April 30, 2012

NEVER BACK DOWN

So my old Bubba pal, El Stouty, reckons there’s a lot of us ‘sicko’ detectorists out there.

Well, maybe he’s right, and if by this he means that we purists (read sickos) won’t and don’t take any shit from the rancid parts of the arkie-illogical lobby, then yeh, there’s lot of us ‘sickos’ out here.

Many years ago I was asked by an archaeological society if I would help them on a dig. Sure, I replied, just so long at the end of the dig you give me a written reference of satisfaction on completion, but mine was a request too far. Predictably they shilly-shallyed, hummed-and-ahhed, and shuffled their feet in delaying giving me an answer. I finally brought the negotiations to a conclusion, by phoning the Excavation Director and telling him, unequivocally, to thrust his excavation where the monkey shoves his nuts.

Metal Detecting you see, is not archaeology…it’s a separate entity having its own methodology, ideology, and terminology. What we do is legitimate, wholesome, and what really pisses ‘em off is that it contributes significantly to the common heritage.

Obsessives such as the ‘Warsaw Windbag’ for example and his dopey mentor at ‘Heritage Fiction’ - the self-appointed heritage police - who loathe what we do, are actually, unimportant. Their only function is to wind people up sufficiently enough to attract angered detectorists to their appalling blogs, where I suspect it gives these weirdos huge erections.

Can you imagine for instance, the NRA mollifying the bunny huggers? No? Me neither. Can you imagine our representative organisations busting their balls to accommodate archaeology? Er...well...yes…I can. Even worse, when the arkies tell ‘em to jump they reply, “How high?” Why hobbyists continue to pour money in the shape of subscriptions into these bottomless pits of ineptitude, is beyond me. At least with FID one gets insurance cover.

At the risk of being branded a radical (oh, perish the thought), we do not, nor should we, justify our pastime to anyone, least of all to archaeology, though it has to be said that some archaeologists are slowly realising that we are a valuable resource that can considerably assist their endeavours, and importantly, respect our methodology. In the Britain metal detecting is recognised as a bona fide Outdoor Pursuit by the Central Council for Physical Recreation and has been since 1982.

Unlike some in our hobby, I’ve never kissed an arkie’s ass and I ain’t about to start. During the thirty-three years I’ve been mauling ‘anti’ archaeologists and their disinformation propaganda, one salient point emerged; that if you wear a big hat, carry a bigger stick which the enemy knows you’re unafraid to use, then archaeology’s gutless bully-boys always back away.

Whilst I never cease to be amazed at a conspicuous lack of backbone and the general toadying in some quarters of our hobby, I am always reassured by those who go bare-knuckle with our detractors and won’t give ‘em, an inch.

Some years ago when I was more of a ‘club’ man than I am nowadays, our Hon Sec was shacked-up with a rather tasty (female) arkie. At a regional meeting of detecting clubs, a delegate from a well-known (and widely reviled) club who was known to dance to the arkie’s tune, said to me in that self-satisfied manner so beloved of the haughty, “Of course,” he sneered, looking down his nose at me, “Our secretary enjoys exceptional relations with archaeologists.

Before I could answer, one of my committee members, a no-nonsense-tell-it-like-it-is, Cockney, piped up, with the best put down line in years….“Nah, that’s nuthin’, our secretary’s’ f****n one.

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OLDEST GAY IN THE VILLAGE?

Whilst I have nothing against gays - live and let live I say - except that I don’t want their practices rammed down my throat, well not literally anyway, but I had to smile at a recent blog on John Winter’s website about a skeleton which is reckoned by Czech arkies to have been that of a gay man for no better explanation than the position of the bones in the grave.

Hmmm,… maybe, but I’m not so sure about their findings, though the perfectly preserved funerary remains of a vegetarian quiche, notwithstanding a selection of early works by Alexander the Great, Hadrian, and Epaminondas, raises serious supporting evidence.

However, the gold medallion recovered from around the skeletons’ neck (by the team’s detectorist) and inscribed, “50AD Hide and Seek Champion,” suggests they’ve got it completely wrong.

Gay? I don’t think our man was even happy.....

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SICILY'S CHE GUEVARA?

Me and She-Who-Must-be-Obeyed, recently shared a decent bottle of Barolo with my Italian pal, Sylvano, and his wife, just after closing time at his bistro. Talk soon got round to Sicily (where his family roots are firmly planted), pasta, AC Milan, Juventus, and Ferarri. While the girls drifted into the finer points of Italian fashion, the man-talk moved to the mythologised Sicilian who’s life and death is still shrouded in mystery and worthy of a best-seller. Sylvano’s Dad, he told me, still remembers Salvatore Giuliano, the man officialdom dubbed a bandit, while for others he was mix of Robin Hood and freedom fighter for Sicilian Independence in the 1950’s.

So, bandit or hero? Well it all depends on who you ask. Whereas he had few scruples about knocking-off anyone he considered to be an enemy of Sicily, ordinary Sicilians worshipped his generosity often shielding him from the Carabinieri’s prying eyes. In one instance, he came down from the hills around Palermo to push money under the door of a poor peasant woman who was unable to pay her medical bills. In another incident he handed out money to children who had seen what little money they had, stolen by corrupt police.

Judges, civic officials, and the Carabinieri, remember him less kindly.

Giuliano was 27-yrs old when he was shot dead on 5th July 1950 by his trusted lieutenant and friend, Gaspare Pisciotta, in a ‘safe house’ owned by a lawyer sympathetic to the cause.

Shortly after the murder, Pisciotta was captured and sentenced to life with hard labour, but not before he spilled the beans about the murder, admitting that it was he who carried out the killing, directly contradicting of the official police version of events, that Giuliano had been shot dead by Carabinieri captain Antonio Perenze, in a gunfight at the lawyer’s house in Castelvetrano.

He further claimed to have carried out the murder on the direct orders of the Minister of the Interior, Mario Scelba, and to have had an ‘amnesty’ arrangement with Carabinieri Colonel Ugo Luca, commander of a special anti-bandit police unit, in that he would not be charged and that Luca would intervene in his favour if he were caught. In blurting out these revelations it was obvious that Pisciotta posed a serious threat to certain government officials, the Carabinieri, and the local Mafiosi. Predictably, he feared for his life. He had made powerful enemies.

Retribution eventually came Pisciotta’s way when, four years into his prison term, on February 9, 1954, twenty-mgs of strychnine found its way into his coffee. His poisoner remains unknown.

However the saga doesn’t end here. Evidence suggests Giuliano documented his activities detailed ‘memoir’ containing incriminatory material about government corruption in high places, and of its connection with the Sicilian mafia. This being the case, where is this mythical or not, Giuliano Memoir? What became of his loot? Some people are certain both exist; others claim it’s all simply an embellishment to the Giuliano legend. Apart from it being an important historical document likely to reveal goodness-knows-what if it ever sees daylight, it could also be worth a small fortune.

But a word of warning. The Mafiosi would also like to get their hands on it too, though not I suspect, for academic motives. I think I’ll pass on this one!

As we were by now well into the bottle of Barolo, Sylvano’s wife gave me the method of preparing a peasant pasta, one that’s still enjoyed in Sicily and one that Giuliano would have known in his mountain hideout. But seeing as how I lost the bar tab on which the name of this dish was scribbled, I’ll call it Salvatore’s Pasta, and it’s a real cracker.

You’ll need:

  1. Enough spaghetti for two (around 190 gms, or pro rata for more)
  2. Teaspoon salt
  3. One garlic clove finely chopped
  4. One chilli chopped and seeds removed
  5. A good handful of chopped mushrooms
  6. Two large onions chopped
  7. Tablespoon of capers
  8. A good squeeze of anchovy paste (or half a 40g tin of anchovy fillets)
  9. A good handful of chopped, pitted, green olives

Method

Take a LARGE saucepan fill with water, add a handful of salt and bring to the boil, then drop in the pasta and cook until al dente (about 5 to 7 minutes).

Meanwhile, take a frying pan and sweat off the onions in olive oil, then add the mushrooms, and add more olive oil if required. Drop in the chopped chilli and the anchovy paste, or fillets. Stir while cooking until the fillets (if using) have dissolved. Add the capers and olives and keep stirring over a low heat until the spaghettis is done.

Drain the spaghetti, return to the saucepan then add the entire contents of the frying pan (with juices) and mix the whole shabang and serve with sprinkled chopped parsley, with hunks ripped from a ciabbata loaf to mop up the juices...

Pulling the cork on a chilled white wine rounds it all off very nicely though a cold beer such as Italian Peroni also hits the spot.

Mmm! Yum!

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Remember…..

Don’t worry about avoiding temptation. As you grow older, it will avoid you.....

Happy hunting…..

…I’ll see y’all in the bar

************

APRIL 20, 2012

BEWARE - DISCRIMINATION AT WORK!!

What do you suppose the two rings in the photo have in common? On the ATpro’s DISCRIM Scale (and most other machines too I suspect) the one on the left with the huge emerald set in 18-carat gold and platinum and valued at $9,600 falls into the lower FOIL sector having a digital readout of ‘44’ while the triple-diamond jobby set in 18-carat gold, worth $2,800 registers '53,' the same as most cola/beer can tabs. Okay, you say, so what do they have in common? The novice user sees them as JUNK!!!

Experienced users recognise the signal subtleties - ‘sharp’ at ‘44’ - unlike most junk foil at or near this point on the scale, and ‘ less sharp’ than a pull tab at‘53’. So how do novice users know this? They don’t! Only beach experience teaches these particular nuances. Try these as a starting point: Set the ATpro to ALL METAL then ramp-up the IRON DISCRIM to ’35,’ Ground Balance accordingly, and set the SENS to one segment down from MAX then dig every signal between ‘40’ and ’60.’

“Hey, but the beach is full of crap!” you holler. So use a smaller coil…. and dig every signal between ‘40’ and ’60. Below the High Tide mark this is less a problem, but I do acknowledge that up in the high traffic, dry sand areas, serial digging can be a pain in the sphincter, not to mention one in the lower back. But, if you want the higher value finds, then there’s no alternative to digging almost every signal.

So, après hunt, why not ease the sinews by crashing out in a hot-tub, or do as I do, and unwind in the sauna/steam room of my local gym, followed by a cold beer(s). Works for me!

Happy pain-free hunting!!

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A MATTER OF GOOD TASTE

The scene is the darkest jungle in Africa. Two lions are walking along, one behind the other, when the one in the rear suddenly reaches out with his tongue and licks the ass of the one in front. The lead lion turns and says, "Hey, cut it out, alright." The other lion says sorry and they continue on their way.

After about five minutes the rear lion suddenly repeats his action. The front lion turns angrily and says, " I said don't do that!" The rear lion again says "sorry" and they continue.

After about another five minutes, the rear lion repeats his action. The front lion turns and says, "What is it with you, anyway? I said to stop." The rear lion says, "I really am sorry but I just ate an archaeologist awhile back, and I'm just trying to get the taste out of my mouth."

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THE ROSETTA STONE OF COD ARCHAEOLOGY

The following phrases and their definitions might help you understand the arcane linguistics of some narcissistic, émigré English ‘historians’ (usually of the ‘Heritage Fiction’ School, ho, ho!), posing as cutting-edge investigators of ancient cultures through the examination of their material remains such as buildings, graves, tools, and other artefacts usually dug up from the ground.

"It has long been known" = I didn't look up the original reference.

"A definite trend is evident" = This data are practically meaningless.

"Three of the samples were chosen for detailed study" = The other results didn't make any sense.

"Typical results are shown" = This is the prettiest graph.

"These results will be in a subsequent report" = I might get around to this sometime, if pushed/funded.

"In my experience" = once.

"In case after case" = twice.

"In a series of cases" = thrice.

"It is believed that" = I think.

"It is generally believed that" = A couple of others think so, too.

"Correct within an order of magnitude" = Wrong.

"According to statistical analysis" = Rumour has it.

"A statistically oriented projection of the significance of these findings" = A wild guess.

"A careful analysis of obtainable data" = Three pages of notes were obliterated when I knocked over a mug of coffee.

"It is clear that much additional work will be required before a complete understanding of this phenomenon occurs” = I don't understand it.

"After additional study by my colleagues" = They don't understand it either.

"A highly significant area for exploratory study" = A totally useless topic selected by my committee.

"It is hoped that this study will stimulate further investigation in this field" = I quit.

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RORY MAGRATH'S PUB DIG'…

…Is Channel 5’s new swipe at television archaeology hosted by the comedian and writer, Rory MaGrath, and not a bad fist they’ve made of it either. The programme’s format involves him and a team of arkies who then excavate in and around pubs across the country and it’s well worth a look.

In a recent episode he and his chums excavated the Six Bells Inn in St Albans, where the team’s volunteer metal detectorist made the clinching piece of evidence that a vast roman hotel once stood on the site.

Thanks to some very dry wit, copious ale drinking, and MaGrath’s bonhomie, lifts a subject that can sometimes make watching paint dry a thrilling alternative, into an enjoyable piece of television. Time Team it ain’t.

So far, the programme is, so good. But whether the matey format endures remains to be seen, though I suspect there is already a wailing and gnashing of teeth in the Jurassic quarters of archaeology where the nabobs deplore the fact that prime-time television archaeology should be in the hands of a comedian/writer/entertainer. There is of course the added irritant that he’s not only shown that (some) excavators are ordinary blokes, but has made archaeology more appealing, and fathomable, to the Great Unwashed. Yep, it’s radical stuff.

If nothing else, ‘Pub Dig’ reinforces metal detecting’s bar mitzvah to the viewing millions, with the added publicity of mainstream acceptance, encouraged by the comedic theme to insurance company, Aviva’s brilliant series of television adverts featuring a hapless metal detectorist.

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REMEMBER……

the words of Frank Sinatra when asked to what he owed his longevity…
“Why have I lived so long? Jack Daniels and not taking shit from the press.”

I’ll see you in the bar!

************

APRIL 6, 2012

A SAD DAY FOR BLUEGRASS

On this day one of the greatest Bluegrass banjo players of all time - Earl Scruggs - died aged 88, whose unique ‘three-finger picking’ style using the thumb and two fingers of his right hand revolutionised the genre. His ‘picking’ technique described by Bluegrass historian Neil Rosenberg, as a ‘roll’, was a radical departure from the orthodox ‘claw-hammer’ style, transforming the banjo into a lead instrument especially with fast instrumentals.

Scruggs, born in Flint Hill, North Carolina in 1924, was the protégée of Bluegrass legend, Bill Monroe. Mainstream fame finally came Scruggs’s way with the Ballad of Jed Clampett, the theme tune of the 1960’s hit comedy show, The Beverly Hillbillies. Scruggs’ reinforced his position as Bluegrass’ number one banjo ‘picker’ with his instrumental masterpiece, Foggy Mountain Breakdown, featured in the hit movie, Bonnie and Clyde.

RIP – Earl Scruggs.....
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G'DAY BRUCE

Probably in common with my sole reader, I found those US Civil War photos ‘Ole Stouty put up in Latest News completely fascinating. It’s surprising the stuff you come across when poking around in the dustier corners antique shops, and it was while I was in such a cobwebbed corner that I chanced upon this letter, written by a recruit from Eromanga, possibly dating from the 1950’s, describing the first few days in the Australian army (for those of you not in the know, Eromanga is a small town in the far south west of Queensland, Australia).

.............................................................................

My Dearest Mum and Dad

I am well. Hope youse are too. Tell me big brothers Doug and Phil that the Army is better than workin' on the sheep station - tell them to get in bloody quick smart before the jobs are all gone! I wuz a bit slow in settling down at first, because ya don't hafta get outta bed until 6am. But I like sleeping in now, cuz all ya gotta do before brekky is make ya bed and shine ya boots and clean ya uniform. No bloody horses to get in, no calves to feed, no troughs to clean - nothin'!! Ya haz gotta shower though, but its not so bad, coz there's lotsa hot water and even a light to see what ya doing!

At brekky ya get cereal, fruit and eggs but there's no kangaroo steak or goanna stew like wot Mum makes. You don't get fed again until noon and by that time all the city boys are buggered because we've been on a 'route march' – geez, its only just like walking to the windmill in the bullock paddock!!

This one will kill me brothers Doug and Phil with laughter. I keep getting medals for shootin' - dunno why. The bullseye is as big as a bloody dingo's arse and it don't move and it's not firing back at ya like the Johnsons did when our big scrubber bull got into their prize cows last year! All ya gotta do is make yourself comfortable and hit the target - it's a piece of piss!! You don't even load your own cartridges, they comes in little boxes, and ya don't have to steady yourself against the rollbar of the ‘roo shooting-truck when you reload!

Sometimes ya gotta wrestle with the city boys and I gotta be real careful coz they break easy - it's not like fighting with Doug and Phil and Jack and Boori and Steve and Muzza all at once like we do at home after the muster.

Turns out I'm not a bad boxer either and it looks like I'm the best the platoon's got, and I've only been beaten by this one bloke from the Engineers - he's 6 foot 5 and 15 stone and three pick handles across the shoulders and as ya know I'm only 5 foot 7 and eight stone wringin' wet, but I fought him till the other blokes carried me off to the boozer.

I can't complain about the Army - tell the boys to get in quick before word gets around how bloody good it is.

Your loving daughter,

Sheila

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THE WHINGER WHINES.... AGAIN!

I see the ‘Acne Kid’ is running true to spiteful adolescent form with a venomous barb or three with his trademark juvenile whining; in his latest bleat, he bellyaches at the producers of the forthcoming television programme honouring the laudable efforts of metal detectorists and archaeologists (including the British Museum’s well respected Roger Bland) who support both the aims of the television programme itself and the UK’s Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS), with special bile reserved for detectorists who contribute year on year the finds details of hundreds of thousands of items all of which are advancing the historical record as never before. Public involvement in history has never been so keen.

Unfortunately, ‘Spotty’ and his pal are very much minority voices of no real importance although the content of what passes for their website tends to portray them and their ideas, at first glance, with an importance far above their actual ability or influence. Closer inspection suggests they are probably operating from a communal computer in an undisclosed, secure psychiatric unit.

The objects of their venom are those amateurs, working closely with the more level-headed archaeologists and historians who are jumping ship to work alongside the PAS, and who are between them, advancing the historical record more than ‘Pimple Chops’ and his geriatric mentor (and partner- in-slime) at Heritage Fiction, ever will. These two clowns are mercifully and inexorably heading towards historical oblivion, where one day in the future, their grotesque, extremist outpourings, might well become collectors’ items. Perhaps they might jot them all down on a limited edition CD?

If they’ve guts enough to show their faces (or the Matron lets them out on licence) I for one hope the July programme’s producers will give the ‘Acne Kid’ and his geriatric pal, enough air-time to ventilate their elitist, inaccurate venom, so the public at large gets to see what a pair of dinosaurs they really are and to show the levels of damage their Junior Common Room politics would inflict, given half a chance, on the heritage record.

‘Spotty’ ‘n ‘Sloth’ are our best recruiting sergeants!

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WHY MEN SHOULDN'T BE AGONY AUNTS

Dear Phil

I left home for work last week and after less than a mile my car stalled and wouldn't start. I walked back to my house and found my husband in bed with our 19-year old, babysitter. They announced that the affair had been going on for two years.

Can you help me I'm desperate....

Dear Reader

The most common cause of vehicles breaking down in the first mile is dirt in the fuel lines.

Hope this helps, Phil

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'JUMPY' SIGNALS WITH THE ATPRO INTERNATIONAL

Occasionally when operating in the PRO Mode some target signals are a confusing blend of ferrous and non-ferrous responses. This is not a fault with the machine but testimony to its accuracy and sensitivity. For example, on my local beaches, some coins that have been in the sand for a year or more, tend to collect small amounts of iron accretion. The ATpro responds not only the coin itself but also to the iron (ferrous) accretion, thus giving a signal that is a blend of ferrous and non-ferrous and not dissimilar to a bottle cap. This phenomenon is especially and usefully highlighted when IRON AUDIO is employed.

The answer: When in doubt – DIG!

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MY FAVOURITE CLUB (SEE LATESTS NEWS)

‘Ole Stouty’s got more front than Atlantic City. The last time he took me to his favourite club, in downtown Dallas, was to a detecting club unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. The treasurer was a scantily clad young lady, who to attract club subscriptions, danced around a large pole on a stage, then went round and all the male club members who tucked $-10 bills in her brief costume. Oddly, there were very few lady members in this detecting club that I could see.

Then, another lady Committee Member came over to my table to ask me if I was looking for “something special.” She seemed very friendly. Jeez, I thought, don’t tell me she’s got a new DD coil for the Garrett Groundhog....

Yep…nice club…that Pussy Katz Galore Gold Diggers.

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Remember...........

All that glitters isn’t always gold…and all that don’t, ain’t either!

I’ll see you in the bar....

************



MARCH 16, 2012

“Foulmouthed, stupid arse’s comments…”

Huh? Who me? I take exception to being called ‘stupid’? First, Stouty compliments me, then, insults me. Sheesh!

My good friend John "Bubba" Howland
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FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS…

Germany in 1933 saw the genesis of the Fascists’ inexorable rise to totalitarianism led by Adolf Hitler, whose black-shirted SS thugs under the command of Heinrich Himmler, used powerful propaganda to persuade the German people that the ethnic cleansing of Jews along with the eradication of all political opponents, trades unionists, communists, freemasons, homosexuals, those with mental or physical disabilities, Catholics, and Jehovah's Witnesses, was necessary to make for a strong Aryan race and a glorious world-dominating, Thousand-Year Reich. It lasted just twelve years.

Heather Pringle describes in her book, The Master Plan: Himmler’s Scholars and the Holocaust, the role archaeologists played in the execution of the Holocaust. It was Himmler’s research institute, Das Ahnenerbe, (founded in July 1935 by Himmler himself), promoting itself as a "study society for Intellectual Ancient History," researched the anthropological and cultural history of the Aryan race, with the intent of proving that prehistoric and mythological Nordic populations had once ruled the world. Heinrich Himmler claimed that the Aryans originally came from Atlantis, and were beings directly from heaven, and thus did not evolve as did other humanoids.

Das Ahnenerbe employed scholars, including archaeologists, anthropologists, ethnologists, and classicists, as well as medical doctors, geologists, and botanists; along with a number of support workers whose combined goal was to find evidence of Germany’s Aryan ancestors, and to communicate this information to the public, by means of magazine articles, books, museum shows and scientific conferences.

So ponder this; substitute the word ‘Fascist’ with ‘archaeology’, and ‘metal detectorist’ with any one of the nine categories previously mentioned, then consider how extremist archaeologists - especially those in the U.S. – are attempting to use detectorists/treasure hunters, private collectors, and fine art dealers as the scapegoats for the introduction of highly restrictive legislation to shut down private collecting whilst simultaneously putting THEMSELVES firmly in the heritage driving seat and accountable to no-one.

Sound familiar to 1935? You bet it does!

…It Tolls For Thee
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OVERHEARD IN THE CLUBROOM

“I’ve half a mind to become an archaeologist,” one treasure hunter tells another.

“Great idea,” says the other, “Apparently it’s all you need.”

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IT'S SOOOO UNFAIR.....

Is the usual and familiar whinge of the spoiled teenager. If you don’t do one thing today, just make sure you visit the forum exchange mentioned in the Latest News. It’s hilarious! Detectorist ‘Bill’ takes the virulent ‘anti-detecting ’ blogger Nigel Swift’s argument apart in an exchange that makes Swift (he the Junior Common Room style blogsite, 'Heritage Action'), look a right Wally, like a politician who's not up to speed on his brief, then, when Swift's figures are exposed as bullshit, he reacts like a spoilt child who can't get it's way. Bill from Lachine, Canada, is superb. More please Bill, and let's have more nonesense from the lowbrow 'Heritage Action', or more correctly, 'Heritage Fiction'....hahaaha! Wonderful Stuff!

Remember…

Evil happens when good men do nothing.....

I’ll see you in the bar!

************

MARCH 6, 2012

“TOTE THAT BARGE AND LIFT THAT BALE....

They say that if you want your politicians to work, then don’t vote for ‘em… and Good ‘Ole Boy, Senator Mays, might soon be on the receiving end of a votes boycott. The one great political truism remains constant the world over and it’s this …. if you ain’t got the votes you're gonna end up pickin’ cotton.

Whereas the honourable Senator is fronting Who-Knows-What with his bullshit Bill which will hand all manner of anti-detecting dictatorial powers to ‘faceless suits’ he apparently hasn’t done the maths. Well, he’s a big boy, so he’ll have to take what’s coming his way next election time. He has apparently, failed to take on board the fact that there are more voters out there on the side of detecting than archaeology; a fact which to my mind at least, suggests flawed political judgement.

For every vote he loses, he’s got to win two more just to maintain the status quo. If all Florida detectorists and their family members were to unite against him, he could find himself in deep political dooh-dooh. Irrespective of which political party takes power, it’s always you and me who pick up the tab, and little ever changes for the better. Instead of taking revenge on the party, far better to go for the politician instead, and little terrifies politicos more than losing votes because they were persuaded to back the wrong horse. Wasn’t it in Florida where May’s party experienced a little local controversy over the precise vote count that got ‘Dubbya’ elected?

Whilst the hobby of metal detecting/treasure hunting is a sleeping tiger, Mays will be hoping it’s comatose in Florida.

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MA BARKER?

In downtown Detroit, an elderly lady was stopped for speeding. When she presented her driving licence the state trooper who had stopped her, noticed she had a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

“Yes”, she said, “I gotta .44 Magnum in the glove box, and a 9mm Glock in the centre console”.

“Is that all?” asked the Trooper.

“Just one more,”she replied, “I’ve a Smith & Wesson .38 special in my purse.”

The Trooper asked her what the hell she was afraid of. She looked him right in the eye and said, “Not a f……g thing.”

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NEW COIL FOR ATPRO INTERNATIONAL

Costing around $149 (less with some deals) these new smaller 5”x8” DD coils are ideal for working a beach’s trash-laden areas, since being of DD configuration, that is with a narrow detection band, they are much less susceptible to the phenomenon known as ‘target masking,’ where trash targets blot out the signals of nearby high-value ones.

Whereas, concentric-type Super Sniper coils excel in rocky areas and in tight corners, their full-width, coil detection band, common to all concentric designs, makes them more susceptible to ‘target masking.’

Though not having yet got my paws on one, I reckon if the blurbs are correct, these new coils could be superb performers on roman and other habitation sites laden with iron trash.

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MODULAR DESIGN - WHY NOT?

Serious amateur ‘snappers’, and pros alike, use professional quality camera equipment, stuff that can stand the pace and rigours of professional life. Nikon photographic equipment for example, widely held to be the world’s best, comes in modular form, in that one can buy a camera body, then marry this to the lens that best suits one’s needs, then bring in add-on ancillary equipment such as motor drives, macro lenses, cases, and flash guns to complete the ensemble.

Why then I wonder, aren’t ‘pro’ metal detectors similarly marketed? It would be a breath of fresh air to be able to walk into a dealer outlet and ask for a particular control box from a particular manufacturer and marry it up to a particular coil to meet one’s specialist needs. Jeez, it ain’t rocket science!

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MAMA MIA!

Tony had just finished reading a new book entitled, 'You Can Be The Man of Your House.'

He stormed into the kitchen and announced to his wife, “From now on, you need to know that I am the man of this house and my word is Law. You will prepare me a gourmet meal tonight, and when I'm finished eating my meal, you will serve me a sumptuous dessert.”

“After dinner, you are going to go upstairs with me and we will have the kind of sex that I want. Afterwards, you are going to draw me a bath so I can relax. You will wash my back and towel me dry and bring me my robe.”

“Then, you will massage my feet and hands. Then tomorrow, guess who's going to dress me and comb my hair?”

His Sicilian wife Gina replied, "The f……g funeral director is my first guess."

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AN ARKIE WHINES....…

"Two hundred years ago, archaeology was a treasure hunt—finding fabulous things for museum collections," says archaeologist Steve Lekson of University of Colorado, Boulder. What does he mean, ‘was’ !!!!

“When treasure hunters loot sites, ripping artefacts out of the ground, we lose any chance of understanding context—what was with what, its date, how it was used, what it can tell us about history — all so somebody can have a trinket on their mantelpiece."

Ahem, so how does this piece on nonsense square with the fact that when Bronze Age archaeologists for instance, want to get down to ‘their’ contextual layers, they bulldoze all later layers, roman, medieval etc. complete with artefacts without a second thought. And there’s nothing wrong with having a trinket on the mantelpiece either. Better on a mantelpiece than lost through archaeological egotism and academic vandalism.

Archaeology is not science….it’s guesswork, and they often get it wrong. Remember Piltdown Man, the Hitler Diaries….

_______________________________________

REMEMBER…

”It is better to be hated for what you are, than loved for what you are not.”
Andre Gide

I’ll see you in the bar......

************

FEBRUARY 29, 2012

TO BE, OR NOT TO BE.....

I reckon it’s a bit rich of ‘Old Stouty’ to impugn I have a congenital hatred of archaeologists. Phew! It’s not so much an ingrained loathing; more that I couldn’t eat a whole one. And while on the subject of junk food, little makes me want to reach for the sick-bag quicker than watching those po-faced, Holier-than-Thou cretins prostrating themselves before archaeology in the hope of acceptance.

Surely, if they are desperate to be ‘Time Teamers’, why don’t they simply piss off and adopt archaeology’s so-called ethics, dump their metal detectors in the nearest bin, pick up their replacement trowels and brushes, then get themselves kitted out with regulation oversize wellies (nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more!) and sally forth - whereupon, ‘Gobby Robby’ et al, ad nauseum, will presumably, welcome them into the fold with open arms.

That is I imagine, once they’ve sorted out the programme’s bitchy infighting and impending implosion, where if nothing else, the rising prospect of archaeological Top-Totty parachuted in to stiffen up this tired, limp, flaccid, organ, might in itself be worth squint. “Oooh, aah, it be dumbing down ‘orright!”

As for the rest of us, well, we don’t need to justify our hobby to anyone, least of all to archaeology. Simply because a handful of raucous, archaeological deadheads, don’t approve of what we do is neither here nor there. Nonetheless, the facts speak for themselves.

Our hobby is not archaeology and yes, it goes against the orthodox archaeological grain, but the Portable Antiquities Scheme - in effect, the history of casual loss - is almost wholly furnished by the metal detecting/treasure hunting community. Since these "unsung heroes" as Heritage Minister, David Lammy, describes hobbyists, the historical record advances at the gallop. The public’s thirst for history is not entirely slaked by archaeology, nor by its controlling body, the Council for British Archaeology or its bossy head prefect.

This pastime of ours continually brings to light ever more important finds that capture the public imagination, leaving orthodox archaeology floundering in its PR wake. The Crosby Garrett Helmet and the Staffordshire Hoard for example, catapulted our hobby to the forefront of public interest, with the added value (for us) that archaeology’s eternal whining, whingeing, and over-the-top handwringing, engenders considerable public sympathy for what we do. Whereas these two magnificent finds have many arkies spitting feathers (presumably because they didn’t find them), both finds have surprisingly featured prominently on the covers of leading archaeological journals.

Yep, even arkies like a bit of treasure!


_______________________________________

MARTIN HAYTER

It’s only recently that I heard that Martin Hayter had died. He was the most enthusiastic of hobbyists with an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of modern coinage. He’d find a 20p coin for example, check the date, and proceed to tell you how many were minted in that year all padded out with ancillary information. Some reckoned he could even name the foreman in charge of the first run of pressings.

He was one of hobby’s great characters; always smiling and ever committed to protecting and serving the hobby whenever he could. I had the pleasure of meeting him several times.

RIP Martin Hayter

_______________________________________

DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS

The devil visited a lawyer's office and made him an offer. "I can arrange some things for you,” the devil said. "I'll increase your income five-fold. Your partners will love you; your clients will respect you; you'll have four months of vacation each year and live to be a hundred. All I require in return is that your wife's soul, your children's souls, and their children's souls rot in hell for eternity."

The lawyer thought for a moment. "What's the catch?" he asked.


_______________________________________

XP DEUS – A VISION OF THE FUTURE?

Having recently got up close and personal with this machine I can’t escape the fact that it’s a superbly made, multi-functional piece of gear, featuring a whole host of ground-breaking ‘whistles and bells’ with an architecture 180 degrees off the conventional, but, with the massive advantage of being totally cordless and extremely light.

However, and it’s a big ‘However’, technology this advanced seldom comes cheap and the DEUS is no exception weighing-in at an eye-watering £1,350. But they are selling, and selling well, so the retailers tell me – but they would say that, wouldn’t they?

In a non-forensic ‘in-air’ test I reckon its depth is comparable – roughly – to an ATpro International costing £700 less. Unlike the ATpro however, the DEUS won’t work submersed in water deeper than ankle depth making it completely off-limits for ‘rock-poolers’ and shallow water hunters, though I am told this anomaly is under review. There I think, evaluations should end, since performance comparisons are odious and one really has to test like with like. Are the DEUS’s additional features worth the extra £700? That call can only be made by prospective buyers.

Whether the DEUS signposts the way of future metal detector development remains to be seen, but without a doubt, the cordless headphone system is way ahead of the current competition. But what I find disconcerting, is that while this exceptional machine (it must be said) has been around for a couple of years, supported by an on-going, owner upgrade programme to higher specs and all free-of-charge via the internet, rival manufacturers such as Whites, Fisher, Tesoro, et al, have mostly failed to respond with anything resembling competition. Even Garrett, whose R&D budget is rumoured to be that of a developing nation, haven’t picked up the DEUS gauntlet.

WHY NOT? Do they all know something the rest of us don’t? Intriguing!


_______________________________________

THE TREASURE HUNTER AND THE ARCHAEOLOGISTS

Two archaeologists boarded a shuttle out of Washington for New York. One sat in the window seat, the other in the middle seat. Just before take-off a little treasure hunter got on and took the aisle seat next to the arkies. He kicked off his shoes, wiggled his toes. set down his metal detector, and was settling in when the arkie in the window seat said, "I think I'll go up and get a coke."

"No problem," said the TH'er. "I'll get it for you." While he was gone, the arkie picked up the TH'er's shoe and spat in it. When the TH'er returned with the coke, the other arkie said, "That looks good. I think I'll have one too."

Again, the TH'er obligingly went to fetch it, and while he was gone, the arkie picked up the other shoe and spat in it. The TH'er returned with the coke, and they all sat back and enjoyed the short flight to New York.

As the plane was landing the treasure hunter slipped his feet into his shoes and knew immediately what had happened.

"How long must this go on?" he asked. "This enmity between our two sides..... this hatred... this animosity... this spitting in shoes and pissing in cokes?"


_______________________________________

THE OFFICER AND THE PRIVATE

Somehow this cameo could easily feature a certain ‘PFC - Stout, R’ - Airborne Rangers (Close Combat Jazz Guitar Company).

At the Commissary Vending machine:

OFFICER: ”Oi! You, Private! Got change for a dollar?”

SOLDIER:”Yeh, yeh, sure buddy”.

OFFICER:”Huh! Speak to a superior officer in the correct manner! Now, try it again! You got change for a dollar?”

SOLDIER: No SIR!


_______________________________________

REMEMBER….

A hungry dog hunts best..... Lee Trevino

I’ll see you in the bar….

************

FEBRUARY 13, 2012

A DROP IN THE OCEAN

Last week as I was strolling atop the 300-ft high cliffs of Ballard Down overlooking Poole Bay, I heard a strange ‘clinking’ sound coming up behind me. As I turned, I saw a wellie-booted, bearded, chunky-knit sweatered, arkie, striding purposefully along the cliff-top path towards Poole. The ‘clinking’ sound emanated from inside his knee-length rubber boots, they being stuffed to overflowing with coins ‘liberated’ from a nearby archaeological dig. Then, catastrophe.

Suddenly and without warning, the cliff-top path gave way and the arkie dropped like a brick, 300-ft into the foaming waters of Poole Bay. I looked down in horror as he struggled for life, but the weight of the coins in is his wellies soon dragged him under. It was a horrible – all those coins going to waste. I ran all the way to Studland village to do my duty as a responsible citizen and contacted Her Majesty’s Coastguard, and the Police Marine Unit.

And do you know, it took over twenty-four hours, yes, twenty-four hours, before either agency arrived at the scene. Of course, by now, the arkie had drowned.

What a waste of two First Class postage stamps!


_________________________________________________________________________________

"CONTEXT AND PROVENANCE MEAN NOTHING. IT'S THE ARTEFACT THAT MATTERS"

....Was the guiding mantra of Robert Hecht, probably the world’s foremost collector and dealer in classical art who died in Paris aged 92 on February 8th , 2012. Hecht’s rise to antiquities stardom, began in the 1950’s, after successfully handling the sale of the private collection of Ludwig Curtius, a former director of the German Archaeological Institute in Rome.

By the late 1960’s Hecht was now one of the world’s leading antiquities experts and arguably the major supplier of priceless artefacts - many of doubtful origin it has to be said - to some of the world’s leading institutions, including the British Museum, the Louvre, and Boston’s Museum of Fine Art, even though at the time, he was widely suspected by many of his clients of dubious dealings and trafficking stolen and looted antiquities. Though arrested several times on suspicion of antiquities theft and illegal trafficking, he was never convicted.

The Euphronios Krater

His notoriety soared in 1972, when he sold the magnificent Euphronios Krater, an Etruscan bowl used for mixing wine and water, dating to 515 BC, to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, for the then ground-breaking sum of $1 million. However, suspicions about the Krater’s provenance emerged in 1973, resulting in Hecht’s indictment on theft charges by the Italian authorities, charges based on the evidence of a prime witness (also indicted) who claimed to have illegally excavated it from a tomb site some twenty miles north of Rome, and selling it on to Hecht for $8,800. The witness later withdrew his evidence and both he and Hecht were acquitted. Nevertheless, the case exposed to the public's eyes the shifty side of the heritage circus.

In keeping with the usual muddying the waters tactic to obscure the identity of antiquities suppliers, academics fall back on the hoary old (but conveniently vague) chestnut of laying it at the door of unnamed ‘tombaroli’ – tomb robbers. But to the rest of us the source is blisteringly obvious, as prominent almost, as a tattoo on a nun’s navel.

In this murky, shady world of dodgy dealers, metal detecting hobbyists play no part. This is a world colonised by corrupt academics, artful archaeologists, chancy curators, and bent government officials willing to do a Nelson when it comes to shifty back-door museum deals and overseeing dodgy export licences.

Yet, the more gobby (read, propagandist) elements of archaeology, who unsurprisingly, ignore the fact that looted ceramics are a serious ‘in-house’ problem, find the hobby metal detecting a handy scapegoat. Precisely how metal detectors are able locate non-metallic ceramics they have yet to explain.

Hecht who sailed his ship close-hauled to the legal winds, more than likely ripped-off museums, curators, and historians, to the tune of millions; amazingly at a time when reputable international institutions harboured doubts about the legitimacy of his wares, yet put their public ethics to one side in the clamor for his alleged ill-gotten treasures.

There’ll be some in academia tonight who’ll be breathing a little more easily at his passing....

RIP Robert Hecht.


_________________________________________________________________________________

MAKES A GREAT PRAWN COCKTAIL SAUCE

You’ll need:

Equal measures of brown sauce (HP is ideal) and tomato ketchup and mix together. Add a pinch (or more depending on taste) of cayenne pepper, a c ouple of glugs of lemon juice and Worcestershire Sauce, and stir the whole caboodle to blend all the ingredients.

Spoon over the prawns/shrimps. This makes an interesting alternative to the more usual Thousand Island Dressing....

_________________________________________________________________________________

Remember

Once a king, always a king, but once a knight is quite enough!

I’ll see you in the bar!

************

JANUARY 27, 2012

DETECTING CAN BE SUCH A DRAG!

Returning from my first inland treasure hunting trip for some years now, to a roman villa site, the local Finds Liaison Officer (we’ll call him George) insisted in coming along to record our finds. Arriving home late for Sunday lunch Margaret was on the warpath."All was fine,” I told her, “Then George the FLO, had a cardiac arrest and died out in the field. That’s why I’m late."

"Oh, my God, how awful " she said.

"No kidding,” I replied, “ For the rest of the morning it was a case of dig a signal…drag George… dig a signal…drag George…dig a signal..."

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PINPOINTING WITH THE SEA HUNTER II....

…Oh, it’s a real pig for the untrained operator. Nonetheless, Garrett’s Sea Hunter II (pi) is peerless over seawater-soaked sand. It’s a fact not open to negotiation. Tame this beast and the competition will be floundering in your wake. Get it wrong and you’ll probably get slapped with summons for illegal open-cast mining.

When depth penetration is paramount (that’s why you bought the Sea Hunter) and where the presence of ferrous trash is minimal, such as in the inter-tidal area between the High and Low Water marks. Hunt in All-Metal Mode with the control knob set to no more than '3’, or better still, ‘0’. Lower the coil to the sand and tune until you can just hear the threshold tone.

Yes, yes, yes, I know the threshold tone will fluctuate, but it will pick out the deep rings (trust me, my brother’s a lawyer). That said, this is not a machine for novices. This is one detector you graduate to once you’ve achieved a certain level of expertise elsewhere. The Sea Hunter II takes no prisoners and eats unskilled operators for breakfast.

Of its two operating modes, ‘Discrete Discrimination Mode’ (DDM) is a good starting point to get on nodding terms with this gobsmacking piece of equipment. In DDM the steady, stable, threshold tone makes the machine easier to handle, but lacks the phenomenal depth penetration of the All Metal Mode. Nevertheless, Field Tests can be a source of contention.

My advice with Field Tests is never to accept them as Gospel, particularly where the testers lack the wit to append their real names to the by-line. Then again, this is hardly surprising considering most are ill-written garbage.

Furthermore, steer well clear of any Field Test that begins… ” When I opened the box…” and then goes on to say, “I took it to site ‘A’ which is highly mineralised…” and when you get to that time-honoured phrase, “Imagine my surprise when I dug down 18-inches…” be aware you that you have just entered the 24-carat bullshit zone.

