Our weekend trip to Lake District was a memorable experience! We all got to learn a bit about each other, especially about our professors Dr. Greene and Dr. Meyer. We found out that they got engaged in Ambleside, the beautiful town where we kicked off our wonderful tour. We all thought it would be a great idea to go back to the restaurant where they got engaged and bring back some happy memories. Thanks to Dr.Greene’s superb memory, we were able to track down the exact table where they got engaged.
On Sunday we took a day trip to the Lake District. The scenery was absolutely beautiful. We took a bus called the Mountain Goat up and over Hardknott Pass to Hardknott Fort. From there we went to Ravenglass (and the beach!). Our bus driver was great and would stop to let us get off and take pictures. We got some great shots of the scenery and of each other! All in all the day was amazing!
Hello blog fans!!
We had an AMAZING day yesterday. We left the cottages at 8:00am and headed straight to Ambleside in the Lake District. When we got there we met up with Derek from Mountain Goat Tours, who drove us around for the rest of the day. That man can drive a minibus in places where a minibus has no right to be, and he did!
From Ambleside Derek took us through Greater Langdale and Lesser Langdale on our way to Wrynose Pass. Wrynose goes west from the Lakes toward the Irish Sea, reaching an elevation of 1,281 ft.
From the top of Wrynose we continued on to Hardknott pass. Just west of the top of Hardknott (also 1,281 feet) is a Roman fort (always called Hardknott Fort) that was occupied by the fourth cohort of Dalmatians under Hadrian. The fort itself is incredible but it’s really the view that sells it. However, I can’t imagine being posted there after being raised in Dalmatia on the Adriatic coast. They must have done something wrong.
When we left Hardknott we went down to the coast to the see the remains of a bathhouse at Ravenglass. It was the first time two of our students had seen the ocean (or at least the Irish see). There isn’t a great deal to see at Ravenglass, but the remains of the bathhouse are standing very tall and are worth a quick stop.
After a few minutes enjoying the view at Ravenglass we drove back over to the lakes. It was a beautiful drive but pictures from the minibus don’t do it justice, so I leave it to your imagination.
Once we picked up our cars at Ambleside we headed back toward home, but we had one more stop. Castlerigg is a stone circle from about 2000-2500 BCE. It isn’t as big as some others, like Stonehenge or Avebury, but it’s in a beautiful spot. It was the perfect cap to an amazing day.
I hope you are all doing well wherever you are.
Well before I came to England I was excited to try the English cuisine. The expectation of fish and chips, bangers and mash, pies, puddings, bacon rolls, English breakfast, crisps, sweets and of course the ales made those last few weeks in Canada a long wait. A week’s vacation in London England soon had me accustomed to nearly all the above and with a few surprises too. After a month in England and a couple of hard weeks spent digging I must admit that I’m becoming a bit of an expert in the subject. My ulterior purpose in England, beside all the Roman stuff, has indeed become a culinary journey and I hope to catch you all up. I believe it is absolutely necessary to begin with my favourite, pub dinner.
In my last post I mentioned the Mile Castle Inn, a delightful pub named after the nearby Hadrian Wall Mile Castle #42. Here it is.
Not now, of course, as it has been fine and sunny but in the month and year of my birth. After a day of hard work in the hot Northumberland sun (never thought I’d mean that) you’ve got to start with a nice cool pint of hand pumped ale and I suggest ‘Sunny Daze’ for days like these. Sunny Daze is best enjoyed in the garden in view of a fine stretch of Hadrian’s wall with the imprint of a Roman fortlet on a field across the street and the stone remains of Great Chesters fort next to a farm in the distance. Starters are of course optional, I abstain on behalf of the magnificent meal and dessert to come, or maybe my second pint is a substitution. For that you must try the Prince Bishop Ale, it’s locally brewed and more filling. Hand pumped ales are quite different from the everyday draft beer in Ontario, they are local and fresh so less carbonated giving a much smoother texture like a Guinness.
Choosing a dinner can be tough but I will suggest some favourites. The pies are always a good choice. I’ve only had the Game (pheasant, hare, and venison) and the Poachers (beef + venison) but I’m sure that they are all superb. They are a very hardy meal served with veggies and fries, mash or capers. The pies come as actual slices of pie in a triangle with crust and the whole lot, which was sort of surprising because usually if something has the same name here it ends up being entirely different than what you would expect. My favourite meal by far has been the slow roasted belly of pork. It’s somewhere between bacon and a pork roast, served swimming in gravy. The meat falls apart like pulled pork and there is a delicious layer of seasoned fat on top as you can see in the picture.
A classic done very well be the Miley is fish and chips. I could eat this one anytime, rain or shine.
Lemon and tartar sauce on a giant piece of beer battered haddock, vinegar on the fries, and mushy peas, it puts a smile on my face every time.
Bangers and mash are also a fine choice. The sausages here are unbelievably good and not surprisingly quite distinct from those in Canada. They have a softer consistency and are generally not spicy. The ones in the picture here are from The Twice Brewed Pub just off site at Vindolanda. The potatoes are called ‘mustard mash’ for their generously applied whole seed mustard which adds a zesty pop to an old favourite.
