Coins Galore.

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Greetings my friends.

The gusting wind was so disruptive the other night that many obstacles, mostly broken branches and wheely bins, were scattered across lawns and pavements and needed careful avoidance, as I took out my little dog Sam, for his early morning walk. The wind was still very strong but not too cold and I couldn’t keep my mind from wandering to thoughts about Blackpool beach, rough sea’s and churned up sand (and finds!).

Low water was at high noon and as it was only 5-00am, I had plenty of time to get ready and drink my usual 3 or 4 cups of tea. I eventually set off about 9 o’clock and as the traffic was light, I was passing the recently closed Blackpool International Airport, in only 30 minutes. Five or so minutes after that, I pulled up at my usual parking space, opposite south pier and as I opened the door, the wind nearly ripped it from my hand.

Despite the noise of the wind (which was almost gale-force again), I could hear the roar of the sea, even though it was low water and still about three hundred yards away. I knew as I hit the beach itself, away from any buildings or other shelter, I would feel the full force of the wind and oh boy, was it intense!

Walking across the prom, there wasn’t anyone else in sight and all the candy floss and burger stalls were closed against the wind. The beach looked like it had also been abandoned and indeed, looking north and south, there was no-one in sight here either. I’ve never seen Blackpool this deserted before, it was eerie, as if the town had been evacuated overnight.

Coins Galore.

As I descended the steps, the sea had deposited lots more pebbles at the bottom (many more than last time) and some sand had been moved around too, so I decided to start right there. I found an old penny straight away, followed by two modern coins and for the next few hours, my finds pouch continued to quickly fill up with various goodies. There was no doubt in my mind, I’d certainly found a “hot spot”.

By now it was low water but the on-shore wind was preventing the tide going out as it should have, in fact, the water was still hitting the sea wall around the pier area, although there was sand showing further along, as one looked north.

The size of the area which was producing coins was only about 30 meters long by 20 meters wide and as I came up to those limited boundaries, the finds dried up pretty darn quick. I tried further out on the sand, where another bed of pebbles had been exposed and I found pre-decimal coins here too – a three penny piece and a couple more pennies soon joined the happy throng in my finds pouch! One fact and a pleasant surprise, there was almost no trash; no pull-tabs, no foil and no bottle tops etc., the only trash items were some bits of copper, one piece of aluminium and a couple of lead items.

Here’s a list of my finds for the day:

Modern Coins.

Pennies (17), two pence piece (7), latest issue of the five pence piece (4), older issue of the large five pence piece (3), ten pence piece (8), twenty pence piece (6), one pound coin (6).

Pre-decimal Coins.

One penny piece (12), three pence piece (1), silver sixpences (2) two-shilling piece or florin (1), half-crown (1). By the way folks, the florin and the half-crown were not silver.

Suspender belt buttons (9), dessert spoon (1), table knife (1), dart (1), ammo shells (2), watch cog-wheel (1), lead bullet (1), copper and lead items (several) and an american quarter-dollar (1).

A grand total of 68 coins and the total amount of modern spending money was £8.31.

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As one’s probably noticed, nearly all the finds had been in the sand for a long time, stirred up and moved around/gathered together in this small area, by the action of the sea. This phenomenon is most likely related to the currents, beach topography (including the sea defences) and the density/weight of the items. Interesting stuff (besides which, I’ve been promising my wife a new cutlery set for ages lol)!

Anyhow, my next trip will probably be to Lytham St. Annes as this week, the tide times are totally wrong for Blackpool proper. At least here, the top of the beach will still have a nice strip of sand to detect. Until then my friends, take care :)

James.

The Six Pence.

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Greetings my friends.

The detecting trip I’d promised myself the other week was a little delayed, it was now New Years day but at last, off I went to Blackpool for some beloved and much-needed metal detecting.