So, if you can’t trust the written word what do you do? Find one of the many fine dealer/enthusiasts out there; Stateside this means people like, Ty Brook, or Jimmy Sierra. In the UK, Nigel Ingram at Regton Ltd, Garrett’s UK dealer/importers (usual brown envelope please’ Nigel), or Mick Turrell at Newbury-based Leisure Promotions are two prime examples springing easily to mind. Then tell them where you’ll be hunting (in the main) and the size of your wad. They’ll do the rest.

Getting back to the Sea Hunter II, I often use the large diameter coil for greater ground coverage and pinpointing with it is a breeze; push the coil forwards or pull it backwards, and at the point where the signal drops away, is where the target lies. Mark the spot and dig. It takes a little practice but the rewards are grand.

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COINSHOOTING NEWS - 5p's AND 10p'S

As of this month all newly-minted 5p and 10p coins will be made of nickel-coated steel instead of copper, and will be thicker than the coins they replace. Vending machines and parking meters are currently unable to accept them and though it’ll save HM Treasury £8-million, the cost of modifying vending automated vending machines and parking meters is reckoned to be around £80-million! Perhaps it might be better to melt the bloody coins down and start again?

So what does this mean for treasure hunters? Well first off, these coins are now MAGNETIC so if you’re into dragging a magnet through the sands, you could be onto a winner! If however you’re using a Discriminating VLF/Motion jobby, you’ll knock out most of these on normal Discrim settings, though where they fall precisely on the Discrimination Scale has yet to be determined. Could be that these newly-minted coins might be a thing of the past for some discriminating beach coinshooters.

However, PI users could be set for a mini bonanza since the coins, being made of steel (i.e. Ferrous), will never be missed. But I suspect that we won’t know the full picture until the end of the annual, grockle migration, in late summer/early autumn.

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KEEPING YOUR TRAIN OF THOUGHT

Many years ago (and this is Kosher) I with several other treasure hunters were searching a favoured Roman spot on the Thames Foreshore in London, close to Battersea Bridge, when I heard a loud splashing commotion. I asked to one of the group during a later tea break,

“What was that bloody huge splash a while back?”

“Some idiot jumped of the bridge. Bloody nearly hit me.”

“Jeez, dead?”

“Oh yeh, the River Police are digging him out of the mud right now.”

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FOOD, GLORIUS GOOD

If you own slow cooker crock-pot then this is the perfect antidote to a winter day’s beach hunting....

Take a joint of Beef Brisket/Silverside (enough for two, if there’s two of you, or pro rata!) or any other ‘tough cut’ of beef. Place in the cooker and pour over enough red wine to half fill (and a bit) the crock pot. Cube a large carrot, small swede (rutabaga), and turnip, add a crushed clove of garlic, a bay leaf and a splash (nah, a glug) of brandy. Add a crushed beef stock cube, and cook the whole shabang for 6 to 8 hours. Remove the beef, chuck in a tin of whole button mushrooms, then thicken the juices with arrowroot/cornflour.

Serve with boiled potatoes, green beans, crusty French-style bread to mop up the juices (yes, you can do this at home but not in a restaurant). Lubricate the beef’s journey south with copious amounts of southern French red wine, or a Californian Merlot, al la Stout.

Enjoy!

Recipes from some of my Warsaw, Krakow, and Legnica pals, will feature a few hearty recipes in upcoming Mal Sals....

____________________________________________________________

Remember…….

The man who thinks he is superior to his fellows, never is!

I’ll see you in the bar

************

JANUARY 18, 2011

DICK'S NEW PAL!

He may be new to "Ole Stouty", but here in the UK we’ve known about this character for some time. Who he? No one really knows. His true identity remains a mystery though he snipes under the name, ‘Paul Barford,’ an anti-detecting blogger. Unlike our people, ‘Barford’ makes his peculiar critiques from behind the cover of anonymity; sneering from the shadows. Cockroaches like the dark too.

He/she claims to be;

a. British (surely not!)

b. An archaeologist (Hmmm, doubtful)

c. Warsaw (Poland) resident (best place for him/her, I imagine)

Though vehemently anti-treasure hunting/detecting/private collecting, ‘Barford’ comes across to me at least, as a harmless, bland, spotty, Sixth Form ‘yoof’ (or ‘yute’ in you live in New Joisey), who spends too much time in his bedroom crouched over a PC pulling what little brains he has through his fist. What Cockneys call a ‘Merchant Banker’! He‘s surely not a grown-up?

Perhaps he needs to....

a. Get out and about and get a life

b. Get a girlfriend/ boyfriend

c. Get a therapist (optional, though he/she might mature with time)

d. Get well soon

So then, let’s leave spotty ‘Barford’ to his/her own devices and get on with our hobby. Apart from his/her ludicrous, inflammatory remarks, he/she is impotent to harm or damage our skilled pastime, being wholly ineffectual and non-toxic. Or, as the word at street level has it; he/she’s all fart and no shit.

Every hobby/pastime has its ‘Barfords.’ They are the Crosses hobbyists have to bear. Life’s too short to bother with, or become obsessed by them. I’m sure that Malamute Saloon is likely to make him/her spitting mad and have me marked down for ‘special treatment’. I care not. People like him/her go with the territory unfortunately.

Hey, Ho, onwards and upwards.

____________________________________________________________

THE LONG AWAITED HELICOPTER RIDE

Morris and his wife Esther went to the state fair every year, and every year Morris would say, “Esther, I‘d like to ride in that helicopter”. Esther always replied, “I know Morris, but that helicopter ride is fifty dollars – and fifty dollars is fifty dollars”.

One year Esther and Morris went to the fair, and Morris said, “Esther, I’m 85 years old. If I don’t ride that helicopter, I might never get another chance.” Esther replied, “Morris that helicopter is fifty dollars – and fifty dollars is fifty dollars”.

The pilot overheard the couple and said, “Folks I’ll make you a deal. I’ll take the both of you for a ride. If you can stay quiet for the entire ride and not say a word I won’t charge you! But if you say one word, it’s fifty dollars.

Morris and Esther agreed and up they went. The pilot did all kinds of fancy manoeuvres, but not a word was heard. He did his daredevil tricks over and over again, but still not a word. When they landed, the pilot turned to Morris and said, “By golly, I did everything I could to get you to yell out, but you didn’t. I’m impressed!”

Morris replied, ““Well, to tell you the truth, I almost said something when Esther fell out. But fifty Dollars is fifty Dollars.”

____________________________________________________________

WHAT'S COMING DOWN?

The word coming from inside academia’s US ivory towers according to one well-placed source is that a minority of radical and/or politically motivated archaeologists and historians have formed themselves into a loose confederation to monitor ALL aspects of the US media to search out features, programmes, and articles that portray the metal detecting/treasure hunting hobby in a favourable light. So they want to help us then, you ask? Not a bit of it.

Once a favourable piece is found, it’s a case of all hands to the bullshit pump in a concerted ‘highbrow’ hand-wringing propaganda effort with more than a little disinformation thrown in for good measure. Unsurprisingly, mainstream archaeologists/historians avoid them like the plague.

I am further informed that the more pliable archaeology students (read, solid ivory from the neck up) are encouraged to support the disinformation campaign with a series of carefully choreographed blogs and email replies to media features, with each blog or reply making a separate disinformation point in a deliberate attempt to fool the casual reader into believing there’s a vast amount of public outrage against the hobby, when in truth we have huge popular support. It’s a clever ploy – but there’s a serious flaw in this particular diamond and it’s already rearing its beautiful head ready for the treasure hunting chop.

The prevailing wind blowing through radical academia suggests the war to outlaw the hobby is all but lost, but close ties with City Hall, friendships with councillors, and compliant journalists able to pull the wool over the eyes of the less astute members of the public, is a last stand to inflict a little pain in the shape of the odd local park ban in the hope of winning the odd skirmish or two.

All of the foregoing is a mirror image of what occurred in the UK over thirty years ago. We in the UK shafted them royally, and now US hobbyists can do the same. You have the individuals well capable of destroying the archaeological propaganda machine and with guys of the calibre of Harold Lowenfels (Task Force for Metal Detecting Rights) and dare I say it, (yes, I will) Dick Stout. I see a great future for the US treasure hobby; collecting; and the buying and selling of legally found antiquities.

Perhaps we are not far from a US-wide antiquities arrangement modelled on the UK’s brilliantly successful Portable Antiquities Scheme where thousands of artefacts are reported and recorded every week as more and more people flock into our hobby. Detecting hobbyists now outnumber traditional archaeologists by about three-to-one.

Odd isn’t it, how the radicals are fighting to resist its implementation. Why?

____________________________________________________________

THE EVERLOVIN' GENIE

Monica Lewinsky was walking on the beach when she found a lantern washed up on the shore. She started to rub it and out popped a genie.

"Oh goodie, now I will get three wishes!" she exclaimed.

"No," said the genie, "You have been very bad this year, and because of this, I can only give you one wish."

"Let's see," says Monica,"I don't need fame, because I have plenty of that due to all of the media coverage. And I don't need money, because after I write my book, and do all my interviews, I'll have all the money I could ever want. I would like to get rid of these love handles, though. Yes, that's it, for my one wish I would like my love handles removed."

"Whoosh!!" A huge puff of smoke appeared, and just like that... her ears fell off.

____________________________________________________________

Remember…..

On the sinking ship of political archaeology, the rats are still on board....

I’ll see you in the bar!

************

JANUARY 11, 2011

Let me first set the record straight. That picture Stouty published in "LATEST NEWS" purporting to show the aftermath of my New Year’s shindig is wrong. There was no party, just a few informal beers with a couple of friends. Now, where the hell did I put that token?

____________________________________________________________

Seems to me that Kathleen Deagan’s comments on Bob Spratley in the St Augustine Herald were more hilarious than they were ludicrous. No facts of course, just her personal observations masquerading as such. Tut, Tut, Ms Deagan, and I thought accuracy was your stock-in-trade!!

____________________________________________________________

BAH, HUMBUG!
(Or Dog in a Manger?)

My response in red...

“Reading The St. Augustine Record articles on Saturday and Sunday about history, archaeology and treasure hunting, I am both dismayed and depressed. Having worked as an archaeologist committed to St. Augustine for the past 40-plus years (a fact I would normally never reveal), I feel compelled to put my two cents into the dialogue.”

“In the past two days, two programs that are extremely destructive of St. Augustine’s historical integrity have been featured. One is the supposed reality TV show based on people digging up artifacts in their yards for TV and TV producers’ fun and profit".[So, profit and fun are not ok to enjoy, unless it’s only academics, or bastions, like Flaglers who are in receipt of them? When in doubt, attack the media!]

“The other is the celebration of treasure hunters’ destruction [In her prejudicial view only] of important archaeological sites for their own personal fun and profit. [Again, another personal view, and indeed, why not for fun and profit?] Neither of those programs seems to have any clue about how history is revealed and acknowledged (which is a critical economic and cultural concern for St. Augustine as we approach 2015, the city’s 450th anniversary).”

“Nobody involved in these programs seems to understand what City Archaeologist Carl Halbirt has repeatedly but gently pointed out (and what most fourth graders in Florida already understand) — neither archaeology nor history is about artifacts. [True, but metal detecting is!] And history is not “brought to light” by artifacts. [Yes, it is] Artifacts have historical importance and meaning only in their stratigraphic context (that is, soil layers or “dirt stains”) and in their associations (that is, the other artifacts that are in the dirt above, below, and beside them). Without those contexts, they can only be aesthetic objects." [Stratification does not exist in sand particularly on storm beaches where Bob Spratley hunts. If Deagan is proposing the opposite, then I suggest she goes back to whoever taught her archaeology and demand her money back. But when this nonsense she espouses is published under the banner as the holder of university rank of Distinguished Research Curator Emerita, Lockwood Professor of Florida and Caribbean Archaeology, University of Florida, then the casual observer might well be impressed into believing it as Gospel.]

“What troubled me particularly about Sunday’s article on metal detector treasure hunters Bob Spratley and John Powell was the clear statement that “It gets in your blood, and once it gets in your blood….,” he (Spratley) said, a Spanish silver piece of eight worth $35,000 hanging from his neck, “if you want a collection like this, you dig everything.” [quite right too, showing he’s a thorough treasure hunter] And you destroy everything that would allow those pieces to be historically meaningful and understood." [Contextual Stratification occurs well out of range of all metal detectors. Neither is there anything remotely wrong with Bob Spratley wearing a legally found piece-of-eight. Indeed, Deagan’s comrades are only too anxious to put on public display, human remains and mummified corpses, yet, in archaeology’s twisted thinking, wearing a necklace holding a Piece-of-Eight is troubling!]

“Nobody who has taken the time to look at Florida Statutes — especially archaeologists — would challenge the statement that objects found in the earth belong to the owner of that earth. That is the law. [But some radical US archaeologists would love to smash this citizen’s barrier and protection to unfettered excavations on private land] But St. Augustine is an extraordinarily unique [no, it’s either unique, or not] and special historical place, and it has been my experience that the great majority of St. Augustine citizens are eager to protect and contribute to our real history, [I think you need to get out more Dearie, that’s why they hunt with metal detectors and have become very proficient and knowledgable] and to share the revelations about history that are contained in their property with the whole community, rather than keeping the information secret and wearing it around their necks." [There’s nothing illegal about wearing an historical coin, and there’s certainly nothing illegal about not sharing information with the likes of Deagan or her antagonistic cohorts.]


____________________________________________________________

Surely, I can’t be the only one who reckons Deagan’s comments are envy driven, simply because Bob Spratley is finding more than she is, and rightly (but most annoyingly for the arkies), is receiving a good press. It must be galling for someone who for over twenty years has received grants and other academic hand-outs to be overtaken by an ’amateur’ inn the press relations stakes.

____________________________________________________________

Deagan’s cv shows her in receipt of the following RESEARCH GRANTS: (Selected, since 1990)


1989-91 National Endowment for the Humanities: Historical Archaeology at La Isabela

1990 Jessie Ball duPont Educational and Charitable Organization Ft. Mose Traveling Exhibit

1990 Florida Endowment for the Humanities Ft. Mose exhibit unit.

1990 Florida Bureau of Historic Resources: Ft. Mose exhibit

1991 National Geographic Society: Archaeology at La Isabela

1991-2001 Florida Department of State Archaeology at Florida's first Spanish fort and settlement

1994 Florida Department of State Publication of "Ft. Mose, Americas Colonial Fortress of Freedom"

1994-96 National Endowment for the Humanities: Analysis and interpretation of archaeological collections from La Isabela, Dominican Republic

1995-1999 U. S. Agency for International Development and USDA: Archaeological Research at Concepcion de la Vega, Dominican Republic

1997 National Geographic Society: Excavations at Florida's First Spanish fort

1999-2002 : Florida Department of State, St. Augustine Foundation, Inc. Excavations at Florida’s first Spanish fort

2003 National Endowment for the Humanities: Creation of an on-line digital type collection for the Florida Museum of Natural History historical archaeology collections

2003 Discovery Communications, Inc. The search for La Navidad in Haiti

2005 Florida Department of state special Category Grant: Archaeology at the Fountain of Youth

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Presumably, in the Deagan school of thinking, it’s wrong for anyone to profit from the heritage unless it’s an archaeologist, and she presumably, makes a good living from the heritage.


One man’s treasure hunter is another man’s archaeologist....


Have a successful and LUCKY 2012.....I’ll see you in the bar!

************

DECEMBER 19, 2011


A RUBUTTAL!!

You lying swine STOUT. That photo was re-touched! I never do ‘Wild Turkey’ unless it’s the 105%-proof version if and when available, though when I normally ‘DO’ Bourbon it’s nearly always, ‘Makers Mark’. And as for Cutty Sark, well drinkable though it is, I’m a ‘Johnnie Walker’ Red Label man. The photo is a fake!!! And I deny the coin I’m holding is a golden Spade Guinea.

Interestingly though, this site became available through the physical exertions of ‘Pete,’ he of the Archaeological Hat fame, following, as the satirical magazine Private Eye has it, his Ugandan Negotiations with the landowner’s wife! So I’m told! Lots of goodies from the site!!!!


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The Grim Reaper came for me last night, and I beat him off with a vacuum cleaner. Talk about Dyson with death.

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GARRETT'S AT GOLD - WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT?
WILL IT WORK IN THE UK?

Well I’ve seen ‘em come and go, in all shapes, sizes, and guises from VLF’s to VHF’s, motion and non-motion, and just about everything else in between and most got shafted by our (UK) mineralised habitation sites.

Though my passion for US-built hardware is well-known - Garrett machines especially – I was never sure in the past that US designers fully understood the level of performance that we Limeys expected from our hardware, given our need to pluck tiny Roman silver AE3’s or small Celtic gold and silver coins from mineralised ploughsoil, or indeed the Thames Foreshore, with any degree of ease. But any metal detector capable of lifting a tiny gold nugget from magnetite or black sand, should, so the theory runs, locate AE3’s and/or Celtic staters with ease.

Like the Big Noise That Blew in From Winnetka, the Garrett boys are in town and going for the main chance at the serious end of the detector market –where the practitioners take few prisoners – so whatever it is they’re packing better be gobsmackingly good.

They call it the AT Gold and it’s reckoned tough enough to tame not only Italy’s diabolically ironised sites, but will also make short work of both the Thames Foreshore, and our own mineralised habitation sites to boot. It’s a tall order for sure but Steve Moore, Garrett’s marketing guru is buoyant and well up for it, and tells me, “The AT Gold will be fabulous in the UK. In fact, if we make the trip over there in the spring, you will see it pull great coins and artefacts from your soil. Of that, I have no doubt.” Why so confident I wonder, when many others have come a cropper?

“The AT Gold was made to perform well in highly mineralized ground, and therefore all of its Ground Balance range is dedicated to the ground elements and not to salt. The Ground Balance range is stretched further on the AT Pro to include salt, which is a very different range from iron-heavy soils,” adding, “So, the Gold is more specialized to handle rough soils, which would include Italy and other areas with nasty soil content.”

With the emphasis on depth along with the ability to home-in on small gold and silver items utilising the higher frequency of 18 KHz, Garrett’s bold sales venture to take by storm what is a lucrative niche in the detector market, has all the hallmarks of being a reprise of Roosevelt’s full frontal assault up San Juan Hill. “Its true All Metal Mode gives it great depth,” Steve tells me, “Especially by popping on the 22x28cm Pro coil. Think UK ploughed fields and good depth, where you don’t have much ground balance penalty. ” You bet I will.

It’ll be more than interesting to see what Spring 2012 brings. I have a sneaky feeling we won’t be let down. Say no more, nudge, nudge, wink, wink!

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My pal’s wife has been missing for over a week now. Police have told him to prepare for the worst. So he’s had to return to the charity shop to get all her clothes back.
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MORE BALONEY FROM ACADEMIA

If you want proof of archaeology’s irrelevance to modern times, then Tony Pollard, a BBC television archaeologist, is the man to see if his latest jaunt is anything to go by.

Pollard you see, is the Director of the Oh-So-Important (but curiously inconsequential) Centre for Battlefield Archaeology, and has set up for all to see, his level of diplomacy, tact, and subtlety, by announcing that he intends to travel to the Falkland Islands to excavate the 1982 battle sites upon which British troops liberated these islands from the grasp of Fascist Argentinean forces, and is taking with him on this junket,…Er, …no, wait for it … Argentinean archaeologists; which on the Richter Scale of Insensitivity and Crass Stupidity, is on a par with inviting former SS-men to excavate Belsen.

The venture rightly enough has been roundly condemned by among others the South Atlantic Medal Association, who reckon the project comes too soon after the fighting, and by former Guardsman Simon Weston, who suffered horrific burns in the conflict, who has warned that Pollard’s plans to invite Argentinean archaeologists; which on the Richter scale of insensitivity, may not be well received by the islanders.

Nevertheless, El Pollard who seemingly has all the right attributes to sit in the Big Black Chair on the popular television quiz, Mastermind, where I suspect his specialist subject might be, ‘The Bleeding Obvious,’ told the Daily Telegraph (and to no-one’s surprise at all) that, “It was fought in the late 20th century, but with mid-20th century technology and will possibly be the last conventional war that the British Army will ever fight.” Then goes on to say in what must surely be the most stupid, arrogant, worthless statement ever uttered by any of his kind (and remember, British archaeology is peppered with academic prats of less ability) that, “If done properly, a project there could tell us a whole lot about how the archaeological record compares with the many accounts we have.” No, Pollard, it will not, as well I suspect you know.

The historical record as far as the Falklands Conflict is concerned has it all writ large and in fine detail; contemporary regimental records; personal accounts and diaries; military plans and operational orders; news footage; photographs, and captured weaponry, et al There nothing that we don’t already know about this conflict and I doubt that neither El Dullard nor his posse of vaqueros will add anything of even the slightest significance.

Since it was a rapid infantry war, where no castles or strongholds were built, all that’s left to uncover will be cartridge and shell cases, the odd discarded Argentinean rifle or two, and perhaps a few army mess-tins. All examples of these vitally important (?) objects are available in any one of several museums and regimental collections.

If El Dullard and the muchachos really want to make themselves of any value, perhaps they should try excavating the many thousands of plastic anti-personal mines indiscriminately scattered by the Argentine forces.

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Did you hear about the fat alcoholic transvestite? All he wanted to do was eat, drink and be Mary.....
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Remember…The Golden Rule…
HE WHO HAS THE GOLD MAKES THE RULE
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Have a Very Merry Pissy Chrissy!

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I’ll see you in the bar!

************

DECEMBER 7, 2011


WHY WAYLON? WHY NOT?

The taxonomical implications of ‘Bubba’ (a handle I’ve acquired) are, according to Modesto wineries’ Chief Test Pilot, Americanese for someone who’s honest, gifted, bright, witty, and intellectual; even perhaps an educator - in a loose kind of way, proven by the fact that on reading my first contribution for the infamous illustrious Stout Standards website, ‘Ole Stouty told a friend, “Oh f**k, he’s taught me a lesson.”

Now, knowing that ‘Waylon’ is a handle fashionable with the Bubbas south of the Mason-Dixon Line (where I hear the men are men, and the women are very reasonable and mostly called Darlene) I thought I’d adopt it as a nome de plume, though I have to admit that when I first heard it I thought referred to some kind of new fangled man-made fiber. Stouty also reckons I’m a ‘Limey Redneck’ – wow! Am I honored or what? I guess this refers to some kinda Left-of-Centre, Liberal-type Democrat, innit? Eh?

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"I've just had a letter back from Screwfix. They said they regretted to inform me that they're not actually a dating agency."

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THE BADGE OF A NOVICE - LEAVING EVERYTHING BUT FOOTPRINTS

Probably the biggest bugbear in overcoming local authorities’ opposition to metal detecting in parks and open spaces is not so much the activity of metal detecting itself, but of the retrieval of objects so discovered. Let loose a posse of newbies on site and within a short space of time you’ll have recreated something resembling the Sea of Tranquillity. On the other hand, you could let a real expert hunter loose on a putting green and you’d never know he’d been there.

The key to leaving no trace is accurate pinpointing. Then to choose one of two recovery methods. First is Charles Garrett’s favourite – the probe/screwdriver method. For the precise details may I refer you to his handy pocket-book size edition (which also lets me off any copyright infringements), How to Find – Lost Treasure. Read pages 56 and 57 and inwardly digest.

Years ago when I hunted predominantly inland sites with companions Ron Scearce, and ‘Pete’ (of ‘Archaeological Hat’ fame – see Mal Sal entry, July 16th 2010) it was ‘Pete’ who always carried a specially sharpened stainless-steel gardener’s edging spade which, when a landowner’s gaze fell upon it during search negotiations, the panic in their eyes was palpable.

On more than one occasion I’ve watched him demonstrate to wavering landowners his retrieval technique with the spade – three quick, sharp, neat, thrusts into the lawn/grass to about five inches in a thee sided "V" pattern, lift the flap, whip out the coin and gently press the sod back into place ….Job done…no mess and the grass will continue to grow.

Pete had more balls than a Pool player, and on one memorable occasion challenged a member of the landed gentry on whose property we wanted to wander at will, to a dual on the lawn at the back of his stately pile, by throwing down the gauntlet and saying, “If I can dig a neater hole than you, will you give us permission?” Intrigued, the Master of the House picked up the gauntlet. Permission was duly granted and a long association ensued.

The problem of course, is that not everyone’s an expert and those that aren’t, are only too happy to advertise the fact....

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"I woke up last night to find the ghost of Gloria Gaynor standing at the foot of my bed. At first I was afraid.......then I was petrified."

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Remember..

December can be a funny old month. For the really dedicated treasure hunter it’s when he realises his wife left him in May.....

I’ll see you in the bar!

************

NOVEMBER 18, 2011

THERE'S ALWAYS NEXT YEAR

“Hey Mac,” says a St Louis Cardinals fan to his buddy, “So, how was your holiday in Jerusalem?”

“Yeh, just great,”

“Did you get to see the Wailing Wall?”

“Nah,” says Mac, “Couldn’t get near it for Texas Rangers supporters.”

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GROUND BALANCING THE AT PRO (OR ANY OTHER MACHINE FOR THAT MATTER)

Ooh, vital! Get it right especially on the beach and keep checking. Down along my part of England’s south coast, auto-ground balancing the effects of positive, conductive non-ferrous saltwater, while hunting in the surf, sandpools, and wet sand close to the sea’s edge, is imperative for maximum performance. Generally this environment gives a steady GB readout from 12 to 14. However, moving up into the soft dry sand can sometimes be another ball game altogether.

The Big Bubba, with his AT Pro,
hunting the beach near Bournemouth
Jack Dey, John's friend (and he doesn't have many)
with Titanium ring, found with Ace 250 and large coil

Rightly enough, the handbook advises you to GB whenever moving from wet, to dry sand, and vice versa, but what it doesn’t tell you (and the beaches in my locale are not unique), is that dry sand readings (though often low) can rocket to 27, 28, or higher, which if left unchecked, will have an adverse effect on the detector’s depth penetration. Therefore, keeping the machine at peak penetration requires you to auto-GB every so often just to make sure that if you have strayed into a more mineralised area of beach your detector is still operating at peak performance.

It’s just a pity the ATpro isn’t fitted with Garrett’s exclusive FastTrackTM technology which continuously monitors and analyses ground mineralisation during use and adjusts the detector accordingly. But I guess it’s left out to keep the purchase price to a minimum, but it sure would make a valuable optional ‘add-on’.

If and when the GB values start to climb make a mental note of whereabouts on the beach these changes occur for future reference. As in the old military adage; time spent in reconnaissance is seldom wasted.

Sterling silver earing found,
with AT Pro, at depth of six inches
A 10 pence coin found at
a depth of ten inches

The sterling silver earring in the photo came from a dry sand area having a GB value of 29 and from six inches down. By keeping the searchcoil ‘Low & Slow’ and correctly ground balanced, you will locate coins and jewellery at depths that’ll make some non-ATpro users throw rocks at their machines. Attaining this level of proficiency comes only with experience along with a thorough grounding in the nuances of this very remarkable metal detector. Like any other machine, what it won’t do is find treasure where none exists. As always…it’s a case of location, location, and location…..and that’s down to YOU!

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ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE SALOON....

A young cowboy sitting in Dodge City’s Long Branch Saloon one Saturday night recognized an elderly man standing at the bar, who, in his day, had been the fastest gun in the West.

The cowboy took a place next to the old-timer, bought him a drink and told him of his great ambition to be a ‘fast gun.’

‘Could you give me some tips?’ he asked.

The old man replied, ‘Well, son, for one thing, you’re wearing your gun too high – tie the holster a little lower down on your leg.’

‘Will that make me a better gunfighter?’

‘Sure will ‘

The young man did as he was told, then whipped out his .44 and shot the bow tie off the piano player.

‘That’s terrific!’ said the cowboy. ‘Got any more tips?’

‘Yep,’ said the old man. ‘Cut a notch out of your holster where the hammer hits it – that’ll give you a smoother draw’

‘Will that make me a better gunfighter?’ asked the young man.

‘You bet it will,’ said the old-timer.

The young man took out his knife, cut the notch, drew his gun in a blur, and then shot a cufflink off the piano player.

‘Wow!’ exclaimed the cowboy, ‘I’m learnin’ somethin’ here. Got any more tips?’

The old man pointed to a large can in a corner of the saloon. ‘See that axle grease over there? Coat your gun with it.’

The young man smeared some of the grease on the barrel of his gun.

‘No,’ said the old-timer, ‘I mean smear it all over the gun, handle and all.’

‘Will that make me a better gunfighter?’ asked the young man.

‘No,’ said the old-timer, ‘but when Wyatt Earp gets done playing the piano, he’s gonna shove that gun right up your ass and it won’t hurt as much.


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AND TALKING OF IDIOTS.....,

As some of you know I own a Sea Hunter II pi detector that I use for water and surf hunting in the hip-mount configuration. Some time ago the stem developed an annoying ‘wobble’ and no matter how hard I tightened the nylon bolts, the ‘wobble’ remained.

I searched high and low for the answer; I wrote begging letters to Steve Moore at Garrett in the hope of blagging an obsolete XL500 stem; I enquired at Anderson Shafts but one of these (with postage from Canada) would set me back well over £120 ($175-ish) about the same price as having a stem made by a local engineering firm.

Then, whilst in deep contemplation in the company a Mr Johnnie Walker and his famed Red Label nectar, I began idly disassembling the aforementioned Garrett shaft, only to find that with the arm-cup removed, the stem went wobble-free. Following a second sip of Mr Walker’s elixir, it slowly dawned that the ’wobble’ was not in the stem, but in the arm-cup mounting itself. All it took to correct the problem was a single winding of electrical tape round the top of the stem, then pushing the arm-cup duct over the tape which then became ‘wobble’-free. All that remained to do was finger-tighten the nylon nut and bolt.

Cost?….Oooh, easily all of 1 penny!

Now I do know this ‘wobble’ phenomena is not an uncommon problem with Sea Hunter II stems, so before you rush off for an expensive replacement…TRY TAPE! Works for me!


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WASTED MONEY

A man who’s married to an internationally famous model, goes to a shrink and says, “Doctor, my beautiful blonde wife is unfaithful to me. Every evening, she goes to Larry’s Bar and picks up men. In fact, she sleeps with anybody who asks her. I’m going crazy! What do you think I should do?”

“Relax…” says the Doctor soothingly, “Take a deep breath, and calm down. Now, tell me, exactly where is Larry’s Bar?”


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ROBBING THE POOR TO FEED THE RICH

Going slightly off-piste for the moment, I’m wondering how much Dick’s recent medical treatment set him back, bearing mind it involved, CT scans, MRI’s, X-rays, Sonograms, Myleograms and EMG’s. My guess it’s a truck load of Greenbacks. Had he been a UK subject, the tab for all of this pricey healing along with follow-on medication and aftercare, would have been picked-up by our National Health Service (NHS).

The founding philosophy of the NHS back in 1946 required its funding from general taxation, and its three foundational core principles remain:

(1) Services are provided free at the point of use.
(2) Services financed from central taxation.
(3) Everyone is eligible for care.

Thus everyone, irrespective of economic status, or social class, employed or unemployed, receives the SAME level of medical care they need, when they need it; whereas Stateside apparently, the sicker one becomes the poorer one becomes, and if medical insurance premiums can’t be met, you’re cast adrift like a carcass on a raft. Though many in the US believe the UK’s healthcare system is the way to go, the powerful US private healthcare lobby, soon cottoned-on that if the UK’s healthcare-for-all package were adopted, the fat-cats within the private US healthcare circus would overnight, become severely malnourished. Slagging-off the UK’s healthcare system as ‘socialism’ with no place in Western Capitalism….un-American even, became the way to go instead! Put another way, you were expected to believe that if these schemers were dying of thirst in Death Valley, they would only accept a canteen of water from a Capitalist?

Back in 1987 when Dick brought a group of US treasure hunters over to the UK for a few days; one of the group developed a serious heart problem on the coach travelling to Windsor Castle near London. The coach was intercepted on the motorway by an ambulance and the guy whisked off to hospital. In the event, we had the pleasure of seeing him make a full recovery, thanks in no small part to our so-called, ‘socialist system’ of healthcare.

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SURPRISE DINNER

A father runs over a deer, puts it in the boot, takes it home, skins and guts it then cooks it for the kids' tea, but he doesn’t want them to know what they were eating.

After a few minutes the little boy said, "What's this dad?"

Dad says, "I'll give you a clue, it's something Mummy calls me sometimes."

A few more minutes went by and suddenly the little girl looks at her brother and shouts, “Don’t eat it! It’s a f%#king a$$hole!”

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"HONI SOIT QUI MAL Y PENSE?

It sure looks as though Robin Hood got it the wrong way round judging from what Prince Charles is up to in the Duchy of Cornwall.

The Duchy of Cornwall according to its official website, “was created in 1337 by Edward III for his son and heir, Prince Edward, and its primary function was to provide him and future Princes of Wales with an income from its assets. A charter ruled that each future Duke of Cornwall would be the eldest surviving son of the Monarch and the heir to the throne.”

The Duchy’s accounts for 2010, presented to Parliament pursuant to Section 2 of the Duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall (Accounts) Act 1838 show that, ‘The results for the year have shown a strong recovery from those reported in the prior year. Net assets have grown over 10% to £664million and the revenue surplus available to His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales has increased from £16.5million to £17.2million. So it’s a nice little earner then.

That Prince Charles, Duke of Cornwall, and Heir to the English Throne, in seeking to raise even more cash by singling out one recreational activity from many others for special revenues by what amounts to taxing its practioners £60, is behaviour not so far removed from that of the gluttonous, feudal robber Barons.

The Crown Estates on the other hand, owned by his mother, our present Queen, generously allows her subjects to beachcombe and metal detect Britain’s foreshores (except the County of Cornwall’s) for free, just so long as they seek the required permission, usually by email, then download and print off your permit. Simple!

Writing in 1880, Bishop William Stubbs assessed the character of Edward III in his famous work, The Constitutional History of England as follows: “Edward III was not a statesman, though he possessed some qualifications which might have made him a successful one. He was a warrior; ambitious, unscrupulous, selfish, extravagant and ostentatious. His obligations as a king sat very lightly on him. He felt himself bound by no special duty, either to maintain the theory of royal supremacy or to follow a policy which would benefit his people. Like Richard I, he valued England primarily as a source of supplies.” Perhaps Stubbs’ definition well describes the current Duke of Cornwall, particularly as the revenue raised from the Foreshore Licence is yet another ‘source of supply’ for the seemingly cash-hungry Duchy coffers.

What if anything, can be done by Britain’s 200,000 hobbyists to counter this royal mugging? Simple; exercise our own democratic rights of choice and begin a nationwide campaign until this licence nonsense is dropped altogether and foreshores access becomes freely accessible to all. And until this is achieved, I for one, shall continue to boycott Cornwall as a holiday destination; boycott all Duchy Originals produce (Prince Charles' foodstuffs company), and I will continue to refuse to give to any charity to which he is connected. Tell the collectors when they wave the tine under your nose, “Sorry chum, not a penny from me until Prince Charles drops the Foreshore Tax.” Let them find out for themselves what’s going on.

The boycott is gathering momentum and I wish it well....

To find out more about the eye-brow raising dealings going on in the Duchy of Cornwall, I recommend, you visit the website of the Duchy of Cornwall Human Rights Association at; www.duchyofcornwall.eu . Then compare with the Princes’ official Duchy website; www/duchyofcornwall.org

I know which version I believe.....

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A DEFINITE WASTE OF TIME

Three mice are sitting in a bar in a pretty rough neighbourhood late at night trying to impress each other about how tough they are. The first mouse slams a shot of scotch, pounds the shot glass onto the bar, turns to the second mouse and says “When I see a mousetrap, I get on it, lie on my back, and set it off with my foot. When the bar comes down, I catch it in my teeth and then bench press it 100 times.”

The second mouse orders up two shots of tequila. He grabs one in each paw, slams the shots, and pounds the glasses onto the bar. He turns to the other mice and replies “Yeah, well when I see rat poison, I collect as much as I can and take it home. In the morning, I grind it up into a powder and put it in my coffee so I get a good buzz going for the rest of the day.”

The first mouse and the second mouse then turn to the third mouse. The third mouse lets out a long weary sigh and says to the first two “I don’t have time for all this bullshit. I going home and f@@k the cat.”

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REMEMBER…..Life is short, so drink the good wine first.
(That is if the Duchy don’t beat you to it)

************

OCTOBER 28, 2011

YOU AIN'T GETTING OFF THAT EASY!

“This contribution is John's 48th in the little over 18 months the site has been in existence, and I cannot thank him enough…..” Oh, yes you can, Old Pal, and it’s called Single Malt - large ones - and just because you’re thousands of miles away ain’t no protection either. No Suh!

When I next takes the big silver bird Stateside, you and me is goin’ downtown, minus the ladies (we’ll leave them to do some ironing, or any the stuff women do about the house) while we have some serious payback time.


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GLENN CARSON

I wish him well in his retirement. He is truly one of the milestones in this great hobby of ours and one of its characters. I’ve read most, if not all of his stuff, the fodder that fed me way back into taking up this hobby. The US is the spiritual home of modern treasure hunting and Western and Eastern Treasures was, and hopefully will remain, his occasional canvas. Good luck, mate, and enjoy a worthy retirement.


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LUSTFUL LIFE

A tough old frontiersman who lived west of the Pecos, where the only law was a .44 told his grandson that the secret to a long and hearty life was sprinkling a daily teaspoonful of gunpowder on his morning oatmeal.

The grandson did this religiously to the age of 103 when he died., leaving behind 14 children, 30 grandchildren, 45 great-grandchildren, 25 great-great-grandchildren, and a 15- metre crater where the crematorium used to be.


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HARD TIMES

A man is in a hotel lobby. As he runs to the front desk, he accidentally bumps into a woman and as he does, his elbow hits her breast. They are both quite startled. The man turns to her and says, "Ma'am, if your heart is as soft as your breast, I know you'll forgive me." "Well,” she replies, “If your pecker is as hard as your elbow, I'm in room 243."


REMEMBER.....

Politicians (and archaeologists) will double-cross those bridges when they come to them!

See you in the bar.....

************

OCTOBER 13, 2011

TREASURE HUNTING BY ROYAL CON-SENT?

While the Council for British Archaeology’s Director, Dr Mike Heyworth, swans around the kingdom Tweeting blow-by-blow accounts of his daily round to his disciples, the CBA’s Patron, His Royal Highness, (HRH) Prince Charles (aka the Duke of Cornwall, ruler of the Duchy of that name), is cosying up to the nation’s treasure hunters by flogging off licences to detect on the Duchy’s beaches via its Liskeard, Cornwall, office.

In response to my enquiries, Mrs Johan Smith, PA to Roger Halliday, Land Steward, of the Duchy’s Western District kindly clarified the situation. “Should you wish to apply for a licence, please could you advise the area or areas you wish to examine or forward a plan of the area(s) concerned. We will then be able to advise whether the area(s) are owned by the Duchy and what the cost to you would be for a licence. A minimum fee of £60 (£50 + VAT) is normally charged with more complex, larger area or group activity cases being charged at a higher rate. Applicants should be members of an organisation which endorses the Code of Practice for Metal Detecting in England and Wales such as the Federation of Independent Detectorists or the National Council for Metal Detecting. Metal Detecting on all other Duchy owned land is not permitted.”

Which is all very odd, considering that neither of these two eminent bodies holds the monopoly of responsible users, since at the last count, the vast majority of ‘responsible’ treasure hunters are members of neither. Why non-members are considered to be any less honourable remains unclear. Further enquiries are lodged with the Duchy for clarification on this and other matters such as finds ownership.

More to the point is why are metal detectorists forced by HRH to buy licences at exorbitant prices to pursue their hobby, when other recreations are not?. I have laid a series of questions at the Duchy’s door and will keep you posted. Many locals are likely to give HRH the Agincourt Salute and carry on as normal.

Anyway, who would want one of these, ‘exclusive’, not too mention costly licences already dubbed royal rip-offs by many in (and out of) the detecting community. The sentiment bubbling away among those treasure hunters I’ve canvassed is almost universally, “Not me …and neither should anyone else with an ounce of sense.”

Certainly, some hobbyists are taking revenge in boycotting everything connected with HRH, including Duchy Originals, his marketing company supplying up-market foodstuffs, such as biscuits, meats, jams and preserves. Similarly, holidaying in Cornwall has been given the elbow in favour of holidaying in licence-free areas where beachcombers and their families are more welcome.

“At the risk of being locked-up in the Tower of London,” one told me, “I’ll be dammed if I’ll contribute even so much as a brass farthing towards his already vast, personal fortune [Prince Charles, Duke of Cornwall].” The Duchy of Cornwall was created in 1337 by Edward III for his son and heir, Prince Edward, and its primary function was to provide him and future Princes of Wales with an income from its assets.

The Duchy of Cornwall’s Annual Report and Accounts for the year ended 31st March 2011, shows that, “Capital values within the Duchy rose by £33million to £696 million…,” and “Revenue surplus grew by 3.7% to £17.8million…”

Equally, many hobbyists are having even less to do with the National Trust (NT) who have an outright detecting ban on their beaches, by steering well clear of their products, donations to NT funds, or renting their holiday chalets. Some have cancelled their memberships. Like Cornwall, the NT is a No-No. One even described the NT somewhat harshly as, “An organisation of blind middle-class Conservatives led by Blairites.”

The £60 fee is a moot point, and one that we haven’t heard the last of I suspect. Whilst HRH can demand whatever amount he sees fit, then equally, those who take umbrage have the right to say, “Thanks, but no thanks,” or, something saltier! For many hobbyists I suspect, it’ll business as usual and to hell with the sixty quid.

