Welcome to SpaCeMonKeY UK, the blog of Helen Wells (nee Berrington, aka FieryFred) since 2002.





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SpaCeMonKeY UK

Tuesday, September 30

Um... still nothing to report. There was new Stargate on telly last night. Woo-hoo! And it was pretty good. I liked it, anyway. Ali said it was boring. But she says everything's boring lately.

Michael Shanks wasn't too bad. ;)


1 turkey cheeseburger
9 potato waffles
2 cheese quarter pounders
2 crispy pancakes
4 tiny pizzas
8 sausages
Approximately 11 chicken nuggets
A quantity of chips
Vanilla ice cream
A box of ice poles
2 slices of cheesecake
2 banana milk lollies
1 very small choc ice


I have been mostly.... WATCHING (TV): neighbours (bbc 1); stargate sg-1 (sky 1) / PLAYING: star wars galaxies / LISTENING: greg! the stop sign (tism); good boys (blondie) / READING: SW NJO dark tide 1: onslaught (michael a. stackpole); joe's story (rachel anderson)

Monday, September 29

Me again... nothing much to report. I have spent a lot of time this weekend with Rob. I missed him a lot while I was away, although if I kept busy my brain didn't have the chance to lament his absence. Not so much, anyway.

Ali, Rob, Phil and I went to see Underworld. It was very well done, I thought, apart from the fight scene at the end raised a laugh... which probably wasn't their intention. Interestingly you can download a Half Life mod at the official site. Hmmmm.

We decided our freezer needs defrosting, since it's very hard to shut. I have inventoried its contents so that we can make meals out of everything, although Ali says that's sad. I thought it was sensible. Ah well. We thought I could put the list online so that you can all see what progress we've made with eating the stuff, so here it is...


1 turkey cheeseburger
9 potato waffles
2 cheese quarter pounders
2 crispy pancakes
4 tiny pizzas
8 sausages
Approximately 11 chicken nuggets
A quantity of chips
Vanilla ice cream
A box of ice poles
2 slices of cheesecake
2 banana milk lollies
1 very small choc ice


Um... I probably ought to do some stuff then. I have to do the fantasy F1 thing, I suppose. It's nice to have a day when I don't have to do anything, although if I'm unemployed too long the novelty might wear off. ;)

I have been mostly.... WATCHING (TV): neighbours (bbc 1); everafter (itv); scrapheap challenge (c4); usa gp (itv) / WATCHING (CINEMA): underworld / PLAYING: star wars galaxies / LISTENING: reality (david bowie); blondie (good boys)

Saturday, September 27

Twas the Negotiating Avebury Project, incidentally.

Time for an epic blog... I was digging at Avebury this week. The secret dig. :D

Sunday September 21st

I thought I'd write down what I did at Avebury and type it up later - sort of an old-fashioned paper and ink weblog. I'm going to want to add hyperlinks though. I suppose I could just underline things for now. ;)

Rob drove me here - we arrived at about 6pm. Not bad going, even if he did insult my navigating skills. It's not like we got lost or anything! Anyway, Mark Gillings (one of the three people in charge and the man who invited me) showed us where we could put the tent up, then Rob helped assemble the thing. He did most of the work. It's like sleeping in an umbrella except the pole detaches, otherwise you'd have to curl up around it or something. Whatever, I don't know how you'd fit two men in a two man tent!

When Rob went Lisa showed me around - where the kitchen area was and how things worked. Then I talked to the two incredibly sarcastic Americans on the dig - Randy and California Dave. Randy has a magical woman attracting blanket that he bought in Devizes for £1. His dad once lit a fire (indoors) with petrol, stole TNT, and blew up a tree stump (at a different time to the TNT stealing) causing fallout over four blocks! Yesterday he bought a beefburger and smothered it in English mustard not realising that it wasn't like American mustard. He doesn't know how twibbling means.

The evening meal was BBQ and all the leftovers from the last week's food (the dig's catered but she doesn't cook weekends). I feel replete and not all that tired - it's 9.30pm. Everyone else has been working all day. It's not that quiet(there's a fairly busy road running past the campsite) but it's quite dark (maybe I'll see Mars). My sleeping bag and tent are cosy; my feet are a bit cold but nothing serious. It's not that cold. Yet. Hehe.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow with trepidation...

Monday September 22nd

Today was an odd day. I got up at 7.15am and ate bread and marmalade and drank some tea. The minibus left at 8.30 and soon after we arrived at the two remaining stones of the Beckhampton Avenue. That's where they've been digging, trying to work out far the avenue continued.