The old tradition of having a dip in the sea on New Years Day, still very much alive and well here in Blackpool and as I passed Squires Gate, there was a surprising number of folk who were connected with this activity, milling around the entrance to the beach. The swimmers looked cold but triumphant and a couple of them were walking around in dressing gowns, their legs looking a little blue after their swim (I turned up the car’s heater in sympathy for them heh heh).

I was full of anticipation as I arrived and parked in my usual spot, the decline of tourism this time of year, meant there was plenty of room for my little city car.

South pier entrance.

My favourite pier.

The weather forecast said it was going to be a little warmer today but dear me, the wind was icy and blustery, a good job I’d brought all my extra gear with me. As I walked to the beach, I had to tighten the strap on my baseball cap as on the previous day, my wife had shaved my head and it was now too big (the cap, I meant the cap)! Sorry, I couldn’t resist that :)

Pebbles.

Pebbles galore.

As I arrived at the beach, I was reminded again of features which have developed due to the dynamic design of the steps. Where they’re protruding onto the sand, the steps have pushed the sea-water out to either side, scouring out a hollow. Where there is a recess however, the water is pushed in toward the middle and a bed of pebbles (and other things) have been deposited – both area’s are worth checking out by the detectorist and beach comber.

As I walked further out on the beach, I came across a shallow channel with the water still running off. The sand is lower here, washed away by the tide and drainage currents as the tide goes out. A bed of pebbles is showing through at this spot and is another good place to try, offering a higher potential for finds.

The water's still draining off but this is a good place to try.

A mystery item, protruding from the sand.

Mystery Detectorist.

A new detectorist on the beach – some great gear!

A new detectorist came on the beach today and he was trying out some nice new equipment; a good stainless steel scoop and a top of the range Minelab CTX 3030 amphibious detector (waterproof to 10 ft/3m). An amphibious detector and stainless steel scoop are great assets to have on the beach as besides the drier sand, one can search other very difficult locations a lot easier (i.e. in pools and water filled channels, or the sea itself). Anyhow, I’m a Minelab person so if any retail outlets or Minelab themselves, want to give me one of these machines, I won’t say no ha ha!

The Minelab CTX 3030 amphibious detector.

The Minelab CTX 3030 amphibious detector, with close to a £2000 price tag. Courtesy of Minelab.

The beach is a rather dynamic environment, area’s are always changing with the action of the tide and due to this, the chances of finding stuff changes along with it. I like this aspect of the beach, one never knows when something special will be brought near the surface and potentially, one has new chances and fresh area’s to detect, every time one goes out.

In summer, generally speaking, winds and sea’s are less violent and tend to deposit sand on the beach more often but even so, one can still usually find the odd spot with at least some potential. Even though Blackpool beach has been detected for decades and finds are harder to come by, older coins and jewellery still turn up on a regular basis but just don’t expect gold rings every time you go out!

As winter descends upon us, rough sea’s are more common; bigger tides, storms and gale force winds hit the coast and cause much disruption. For the detectorist, that sometimes means lots of sand being moved about and a good opportunity to make some nice finds however, one has to be there when it happens and around this part of the coast, things can change again on the very next tide! Keeping an eye on the weather and how rough the sea is, does pay off.

Anyhow, back to detecting with my trusty Explorer SE Pro, my main detector for a few years now and one I’m so used to, it seems like it’s almost a natural extension of my arm…..a very comfortable feeling!

Finds.

Finds.

Oh dear, so much for being full of anticipation…..a total of six pence! Just couldn’t get my brain into gear, I dug much more trash than normal and this lot above was only part of it! My expectations were thwarted, I didn’t act as I should have done, I got very angry with myself which made matters a lot worse and I couldn’t follow any of my own advice about concentration etc. I was an unhappy human being.

As I left the beach, I was determined to do much better in future, I suppose one can do no more. When I arrived home, I couldn’t hide the disappointment etched all over my face but my dear wife however, just laughed (how dare she!).

Until the next trip, take care my friends and Happy New Year :)

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A Stroll In The Park.

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Greetings my friends.

