Lego Quest: An Update

As we wrap up the field school for 2017, our field schoolers have gotten a chance to reflect on their time here, remember some of the great memories and moments during our time here, and sadly, say goodbye to Vindolanda. If you haven’t had a chance to read them, check out some of the sign off posts.

Amidst this somber atmosphere, there is a note of joy to report in the form of an update on our Lego Quest. If you aren’t familiar with this particular part of field school, here’s some background.

After countless trips to Sainsbury’s, a few puppy dog looks at the cashiers, and generous donations from our wonderful friends at Vindolanda, (thank you Angie, Ken, Sally, and Dolores!) we’ve finally collected all 140 cards. With our own stack of cards totaling to well over 1000 cards, this quest has been successful. We even could complete the story of the Lego book following Sam and Lily as they travel around the world.

Our individual decks and the official Lego story book

Nothing will beat the thrill of sitting around in a circle, each of us holding a new pack of Sainsbury’s cards and eagerly tearing the package open to see if anyone has found one of the missing cards. As we found more and more, a new find became rarer and rarer making the process even more exciting. To have a complete deck is an inexplicable feeling but one that wouldn’t be possible without the collective effort of our friends.

Thank you everyone!


A Superb Sundae

What a way to end a wonderful relaxing weekend! Everyone together, eating a delicious meal that was once again prepared and enjoyed by all. In a similar fashion to taco Tuesday, everyone pitched in this Sunday to make sure our burger dinner was a success – and it was. Some made the burgers while others chopped the veggies and the finished product was absolutely delicious. With our freshly made burgers, we sat down to watch a movie. Today’s movie of choice: Jurassic Park. However once the meal was done, some sadness began to set in: we had all too quickly finished the amazing food we cooked. But wait, there was more. The sundaes! Once again the excitement rose as we hurried to retrieve the ice cream from the freezer. With many toppings to adorn the chocolate, vanilla, or mint chip ice cream (special shout out to Professor Greene for the ice cream), we were in dessert heaven. There were Oreos, gummies, and chocolate sauce, just to name a few. Everyone created a different masterpiece and each looked just as good as the next.

Creations by Avery (left) and two bowls from Holly and Cassandra

After our a brief and delicious ice cream break, we all sat down to finish Jurassic Park… but before that could happen, we of course had to open a “few” packs of Lego cards, which most definitely made the night even better than it already was. (If you don’t understand why, read Garett’s post!) But, what made the night the most special was that we could all share a meal and movie together, enjoying some laughs and delicious food, all while knowing that the next day, we would be ready to get back into the trenches! It was truly a superb Sunday.

A Top Taco Tuesday

Sometimes people wonder how we keep our strength up while digging. The answer is of course tacos! What better way to bond than by eating tacos together! Elizabeth came up with the idea a little bit before hand but the plan all came together Monday. We all quickly chatted during our lunch break and at tea time about items we needed to buy. After a speedy grocery store run, all was ready for the big night.

All our toppings ready to go

Although Tuesday was too rainy for excavations, a lovely morning lecture and a trip to Hexham left us with a leisurely afternoon to prepare for the tacos. Aline and Holly chopped up most of the veggies, while Prem made a fantastic guacamole. I prepared the beef, and Anna prepared a vegan taco filling consisting of rice, beans, tomatoes, and taco seasoning.

What was left of our beef and some of Anna’s taco filling

With everything prepared dinner was ready to be served! It was an organized excitement as we all began to prepare our tortillas, filling them various topping in proportions just to our liking. Seeing everyone’s different tortilla folding strategies and having a good laugh as things got messy, it was a great way to have dinner but also to bond and have a good time. Can’t wait for our next communal meal!

Everyone right before we ate!

The Greatest Quest: Collecting Promotional Lego Cards

One of the grocery stores in Haltwhistle is called Sainsbury’s, the local outpost for one of England’s most prominent grocery store chains. The store in Haltwhistle is small, especially when compared to the massive stores we are accustomed to in Canada, but this is what we expected from such a rural town in the countryside. What we may not have expected was how much this store would immerse us in English culture in the form of their promotional effort that is sweeping the U.K.

At Sainsbury’s, for every £10 you spend on groceries, you receive a promotional item in return: a pack of 4 Lego Cards.

Each card features a different Lego character. The characters take all different forms. Some are people, such as Sam who is on 2 separate cards; some are animals, such as the Toucan or Polar Bear; some, such as the Alien Villainess and Wolf Guy, are humanoid monsters, creatures not at all for the faint of heart. In addition to the character cards are “Create” cards that feature different machines or animals to build.