Adam and Eve

The stone nearest is Adam, the other one's Eve. There was a stone paired with Eve just to her right, where they were digging. There was also a stone way across the field - you might be able to make out the dark mound of spoil heap in the distance! The Avebury stone circle is off that way, too, across the fields.

In the morning I was digging in Trench 30. There are five different sections across a ditch feature. My slot was the least excavated but it wasn't too bad. You basically dig until you hit solid chalk, removing all the compacted soil and chalk that the ditch was filled in with. The people who dug the ditch in the first place must have had a harder job. Anyway, it involved trowelling, mattocking and shovelling.

After the tea break Josh (one of the other directors) showed me what was in his trench. It was near the two standing stones - Adam and Eve. Basically it contained an enclosure ditch (predating the avenue) with some strange gullies inside it. There was also a destruction pit where the twin stone to Eve had been burnt and broken up.

The destruction pit

The stone destruction pit.

I dug in my trench until nearly 3, then the third director (Dave) asked me to help him take photos, recording the ditch sections. It was raining a bit and once it hit 3pm it rained torrentially. It was a solid wall being driven sideways by hurricane force winds! The bad thing was we all ran to the cabin and left the cameras outside (under a wheelbarrow) as well as another piece of equipment. The director was understandably annoyed with us... he shouted a bit. I felt pretty bad but I'd just run away when commanded to. He shouted a bit.

We waited until 3.30 and then gave up. Thankfully my tent was still standing (and dry inside) and after a hot shower I felt much better. Later on in the evening Dave appeared and was amiable and joking, so I didn't feel quite so bad.

The evening's been spent in front of a roaring fire. There's an outside patio with a fireplace and pool table. I watched Randy drink two large bottles (1 litre ones?) of Smirnoff Ice and then walk around in arcs. He has an e-book reader. I didn't know anyone had actually bought those things!

That's about it really.

Tuesday 23rd September

Today has been good. My only problem is that tonight it's rumoured to be hitting freezing. I'm wearing two T-shirts (long and short sleeved), a sweater, jogging trouser and a sweater wrapped round my feet. My feet were freezing last night, they'll be awful if it does get cold. I feel pretty toasty at the moment...

Today I was working in the same trench as yesterday. I discovered I'd been a really short distance away from the bottom of the ditch, so with California Dave's help it was soon cleared out. Then we started cleaning it up - taking off the loose stuff and making it look good for the photos. This took the rest of the day, since a lot of the stuff is in a higher bit of the trench needed to come out (it was rubble not natural chalk).

After lunch Mark took some of us to see the buried stone that was in his trench. It was only a little way away. You can see the area from where we are. In the same way that stones from the avenue were burnt and broken up, some were just toppled into big pits. Mark's team had dug out the pit... the stone's pretty impressive!

I finished cleaning the slot a quarter of an hour or so before the end of the day. Dave got me to help him with photos again, which was scary. I think I did okay, though.

We all went to Safeway. Most people bought booze, I bought chocolate. Then we had dinner. Randy sang (he sings most of the time, to be honest) and made a fire, Hector (the Spaniard) and California Dave played a particularly thrilling game of chess. Insult psyching out chess. It wasn't a bad evening, though we're all a bit worried about the threat of imminently cold temperatures!

Wednesday 24th September

Another good day. It was very cold overnight. It was frosty everywhere when I got up at 7.30. Well, I got up before that but decided it was way too cold and went back to the sleeping bag.

Today I was cleaning trenches most of the day. The first was the slot right next to the one I'd been in before; the second was next to that. I've gradually been working my way south. I was in the trenches with Hector and Randy. Randy is completely insane. He started off asking questions about soil science (geomorphology?) and ended up enacting a soap opera about a man who liked to watch TV on Tuesday nights (but it was always repeats) and a female neighbour who wanted to borrow 13 cups of flour because her therapist had told her to make some sort of strange dessert. Anyway... I suppose yesterday he was composing an archaeology musical in which one of the songs was called, "You're dead, get over it", so...

When we finished those I was given the task (by Dave) of sorting out all the sections and plan drawings. I think I got it sussed. I'm still really nervous when he asks me to do things. I was his photography assistant a couple of times, too. I had to make sure all the plans were in the drawings index and numbered on the originals. That was my day.