I didn’t sleep much last night, which seems to be par for the course these last few years, too much going on in that troubled brain of mine, I reckon. Desperately needing to blow away the cobwebs and shake myself awake from this zombie type behaviour, prompted me into taking a brisk walk through Miller and Avenham parks, Preston, on this not-so-fine morning. The Victorian parks adjoin each other, almost forming one big park and are only separated by one disused railway line embankment.

This is a nice walk and I’d planned to continue my journey by crossing the river over the old tram bridge and back down the other bank. On the way, I wanted to take some pictures of the area, although there weren’t many folk about or much activity from wildlife on this, a typically cold and breezy winters day.

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The North Union Railway Bridge, opened in 1838.

The first two photographs were taken from the now disused East-Lancs railway bridge (of which there is more of below). Looking west and down the river is the North Union Railway bridge, it was opened in 1838 and was successfully widened and renovated in 1879 and 1904. Miller park is on the right and is the first of two magnificent and award-winning Victorian parks, noted throughout north-west England.

Both Miller and Avenham parks were opened in 1867 but public gardens were well established in this area, prior to this.

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Miller park, overlooked by the former Park Hotel –
a beautiful Victorian building, built in revivalist Gothic style.

Here’s a closer view of the former hotel which was opened in 1882 but has since been utilized as county council offices for some years now.

The Park Hotel

The Park Hotel was originally owned by the Lancashire and Yorkshire railway.

The statue of the 14th Earl of Derby, three times British prime minister in the 19th Century, is another prominent feature located just below the hotel and overlooking Miller park. The statue was unveiled in 1873 and about 40,000 people attended the ceremony.

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A rather dirty looking 14th Earl Of Derby.

Below is part of the disused East-Lancashire (East-Lancs) railway bridge (from where I took the first two shots), it was built around 1848 and the materials used in the construction of the pillars, included Pendle Grit (the stone block work) and red brick.

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Victorian railway bridge architecture, the East-Lancs line.

In 1859 the East-Lancashire railway amalgamated with the Lancashire and Yorkshire railway, other mergers then followed but due to new rail links with the main Preston lines, was closed in the 1970’s. It has since been developed into a footpath and cycle-way which is an important extension of a longer route called the Ribble-way.

One 'span' of the bridge.

One ‘span’ of the old bridge.

The river was carrying about a foot of flood water from last nights downpour.

mmmm

East-Lancs railway bridge.

Looking upstream from the bridge, Avenham park is on the left and the avenue continues to run right by the river. The “old” tram bridge is in the background, the bridge was rebuilt in the 1960’s, replacing the original wooden structure with a concrete replica.

Looking east from the East-Lancs railway bridge.

Looking east (upstream) from the East-Lancs railway bridge.

On the right hand side of the tram bridge (as one looks at the photo above), the bank-side and river are of special historical importance to Preston, as the first British baptism of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon) took place here. Nine people were baptised in the river on Sunday 30th July 1837. The baptisms took place very close to this spot and thousands of curious citizens of Preston, turned out to see this unusual open-air ceremony.

The Pavilion.

The new Pavilion, front side (river just behind it).

As one walks through the arch, one enters Avenham park and a little further on is the new pavilion, opened in April 2008. The pavilion (only one of several improvements to the park) hosts public events, meetings, conferences, the park office, a café and is the base for concerts and theatrical performances held in the park itself. The pavilion may be regarded as the central hub of the park’s new renovations.

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Approaching the rear of the pavilion, from along the avenue.

The grey squirrels are rather cheeky and cute, they’re good at scrounging some tasty morsels from human visitors, almost every day. Blackbirds, robins and other garden birds, also do well around here too.

Grey squirrel

Grey squirrel, looking for a meal.

The Koi carp pond had to be drained and repaired last year, the pond continues under the wooden bridge and up to the stone work.

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Largest section of the pond.

Besides fish, the pond is also home to frogs, toads and newts.

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The smaller section of the Koi pond with a small cascade running into it. Avenham Park in the background.