The Space Shuttle program doesn’t have to be over when you can make your own!
This Alien Villainess is the stuff of my most suppressed nightmares
This is Sam, an adventurer, bookworm, and handyman extraordinaire.

Only rarely have I been so excited as when I opened my first pack of cards, dreaming of finding a Batman card. Batman was nowhere to be found, but the other characters were way too much fun to neglect the game all together. Now, about 10 packs and 40 cards later, while my search for Batman has still proven fruitless, the magic still hasn’t worn on me. If anything the collecting has gotten even more serious, with most of the other field schoolers joining in the hunt, and the others no doubt soon to follow.

We’re not sure how, but this Wolf Guy is different from a Werewolf. The confusion between the two seems to be a touchy subject for him.
The field schoolers in Edinburgh this weekend will know first hand just how loud this Bagpiper can play!
When Avery works out to her 8 Minute Abs VHS, her outfit looks something like this

But the game goes even deeper. Just last night, as we were all sitting in the living room salivating over each other’s decks, we discovered that when we completely assemble all the cards, we can display them all in order in a special album that tells a story connecting all of the characters! The story follows the adventure of two main characters, Lily and Sam, but the nature of the story is totally unknown until we can fill in the album. This is our quest. We must collect each of the 140 different Lego cards by June 13th, when the promotion ends, or we fail to discover what the story is. The stakes have never been higher, and we feel the pressure.

What do you think the story involving the cards I uploaded could be? And maybe more importantly, do we have your support in this mission? Keep checking the blog for updates in our brave and noble quest.

Laundry Day: An Update

Prem here!

After reading Stephanie’s struggle in the last blog post, I decided to do some hunting and actually found the manual for our tumble dryer! It turns out in Field School, we don’t just learn new things about archaeology on Hadrian’s Wall. I’ve attached the relevant pages in this post for future fieldschoolers and readers to follow along, but I wanted to highlight some of the more interesting symbols with which we had to grapple. Try guessing what they are before reading the answer.

Here’s the symbol, our interpretation, and the actual meaning.


“Cabinet” – this actually just means medium heat


medicine cabinet

“Medicine cabinet” – the plus just signifies high heat



“Sunrise” – air dry (no heat) cycle


rapid dry

“R running away from the sun” – quick dry (even though there’s not even an “R” in the actual name!!!!!)

wizard hat

“Wizard Hat” – this one is the most puzzling but is the symbol for synthetics and permanent press

To make matters even more confusing, the alarm sound OFF is the one on the RIGHT, and the alarm sound ON is the one of the LEFT. Completely counter intuitive!


It turns out that interpretation of the Whirlpool Hieroglyphs is more difficult than the interpretation of Roman artifacts. All in all, I think the take home lesson is: always use words.

Thanks for reading and here’s the dryer manual:

Dryer Manual

Laundry Day

In this group there are 10 relatively intelligent university students.  We all live away from home when we are in London which means we do our own laundry.  This being said, how many university students do you think it takes to do laundry in the United Kingdom?  Discretion is advised because some may find the answer shocking.  Three of us went out to the laundry room to attempt to use the dryer and the three of us failed in our attempt.  Now you may be asking how a group of people in their twenties are not able to figure out simple dryer.  The answer to that is the dryers are not simple at all.

I thought that, for this post, I would do a blog on how to use the laundry machines here.  Hopefully it will come in handy for this group as well as future groups of field school students who stay in these cottages.

Laundry in the Cottages 101

The Washing Machine

There are various buttons and pictures on the dial.  None of these make a lot of sense. Thankfully, Prem somewhat remembered how they worked.  He did remember that the button that says “Rinse Plus” should never, EVER, under any circumstances, be touched. For the most successful wash, one should select the middle two buttons and turn the dial to Cotton and Linens 40.  The next step in our washing endeavour was determining which compartment the detergent needed to be poured into.  This was because none of the trays were actually labelled so it seemed like we just had to guess. We tried the biggest one on the far left and, as luck would have it, the correct one was picked.


The Dryer

Holly and I were able to put our laundry in the dryer and we thought we would be able to figure it out together.  One look at the machine told us that would not be the case.

What do any of these symbols mean????????

Thinking that Prem would know how to use it as he had been there before, we decided to go get him.  It turns out, he didn’t so after fiddling around with it for a while we decided to ask Paul who is takes care of the cottages and lives on site.  Even he had no idea! At least, he gave us a suggestion and it turns out that he knew a lot more than he thought he did because his first try worked!

The correct placement of the dials on the dryer

For future field schoolers and visitors of the cottage, I hope this will help people in their laundry endeavours.

(Edit: Turns out Prem found the manual AFTER we had finished all of our laundry!)