They've decided the Trusloe buried stone is called Bob. This is because it looks like an Angel Fish and fish go, "Bob, bob, bob". Also, we went to a volunteers house for curry. It was good, although I feel shyer than ever in situations like those, especially when everyone's drinking wine! I wish I'd seen some of the mad archaeologist baiting characters though. Stalker boy - the guy who obsessively takes pictures of archaeologists (not features), hiding behind spoil heaps etc, and works in a camera shop in Salisbury; rude orange-haired woman; Terry the Druid, who rides a motorbike.

Bob the fish stone

You can't get an idea of Bob's size from this, but his mouth's at the bottom and his eye's there... see? ;)

Today was the last day of digging. I'm kind of sad.

Thursday 25th September

It looks like they've decided the pit alignment/ditch feature is Iron Age by a process of elimination. There was no dating evidence - nothing at all really - in the ditches. When they told Terry the Druid the ditch was Iron Age he said he wasn't interested, which is interesting since Druids were around in the Iron Age. Hehe. After Randy and I cleared out the tool shed we were sent off to see what Mark and the buried stone were up to. He sent us to see Ruth and Paul, who were doing flotation. Basically, you mix up soil samples with water, float the organic stuff off, sieve it and see what's there. Anyway, nothing came out of the ditch. Well, maybe a snail, but nothing interesting. It was a very stale and enigmatic feature.

The stone destruction pit/causewayed enclosure trench had been filled in by the JCB. The next trench to be backfilled was Trench 30 - the trench I'd been working in. They started one side but there were still a few section plans to draw.

Randy and I took some levels and measuring of ploughsoil layers for Mark, then before lunch Ruth, Paul, Randy and I walked a few fields away to the site of a Roman villa. They'd geophysical surveyed it - the scatter covered several fields. We walked around a bit but I didn't find much. There was a lot of flint, which had been used in the villa's construction. I picked up three things - two pieces of medieval pottery and one piece of decorated Roman tile. And some lumps of flint, but not for interesting reasons. ;)

We went to Avebury for lunch - we ate in the National Trust tearooms. It was fun, and we had a free look around the museum afterwards. Then it was back to the site. Randy and I (we always got stuck together for the horrible jobs) had to clean out the office/kitchen on site, which involved trowelling gooey coffee off of the work surfaces. Then we sat around and watched the JCB all afternoon. At one point we threw chalk pebbles at California Dave (who was finishing the last section drawing). Josh and Mark went to protect him, ending up in the line of fire. Then Mark got the water sprayer out and attacked us. It was very strange. Eventually everything was finished (although there's still lots of backfilling to be done).

It has been fun, or worthwhile... something... definitely worth doing. It's been okay camping. My tent's pretty bug proof. Less bug infested than home, with the evil spiders. It was been good to see the stars, and hear owls. I haven't enjoyed the freezing night temperatures, but still... it all balances out. Even though everyone else had bonded over weeks of work I felt part of the team, and I'm pretty sure I was useful.

I have tons of bruises on my knees, one on my arm that I don't know how I got it, dry chalky hands, dry painful lips... but this is what happens when you do archaeology. At least the gross cut on my finger's healing, and the blister on my hand's just about gone. I'm glad I didn't have to mattock more than two days running - my back was hurting a lot. Archaeology is definitely not something you can do for a couple of days every so often.

All hail Bob the mighty fish deity!

The ditch feature

The Iron Age(?) ditch feature.

Saturday, September 20

Finally got hold of "Counting the Beat" by The Swingers. It is catchy. Good claim to fame, James!

Wow, I haven't blogged in ages, I apologise profusely! My non-blogging is due to several factors. First of all, I had to hand my dissertation in Wednesday. I managed it, on time, so... hooray! That was my week up until then, pretty much. Thursday I had a really bad headache all day and couldn't do anything - read or watch TV or use the computer - so I just lay there, mostly. And that brings us to yesterday!

Yesterday I... um... well, the central heating men came to install, er, central heating at about 1. I can't think what... oh, I went to uni in the morning. I took Nick a copy of my dissertation (he was my supervisor, he wanted one) and returned all the things I'd borrowed. He said he'd ask around for jobs, which is good. I need to make a CV. Those things are difficult. :(

What else has been going on? Hmm... I have to pack for going digging. I'm going tomorrow, so I have to do it at some point today. Once the central heating men have finished I'll be able to have a nice hot bath - haven't been able to have one of those since the boiler broke over a week ago! Excellent. And I was kind of thinking I'd play Star Wars Galaxies for a while today. Although I have lots of e-mails to answer and internetty things to check. I've been a bit lax lately. And I haven't done the fantasy F1, and if I'm going away for a week I ought to do that. Drat...