The last two weeks have been hectic with various commitments every day but anyhow, I worked hard to free up some time for tomorrow (the 16th), I thought a trip to Blackpool beach with lots of detecting involved, would be just the ticket :)

Until the next time my friends, have a nice week :D

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References.

Blackpool – A Victorian Resort.

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Greetings my friends.

When I think of Blackpool, I can’t help but think of the Victorian era as this was the period when the town really began to flourish, I suppose one could have called it a boom-town. “Taking the waters” i.e. a dip in the sea, was thought to cure many ailments back then, this and the development of rail and road services made a massive impact on Blackpool’s tourism trade. The sea-side became much more accessible to the public where before, it had only been the domain of the more fortunately well-off.

Imperial Hotel, Blackpool. Courtesy of Panoramio.

Victorian architecture – The Imperial Hotel, Blackpool. Courtesy of Panoramio.

Another important development in Blackpool’s transformation was through the architecture of this period, highlighted with buildings and structures like the Imperial Hotel, the Tower and the three pier’s – North, Central and South.

Blackpool Tower

Blackpool Tower, built during the years 1891 – 1894 and standing at 518 feet 9 inches tall.

North Pier was opened on 21st May 1863, it was the first of the three pier’s to be constructed and was about 1410 ft long (measured after a couple of relatively small jetty extensions in 1866 and 1869). Central pier (also incorporating a small jetty) was initially a little shorter at 1100 ft (another low-water jetty was added in 1891 and this brought the overall length to 1500 ft but it was later sold and removed). It wasn’t until 1st August 1892 however (nearly thirty years after the first two pier’s were built), that the construction of South pier got under-way. It was completed quickly and declared open on 31st March 1893.

South pier (originally named Victoria pier), was much shorter than the other two at 429 ft and is the only pier without a jetty. It was built for purpose and designed somewhat wider, now able to more easily accommodate halls, pavilions, theatres and a cinema (the other two piers were too narrow and had to be widened later).

Even though there have been many changes and alterations over the years (maximizing profits, modernisation, extensions, repairs etc), South pier, along with its longer brother and sister, are just as important to the economy and the people of Blackpool today, as they were back then. Traditionally providing entertainments and novelties as they’ve always done, for the townsfolk and the many thousands of visitors who “walk the boards” each year.

A compelling fact about the three pier’s, is that they have all suffered fires in their history and indeed, this fate has been shared with other pier’s around the UK’s coast. These structures seem to be particularly vulnerable from risk of fire, despite the many efforts with modern fire prevention techniques, to combat this problem.

South Pier.

South Pier (initially named Victoria pier) was opened on 31st March 1893.

Detecting around the piers.

When one sees the cast iron pillars comprising the underbelly of the pier and considering the movement of the tide, it’s understandable to assume how finds may be trapped here. One of the prime area’s are around the pillars themselves but of course, being this close to large magnetic fields, poses a problem for the detectorist.

Under the pier

Looking towards the sea, from the promenade end of south pier.

A method I’ve seen used here and one I’ve also seen described in books, involves digging down and around the pillar bases and sieving the sand and gravel which comes out. Experience will teach one which pillar’s are more likely to produce some goodies; in the above picture for instance, the pillars have tons of soft sand piled up around them, making any finds much harder to come by as one is fighting not only deep but continually collapsing sand. Try and select pillars where the harder under-layer is more accessible, without involving too much digging, if there’s lots of soft sand it will be very hard and frustrating when trying to find anything.

In the picture below for comparison and showing the sea-end of the pier, several feet of loose sand have been removed by tide action, revealing a much harder under-layer. Water is always going to be a problem when digging in places like this and one would most probably benefit from having some sort of stainless steel scoop as well as a border spade of the same material, especially for this kind of work. One can probably buy a sieve from a garden centre or make one’s own with some stout mesh and a wooden frame. When filled, wash the sand and smaller stuff out with water and throw the big stones out by hand, rummage through the rest and then discard and start the process again.