Nevertheless, many will delight in seeing the CBA’s treasure hunting policy being shot to ribbons, or depending on one’s viewpoint, betrayed. Whatever else, the CBA are coming out of this looking like complete idiots particularly as the prime mover (or betrayer) is their own Patron.

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The Yorkshire Humour will be Lost on my US Reader, but here goes….

A Yorkshireman's dog dies and as it was a favourite pet he decides to have a gold statue made by a jeweller to remember the dog by.......

Yorkshireman, "Can tha mek us a gold statue of yon dog?"

Jeweller, "Do you want it 18 carat?"

Yorkshireman, "No I want it chewin' a bone yer daft bugger!"

********************

A bloke from Barnsley suffering with piles asks the chemist, "Nah then lad, does tha sell arse cream?"

Chemist replies, "Aye, Magnum or Cornetto?"

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AT PRO TIP #3 - WHEN IN DOUBT DON'T GO TO ALL METAL

Jeez, I’m in love with this machine for beach hunting. A wealthy looking guy comes up to me recently and says, “My wife dropped her Cartier watch somewhere around here, reckon you can find it?" (No here’s a Fiver for your time!)

“Maybe,” says, I, "What’s it made of, gold silver, or cheapo stainless?”“Ahem,” (he looking a bit embarrassed) “Actually stainless steel, with a Burgundy leather strap.”

“When did she lose it?”

“Two day s ago”,

“Ok, where?”

“About here, or could be over there.”

So I switch to All Metal in the PRO mode, set the High Res Iron disc to ‘15, activate the Iron Audio mode and scour the area. Some of the more alert readers will be thinking, why use High Res Iron Disc and Iron Audio when looking for a ferrous object?

Using solely the ALL Metal mode would involve digging small non-ferrous trash, whereas using a modicum of High Res Iron Discrim, causes the Iron Audio to register Low Tones up to ‘15’, and mid-to-high tones, above. But what really clinches the identification deal is the Iron Audio, this singles out ferrous trash like no other with its ‘fuzzy buzz’ that makes finding a ferrous target that much easier.

Thus, what I am looking for is a ferrous target with a Target ID greater than ‘15’ and being a flat, ferrous, target, the lost Cartier watch will produce the fuzzy buzz either side of high tone, just like a bottle cap.

In the event, the Cartier remains lost.....

Iron Audio never lies - it’s a real innovation, and a mighty useful tool that Garrett have come up with.

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Write Wrong?

Patrick, a lawyer, arrives home late one evening after a very tiring day trying to get a stay of execution for his client, James Wright, who is due to be hanged for murder at midnight. Patrick has made a last-minute plea for clemency to the governor, but his plea has been rejected. So when Patrick arrives home, he’s depressed and very, very tired.

But as soon as he walks into his house, his wife starts on him. "And what time of night do you call this Patrick? You should have been home hours ago - where have you been all this time?"

But Patrick is too tired to participate in this regular ritual and ignores her tirade. Instead, he pours himself a glass of best whiskey and goes upstairs to have a good long soak in a hot bath. Twenty minutes later, while he’s still in the bath, the phone rings. His wife answers and is told that her husband's client has, at the very last moment, been granted his stay of execution after all.

She suddenly realises what a day her husband must have had and feels very embarrassed about her outburst. So she goes upstairs to give him the good news. She opens the bathroom door and is immediately greeted by the sight of Patrick’s naked backside as he is bending over drying his feet.

"They're not hanging Wright tonight," she says.

Patrick straightens up, turns around and screams out, "For crying out loud, woman, don't you ever stop with your bitching?"

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ATPRO HEADPHONE ADAPTOR - TIP #4

When I first clapped eyes on the ATpro I took an immediate dislike to the headphone arrangement, it being similar to the ACE 150/250 series, having the headphone connectors located to the front of the control box, rather than to the rear, or better still, emerging somewhere underneath the arm-cuff.

In use, the headphone cable (on both models) intrudes, is a distraction, and with a cable length that (in my view) ought to be longer. I cured the problem on the ACE250 by taping the headphone cable under the arm cuff. But, what to do about the ATpro?

Because it’s an All Terrain machine (being weatherproof, dustproof and just about everything-else-proof), the ATpro comes fitted with special waterproof connectors for both the coil and headphones. Likewise, its dedicated headphones for land or water use, come similarly equipped. But now, thanks to a clever little gizmo from Garrett, any set of ‘phones using conventional jack-plugs can be used, and best of all; the male/female connector emerges under the arm cuff. Large ones all round!

I have fitted my test have ATpro with this gizmo and added a coiled-cable extension for extra movement when digging or target sampling. Indeed, the ATpro can still be used in water up to mid-thigh depth, as the headphone cable connector to the control box is waterproof, but the non-waterproof jack-plug connecter is well out of harm’s way, unless of course you trip into a hole, go base-over-apex, simultaneously giving your land-use ‘phones an unscheduled wash.

If however, you want to get down and dirty in the briny, then re-adapt the machine for full water use by refitting the waterproof headphones. Simple!

Get yours (in the UK) from Regton, Ltd, catalogue code GATHA, price £27.95 plus £2.00 P&P. In the US, any Garrett dealer will have them.

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JUST AN OLD COWHAND FROM THE RIO GRANDE?

An old cowboy went into a bar and ordered a whisky. As he sat there sipping his drink, a young lady sat down next to him. She turned to the cowboy and asked, "Are you a real cowboy?"

"Well, I've spent my whole life on the range, herding and driving beef," He replied, “So, what about you?”

"I'm a lesbian,” she said, “I spend my whole day thinking about women. As soon as I get up in the morning I think of women. When I eat, shower, watch TV, everything seems to make me think of women! "

A little while later a couple sat down next to the old cowboy and asked him, "Are you a real cowboy?" "Well, I always thought I was, he replied, “But I just found out that I'm a lesbian."

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Remember…..(to quote the Milwaukee Brewer’s, Jim Wohlford)
Ninety per cent of this game is half mental....

I’ll see you in the bar!

************


September 25, 2011

'RISIBLE RITA'S AT IT AGAIN!

“any prospect of a historically important find should rule out a rally immediately as much knowledge will inevitably be lost”…So says the CBA’s Director, Dr Mike Heyworth, talking his usual bullshit when it comes to metal detectors.

Heyworth ( though not all CBA members it has to be said) would like to see an end to all detecting rallies, even club digs, or at the very least, to have these events firmly controlled by ‘referees’ drawn from the ranks of archaeology.

Heyworth’s views are both extremist, and inflammatory, tinged with a holier-than-thou piety making little or no concession to improving the fragile relationship between the two groups. We are facing a renewed jihad and the sooner the metal detecting world wakes up to the fact, the safer the hobby will be. While hobbyists twiddle their collective thumbs with the trivia of PAS and sucking-up to FLO’s, extremists within the CBA are out there, behind the scenes, spreading the poison into national heritage groups and quangos.

Gerald Costello, Dennis Buchanon and John Howland greeting FMDAC delegation, Bath England, mid 80's

I have to admit, albeit grudgingly, they are slick operators far and above anything the current crop of metal detecting representatives can match. But, there’s a possible lifeline.

We, along with those individuals inside the CBA who recognise the advantages of mutual trust and co-operation, and who for their own reasons also want rid of Heyworth, ought to join forces in an alliance to oust him, and those of his ilk.

In the meantime, I say, for God’s sake Heyworth, go and go NOW!

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FIRST COME, FIRST SERVED

Lionel and his wife Rachel are on the brink of divorce but first of all decide to see a marriage counsellor. The counsellor first of all turns to Rachel and asks, "So what do you regard as the main problem in your marriage, Rachel?"

"My Lionel suffers from premature ejaculation, that’s what the problem is," replies Rachel.

The counsellor turns to Lionel and says, "Is that true? Do you suffer from premature ejaculation?" "Well," replies Lionel, "not exactly. It’s Rachel that suffers, not me."

SNAP,CRACKLE AND POP (OR AT PRO USER TIP #2)

No, they’re not a firm of shyster lawyers nor is this an ad for Rice Krispies (delicious though they are). This is all about is hunting in the PRO Mode utilising all the whistles and bells and interpreting the target response data to discover what’s really under the searchcoil whilst beach hunting.

Switching to PRO Mode puts you into what is called proportional audio, meaning that the signal strength received from the target is proportional to it’s depth; faint signals are usually deep targets and loud signals, shallow, because the ATpro (like most other metal detectors) is tuned to coin-sized objects. Well that’s the theory in a perfect world, but as we don’t live in a perfect world, a little human interpretation is required of the data presented.

When searching in the PRO Mode, there is an ever-present, but gentle, Snap, Crackle and Popping sound as if the machine is actually alive, which can be curbed if you so wish by the Sensitivity control. I choose not to. It’s unnerving at first especially to anyone used to operating a silent running machine, or, when switching over from STANDARD Mode. But the detector, when ‘alive’ never misses a trick. During my first outing with the ATpro, and before I got to grips with the PRO Mode features, I wasted a lot of time digging a wretched bottle cap from 12.5-inches down in damp sand.

Deep cola cans for example, usually sound like shallow coins, and shallow coins like deep cola cans! Pull-tabs from these cans give clear positive signals with all the appearance of coins or thin-section rings having a Target ID (TID) value of between 50 and 54 – ish!

So how can you differentiate between cans and coins? By simply raising the searchcoil about 12-inches from the sand and if the signal remains strong, it’s a can. Why so? Because at about 12-inches a coin is on the limits of in-ground detection and in the PRO Mode will become faint. Though this is a Rule-of-Thumb, it works in the main.

John Howland's hideway,in Broadstone, UK.,
where the best of the single malts await.....

Bottle caps on the other hand, the bane of all beach hunters, have a TID value of anywhere in the 65 to 75, well up into the high value coin and jewellery range and often difficult to decipher. However, the ATpro is equipped with a variably adjustable High Resolution Iron Discrimination Circuit (HRIDC) allowing the operator to set values of ‘0’ (All Metal) through to ‘39’ at which nearly all iron and ferrous objects are eliminated. Bottle caps however, tend to give a confusing signal leading the operator to believe something of high value is in the offing, only to discover in the final scoop of sand that the bottle cap has won again.

But there’s one final weapon in the operator’s armoury….the Iron Audio Circuit (IRC) that allows the operator to hear a unique response from all iron targets. This response comes in the audio sound of all iron being accompanied with a fuzzy buzz, a high tone, followed by the fuzzy buzz. IRC works in all six ATpro search modes and never lies. It’s quite brilliant.

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THE RAFFLE

There is a raffle at the local Jewish Community Centre and prizes are being drawn…..

"4th prize, which goes to Hymie Himmelfarb, is a Rolls Royce." Huge applause. Hymie goes up to collect his keys and shake hands.

"3rd prize, which goes to Frank Myers, is a Rolls Royce and a cheque for £10,000." Huge applause. Frank goes up to collect his keys and cheque and shake hands.

"2nd prize, which goes to Abe Epstein, is a piece of fruit cake!" Ghastly silence. Abe goes up to the stage to the presenter. …."What do you mean, a piece of fruit cake? 4th prize was a Rolls Royce, 3rd prize was a Rolls Royce plus a cheque for £10,000, so what the hell do you mean a piece of fruit cake for the second prize?"

"Ah," says the presenter, "This is special fruit cake. It's made by the Rabbi's wife"

"F**k the Rabbi's wife" says Abe, hysterically.

"What? You want the 1st prize as well?"

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Remember (especially all you arkies out there) …..Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo
I’ll see you in the bar!

************


September 21, 2011


John Lynn – ‘Norfolk Wolf’.

John Lynn, the English author and writer, who’s many influential pieces appeared under his nome de plume Norfolk Wolf, died on the 14th September. He was in his late 60’s.


A literary force majeure on the subject, he wrote metal detecting best-sellers, in-depth articles, and was a prolific contributor to the UK’s metal detecting media. Because of his prolific output he was instrumental in bringing the hobby to a wider audience and encouraging newcomers into the pastime. He was well-respected for his metal detecting skills and knowledge alike by practitioners and fellow writers.


His many ‘how-to’ and ‘hands-on’ metal detecting videos gained him an ardent following with his unique style, whilst simultaneously setting out the ground rules for up-and-coming field testers to follow. Softly spoken with a distinctive Norfolk ‘burr’ he was regarded by many as the John Arlott of metal detecting.


************

September 13, 2011


A Mafiosi walks into a Brooklyn bar and says, “Hey, barkeep, gimme a large Scotch on the Rocks before the trouble starts.” “Sure,” says the barkeep, “but before what trouble starts?” “I ain’t got no money”.

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DO YOU BELIEVE THIS STUFF?

There are people here in the UK as I expect there are Stateside, who can ‘detect,’ or more correctly, locate water, by using nothing more than a ‘Y’-shaped hazel twig.

These dowsers as they are commonly referred to, would have probably been burned at the stake had the Witchfinder General got his hands on them in the 16th Century, and I guess their life expectancy wouldn’t have been too promising in Salem either. How it all works is beyond me, but work it seems to.

If all this water divining stuff is not mystifying enough, a sub-group exists within their ranks, who reckon they can not only find water, but treasure too, or whatever else, simply by passing a pendulum over a map and asking the pendulum certain questions, which spins wildly for a ‘Yes’ or remains motionless for a ‘No’. The map, they claim, can be either a regular government, or, proprietary map, or simply a hand-drawn sketch.

I first encountered this phenomenon back in the mid-‘80’s when a map dowser gave a talk to a metal detecting club of which I was a member, and during which he offered to dowse any maps members might have with them.

A few days later, I was called out on one of our club’s free recovery service jobs to find a couple of flintlock rifles buried in the grounds of an 18C Toll House, situated on what two-hundred years before had been one of the main stage-coach routes into the City of Oxford.

During the course of events, the new owner of the Toll House revealed he was deeply concerned about a deep undiscovered well believed to be located somewhere to the front of the house the house owner explained. “It’s probable that the well-cap is old and likely to fall-in with horrendous results,” he explained.

I asked him to draw an accurate sketch map of the property, telling him that I would send it to the map-dowser to see if he could throw any light on the subject, though secretly I was highly sceptical of map-dowsing, as I still am today to a certain extent. But it seemed a good idea at the time and might earn me a few points along the way if by some miracle this map-dowsing nonsense worked.

Within a few days the map came back from the dowser, with the position of the well clearly marked, and I delivered it personally. A few days passed then I got a phone call from the man to say that the well had been located EXACTLY where it had been marked on the map and was now in the process of being capped and made safe.

“Well bless me,” I muttered, (or words to that effect). I’d also sent the dowser, a map of my own, of a particular area around the village of Church Handborough, Oxfordshire, whose church had been looted by Cromwellian forces during the English Civil War, and taken all the church’s ceremonial silver plate, cups and chalices. None of these valuable pieces ever saw the light of day again. The looting of the village church had been a purely a private enterprise and not part of the ‘official’ Cromwellian hunt for ecclesiastical silver to be melted into coinage.

Significantly, the map dowser was unaware of the looted church valuables, nor could he have gleaned that information from the map I sent him. Yet, in his covering letter, he told me that he had marked a place where I would find a large cache of treasure, mainly of silver. Spooky or What?

To date, I have not searched the place in question. It has been my intention to hunt down the treasure and return it to the church after almost 400 years. The owner of the land, the Duke of Marlborough, through his Land Agent, refused my request, in what I have to say, was an excruciatingly polite, ‘piss off’ follow-up letter in the wake of my interview with the Land Agent. Hardly surprising I suppose, since I refused point-blank to reveal the dowser’s exact map location, even to His Lordship, as I wasn’t having him or his men digging it up and taking the credit!

I further discovered from a local woman, now dead, that the folklore hereabouts coincides with my dowsed map’s treasure location, where as far as I know, the church valuables remain undisturbed to this day.

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LITTLE KNOWN ANCIENT LOCAL HISTORY FACTS....#1

When the Romans were driven from my village two thousand years ago, the ancient Brits hanged all captured roman soldiers from the village ramparts; an act of savagery that saddened the hearts of many local maidens who’d previously been unanimous in their verdict that, "There's nothing like a well-hung Centurion!"

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GARRETT ATPro Tip #1- STD or PRO MODE?

“The more I practice the luckier I seem to become,” was how golfer Gary Player attributed his phenomenal success. And so it is with Garrett’s ATpro. So then, STD or PRO mode? Well, both are super coinshooting modes capable of producing excellent results. For me though, it’s the PRO mode.

The ATpro’s six search modes comprise three in Standard Mode (STD), and three in Proportional Mode (PRO). STD and PRO modes feature three fully programmable and variable sub-modes; CUSTOM, COINS, and ZERO. Allied to all of these are two additional supplementary modes; High Resolution Iron Discrimination and Iron Audio, both of which can be brought in to fine tune the performance of any of the sub-modes.

But before we get too involved in the teccie bits and bobs, you need to understand the fundamental difference between STD and PRO modes. In STD mode, all signals irrespective of their depth produce the same loudness of audio signal. Thus, a shallow coin at two inches say, has the same volume as one at eight inches. It’s a thoroughly uniform procedure though many coins and rings registering above ‘60’ on the Target ID Scale (TIDS) may trigger the unambiguous (and famous), Garrett ‘Belltone’. On the downside, so do pull-tabs, but their TIDS is around the ‘52’ to ’54-ish’.

Thus, a ‘Belltone’ with a TIDS reading of ‘53’ for example, denotes a pull-tab. But there’s a problem. Thin-section gold rings (and some lower denominational coins) at the lower end of the detection scale also fall into the pull-tab TIDS range, and may not always trigger the Belltone, giving instead a medium tone.

Therefore:-

‘51’ to ‘54’ with Belltone = pull-tab (or UK 10p coin!)
‘51’ to ‘54’ (no Belltone) with a medium tone = DIG!
‘51’ to ‘54’ and you’re still unsure = DIG!

In the PRO mode, the loudness of the target response depends on the target’s depth. Target audio volume decreases proportionally as the target depth increases; useful operator information in determining target depth.

There is another significant differential between the two modes. Whereas STD runs almost silently and appears to be stable, PRO mode crackles lightly in the background not to any detrimental degree but certainly gives the impression of the being ‘alive,’ ‘edgy,’ and bursting to hunt down goodies.

It’s a mode that imparts greater target data to the operator – but more of this in later upcoming Mal-Sals....

So to get you up and beach hunting, try this initial setting: STD mode/COINS/ Iron Disc set to 35/Sensitivity one notch below maximum/ Take out first pixel in the non-ferrous range (’40’), then auto ground balance the machine. If you move onto wet sand, auto ground balance again or vice versa if moving from wet to dry. I tend to check the GB settings fairly often as in my locale some sections of the dry sand areas can rocket to between 50 and 60 on the GB scale. Generally, beaches tend to register at around the ‘14’ mark.

Likely target responses with this set-up:

Low tone = ferrous junk having a reading of over ‘35’ and below ‘40’
Medium tone = All targets over ’40’ - small gold (earrings etc) heavy foil, low-value coins.
Belltone = Targets above ‘60’ – all high value coins, most jewelery, and some pull-tabs.

REMEMBER....WHEN IN DOUBT, DIG IT OUT!
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GREAT BREAKFASTS

#1........... What’s the best follow-up to a successful early morning beach sortie apart from the obvious (and we ain’t talking Cornflakes and Florida Orange juice either!). No Sir. One of these two recipes comes courtesy of a Mal-Sal reader – the other’s mine.....

Take yourself some large fresh eggs, two if just you, or, four if it’s you (or your beloved and/or the wife) and break them into a glass bowl with a large knob of unsalted butter and a couple of decent spoonfuls of double cream. Beat them around with a wooden spoon, then place them in a microwave for 30-seconds at a time, removing and stirring, until the mess thickens, becomes lumpy, but creamy.

Serve over hot buttered toast (sourdough bread if possible), with a handful of chopped chives and a dollop of crème fraiche, or failing this, soured cream, along with several slices of smoke salmon or smoked salmon trimmings. Serve with fresh coffee, and orange juice, then tell the world to piss off while you enjoy!!

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#2......... Boiled Eggs and ‘Soldiers’. Jeez, I love these! Make four slices of toast and spread them with butter and Gentlemen’s’ Relish (GR) or, anchovy paste. Next, boil two eggs for EXACTLY 3.5 minutes then put them under the cold tap to stop them cooking any further.

Slice the GR-spread toast into ‘soldiers’ – strips of toast cut lengthways – then slice the top off the egg and dip in the ‘soldiers’. Ho, Ho,Ho, ‘kin magic! Ideal on a Sunday mornings with orange juice, fresh coffee, and a good newspaper. Then tell the world as above. …Enjoy!

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And finally…..

A conference is a gathering of important people who singly, can do nothing, but together, can decide that nothing can be done. (And we know a few of these assholes don’t we!)

I’ll see you in the bar!

************

August 29, 2011


TRUE STORY

While wreck-mapping near Wabasso Beach, Florida, a famous marine archaeologist capsized his boat. Though a strong swimmer his fear of alligators kept him clinging to the overturned craft. Spotting a treasure hunter metal detecting on the shore, he shouted, "are there any ‘gators around here?"

"Naw," the treasure hunter hollered back, "Ain't been any here for years!"

Feeling safe, he started swimming toward the shore. As he got closer to shore he shouted to the treasure hunter once more, "What did you do to get rid of the ‘gators?"

"We didn't do nothin'," the treasure hunter shouted back, "The sharks got 'em all."

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Just recently I got my hands on a Garrett ATpro International for the purposes of carrying out an extended test period to check out its performance as a beachcombing tool. My first outing, lasting about fifteen minutes before the Heavens opened up, saw me beating a hasty retreat to cover. Whilst the ATpro is fully waterproof, I ain’t!

However, during this brief, maiden sojourn, I purposefully ignored the Operating Manual to see how quickly it would take me, being a regular smart-arse, to become accustomed to it. I just switched on and sallied forth. Five minutes into the session, and quite uncertain as to what was happening, or indeed what I was doing, came a clear and diggable signal, which in the event, proved to be ‘something’ 11.5-inches down, in damp sand. Fertling about in what soon became a sizeable excavation and still no target in sight, I whipped out the envy of my friends, my Pro-pointer that is, and scoured the inside of the abyss to elbow depth. Soon after, I was the proud possessor of a fine example of the bottle-cap makers’ art. No big deal of course, but the salient point being that I knew more about the far side of the Moon than the controls of the ATPro, yet, in this apparently un-tuned state, it located a target almost a foot down and with a shed load of ‘signal’ in reserve. Jack Dey simply looked on in utter amazement.

As my reader knows, I use a pi machine (a Sea Hunter II) over saltwater-soaked sand and in the water, and an ACE250 with large coil for the other areas of beach. On the strength of this outing (and provided the ATpro can do, again and again, what the boys in Garland say it can) then my two trusted servants might find themselves getting the Order of the Six Lace-holes.

Time will tell and I’ll let you know how things turn out. I’ll keep you posted…

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Politicians are an honest, moral, ethical, and outstanding group of people. I say this because I’ve spent the past three decades dealing with archaeologists.

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TREASURE IS WHERE YOU FIND IT

I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that the treasure hunting fraternity harbours a sub-species of the genre who are not actually intent on searching for treasure per se, but who simply like the idea of being seen as treasure hunters liking nothing better than swinging the latest mo’chine irrespective of whether they find anything or not.

These ‘machine queens’ apparently exist in significant numbers within the angling fraternity too, where they are known there as ‘tackle tarts.’ No matter what you advise them when they enquire as to the best treasure spots, they always revert to type – that finding treasure is secondary to being seen to hunt for treasure. Bloody odd.

Now, my hunt buddy Jack Dey, came into the hobby about two years ago but applies his angling nous to beach hunting with uncanny success. He hunts where people ‘shoal’ on a beach; digs nearly every signal, making huge hauls of coins interspersed with items of precious metal jewellery in the process.

He uses a Garrett ACE250 with the larger coil and is mainly a ‘dry sand man’ in his quest for coins. He hunts where he expects to find coins. Everyday, we both of us see beachcombers using machines that performance-wise on paper at least, can wipe the floor with an ACE250, with their greater depth penetrations; or their ability to be hooked up to personal computers, the internet, or be downloaded and uploaded and with more ‘whistles and bells’ than you can shake a stick at – but all being used in the wrong places, at the wrong time, for the wrong reasons. It’s no use whatsoever using and expecting results from a $1,000 if you habitually hunt in the wrong place.

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A young Jewish fellow emigrated from Russia to Texas. He worked hard and his business prospered. He had a good life and sent for his father to join him, but when they met at DFW Airport; his father looked every inch a religious Jew. A few days later the son decided his father would be happier if his appearance were more that of a native Texan. So, he took him to a barbershop to get his beard shaved off, and hair trimmed. He then had him fitted out with a tall Texan hat, jeans, boots and check shirt.

Afterwards, he noticed his father was crying. When his son asked why, his dad replied, "Oi vay, I'm crying because we lost the Alamo"

-----------------------------------
HEALTH ALERT

An ex-Fleet Street colleague emailed this warning; apparently based on recent medical findings:

Vodka and ice will ruin your kidneys.
Rum and ice will ruin your liver.
Whiskey and ice will ruin your heart
Gin and ice will ruin your brain.
Coke and ice will ruin your teeth.
“Ice is lethal! Warnn all your friends: Lay off the ice!!”

Oh, you Betcha!


I’ll see you in the bar……………

************

August 18, 2011


INSIDE TREASURE HUNTING, BY TY BROOK

If you haven’t yet read this superb book, do so. It’s a not so much a ‘how to’ book but more a peek backstage of the treasure hunting world both from the commercial side of things and a lucid explanation of the technical.

For example, have you ever part-exchanged a detector in a deal for a new one and was slightly disappointed at the trade-in price?v Well, Ty Brook (himself a dealer) gives you the inside track, and advises how to value and price a used machine. It’s all very revealing, if not intriguing. For more information about this book, and of Ty Brook himself, see Latest News 9th July. It could be the best $10 you ever spent.


INTEREST IN ARCHAEOLOGY ON THE INCREAZE? OR JUST SPIN AGAIN?

The Council for British Archaeology’s website reckons their Festival of British Archaeology 2011 was hailed as a huge success (by them of course) after more than 200,000 people attended 774 events across the UK. Massive interest then, apparently.

The CBA spun the event as a stampede of public fervor as hordes of people flocked to the various attractions to slake their archaeological thirsts by participating in, “walks, talks, hands-on activities, excavations and fun re-enactments.” Wow!

Erm…ah,…well,….not quite. Actually, 200,000 divided by 774, equates to an average of 258 people per event staged. Irrespective of how one spins the figures, it still comes out less than the turnout at most treasure hunting and metal detecting rallies, where the real interest lies. Galling for the arkies, I know, but fact! Sorry guys, you’re old hat!

Unsurprisingly, Channel Four’s Time Team presenter, the treasure hunting loather Tony Robinson, found the numbers “absolutely staggering,” (staggeringly abysmal perhaps?) whilst another chum of ours, old smarmy-chops himself, Mike Heyworth, the CBA’s Director, gushed, “Such an enthusiastic response from people shows that there is a lot of interest in archaeology…” Oh, yeh?

Now imagine if these figures were somehow related to an excavation for which public money was required for its continuance, on the face of it, and spun accordingly, they would be impressive… Let the buyer beware!

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THE MALAMUTE SALOON "OSCARS"

Comes in three categories to recognize the massive contribution orthodox archaeology makes to the overall heritage canvas.

1. The Most Boring Archaeologist/Pseudo Arkie. (three categories here, so as not to exclude Tony Robinson, ‘Rita’ Heyworth or Kate Pretty-Awful, from nomination).

2. The Most Boring Archaeological Society/Organization. (Three categories again, so as not to exclude The Council for British Archaeology, or any archaeological society in the Carthage MO area.

3. The Treasure Hunting Club with the most Balls. Goes to any of the Carthage, MO, treasure hunting clubs for their fine victory and rubbing the noses of shyster archaeologists in the dirt. Well done!!!

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FREE BEER?

Three guys, and Englishman, a Scotsman and an Irishman were marooned on a desert island and began talking about their favorite pubs back in their homelands.

“In England,” said the Englishmen, “my local pub gives you the first pint free of charge.”

“That’s nothing,” said the Scot, “In my local pub, the first three pints are free.”

“Well be Jesus,” says the Irishman, “In my local pub. You get served free drinks all night, and then the landlord takes you upstairs and gets you laid.”

“Bloody hell,” said the other two, “where is this pub?”

“Oh, I’ve not been there myself, “ says Paddy, “But my sister has.”

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DON VICKERS

I guess he’s a man on a mission and what a mission it is! I’ve never met the guy, but he looks the biz, not the sort of guy I’d want to tangle with - too much of the ‘Bugsy’ Segal about him if you follow my drift! State Councils? Yeh, it’s the only way to go being wieldy, controllable, and hard hitting when the shit hits the fan. Watch this guy; things are moving for the better.

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NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR METAL DETECTING - A DEAD PARROT?

This parrot is dead. It is a deceased parrot. It’s run its course; it’s dead in the water; ineffective for UK metal detecting interests but immensely popular with the opposition. We should go county-by-county a la Don Vickers with a national body that has some balls. Who’s up for it?

I’ll see you in the bar.

************

August 12, 2011


CARTHAGE MISSOURI - OH WHAT JOY!

I am sitting at home in my office enjoying a celebratory glass of wine toasting the lads and lasses of Carthage MO who have, with the aid of thousands of hobbyists worldwide who rallied to their support, won a groundbreaking victory for our hobby. There will be a great wailing and gnashing of teeth in the corridors of archaeology tonight – believe me. They have been shafted big style!

Victory was yours because truth and justice always wins, eventually! The local archaeological fraternity presented ‘tainted’ evidence calculated to deceive a public body, the Carthage Council, with the implicit intention of having a lawful hobby outlawed, and lost their case in spectacular fashion. But one task remains for you all to complete, provided you have the killer instinct, and to send a powerful warning message throughout worldwide archaeology.

Because they have been found guilty of presenting to what amounts ‘false’ information calculated to deceive a public body on an important issue, what reliance can now be placed on their previous archaeological excavation reports in which they have been involved? If they’ve lied once…?

The questions now to be asked, and with some urgency, are these; they’ve lied once, so have they lied previously in their archaeological reports? And if they have, why did they lie? And who picked up the tab to keep them in business? After all, they never tire of telling us how ACCURATE their methods are. So, let’s see if they come up to scratch.

And don’t take any prisoners....

If it transpires that Carthage Council spent public money on financing these shysters, the can of worms that’s meat and drink to the local press and media, needs with some urgency, to be opened. Archaeology has for too long had the ear of the influential who in turn went along with their lies; now it’s your turn to send a powerful message – mess with us at your peril! You have to make someone in local archaeology pay – with his/her job if necessary for the lies spread about. They will hate you for it, but by God, they’ll respect you!

My heartiest congratulations to you one and all, and to those Carthage Councillors who would not have the wool pulled over their eyes.

I’ll see you in the bar

************

THERE'S SOMETHING ROTTEN IN THE STATE OF DENMARK.......

To borrow from the Great Bard himself, had Hamlet been written today, ‘Denmark’ no doubt might have become ‘Carthage, MO’. And wherever archaeologists rear their ugly heads, trouble for metal detecting hobbyists always follows.

Two things are important in this debate. First, the issue of permits must be avoided at all costs, since what can be granted can just as easily be removed. There is no reason whatever, that metal detecting hobbyists should be singled out from other recreational pursuits, for special treatment, by having to be in possession of a permit to go about their lawful hobby. Secondly, the 100-yr Rule must be opposed with equal ferocity.

The danger with permits is that there will be rules and regulations to follow, and all based on what archaeologists lay down. Metal detecting has its own ethics, methodology and terminology. Thus, by agreeing to a permit system, hobbyists are not hunting under their own Codes of Ethics, but someone else’s. By definition, the metal detecting hobby fails to become accepted for its own sake.

What is paramount in this Carthage debate, is for metal detecting to continue to be recognised as a legal and lawful pursuit, the benefits of which, add to the general historical record.

Archaeologists are terrified at the prospect of the metal detecting hobby being recognised on its own terms, a research method NOT UNDER ARCHAEOLOGICAL CONTROL. An organised hobby with its own governing or national body is a serious threat; the archaeological mindset being that having cornered the market on historical research, any research can only be done by them, and/or with their approval. Therefore, they cannot and will not sanction any other method of research.

See you in the bar....

************

July 14, 2011


OH JEEZ.....WHAT A WEEK AND A HALF!

First, my ISP goes boobs-up thus wiping my address book as clean as a whistle; then refuses to get me back online; then puts me through to a call centre somewhere out in Asia where I can’t fathom a word the ‘teccie’ is saying. Then I have to jump through all the hoops with a new ISP provider. Ten days down the line and I finally get a crispy new connection and a new email address: john.howland007@btinternet.com

As an antidote to all this uncalled for tension, Bacchus beckoned, and unsurprisingly, found myself quartered in a restful corner my local watering hole, foaming ale in hand, where, I overheard three nearby, upper-class, thirty-something women, giggling about their sex lives and the nicknames they’ve given their husbands. Hey ho, I thought, this is too good to miss and surreptitiously tuned in...

1st woman: “I call my Rupert, the Ram, ‘cos when we’re in bed, he’s like a ram.”

2nd woman: “Well, that’s nothing. I call my Tristan, the Bull, ‘cos when he’s in bed he’s just like a bull.”

3rd woman: “Well, I’m married to a Frenchman, and I’ve nicknamed him Courvoisier”

The other two women looked perplexed. “Courvoisier?,” they asked in unison, “Isn’t that some kind of fancy French liquor?”

“Oh, yes,…. that’s Pierre!”

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GOLDFINDER

Treasure hunters come in all shapes and sizes and guises, but Keith Jessop who died just a few days ago was ‘The Man’. He was in a class of his own, lifting over £45 million in gold bullion from the wreck of HMS Edinburgh scuttled in WWII, by using groundbreaking saturation deep-diving techniques to reach the gold 800-ft down in the icy waters of the Berents Sea.

Those of us who tag ourselves ‘treasure hunters’, aren’t and never will be, in his league. Whereas we only scratch the surface with our metal detectors, Keith Jessop was the real deal, and I reckon there’s a few arkies out there too, who secretly admired his bluff, blunt, charisma, not too mention courage.

His inspirational autobiography, Goldfinder, charting his early career as a near penniless marine salvage diver, and the later chicanery involved before and after his winning the Edinburgh’s salvage contract to lift ten tons of gold bars from the wreck, along with the ‘Royal Connection,’ seemingly dodgy Swiss bank accounts, and how the vultures moved in, is a fascinating, not too mention an eye-opening read.

Get a copy if you can.....

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OF BIKES, GROUNDHOGS, AND 6000D'S …

One of the signs of ageing came in to sharp focus recently at one of our regular biker rallies, when in their hundreds, owners assemble on Poole Quay to meet and show off their machines, and talk bikes from all eras. There, resplendent on the quay was a BSA 650cc Golden Flash, restored to its former glory by its young-ish owner proud that I was paying it some attention.

Here I was, looking and admiring a ‘vintage machine’ a model I rode as a young man! There must have been at least 40-years between him and me, yet, I guess, he was pleased as Punch to have met someone who actually rode a Golden Flash in its heyday. I was equally delighted to talk bikes, with him. Suddenly the years caught up with me. It was all a bit like those pics in Latest News of Garrett’s Groundhog and the WHITES 6000D metal detectors.

Now, these two were great machines! The Groundhog was (and probably still is) one of the deepest-seeking metal detectors ever to grace the English treasure hunting scene with its awesome, manual ground cancelling mode, which, when hitched to the 12”-coil took the user into another dimension. I lifted this 1646 cowbell from 18” down and the signal was clarion clear, suggesting that 24” would have been little problem.

Over saltwater beaches the Groundhog was seldom outclassed. Usually, the ground cancelling circuitry did the trick, though the detrimental effects saltwater-soaked sand could also be tuned out using the DISCRIM circuitry to great effect.

But it had one fault – being near useless on iron-infested roman sites. In those days, roman sites became the domain of Tesoro’s newly-introduced, Golden Sabre, a silent running, motion machine, but having much less depth penetration than the Groundhog. Yet, it sliced its way through roman iron-infested sites like a hot knife through butter and easily locating tiny, high-value, silver AE3-type coins, with consummate ease. When fitted with the 4” coil it was unsurpassable – a favourite combination too, on the junk-infested, but coin-rich, Thames Foreshore in London where I picked up these roman bronze coins below Battersea Bridge...

30 years ago, most serious users carried two machines: a Groundhog for depth, and a Golden Sabre for the difficult stuff.

However, WHITES take on things was typically succinct and underplayed. I well remember ‘Gentleman’ George MaCrae, Whites UK boss, telling me over a whiskey at a place I forget, that their machines and the 6OOOD was a good example, would locate a coin-sized object down to 10” irrespective of how the coin was laying in the ground, “yeah, right, George, end-on?”

“Och, I’ll send yee one on loan and try it for yerself laddie.” (George was a ‘Sweatie’ – a ‘sweatie sock’…a Jock…a Scotsman!) A lovely man and a great friend and defender of our hobby....

So I buried a pre-decimal 1-penny piece, end-on, at around 10”, and do you know what? F__k all! But carefully retuning and taking a slower sweep, I got the familiar ‘double blip’ signature of an end-on coin - sure it was faint, but it was there. And in the thirty years of treasure hunting since, I’ve rarely found a coin deeper than 8-inches with a VLF/TR or Motion-type machine. The 6000D was user friendly, and hoovered-up everything in sight (or site) with an excellent Discrim circuit.

At the time, WHITES had developed a metal detector sensitive enough to locate the tiny metal firing pins in supposedly ‘undetectable’ plastic-bodied, anti-personnel mines, of which thousands had been laid in the Falkland Islands by Argentinean forces during their occupation of this British enclave. Hardly surprising then, that end-on, 1-penny pieces were such a piece of cake.

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And finally, remember the immortal words of Groucho Marx who said…..

…Anyone can get old. All you have to do is live long enough.

I’ll see you in the bar!

************

July 1, 2011


TIME FOR CHANGE?

This hobby of ours can’t afford to lose the expertise of guys like Don Vickers. But if the hobby worldwide has been infiltrated by the ‘antis’, or their metal detecting stooges, and it certainly looks as though it has been, then it’s easy to understand why national bodies are so ineffective and compliant.

As I keep harping on about, we need to give the FMDAC, and the NCMD, the elbow and organise effective organisations that at least from the outside, look as though they are on our side. On present form, both are as effective as concrete parachutes and (in my view) simply not worth the subscriptions.

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WATER HUNTING....

…May well be treasure hunting’s new frontier thanks to the latest generation of reliable, fully-submersible, all-terrain machines, currently up for grabs in what is becoming a highly competitive market place. But any treasure hunter thinking of dipping a toe into the chilly waters around Britain’s coastline really needs to take on board the hidden dangers lurking to snare the unwary.

The need for safety and keeping oneself out of harm’s goes hand-in-hand with the pursuit. What starts out as a pleasant water hunting trip can turn in an instant to tragedy.

The ability to swim is certainly up there on the leader-board. My father taught me to swim the hard way. He just rowed out to the middle of the lake and threw me in. The hard part was getting out of the sack.

By far the safest option is to wear either a neoprene wet-suit of the SCUBA-diving variety, or a dry-suit. Next best is waders; but these come with their own inherent snags.

But before you can swim your way out of a lethal situation, you’ve got to be able to shrug off waders especially, ‘chesties’; they being deadly when things go wrong. River and stillwater anglers always use them in conjunction with a wading stick in murky waters (or as a steadying aid on the walk back from the pub). But for our purposes wading sticks are impracticable, though a good sturdy long-handled scoop fits the bill nicely.

If events turn sour when you’re wearing ‘chesties’ you'll find yourself - very quickly - in deep, deep, doo-doo! I lost a good friend on a fishing trip, who, while wading in ‘chesties’, tripped in waist-high water, whereupon the air in the waders went to the boot section, up-ending him so he couldn’t regain his stance or get his head above the surface for breath. They found his body the following day.

Similarly, should you inadvertently step into a hole; the water coming in over the top of the waders will take you brick-fast to the bottom ….. and that’s also Goodnight Vienna. Better still, don’t hunt in muddy waters.

So, be aware to the potential dangers involved, take care, and enjoy the pursuit.

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FOOD, GLORIUS FOOD

“Boiled Shrimp with Sweet Corn, New Potatoes and Smoked Sausage”….This is a one pot meal and good for an informal dinner with friends says Fay Stout, and know what? The gal’s right. You’ll find the recipe in the Poor Gourmand section. I added crab claws to the whole caboodle. YUM!

More of these please, Fay......
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JE SUIS LE HUNTER DE TREASURE

Okay, so this column ain’t to everyone’s taste, though I did publish a warning in the preamble right at the top……read it and inwardly digest, and if you’re still offended by references to sex, liquor, ribald humour, treasure hunting, and my merciless extracting the urine out of the arkies, then go away in short, sharp, jerky movements (aka, f__k off).

Also note that I am not a ‘detectorist,’ I am a treasure hunter and damned proud of it. And I’m damned proud that treasure hunters are associated with guys like Keith Wills and the terrific work he and others from the treasure hunting community are doing with disabled kids. Terrific stuff!

He needs more PR exposure. Anyone got a friend on a TV station?

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AN OBITUARIST WRITES....

What a fulsome tribute Ole Stouty wrote about me… Jeez, I thought, when I read it, the poor bastards dead, then it dawned that he was writing about yours truly! With such flattery, I reckon the guy’s after another twenty buck loan, or worse, and there’s no stopping him…..

…. “Over the years I have found John Howland is very rude and crude, often obscene, usually drunk, and a helluva lot of fun to be around.....” What does he mean by ‘often’ and ‘usually’? The word he’s looking for is ‘always’!