It was Talk Like a Pirate Day yesterday and I didn't blog or send any e-mails. Drat. Is it too late for a quick, "Aarrrrrrrr, Jim Lad"? And if you want to know why this day exists, check out this article. The interesting thing about that article is that it was written by the higher education reporter. Odd.

And there's a poll on the Fox website to vote to get things put on DVD. I've pestered people and The Pretender's winning now, but every little helps. If you go there, vote for The Pretender first, I don't care what else you vote for. ;)

Oh, and the Toadie and Dee thing happened. Heh.

And I received spam headed, "83% of computers are insecure, is yours?". I don't think he is. I'd have hoped if he was having psychological problems he'd have told me. ;)

I suppose I ought to go and do things then.

You might not see me around for a week. What with the 'secret dig'. Although you didn't see me for a week anyway, and I was here. How awful. I really do feel absolutely terrible. Guilt ridden.

I'll see you. :)

I have been mostly.... WATCHING (TV): neighbours (bbc 1); spin city (paramount); mash (paramount) / WATCHING (DVD): stargate series 6; crime traveller / PLAYING: star wars galaxies / READING: naked without a hat (jeanne willis) / LISTENING: reality (david bowie)

Sunday, September 14

Just clicking in the GP ad break and... it's a new Sophie Ellis Bextor song! She has blonde hair. She looks very different. She's cool. But I think dark hair suits her more. I don't know. Probably James can offer a better opinion, seeing as not only does he appreciate her music but he appreciates her for, er, other reasons.

There's a pic on the 'new website coming soon' website. Doesn't look like her really. Looks a bit like 80's Madonna.

I'm guessing the song's called 'Mixed Up World' since it had that line in it a lot.

Ah, I was right, and it was released yesterday, apparently. That makes no sense. Singles are released on Mondays. I wonder if the NME website is right? And there'll be a new album ('Shoot from the Hip') in October. Even if that website's not right it has a most entertaining caption under the picture. Hehe.

Um... Michael Schumacher's still winning. Booooo.

I'm typing this while watching the GP so I'm not paying that much attention to my fingers. I might not have time to surf around later, so I thought I'd better post something now. I only have a few days to finish my dissertation. I've written up over 10,000 words of it (it's 15,000 altogether). Still lots to do. And all the boring formatting/pictures etc... that always takes ages. Ah well.

Looks like we're getting central heating installed next weekend (well, Friday/Saturday, which I don't think is a weekend but Ali says it's a 'working weekend'). That's exciting.

What else? I dunno really, I can't think about much other than my dissertation. I suppose it'll all be over on Wednesday, but... hmm.

Hardly worth posting, was it? :)

I have been mostly.... WATCHING (TV): neighbours (bbc 1); italian gp (itv) / WATCHING (DVD): stargate series 6 / PLAYING: star wars galaxies / LISTENING: various compiliation cd's

Wednesday, September 10

I just wrote a really long post and blogger ate it! Should I just summarise?

The engineer called last night and said various things like we shouldn't be using USB because it's rubbish and that it was working now so we'd just have to monitor it. Of course, it stopped working as soon as he put the phone down. So I spent 40 minutes in NTL's mazelike phone system getting through to technical support again. But a nice person called Chris sorted me out. He said the engineer had been stupid and it wouldn't matter if we had a giraffe plugged in because that wasn't the problem. Hehe. He checked the power levels and they were way down. Then he gave me another number to call in the morning to get an appointment straight away.

So, this morning I called them and they said an engineer would come between 12 and 4. He turned up at 11.30 and sorted it really quickly - it was something I'd wondered about. Basically our really long cable (long enough to reach from Ali's room to mine) was kinked up and that was the problem. He cut it and it worked! But I couldn't get the internet to my room any more.

Thankfully Rob leapt into action and bought stuff to set up a router. Now the internet is sent wirelessly all over the house! It's very cool. I can sit downstairs and use my laptop to surf around.

I can't help but think that makes us very geeky. I mean, how many people would buy their girlfriends a wireless network? And how many girlfriends would be that pleased with a wireless network? I think it's fantastic. It's like magic. The best thing since... I dunno, insert something to make this sentence work, USB? DVD? Anyway, it's cool.

Apart from that, the boiler's had it so we won't have hot water for at least a week.

And, erm, dissertation stuff. I've written up the main 'ceramic history' section and the methodology to show Nick tomorrow. I'm going in first thing. I hope they're okay... I don't think the ceramic history reads that well. The data's there though. Hmm...