If you’re in the pub on a Sunday then the roast is an obvious choice. I and five other field school members finished off the beef roast at a pub in the Lakes District this Sunday at the misfortune of the few who ordered last. It’s as you may expect, delicious gravy and tender slices of beef with veggies and potatoes. The Yorkshire pudding was fun new treat, as Robin, so often our English translator, described “it’s basically a vehicle to get the gravy to your mouth”. Indeed it was.
After dinner one can literally never resist the temptation of puddings – puds – dessert. I do declare that sticky toffee pudding is the most brilliant dessert that I have ever had. It’s like cake without icing swimming in hot custard and syrup. I don’t really know where the name comes from and I really don’t care. As you might imagine, sticky toffee pudding is as fun to play with as it is to eat, but it doesn’t last long. I rarely stray from sticky toffee pudding but the bread pudding and a variation of it with nutella are quite delicious as well.
I hope that I have stirred your appetites for more but that’s all for now. Check out soon for a word on sweets. Please leave any suggestions for food that I should try and I will do my best to find it!
I am pleased to report that after our phenomenally picturesque trip into the Lake District, we stopped on the way home for a little sojourn into the Castlerigg stone circle (still technically in the Lake District, I think). Apparently, this stone circle was built around 4500 years ago during the Neolithic period, so way before the Romans came into the picture in Britain. Another interesting bit is that its oval shape and large size indicates that it’s one of the earlier stone circles, and probably used for seasonal gatherings, ritual or ceremonial activities, or possibly even as a forum for negotiations.
It truly is a magical place, which I’ve tried to capture, but have not done it justice. But here we are and quite a few other tourists enjoying the site. Some frolicking may have occurred…
Another fun fact is that during the Victorian times, tourists started chipping flakes off as souvenirs (sacrilege, I know). This resulted in it becoming one of the first archaeological sites to be protected by the National Trust, which was a good call. All chisels were put away.
And the weather continues to be uncannily kind to us…
So today while in the Lake Districts, after our visit to the bath house at Ravenglass we took a walk down to the beach and lucky for us the tide was out!! We got to meander along the beach in the beautiful British sunshine (fingers crossed the weather stays this amazing for 3 more weeks!) looking for sea shells, skipping rocks, and even spotting some roman pottery among the sea weed. For two people in our group it was the first time for them seeing the ocean, so we captured the moment that Rohana and Nikki first dipped their feet into the ocean!!
Hey everyone!!!! What’s up?
For an update on the week Thursday was Amanda’s Birthday and we all decided to celebrate her exiting her teen years with some wonderful surprises!
On site Andy and the team helped us celebrate by bringing some cakes (five to be exact!) and the whole team sang Happy Birthday and delved into some sweet treats. It was a great time for us to meet the team of excavators and spend some good time with Amanda.
Later that evening us students decided to celebrate separately by taking Amanda out on the town, well out for dinner and a beautiful sunset in Haltwhistle. We all had a great evening eating some wonderful English pies and some cake that we all baked together. The lovely people at the pub allowed us bring in the cake we baked for Amanda and sing her Happy Birthday! We all had an amazing time together and then some of us went to watch a beautiful sunset. All and all it was a great way to commemorate Amanda.
Hello everyone! So I am also reporting from the main fort trench (Robin and I have been exiled from the north field until next week). After waving a quick farewell to my old clay ditch (I must say I didn’t shed a tear for those annoying Victorian drains though), I trekked over to the main fort, where I was met with the very lovely Kate and Justin. Right from the start I was met with a very interesting feature, the floor of a 4th century timber building. In contrast to the north field, here we are looking at the latter part of the Vindolanda story, rather than earlier structures. In fact, some of the finds from this part of the fort should shed some light into later Roman activity in the area, and how people adjusted to the changing times. We’ve come across some late – looking pottery types, on which I shall keep you posted after I get the chance to give them a wash, and numerous other small finds well beneath the heavy flagstones. It has been quite the experience over here, and I am learning so many new things every hour, it’s a miracle I can keep everything straight. One of the most important things I have learned about archaeology is the importance of having a systematic and strategic approach to the excavation. As well as the importance of documentation and analysis of where we dig before we shove our trowels in. For an instance, a pattern of black soil began to crop up in the perimeter of or trench (and a ways beyond), which may suggest that our building may be even bigger than we thought! After ever phase of our levelling, we take archaeological photographs of the floor, as well as pinpoint the exact locations of every small find with our total station.
Besides that, I’ve also learned about the amount of dirt one consumes in a day, the importance of finger calisthenics (trowelling gets pretty intense), impromptu lunchtime karaoke, and the unrivalled joy of finding a chocolate biscuit in the biscuit bin. It’s truly a beautiful thing.
Here is a picture of my lovely feature. It’s never quite flat enough! A little overexposed because of the bright Northumbrian sunshine. Who would have thought?
And one of me inside a Roman bath house while we were in Chesters… just for fun.