I spend many hours in peaceful pleasure with my metal detector, on the sands of Poole and Bournemouth, and where I hope to spend, if the Great Architect spares me, a few more pleasurable coinshooting years. He, I’m sure, does not deduct the hours spent treasure hunting from one’s allotted span.

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DICK'S TANKARD

The pewter tankard shown in Latest News of the 14th June was presented to Stouty by me at the FMDAC Dinner in Atlantic City, in 1986 – but there was a catch. Carefully secreted in my hand luggage on the flight over (and there’s another horror story here too by the way) were two large bottles of Theakston’s Old Peculiar Ale, arguably one of England’s premier brews, and in the finest tradition of English ale supping the quart tankard (a replica of a pre-War of Independence English drinking vessel) was ‘Christened’ and filled to brimming at room temperature with this exquisite, dark, rounded, and full-bodied ale.

By the time he’d drained over a pint of this wonderfully, dark, nectar, he was anybody’s….with words to the effect…”Hey that’s good shit…you only brought two bottles? Hic?”

Bob Podhrasky, Gerald Costello and Dick Stout, field testing new detector

The following year, shortly after the above photo was taken, I took him to a favourite Gloucestershire watering hole for some real McCoy ale. What a lunchtime session that turned out to be – and all while sifting through handfuls of roman bronze coins. Oh happy days!


"I’m still not too sure about Dick’s hands-on-hips-hello-sailor, stance though..."
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GOOD 'OLE ALAN

Alan Melton, a Tory Councilor on the Fenland District Council, has been vigorously attacked by archaeologists in the press and been on the receiving end of obscene emails, by saying out loud what archaeology-watchers have known for years. Melton, in common with many others, wants to overhaul, even dismantle, all archaeological controls on the planning and development process.

In a recent speech he rebuffed his opponents in the heritage circus by calling them, "bunny huggers." Now, archaeologists believe, his views are the thin end of a very large wedge as the government strives to streamline the planning processes as an encouragement to developers.

Currently, the cost of expensive excavation work is passed on to the developer, who in turn passes it on to the end customer. This principle, based on laws brought in by Britain’s archaeological community on the backs of so-called nighthawks in 1979, has kept many archaeologists in safe, lucrative employment, far removed from the vagaries of financial recessions, depressions, and job cuts.

Melton’s opponents fear his views may be part of a wider national trend, especially so as in the current financial crisis, many local councils are, rightly in the view of many, axing jobs in the conservation and heritage sectors.

Across the Shires, the arkies are squealing like stuck pigs with their holier-than-thou protestations. Like the bully-boys they are, they can dish it out but can’t take it back. I’ve waited for over thirty years for this wonderful day to arrive; ‘tis music to my ears.....

Well done Alan Melton. (Why not send him your support too at Meltonalan@aol.com


I’ll see you in the bar!

************

June 14, 2011


GENTLEMEN'S RELISH…

…And I don’t mean Helen Mirren either, but Jesus H….that Stout fella has got more front than Mae West. First he accuses me of being pissed during a trout fishing trip to Scotland (never during, always after!) when actually, and I quote from a recent email to him….

“….Where on earth did you dig out that pic of me near Strontian in Western Scotland? I wasn't pissed at the time as you so inaccurately hinted, but, shortly after it was taken, I settled down in our loch-side rented cottage with a VERY large Glen Grant or three (a light single malt that I heartily commend to you should you stumble across a bottle of this nectar) for a memorable fly-tying session. What should have been a 'Peter Ross' but resembling more a 'Dead Loss', nevertheless totally fooled a fine 4-lbs sea trout with my cunning fly-tying ingenuity the following morning (John Gierach eat yer heart out).”

Sidenote from DS...
"When others ask John about his fly-fishing expertise he offers up the photo on the left.
What I remember most about his expertise is pictured on the right....?"

Then….he goes on to imply that I acquired a tin of Gentleman’s Relish by means not wholly compatible with the law. I have to say that when I informed the assistant in Fortnum’s (a top people’s London emporium ) I wanted Relish for a friend in one of the former colonies, he loftily replied, “You mean that Noo Joisey hobo masquerading as a Texan who can’t stand the 80-degree heat and only finds 1943D Quarters and 1957D Roosevelt dimes?”

“Why yes,” says I, “That’s the gentleman.”

“Well take a hike, pal” says he, “We don’t do Bubba’s Armadillo & Catfish Relish here.”

“Hey! Look! Over there,” I shouts, “It’s Barack Obama buying a Garrett ACE250 and asking about the next instalment of the Malamute Saloon.”

That’s when the tin must have slipped into my bag....

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INTIMATE DETAILS NOT WIDELY KNOWN

Anyway, here’s a little known fact… I’m Jimmy Sierra’s sexual advisor. True! At an Atlantic City bash some years ago, he turned to me and whispered, “When I want your f__king advice, I’ll ask for it.”

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SO WHERE ARE THE PROFESSONALS THEN?

If the report in the Daily Telegraph (one of the UK’s heavy-weight broadsheets) is to be believed and there’s no reason to think otherwise, then the fact that over 90,000, yes you read it right, 90,000 items, were reported to Britain’s Portable Antiquities Scheme last year by amateurs, says more about the efficacy of ‘amateurism,’ than the piss-poor efforts of the woolly-hatted, re-active types peppering our archaeological sites.

That said, it’s slowly beginning to sink into their thick skulls that were it not for amateur treasure hunters, many would be on skid row or saying, “Do you want fries with that?”

So, where were the finds made by the so-called professionals in this massive upsurge that some experts reckon could reshape the maps of ancient Britain? You know the shysters I’m talking about, those the po-faced prigs, who not only claim to be excavating the ‘richest sites’ to protect them from ‘Nighthawks’ (mythical creatures on a par with the Yeti), but who then spend inordinate sums of other people’s cash denigrating the superb, and widely respected and well-reported results of amateur treasure hunters like us, when their own finds rate, from a PR perspective, is severely wanting. Either there’s a lot of ‘porkie pie’ telling going on, or, they just can’t cut it when it comes to finding the good stuff.

Perhaps it’s a mix of both!

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SLEEPLESS IN MANHATTAN

In downtown Manhattan, two hookers shared an apartment on the twentieth floor. One Saturday night when they were about to sally forth on business, the lift (elevator) broke, and they were obliged to walk their clients up the twenty flights to their apartment.

At the close of business around 3.00am they were having a coffee in the kitchen and discussing the evening’s work. “So how’d you do tonight?” one asked the other.

“Not so bad, had thirty guys” was the reply.

“Oh… your poor feet.”

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THE DAY I GOT RELIGION

Some you may know that I am an avid collector of Garrett memorabilia, and the most prized piece in all my collection, is a 1979 First Edition of the International Treasure Hunter. Back then I was just a couple of years or so into the hobby, and Charles Garrett’s film, Gold and Treasure Adventures, of which I managed to blag a copy for the Oxfordshire Historical Research and Detector Club, confirmed me as a treasure hunter.

Watching the film at a club meeting held me spellbound as I realised that what Charles Garrett was portraying on celluloid, was not regimented archaeology, but a pastime for free-thinking, free-spirits, who could get out there do their own thing: And another treasure aficionado was born. In 1986 at the Atlantic City FMDAC Convention (in the days when it was almost a militia) I had the pleasure of listening to Charles Garrett’s mesmeric account of his search for the Nez Perce Indian Treasure. Pure magic.

If anyone has a copy of Gold and Treasure Adventures on CD, you’d make an old man very happy by sending a copy via ‘Ole Stouty.

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THE NYC PROTEST

If ever anyone deserves a pat on the back then Harold Lowenfels, Carter Pennington, John Marches and Terry Soloman, the leading lights of the New York Parks Protest do. Their sterling efforts raise several questions, not least of which is where were where the FMDAC in all this, and are we to presume from their silence, this particular problem is beyond their expertise? Either way, their conspicuous absence tells a tale.

Here in the UK we also have an organisation that lays a claim, allegedly, to being the detectorists’ friend and protector. But in a straw poll with friends, the general consensus was that it couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery.

So I guess on both sides of ‘The Pond’, the rank-and-file are saddled with two beached whales. Time for radical changes methinks. Nonetheless, good luck to the Task Force in the future...

.
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AND FINALLY….

…A pal of mine’s wife berated him saying that he needed to get a penis enlarger. Well after much nagging he got one…her names’ Lucy, 21-yrs!

I’ll see you in the bar!

************

May 24, 2011


SEA HUNTER II-TIP

The bane of all Sea Hunter II owners is keeping sand out of the connectors when the machine is disassembled, which, even though they be lightly greased for water-proofing purposes, have a tendency to attract tiny particles of grit faster than a $20 hooker to a sailor’s money clip. The stuff gets everywhere, even finding its way into the carry bag. So, how best to isolate the machine?

First, get hold of a large-size, zipped, fishing reel pouch (mine’s a Pro Performance jobby) either via the angling press or by dropping in on your local angling store with your Sea Hunter II housing in tow and trying one on for size. Job done!

Ideally, a couple of screw-on plastic caps would be the perfect solution for this, though I live in hope and bated breath, that Garland’s men-in-white-coats might come up with something similar in the foreseeable future.

Secondly, in relation to the headphone and coil lead connectors, try wrapping these in plastic cash bags, then securing with elastic bands; it makes them almost 100% sand-proof.

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SLOE GIN-A WINTER WARMER

Sloes are wild plums found alongside nearly every hedgerow in Britain, so presumably, are abundant in the New England States too. If not, tough luck! However, dried sloes are available in most health-food/homebrew shops and make an acceptable alternative.

1. Pick about one pound of the fresh fruit, or use the equivalent amount of the dried ones (ask your supplier about this ‘cos I ain’t got a clue) immediately following the first frost of the year and rinse them under running water, then dry them on a paper kitchen towel. Then with a sharp kitchen knife, pierce EVERY fruit several times then drop each fruit into a sterilised Kilner jar.

2. When completed, sprinkle 6 ounces of white sugar over the fruit, half a teaspoon of almond essence (get the real stuff) and almost all of a bottle of Dry Gin, as opposed to Al Capone’s bath tub variety. Hold some in reserve. Close the jar.

3. Place in a cool dark place for eight weeks, inverting the jar 180 degrees and letting stand for one week to mix the contents and dissolve the sugar. Then inverting back to the upright position the next week, and so on, for the eight weeks.

4. After eight weeks has elapsed, filter the liquid back into the sterilised gin bottle, and top up with the excess gin, and leave to mature for a minimum of three months. The longer you can keep your hands off it, the more depth of flavour it acquires.

5. Ideally, make a couple of bottles at the same time.

Finally, pour a quantity into a hip flask to enjoy out in the field on your next winter trip, but only if you are not driving! It’s also a pretty smart drink to enjoy at home with a Tonic Water too.

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YOU GOTTA GIVE THIS A GO

Click on the ‘clubs’ tab then chase down the Gateway Treasure Hunters Club , of Wareham, MA. They have a 100% club site with a detecting game that ought to be banned - it’s so addictive. You’ll find it in their May 2011 Newsletter. Wonderful stuff!

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A WARNING?

I have no evidence of the veracity of this, but, it is alleged that someone well-placed in English aristocracy whispered in Kate’s ear at the recent nuptials… …”Always wear a seatbelt, and don’t piss-off the in-laws.” What could this be alluding to?

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BORED SILLY?

In a far-flung part of sub-Saharan Sudan where an archaeological excavation was in progress, a young arkie arrived to join the team and was taken to the excavation director’s tent to meet the great man. After the interview, he was asked if he had any questions.

“What is there to do in the evenings Sir?”

“There’s not much in the way of social life here, us being so remote. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, however” said the Director, “We all meet up in the mess tent, play poker and get pissed.”

“Well I don’t drink, or gamble,” said the young arkie.

“Hmmm, well Tuesdays and Thursdays might be to your liking, as we all jump in the truck and drive to the local brothel.”

“Er, well, I don’t believe in sex before marriage,” stuttered the young arkie.

“My God", roared the excavation director, “You’re not gay are you?”

“Absolutely not!” replied the young arkie.

“Well you’re not going to like Saturdays and Sundays then!”

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THE MIGHTY DOLLAR

What fascinates me about the US (and the UK for that matter) as a casual observer, is that on the one hand the US is up there with the Great and the Good dispensing justice and fairness across the face of the Globe, protecting the downtrodden, and rightly liberating the enslaved, yet, at home, allows overblown influential lobbies to enact laws to the detriment of under-represented minorities of the kind the US (and the UK) sends its servicemen and women to die liberating, elsewhere.

Few Senators or Congressmen (or MP’s in the UK) have stood up and said for example, “Hey, these metal detecting people are doing no harm, they have rights too.” As Founding Father, Alexander Hamilton wisely said., "Why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do?"

Or, are matters of Rights and Fairness, dispensed in deference to those with the biggest wallets? Er…’um…. YES!

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THE NEW YORK CITY EFFORT

The ongoing fight for metal detecting rights in New York's Parks is one that has to be supported and won. The outcome affects everyone across America, for if the opponents win this one, the case will be held aloft as a beacon for other authorities, currently under pressure from archaeological sources hell-bent on eradicating YOUR hobby for ever, to rally beneath, with the war cry, "They did it in New York, we can do it here."

The same trick was tried here in the UK over twenty-five years ago, and in response an organised massed rally of protest was held in London when some 10,000 detectorists turned up from across the country to demonstrate outside our Houses of Parliament. People and the press took notice. Members of Parliament did quick calculations of the back of cigarette packets and realised that 10,000 very angry people equated to 10,000 votes.We won!

The irony of the US situation is that The Task Force for Metal Detecting Rights is out their fighting its heart out for the rights of the hobby, yet, your national body, the one you pay subscriptions to, is conspicuous by its absence. Why? Who knows? I think you all need a refund.

Just imagine if New York's authorities said in effect, that all blacks, gays, and disabled people, were to be banned from using the parks which would become whites only preserves. There would be, and rightly so, outrage and condemnation. Why then are detectorists singled out for such prohibition? They pay taxes don't they? Or, is it a case that as soon as you pick up a metal detector you lose all civic rights?

Get out there and really kick some ass. Hard!"


Remember…
..... Successful politics rely on the indifference of the majority.

************

May 7, 2011


IS HE KIDDING ME?

Did you read Ole Stouty’s libellous, not to mention outrageous, and disgraceful assertion in Latest News (24th April) that I’m keeping a detailed list of all my Mal-Sal submissions so that I can ambush him for a beer? As if! Jeez, the man’s got more front than Atlantic City!

Anyway, beer? Is he kidding? We are talking here Ole Pal, about odd half-dozen or so single malts from the Highlands and Islands, and in particular, I’m looking at the Isle of Islay’s nectar that is Laphroaig. But beer as a credit cruncher???? Hahahahaha, yeh… he’s cute that Dick Stout!

(To date, the list stands at six bottles of the succulent Laphroaig Single Malt).

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WALKING ON THE WILD SIDE

Being out there in the fresh air soaking up the full benefit of God’s countryside for me at least, is what treasure hunting’s all about, apart from of course, lifting the odd goodie en route. But how many of us I wonder simply walk on by, right on past fruit- laden trees, or wander through unpicked orchards, and other places laden with nature’s goodies without so much a second glance? For those who can’t see the forest for the trees, really are missing out big-time!

One of the most productive inland sites for modern gold you’ll come across are PYO (Pick-Your-Own) farms. Here strawberry and asparagus beds, for example, are laden with rings and jewellery that over the years have slipped from the sweaty fingers of fruit pickers. Not only are these places rich pickings in more ways than one, but ideal publicity springboards from which to advertise your T’Hing skills; especially the publicity surrounding the finding and reuniting of long lost wedding bands, class rings and the like with their owners. For T’Hers, such grateful and happy reunions often come attached with offers to hunt on land elsewhere by way thanks.

One of my T’Hing pals has an on-site board offering his free recovery service to fruit-picking customers complete with a small display of finds and photos. But it’s not just PYO’s to watch out for either; watercress beds can be veritable El Dorado’s. These beds are always situated and cultivated in fast flowing streams of the purest water, where the cool waters shrink fingers thus loosening jewellery. Never pass up the chance to search a watercress bed especially one that dates back over fifty years. In my experience, small diameter ‘Super Sniper’-type coils are the most useful when searching watercress or PYO beds because their powerful and concentrated magnetic fields are second-to-none in homing-in on small target types for which they are designed. Little or no DISCRIM is the order of the day. Tiny, high value silver and gold charms are regular finds at these venues, finds that would otherwise escape the notice of larger diameter coils. The silver wishing-well charm in the photo is typical.

On one PYO site where the farmer grew strawberries on a two-acre field under which an unrecorded roman villa existed, always produced a late summer cocktail of modern jewellery, roman brooches and coins (ancient and modern). It was on this site that I recovered an ornate Swiss designer, 9-carat gold ladies wristwatch, lost by a hunting friend of the farmer’s wife some eighteen months previous.

Its unexpected and safe return brought an offer to search her and her husband’s land, which not only has a roman road running through it, but is the site of medieval sheep and wool fairs, and was the scene of rural festivities and fetes up to the 1920’s.

Often while hunting a particular venue, I’ve been told to “help myself” to apples, strawberries, pears, or other fruits. Though many of these ended up in pies, crumbles, or jams, some fruits are destined for higher things…fruit liqueurs! And some summer fruits produce well in time for Christmas. For example:-


STRAWBERRY LIQEUR

This also works well with strawberries, or raisins, or peaches, or plums. I use the same quantities for all fruits; though add a tablespoon of lemon juice when making the peach liqueur.

Recipe:

  • 60 mls of water (1/4 cup)
  • 1cup (8 ozs) of sugar
  • 4 cups (236 mls x 4 = 944 mls) of vodka (Tesco’s Pure grain Vodka if possible)
  • 4 cups (or 32 ozs) of sliced, ripe strawberries (or the ripe fruit of your choice).

  • Make the basic syrup, in a saucepan, by dissolving the sugar in the water over a medium heat, and then allow to cool. Add the strawberries and vodka to a Kilner-type preserving jar pour in the water/sugar mix, stir well, and allow to stand in a cool dark place for three months.

    Strain and filter the fruit from the beverage pour into suitable, sterilised bottles, seal, and let stand for at least six months. The longer you leave it the smoother it becomes. (Eat the remaining sliced strawberries and enjoy with fresh cream). Should be ready by Christmas.

    In the next Mal-Sal I’ll show you how to make sloe gin, probably the best hip-flask tipple for warming the cockles of your T’Hing heart on a frosty winter’s morn.

WHAT A CARVE-UP

Some months ago while holidaying on the Mediterranean coast of North Africa, I watched a local Arab craftsman carving figures from driftwood. Fascinated, I went over to him and asked who or what the figures represented. “This one is a doctor,” he said. Then, lifting up another to show me, said, “And this one is a teacher.” All the figures it turned out, represented respected members of the community. “Why don’t you carve an archaeologist?” I asked. “I Can’t find a piece of wood thick enough.”

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Remember….the words of Alexei Sayle…

…..A friend is someone who will help you move; a good friend is someone who will help you move a body.......

I’ll see you in the bar!

************

April 23, 2011


22 CARATS FROM WET SAND

Just a couple of days ago, in company with my hunt buddy, Jack ‘Golden Balls’ Dey, we were searching a local, but lucrative sand/shingle foreshore. He was using his ACE250 fitted with the 9”x12” coil (well below the HW mark by the way) when he wisely decided to dig an ‘iffy’ signal that proved to be a superb, thin-section, 22-carat gold ring, at a depth of four inches, proving as always, that when in doubt – DIG!

When searching this particular foreshore, as with many others, we always set our ‘250’s’ to hunt in the CUSTOM Mode, with the SENS knocked back to segment ‘3’ or ‘4’ (to eliminate false signalling) and with the DISCRIM set to reject everything west of the 5-cent mark - as shown in the photograph.



Interestingly, while comparing notes over a mid-search mug of tea, the ring failed to respond when the DISCRIM (on both 250’s) was adjusted to REJECT 5-cents - a coin with a similar electronic signature as the UK’s 5-pence coin - along with some silver/aluminium foil, and beer bottle caps (how I love Heineken, but hate their wretched bottle tops), all of which serves to show it’s so easy to throw the baby out with the bath water.

DISCRIM is a most useful tool on any metal detector, BUT, when used with a heavy hand will be completely counter-productive if rings are on your agenda. “Ah,” I hear you say, “What if the site is littered with bottle caps?” Well you’ve two choices then; either go home, or, clip on a 4.5” Super Sniper coil and get stuck-in amongst the trash.

The ACE250 is a wonderful piece of kit, which, once you’ve mastered and understand the ins and outs of discrimination, and how and when to get the best from the variously sized ancillary coils available for it, you’ll wipe the floor with the competition. On the other hand, it’ll be you who gets tucked-up if you’re up against someone who’s already mastered the finer points of it all.

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A FUTURE FAIRY TALE

In a fabled land faraway, on another planet, and many centuries in the future in the year 5082, there lived a prince with sticky-out ears who talked to plants. He was not a very wise prince and many people thought he was a complete Richardhead. Soon, he fell in with a band of fiendish dwarfs from the Land of Arkie, who were terrorizing everyone and forcing the land’s governing tribe, the ‘Tor Rees’ to make laws in their favour.

Then, one day, the fiendish dwarfs discovered a vast treasure, or, artefacts-in-context, as they liked to call them, in a place known as the ‘Soh Lent’ an area of calm water, where a galleon, belonging to one of the prince’s forebears, a short, fat-arsed, pox-ridden, serial wife killer of a king, called ‘Henry the 1/8th .

When Henry’s galleon put to sea it was laden with treasure of all kinds; gold coins; lead caskets full to bursting with silver coins; a solid gold bosun’s whistle and chain; and two sets of surgeon’s implements, one of which fetched a small fortune (along with some the gold coins, and old bows and arrows) on the marche noir.

But the jug-eared prince and his villainous cohorts had no money to pay for the raising of the galleon or its treasure, so they formed a charity and appealed to everyone in the land for donations.

But then, a Prince of Darkness appeared on the scene, a mysterious zillionaire called Har Mand-Dammer, a secret agent working for the Kingston Geographical Branch (or KGB as it was known) who offered old jug-ears, 100,000 gold pieces of gold to help raise the shipwreck on condition that he would match the same amount from public subscriptions – a vast task.

At about the same time a virtuous seeker of treasure was recovering gold bars from a shipwreck to the north, a contract he’d won in part, by promising to give one of the gold bars, co-incidentally also worth 100,000 gold pieces, to a mysterious marine charity. No one, officially at least, ever knew its true identity. “Job done,” thought the prince and his dwarfs.

For a while all went well until the company of architects who had spent countless hours designing the display hall where the raised galleon would be finally displayed, demanded payment for their labours, which by strange co-incidence amounted to a tad over 100,000 pieces of gold! Then, shortly afterwards, the treasure hunter who had been salvaging the gold bars from the shipwreck, and for no apparent reason, told old jug-ears, “If you want a gold bar, dive for one yourself.” Oh, Babylon!

At this, old ‘wing-nut’ flew into a rage and put the royal boot in by calling one of the architects’ most famous landmarks, a “blot on the landscape”. With the galleon-raising charity’s coffers now depleted by 100,000 pieces of gold, and the architects wanting their 100,000 pieces of gold too, the future looked dim, and it wasn’t long before the penny dropped in the Corridors of Power where someone muttered, “Gosh! The Prince owes 100,000 pieces of gold to Har Mand-Dammer and he can’t pay it back! The KGB has him by the royal orbs!” Oh, woe upon woe!

But all was not lost, for a friendly man in the parliament of the land, said “Fear not! I will grant you 100,000 pieces of gold because my interpretation of a new law of ancient monuments and archaeological areas, says I can – I think! “And so he did.

But the people soon discovered that the galleon was already a listed shipwreck under Section 1 of the Protection of Wrecks Act 5073, and was specifically prohibited from receiving any financial help from the very law the friendly man in parliament had suggested. But the parliament, always willing to bale out it’s royal and powerful friends, ignored the protests of he proletariat, and hastily allowed the donation to proceed without let or hindrance, thus, saving the jug-eared prince from the clutches of the wicked KGB.

And they all lived happily ever after and everyone made piles of money. Of course, this story is just a fairy tale and such things could never happen in real life.

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A SAD SPECTACLE

Recently I popped my head round the door of a metal detecting rally. It was the usual fare but in one aspect, the saddest spectacle I’ve witnessed in years; while hundreds of enthusiasts gambolled in the fields enjoying the event, and comparing their finds with others, and enjoying the camaraderie; archaeologists were present making sure the event was run to their standards. To me it was all a complete surrender; resembling what it would be like say, having the anti-angling mob, PETA, refereeing a fishing match.

Time then, I suspect, for all right thinking treasure hunters to stand firm, rethink, and unite under a new national banner to recapture their pursuit from the arkies, for as sure as eggs are eggs, there’ll be no help coming from any other quarter. After all, my opinion of the UK’s National Council is that it is to metal detecting what the Luftwaffe is to Coventry.


FIRST AID IN THE DESERT


I heard the other day about the two Australian nugget hunters who went for a couple days prospecting in and around some old abandoned mine workings near Ballarat. On the first evening’s camp, supping a few beers, Bruce decided he needed to take a leak, and went behind some nearby rocks to relieve the pressure on his bladder. A piercing scream tore through the night air. “Aw, Jeez, mate,” he cried, “A bloody snake has bitten the end of me Hampton” (Rhyming Slang – Hampton Wick – work it out!)

His mate, Slim, without another thought, jumped into the jeep and drove 200 miles across the desert to the nearest sheep station, where he’ll try and contact the Flying Doctor Service by radio. But the Flying Doctor is dealing with a farmer’s wife in labour, and advises Slim, over the radio, to make two small incisions either side of the wound and suck out the venom. “Jeez, Doc,”says Slim, already retching at the prospect, “Ain’t there any other way? Over.”

’Fraid not, Slim,” says the Doc, “You gotta suck the venom out or he’ll die. Over and out.”

Slim jumps back in the jeep and speeds back across the desert to his injured best mate, all the while agonising over what he’s gotta do. When he gets back to the campsite, there’s Bruce lying by the camp fire in agony. “What did the Doc, say Slim?”

“Yer f__king dying Bruce.”

I’ll see you in the bar!

************

April 5, 2011


GOOD 'OLE TONY!

Normally I can’t abide Tony Robinson, the well-known treasure hunting ‘anti’, actor, President of the CBA’s Young Archaeologists Club, former member of the Labour Party’s National Executive Committee, serial receiver of honorary awards, and televisual arkie. But I give the man some credit; he’s done metal detector sales in the UK a great service, news I’m sure that will have him choking on his breakfast muesli.

Tony Robinson Playing Baldrick
Tony Robinson, Actor, presenter
and Labour Party activist
Tony Robinson as Baldrick

Following his appearance on BBC’s television’s ‘CountryFile’ programme in February 2011, where despite his gaffe of ‘Baldrick’ proportions by claiming in twenty years or so, the earth will be denuded of metal objects thanks to the activities of treasure hunters, sales of metal detectors evidently rocketed. One retailer emailed me recently saying in the three week period immediately following Robbo’s telly blunder, he’d sold more machines and ancillary items of kit than in the rest of the year. “Unusually, many were from the more well-off, middle classes,” he added.

How ‘Tone-the-Moan’ reached his preposterous conclusion is anyone’s guess, though his wild speculation is redolent of the age-old archaeological standby that’s usually pressed into service when it comes to matters of treasure hunting; that of presenting fiction as fact to bolster a flagging theory.

Whatever the calculus, one thing is certain, on this kind of form (and its not gone unnoticed elsewhere either) Gobbo is an unwitting ally. For that I thank him.

Not such a cunning plan after all. Heheh!


For the information of our US readers, Robinson played ‘Baldrick’ a supremely dim-witted character (who’s catchphrase was, “I have a cunning plan” ) in the television comedy series Blackadder.

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SEA HUNTER II HEADPHONE REPAIRS

Though these PI machines are built to withstand the professional use and abuse meted out by underwater salvors in the harsh environment of the world’s oceans, sometimes the salt wins through ‘fair-wear-and-tear’ by gradually seeping down through the top of the headphone plug at the point where most cable movement occurs.

I had to return mine to Dave Oldfield at Pentechnic Ltd for such a repair and a mighty fine job he did too. It’s imperative that owners keep an eye on this plug, rinse it well with fresh water after use (when still attached to the detector body by the way!!) and keep it greased with silicone.

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BLACKLISTED?

Information reaches me that a ‘Blacklist’ is circulating in certain archaeological circles bearing the names of those who criticise or oppose archaeology’s aims, or political agenda. The names I am told, include those of certain dealers in antiquities, dissident archaeologists, detector rally organisers, vociferous treasure hunters, and other similar ‘Bolshie’ detector users.

I’ll be severely disheartened, big time, if my name’s not there!

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CLIPPED WINGS? OR THE BITER BIT?

The best bit of news I’ve read in years......

Apparently, the British Academy (BA) is cutting the financial aid it doles out to the Council for British Archaeology (an educational charity) over the coming five years, to nil. In the current financial year this grant amounted to 306K, some 25% of the CBA’s total income.

The CBA’s President, Kate Pretty, mourns, “We deeply regret the British Academy decision to cut funding to the CBA, particularly as this decision was not forced by reductions in its own grant from Government, but was a strategic choice by the Academy……..” Conceivably, the BA has more important things to grant-aid. Yeh, Kate, sometimes life’s a real bitch.

Maybe in future, the CBA will hang on to its dosh more carefully, spend it more wisely, rather than fritter it away on denigrating amateur treasure hunters, metal detecting hobbyists, or on futile attempts to change the laws of the land in archaeology’s favour to the detriment of private collectors.

Clipping the CBA’s financial wings can only be good news for us! Hooray! Large ones all round!


I’ll see you in the bar!

************

March 20, 2011


The terrible happenings in Japan leave me thunderstruck. In a few seconds, what was once a thriving, bustling town of 10,000 souls was erased from the map along with its inhabitants as the 33-ft wall of death hurtled inland for nearly 4-kilometres. But the dead are out of the equation now, and it’s the survivors who have the hardest task of all – rebuilding their shattered lives and towns, and coming to terms with the grief and catastrophe that has befallen them.

May their God go with them...........


CALEDONIAN CAPERS

Recently, a friend in search of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s treasure spent a couple of weeks in a very remote cottage in the wild Scottish Highlands, miles from the nearest hint of habitation. One night there came a thunderous knock at the door.

There, in the doorway stood this 6’ 8” tall , 250-lbs, red-bearded, wild-eyed, kilted, Highlander, complete with claymore and shield. “A’hve come to invite yee to ma ceilidh, at yon castle in the next glen,” says the clansman.

“What’s a ceilidh?” says my pal...

“Och, ‘tis a Highland festivity wi’ lots and lots o’ whisky drinkin’, fine food, followed by hours o’ wild, wild, uninhibited sex, ye ken?”

Sounds good, thought, my pal, I’ll have some of that.

“Okay,” says my pal, “I’ll just get changed.”

“Och, no need laddie, come as ye are,” says the wild Highlander, “There’ll only be the two o’ us.”


THIS IS OFFAL NICE (GEDDIT?) AN ENGLISH BEACHCOMBING BREAKFAST FOR TWO

(It’s an ideal way to start to the day with your good lady, or, even the wife....)

You’ll need:-

  • 8 lambs' kidneys (I slice mine in half lengthways)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 25g/1oz butter and a splash of olive oil.
  • Liberal glugs of Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of English mustard

(Colman’s English Mustard in powder form is the stuff to aim for, though if you can’t get this, then the small pots of the ready made stuff will suffice. Take care though, it’s ‘kin nuclear!)

Mix the salt and paprika together in a bowl then drop in the kidneys and dust them with the mix.

Melt the butter in a frying pan and fry the kidneys over a low heat for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden-brown all over, but still slightly pink inside. Glug in the Worcestershire Sauce and simmer until the liquid reduces slightly and the kidneys are cooked through.

Serve with hot buttered toast on the side, and a fresh pot of Assam tea. (Or a pot of breakfast-style coffee), orange juice, and the early morning newspaper.....

PS. This recipe works best on a Sunday morning when you’ve some ‘Me Time’ on your hands and an unhurried, relaxed breakfast is the order of the day.


GET YER LAUGHING GEAR AROUND THIS....

Nigel Ingrams, Regton Ltd’s Honcho-in-Chief …is something else ain’t he? “Oh, “ he says to me the other day on the ‘dog and bone’, “I read your Mal-Sal ’Intro’ the one with the pilchards in whisky recipe” says he, “ and Hugh Fearnley-Whitingstall [a famous-ish English TV ‘personality’ chef] did something similar a couple of weeks back on television, using pilchards in tomato sauce; a good pinch of celery salt; Tabasco sauce, then adding a shot of vodka immediately before serving.”

“Yeh, well,” says I, “Hughie Baby always reads the Malamute Saloon for ideas.” So, folks, why not give old Hugh-What’s-His-Face’s slant on my pilchards-in-whisky recipe a go? Won’t be as good!

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Remember... There’s only a fine line between beachcombing, and standing at the ocean’s edge looking like a complete f*****g idiot.

************

March 1, 2011


I’m kicking off this Mal-Sal with a tasty dish - no, not Helen Mirren, but something you might like to get your teeth into…hmm, well, then again, I could have been right the first time!

This recipe comes courtesy of a long-time pal of mine; a professional chef, and fellow imbiber. “What’s the best way of creating a Spanish dish, a sort of holiday reminder,” I asked. “Easy", says Dave (my long-time pal, trained chef, and fellow imbiber), “Chuck everything remotely Spanish [chef techno-speak here] into the pan; onions, wine, tomatoes and herbs and you won’t go far wrong.” Then he scribbled down on a beer mat a basic recipe from north east Spain. I can say without fear or favour it’s bloody good (the recipe that is, not the beer mat). So here goes…I’ll call it…..


CHICKEN ESPANA A LA DAVE
(feeds four and takes about an hour to cook)

Take four x chicken quarters (leg and thighs), skin on or off, according to how you like your bird, add a glug of olive oil to a large, hot pan or skillet, and brown the chicken pieces both sides over a medium heat. Add one large finely chopped/diced onion, two cloves of crushed garlic and sweat them off (with the chicken) for about ten minutes. (If you want to be a real smart ass, pour over a warmed ladle of brandy and ignite. Let the flames die down and continue with the recipe).

Slice a red and green pepper (capsicum), adding them to the pan. Then pour in a ¼ pint of chicken or vegetable stock; a small tin of chopped tomatoes; a large (12oz) tin of cannellini beans, a bay leaf, and a glass of dry white wine (be liberal), or an equally good shot of dry sherry. Cover the whole caboodle and simmer for one hour.

When the chicken pieces are cooked, remove them to a warmed plate, and keep warm (the chicken that is, not you). Bring the juices to a rapid boil to reduce them to about one-third to thicken and concentrate the flavours....

Put the chicken pieces on warmed plates and spoon or pour over the pan juices and peppers etc. Serve with either a green salad, or savoury rice, but you must have some crusty bread to mop up the juices. Yum!

P.S. I find that copious amounts of liquefied red grapes help this dish on its journey south, particularly those from the Napa Valley, the Rhone Valley or a decent Rioja.


Two lawyers were walking out of a bar when a beautiful young lady walked past. One turns to his friend and says "Boy, I’d like to screw her! “ The other lawyer replies, "Out of what"?



PEOPLE POWER-STRENGTH IN NUMBERS

Our government (in the UK) floated the idea that it would sell off our greatest natural asset – our forests and woodlands - to private ownership, supposedly as a cost saving measure in these straightened times. Adding, naturally enough, as politicians always do because they only have our interests at heart, that public access to these thousand of green acres would be guaranteed for walkers and ramblers, or anyone else fancying stroll through our ancient and historic woodlands.

The public’s response was less than favourable. Half a million people banded together in an online ‘NO’ campaign using social networking sites in what amounted to the government being told that, yes, go ahead if you want to, but at the next election you’ll all be picking cotton. It took three weeks for the penny to drop and humiliatingly, the government backed down and the Environment Minister, Caroline Spelman, carried the can - with a humiliating and grovelling apology in Parliament to the British people. It was great to watch!

Now just imagine, what we as treasure hunters could achieve – if we all collectively got off our arses and did something useful with a similar protest vote to protect OUR/YOUR rights to go peacefully metal detecting by saying in big letters to our the respective governments,

“If you want to adopt as policy, the private agenda of the extremist archaeological lobby, then go right ahead! Come next election time, we guarantee some of you will be back working for a living, and with all that means. For some of you there’ll be no more snouts in the trough; no more expenses; no more whores on the side; no more gay bars or rent boys; no more ‘fact finding’ tours to the Bahamas, and no more brown envelopes.”

HERE'S A START!

The Council for British Archaeology’s ‘Counter-of-Chickens-Before-They’re Hatched’ Supremo, Mike Heyworth, proved spectacularly why he’s such a good choice with this little gem in the CBA’s widely unread rag:- “When the legislation comes into effect, there will be a legal duty on those who acquire objects which they believe to be "treasure" to report them to the coroner, if there is no evidence that such a report has already been made. This tackles the loophole whereby there is currently no obligation to report an object to a coroner if the finder passed it on by one means or another. Most importantly, the law will include a presumption that, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, an object will have been found after September 24 1997 (when the Treasure Act 1996 came into effect) and in England and Wales. So unless someone can prove otherwise, something that could legally be treasure, is.

In reply to a little lobbying from yours truly, and a few others, one of the Culture Minister’s minions replied to my strongly-worded protest letter. Here is the salient point of that reply:-


Dear Mr Howland,

Thank you for your email of 13 December to Ed Vaizey Minister for Culture in which you express your concern about amendments to the Treasure Act 1996 made by the Coroners and Justice Act 2009…… ……The Coroners and Justice Act received Royal Assent in November 2009 and the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) announced on 14 October that in the light of the unprecedented economic situation, measures in the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 to introduce a Chief Coroner, and an enhanced national framework are not financially viable….”


Well done Culture Minister, Ed Vaizey! Seems you’ve also read S 6:2 of the European Convention of Human Rights?

In the UK some 256,000 people go metal detecting and treasure hunting of a weekend, and someone in our Parliament has just tumbled to the fact these people are voters too! Not only this, but many archaeological jobs depend heavily on treasure hunting and metal detecting chiefly in the finds recording side of things - a fact not lost on Britain’s Finds Liaisons Officers currently teetering on the brink redundancy. Until now, the tail has wagged the dog. Should I be magnanimous at archaeology’s public humiliation? After thirty years of fighting the more zealous of these perfidious jokers, nah! F**k ‘em! The humanity ain’t in me…I’m in for the slow kill.

Now it’s our turn - the hunter is the hunted......

Remember….
Nothing in this world is so powerful than an idea whose time has come. (Victor Hugo).


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BRIAN MAYER – IL SUPREMO

If you are new to beachcombing with a metal detector, then allow me to direct you to the Facebook page of the Jersey Shore Beach and Surf Hunters, where you’ll find the superb beachcombing video clips of Brian Mayer (a treasure hunter’s treasure hunter if there ever was one) who shows and tells how it is. Though watching is no substitute for doing, Brian will certainly guide and put you on the road to success. Super stuff!




Honor Among Thieves?

A daring Mexican bandit regularly crossed the Rio Grande to rob banks and stagecoaches in Texas. Finally, a ‘Dead or Alive’ notice was posted with a reward of $1000. Finally a bounty hunter tracked the bandit to his favourite cantina south of the border, snuck up behind him, put his trusty six-shooter to the bandit's head, saying, “Tell me where you’ve hidden all the loot or I'll blow your brains out!"

Unfortunately the bandit didn't speak any English, and the bounty hunter didn't speak Spanish. However, a bilingual lawyer enjoying a drink in the cantina translated what the bounty hunter had said. Terrified, the bandit blurted out, in Spanish, that the loot, all $50,000 in gold, was buried under the oak tree at the crossroads two miles south of town.

"What did he say?" asked the bounty hunter.

He said, “Get lost, you Gringo bastard."



And finally….

Politicians are the same the world over. They promise to build a bridge even when there’s no river...... Nikita Khrushchev

************

February 14, 2011


I’m greatly saddened to know that Dick Stout has given the FMDAC the elbow, though I am not surprised, and am bound to say that the FMDAC doesn’t need him either – the hobby does! He’s always been out there at the front, leading the troops, while sadly, in recent times, the FMDAC has trudged wearily behind.

Western and Eastern Treasures used to have a column, penned by Dick, called Washington Update. It was then, and remains today, a classic piece of treasure journalism and a model of the genre that I envied. We had nothing like it in the UK. To my mind it gave Western & Eastern, the hobby, and the world at large, the notion that hobbyists were unafraid to take on their detractors.

LIES, DAMN LIES AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEYS

What happens here in the UK treasure-wise is usually the pre-cursor to what’s coming your way in the States, and I’ll lay a dollar to a pinch of salt you’ll soon see the heritage buzzards circling over the carcass of the FMDAC. You can forget any help from your elected representative bodies; we are now all on our own.

It surely won’t be long in coming before US treasure hunters find themselves in a starring role in a report of some kind, written by virulently ‘anti’ archaeologists, urging Congress to sacrifice even more of your treasure hunting liberties on the altar of heritage. “Sites are being looted and the illicit fruits of these clandestine activities are feeding the international antiquities markets,” it will shout from the rooftops.

Though the US heritage circus is not gunning for you per se (but you are an added bonus in the scheme of things), their real target and objective is closing down or controlling the sale and collection of antiquities, coins, and anything these shysters can get their hands on, and using you, YES YOU, as the excuse to do so.

The idea behind it all, and it’s a cunning ploy, is to outlaw treasure hunting, by stealth, making it illegal to hunt for, or possess, certain categories of finds by re-classifying as them State property, or whatever the ‘Kameraden’ imagine constitutes ‘treasure’ to the extent where the hobby is extinguished.