As the sand is always collapsing, it would probably help to shovel/scoop lots of material without pause, until one has a good amount to one side. The whole of this material may be sieved, after one has finished digging.

Lots of iron debris

Lots of iron debris and other rubble, as one approaches the sea-end of the pier.

Detecting in this area can be very hard indeed, one mostly needing the “patience of a saint” because of false signals, interference from heavy contamination and the cast iron pillars. To help combat these effects (unfortunately, no guarantee’s though) one may turn the detector’s sensitivity down and use a smaller coil if one can. This means a smaller magnetic field emitted from the detector’s coil and it should be a little easier to avoid the many other sources of electro-magnetic contamination which are present.

Use of a smaller coil and turning down the sensitivity (power) will result in a potential loss of depth but don’t worry too much about this, it’s unavoidable and acceptable. In these area’s, the main thing is to detect where one can, in the most efficient way one can. See how close one can get to the pillars with the detector and then move back and stick to the area’s one can more efficiently detect. I must confess that even with every precaution and adjustment, detecting under the pier is sometimes too much for me, I get too frustrated and have to move away but whatever happens, it’s always a challenge!

Detecting under the pier

A fellow detectorist.

A familiar and friendly presence under south pier; it’s good to catch up with other detectorists and have a nice chat about the nuances of the beach, finds and other stuff.

Interestingly, the general feelings of others who have detected on this beach for years, is that the new sea-wall has generally changed the effects the tide has had on the beach, now usually keeping the beach topped up with sand. Anyhow, I guess the new wall is doing it’s job at the moment, protecting the town from excessive flooding which it’s unfortunately experienced in the past, lets hope it stay’s that way.

Take care my friends until the next time, regards James :)

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References. 

Metal Detecting Thursday.

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Greetings my friends,

After the trauma of about three weeks ago, I was glad to get out on the beach last Thursday and partake of a little metal detecting. I needed this and thankfully, the weather was on my side. The wind was fairly strong but not too cold as a tea-shirt and two sweat shirts were enough to keep me snug, especially when I’d done some digging and worked up a little sweat!

Young Herring Gull

Herring Gull Larus argentatus, probably the most abundant species of seagull, around this area.

At first, I was in a quandary of where to go as the tide times were all wrong for detecting at the usual spots, a large high tide was mid-morning and this meant that Blackpool proper, was out-of-bounds. The only places which were available for me to detect, were the absolute top of the beach at Squires Gate and the top of the beach at Lytham St. Annes. Wow though, there was lots more water than I was expecting for the official hight of the tide, perhaps it was the strong on-shore wind which was aiding and abetting more water being driven in.

At Squires Gate (south Blackpool), there were a myriad of different coloured design’s of wind surfing sails and equipment, assembled by various sportsmen and sportswomen engaged in this kind of activity. I envied them, they looked so fit and I would have taken some photo’s but the wind was laced with grains of sand. It was so busy, I decided to move a little further south to Lytham St. Annes and see how I fared there.

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Lytham St. Annes – Google image of where the promenade has been extended out and my chosen detecting spots for the day – finds may be “trapped” by the wall, especially in the corners – those spots are always worth checking out.

At the northern end of the promontory, the extended promenade accommodates some extra attractions, like a small boating pool, swimming pool and a cinema.

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The Lytham St. Annes lifeboat – Courtesy of the RNLI/Ric Oldland.

One of the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) lifeboat’s is also stationed here, she’s named Her Majesty The Queen (no. 12-30) and is an all-weather lifeboat (ALB), so essential to this part of the coast. The boat is housed in the light blue, modern building which is overlooking the boating pool (Google image).

The RNLI is a charity dedicated to saving lives at sea and a few inland locations, they provide 365/24/7 cover, comprising two hundred and thirty-six lifeboat stations, located around the UK and Republic of Ireland. The dedicated work of the charity does not stop there however, they also provide lifeguards (well over 1000) for the many dangerous beaches around the UK (over 180 altogether).

