Roman Empire it finally comes and topples us all.

In archaeology I suppose it takes longer to get to all of us, we do have the advantage of being outdoors in the fresh air all day and we do manual labour to just sweat it out.

But last night as I was mattocking away I thought to myself ‘Good lord I must be doing some heavy digging, my muscles feel it’ so there was me thinking that I was getting quite the work out (at last after weeks of small discreet digging) but alas. I have been struck by my colleagues and their germs.

This occurs because there is always the Trooper, the person who is so dedicated and just a darn right do gooder that they come into work even when they look and feel like death warmed up. On to site they roll with their own version of man flu and just endure the day, allowing the full impact of said lurgy to spread to the rest.

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It is quite funny than a bunch of rather rough looking digger types can all be wiped off site by the simple cold!

Fuel for thoughts… and digging!

It has occurred to me that most people think that archaeologists are fuelled throughout the day by vegetarian foods and then alcohol come an evening. I have only every met 3 vegetarian archaeologists, the rest are pure meat eating carnivores! Shocking really… goes against our dancing with tree’s, bunny hugger image!

But my experience has been somewhat different. Any good PO or site manager will notice when their team starts flagging, usually when the weather is too cold, too hot or too wet, or everyone is having to dig out tons and tons of clay with not many finds.

On these occasions you can pretty much guarantee the arrival of cakes and biscuits. When I was up in Yorkshire and the days work had been particularly bad… the following day 8 packs of yum yums would turn up in the cabins.

There is pretty much always Friday cake day, doughnut birthdays and on really good sites you get the fish and chip Friday (Which usually entails an extended lunch in order for chip collection and time to chow down!)

When I left university I was rather rotund, entirely due to the fact that I love cake and biscuits (a scone or ginger nut and I’m anybodies!) So of course, when you eat this stuff every day, like me, you ultimately work on that winter body and add a few (or a lot of) extra pounds!

When I became an archaeologist I carrioed on enjoying the usual “I’m sorry you’re out in the rain” cakes and still lost loads of weight! Huzzah!

So I look around my site canteen and see all of these perfectly toned chaps and chapettes shovelling the snickers bar and doughnuts down their necks and I think to myself… good lord we must burn off a lot of calories.

Back in January and February it was freezing cold up at Scotch Corner and I was eating a packet of biscuits and a good sized cake everyday, taking on thousands of calories and I still lost weight… I think my body was craving sugar literally to burn the calories in order to keep warm.

I don’t really notice how much I move around at work, my arms and legs don’t tend to get tired; unless all I’e done is dug out a crazy amount of clay from a ditch.

So yes a major up point of being a professional archaeologist is that you can eat loads of goodies, and unlike our office sitting friends, not have to deal with the immediate effects of enjoying all the buttery and sugary goodness. (My arteries may say differently in years to come, ha!)

And of course… being as terribly English as most of the people I work with our… we get through gallons and gallons of tea a day… the caffeine keeps the mind nimble, us alert, the body functioning and gives off that altogether warming, happy feeling! 🙂