Hitler and his thugs came famously unstuck when they tried the same trick with the Slavs, trade unionists, freemasons, political opponents, the sick and feeble, and anyone else who didn’t match up to their redefined view of humanity, branding all ‘outsiders’ as untermenschen. Look it up! The Jews; men, women, children, and babes- in- arms didn’t even get this miserable classification when the Holocaust almost erased European Jewry from human race. When revenge finally came, it was swift, taking no prisoners. Some never made it to the dock.

Here in the UK, English Heritage (EH) doled out £66,000 of taxpayers’ money (about $99,000) to Oxford Archaeology (OA) to produce what is now the Nighthawking Survey. This tear-jerking epistle would have us all believe that a vast rural crime wave is going on in the shires where archaeological sites are being systematically denuded by treasure hunters with metal detectors under cover of darkness. Soothingly, an Open Letter from the Survey’s authors went online stressing that ‘responsible’ treasure hunters have little to fear. Oh? Really?

“Rest assured, The Nighthawking Survey is not a smokescreen for more legislation to ultimately ban metal detecting altogether,” the Open Letter purred, adding, “nor for introducing changes which will affect law abiding metal detectorists…” But hardened cynics have heard this claptrap before, and can spot a straight left jab as a prelude to a right hook a mile off. Sadly, metal detecting’s ‘stoolies’, and the ‘Time Team Wannabees’, remain impressed.

Predictably, archaeology’s metal detecting stooges remain convinced by their comrades-in-arms’ fine words, even when, on Monday, 16 February 2009 the survey hit the cobbles with all due ceremony and the acrid truth emerged:-

“The obligation to report Treasure,” the Survey threatened, “needs to be extended to all who come in contact with it, not just the finder. Pressure needs to be applied to establish that finders/sellers have legal title to items before they pass them on, so the provenance of antiquities can be verified. Closing down the market in illegally acquired antiquities will reduce the perceived rewards from Nighthawking. A modification of the Treasure Act would bring the UK into line with current, and more stringent European regulations [My underlining] It all came as no surprise to hardened archaeology fighters.

Precisely how this squares with the Open Letter’s pledge that, “The Nighthawking Survey is not a smokescreen for more legislation…” is anyone’s guess. A misprint perhaps? Hmmm, doubtful. Maybe someone in the EH/OA mélange is lying? Surely not!

Nonetheless, determined not to be outdone by lack of evidence, the Nighthawking Survey pressed on (and with rapidly diminishing credibility and to guffaws all round) that a heritage crime wave exists in the shires, and with EH’s £66,000 tucked into its arse pocket, it was time to reinforce their hackneyed and threadbare thesis with the old archaeological standby; ambiguity and vagueness (a sure sign of moral bankruptcy) to bolster their seriously diminishing theory. Then, they shoot themselves in the foot by proving they have no evidence at all:-

“There is a substantial body of anecdotal (often unsubstantiated) information on the damage to sites caused by the unauthorised searching and removal of antiquities. Also, significant numbers of illicit antiquities are being traded on eBay and elsewhere. However, monitoring of this activity and collating intelligence that might be used by the law enforcement authorities is piecemeal and often under-resourced. These are the issues that this project seeks to address.” It sounds good to the casual observer. Boiled down, it’s meaningless flannel and it only cost us taxpayers sixty-six Grand!

While EH/OA is unable to be more precise about the “significant numbers of illicit antiquities … being traded on eBay and elsewhere,” or to find anything other than anecdotal evidence, let me help them; how’s this for substantiated evidence of unauthorised removal of antiquities:-

In 1982, the late Ralph Pinder-Wilson, a senior figure at the British Museum, and Director of the British Institute of Afghan Studies in Kabul, was sentenced to death (later commuted to 10-years imprisonment) by the Afghan authorities (for among other things), stealing gold coins from that country, who, with the connivance of the British Government, had the coins sent back to Britain in the Diplomatic Bag. Whether they were ever returned to the Afghans is unknown.

Pinder-Wilson’s friends and colleagues rallied round pointing out that his arraignment was trumped-up by Afghanistan’s Soviet-back puppet regime. He was duly repatriated and there the matter quietly ended.

Based on the Pinder-Wilson scandal, the supply of illicitly acquired antiquities to international markets and shady collectors and dealers, cannot be laid at the door of nighthawks as the sole suppliers. I have yet to hear of a treasure hunter’s finds being popped into the Diplomatic Bag for safe keeping while en route to a ‘fence’. Neither is it hard to guess who is feeding the lucrative international ceramics market.

By early 2010, Mike Heyworth, the Council for British Archaeology’s super self-righteous Director was already counting his heritage chickens, penning this garbage in the CBA’s full-of-itself, bi-monthly rag:-

“When the legislation comes into effect, there will be a legal duty on those who acquire objects which they believe to be "treasure" to report them to the coroner, if there is no evidence that such a report has already been made. This tackles the loophole whereby there is currently no obligation to report an object to a coroner if the finder passed it on by one means or another. Most importantly, the law will include a presumption that, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, an object will have been found after September 24 1997 (when the Treasure Act 1996 came into effect) and in England and Wales. So unless someone can prove otherwise, something that could legally be treasure, is.”

However, sanity ruled and the Government of the day effectively told the CBA to get stuffed and Heyworth ended up with egg all over his smarmy chops and a bit of a laughing stock. But the true picture is not quite as Heyworth and the ‘Alte Kameraden’ would have the world at large believe.

GUILDING THE LILY


The Nighthawking Survey states that 240 archaeological sites were attacked by nighthawks during the 13-year period, 1995 to 2008, but fails to produce any evidence whatsoever to back up its claims. Even if they could produce evidence hard enough to stand up in a court of law, their figures show an average of 18.461 attacks per year, or put another way, 1.5 incidents a month, hardly a heritage crime wave by any stretch of the imagination and pales into insignificance compared to the massive rural crimewave farmers are subjected to; everything from illegal hare coursers, sheep-stealing, cattle rustling, theft of farm equipment, poaching gangs, theft of diesel, and arson, to name but a few.

The Nighthawking Survey prattles on…

A total of 240 sites were reported affected by Nighthawking between 1995 and 2008 of which 88 were Scheduled Monuments. The number of reported attacks on Scheduled Monuments has decreased from 1.3% of the resource to 0.41% since the last survey in 1995. A total of 152 non-scheduled sites have also been raided (this category was not examined in 1995). Results suggest that from 3-6% of archaeological excavations are also raided, although the number of archaeological units that reported instances of Nighthawking was down from 37 out of 50 in 1995 to 15 out of 54 in 2007 (19 units responded, reporting 35 affected sites). A targeted mail-shot to a number of farmers in the East Midlands suggests up to 17% of farmers are, or have been, afflicted by Nighthawks. [the total number of farmers sent the mail-shot is not published] If 100 were questioned, then 83% have no problem with Nighthawking at all.

Though I suspect the Nighthawking Survey was intended to convey otherwise, it proves conclusively, nothing! They have failed miserably to come up with any evidence of heritage theft whatsoever and what ‘evidence’ there is comes from archaeologists. Well they would say that wouldn’t they?

Were it the widespread and dastardly crime EH/OA and others, notably the Council for British Archaeology, would have us all believe, farmers and landowners would have been falling over themselves to tick all the boxes. From personal knowledge, the first thing farmers did when they got the questionnaire was to show it to their metal detecting pals. One even filled it in with the help of a treasure hunter at the bar of a nearby pub!

Some believe that the EH/OA Nighthawking Survey is the groundwork (if not its sole purpose for) for archaeologist Tom Hassall’s view of the heritage. Hassall, Chairman of English Heritage’s Advisory Committee on Historic Wreck Sites, was in 1982, a senior member of the Oxford Archaeology Unit, who was reported in the influential Farmers Weekly magazine, in an article by journalist Richard Thomas, as having “stunned” a public meeting (at which I was present) by blurting out:-

“The trouble with a Thatcherite government [so-called after Margaret Thatcher the then Conservative Party Prime Minister] is that it looks after the interests of the landowner too well. In an ideal society all land would belong to the people. Unfortunately, we are some way from the nationalisation of all antiquities.”

Hassall denied saying it when I met him and some of his cronies at a subsequent meeting at the headquarters of the Oxford Archaeology Unit, where I gently had to remind him that I had been present at that meeting. His father Bill Hassall, a wealthy, Elizabethan mansion-owning historian, working at Oxford University’s world renowned Bodleian Library, who was also a card-carrying member of the Communist Party, would I suspect, have thoroughly approved. Many in the farming and landowning communities were outraged. Tom Hassall went on to become President of the Council for British Archaeology in the early 1980s.

The Nighthawking Report’s facts and figures show that clandestine excavators armed with metal detectors are not a problem; more likely the result of furtive archaeological imaginations. Clearly, the spin on these figures in claiming the opposite brings into question the veracity of all archaeological reports. An inquiry into archaeology i tself, its reports, costs, grants, political affiliations, and an audit of all its finds, must surely be put in train?

Taxpayers have a right to know who, at English Heritage commissioned OA to produce this report at a cost of £66,000. Someone’s head has to roll; this cavalier spending of public money without any checks or balances cannot continue unabated. Why not write to your MP and ask....

One treasure hunter recently offered his take on all things ‘heritage’ and I have to say it chimes:-

“The past is interesting but not important, making it so renders those with a vested interest in it, important too. Museums have become the new cathedrals, curators the new high priests and the other hangers-on their acolytes".



I’ll see you in the bar!

************

January 18, 2011

Here’s hoping you’ve all had a terrific Christmas and New Year; are all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed ready to tackle the upcoming rigours, pleasures, and pains of 2011.


A Bad Start to 2011

But what do we find as the New Year lurches in? That some loony has run amok in Tucson, Arizona, armed with a 9mm Glock automatic pistol fitted with a 30-round magazine slaying a 9-yr old girl along with five others, seriously wounding a Congresswoman, and injuring God knows how many innocent bystanders. My heartfelt condolences go out to the victims and their families and to those who had to deal with the aftermath of this terrible event.

_______________________________________________________

NIGEL "CAPO DI TUTTI CAPI" INGRAM


Our US readers will be wondering ‘who he?’ but our Nigel is a main UK agent/importer feeding the needs of those among us constantly wanting a legal ‘high’. And what a fine fellow he is too; a friend of many years standing since that’s all you ever get to do if you visit the sumptuous Birmingham (not Alabama) headquarters of his business empire where he is the Grand Fromage. I’ve known him for many, many years, and I’d like to say what a terrific bloke he is…yes, I’d really like to say that…but you know how things are sometimes….there’s this downside to his character; he’s been known to drink, lager!

This former surfer-dude, effervescing man-about-mid-thirty-ish, and college graduate, fell in with a bad crowd at an early and impressionable age and soon descended into getting his ‘fixes’ and ‘highs’ in the local fields and pasturelands. “Yeh,” one of his fellow addicts told me, “He was doin’ loads of Roman a day... and sometimes the odd Celtic.” Yes, it was that serious.

Funding his habit by supplying high-grade ‘stuff’ to fellow addicts, he brazenly opened an emporium in the full public gaze…calling it by the codename…REGTON LTD (nod, nod, wink, wink, say no more!), with his brother Marcus as his Consigliere or giovane d'onore, Nigel became a zillionaire in the process gaining a reputation throughout the United Kingdom as a supplier of the highest quality ‘gear’.

Proof of this is self-evident. One has simply to look at the numbers of souls who’ve graduated from the world-beating ACE250’s to the EuroACE from the US Garrett organisation. Is there no hope for these people, many of whom, grabbed by the low prices are currently mainlining on Garrett’s Sea Hunter II’s, AT Pro Internationals, and GTI 2500’s?

‘Di Capo’ as he is known to ‘associates’, is also highly regarded as a major international player in constant contact with other suppliers of high-grade ‘gear’ of all kinds including; C-SCOPE, Scanmaster, Whites, Viking, Tesoro, and XP. For those craving other high octane ‘stuff’ he can put you in touch with the BLACK ADA mob, suppliers of ancillary products whose stainless steel scoops and diggers are peerless. REGTON’S low prices and after sales service is legion among the cognoscenti, which in turn encourages even more people into the passionate world of… TREASURE HUNTING.

Mind you it’s not all sugar and spice, some tragic individuals have descended into the dark and murky depths from which their souls are almost irretrievable, and I am talking here…. archaeology. For these no-hopers, or ‘Time Team Wannabees’ as they have come to be known, salvation might come at too high a price with reversion psychotherapy involving constant exposure to treasure hunting manuals, Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, Treasure Island, and the more radical therapy of Thatcherism.

Bear in mind that drugs and archaeology are for those who can’t handle treasure hunting!


A Burns Night Supper - 25 January


Great chieftain o' the puddin-race!

To celebrate the birth of their great poet, Robert Burns (25 January 1759 – 21 July 1796), Scots the world over celebrate the event with a traditional supper of haggis, ‘neeps’ and ‘tatties’. Haggis is a kind of savoury sausage, encased in a sheep's intestine. It looks like a football, only you don't kick it, you eat it. Then, after you've eaten it, you wish you'd f****n' kicked it! (No seriously folks, that's a Sassenach's joke)."Although its description is not immediately appealing, haggis has an excellent nutty texture and delicious savoury flavour", so said the 2001 English edition of the Larousse Gastronomique.


You will need:- An individual portion sized haggis for each diner, or one big ‘un if feeding four.

For the ‘neeps’:-

1 each of swede and turnip, chopped into small cubes and around 5oz of unsalted butter

1 good scoop of double cream

salt and freshly ground black pepper


For the ‘tatties’:-

450 grams (one lb.) of cubed potatoes (for easy mashing)

Here’s how:-


Bring a large pan of water to boiling point then add the haggis. Lower the heat and simmer for 1hr 15 mins.

Fifty or so minutes into the cooking time , bring one pan of salted water to the boil, add the cubed swede and turnips and cook until tender (about 25 minutes). Using another pan, cook the potato pieces similarly, and simultaneously for the same time, or until tender, again around 25-minutes.

Drain the swede and turnips and return them to the pan, adding half the butter and the cream. Mash until smooth, and season using freshly ground black pepper and salt. Drain the potatoes and return these to the pan, adding the remaining butter and mash until smooth. Season to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.


Optional:-200ml ready-made lamb gravy though many prefer the dish without.


Serve the haggis (on a warmed plate) cut open with a good serving of the ‘neeps’ and mashed ‘tatties’ alongside. Add a few tablespoon of the gravy if desired. I prefer my gravy to be a good measure of Scotch Whisky poured over the haggis. The perfect accompaniment to my mind is a generous glass Scotch Whisky with a dash of spring water. Yum!



REMEMBER….

….archaeology is a hobby that has conned the government into paying its expenses.

Have y’all a great New Year and I’ll see y’all the bar.

************

December 24, 2010

IN THE COMPANY OF FRIENDS

That lil’ ole Citroen o’ mine was the sweetest thing on four wheels. I loved that car. I have to say that ole Stouty’s claim to being jet lagged prior to the World Council meeting, is well… erm…well, let’s put it this way, he’d been in the company of three of my closest friends for most of the afternoon; Mr Johnnie Walker, Mr John Dewar, and a Mr Haig (famous for his dimple).

I well recall Dick’s piercing scream as he awoke to find himself on what has been the right and proper side of the highway since time immemorial. Dick’s wife, the delightful Fay, was completely unfazed. As for Sam Abramo, a New Jersey DA, well I don’t know what he thought was going on but he sure put away a beer or three when we arrived at Lord Bath’s stately pile.

You might be interested to know why we drive on the left. In bygone days when knights were horse-mounted they rode on the left hand side of the highway so they could draw their swords unhindered and go on the attack. The Europeans on the other hand, do it the other way round, riding on the right-hand side with their shields on the left-hand side for protection; presumably from the English.

_______________________________________________________

UP THE REBELS! GIVE ‘EM HELL!

The thirty-year war between archaeologists and treasure hunters here in England has taken on a new twist having all the hallmarks a right old punch-up in the offing if the information sent to me (which I publish here) by a Minutemen-UK member is anything to go by:-


Minutemen-UK

Minutemen-UK is a newly formed organisation ad hoc, to counter and stem the flow of anti-metal detecting disinformation and propaganda spewing like untreated sewage from the Council for British Archaeology and its callow cronies.

This educational charity (# 287815) has become increasingly aggressive towards law-abiding detectorists and treasure hunters during its thirty-year crusade to eradicate them in a purge amounting to an academic equivalent of ‘Ethnic Cleansing’.

Minutemen-UK takes its name and inspiration from the resistance fighters who were part of the American colonial militia during the American Revolutionary War. They provided a highly mobile, rapidly deployed force that allowed the colonies to respond immediately to military threats. The CBA’s pompous sounding Director, Mike Heyworth, writing in the 2010 March/April edition of British Archaeology (the CBA’s equally self-important bi-monthly rag) crowed:-

…“Members of the All Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group (APPAG) laid down amendments to the coroners and criminal justice bill, and, after behind the scenes negotiations with ministers and officials, a number of these were accepted by the government and voted into law.” No prizes for guessing who suggested the amendments to APPAG in the first place. Heyworth goes on to outline life under the heel of archaeology’s jackboot:-

“When the legislation comes into effect, there will be a legal duty on those who acquire objects which they believe to be "treasure" to report them to the coroner, if there is no evidence that such a report has already been made. This tackles the loophole whereby there is currently no obligation to report an object to a coroner if the finder passed it on by one means or another. Most importantly, the law will include a presumption that, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, an object will have been found after September 24 1997 (when the Treasure Act 1996 came into effect) and in England and Wales. So unless someone can prove otherwise, something that could legally be treasure, is.”

When he’s not Directing the CBA’s gofers from its York headquarters (dubbed, the Führerbunker, by his less sycophantic colleagues), Heyworth unsurprisingly, is the All Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group’s (APPAG) Secretary - on behalf of the Archaeology Forum – a forum supporting the work of APPAG, and provides a secretariat function for the APPAG. So, no vested interests here then.

This latest spate of CBA-inspired malice, whilst being an affront to British justice and democracy, is simply another layer of bureaucracy that’s going to cost the already hard-pressed taxpayer untold millions to implement at no advantage to those of us who are forced into picking up the tab for these hare-brained schemes. This latest jolly wheeze from Planet York is nothing less than a job creation scheme for the boys and sundry chums - a scheme that no-one outside of archaeology wants, needs, or cares about.

Neither is right nor proper that an educational charity like the CBA (patron the HRH Prince of Wales) should campaign to resurrect the kind of legislation that died during1945-46 at the Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunal. One of the CBA inspired APPAG proposals flagrantly breaches Article 6.2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which reads the right of every person charged with a criminal offence to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law. Astoundingly, few (if any) Members of Parliament have grasped this fact, including the usually astute Labour MP Paul Flynn, usually a keen supporter of Human Rights legislation and who incredibly sits on the APPAG!

Therefore to help us to help you, please write to your own MP’s asking whether they support the Council for British Archaeology’s proposed amendments to the 1996 Treasure Act, Coroners Bill, and the Criminal Justice Bill and ask them what they think of ‘behind the scenes’ law making, and what are they going to do about new laws that contravene European Human Rights legislation. We’ll publish their replies on our new website (currently under construction).

We all support sensible heritage legislation, but legislation characterized by justice, impartiality, openness, and which is fair to all. The common heritage is not, and must never become an exclusive theme park for a few well connected academics, which is liable to happen if CBA and the comrades get their way.

Our common past is already partially ruled by a lofty, self-appointed, self-interested, and self-styled elite. It is a world where there is no place for free thinking amateurs who constantly capture the public imagination with their spectacular finds leaving orthodox archaeology bobbing in their wake. It is a world of scheming archaeological spin-doctors, compliant legislators and backside-kissing committees of all kinds; of secret trysts in dark corners, where, like illicit lovers they plan their grimy deeds.


DO YOU REALLY WANT HERITAGE LEGISLATION BORN OF PARENTS LIKE THESE?

Neither do we. If you are involved in metal detecting, treasure hunting, coin collecting, even archaeology, or just simply opposed to covert political tactics and are fed-up with the nefarious goings-on behind closed doors, then help us drive a stake through the heart of this putrid heritage system.

We don’t want your money, just your support with letter writing when called upon. If you want a better system that recognises the amateur contribution to our common past, and to protect your rights to go about your hobby unhindered, then lend us you support.

The Minutemen-UK



Lions Led by Donkeys...


Whilst I’ve never given a tinker’s cuss for the Council for British Archaeology or its disciples, I’ve even less time for the National Council for Metal Detecting, whose pledge to Promote, Protect and Encourage has been anything but.

The shambles over the archaeologically dominated Code of Conduct for Responsible Metal Detecting, and the debacle over archaeological control of detecting rallies, and club outings on farmers’ fields, is a bloody disgrace. Archaeologists must be rubbing their hands with glee at the way the NCMD has simply rolled over. And this, believe it or not, is the organisation the Central Council for Physical Recreation recognises as metal detecting’s governing body. Why wasn’t the CCPR involved in drawing up the Code of Conduct? That’s why the CCPR exists…to liaise and help protect its’ members’ interests.

In recent years the NCMD has studiously avoided giving any impression of being the sharpest knife in the drawer, so it’s hardly surprising rank-and-file hobbyists along with this newest group of Young Turks, the so-called Minutemen-UK, are well-up for a gloves-off confrontation.

There is no doubt in my mind that if this fight goes the distance with a points win for the CBA, theirs will be a high price for victory. Their opponents are shrewd cookies, who know how to dodge and weave and not averse to fighting ‘blind side’ of the referee either; especially if some of them are who I suspect they are.

When the dust settles, many in archaeology will certainly reflect, “was it all worth it?” I am equally certain that some MP’s too, will rue the day they threw in their lot with the boys from York.

For my part, I am boycotting the voluntary Portable Antiquities Reporting Scheme (for all non-treasure items at least), until such time as this particular skirmish is won. I’ve already tabled my MP on the matter and written to Culture Minister, the Conservative MP, Ed Vaizey.

________________________________________________________________

Now ‘Ere’s a Funny Thing…


Did you know that John Howland arrived with the Mayflower in 1620 and was in the advance party that scouted Cape Cod before the landing at what is now Plymouth, MA? Although a man-servant of Governor Carver, he was the thirteenth signatory of the Mayflower Compact in Plymouth Harbour on December 21, 1620. I reckon there must have been a tavern somewhere nearby!

Reverse
John Howland Token
The Reverse

His two brothers Arthur and Henry followed a few years later. Arthur Howland married Margaret Reed, and settled in Marshfield where they had had five children. Sir Winston Churchill, an honorary member of the Pilgrim John Howland Society, was one of his descendants.

The brothers settled around Dartmouth, MA where they became very prosperous. John Howland is buried at Burial Hill, Plymouth MA, where a commemorative stone now stands. The Pilgrim John Howland Society venerates his name and has an excellent website.

The coin/token shown in the photographs was sent to me many years ago by a treasure hunter who had been holidaying in New England.....



Here’s a Few More..............

Doctor to patient: It’s bad news I’m afraid, you’ll never work again. Patient: No worries, I’m an archaeologist.


Q. How many CBA members does it take to change a light bulb?

A. Only one, but it will take years and years of initial site study, we first have to correlate all the surrounding furniture and domestic devices, and then decide whether the anthropological theory about the bulb being a cultic object (based on its central location in the room, its being up out of reach, symbolizing transcendence, and its obviously sun-like shape) is a correct socio-economic understanding.


Q. What were archaeologist Lord Carnarvon’s first words when he discovered the vast treasures of Tutankhamen’s tomb?

A. F**k me!




In the meantime, I wish my reader a peaceful and happy Christmas.....


I’ll see you in the tavern!

************



December13, 2010

HAIL CAESAR!

Unsurprisingly many US treasure hunters see Britain as a kind of treasure hunting Utopia, and with good reason. England (though to a lesser degree Scotland and Wales) is awash with the remains of known Roman habitation sites of all kinds; towns, villas, staging posts and settlements, all dotted along our nationwide network of Roman roads, where thousands more of these sites lay undiscovered.

The Roman occupation, or more correctly, the Romanisation of the indigenous Celtic tribes, lasted just over four hundred years, from 43AD to about 450AD, the approximate timescale equivalent from the Pilgrim Fathers setting up camp in Jamestown, to the start of Prohibition.

Today we know more about the Romans, its empire, their way of life and death, than they did themselves. The artefacts they left behind, a plethora of casual losses if you like, have become centre stage in the study of Roman design; objects such as coins, brooches, along with the miscellany of metal paraphernalia that was part and parcel of everyday Roman life. Even after thirty years of treasure hunting during which time I have unearthed hundreds of Roman coins the thrill of handling a newly found piece 1,800-years on from its loss never wanes. I well remember the euphoric look on Dick’s face when he recovered a 3rd Century AD coin while testing Garrett machines on the same site from which the artefacts in the accompanying photos were discovered.

3rd Century AD Roman Brooch Reverse
3rd Century AD Roman Brooch
Reverse

Artefacts such as these lay strewn across Britain’s fields within the first few inches of farmland topsoil well within the reach of a metal detector. And it has to be said, Britain’s treasure hunters are the only historians who are pro-active in this search and recovery, with conventional archaeologists only putting in an appearance in the wake of major ‘finds’ by a detecting enthusiasts, or the discovery of artefacts by civil engineers.

So, where to start looking for roman coins and artefacts then? In my experience, finding the places where money changed hands on a regular basis is paramount. Indeed, I have the added advantage of knowing many farmers and landowners socially, one of whom is a senior figure in the National Farmer’s Union and very much on the side of metal detecting as indeed are the others. It’s against this backdrop that I with a couple of friends discovered a previously unknown roman site on the side of a Roman road.

By the 2nd Century AD, the Roman army in Britain stood at 50,000. As in other conquered provinces, the Romans built a system of interconnecting paved roads across Britain in order to move their troops from place to place with maximum speed should the need arise. Britain has over 2000 miles of Roman roads. These main arterial roads, were if you like the forerunners of modern motorways and just like today, there were ‘service stations’ along the routes complete with stables, taverns, market traders, and overnight accommodation, with some offering refreshment of the horizontal kind.

These wayside stations were dotted about every 6.5 miles along the length of the roads between the larger settlements, small towns, villages, and villas, which were interspersed at around 12.5 miles (a full days march for a roman legionary). It these minor sites that budding treasure hunters should seek out first, especially with the advent of online search facilities such as Google Earth helping to facilitate their discovery.

More Roman Finds 2nd & 3rd Century Bronze Roman Coins
Roman Artifacts dating from 2rd & 3rd Centuries AD
2nd & 3rd Century Bronze Roman Coins,
with scale for comparison

However, not all the evidence is readily to hand for the online searcher and little beats an actual visit and inspection of the suspected site, especially where the area is under the plough, an activity that brings to the surface the tell-tale signs and clues of habitation, such as pottery shards, mussel shells (a roman delicacy) and rusty iron nails, and pieces of lead. Find these in the ploughsoil, and you have a roman site on your hands.

Farmers are always intensely interested in the history of their land and likely as not will be fascinated if you can prove to them the existence of such a site. Permission to make a search of the ploughed soil is usually readily forthcoming and farmers always want to see artifacts that have come from their land.

Ron Scearce, ‘Pete’ (the archeological hat) and me, spent five years combing one such previously unknown site. Our Roman coins finds covered the period from the mid-2nd Century AD to the late 3rd Century AD, indicating that this trading post had been active for about 150 years, though other finds dated the site to pre-Roman

Owing to the severe iron contamination inherent on all habitation sites many metal detector types are quite unsuitable. Pulse machines are an absolute no-no, as are the older, high-frequency TR types. My preference is to use a low-frequency, silent running motion detector, fitted with a 4”-coil because it’s intense electro-magnetic beam is able to weave between signal-masking iron targets to pluck-out the coins. On the site shown in this photograph, iron nails carpeted the ploughsoil.

Jack's Locket
John Howland, in between beers

Many modern machines feature coil inter-changeability, and my ACE250 fills the bill very nicely on the odd occasion I sally forth into the Dorset hills. Under no circumstances should you use a machine that gives one signal for iron and another for non-ferrous, on a heavily ferrous-contaminated habitation site. Though these are superb machines in iron-free areas, you’ll wind up a gibbering wreck inside of half an hour if you use one on a full-blown habitation site.

THE KISS-OF-DEATH IS USING A LARGE DIAMETER COIL-SMALLEST IS BEST, AND IN THIS CONTEXT, SIZE REALLY DOES MATTER

Back in the days when I spent my time exclusively hunting all things Roman, every Christmas our farmer received a bottle of his favorite Scotch and a bouquet for his wife. Then we’d all pile into his Land-Rover, gundogs and all, and head for the local pub where we would spend the day celebrating the Yule Tide along with many of his farming friends in the customary fashion. This naturally led to us increasing our circle of farming contacts and the offers to search land came rolling in!

However, the downside of the treasure hunting boom is that amateurs finding Roman coins and brooches are not always looked kindly upon for a variety of reasons. There’s distinct bitter taste in the mouth of some major coin collectors, whose collections whilst being of great numismatic importance, are nevertheless, hedges and investments against inflation. Hardly surprising then, that with a major coin hoard find coming on the market, thanks to the efforts of amateur treasure hunters, some coin types become significantly devalued.

A number of more enlightened coin collectors however, take the opposite view that the reduction in market prices encourages new blood into the world of numismatics thus bringing previously unattainable coin types within the reach of many less well off collectors. These collectors are very much on the treasure hunter’s side. But with the near incestuous hand-in-blouse relationship that exists between some collectors, dealers, rogue archaeologists, and museums, where sly back-door deals are the norm, treasure hunters are seen as a blight to eradicated.

The libel laws forbid me from naming names, but one dealer of my acquaintance, and I have no reason to doubt his sincerity, tells me that he often takes valuable coins to a ‘contact’ in a certain museum for positive identification purposes. Here, he’s taken into the vaults and often told of the museum’s interest in obtaining the coin for its own collection. Where funds are on the short side, his ‘contact’ tells him he can have the pick of any the rare coins (not on display) to the approximate value. Deal done, thank-you-very-much. Just as Britain is awash with Roman sites, so the murky world of the heritage circus is awash with this kind of wheeler-dealing.

Many of the new and wonderful finds made by treasure hunters continue attract the attention of the media and public-at-large, all found and reported in accordance to the prevailing laws on these matters. While the PR is good and encouraging for treasure hunting per se, many archaeologists and historians (even whilst adding their voices to the public acclaim) are privately apoplectic.

The current in-fighting between archeologists as to whether they should publically acclaim treasure hunters’ finds, borders on academic hand-to-hand combat. On the one hand there are those who object on (misinformed) scholarly grounds, and those (dangerous politicos posing as harmless historians) who see collections, all collections, as one of the unacceptable face of Capitalism. And it’s these latter shysters who are the biggest threat and danger to our pastime, being highly skilled in disinformation techniques to pull the wool over the eyes of law makers and Parliamentarians. They are skilled orators and media savvy in sound-bite news making. Our pastime in the UK at least, has little defense against them.

Over the years, the UK’s Conservative Party has proved to be especially susceptible to their beguiling charms. Perhaps the time is nigh for treasure hunters to make a stand but under another national banner?


SHAKESPEARE'S FIRST DRAFTS DISCOVERED

Historians in the Bard’s home town of Stratford-Upon-Avon have found what they believe to be the first drafts of some of his works. The first draft of “Anthony and Cleopatra” has the following lines (removed from the Final Draft):

Mark Anthony (Enters stage left, clutching gifts): I come in search of Cleopatra.

Hand Maiden: My mistress is in bed with Laryngitis

Mark Anthony: F**k those Greeks!



Just a thought....If old Bill Shakespeare was the Immortal Bard, could Dick Stout be the Immortal Beard?

I’ll see you in the bar!

A VERY HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL!


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November 30, 2010

Boy, Ole Dick’s ‘intro’ for the Mal-Sal column on the 25th sure was something else wasn’t it? I was touched by the flattery; I guess he’s softening me up for another fifty-buck loan. He knows me so well.

Anyway, that accompanying photo of yours truly in the ‘intro’ was taken at a ‘rare species’ eatery out in the boondocks (whatever that is, or are). Here I’m tucking into the rare finger-lickin’ Cajun delicacy, Diamond-back Terrapin, southern-fried style with guacamole/mayo stuffing. It was okay I have to say, with a spicy chicken flavour, though a little too crusty for my liking. Trouble being that if slightly overcooked as I think mine was, when biting into the head, tends to opened up the bottom of the shell thus squeezing out the stuffing and innards.

Now the fillet of Armadillo al la Dallas, on the other hand…..

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RIPPLE TROUGH TREASURES

In addition to the two rings mentioned in Mal-Sal (17 November), I should perhaps add that these were found with my Garrett Sea Hunter II, with the Discrete Discrim Mode set to ‘7’. Both rings were consecutive finds at around eight inches deep, in a low-tide ripple-trough.

Jack's Locket Garrett Ace
Jack's Locket
The Garrett Ace 250

The locket (see photo) is one of Jack’s newest finds using his ACE250 fitted with the larger 9”x12” coil and plucked from another wet sand ripple-trough, giving a good clear signal from five to six inches down. Settings were ‘Custom Mode’…with all the bars left of the ‘5 cents’ mark eliminated, and ‘Sens’ backed off to the fourth bar.

The locket is we think at this stage, either late Victorian or early Edwardian (1898 thru to 1914). It’s silver plate on copper and completely black when it came out of the sand. It was Longshore Drift (LD) side of a recent and major, deep sand excavation, whose spoil heaps brought many 100-yrs old coins to the surface and were subsequently distributed evenly uptide by the LD.


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THE HUNT FOR THE DOLLAR SHIP TREASURE ( Part 1)

(Or, ‘Calico’ Jack Rackham meets Al Jolson)

Buried deep in the vast sweeping sands of Rhossilli Bay in south-west Wales, lies the remains of a Spanish treasure ship, whose cargo, experts believe was Catherine of Braganza’s dowry. In 1807, the sands parted following a violent storm and vast quantities of silver coins appeared. Many locals found fortunes overnight.

The same occurred in 1833. Since those times, these silver coins have turned up – not in any quantity – to determined treasure hunters, and they don’t come much more determined than the late, great and legendary, Ron Scearce, who along with Leisure Promotions’ Grand Fromage, Mick Turrell, and me, headed for the Big Time. Eat your heart out, Mel Fisher!

Like all good treasure stories, this one has its genesis in the convivial surroundings of a quiet corner of an English country inn. Well it came to pass that a treasure hunting weekend would be organised, involving members of Mick Turrell’s detecting club (the Greenham Moles as I recall?) and the hiring of a holiday caravan park (that’s a trailer park to our US cousins) close to where ‘X’-marks the alleged spot.

Friday afternoon saw a cohort of fully-armed, hearty but thirsty buccaneers, descending on the tiny village of Llanngenith, where later that evening and much to the annoyance of the locals, the pub it were drunk dry…ahaaa me ‘earties! Oh dear, Scearce’s alter ego, ‘Calico’ Jack Rackham, was in full flow. Pray God he’s not going to do the infamous, do-you-want-to-see-a- white-eared-elephant trick.

Unable to find a fish and chip shop in the locale, ‘Calico’ Jack Rackham, Mick, and me returned to our caravan, where the mighty Scearce suggested an impromptu BBQ, “like as we did in the Dry Tortugas, under Cap’n Flint. Ahhaaaa,” for ‘Calico’ Jack had brought with him the requisite victuals; pork ribs, crusty bread, and ketchup. Mick produced a portable BBQ and charcoal, and with the cans of beer I’d brought along to supplement the rations, we sat round the grill in anticipation of the treasure hunt to come on this warm spring evening planning out attack on the coins.

By now, the plan, fueled by recent past imbibings became increasingly bizarre as the ribs crackled away on the grill. “I’ve got ‘ee yer favourite vittals amidships,”‘Calico’ Jack said to me in knowing tones, tapping the side of his nose with a forefinger, “Christ,” I thought, “He’s brought Helen Mirren with him.” Alas, it was not to be.

Adjourning to the caravan’s interior, ‘Calico’ Jack emerged from under a bunk bed triumphantly holding aloft like the Olympic Torch, a bottle of Jack Daniels and four shot glasses. Soon, fortified by the liquor, we were again pouring over maps of the area.

“Shit,” shouts Mick, “The ribs!” and rushed outside, tripped arse-over-tit, and sent the whole BBQ shabang flying. The ribs looked as though they’d been done in a crematorium. “Keep ‘em warm,” shouts ‘Calico’ Jack, adding with supreme understatement, “They be just a little overdone!”

Once again we sat around the BBQ, only this time it was a much sadder looking affair than before as we crunched our way through the blackened ribs. By now our faces and hands are ash-blackened, inspiring ‘Calico’ Jack to morph into Al Jolson and launch into a rendition of the very rude (but very funny) version of Climb Upon my Knee Sonny Boy.

Then a terrible truth slowly dawned.

“When you shcooped-up the ribsh, (hic) shunnee boy,” Jolson sang out, looking at Mick, “What did you do, shunnee boyyy?” Mick sipped his bourbon, “Hmmm, I putsh (hic, hic) them all back on the grill.” Wrong! He put back what he thought were ribs. We, for the past ten minutes had been crunching our way through pieces of red hot charcoal, which now made perfect sense of ‘Jolson’s’ earlier lyric;“Bloody hot these ribs, eh? Shunnee boyyy!”

In the distance I though I heard a church clock chiming ten o’clock. So far, so bad, and the treasure hunting was yet to begin.....

Part 2 of this epic, involving a fake treasure map, an overdose of laxative chocolate, follows in the next, mind-numbing instalment.


WAS HE KIDDING?

I dropped into an army surplus store recently to check whether they had any ex-special forces camouflage combat jackets for sale; these are ideal treasure hunting attire being windproof and with lots of pockets. I spent about twenty minutes in the store and on my way out said the assistant asked, “Couldn’t find what you were looking for then?”

“No,” says I, “Couldn’t find your camouflage jackets.”

“Yes, ‘kin awesome aren’t they?”

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DOG TIRED?

A battle weary and highly decorated US bomber pilot wanting to celebrate his surviving 25 daylight raids over Germany with a ‘jolly’ to London in 1944, boarded a crowded London-bound train, only to discover he was unable to find a seat. As he walked the length of the train, packed with troops and civilians, he noticed a small dog curled up on one of the seats. A large, well-dressed woman sat in the seat next to the dog. The pilot, wearing the uniform of the ‘Mighty 8th ‘hovered near the seat, hoping the woman would take the hint, but she pointedly ignored him.

"Excuse me, Ma'am," he finally said, "Is this your dog? Would you mind holding it on your lap so that I may sit down?"

The woman pierced him with an icy gaze and said in a haughty English accent, "Oh! You Americans! You are so rude! Fluffy is in that seat, and I see no reason why she should give up her comfort for you."

The weary pilot nodded, picked up the dog, opened the carriage window of the moving train and threw the dog out. The haughty woman gasped and spluttered in horrified disbelief.

An elderly Tweed-suited, English gent, an officer veteran of WWI, sitting across from her, lowered his Times newspaper turned to the pilot, and in an upper class accent addressed the pilot. “You Americans!" he said wearily shaking his head, "You drive on the wrong side of the road ...... you eat with the wrong fork..... and you just threw the wrong bitch out the window."



I’ll see you in the bar!.....shunny boyyyy!

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November 25, 2010

LET'S HEAR IT FOR REGTON

In the world of British treasure hunting, the names ‘Regton’ and ‘Nigel Ingrams’ are writ large, synonymous with first-rate after sales service, before sales service, and unbiased advice on any topic connected with the hobby. I heartily endorse all the plaudits Dick has written.

In fact, I can add an anecdote of my own. At a metal detecting rally earlier this year, while sauntering around the Regton display marquee, I overheard Nigel dealing with a customer who had a particular audio problem with his detector. Taking the troubled part into his makeshift mobile workshop, he reappeared some fifteen minutes later, handing back the repaired part as good as new. “Many thanks Nigel,” the guy said, taking out his wallet to pay. “No, no, it’s okay,” says our man, then went on to explain how and why the problem occurred and how to avoid a reoccurrence. Now, that’s service for you!

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A BLAST FROM THE PAST

Back in the days when God was a boy, Dick along with Garrett’s Bob Podhrasky came over to England to sample the conditions we UK treasure hunters were up against. I took them both to one of my roman habitation sites, part villa, and part legionary barracks. Like many high-yielding roman sites suffering iron contamination/mineralisation, it rendered all metal detectors ineffective – save for one brand – Tesoro. Even the mighty Arado120b couldn’t cope with the conditions, and the Compass 77b struggled in vain.

Tesoros cut through the mineralisation like a hot knife through butter; these silent running motion machines, though revolutionary to British users at the time, were not possessed of outstanding depth capabilities. But when it came to plucking-out tiny, high value AE3-type silver roman coins, and Celtic Staters, they were unsurpassed. When fitted with the 4”-coil, they became electronic scalpels.

During the early 1980’s, Tesoros were the machines of choice for Roman, and Celtic habitation sites, especially where the land was under plough. Most of us in those days owned two machines, one for depth and discrimination for use away from roman habitation sites (mine was a Garrett Groundhog) and a Tesoro ‘Golden Sabre’ for the tricky stuff. If only I’d have had my Garrett ACE 250 back then – what might have been?

Field Testing on Roman Site/UK

This photo shows Gerry Costello (left) Dick Stout (center) and Bob Podhrasky carrying out comparison tests on the roman site in question. Later that day, Dick and Bob sampled the delights of English bitter ale, served up in the traditional, handled pint pot. Oh, happy days!
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A CRYING SHAME

“When I was out detecting the other day I realized I don't have the stamina I used to have, and that maybe I am falling by the wayside,”Oh really? And who says so? Step forward, ‘Ole Salmon & Trout’.

Jeez, Dick, you don’t need to go treasure hunting to make that voyage of discovery… Which reminds me of a story about an Old Timer beachcomber finding a young boy crying on the beach? “What’s the matter son?” he enquired. “I can’t do what the big boys are doing,” the lad replied. So the Old Timer sat down and cried with him.