I have been mostly.... WATCHING (TV): neighbours (bbc 1) / READING: star wars new jedi order 1: vector prime (r.a. salvatore); edge magazine / PLAYING: star wars galaxies

Tuesday, September 9

Looks like I spoke too soon. This is the first time I've managed to connect to the net all day. NTL reckons there's a problem with the cabling outside, but it could be 48 hours before an engineer even gets round to phoning us to make a time to examine everything! What am I going to do?!?!?!? I'd better post this before the connection disappears again.

Coincidences, eh? Awful things.

Sunday, September 7

How can it be Sunday already... HOW!? I don't feel that the work I did yesterday accomplished anything. But on the plus side, the stuff I worked out seems to have my dissertation supervisor's approval. I mean, it seems to work. No obvious mistakes. The main thing now is reading and comparing with other sites. *sigh*

After working all day yesterday I gave in and played Star Wars Galaxies for about four hours. About an hour of that I lost when I disconnected and it didn't remember all the stuff I'd done, but... ah well. I learnt some new tailoring skills, and some new pharmacology skills, and also some new ranged weaponry skills. Very exciting. ;)

I'd had slight withdrawal systems because the internet wouldn't work properly in my room. It worked in Ali's room but not mine. Very strange. Was it just coincidence? It didn't seem to be. I moved Brian the laptop into her room and it worked in there. But the cable modem kept going peculiar when it was in my room.

It started a couple of weeks ago, but it was very slight in the beginning. Every now and then it wouldn't collect e-mail or go to websites, and if you left it a little while it started working again. I thought it was just the service, not something to do with me. But it was getting worse and worse... It was virtually impossible to get a connection that didn't disappear every few seconds and then reappear, teasing the computer with its transient presence.

I figured I'd get Rob to look at it, since he has to be useful for something. And it's his job to mend computers, so I feel he ought to be better at it than me. :)

Ages later, after trying ethernet cables instead of USB, and various other things, we unplugged every other electrical item in the room and tried it with just one of the computers on and the modem. And... it worked. So something was interfering, causing the modem to reset every few seconds. It dawned on me that I'd suspected the speaker transformer was making a weird high pitched noise (only just on the edge of human hearing) lately, and it hadn't done that to start with, so I left that unplugged. And... it worked. It still works. The speaker transformer was generating a field that disrupted the modem! It didn't have to be in the same set of plug sockets or anything... must be a pretty big field. What was it doing to me?!

Anyway, I ought to go and get ready for church. I shouldn't be sitting here blogging. :)


I have been mostly.... WATCHING (TV): neighbours (bbc 1) / READING: star wars new jedi order 1: vector prime (r.a. salvatore); artemis fowl - the arctic incident (eoin colfer); edge magazine / LISTENING: bring it on (gomez); dirty vegas; now 41; Q's best new music of 1999 / PLAYING: star wars galaxies

Wednesday, September 3

I suppose that I ought to blog, since I haven't blogged for a while, and I keep checking other people's blogs and thinking, "why haven't they blogged, I'm really annoyed, I want to read about their lives!!!", which is unfair because I myself have not blogged. If you know what I mean.

I have spent the last few days on some sort of emotional rollercoaster, for various reasons. I have two weeks left to finish my dissertation. I think I've made a potential ceramic history for the site I'm working on, although tomorrow I'll try and write it up roughly and compare it to things. Either it'll work and I'll feel incredibly relieved, or it won't work and I'll panic even more than I'm already doing! *sigh*

It dawned on me today that in a month I'll have to be seriously looking for work. I don't really know what I want to do, although I want to work within archaeology. I'll have two days off after the 17th September and then I'll be off to that dig, and a week after that I suppose I'll be unemployed. Although I might have an archaeology related website job to do, which will be fun. It'll look good on my CV, too.

A lot of things are happening in my life at the moment, and although it all appears to be chaotic I think it has the potential to come together and be something amazing. I hope it does that, rather than fall apart completely...

I can't think what to say, and I was only blogging for the sake of it. So I'll leave it there. I'm sorry that I haven't been online to talk to people lately! I'll make more of an effort, or something. :)

I have been mostly.... WATCHING (TV): neighbours (bbc 1) / READING: star wars new jedi order 1: vector prime (r.a. salvatore); artemis fowl - the arctic incident (eoin colfer) / LISTENING: statues (moloko); bring it on (gomez); best of bowie (david bowie) / PLAYING: star wars galaxies

He has a bowler hat, go figure.


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