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WELL DONE, MY BOY!

My heartiest congrats to young James Hyatt (4ys), finder of the 16th Century gold reliquary - that experts say could have been owned by a member of the Tudor Royal Family – and valued at around a cool £2.5 million.

Oh dear James, I feel you’ve stirred up a hornets’ nest with this one! There’ll be a-wailing and a-gnashing of teeth in the Halls of Archaeology tonight. Yet again, another priceless artefact makes its way into the public domain and imagination, all properly reported and recorded within the rules of the UK’s Treasure Laws.

Curiously though, we seldom hear of archaeologists giving evidence at Coroner’s Inquests about any of their ‘finds’ that fall within the Treasure Act. Perhaps they are exempt from the law, or (to take from Hamlet) is there something rotten in the State of Denmark?


THE KOSHER BEACHCOMBER

A widowed Jewish lady was sunbathing on a Florida Keys beach. She looked up and noticed a man with a metal detector, about her age, was sitting down close to her taking a rest. He looked a fine, distinguished, gentleman. She was impressed.

Smiling, she attempted to strike up a conversation with him. ”Hi, how are you today? Found much?” “Fine, thank you,” he replied, “I’ve found a few coins.”

“I love this beach. Do you come here often?” she persisted, “First time since my wife passed away 2 years ago,” he replied.

“I'm sorry to hear that. My husband passed away 3 years ago and life is very lonely,” she countered. “Do you live around here?” “Yes, I live over in Cape Coral,” he answered.

Trying to find a topic of common interest, she persisted, “Do you like pussy cats?” With that, the man rolled over, onto her, tore off her swimsuit, and gave her the most passionate ride of her life!

When the cloud of sand and dust settled, she gasped, asking the man, “How did you know that was what I wanted?”

“How did you know my name was Katz?”



PIRATES OR DIPLOMATS?

Though I lapse into the risqué and lampoon authority on both sides of The Pond, Americans have done my country proud. Twice, within a hundred years, she has saved Britain’s bacon; first in 1917 during the Great War, then again during WWII’s European Theatre of Operations when her mighty 8th Army Air Corps flew the daylight bombing raids into Nazi Germany with the loss of thousands of aircrew, a loss that included John F Kennedy’s brother.

Unlike the British however, Americans to my mind at least, seem too politically honest for their own political good. Nevertheless, it’s a trait, of which an extra helping wouldn’t go amiss in the UK occasionally.

Back in the days when England, under Queen Elizabeth I, plundered the High Seas at will, her adversary, King Philip of Spain, reckoned the Portuguese were the world’s best navigators, his own men the world’s best sailors and the English unparalleled in the ways of piracy. Perhaps he should have also added, political guile.

Take for example the impeaching of ‘Tricky Dicky’ Nixon (Yeh, I’d have bought a second-hand car from him!). In front of the entire world, America to its credit, washed its dirty linen in public; something Britain’s ‘keep-it-under-wraps’ politicos would never have countenanced.

Had Nixon been a British problem, our lot would probably have got Teddy Kennedy drive him home.

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STOUT FELLOW
Roy Blount Book

Mooching as I do, around the various charity shops in my locale on the lookout for books with a treasure hunting slant, I came across this one - well written, lucid and with loads of good ‘How-To’ information – just a pity it ain’t been updated. Nevertheless, it’s still a good read for anyone who like me, searches in and around water.

Printed back in 1987, it bears an oblique reference to FMDAC, Box 263, Frenchtown, NJ. Now there’s a familiar address to the cognoscenti. The man gets everywhere! It would never surprise me to find his name in the small print somewhere on the Magna Carta. More likely, he probably signed the bloody thing, “pp King John.”

Arise, Sir Richard of Rowlett, Sampler of the King’s Wine.

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AND FINALLY…

A US fly fisherman and writer, Charles Ritz, once said, “All rods can catch fish; their success depends on the hand that uses them.” The same goes for treasure hunting..... I'll see you in the bar!

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November 17, 2010

GOT ME A SCANDSCOOP.....AT LAST!

Over the past few weeks, my regular reader knows I’ve been lusting after a US-style, long-handled sandscoop, to compliment my Garrett Sea Hunter II (pi) when hunting out in the water or along the low-tide line. Well, now I’ve got one; a heavy-duty stainless steel number that cost me an arm and a leg (and a testicle for good measure), handmade by the same guy who makes deck fittings for the world-beating ‘Sunseeker’ range of offshore cruisers. Impressed? Huh, thought you would be.

My new toy
New Scandscoop

Fist time out with this dredger, I came up, with two rings – one a .925 Sterling silver jobby (with stone) and the other a non-precious dress ring. The future looks bright. Now for the gold!

John's two rings
My two latest finds


Breaking News…..Man Found Stuck to the Hull of a Ship!

The man discovered stuck to the hull of a cruise liner in the ancient port of a Piraeus, Greece, has been identified police say, as Miklos Alexandrou, a Greek shipping magnate

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"CULTURAL HERITAGE"...THE CON OF THE CENTURY

Little makes me madder, or causes me to reach for the sick-bag quicker, than the ‘babble from the rabble’ trotted out by the heritage haemorrhoids and their small army of attendant hangers-on. These soakers-up-of-public-money comprise the bulk of the worldwide, overpaid, overblown, Heritage Circus; you know the types, self-important, self-appointed Standing Committees for this and Standing Conferences for that and Standing-God-Knows-What-Else. This pompous entourage, together with the mish-mash of local self-interested, self-appointed, conservation groups, etc, etc, ad nauseum, are bound together with a common glue; their hatred of YOU and your metal detector.

Why? Because our finds, hoards, ancient artefacts, coins, and the like, attracts enormous first-rate publicity and generates enormous interest with, and goodwill from, the public. Equally important, when our finds come under scrutiny, the whole world sees that the finders followed the letter and spirit of the law.

Terms like ‘protecting the cultural heritage’, and ‘undersea cultural resources’ and ‘portable antiquities’, are mealy-mouthed clichés, buzz-words designed to bamboozle the man-in-the-street and the lawmakers on Capitol Hill. In truth, it’s archaeology-speak for job-creation schemes on the grand scale to cocoon these shysters from the real heat of today’s economic climate.

It’s little use us relying on our representatives for help; most of the time when it comes to OUR RIGHTS, they don’t know which way is up! We treasure hunters are letting these anti-detecting loonies get away with murder when we should be crucifying them on the Altar of Truth.

While the rest of humanity faces the dire prospect of going to the wall in the financial crisis, these academics – and damm them to Hell – are out there securing their own job survival using treasure hunters as the excuse.

If archaeology ceased overnight (if only!), would society collapse? Of course not. Is archaeology that important in the overall scheme of things? Of course not.

The ‘Culture Mafiosi’ first attacked metal detector users/treasure hunters citing them as the root of all heritage evil; now they are smearing scuba divers and treasure salvors with the same excrement. That which has happened in Nova Scotia will soon be heading our way.

Modern maritime archaeology (and land-based for that matter) is olden day piracy in the best traditions of Henry Morgan, ‘Calico Jack’ Rackham, and Edward Teach. Today, the modern game plan is the ‘sterilisation’ of all shipwreck sites, their treasures, and the seabed around them, from amateur exploration – it’s a sort of maritime mugging.

Then, with the wrecks designated for ‘professional use only’ (read ‘academic’ use) these assholes have secured long-term employment in the investigation of these wrecks using the hard-pressed taxpayer’s bread to pay their salaries and expenses. Nice work if you can get it!

Though it grieves me to say so, you’ve got to hand it to these shysters. Unless we as treasure hunters can organise or equip ourselves with a pro-active PR machine, or a robust representative body to match the cunning, stealth, and guile of our detractors, we are all in for a right shafting.

So far, they’ve easily bamboozled and blinded with bullshit, your Senators and Congressmen in much the same way as they did with Members of Parliament in the UK. What we are witnessing is the creeping application of the same political principles to our territorial waters, and private collecting, that half of Europe rebelled against in 1989 when the Berlin Wall came down.

Lobbies make laws, not rights or wrongs.



Agony Uncle


I received this email from my reader and it touched my heart. “I have this problem and need your advice. I have just served a 20- stretch in Sing Sing for attempted murder, armed robbery, and auto theft. During my after care with the probation service, I met a wonderful young lady, a reformed opium user and hooker, and we plan to settle down together.

My mother is crack-whore who works the Chicago South Side, while my father is doing ten to twenty in Leavenworth for rape, mugging, arms and drug trafficking, while my little sister is standing trial for bigamy, demanding money with menaces, and prostitution.

My elder brother graduated as an archaeologist after working and paying his own way through college.

My problem is, do you think I should tell her about my elder brother?”

Hell no!



Margaret Howland with Nigel Ingram

John's wife and better half (absolutely no question) Margaret with
Nigel Ingram/Regton Ltd., Weekend Wanderers Rally, September 2010."


An Olive Branch?

Though I am critical of archaeologists, some have the veneer of human decency and some even speak to me. Just recently, I bumped into one at the entrance to one of London’s major coin dealers.“Hey,” he said, “You’re John Howland aren’t you?”

“Yeh,” I replied, “Well get out of the way you fat bastard.”

C’est la Vie!

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October 26, 2010

THE BENEDICT ARNOLD POSSE!

Whether the FMDAC runs to attract newer or returning members to the fold, as Dick Stout suggests, remains open to conjecture. Nevertheless, if the National Council for Metal Detecting’s performance here in the UK is anything to go by, then I can’t say that I hold much hope for a firebrand FMDAC especially if it treads the NCMD’s well-worn path. My anticipation is the FMDAC will not collapse into a comic Vaudeville act nor will cause US treasure hunters to be described as “lions led by donkeys”.

So what does the UK’s NCMD actually do?....Er, …well,…. erm,… not a lot by all accounts! It runs errands for the Treasure Trove Awards Committee where unsurprisingly, it exerts little or no influence, though it does apparently have an important role, so its website tells us, “to liaise between the Committee and finders of Treasure, who are overwhelmingly metal detector users.” So, they’re a sort of Bookies’ Runner then.

That the NCMD was hoisted (or should it be foisted?) onto the Treasure Trove Awards Committee is many believe, little more that a carefully connived ploy by the far cannier archaeological planners to shunt metal detecting’s Governing Body (no, please, don’t laugh!) to where it can do no harm whilst simultaneously giving it an air of importance. Some might say this is its thirty pieces of silver for selling out to archaeology’s nabobs. The NCMD’s policymakers’ policy, is it seems, not to have a policy – on anything!

However, archaeology needs the NCMD if only to justify the salaries of Finds Liaisons Officers upon which the Portable Antiquities Scheme heavily relies. The castration process is insidious. First, archaeology recognises the NCMD(or FMDAC) as the Governing Body of ‘responsible detectorists’, then it dictates a Code of Conduct/Practice, one that the nabobs find acceptable.

This is what the NCMD says on its website about its Code of Practice:

“A Code of Practice on Responsible Metal Detecting in England and Wales has been agreed by all key archaeological bodies and metal detecting and landowners’ organisations”.

The second slice of the scalpel takes metal detecting away from its roots, its methodology, and terminology, making it little more than an archaeological backwater. Detecting on public land and parks is subject to strict regulations, foremost of which is that it can only occur as part of an archaeological dig, or under orthodox archaeological supervision. This rarely happens.

By definition, the term ‘responsible hobbyist’ applies only to those kow-towing the approved archaeological line. ‘Irresponsible’ hobbyists presumably, are those who favour independent thought, interpretation, and historical research, and who refuse to be intimidated by the self-styled tyrants in orthodox archaeology.

Orthodox archaeology, in my experience, is too conservative. Its practioners loathe accountability, or to face searching questions about their findings, or be given the Third Degree about the accuracy of their excavation reports. What really gets them roaring with indignation are questions about excavation costs; who paid those costs, and whether the excavation represents value for money, or value to the historical record.

Many archaeologists thrive and survive on bullshit, hoping that the man-in-the-street won’t be too interested in their academic shenanigans, and won’t ask too many awkward questions.

The NCMD is no threat to them at all. It’s a castrated bull; no balls. And what makes me such an expert you might ask? Well, I was the driving force behind the NCMD’s creation over thirty years ago. Then, it fought tooth and claw for the rights of its members to go about their hobby unhindered. And before you all charge off into the sunset with the idea that the UK’s Portable Antiquities Scheme is manna from heaven, think again.

In Britain today, the NCMD is politically bankrupt, and its achievements for the furtherance of metal detecting on its own terms, microscopic. Mercifully, my name was carefully airbrushed out of the NCMD’s history.

The treasure-hunting/metal detecting hobby survives in the UK, not because of its governing body, but in spite of it! Unless hobbyists in the States wake up to the fact and get off their bums to address the problems inevitably coming their way, and in droves, they’re in for much of the same neutering. And when it all goes belly-up, remember you read it here first. Then take up golf.

So how do I sum up the NCMD? Well, at least Judas Iscariot had the decency to hang himself after the Betrayal.....

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EASY RIDER

People ask me when I meet ‘em on the beach why I treasure hunt. It’s a bit like asking a guy why he rides a Harley….they just don’t ‘get it’ do they? As Louis Armstrong once famously said - yeh, I know, I’ve written it before – “That if you has to ask what soul is, then you ain’t got it.” The treasure hunting pastime has, as far as I can fathom, little or nothing to do with making money per se. How can that be when some treasure hunters are millionaires already but nevertheless, still experience the exquisite thrill common to all of us lesser mortals when finding a nickel, quarter, or a piece of gold. All the emotions link to the ‘find’ itself, the tangible link to the Past.

When we as treasure hunters unearth an older coin, ten times out ten, we’ll sit awhile and ponder about the person who last handled it. I know that every roman coin I’ve ever found, always sat me on my backside to wonder about the person who lost it. Though times change, emotions don’t; and if the loser of the silver denarius I’m holding was anything like me, he would be deeply pissed-off at the loss, especially if he was taverna bound for a well-earned goblet or three of wine.

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URBAN TREASURE – A WALK ON THE MILD SIDE?

Some men search for silver, some for gold. Some take to the hills; some tempt fate by venturing into the Superstition Mountains in the quest for the elusive Mother Lode. Others spend small fortunes on deep-seeking metal detectors, and clothing for the wild and wooly outdoors. But when a cache of eighty, US $20 gold Double Eagles comes to light in England, in the London suburb of Hackney (the equivalent of finding the cache in The Bronx), then for some inexplicable reason I find myself reaching for the sick bucket.

The coins, all dating between 1854 and 1914, will if an owner is untraceable, become the property of the Crown, classified as Treasure Trove. Currently the coins are on display in the British Museum.

Treasure hunting in The Bronx, Eh? Hmmm,…perhaps the odds of survival are better in the Superstition Mountains!

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QUOTE....

Attributed to the New York Jets’ Joe Namath. On being asked whether he preferred grass or Astro-turf, replied, “I don’t know, I’ve never smoked Astro-turf!”

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A CHARITY SHOP TREASURE

Whilst fertling around the second-hand book shelves in a local charity shop I came across this little gem by US treasure hunter, Wallace Chandler first published in May 1991. It’s a Fisher Research Laboratory publication and features their 1280-X Aquanaut metal detector. Though obviously a little dated by 2010 standards, it’s still well worth buying if you happen to find a copy.

Wallace Chanlder Book

I’m uncertain as to whether the 1280-X Aquanaut is still in production, but twenty years ago it was a serious contender for the pro and semi-pro surf/water hunter alike.


In the Courts

The scene is a New York Divorce Court, where a woman is petitioning for a divorce on the grounds of her husband’s excessive sexual demands. The Judge looks across at her and explains: “I have to tell you I cannot grant your Petition on the grounds of what you term your husband’s excessive sexual demands of five times a week. Women have stood where you are now, claiming five times a week as desertion.”


************

October 16, 2010

This Is Some Kinda Mo’sheen!


Ft Lauderdale-based, and close to the Bermuda Triangle (ooh, spooky, eh?), Matt Finn is a regular contributor to the top-notch Jersey Shore Beach and Surf Hunters Facebook page. At first glance, mild-mannered Matt is seems, a regular guy-next-door type.

The truth however, is far from run of the mill; words like intrepid, courageous, and bold, readily spring to mind. Matt you understand, actually rides the device (not sure what else to call it) shown in this photo at seemingly breathtaking speeds as he beach-hops his way along the Florida coast to his favourite treasure hotspots and lives to tell the tale!

Matt's mode of transportation
Matt Finn's mode of transportation

So what’s the R & D behind this two-wheeled lightning bolt? Are Honda and Harley-Davidson worried? Is it a CIA funded, Area 51 ‘Black Project’ prototype? Where does the mysterious propulsion unit come from? Roswell, or some other downed alien craft ? The truth is out there…

“I bought the engine kit on eBay for $135,” he says[even spookier], “It came with absolutely everything needed from chain and sprocket to throttle grips.”

What else can Matt admit to about this ‘craft’?

“With a little bit of bicycle knowledge it took me about three hours to build,” he admits, adding, “It’s the greatest thing since sliced bread! I get 100 miles on 1/2 gallon of gas and 3-oz. 2-cycle oil [2-stroke to us Limeys]. I've gotten it up to 35mph when there was no wind.”

Two-hundred miles to a gallon of gas? You don’t fool me Matt. You’re a NASA rocket scientist moonlighting as a treasure hunter! Oh, by the way, could you drop by my house sometime and take a look under the hood of my car?

************

DON'T GET MAD, GET EVEN


During a recent session over a quart or two of the foaming ale with an old friend, a veteran of the bitter treasure hunting versus archaeology wars of the 1980’s, he regaled me with a story of how vengeance is a dish best served cold.

The irony being that the end result couldn’t have been achieved without the covert collusion of a small cadre of heritage professionals bitterly opposed to the Soviet backed effort to politicize archaeology in Britain during the latter Cold War era. In this, Leftist stooges sympathetic to the Soviet cause drawn from the ranks of academics, historians, and dissident archaeologists, worked to curtail landowner’s interests, and towards the forced nationalization of all antiquities.

Metal detector hobbyists bore the brunt of this bitter campaign, who were portrayed with some success as the nation’s heritage villains. Some detector societies sold-out to the radical politicos for the price of being allowed to detect unhindered providing they helped to undermine any resistance. Others to their eternal credit, fought back in great style. Some took a more hands-on approach.

Many years ago, in that area of Britain known as East Anglia, an ancient Anglo-Saxon kingdom comprising the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, and Essex, treasure hunters had come in for a severe public relations battering – archaeology’s big guns were meting out a fearsome anti-metal detecting propaganda barrage all carefully orchestrated to feed the news hungry media hounds. The propaganda took the metal detecting communities in those parts completely off-guard.

Unknown to them, their primary tormentors were the same archaeologists to whom they always reported their finds in a spirit of mutual co-operation and trust. Gradually, their sites become ‘off-limits’ as farmers began withdrawing permission to hunt. One confirmed he’d been ‘leaned on’ by heritage mafia ‘heavies’ with veiled threats that parts of his land would be brought under the Archaeological Areas Act (thus devaluing his land) if he refused to ‘co-operate’.

Many of our gallant and beleaguered treasure hunters found themselves hounded, branded, and blamed, for all the region’s heritage ills. Subsequently, they summoned a secret Council of War; all invitations carefully vetted and a cunning plan evolved.

The outcome was they continue reporting all finds and finds-spots to the heritage mafia, but henceforth, all roman artifacts and coins, would point to a single map reference; a carefully selected field close to a known roman road on land owned by a sympathizer to their cause.

Subsequently, the ‘beard and patched-elbow brigade’ duly paid him a visit telling him to refuse any further metal detecting permissions, as ‘evidence’ suggested a major roman settlement on his land (in archaeology-speak, every roman site is either a ‘major’ or an ‘important’ location. Yawn, yawn) Managing to keep a straight face, the farmer agreed.

Duly the heritage harpies moved in and weeks of expensive spadework followed in an effort to trace the as yet, unrecorded and unknown ‘roman settlement’.

Roaring with laughter at the memory of it all, my old warhorse friend whispered conspiratorially over his tankard of ale, “And as far as I know, they’re still digging. Ha!”



LIFE'S A BEACH

Two treasure hunters, Bill and Charlie, decided to meet at a local beach. “I might be twenty-minutes late,” said Bill. However, he was on time and cleaned-up; rings, coins and jewelry. Charlie noticed that throughout the day, Bill held his detector in his left hand. They agreed to meet again the same time the following week. “I might be twenty-minutes late,” said Bill, “But I’ll be there.”

The following week, Bill arrived on time, and again, filled his finds bag to overflowing with rings and coins. Charlie noticed that Bill, this session, held his machine in his right hand. Curiosity welling within, Charlie asked Bill, why on different occasions had he held his detector in different hands and been so lucky.

Bill replied that if his wife was lying on her right side, he'd hold the detector in his right hand, or left hand if she was lying on her left. It brought him luck he said.

“What if she’s lying on her back?” said Charlie

“That’s when I'm twenty-minutes late.”




POINTS TO PONDER.....

• The meek shall inherit the earth, but not the mineral rights.

• We must believe in Luck; for how else can we explain the success of those we don’t like?

• It’s far easier to forgive an enemy after you’ve got even with him.

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October 7, 2010


THE FUN GUYS TO BE WITH (GEDDIT?)

This super supper dish comes into its own in the wake of a three-hour beachcombing spell in the face of a rip-roaring Nor’easter. We get some fierce winter Nor’easters here in the UK blowing straight in from the Russian Urals. Lazy winds we call, ‘em, ‘cos they go right through yer, and not round yer! If you take your treasure hunting in the surf, muscling up to the breakers, then this really is for you.

If you can get hold of fresh picked mushrooms, then so much the better......

Take four, large, flat (open cap) mushrooms, sometimes known as Portabellas, and a double handful of button mushrooms (Chestnuts are ideal), though Chinese oyster types work well in this recipe too.

Cut all the buttons (or oysters) in half, then put all the mushrooms in a heavy, lidded pot, and add a clove of crushed garlic. Pour in just enough red wine to cover. Add a tablespoon of Balsamic vinegar, along with a few sprigs of Thyme.

Place the pot on top of the stove and bring to the boil, then simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove all the mushrooms with a slotted spoon and keep warm. Discard the Thyme. Turn up the heat, bring the juice in the pot to boiling to reduce the volume to one quarter.

Arrange each serving plate with one of the flat mushrooms, surrounded by the buttons, and spoon over the thickened juice. Garnish with sprig of fresh Thyme. Have some French-style crusty bread on standby, to help mop-up the juices. Wash it all down with a large glass, or three, of red wine – say a plummy Californian, or a Cotes du Rhone. Yum!

ROYAL MALE?

Stand and Deliver,” roars the masked Highwayman holding up the London bound Mail Coach at pistol-point, “My name is Claude Duvall. I’m gonna rape the men and rob the women.” “Surely,” says the older of the two male travellers, “You mean rob the men and rape the women.” The younger, pouting, foppish, pink cravat-wearing, male passenger looks at the older guy and says, “Oi! Shut your mouth you, Mr Duvall knows what he means!”


THE LOST DUTCHMAN MINE.....

Tragically, another three lives lost in the search for this mythical (?) lode. Perhaps the time is ripe to read, ponder, and inwardly digest Edgar Allan Poe's haunting verse, El Dorado(see Malamute Saloon June 17th).


SHAKEN OR STIRRED?

A Professor of Latin at Oxford University walks into a bar and says, “May I have a Martinus?” The barman looks bewildered. “Surely, you mean a Martini?” “Look,” says the professor, “If I wanted a double I’d ask for one.”


And Finally….My beachcombing pal Jack Dey has hit the jackpot yet again. On three consecutive days he lifted a Tiffany of New York sterling silver bracelet; a Russian (Soviet era) heavy silver gents ring bearing the Hammer and Sickle assay mark (very tasty); and a 9-carat white gold wedding band….all from our local beaches. For the teccies, his machine is a Garrett ACE250 fitted with the large coil.

Jack's Finds
Jack's Finds

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September 14, 2010


What’s better than going treasure hunting? Watching it on video with The Jersey Shore Surf Hunters website runs it a close second. Great site this, with great people and lots of interesting rings and coins. Wonderful stuff, but I gotta get me one of them thar long-handled sandscoop jobbies! (Can’t get them here in the UK).

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There’s Treasure In Them Thar Walls

Recently, while flicking through the pages of a pretty good treasure hunting book, Where To Find Treasure, by someone called Dick Stout (that name sounds familiar), he makes reference to Rural Boundary Walls (see page 111). He ends the piece by saying they are worth your time in searching: They certainly are, and to expand a little more on Dick’s reference, here’s why..

For hundreds of years in Britain (including the present day) construction materials for property boundaries markers, fences, and the like, are made from the most widely available local source. In some areas of Britain, this means large stones, rocks and small boulders. With great skill and dexterity, the stones are interlocked forming immensely strong mortar-free walls. In Britain, they call this method of construction dry-stone walling, and in the US they know it as rock fencing.

Rock Fence near Guilford, Vermont
Rock Fence near Guilford, Vermont
" By kind permission of Jared C. Benedict."

Bearing in mind that the stones used to construct these walls often came from land cleared for agriculture should send a signal to the canny treasure hunter that an abandoned farmhouse of dwelling won’t be too far away.

In Britain, these walls are characteristic features of Scotland, the North East and North West, parts of Wales and in the South West. Early settlers to the US, primarily the Scots and Irish, brought with them this dry-stone walling technique, and many of these early walls are still standing in places like New England, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Many date back - in the US at least – to the earliest colonial times. The photo of the rock fence in Guilford, Vermont, is a typical example. Dry-stone walls, whether here in the UK or in the US, should be of great significance for they often conceal valuables of all kinds often dating back many decades.

During Britain’s turbulent medieval times, it was not uncommon for travelers to hide their valuables in these walls as a precaution against robbery before venturing into a town to seek a night’s accommodation. Many, for whatever reason, failed to return to collect their valuables; where some must still remain undiscovered to this day.

Given America’s often lawless past, with the ravages of Civil War, and roaming outlaw bands and desperados, it is likely that travellers en route to wherever adopted similar precautions to protect their prized belongings and valuables.

When scanning a dry-stone wall or rock fence, use if possible, a larger coil in All-Metal mode. Whilst you may be lucky enough to recover items of gold, silver, or pewter, a fine old pistol may not register.

Coins and the like are usually hidden behind stones in the wall that are loose and do not have any apparent ‘supporting role’ in the construction. You can spot these by careful examination prior to scanning. If you own a probe, such as Garrett’s ‘Pro-Pointer’, or a Whites ‘Bullseye’, for example, then so much the better. These are ideal tools for delving into the nooks and crannies.

Dry Stone Wall
Dry Stone Wall
"By kind permission of Lupin"

Should you be fortunate enough to come across one of these walls, try to gauge its date through local history sources. In any case, the wall will probably date back a minimum of one hundred years, which in itself is a vital clue as to what else the locality holds undiscovered, particularly if there is an abandoned or ruined homestead thereabouts.

If you come across an old abandoned dwelling, don’t forget to check whether it has the remains of an orchard. During the English Civil War in the mid-1600’s, family silver and other valuables were sometimes buried for safekeeping under certain trees in apple orchards. Many failed to reclaim their buried loot. It’s well to bear in mind that hoarders seldom put all their eggs in one basket; so where there’s one cache there’s likely to be another close by.

Satan, Get Thee Behind Me

During one of my many beach hunting forays to the islands of Mediterranean Sea, I became surrounded by a bevy of bronzed, nubile, topless beauties of Scandinavian origin all clearly anxious to know what I was doing; they not having seen before anyone swinging something so long near the water (I wish).

Having explained to them in a mixture of broken English and sign language all about coinshooting which proved fairly easy, but answering one stunning blonde’s question, ”How deep can you go,” was another ball-game entirely. I looked across to my wife standing nearby who was watching the proceedings with increasing mirth, mouthed the words, “In your dreams!” and walked away laughing.



Remember…. A hot dog at the ballgame beats roast beef at the Ritz. - Humphrey Bogart

"I’ll see you in the bar!"

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August 31, 2010


I surely love my treasure hunting and all that goes with it; the fresh air, freedom, exercise and the general sense of well-being it creates. Whilst I don’t like to get too precious about it, I have to say that Ole “Salmon & Trout’s” comments in Latest News on the 17th August, sums up the whole ethos of the pastime for me ….“Take a break, throw them [Chops a la Chesil] on the coals, pour a beer, and enjoy. After that who the hell cares what you might find....”

Paradise Found?

That ‘PS’ of Dick’s (see Latest News 7th August) reminds me of the time when my former editor sent me to Sark, the smallest of the Channel Islands situated close to the northern French coast to get some background for a tourist story we were running. Sark is a real step-back in time; a place where automobiles are banned, the hospitality unequalled and where no-one seems to pay any taxes, and what pubs there are, never seem to close. Small wonder then, that the neighbouring islanders on Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney, often describe Sark as, “six hundred drunks clinging to a rock.”

Sark humour though takes few prisoners as I discovered when asking one elderly islander how they all occupied their time during the summer. “Well,“ he mused, rubbing his chin, “To put it bluntly, we fish, farm and fornicate.” Chuckling at his candour, I got him another beer, asking as I put the foaming ale down in front of him, what happens in winter. “Oh, in winter, we don’t fish or farm.” Game, set and match!


Where There’s Muck, There’s Money…

…Is a saying from the north of England and it’s never truer that when applied to treasure hunting. During conversation with a local hunter who admitted he was new to the hobby, went on to tell me that he hadn’t had much luck that morning. I pointed to a fenced-off part of the beach where BBQ’s are permitted and told him to try there as a start. “Oh,” he replied, “Tried there, it’s full of rubbish, foil, cans and all sorts of other stuff.” Small wonder he found nothing but trash, seeing as he was kitted out with a 10-inch coil!

But it’s in these junk-laden areas where most of the best finds are up for grabs and for two good reasons: Firstly, because nobody else hunts there, and secondly, because here’s where people gather, and where people congregate, is where the finds are! So if you want to take that walk along the path where angels fear to tread you are going to need a small coil of around 4.5 inches diameter, then, inwardly digest the piece I wrote in Malamute for 17 June 2010 – "Who Says Size Don’t Matter?"

I realise it’s a leap of faith to unclip a larger deep-seeking coil in favour of a small Sniper-type, but your finds rate will increase. When you arrive at a beach that is unfamiliar to you, take a few minutes and take in the whole scenario. Where are the BBQ areas? Where are the likely trashy areas? Where are the suntraps? Find these, then clip on your Sniper coil and you are in for a very enjoyable day and let the other hunters wander off to the ‘easy’ (but less productive) areas.

Successful coin hunting is not so much a science, more an accumulation of experience. The brilliant WW2 Soviet Army commander, General Georgi Zhukov who swept the Nazi hordes from Eastern Europe, summed-up his triumphs with the advice to; “train hard, fight easy” or as we in this pastime might put it, success happens when good preparation meets opportunity.

Hunting down coins uncovers jewellery almost as a by-product, adding a certain piquancy to the whole undertaking. However, in tropical climes where water temperatures are higher than those in northern latitudes, the majority of high value jewellery finds will be in the water, though the coins will still be in the soft sand.

Remember……


When buying a metal detector, buy the simplest to operate in the highest price range you can justify.

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August 17, 2010


A Deadly Shoreline

On England’s southwest coast where I live in the county of Dorset, is the mighty, remote, Chesil Beach; twenty-two miles of steeply shelving shingle beach stretching from Portland in the south (where the Olympic yachting events will be staged in 2012), to the tiny fishing port of Bridport in the north. Over the years, countless ships, particularly the old square-riggers, have met an untimely end here.

Hidden within the Chesil’s pebbles and shingle are the remains of hundreds of these ships, their cargoes and crews. Occasionally, when the winds, tides and weather conditions coincide, they become exposed coming within the range of modern metal detectors. But the Chesil a dangerous place, it having the nasty habit of taking in payment for the treasure it yields, or the fish it provides shore anglers, the lives of the unwary. It’s a place steeped in history, mystery, and folklore.

Beach Finds

In bygone days well before the advent of metal detectors, beachcombers searched ‘eyes only’ along the tide lines for whatever had washed ashore from passing vessels. They always worked in pairs, roped to one another; one walking and holding and paying out the rope on the high ground, while the other ferreted his way along the water line.

In an onshore ‘blow’, the strong undertow created by the crashing surf, rips away the shingle underfoot sucking the unfortunate beachcomber or angler into the water. So steeply-shelving is the beach, that within ten yards of the shore, the water depth at certain times of the tide can be as much as thirty feet and death comes swiftly.

The bracing autumnal weather hereabouts creates a healthy appetite for which this recipe makes a hearty, welcome on-site, al fresco meal......

Pork Chops a la Chesil

You’ll need a couple of large pork chops and leave the fat on because this aids the cooking process whilst adding flavour as it mingles with the other ingredients. Slice a large apple and lay some of the slices on a square of tinfoil and placing the chops on top. Then layer the chops with the remainingmaing apple slices and a few slices of onion. Fold the foil into a tight parcel and place into the embers of a driftwood fire or on a disposable type BBQ. Leave for at least thirty minutes. When ready, eat with your fingers. Have a can of beer handy. Yum!

A Chesil Yarn

Many years ago, I came across a tale that amply illustrates the mystique of the Chesil Beach. In the village of Abbotsbury just a mile inland from the shoreline, a local man had kept for many years a large, smooth, black stone he’d found on the beach which he now used as a doorstop for the kitchen door of his cottage.

One Sunday lunchtime, while preparing to carve a joint of beef at a family gathering, he realised he needed to put an edge on the blade. For quickness, he ran the blade of his carving knife across the black stone, chipping it as he did so. After lunch, he examined the stone to discover that it was not a stone at all, but what turned out to be a huge silver ingot, probably part of the cargo from one of the Chesil’s many wrecks.

Another local man of my acquaintance, wears a ring fashioned from a Spanish, Piece-of-Eight, but he remains tight-lipped as to precisely where on the Chesil he found the coin, grinning widely in answer to the question, “Just the one coin was it?

A Chesil Tragedy

Monday November 25, 1872 is a date indelibly marked in Portland’s maritime history, for on the morning of this terrible day saw one of the greatest tragedies to befall this stretch of coastline. Outbound for Australia, the 1320 ton, 235-ft long square rigger, Royal Adelaide, laden with cotton, coffee, sugar, paper, and all the sundries anyone would want in the new colonies, and hundreds of casks of ‘Wolff’s Aromatic Schnapps’, found herself in a dire situation.

The wind from the Southwest increased to gale force and she was caught too close in, and unable to tack her way out to seaward, was driven ashore and wrecked. By late afternoon, hundreds of locals had gathered on the shoreline waiting the inevitable wrecking.

All but six people aboard the Royal Adelaide were saved. By late afternoon the real tragedy was about to begin. As she broke up, the hundreds of casks of Dutch gin washed ashore, and men, women, and children were seen drinking heavily from the casks. The orgy went on for three days. Twenty or more died from the effects of excessive alcohol consumption, many freezing to death where they fell in drunken stupors on the beach. More people died on the beach than in the wreck itself.

Occasionally, artifacts (of little monetary worth but of high intrinsic value) from the wreck come to light on the shoreline. The gin is all gone.....

_________________________________

Remember….

On a club outing, the least experienced treasure hunter always makes the best find........


PS: Dick says "ain't it the truth!"

************

August 4, 2010


Dick, Old Friend, A Word…(See Latest News, 29 July)

…but the least little attempt to pick her up results in her running away…” you write. Hmmm. Well old pal, try cruisin’ the car closer and slower to the kerb, or maybe, try another downtown bar or dive.


Damn That Man!

Ole ‘Salmon and Trout’, publishes pics of me, allegedly, lounging in a boat while trout fishing and drinking wine, and partaking of the evil weed. Shit! I gave up nicotine years ago! Gotta admit though, that’s a perty lil’ ole trout though!


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How Not to Get Permission


There’s a lovely story (most likely apocryphal) about two London cockney treasure hunters, let’s call ‘em Bill and Charlie, who ventured into the grounds of one of England’s more splendid Georgian country mansions, in the vain hope of gaining permission to hunt, while trying to project a good image for themselves, and the hobby

Finding themselves on the manicured front lawn of the stately house, were immediately seized upon by a small terrier dog making several attacking and yapping passes at their trouser legs. Amidst the commotion, an upstairs window opened. It was the lady of the house, enquiring as to their business.

We would like,” yap, yap, yap, grrrrr…”to ask your permission to treas...” grrr, yap, yap, yap, grrr…”geroff you little basta...” grrrrrr.

Oh, don’t mind him,” shouts Milady, “He’s just being playful. Kick his balls.”

Eh? Eh? Kick his whats?” Bill asks Charlie.

You ‘eard ‘er,” says Charlie.

And so he did. As the terrier limped off the lawn, eyes watering and with a seriously troubled gait, Milady shouts down, “No, no, no! His balls. Over there! On the grass behind you!

They didn’t get to hunt..........

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The Garrett ACE 250 & Wet Sand – A Warning To All Owners!


There’s a UK metal detecting ‘guru’ who advises ACE 250 owners and potential buyers thereof, that while it’s great on dry sand, it’s less well suited to wet sea water soaked sand, adding ominously, to “Stay well away from pools of water unless you intend to wash the coil!” Oh, dearie me. It ain’t necessarily so!

In truth, these top-selling machines work so extraordinarily well in and around sea water-soaked sand, and over seawater-filled sand-pools that you are in serious danger of enhancing your treasure hunting finds and enjoyment.

I have mine kitted out with the 9”x12” coil, and the SENS control knocked back to the 3rd or 4th segment, and regularly use it in and around exposed low tide sand bars and pools, where it easily locates £1 and £2-coins to between 4” and 6”, depending on the size and type of coin. The £2-ers make the biggest hit, and from their strength of signal, I reckon there’s loads more depth availability.

Beach Finds

Certainly, with greater levels of experience, you can rack-up the SENS control to much higher settings, so long as you keep the searchcoil about one inch off the sand since any touchdowns will set off the ‘Belltone’ in a series of confusing false signals. In all cases and modes, when operating over wet sand, try to REJECT everything to the left of the ‘5c’ mark.

You will be amazed at the results. But always bear in mind: It’s dry sand for quantity, wet sand for quality.



An elderly Jewish man, hit by a car, is brought to the local hospital.

A nurse tucks him into bed and says, "Mr. Schwartz, are you comfortable?"

Schwartz shrugs, “Well, I make a living...."



YOU BELIEVE THIS?

The National Transportation Safety Board recently divulged they had covertly funded a project with US auto industry for the past five years, whereby the auto makers were installing black boxes in four-wheel drive pickup trucks in an effort to determine, in fatal accidents, the circumstances in the last fifteen seconds before the crash.

They were surprised to find in 49 of the 50 states the last words of drivers in 61.2% of fatal crashes were, "Oh, Shit!" Only the state of Texas was different, where 89.3% of the final words were, "Hey Y'all, hold my beer and watch this!"


GOLD NUGGET 'BUD’

I first tasted ‘Bud’ over thirty years ago when, as a guest of some US bass fishing pals with whom I’d spent the day, we all retired to the Rod and Gun Club on the US Air Force Base at Croughton. Contrary to popular UK myth that American beer is pale and tasteless, Budweiser, Pabst, Coors, Schlitz, and Michelob for example, are first class examples of the US brewing genre.

However, many US beers are now available and brewed under licence in the UK, and I have to say - in my opinion only – about the only thing ‘English’ Bud has in common with the US original, is the can. If chilled cat’s pee floats your boat, then UK-brewed Bud should amply launch your taste buds.

What a delight then, when shopping in Tesco’s, one of England’s major supermarket chains, to find bottles of ‘Bud’ bearing the sacred script, “ Brewed and bottled in the USA by Anheuser-Busch, St Louis, MO 632….” Oh, what joy.

This superb beer brought back memories of great times past, of good friends, and of wonderful times had with great fishing and treasure hunting pals. Now, if President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron really want to extend the so-called ‘special relationship’ (whatever that is) between our two countries, and want to do the job properly, they could set the wheels in train by arranging for some authentic US-brewed beer to be exported over here, pronto!



PARROT FASHION

A lady goes to her priest one day and tells him, 'Father, I have a problem.
I have two female parrots, but they only know to say one thing.”

“What do they say?” the priest asked.

They say, “Hi, we're hookers! Do you want to have some fun?”

“That's obscene!” the priest exclaimed,
Then he thought for a moment.....

“You know,” he said, “I may have a solution to your problem. I have two male talking parrots, which I have taught to pray and read the Bible, bring your two parrots over to my house, and we'll put them in the cage with Francis and Peter. My parrots can teach your parrots to pray and worship, and your parrots are sure to stop saying that phrase in no time.”

‘Thank you,” the woman responded, “this may very well be the solution.”

The next day, she brought her female parrots to the priest's house, as he ushered her in, she saw that his two male parrots were inside their cage holding rosary beads and praying. Impressed, she walked over and placed her parrots in with them.

After a few minutes, the female parrots cried out in unison, “Hi, we're hookers! Do you want to have some fun?” There was a stunned silence. Shocked, one male parrot looked over at the other male parrot and said, “Put the beads away, Frank, our prayers have been answered!”


And finally…..

…We don’t stop going out treasure hunting because we are old; we grow old because we stop going out treasure hunting.

************

July 22, 2010


These are tales of treasure hunting in the raw and actually happened. The strong language is included only to enhance the mood and in no way intended to be gratuitous. Well, not a lot!

The Inn Keeper’s Mallet

(Or, what’s a joint like you doing in a bloke like this?)

American bars tend towards the glitzy, bright and swish. English village pubs and inns, on the other hand, tend to be less ‘blingy’, retaining an ambience considered OTT even before George Washington crossed the Potomac. Many of these English ale houses were serving foaming quarts back when Pontius Pilate was still learning to fly and probably served him a pint or two for good measure when he landed (you get my drift?).

These establishments, often dark, with leaded-windows overlooking village greens, or village ponds, where in medieval times witches where ducked [not a misspelling, Dick!], or where long abandoned gibbets or gallows trees dominate the scene. Inside, long shadows fall of flagstone floors, beneath horse-brass decorated oaken beams. These inns are the domain of older folks; retired landworkers, time-served military men, and sundry villagers, whose combined contribution to the tapestry of local life is unique. The pace of life flows at the speed of molasses in winter.

The ale often comes direct from trestle supported wooden barrels. A wooden tap is knocked into the front, lower base of the barrel, with a large, heavy wooden mallet. The ale comes at room temperature, a pint at a time, is flat, and unlike the stuff that made Milwaukee famous, is neither pale, nor fizzy. This liquid you can taste. It goes well with roast beef.

It was into one such hostelry that I, with my great treasure hunting pal, the late Ron Scearce, ventured, during a break in one our many roman site hunting forays. Earlier that morning we had found what was possibly an uncharted villa site, and granted permission to search by the farmer; reason enough for a celebratory liquid lunch. As you do!

Ron, who was then in the Autumn of his years, but still able to take ale on board like a dehydrated camel taking on water at the last oasis in the Sahara, suffered with crippling bouts or arthritis in his hands. What I didn’t know, was that the more serious bouts of this condition sometimes caused his right thumb to pop out of its joint socket.

Returning to our table from the bar, laden with a couple of foaming tankards of the amber nectar, I handed Ron his ale, whereupon, he promptly dislocated his thumb to the plaintive cry of, “Bollocks,” this being an ancient Anglo-Saxonism, meaning round or spherical. Hence its slang usage for the male testes (Not in polite usage).

Briefly uncertain as to whether ‘Bollocks’ meant I had bought him ordinary bitter ale instead of his usual tipple, best bitter, he croaked that his arthritic condition went with the territory of his unfortunate malady, and would I, “F*****g quickly, please,” pass him the large, heavy glass ashtray on the adjacent table. Which I did.

Then he set about belabouring his right hand with the ashtray, unsuccessfully attempting to relocate the errant right thumb back into its socket, all to the consternation of the village natives present.

“I need something heavier,” he cried, just as a group of Royal Air Force chaps from the nearby aerodrome sidled up to the bar. Pushing through the assembled ‘fly guys’ I asked the Landlord if I might borrow the barrel mallet for a short while. “Why?” he asked suspiciously.

“My friend has just dislocated his thumb, and wants to knock it back into place,” says I, and with the ‘Fly guys’ visibly wincing at the prospect, was handed the said mallet. All eyes in the room focussed on Ron.

Handing him the mallet, I turned away, unable to stomach what was in prospect. Whack! Whack! Whack! Click! The thumb was back in place, immediately followed by Crash! Crash! As two of the aviators passed out on the floor.

“Same again?” says Ron beaming, “My round.”

And I almost passed out.............

Great Balls of Fire

(Or, has anyone seen my electric organ?)

In a certain Gloucestershire pub, the one closest to a favoured roman villa site of ours, Pete, Ron and I, always lunched well. Here the ale flowed in copious quantities often in the company of local farming pals. One lunchtime, a new farmer (to us, at least) joined our merry throng, and amid some serious drinking, offered us access to vast tracts of his land.

“By all means come over to the farm, you’ll find all sorts of things. Any time, feel free,” he slurred. Suitably fortified, we lurched onto his land around mid-afternoon. “Gotta take a pish,” Pete said, staggering off towards some bushes at the edge of a field. “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! F*********cccccckkkkkkk!” came the piercincg scream as Pete, wide-eyed, leapt from the bushes clutching his admirable, and widely admired, indeed celebrated (but now smoking) organ in both hands, “Electric, f*****g, fence.”



Q. What’s the difference between Pete and a coconut?

A. You can get a drink out of a coconut.


Cool Water & Drinkable Tea

When the blistering heat is well into its stride, I always pack a US Army style canteen, filled with water. Inevitably, the water rarely stays refreshingly cold. However, there is a way of fooling the brain into thinking it’s cooler than it is.

First, pour the water into a clear glass jug, then very slowly, drip feed whisky into the water until the water becomes very slightly straw coloured. This may only take a couple of teaspoons to do this – then stop. Pour the water into your water bottle. Out in the field when you next take a drink, the water will taste cool and refreshing. Clever, eh?

So what about if you take a Thermos of coffee or tea? Well if you drink the contents soon enough there’s hardly any effect of the flavour of either drink. But, left for a few hours, the taste of tea and coffee becomes vile.

HYBRIO Batteries
Carnation Evaporated Milk

The cure is to make the tea or coffee using evaporated milk and it will retain its flavour for many hours.




Heard at a meeting between treasure hunters and archaeologists.
Pompous archaeologist:
“What we object to and find unacceptable, is people making money out of the common heritage.”
Treasure hunting delegate;
“Oh really? So you are like us then, amateurs?”
Pompous archaeologist;
“No, no, no. We are paid professionals.”



Finally… …Remember the motto of Baseball’s Oakland Athletics’ Charlie O. Finley: Sweat + Sacrifice = Success.

************

July 16, 2010

Judging a Book By Its Cover

They say you only get one chance to make a first impression, and in Don Vickers’ case, who’s running for President of the FMDAC, he’s won me over, for he surely looks the real deal; a President-in-Waiting. I don’t know anything about the guy apart from what I’ve seen of his photo in ‘Latest News’, but I sense there’s a whiff the iron fist in a velvet glove, not to mention a hint of the ‘Godfather’ about him. I like the cut of your jib mate, Good luck.

The Archaeological Hat

In the days before I got religion (well before discovering the joys of beach hunting with its many delights and treasures), unearthing hitherto unknown roman sites of which there are many here in the UK really cranked my handle. Back then, my two great treasure hunting mates were the near legendary, Ron Scearce (whose antics are featured further down the Malamute column) and someone who for legal reasons I’ll have to call ‘Pete’, a man who bore a striking resemblance to that great English character actor, Alastair Sim; urbane, balding, academic, professorial almost.

Sundays would sometimes see the three of us cruising the countryside looking for likely, untapped, roman sites. When faced with the prospect of coming face-to-face with one of the Landowning Classes to seek search permission, Pete would invariably dress the part of the English country squire; tweed sports jacket, Tattersall shirt, Cavalry twill trousers, and brown brogue shoes. The landowning classes saw him as one of their own.

Pete was a wit, mimic, very clubbable, a bon viveur, and (blessed?) with the sexual appetite of a junkyard Tom, for which Mother Nature had adequately equipped him. Had he been a yacht, he would have been ‘donkey rigged’.

For some inexplicable reason, and I am not jealous when I say this, women found him irresistible. I remember one notable occasion when a landowner refused us permission to search. However, Pete had already made eye contact with the good farmer’s wife and went back after hours, and gave her a good seeing-to. So impressed was she by his performance, and to keep Pete returning for more of the same, she pressed her husband to give us permission. Then he had the bloody cheek to ask Ron and me to cough-up a few quid to help pay for his clandestine adulterous assignations in nearby restaurants. “I’m doing this for you guys,” he’d say, “It’s not solely for me y’know!”

His sense of humour made Lenny Bruce look like a kiddies' entertainer. He was also a man who’d had many wives; the last two being his own! And all this dovetailed into his ability to down anything alcoholic as though Prohibition was just around the corner. History alas, was not his strong point.

Well it came to pass, that one day we discovered what Pete thought was a ‘tasty’ roman trackway. In truth, it dated to pre-roman. Before approaching the wealthy landowner’s stately pile, a brief straw poll amongst some of his workers in the fields suggested to us that we would be dealing with an unreconstructed bastard of the Old School. “No problem,” says Pete, with a wide grin, “This is a job for the Archaeological Hat,” promptly producing from the glove-box of his VW Carmen Ghia, a battered, tweedy type, gamekeeper number, to complete his sartorial ensemble.

With Pete shifting up into full bullshit mode, we wended our way to the stately portals of the Baronial Hall to meet the Master himself. I was less than confident of a good outcome. Pete, I thought, was out of his depth. Ron whispered in my ear, “He’ll never get away with this one.”

“Well,” says The Master brusquely, ”What do you want?” “Oh, good afternoon,” says Pete, “We are archaeologists, and we’d like to examine the roman road, yonder. We sometimes use metal detectors as part of our research.” “Oh, really?” replies the Master distinctly unimpressed, “Well that trackway is of Celtic origin, not roman. One would have thought that you three, being archaeologists, would have known this.”

Caught in an historical lie and with his metaphorical trousers round his ankles, attack was the only defence. Shrugging his shoulders, in the best Jewish tradition, Pete looked the Master straight in the eye and with a smile replied, “Celtic?…schmeltic? Roman? schroman? C’mon, who really gives a f**k?”

Ron and I died on the spot, both of us wanting the ground to swallow us whole. Dear Mother of God, this was not happening. The Master’s face was akin to one of those on Mount Rushmore. No one had ever spoken to him like this before.

Suddenly the penny dropped. The Master, hands on hips, began roaring with laughter…”Hahaha, oh dear, oh dear,…hahaha,…Celtic schmeltic…roman schroman…hahahaha…who gives a f**k…hahaha. Help yourselves, but see my gamekeeper first, and don’t disturb the bloody pheasants,” then slammed the door and went inside.

We could hear him laughing as we walked away, and I’ll bet he dined out on that one for many a year.

In the event, we enjoyed months of treasure hunting, and ironically, found many roman coins, but alas, nothing Celtic

The Archaeological Hat was surely, powerful ju-ju......

Not So Dumb Blonde?

A visitor to a museum asks the blonde attendant, “How old is that dinosaur skeleton?” “Twenty million years and three weeks,” she replies. “Wow,” the visitor says, “That carbon dating is really something. How can they be so accurate?” “Well,” says the blonde, “They told me it was twenty million years old when I started here, and that was three weeks ago.”



Current Matters – New Kids on the Block!

Batteries of the right type, especially rechargeables are vital for successful treasure hunting, and amongst the best, in my experience are Uniross Hybrio’s. The official blurb on these new types of rechargeables reads:-

“If on the other hand you use your batteries less intensely, maybe irregularly or infrequently then the Uniross HYBRIO battery is by far the better choice. HYBRIO batteries are the battery of choice for almost every application. Don't for one minute think that you are getting a lesser battery simply because the capacity is rated at 2100mAH whilst our regular high capacity NiMH AA batteries are rated at 2300,2500 or even 2700mAh.

“The reason for this is simple and comes down to the 'self' or 'natural' discharge found in all regular NiMH rechargeable batteries.

“What self discharge means is that once charged, a fully charged NiMH battery is losing a small part of its charge on a daily basis even when not being used. In fact, the higher the rated capacity of the battery, the faster the rate of self-discharge becomes!

"A HYBRIO battery on the other hand has a VERY LOW self discharge and which means it can maintain its stored power for months and months on end. This very low self-discharge characteristic is what makes HYBRIO batteries so very popular with most battery users.

“If you charged a 2700mAh AA and a 2100mAh AA HYBRIO battery and put them both to use immediately in a power hungry device then the 2700mAh battery would give you approximately 25% longer use due to its higher initial capacity.

“However, if you left the batteries in a digital camera for example and came back to them a few weeks later then the HYBRIO batteries would now give you much longer use simply because they will have held on to most of their stored power while the 2700mAh battery would have lost a considerable amount of charge due to the self discharge mentioned earlier.

HYBRIO Batteries
HYBRIO Batteries

“In a nutshell the numbers game (mAh capacity) goes out the window unless you really hammer your batteries and are constantly charging them when used in extremely power hungry devices. For the average user, Uniross HYBRIO batteries offer a much more reliable solution and this is why we now sell more AA HYBRIO batteries than all other AA batteries put together!

“If you use your batteries hard and fast and regularly charge your batteries on an almost daily basis then 2500 or 2700mAH AA's could be the better choice,” continues the advertising blurb.

Well, I use Hybrios in my Garrett ACE 250, re-charging (topping up) constantly, maybe three to four times a week, and have done so for the past year. They are the best I have ever used. Indeed, I use them exclusively (8 x AA’s) in my pulse induction Garrett Sea Hunter II, which in a battery-munching pulse machine like this, they still manage about 8 to 10 hours hunting.

However, since Uniross’s men-in-white-coats probably never tested them in a metal detector, I have to say that 2100m AH’s, have ample capacity, and are quite superb.

Unlike non-rechargeables, Hybrio’s maintain constant, full output, power supply to your metal detector. The downside however, like all rechargeables, is that when they expire, they die without warning. Therefore, after hunting for say, seven hours, (with a Sea Hunter II) you must be alert to the fact a power failure is imminent. My ACE250 also thrives on Hybrios, but the same warning prevails.

To find out more about these superb batteries, visit www.batterylogic.co.uk

Finally......

Life for us treasure writers ain’t all beer and skittles; some of us haven’t touched a skittle in years.

************

July 4, 2010

Are You Getting Enough? (coins, that is!)


Britain’s mapping authority, the Ordnance Survey (OS), records the UK’s mainland coastline at around 11,072.76 miles. The spies’ handbook, aka, the CIA Factbook, reckons it to be 12,429 km, or 7,723 miles, though it’s hard to fathom how precisely the Langley, VA, spooks came up with their figures – so best stick with the OS then. I had the pleasure of contributing a piece (in part reproduced below) to Stephen L Moore’s groundbreaking book, European Metal Detecting Guide, (RAM Publishing, ISBN 978-0-9818991-6-9), probably the most comprehensive work to date on the European detecting scene, ironically, not from the pen of a European, but an American! It’s a refreshing professional read that’s one hundred and eighty degrees from that turgid school of UK treasure scribblings stylised by the, “Imagine my surprise, I dug down 18” with my trusty old … (fill-in the manufacturer’s name here) …” format.

"In the UK alone, official Government figures confirm that between 1983 and 1993 (when the last survey was done) 1,161.6 million £1-coins were minted. During that decade 191 million of them went AWOL, classified as “wastage”, meaning they went out of circulation for any one of a number of reasons..

In its report titled Economic Trends No. 495 January 1995, the UK Government’s Central Statistical Office, attributed the “wastage” thus, “…they may be dropped in accessible places, taken abroad by foreign tourists, converted into souvenirs, put into permanent collections or lost in a number of ways.” If just 1/100th of these 191 million coins were lost on the UK’s beaches, and continue piling up at the same rate to the present day, then 1.91 million x 26 years, (to include the yearly loss rate between 1983 to 1993), confirms that 49,666,000 £1-pound coins are out there waiting discovery. US Treasury figures will be even more mind-blowing.”

Therefore, 49,666,000 divided by 11,072.76 miles (the coastline length of the UK) equates to roughly 4485.729 £1-coins per mile. However, since most of this number is lost on tourist beaches, the figure of 4485.729 increases monumentally, perhaps tenfold. Loss figures for the US are surely even more staggering. A vast fortune in lost jewellery, watches, and coins of all denominations, from all epochs, awaits treasure hunters worldwide.

The key to the conundrum is discovering where all these lost coins have migrated? Where for example, are the billions of coins lost on our beaches between say, 1900, and 1950? They haven’t disappeared off the face of the Earth…they are still there, somewhere, on the beaches where they were originally lost. Now it’s simply a matter knowing when and how to tap into this Mother Lode.

But one treasure hunter is not getting his share…..

….but first, a word from our sponsor


Conversion Problem?

Isaac asks the Rabbi, “Oi vay, my son has become a Christian, what shall I do?” “Come back in the morning Isaac,” the Rabbi replies, “after I have talked with God,” The following day, Isaac asks the Rabbi what happened. “Well, I talked with God, and it seems He has the same problem...”



…’Tramlines’

I, and my treasure hunting buddy, Jack Dey, are reasonably successful coinshooters. We hunt, one of the top tourist beaches in southern England, and it’s here where we sometimes run across a sour-faced T’Hing individual, we’ve nicknamed, ‘Tramlines’. He walks back and forth along the beach, robot fashion, looking neither right or left, waving his detector (fitted with a coil half the size of Texas, and cordless headphones), some eight to ten inches OFF the sand. Occasionally he digs – no sandscoop, just a large shovel. There’s nothing wrong with his detector, it’s from a major European manufacturer and a quality piece of kit too, but in the wrong hands, his hands, and on a beach, with the wrong coil, it’s a near useless piece of junk.

For an early morning cabaret, we’ll sit on the edge of the promenade enjoying our Thermos of early morning tea and chocolate Hobnob biccy, mesmerized by his technique. Often, we’ll follow his footstep lines in the sand (hence his nickname), covering the ground he’s supposedly already ‘searched,’ and every time, we pick up coin after coin and pieces of jewelry. As for his technique, all we can imagine is that with such a huge coil he’s under the mistaken impression that larger coils find deeper coins.

Up to a point, they do, but then the size versus energy equation kicks in, and while the larger coils will happily locate larger objects, deeper, coin-sized objects fail to register on the depleted energy field. What happens is this; metal detectors (depending on type and make), generate a fixed amount of magnetic energy, and transmitted by the searchcoil into the ground. Small coils, such as the 4” diameter Super Sniper, concentrate this energy intensely, and thus are able to locate the tiniest objects, and small coins, to as much as 7” deep. Less affected by trashy targets, small coils are perfect for working roman sites festooned with iron nails, or getting amongst tree roots, or working the trashier areas of beaches.

A larger coil uses this same amount of magnetic energy, but because the coil is larger, the magnetic energy is in effect, ‘diluted’. Because it is now weaker, it follows that deep, large targets, are easier to locate than smaller items such as coins, which remain ‘unseen’ by the coil. Not only this, but using a large coil on a trashy beach for instance, amid the plethora of rubbish, heavy foil contamination, ring pulls, and bottle tops, will mask the good targets, ‘trashing-out’ the good finds . On the aforementioned roman site, a larger coil is useless.

Old ‘Tramlines’ I have to say, is living proof of the old treasure hunting adage that larger coils are best for larger targets. Of course, Jack and me could be all wrong; maybe he’s simply out for an early morning stroll. Actually, we reckon he’s an inland treasure hunter trying his luck on the beach. What a lot of ‘landlubbing’ treasure hunters fail to realize is that beach hunting is another ball game entirely.


Who's Guilty? A wife wakes up from a dream yelling, "Hurry, my husbands home"; Husband wakes up and jumps out the window.


My ‘Ole Pal, Fradley, a widely travelled pro-diver, inn keeper, and all round good egg, (or Fradders as he’s known to intimates), sends me this superb dish for your delectation ….

AROOQ

Minced Chicken Fritters

From the region of Maharashtra (Bombay), thanks to Iraqi Jewish immigrants from over 100 years ago.

Serves 4 (or less if you REALLY like them)

  • 1. 2 x Spring onions (or 1 small onion)
  • 2. 1lb raw minced Chicken
  • 3. 1/8th tsp ground Turmeric
  • 4. ¼ tsp chilli powder
  • 5. ½ tsp finely chopped fresh green chillies
  • 6. ½ tsp salt
  • 7. freshly ground black pepper (to your taste)
  • 8. 2 tbsp plain white flour
  • 9. 2 eggs beaten.
  • 10. oil for frying (I deep fry mine)

Top and tail the spring onions and dice finely. Put the minced chicken in a bowl and ad the turmeric, chilli powder, fresh green chillies, salt, ground black pepper and the flour and mix well. Add the eggs and give another mix, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour (you can make this a day before).

Use enough oil for about 2” in depth and heat. Using two spoons to shape the Arooq into about 1” balls put them into the oil (use one spoon to scrape it into the oil for ease. Fry until golden brown and cooked in the middle (about 5mins); adjust heat if not the case. Remove with slotted spoon and place on kitchen paper, keep warm and serve. They are also very nice as a cold snack.

ENJOY!

.......................................................................
Church in St Maire Eglise
Village church in St Maire Eglise

LEST WE FORGET

During one of many treasure hunting forays onto the beaches of France, I took this photograph of the village church in St Mere Eglise, Normandy, just inland from the Normandy Landings beachhead. Into this village square, many paratroopers of the US 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions drifted and landed right into the waiting arms of German troops, on D-Day, 1944. Many were bayoneted as they landed; many killed by sub-machine gunfire as they touched down. The luckier ones taken prisoner.

John Steele, second from right
John Steele, second from right

One had his ‘chute snagged on the church roof and he survived to tell the tale. The blockbuster movie, The Longest Day, recreated this scene amongst the unfolding carnage in the village square. Red Buttons as I recall, played the soldier. In commemoration of that terrible night, and of the sacrifices made by the renowned 82nd and 101st, a fully-clad model soldier hangs from the church roof in remembrance of that night, and of the eventual liberation of this village by US troops. The name of that paratrooper was Private John M. Steele, of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, who, having been shot in the foot, hung there for two hours pretending to be dead before taken prisoner later that day. He escaped when the 505th captured the village.

John Steele was made an honorary citizen of St. Mere Eligise, and the Cafe John Steele, adjacent to the village square, where the bitter fighting occurred, maintains his memory through photos, letters and articles hung on the walls.

Even today, we owe a great debt to our armed forces. Freedom seldom comes cheap.

GOD BLESS THEM ALL!

************



June 27, 2010


Of Treasure Hunting Dreams

Imagine… a late summer’s evening and the blue-gray smoke of a crackling, driftwood fire, lazily spiralling into evening sky, pungently scenting the air and the sun already hull-down on the horizon bowing out another day. Only the waves gentle lapping at the shoreline’s pebbles breaking the silence.

Staring at the ebbing orange ball in the west, you flip a Spanish gold Reale – the colour of melting butter – through your fingers. You ponder…who held this last….a buccaneer…an Olde Worlde aristocrat…a raven-haired Spanish senorita perhaps. What stories this coin has to tell? The fire crackles…the beer is cool…the company good. The reality is you are $1,000 ahead of the game with the prospect of more Reales to come.

Moments such as these do exist, though in truth, the actuality is more austere. Nevertheless, if you take your treasure hunting on the wild side, muscling up to the breakers to hunt down shipwreck remains, you’ll know intimately, how sea air generates thirsts and appetites of Viking-like proportions.

Such fleeting moments of sheer enjoyment and inner peace, are seldom if ever, experienced by those outside of the treasure hunting endeavour. What possible extra ingredient could there be to enhance these rare moments?

Treasure hunting isn’t simply about treasure, it’s about soul. Some treasures hunters have it, many don’t. Think of soul the way Jazz great, Louis ‘Satchmo’ Armstrong, described it when he said of inherent rhythm, “If you has to ask what it is, you ain’t got it.” Some treasure hunters possess this indefinable feel for the Past, a sense bordering almost, on the uncanny – a buccaneering instinct – setting them apart from the rest of the herd. They have, I am sure, a Sixth Sense. So what completes the scene? Food, that’s what! Soul food.


So, free-up your juices and taste buds with a couple of outdoor recipes. First, go get a cold beer…I’ll wait….

Many anglers exhibit this same Sixth Sense. Some can ‘read’ a stretch of water and know not only where the fish lie, but also the species, and size. I know of treasure hunters who get similar vibes just by spending a few moments ‘contemplating’ a field, or stretch of beach. They know precisely where to search.

Food, when it’s prepared and eaten under a celestial canopy rounds off any day, especially a profitable one. When the Gods smile, you’ll be eating in their company. Anyone who has ever experienced this sense of well-being, elitism almost – immortality even – knows precisely the ethereal quality to which I refer. Food also feeds the Inner Man.

It never fails to amaze why many treasure hunters head off into the sunset when there’s so much more in prospect to enjoy , in situ, or why so many take their sustenance in the shape of corned beef sandwiches. Nutritious and delicious as it is, some people actually slice that wonderful concoction, SPAMtm, straight from the tin only to whack it between two slices of bread. I kid you not! Jeez, get a life guys!

SPAM, sliced and skillet-sautéed with a little chopped garlic, and a few onion slices, and all placed into a crusty bread roll, or baguette, with a healthy dollop of French mustard, is, er…well, ….’kin orgasmic. For peanuts, and with a little imagination, you can eat like a king. SPAMtm is the perfect treasure hunting grub, it’s easily portable, keeps fresh in the tin until required, and is unbeatable when you get serious, down, and dirty with it.

Just in case you are wondering, the guys at SPAMtm haven’t paid me a dime for this endorsement (but whenever you’re ready fellas, eh?. Plain envelope as usual!).

Then again, why not take a giant leap for mankind further along treasure hunting’s culinary trail by taking everyone’s favourite, fresh rations. Your ability to prepare and cook them, assures your place on everyone’s’ treasure hunting trip. A good cook, is a good companion!

An old soldier of my acquaintance, now sadly departed, who in WW2 fought his way east across Europe from the Normandy landings, never ceased in telling me over a pint or three at my local pub, of how he knew a man who wiped out half a regiment with his bare hands. “Special Forces, eh?” I‘d say, “Nah, he was a Cook-Sergeant in the Catering Corps,” he’d reply, roaring with laughter. But I digress.

Getting to grips with the delights of garlic bread with cheese slices cooked in the embers of a driftwood fire, is no big deal. It’s simply a matter of application and know-how. The results are finger licking good. Here’s how.

Gourmet beach cooking is easy to master. Aside from basic tools; a sturdy pocketknife; aluminium foil, and matches, only your the breadth of your ingenuity sets the boundaries. For example, individually wrap a couple of pork chops with apple slices in aluminum foil and leave them in the embers for 30 minutes or so, you’ll have a meal to remember. Add a six-pack of beer (cola if you’re so minded, or driving), a large plastic bin-liner for the trash, and you’re on the way. So what’s on the menu? We’ll push the boat out with….

THE TINFISH (Navy slang for a Torpedo)

The night prior to hunting, cut a large French style loaf or baguette into l-o-n-g slices about eight inches each. Slit each one, spreading liberally (inside and out) with garlic butter. Add several slices of mature Cheddar Cheese; Monterey Jack is a fair substitute. Wrap each slice tightly, in foil, and place in the ‘fridge overnight.

Then the following day when out hunting, at around midday, or when your belly thinks your throat’s been cut, build a driftwood fire. When the flames have died down – use the time getting to know what made Milwaukee famous – place the foil-wrapped bread and cheese slice into the glowing embers. Open another can, sup for ten minutes, and remove the foil parcel from the embers. Allow to cool, then enjoy a beggar’s lunch that’s fit for a king. Yum!

Luck of the Irish

Did you hear about the two Irishmen marooned on an iceberg? One turns to the other and say, “Murphy, Murphy, we’re saved. Here comes the Titanic.”



Roman Finds
A few of John's Roman Brooches
ROMAN STUFF

How treasure hunter’s perceptions vary. Many of my US friends say they’d love the chance to hunt for, let alone find, the Roman artefacts in the photo. Financially, the brooches shown have little value, perhaps the equivalent of $100. Historically, they are not that important either, since we know more about the Romans, their Empire and way of life, than the Romans did themselves. But I can see the attraction for those who will never get to hunt for things such as these. Me, I’d swap ‘em all for the chance to hunt down gold nuggets, or hunt for relics in the Old West.


Oh, What a Lucky Dog!

I was in a pub recently (now there’s a surprise!) and a treasure hunting pal was watching the Inn Keeper’s dog lick its privates.“Cor!”, he exclaimed, “I wish I could do that.”The Inn Keeper looked up from serving another customer and without batting an eyelid said, “Well give him a biscuit and he might let you!”


And Finally….

Remember….If you don’t succeed at first, try second base.

************

June 17, 2010

Treasure Junkies

It’s probably true that 10-per cent of treasure hunters find 90-per cent of the treasure, notwithstanding the fortunate few who inadvertently stumble across momentous treasures from time to time. However, anyone coming into this game with expectations of quick and easy, not to mention vast riches, is on a loser. I’ve known people who, with a Celtic Stater or two, or a handful of Double Eagles under their belts, have gone off the rails, selling up their worldly possessions to pursue a mirage. Broken marriages, debt and dereliction, always in hot pursuit. To old timers, this was called gold fever.

Whether you’re new to treasure hunting or not, consider and inwardly digest this evocative elegy by the enigmatic American writer, Edgar Allan Poe (1809 – 1849), who penned the best verse ever written about the search for treasure; the dark warnings within, are writ large for the cerebrally alert.

EL DORADO


Gaily bedight, A gallant knight
In sunshine and in shadow,
Had journeyed long,
Singing a song,
In search of El Dorado.


But he grew old
This knight so bold
And o'er his heart a shadow
Fell as he found
No spot of ground
That looked like El Dorado.


And, as his strength
Failed him at length,
He met a pilgrim shadow
"Shadow," said he,
"Where can it be
This land of El Dorado?"


"Over the Mountains
Of the Moon,
Down the Valley of the Shadow,
Ride, boldly ride,"
The shade replied
"If you seek for El Dorado."


.......................................................................

Huh???

At breakfast the other morning I mentioned to my wife that I’d been chatting with the Postman (Mailman in the US) and he said he’d had every woman in the street bar one. “I’ll bet it’s that snooty bitch across the road", she replied.




RECIPE

Linguine and Mushrooms with Chopped Chilies and Parsley

Great with cold Beer


We had this tonight for supper. It's hot (very), delicious, and best enjoyed with several ice-cold beers, and chunks of wholemeal bread.....
you’ll need;
  • 500g of Linguine (about 16 oz)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Tin of whole or chopped mushrooms (large or small it’s up to you)
  • 1 or 2 hot (red) chillies, deseeded and finely chopped, or seeds left in for the masochistic
  • 6 or 7 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 heaped tablespoons of chopped parsley (flat leaf type is better)
Cooking;
Fry the garlic in the oil until just golden, stirring all the time. Add the tinned mushrooms. Then add the chopped chilli and all the parsley, then add six tablespoons of the salted water in which you will be boiling the pasta. Cook and stir for about 30 seconds, and set aside and keep warm.

Boil the pasta in the salted water until ‘al dente’, or one minute less than the cooking time stated on the packet. When cooked, drain, and tip back into the same pan. Then pour over the chilli, parsley and garlic oil, and over a low/medium heat, stir all the ingredients together for 45 seconds. Remove from heat and serve. Yum!



Who Says Size Don’t Matter?


It’s a leap of faith to clip on a 4.5” coil and go beach hunting. Small coils jar against every natural treasure hunting instinct. Everyone wants depth, and lots of it, and big coils are the way to get it. However, coils half the size of Texas when used amongst the garbage, screw things up big style, but sensitively, in much the same as some Real Estate Agents smile as they shaft you. But this is all set to change.

There’s an old English saying that ‘where there’s muck there’s brass’, and never is it truer than in treasure hunting. Hunt amongst in the trashiest areas and you’ll always do well for a number of reasons; not least because these areas, being so trashy, everyone else avoids them like the plague. But the secret in plucking the best from the worst depends on the type and size of searchcoil you use.

Items found with small coil
Found amongst the trash

Small diameter coils work on other detector brands too, but being a Garrett aficionado, I have to say, welcome to the 4.5-inch world of the Garrett Super Sniper (other small coils are available). This little beauty will locate coins - depending on size - to between five and seven inches in dry sand when hooked up to an ACE 250 set to ‘MAX SENS’. It’s a beachcombing delight. That doyen of the double entendre, Mae West, once asked a Texan how tall he was. “Six foot eight inches ma’am,” he said,“Never mind the feet,” replied Mae, “But oh, those eight inches.” And so it is with the Super Sniper. Try to forget super depths, and think of Mae and her eight inches!

For the purpose of this feature, I took my Super Sniper for a test drive to a section of local beach that the previous day I’d worked with a 9” x 12” coil for the purpose of comparison: An area packed with trash of all kinds; beer cans, pull tabs, heavy foil, and the remnants of portable BBQ’s. The results were less than impressive.

In one 200 yard sweep, working the same path as I had previously with the 9”x12” coil, I recovered the coins shown in the picture; totalling some £9, or about the $13-ish from amongst the trash.

Being lighter, the small coils are faster, cover a lot of ground by virtue of the speed at which they can be used, and have a fast ‘target response’. It dodges in and out of the beer cans and is rarely, unlike the larger standard or extra large coils, swamped. On the ACE250, setting the DISCRIM to reject those pull-tabs (the ones that are supposedly attached to the cans), opens up a whole new world of treasure hunting.


Remember…”You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”................ Mae West

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May 27, 2010

Why You Need a Pro-Pointer?

(Other pin-pointers are available)

If proof were needed that you need one of these gizmos, look at the tiny piece of solid silver jewellery perched on top of the Pro-Pointer (see photo). The item is a handcrafted ‘spacer’, from the much sought-after Pandora range of superbly crafted amulets, of Danish design created in gold or silver, and much in vogue - worn as modern equivalents to the traditional ‘charm’ bracelets. The illustrated ‘spacer’, called ‘Sunrise’ (item # 79210 in the range) retails here in the UK at £25 ($38 US approx). Other charms in the range run to several hundred dollars especially those fashioned in gold.

Pro-Pointer
Spacer, found with "Pro-Ponter"

Items this small are the devil to locate, especially in dry, fine, sand, and this one was no exception. When initially located (with an ACE250, large coil, set to accept 5c and above, SENS set to ‘Block 7,’the signal was loud and clear). But when the ‘signal’ was shovelled into my sandscoop, it repeatedly passed through the perforations, dropping back into the sand; the only option of location, being my Pro-Pointer.

Pin pointers are a real ‘must have’ accessory and most of the major manufacturers make them. Look for one that’s waterproof giving a strong audio signal with additional vibrational alerts, since you’ll be wearing headphones that can mask a weak audio response. Importantly, try for a model that sports a 360-degree side-scanning facility along the entire shaft length, as well as at the tip.



"Easy-Peasey Chinese Ribs a La Limey"

(Feeds 4)
You’ll need to get hold of Chinese-style spare ribs, as plain spare ribs are not the best alternative. Marinate the ribs ( in the fridge) in the sauce for about four hours. You need 1.5 kg/3 lb pork spare ribs


The Sauce
  • 3 tablespoons soft brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons clear honey
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree or ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon of French mustard
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.

    2. Cut the ribs to separate them, place them in a large roasting tin/tray.

    3. Mix the remaining ingredients in a small saucepan, season well, and over a low heat bring to the simmer.

    4. Liberally coat the ribs in the sauce. Keep any remaining sauce for basting.

    5. Bake in the oven, uncovered, for 60 minutes, regularly turning and basting the ribs.

    Then, lower the oven heat to the lowest setting, and bake for a further 30 minutes, or until the flesh is well cooked and the ribs thoroughly coated in the sauce. Serve immediately.

    Warning! These are sticky messy ribs best eaten with the fingers. Have plenty of kitchen paper handy. Enjoy with several ice-cold beers (or if you’re a Francophile website owner from Noo Joisey, now resident in the Lone Star State, then a 2007 Chateaueuf-du-Pape La Crau should hit the spot).




A Moment of Respect

The scene is the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and a large crowd is slowly shuffling its way into the stadium when a funeral procession approaches. One fan stands to attention, doffs his Texas Rangers baseball cap, and stands reverently to attention until the cortège passes by. “That’s a noble gesture indeed,” says another fan. “Well,”says the first chap philosophically, “She wasn’t such a bad wife, y’know.”

Envy

I'd just come out of the fast food shop with a meat and potatoes pie, large portion of fries, mushy peas, and a jumbo sausage, when a poor homeless man sitting by the door, looked up and said , ‘I’ve not eaten for two days'. I told him, 'I wish I had your f*****g will power'

Einstein

Redneck Billy-Joe is walking down the road eating a bag of doughnuts, when Waylon meets him and says, 'Howdy cousin, if I can guess how many doughnuts you have in the bag, can I have one?’ Billy-Joe says, 'If you can guess how many doughnuts are in here boy, you can have ‘em both.!’ Waylon replies, 'Four!'



Whisky Scallops

It doesn’t come much better than this. Serves four, but better enjoyed by two!

You’ll need:

  • 8-ozs of king or queen scallops without roe. Fresh or frozen.
  • 1-ozs of butter
  • 4 fl-ozs double cream or crème fraiche
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Three tablespoons of Scotch whisky
  • 4 Cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh, chopped chives
  • 8-ozs of baby spinach leaves
Method

1. Heat the butter in a large pan and then add four tablespoons of the crème or crème fraiche. Bring to the boil and reduce by half.

2. Add the remaining lime juice, whisky, and the remaining crème or crème fraiche.

3. Add the scallops. Cover for three minutes, stirring occasionally, and then add the tomatoes.

4. Serve the scallops on a bed of baby spinach leaves and garnish with the chopped chives. Makes a great starter!

Wash it down with a dry white wine, or a well watered whisky!



Remember……The worst day’s treasure hunting always beats the best day in the office.

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May 20, 2010

A High Seas Treasure and Mystery

Members of one of North America’s top treasure hunting clubs, the Florida-based Suncoast Research and Recovery Club (SRARC) have uncovered a maritime mystery while out beachcombing with their metal detectors. A mystery so baffling in its complexity that it has, for the past five years, sent marine archaeologists, shipwreck historians and dedicated treasure hunters alike, scurrying about on two continents like demented termites, piecing together a fragmented jigsaw of clues.

The story got into its stride back in 1987 when several SRARC members lead by their very able guide, Dennis Ranney, recovered a selection of 18C Spanish gold and silver coins from Wabasso Beach, Florida. The coins dating from 1807 and from the reign of King Carlos (Charles) III, were of no great numismatic importance, but were of the type that any self-respecting treasure hunter, worth his salt, would give his high teeth. Historically though, the coins were of enormous value; the keys to unlocking a fascinating 165-year old seafaring tale of intrigue and duplicity.

It was only after many hours of painstaking sleuthing in England, when an all-important snippet of information came to light, readily given by a retired English Sea Captain, that the researchers realised that here before them, was a salty tale of intrigue. It bore all the hallmarks of an 18C equivalent of a combined CIA/MI6 undercover operation that had gone drastically and tragically wrong.

Had there been one supposes, in those far off days the type of investigative journalism we have today, it is likely this tale would have been dubbed, ‘Wabasso-Gate.’

However, Ranney, a Top-Gun treasure hunter and diver, soon realised the historical importance of the coins, and bearing in mind they came from a known ‘shipwreck beach’, knew they required the kind of scrutiny outside his domain. He sought the assistance of the renowned shipwreck expert, Key West’s David Moore, who by strange co-incidence was engaged on an in-depth mapping exercise, logging all Florida’s shipwreck sites.

Spring of Whitby
The Spring of Whitby

Moore’s expertise backed by hundreds of hours of practical diving experience, having previously dived on the Henrietta Marie, San Martin, and the now legendary, Atocha

Rechecking his comprehensive shipwreck database, Moore realised that the location of Ranney’s coin finds neatly dovetailed with his own data regarding the location a wrecked British registered ship, the 'Spring’ of Whitby. This wreck had come to his notice some twenty-two years earlier, when back in 1965, a ship’s bell, cast in bronze and bearing the legend, ‘Spring’ of Whitby, was uncovered on Wabasso Beach. The bell was duly logged with the Florida State Board of Archives and the given the finds reference ‘18’. And here in the Florida archives, the ‘Spring’ of Whitby languished until Ranney’s coins came to notice.

Displaying his characteristic thoroughness, David Moore discovered and hardly to his surprise, an entry in the New Register of Shipping, an 18C reference book, published by the English Society of Merchants, Ship Owners and Underwriters, that the ‘Spring’ of Whitby was duly listed.

The entry shows her keel laid in 1800 and commissioned for service in 1801. The register also showed she was a ship of 379 tons, single decked with beams, armed with four, four-pounder cannons, and four, six-pounder cannons. Further entries showed she drew seventeen feet when fully laden, and certified ‘A1’. In all, she was a sturdy, well-found vessel.

Contemporary records also showed that between 1801 and 1811, she plied her trade between the English east coast port of Whitby, London, and the Baltic port of Riga as a collier 9coal carrier). Further records showed that in 1812 she was bought by “Feard & Co”, and skippered by “R Feard Esq.”, working out of London.

In 1816, she changed hands again, purchased by her Captain “R Feard” and skippered by a man called “W Howe.” Under Howe’s command, she worked the routes between Quebec and London.

Changing hands for a third time in 1818, she was bought by “F Skelton” and until 1826, worked the routes between London/Riga/New Brunswick/St Andrews, and Riga. The records also showed that during the years 1824/25/26 she operated between London and Riga. There were no further entries in the New Register of Shipping after 1826. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that she was either scrapped or lost at sea some time after 1826.

The final mention of her in 1826 shows that she was outbound from London to Riga, yet the Florida Archives clearly show that she ended up, not in Riga, but wrecked three-thousand miles off course on Wabasso Beach. This in any Mariner’s Log, is some compass error!

Spring of Whitby Bell
The Spring of Whitby Bell/Found 1965

Taking into account the discovery of the ‘Spring’ of Whitby’s bell and later, Ranney’s coin-finds, adds considerable weight to the conspiracy theory, that contemporary English records knowingly or otherwise, were falsified as to her cargo manifest and destination. But why?

Plagued by this contradiction, Ranney and Moore contacted me, and I began a detailed search in England. Poking around in the many maritime nooks and crannies, I chanced upon Captain Cliff Felgate, MRIN, MNI, Royal Navy Rtd, who by a masterful stroke of good luck was the Curator of Shipping at the Whitby Museum in Yorkshire. He was also a leading light in the Whitby Literary and Philosophical Society (founded in 1823).

It was following Captain Felgate’s involvement, when the fertiliser collided with the air-conditioning! Searching through Whitby Museum’s dustier reaches, he stumbled across contemporary records written in 1800. These read:”1800. Spring, ship, 397 tons, built by Fishburn and Broderick. Owners Joseph and William Barker, Captain, Constable Dunning. Length 110 feet, breadth 29.2 ft. Sold to British Government and registered in London.

Here then, thanks to Captain Felgate’s diligence, was confirmation that David Moore’s preliminary investigation as to the Spring’s vital statistics were correct. Though some questions remained unanswered, in particular who had owned her initially?

Paradoxically, on the one hand, the New Register of Shipping nominated, “J Baker & Co” whilst records at Whitby nominated the British Government. “Something,” as Hamlet might have put it, “is rotten in the state of Denmark.” My further enquiries at the Ministry of Defence in London elicited this reply: “We have searched both volumes of JJ Colledge’s Ships of the Royal Navy and cannot find any reference in these to a ship named ‘Spring’, or ‘Spring of Whitby’.”

Therefore, was the “J Baker & Co” entry in the New Register of Shipping merely a camouflage name for the British Government to confuse or mislead subsequent enquiries? And if so, why? We shall never know perhaps, but her true High Seas role, is open to educated speculation.

Records show that in 1826, she underwent a considerable re-fit, having her topsides, decking and spars refurbished, putting her back into ‘A1’ condition, and all before her ‘final’ recorded voyage to Riga. Which now begs the question; what was a British Collier doing in Florida waters apparently laden with Spanish gold and silver coins when official records back in England show she was bound for Riga?

At this point, Ranney’s coin finds take centre stage. Were the coins payment for some illicit cargo already delivered, or, were the coins en route to an unknown third party for services to be rendered – services that must be kept secret? Was the Spring wrecked leaving, or entering Florida’s waters?

Whatever she had been up to, I strongly believe that she had been involved in that most vile trade in human misery, that of slavery. The English Government had already reluctantly bowed to what was then considered ‘radical pressure’ from those opposed to the loathsome trade in human cargoes. With typical compromise, the British, while failing to outlaw slavery outright, simply banned the carrying of slaves on British registered ships. And herein I think, lays the answer to this conundrum.

It is not unreasonable to assume that one or two well-heeled and probably well-placed individuals with contacts in the corridors of power, were doing more than a little tax-free moonlighting and trading in (with the blessing of officialdom) what was then euphemistically known as ‘Black Gold’.

The proof that the ‘Spring’ was an illicit ‘slaver’, will one day come about when the paraphernalia of slavery, leg-irons and the like, are found from the wreck site by someone armed with a metal detector. Let’s hope that whoever it is doesn’t throw them away as junk!

Treasure hunting with a metal detector despite the claims of its detractors is not about making the proverbial ‘fast Buck’ as this tale and others like it continue to show. In my thirty-one years experience of treasure hunters they have always put history and knowledge above personal profit.

NB. This was written over twenty-one years ago and published in Britain’s treasure press.

_________________________________________________________

Straight Flush?

A recruit is undergoing a medical prior to joining the Marines. Unfortunately, the regular Marine Corps Medical Officer is on leave, and they have on loan, an M.O. from the Navy. Halfway through the medical, the M.O. has the recruit’s scrotum cupped in his hands.

“Don’t worry,” says the MO, “It’s quite normal to get an erection during this kind of examination.”

“But I don’t have and erection,” replies the recruit.

“I know, but I have,” says the MO.



This from my ole pal, Fradley:

ONION, CUCUMER AND TOMATO RELISH

  • 1 Red onion
  • 1 Tomato
  • 2x1"Cucumber
  • Lemon Juice
  • Salt

This is a versatile little dish which can be amended for your own taste. Thinly slice the red onion and into ½” or so sections, break all these into separate strands into a dish.

Dice the tomato and put into dish. Stand the cucumber on its sliced edge and cut these into julienne strips (that’s yer actual French!) Sprinkle with salt and add a good dash of lemon juice, then give it a good mix.

Very nice if you have a particularly hot curry, it’s cooling....

Now you can add all sorts of stuff to this basic recipe as and if you like e.g. dry roast ½ tsp cumin seeds and crush them add to dish and ½tsp cayenne pepper, mix well. You can also add some freshly chopped coriander and a couple tbsp of natural yoghurt, mix. Enjoy!!

PS. It goes well with Chilli too! JH


And Finally… …The worst part of being a successful treasure hunter is finding a club member who’s happy for you!

Ends.

************

May 14, 2010

Finding (and Selling) Gold – In Brief

Newcomers (and some old hands even) often ask me how best to dispose of items of precious metal found with their metal detectors. Well, it’s all quite simple really; with what is obviously modern jewellery, first exhaust all the avenues in tracing the original owners, then and only then, should you seek to sell whatever it is you’ve found.

Generally, to keep things this side of legal, simply adhere to both the spirit and letter of the law applicable to your State or country and you won’t go far wrong. No item of jewellery you find is yours, as ownership resides with the person who originally lost it (usually the owner) and they always have first claim of ownership. However, you do have a reasonable claim of ownership over the item if you have taken reasonable steps to find the owner, and who subsequently proves untraceable.

In England, and I suspect in the US too, failure to take reasonable steps in returning an item to its rightful owner could have you judged guilty of theft. On my local beaches, I report all jewellery finds to the Beach Office or local police. I have a good rapport with the Beach Rangers/Wardens, who often pass on certain nuggets of information regarding beach losses, “Hey, just had a report from a lady that she’s missing a gold bangle, laden with 9-carat charms. Reckons she lost it over yonder. There’s a reward too.”

Sometimes, the Rangers refer people to me while I’m out hunting on the beach. One time last year, a young couple asked my hunting pal, Jack, if he could find a small digital camera. They showed him where in the soft sand they had been sitting and within minutes, he had recovered it. Not a big deal by any stretch of the imagination but this kind of thing is good PR stuff, which for Jack and me, has enhanced the working relationship we enjoy with our local Beach Rangers and Wardens.

Often the police will simply take your name and address, and tell you to hang on to the item for about six weeks, and anyone reporting a lost ring or some such item will be referred to you.

There’s never been a better time to sell gold given its ever-increasing prices. At the time of writing, the bullion values (scrap values) per gram are; 9-carat gold @ £9.35 ($14.025), 14-carat gold @ £14.54($21.80), 18-carat £18.69 ($28.035), and platinum @ £25 ($37.50).

However, before you rush headlong to the local jewellers, you’ll first need to establish precisely the fineness, or gold purity of your find, and then to establish its weight in grams, and finally, its scrap value.

To establish these things, you first need to acquire a jeweller’s eyepiece to enable you to read the markings stamped on the gold, especially in the case of rings where the crucial marks are nearly always on the inner side. My eyepiece is a German-made Eschenbach X5, with five times magnification. I have little hesitation in recommending them.

Bradbury's Book of Hallmarks
Bradbury's Book of Hallmarks

Given that all precious metal items carry goldsmith’s marks, or Hallmarks, as they are known in Britain, you will need a basic knowledge to make a positive ID. For example, 14K indicates the item is 14-carat gold, while 925 indicates Sterling Silver, 750 indicates 18-carat, and 950 indicates platinum. There are also other marks too, Date Letter marks, Assay Office marks, and Maker’s marks telling you when, where, and who made the piece. Indeed, any item bearing the Assay Office mark of an Assay Office no longer in existence, will certainly increase the value of the piece to a collector specialising in rare Hallmarks. Chester, and Exeter (both English), are typical examples.

All these identifying marks are downloadable from the internet, though in Britain where Hallmarking is a little more complicated, a copy of the pocket-sized Bradbury’s Book of Hallmarks, is an absolute must. It’s a fascinating and comprehensive guide to marks of origin on English, Scottish, and Irish silver, gold, and platinum, and on foreign imported silver & gold plate - 1544 to 2010, plus Old Sheffield Silver Plate makers’ marks from 1743 to 1860.

Indeed, anyone hunting areas of New England where finds of Old English silver plate are not unheard of, a copy of Bradbury’s is a wise investment. Bradbury’s Book of Hallmarks is obtainable from, The Sheffield Assay Office, Guardians’ Hall, 137 Portobello Road, Sheffield S1 4DS, England, which publishes Bradbury’s, or email them at info@assayoffice.co.uk. For the latest price (about $16, plus pap).

Having identified your precious metal and its purity, you’ll need to know how much its worth by weighing the piece on a set of digital jewellers scales. These are very accurate, and inexpensive, and the My Weigh range is excellent value.

Silver Crucifix, with diamond chip & 5 precious stones
Jeweler's Scale

Having established your items’ purity, and weight, and now armed with an accurate idea of its scrap value, it’s just a matter of getting in touch with a recognized bullion dealer, goldsmith, or a reputable gold-buying jeweller and closing the deal.

There’s a comprehensive How-to guide in the Coinshooting section and it’s well worth a browse.....

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New York by Night

That entry of Dick’s – see entry April 27, 2010 Latest News – was a night to remember alright when he and Fay collected Gerald and me from JFK and drove us back to New Jersey. “Wow,” I thought, “Two Empire State Buildings, what a town this is!” Then Dick pulled the car over in a suburb called Brooklyn, to check his sightseeing map presumably checking out other major tourist sites. Sure was a nice place that Brooklyn, but not a bit like I imagined it. My 20-yr old blonde niece had boyfriend stationed at the US Air Base at Upper Heyford, in Oxfordshire UK, and she told me, that he had told her, that he had a ranch there. We never found it though – too built up. Can’t figure it out. Why would he spin a line to an impressionable blonde? Beats me.

______________________________________

Ooooh, Painful

A little old man shuffled slowly into an ice cream parlor and pulled himself slowly, painfully, up onto a stool. After catching his breath, he ordered a banana split. The waitress asked kindly, "Crushed nuts?" " No," he replied, "arthritis."

________________________________________

RECIPE
(Tackling the problem of muddy tasting fish)

One of the great problems with fish caught in freshwater, especially trout, can be an overpowering, earthy tang, rendering the flesh almost inedible, a legacy of the environs in which they were caught, especially in stillwaters. It’s a flavour so repulsive, that even the cat won’t be persuaded to give it a go. So what’s the answer when faced with a ‘muddy’ trout? I asked a friend who’s a Chef.

Here’s his old, authentic, English remedy. Take a very large pan and fill it with several pints of salted water. Place a full-sized house brick inside, along with the trout, and a selection of herbs of your choice, lemon juice, and bring to the boil, then simmer for 20 minutes.

Drain the water, discard the trout, and eat the brick!


__________________________________________

Great Cache Sites

In the RESEARCH Section of this website, Dick writes as follows. “In the northeast, early property boundary lines were defined by stone walls, and by that I mean "stacked" stone walls. Walls that were approximately three feet high, and that consisted of creek or local area stones, stacked one upon the other. These are still evident today, and offer the potential of some nice finds. The physical effort to construct these boundary markers was great, and the actual time spent building them, long. I have seen similar boundary markers here in Texas, but not as much as in the northeast.”

What Dick is describing here is the centuries old technique known as ‘dry-stone’ walling, a strong method of walling widespread across England. Dry-stone walls are the cheapest method of delineating boundaries, fields and livestock enclosures, using the materials closest to hand.

Dry-stone walls are also used to secrete all manner of things including money caches, and no self-respecting treasure hunter should ever pass by without searching one of these walls if the opportunity presents itself. It’s hardly surprising that this type of walling is common in the northeastern States, since it was here, where the first English settlers made their homes and bringing with them the dry-walling technique, along with the ingrained caution of hiding valuable treasures during some of England’s more turbulent times.

You have only to consider the perils facing early settlers to understand that many of these dry-stone walls must still hold treasures placed there by people subsequently overtaken by tragedy and failed to return to reclaim their valuables. Certainly, Native American uprisings against early settlers, pillaging outlaw bands, and the marauding English armies in the fight against American Independence, are just three examples of the hazards faced by the pioneers.

When searching these walls, always hunt in ALL METAL to located iron items such as pistols and knives, and use a 10” coil if you have one.


___________________________________________

Time of Day

A man was telling his neighbor, "I just bought a new hearing aid. It cost me four thousand dollars, but it's state of the art. It's perfect." "Really," answered the neighbor. "What kind is it?" "Twelve thirty."

Remember….

…If you can't fix it with a hammer you've got an electrical problem.


Happy Hunting! I’ll see you in the bar!


************

May 6, 2010

The Late Jim Lewellen

The only time that I ever met Big Jim was in 1986 at the FMDAC’s thrash in Atlantic City, New Jersey. We talked treasure over pre-banquet drinks sharing a few jokes en route. He had that quality I so admire of many Americans; self-assured; genuine; a big man from a big country. My sincere condolences to his wife and family.

**********************************************

The ‘Glorious 1st’

The 1st of May heralds the opening day for two things close to my heart; firstly, it’s when the big bass move inshore from the deep-water marks; and the ‘unofficial’ opening of the coinshooting season.

In contrast to beach hunting in the warmer climes of Florida or Spain say, the majority of jewellery - rings, bracelets and chains – discovered on UK beaches generally shows these kinds of finds tend to be more prevalent above the High Water Mark (HWM) than elsewhere. The reason is due to the higher water temperatures in sub-tropical climes, whereas in the UK, the cooler coastal waters are less inviting. There are exceptions of course, particularly when July and August display higher-than-average temperatures. Then, and only then (in summertime) are the Low Water Mark (LWM) areas really worth investigating.

As a Rule-of-Thumb on British beaches in high summer, you will find less searching the LWM environs, than up in the dry sand. Even if you are lucky enough to find a heavy gold signet ring of say 5.5grams - currently scrapping-out at around £49 ($80-approx) - around the LWM, a T’Her working the popular dry sand areas will nearly always out do you. In winter it’s a different ball game.

Winter gales strip the beaches to expose the underlying hard-packed sand, and it’s here where those items lost during the summer finally come to rest. Wintertime is pulse induction time when my Sea Hunter II really stretches its legs. Winter beach hunting in the UK is usually a case of quality over quantity, and it’s probably much the same along the US Eastern Seaboard.

Though my most singular valuable find came courtesy of the Sea Hunter II, a $3,000 18-carat gold ring, it’s the Ace than hoovers up in summer. My hunting diary shows that last year between May and the end of September, I recovered 497 £1-coins (about $795), plus 40 £2-coins, and buckets of spendable low-denomination shrapnel, working two-hour early morning stints, three to four times a week.

Nearly all coins fell to the Ace 250’s larger coil, with toy cars coming up from almost 12-inches. When working in the dry sand areas of the beach I always - if conditions allow - set the Sensitivity to MAX, use the CUSTOM mode set to reject ‘iron’ and ‘foil’. On these settings thin-section gold rings and silver chains are within reach as shown in the photo of the exquisite, fine silver Crucifix and chain set with a diamond chip and five semi-precious stones.

Silver Crucifix, with diamond chip & 5 precious stones
John's Silver Crucifix

“Ah,” I can hear you cry, “Surely you must be digging a lot of trash too?” Indeed, I do, but if you want to find all of the good stuff, you must dig most of the trash as well.

If on the other hand you are faced with an area that’s crammed with trash, you have two options open to you; either use a 4” Super Sniper coil, OR, set the Ace to find only coins of say 10-cents and above. In my case, when confronted with an almost impenetrable area of trash, I set to reject everything to the left of the 10-cents marker, leaving only large gold rings, along with £1 and £2-coins within range. Aside from “Can I get you another beer,” the ‘Ding-Dong’ tonal response of Garrett’s patented ‘Treasure Sound’ is my favourite sound.

Of all my detecting kit, the piece that I wouldn’t be without is my Pro-Pointer, a 9” long, 7-oz, hand-held, all-metal detector (worn in a belt holster), that makes child’s play of locating tiny, high value pieces such as gold-earrings (which are often set with a solitaire diamonds). Anyone who’s tried locating these things, in dark sand, or small silver coins clad in black mud, knows precisely the problems. In fact, I’d recommend buying one of these before buying a second search coil.

But the piece of kit I covet most, is one of those 4 to 5-ft, long-handled scoops such as the ‘BeachBrute,’ or one of those other excellent devices from Kellyco, the ones that seem only to be available in the US. I don’t know of anyone who makes them here in the UK, but if you know of someone who does……gimme a call.


Size Matters

A woman told her doctor that her 12-yr old on was not developing, as she thought he should be, ‘down there’. “Ah,” said the learned medic, “Not a problem. Just give him lots of hot buttered toast. This will soon enhance him to full dimensions.”

The following morning when the lad came down to breakfast there was a huge pile of hot buttered toast on the table. “Thanks Mum,” said the lad as he made to help himself. “Get your hands off,” she said sharply, “That’s for your father!”



Shellfish Soup


(Serves 4, but feeds a hungry 2)

Along my stretch of shoreline on England’s south west coast, in the county of Dorset, comprises high cliffs, jagged headlands, rocky foreshores, all interspersed with shingle coves, and stretches of gloriously sandy beaches. It’s a natural habitat for lobsters, crabs, squid, and shellfish of all kinds, providing a rich seafood harvest for those who know where to look. However, some of the ingredients for this amazing soup are available frozen and taste just as good as ‘freshly collected’. Enjoy a taste of England.
You’ll need:
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 14-oz tin of chopped tomatoes (with basil)
  • 400-mls (14 oz) of dry white wine
  • 500-mls (1 lb)of fish (or vegetable stock – made from a stock cube)
  • 12-oz of mixed shellfish, mussels, scallops, prawns, (frozen are ideal)
Method:
Heat the oil in a large saucepan and soften the onions and garlic, then add the tinned tomatoes, wine and stock, bring to the boil, then simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Then add the shellfish and simmer uncovered for a further 5-minutes.

Ladle into large bowls and serve with fresh, crusty bread to mop up the juices.

Today’s the Day!

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April 27, 2010

A Legend in His Time…..

At a little over 6’3” with hands like bananas, a raucous voice, and a vicious sense of humour, the late Ron Scearce (who died in 1998) cut an imposing figure well into his seventies.

Not only was he the archetypal treasure hunter’s treasure hunter, but also my hunting partner and with whom I shared many a ‘spiritual’ evening. Along with his wife Joan, Ron and me experimented with blistering curry recipes and thermo-nuclear chilli’s, set a against a backdrop of copious cold beers and Bourbon chasers (Rebel Yell was his favourite tipple as I recall) all the while talking treasure in the splendid surroundings of his oak-beamed 17th Century cottage and garden. Asked if he liked archaeologists, always elicited the reply, “Sure, but I couldn’t eat a whole b*****d.”

Ron Scearce and John talking treasure over a scotch
Ron Scearce and John talking treasure over a scotch

A former WW2 airborne radar engineer, Ron carved-out a successful career in post- war civil aviation, then went on to found a very successful enterprise as a television engineer, becoming metal detector franchisee (in what spare time he had) with the English metal detector manufacturer, Fieldmaster, back in the late 1970’s. It was through him that I bought my first metal detector, a Fieldmaster F33, and began my love affair with treasure hunting, later aided and abetted by Charles Garrett’s inspirational treasure video tapes and moving across to Garrett machines.

Ron and Joan travelled widely across the US, gold panning, ghost-towning, and treasure hunting in along the way, and it was in the US that he bought his famed Dodge V8 Camper. This tremendous vehicle took them on many forays into Europe and the North African hinterland.

Ron and Joan were popular figures in the ex-pat camping fraternity ranging from Portugal to Morocco, and his treasure adventures and stories became the stuff of legend. Ron was treasure hunting on Spain’s Costas years before anyone else had thought about it, and it was the revelations about his experiences and successes, in the UK’s treasure press, that prompted the mini-gold rush to the Mediterranean’s beaches.

In one celebrated case, he and Joan headed south into the northern Sahara region looking for a so-called ‘lost’ Roman town, intending to camp and search for a few days at an oasis whilst following-up information he’d picked up somewhere along the way about this probably mythical Roman settlement. Whilst at the oasis, Joan had cause to treat a young Arab boy for a minor cut, using plasters and ointment from their camper’s First Aid case. Thinking nothing more of the incident, they took a nap in the blistering heat of the afternoon, until awoken by muffled sounds outside their camper.

“ I looked up,” Ron told me , “ And there were all these faces peering in at us, faces all covered with running eye-sores, flies, dripping puss of all kinds, and all calling out to us.”

“They must have thought we were the Red Cross or something,” Joan added, “So I went out and did would I could from the First Aid box. Eventually we went back to having a nap.”

A nap that was again short lived, this time hundreds of people began gathering outside their camper van, all seriously afflicted by one tropical disease or another, some with babes-in-arms. Ron explained, “We started the van and got out of there as fast as we could fearing a Cholera case amongst them,” adding, “We couldn’t help the poor devils, as we only had a basic First Aid kit. I’ve never seen anything like it before or since. I wish we could have done more. It was awful to see humanity at its worst and we unable to do anything.”

Ron Scearce and his wife Joan
Ron and his wife Joan

His most notorious caper occurred in the early 1980’s when UK archaeology as a whole, had banded together in what became for them, a humiliating public relations fiasco, leaving Britain’s archaeological establishment an international laughing stock.

At the time, Ron who was then in his early sixties, was having some Roman finds evaluated at a prestigious museum in a famous English university town. The libel laws prohibit me from naming names – but a senior and well-respected academic with close ties to the museum, had previously been on television denigrating treasure hunters and referring to them as,…"these treasure hunting freaks.” After collecting his finds, Ron enquired after the whereabouts of the said professor. “Can I give him a message?” an aide loftily enquired, “Why yes,” Ron replied, “You can tell him from me, that if he ever refers to treasure hunters again as freaks, and I am a treasure hunter by the way, I’ll come down here and punch his f*****g lights out! Good morning!” Interestingly, the professor remained resolutely mute declining any further television interviews.

There will be more about Ron’s adventures in up-coming ramblings.

_________________________________________

RECIPE

Now, this is something special and comes courtesy of a friend who makes this tasty pickle for Indian restaurants. It obviously goes well with curries, but is an eloquent accompaniment to chilli-con-carne and crackers. Cold beer is of course, obligatory.

LIME PICKLE

This recipe should make about 3 jars, to make more just double or treble the ingredients.

  • 12 x limes
  • 12 tbsp oil (veg or sun)
  • 4½ tsp black/brown mustard seeds.
  • 1½ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 45/60 curry leaves (dried will do)
  • 300ml (10 oz)lime juice (bottled stuff)
  • 3 tsp ground turmeric
  • 6 tsp chilli powder
  • 1½ tsp ground asafoetida
  • 3 tbsp salt.
What to do

Chop the limes into ½” or ¾” pieces and put into a pan, cover with water (yes I know they float but do your best dear) and bring to the boil. Drain and repeat this bit. Then put the limes into fresh water and boil for 20 mins.

Get a couple of tbsp of oil in a small saucepan and get it hot, put 1½ tsp of the mustard seeds in and heat ‘till they pop, swirl it around (lid on if poss), take it off the heat and add the fenugreek seeds. Take care not to burn these, they should go a darker colour that’s all. Put this mixture in a pestle and mortar and grind to a paste. Put to one side. Put the rest of the oil in a pan and heat (medium) put the rest of the mustard seeds in and pop. Remove from the heat and add the curry leaves, stir around and then add the limes, lime juice, turmeric, chilli powder, asafoetida and salt, then add the fenugreek/mustard seed paste. Give it all a good stir and mix it up well. When cool give it a final stir and put into jars.

N.B. If you want it spicy, wot like mine is, then get half a dozen fresh chillies, chop them up and add just after you pop the second lot of mustard seeds. YUM!!!! You are supposed to leave it a week before eating but….



The Things People Say….

At the chemist’s recently, collecting a prescription for the good lady wife, I overheard the following exchange:

A woman, apparently a champion show dog breeder (of Chihuahuas), was telling another woman in the queue that one of her show dogs had developed a rash of unwanted hairs, and had subsequently failed to qualify. Her vet, she said, had told her to rub hair-removing cream into the dog’s region where the unwanted hair was growing.

“I want some hair removing cream,” the woman said to the pharmacist.

“Well,” he replied, “This tube I have here is quite potent, and may cause skin irritation. I advise you not to wear stockings or pantyhose for a few days after application."

“Oh, no,” the woman said, “I am going to rub it on my Chihuahua,” “In that case,” replied the pharmacist, “Don’t ride your bicycle for a fortnight.

Bon chance, mon amis!

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April 17, 2010

A Nugget of Friendship

I can say, hand on heart, that I’ve rarely if ever, met a treasure hunter I didn’t like, and one of treasure hunting’s gentlemen is Don Cyr, a former President of the Canadian Metal Detecting Association. In 1987, at the FMDAC’s Atlantic City bash where I was a guest and speaker, Don presented me with a large, triangular-shaped, nugget of pure sheet-silver that he’d found in Cobalt, Ontario.

In 2002, after years of it hanging in pride of place on my office wall, I took it along to a friend, goldsmith and jeweller, Peter Breeze, of Wallingford’s renowned goldsmiths, Brooker & Breeze, who was fascinated by the fact that it had been found with a metal detector. I asked him to turn it into a brooch for my good lady (I really must get something for the wife too, ha-ha!), but with the stipulation to preserve the nugget’s general integrity. He did an exceptional job as the photo shows.

Don Cyr's gift to John Howland
Don Cyr's gift to John Howland in 1987

I don’t know what Don’s up to these days, or if he’s still hunting nuggets in Cobalt, but if he ever gets to reads the Malamute Saloon, let me say many thanks Don. She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed is delighted with it.

_______________________________________

“We embrace good food, good wine, and yes, even warm beer…”


So writes old ‘Salmon and Trout’. Ah, the memories come flooding back, of East Hendred’s village pub, The Hare, in deepest rural Oxfordshire, with Dick’s wife Fay, my wife Margaret, and the old boy himself looking decidedly unnerved at the prospect of consuming a full pint of English Bitter Ale, not ice-cold ale, but served at room temperature as in any civilised country.

After several quaffs of the amber liquid I could see it in his eyes, “How the **** can you Limey’s drink this s**t ?” By the time he’d finished the pint, the ale’s 4.8%ABV, was easing him into the age-old English custom. By the end of the second pint, and starting on the third, and already on the outside of a traditional ploughman’s lunch of crusty bread, onions, pickle and farmhouse Cheddar cheese, I had a fully-fledged English rustic on my hands, “Yeh, yesh, it’s okay thish,” Big silly grin – lead me to the f*****g plough! So uncouth, these colonials!

On a more serious note, regarding Dick’s other well-founded point about the helter-skelter pace of modern life: I guess it’s the stresses and strains of maintaining domestic financial buoyancy that has given birth to the popularity of so-called ‘fast food’, and TV-dinners, especially where life is lived in the fast lane, and unsurprisingly, where time is at a premium. Having been there, done it, got the video, and the T-shirt of living life at the double, age allows me to luxuriate in the slow and easy lane. I’ve done my time at the coalface.

Round at my place, when friends come round for dinner or a BBQ, we take time over our drinks, even during the food’s preparation and cooking…we relax. We take time with our wines and our conversation, before sitting down to eat. A summer BBQ at Chez Howland carries over from late afternoon and well into the evening under my grapevine-shrouded pergola.

While the ladies do the girlie talk, the men ponder the world’s crucial problems over a beer; vital issues such as …Are bass really endangered?…Is that super-sniper coil doing the biz amongst the trash?…Are Angelina Jolie’s t**s real, or implants…And so on.

The Babylonians had a saying…"The Gods do not deduct from a man’s allotted span the hours spent in fishing.” I hope the Gods are equally benevolent with a man’s allotted span the hours spent in treasure hunting, and in the company of one’s friends.

RECIPE

I just lurve, BBQ ribs, and what follows is my detecting buddy Jack Dey’s slant on ‘sticky ribs’. I can appreciate the rednecks are already wincing at the prospect of a Goddam Limey telling us how to do sticky ribs…but up yours! This recipe is good!

What to do

Preheat the oven to around 150/160 C. Then place 2 ½ -lbs (1kg) of pork ribs onto a large piece of cooking foil.

Mix together 4-tbsp (tablespoons) of light Soy Sauce, 1-tbsp of finely chopped fresh ginger, along with 1-tbsp of Chinese 5-spice powder. Then pour over the ribs. Wrap in the foil and roast for 90 minutes, then pour over 5-tbsp of clear honey, turn up the oven heat to 220 C, and cook for a further 35 minutes, regularly basting until the ribs become sticky. Remove from the oven and throw them on the BBQ, with added hickory chips (optional, but recommended ), for five minutes turning regularly.

Serve on a bed of stir-fried pak choi greens, or spinach, or curly kale. Enjoy with several cold beers, or chilled Rose wine. Bon appétit mon amis!

John Howland, with daughter Dawn, and wife Margaret/Bordeaux, France, 2008
John with daughter Dawn, and wife Margaret, Bordeaux, France, 2008


A sidenote from Dick

As you can tell John and I really enjoy good food and drink, and we enjoy preparing it as well.

I couldn't let John outdo me here with his recipes so I've added the Poor Gourmand link. If any of your reading this would like to share one of your favorite recipes with us, email it to me at Disc440@tx.rr.com or to John at Quillbosun@aol.com . Likewise if you would rather send the finished product that would be fine too.....? Just make sure it arrives fresh, and accompanied by a bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape La Crau/2007. Thank you.


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April 14, 2010

Hands Across the Sea

Over the many years that me and old ‘salmon and trout’ have chewed the fat about treasure hunting both of us agree that anglers and treasure hunters share many common traits, evidenced by the fact that many practitioners of the former are successful exponents of the latter. Moreover, in my experience at least, a strong sense of camaraderie exists amongst those who fish, or treasure hunt. What follows is true, with only the names changed to protect the guilty. It’s not a treasure story per se, but you’ll get my drift. I have dined out on this one many times.

In the mid-1970’s, before I got religion and took up treasure hunting with a metal detector, bass and trout fishing was (and still is by the way), an enduring passion. Back then, I lived in Oxfordshire, not far from the fabled seat of learning, and was an active member of a local sea-angling club. Though ninety miles from the nearest stretch of coastline, it was an active club, both socially and in matters piscatorial.

In those days, Oxfordshire played host to a couple of US Air Force bases; a communications center at Croughton, with the 20th Tactical Fighter Wing (as I recall) based at Upper Heyford. Several airmen from both units became valued and active club members bringing with them a pronounced US slant on bass fishing in particular with a range of lures that looked as though they’d come from the set of a Sci-Fi film. Not only this, but to our utter amazement, these ‘things’ caught fish!

One of the great characters among the US contingent was a Tech Sgt who for the purposes of camouflage, I’ll refer to as ‘Skip’, the double of Country singer, Roger Miller. Inevitably, the day dawned when he received his posting back to the US, to an airfield in California, taking with him, an Austin Mini Minor car that his wife had fallen in love with.

Mystery still shrouds this feat of transportation, though I am led to believe it was accomplished in the best traditions of that nefarious, US Army wheeler-dealer, Master Sgt Ernie Bilko. Negotiations involved a deal of horse-trading; allegedly involving cases of beer; bottles of Scotch (Chivas Regal 12-yr old); and bass lures changing hands. Oh yes, I nearly forgot, a C130 transport plane and crew.

At the time, of Skip’s posting, the British car maker Austin - part of the ill-fated British Leyland group – was inexorably heading towards financial oblivion, hardly surprising given some of it’s novel innovations, such as fitting square steering wheels to its family saloon, the Allegro. I kid you not.

Spares too, for British Leyland models, were rarer that rocking-horse dung, and another contributing factor to this once-proud British car maker’s early demise.

After several weeks in California, the integrated speedo head of Skip’s Mini Minor went belly-up. A local dealer told him the replacement could take up to six weeks just for the order to be processed, and about the same time for the part to reach California. “What if I try and get the part myself,” Skip asked. The dealer is incredulous at the suggestion. “Look buddy,” he says, “If we can’t get one, you certainly can’t,” adding with a snort of derision, “Ha! We’ll fit it free if you do!”

That evening, the Freemasonry of US/UK Anglers swung into a well-greased, slick operation, beginning with a call from California to a certain club member, Al (Bilko’s overseas agent!). He, by curious co-incidence worked at the British Leyland factory in Oxford, who by an added twist of fate, just happened to have an angling pal who worked in the Austin spares warehouse, and who was in hock to Al for a favour or three.

Later that same night, a boxed speedo head arrived via the internal mailman to the Oxford plant where Al took charge of the shoe-box sized package. At the end of his shift at 6-00am, Al drove the package over to Upper Heyford’s married quarters, where one of the US club members, ‘Big Don’, took charge of Skip’s precious cargo.

Later that morning the package touched down in Germany aboard military flight carrying airmen going T/DY. Some hours later, it was put aboard a US-bound, F-111 fighter-bomber, refuelled over the Atlantic, landing at Myrtle Beach, Florida, then flown to a base in Texas, then on to California, and delivered to Skip’s on-base married quarters.

Forty-eight hours later Skip walked into the dealership, handed over the package, saying to the bemused dealer, “can you fit this as soon as possible?” Inside the package was a slip of paper, factory dated 48-hours earlier! The dealer walked away dumfounded, a crumpled, defeated man.

To this day, the poor guy never discovered how that speedo head made the trans-Atlantic trip so quickly. I hope he’s reading this!

______________________________

A Touch of the Nelson’s

Met a pal (he’s only got one arm) in the street the other day,

“Where you off to” I asked

“Got to change a light bulb,” he said.

“That's going to be a bit awkward isn’t it?”

“Not really…” he said, “I’ve still got the receipt”.

_______________________________

RECIPE

Now for something really special – none of the old style grilling or smokehouse stuff here. This is modern microwaving at it’s best. You’ll need (apart from a the microwave oven that is):

2 trout or salmon fillets (though bass should be okay) 4 ounces of sliced button mushroom Salt & pepper 2 tablespoons (tbsp) of whisky 1 tbsp clear honey 2 tbsp lemon juice 4 tbsp double cream 2 tbsp of chopped parsley.

In a shallow dish, lay the trout fillets on top of the sliced mushrooms and season with the salt and pepper. Blend the whisky with the honey and lemon juice, pour over the trout. Cover with cling film (of the type suitable for microwaves) and pierce. Microwave on FULL POWER for 6 minutes. Transfer the trout to a warmed serving dish. Stir the double cream into the sliced mushrooms and cooking liquid. Re-cover with pierced cling film and microwave on FULL POWER for 2 minutes, then pour the cream and mushroom mix over the trout and garnish with the parsley.

Wash it down with a dry white or rose wine.

Prepare this in advance.

Take a long Highball glass and fill almost to the top with fresh strawberries and sprinkle over them a couple of teaspoons of white sugar. Then cover the strawberries with red wine and set aside till after the meal.

Eat the strawberries and drink the red wine. Encore!!

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April 8, 2010

An Archaeologist Writes (to me).....

".......There have been a small number of people who have been unwilling to work with us who have been very antagonistic, and these people I separate out as Treasure Hunters.....Interestingly I find that the detectorists I know and those with whom I work with almost without exception, share the same views of these people - as a small but dangerous group who give dectorists a bad name."

So there you have it. I you are not prepared to operate your detector under their supervision, or hunt by their rules, or are too weak-kneed to question their ethics, their data, or to question their methodology, in their eyes then, you are truly a sinner among sinners....a treasure hunter. But isn't this precisely why we took up treasure hunting in the first place - to do my own thing! Moreover, if you do your treasure hunting within the laws of the land, and with the prerequisite permissons, it doesn't matter a damn what archaeology thinks about us.

Indeed, I for one, am not overly-impressed by them!

My thirty years experience of the archaeological mindset shows that whilst they can ladle out the vitriol topped off with the usual dollop of arrogance common to many academics, they can't handle scrutiny in return. For decades, until the emergence of skeptical treasure hunters who weren't overly impressed by academia, nor were they going to take the invective mildly, no one had previously dared utter a word in definace.. Pointed and pertinent questions soon followed... "Hold yer horses a while old pal, you're talking through yer rear orfice here...." ....Your figures don't add up..."..."So who's feeding the antiquities markets with ceramics then?...."

Here in the UK, archaeologists are forever loftily whingeing and whining about anyone profiteering from the "common heritage' (Why not? They do!). Many public heritage bodies, along with a few landowners, and trusts, nod in sage agreement with them, blissfully unaware of the juggernaut around the corner.

Less widely understood, is that archaeology in the UK at least, since the early 1980's, connived and schemed at altering the law. Nowadays, before any development on any land takes place, an archaeological assessment is fundamental to the planning process, paid for by the developer. Naturally, this extra expense passes on the private buyer, or, in the case of public works, to the taxpayer.

Whilst the rest of the population has to negoiate the vagaries of a fragile free market economy with the attendant issues of employment security, job losses, redundancies, over-taxation, and the rest of it, archaeology, per se, has immunised itself. Hard pressed taxpayers underwrite archaeology, thus keeping their jobs secure. It's an appalling situation and one that will soon reach the US.

The day of the contract archaeologist has arrived, where archaeological units are now commercial enterprises, and kept solvent by the laws they framed: A protection racket of which Al Capone would indeed be proud. You can fool all of the people some of the time....

John Howland, at the ready
My good friend, John Howland, with his Garrett arsenal

Into The Lion's Den

Some years ago, I was invited to give a talk - from a treasure hunting perspective - to a local history and archaeological society. The venue was like a scene in a Viking longhouse. There they were at the bar, swilling ale from pint tankards, roaring with laughter, backslapping, all wearing the regulation uniform; filthy, baggy, threadbare corduroy trousers, muddy boots, ragged chunky-knit sweaters, matted shoulder-length hair and unkempt beards. And the men were even worse!

Anyway, cutting to the chase, these hairy Vikings turned out to be quite a generous bunch. As the flagons of ale flowed loosening tongues, a voiciferous few became increasingly critical of some of the more well-known 'stars' of the excavating scene - the credit takers who never get their hands dirty, one said - referring to a prominent archaeologist as a right 'Merhant Banker' (check out the rhyming slang). One whispered conspiratorially, "Your lot are alright, we all know it, and thanks to you lot we are getting to see some really good stuff. Hic!"

This was back n the mid-1980's, well before the introduction of UK's Portable Antiquities Scheme, which has subsequently disproven all claims of widespread heritage theft either by 'detectorists' or by those who answer to the call 'treasure hunter' (just love that name).

______________________________

A Friend Confides

One Saturday morning I got up early, quietly dressed, made my packed lunch and Thermos of coffee, and slipped quietly in the garage. Started the car and proceeded to back out into a torrential downpour. The wind was blowing 50mph, it was icy cold and sleeting. After 15 minutes I drove back home, pulled back into the garage, turned on the car radio and discovered the weather would be bad all day.

I crept back into the house, quietly undressed, and slipped back into bed. I cuddled up to my wife's back, fuelled with a different anticipation, and whispered, "The weather out there is terrible."

My loving wife replied, "Can you believe my stupid husband is out treasure hunting in that?"

And that's how the fight started.....

Bon Chance!

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April 2, 2010


Merde! Merde!

Along France's northern coastline, from the port of Calais southwards, lie some of the richest pickings imaginable for the dedicated beachcomber. Along with a plethora of jewelry, coins, are some of the friendliest metal detector users anywhere, not to mention some of the most delicious food anywhere in the world.

Two of my very good friends are Pierre and Cecile LeClerc. I first met them while hunting in the wild dunes south of Le Touquet. He came across to where I was hunting, engaging me in conversation in typically animated Gallic fashion. His conversation peppered with the word merde! (Find out yourself what it means). Soon he realized from my schoolboy French that I was an Englishman - a 'Ros Bif (a roast beef) - as Brits are known in these parts.

Eventually, and not without a little difficulty in the translation department, it was obvious he'd a problem with his machine. And would I help him - he being a novice at the game.

Apparently, his metal detector, a White's, worked perfectly on land, but when he immersed the searchcoil in water, all Hell broke loose through the headphones. Testing the machine in and out of water, I realized that it was working perfectly, and that the fault must lie, somehow, with my new found chum.

Right, I thought, I'll get him to test it while I watch, explaining that I wanted him to do everything he normally did before and during a water search. What I saw brought forth considerable mirth on my part, though not immediately shared by a somewhat bemused Frenchman. I was almost rolling about, punching and kicking on the sand in helpless convulsions of laughter. Regaining my composure, he fixed me with the steely stare of someone who knows they've been stupid but not sure why. The look was, "What's your problem shithead."

The search coil on his Whites, a 6000 as I recall, was buoyant. To make the coil submersible, he'd wrap a length of flattened lead piping around the stem at the point where it meets the searchcoil. Like so many others, he thought the electro-magnetic signal only emanated from one side of the coil - "underneath! Finally, he too, saw the funny side.

After we'd both stopped laughing, I sent him on his way rejoicing. Much later, he found me again on the beach, producing a solitaire ring, set in platinum, in which the diamond must have been all of two carats. "Oh, you lucky person", I muttered under my breath. (Or words that effect)

"Monsieur, Monsieur, merci, merci!" he said, shaking my hand as if he was pumping water from a well. I forced a smile of delight through gritted teeth. "I'm very happy for you."

'Cognac?' he beckoned to a farmhouse near the dunes.

'I'll have some of that', I thought.

Minutes later my wife and I were sipping coffee and cognac in a fine old farmhouse overlooking the beach. We stayed for supper and shared their lamb stew. The rest is history. Cecile's lamb stew is one I have yet to equal. I hope you like it too. Here's the recipe.


"CECILES LAMB STEW"


About 3 lbs or Lamb, chunked into "1" of so cubes.
1 lbs of carrots, sliced.
3 onions, thinly sliced.
1 tablespoon of plain flour.
5 fluid ounces of dry white wine.
A couple of celery sticks, chopped.
3/4 lb of sliced turnips.
1 bouquet garni;.
1.5 oz. approx of lard.
1 clove of garlic.
A few Rosemary leaves.
Couple of Bay leaves.
Seasoning.

The Method

Fry the lamb in a skillet with the lard and brown. Throw in the carrots and onions, and fry for five minutes. Then sprinkle over the flour. Add the wine. Throw in the celery slices and bouquet garni, and season to taste.

Bring to the boil, and then simmer gently for at least two hours. Serve with new potatoes, and a green vegetable such as spinach and crusty bread. Wash it down with a medium -bodied red wine. Magic!!



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