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Statue commemorating the loss of all hands in 1886.

On the night of the 9th December 1886, the German barque “Mexico” foundered off Southport (across the Ribble estuary) and thirteen men with the Lytham lifeboat went to the rescue – all hands died at sea and this statue commemorates the valour of those involved.

I would just like to take this opportunity to thank the many people who have been and still are, involved with the RNLI, especially the volunteer lifeboat crew, the volunteer shore crew and the other thousands of volunteer’s who raise money, give advice and raise awareness on behalf of the institution. Keeping people safe from the often deceptive and treacherous waters around our coast, the sea providing so much for us but costing so many lives in the process.

When detecting at this spot, I often wonder at the enormity of the task faced by the crew, especially when hampered by a rough sea and with waves up to 10m or more in hight. Special people.

Iron debris

Encrusted iron – a lot of this around here!

Before I started, I cleared my mind with some simple meditation techniques and then embarked on a serious detecting session. There was dry sand at the northern and southern ends of this artificial enclosure/dune development, so I decided to begin at the northern end and move south later. The targets for today were going to be recent finds but of course, one never knows (the eternal optimist eh!).

Someone's been digging before me!

Someone’s been digging before me – it’s always best to fill one’s holes, even though the tide will cover this again later!

I found £3.18 in modern coins and some bits and pieces but about half way through the session, I started having some trouble with my headphones. They kept cutting out and I had to twiddle the plug on the phones themselves, to get the threshold tone back. They’re also uncomfortable to wear (probably because I also wear glasses) and I think I’ve just been waiting for an excuse to buy some new ones. I’ll check the cable/plug and see if I can fix the problem but from now on, these will become the spare set! I’ve not mentioned the name of the phones because the majority of other users like them very much, so there’s a good chance it’s just me and I didn’t want to “diss” them just yet.

Finds for today

Finds for today.

I wanted to mention that Freckleton library have asked me back to give a follow-up talk in the near future and my friend, who attended last time, will be accompanying me again. We’ve come up with some good idea’s on how to improve the talk and I’m going to visit the library sometime soon and discuss the options with them. One thing I’m very keen to improve upon, is the practical demonstration of the sounds and tones from different metals but I’ve a few idea’s about that.

On many occasions whilst driving home, I’ve meant to take a few snaps of this well known church. I’ve somehow never managed to achieve this and so today, I was doubly determined.

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The White Church – not so white on this dull day!

This is Fairhaven United Reformed Church, more commonly known as The White Church and was opened on 17th October 1912. This additional church was deemed necessary in fulfilling a need for the continuing expansion of Lytham’s population and all official parties agreed, the building should not only serve as a church, but be architecturally distinctive into the bargain.

There are several classical Victorian and Georgian buildings in Lytham St. Annes, all worth taking a look at yourself, if architecture is one of your passions, that is! They’re amongst the nicest and most well preserved in Lancashire and I love the distinctive character they bring to the town.

Anyhow my friends, I’ll be back soon :) so until then, Best regards James :D

The Wonderful World Of Metal Detecting

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Greetings my friends.

A little while ago, I mentioned I was giving a talk on metal detecting at Freckleton Library, the lovely and picturesque, close-knit village of Freckleton being on the Fylde and only a few minutes away from the coast and Blackpool. The library is a valuable and essential asset to the village, with a splendid atmosphere for both learning and relaxed reading and not only provides a great collection of books and other resources but has access to the internet through several PC’s.

Freckleton library

Freckleton library

The talk was scheduled for the 16th October at 7pm and boy, by the time I arrived, was I nervous. Fortunately, I was greeted by Jacqui and Joyce, manager and assistant manager and luckily for me, one would find it difficult to meet two more lovely people. Impossible though it seemed (knowing my demons), I felt better and a little more relaxed almost immediately, they made me feel so at home and before the talk started, we had a nice little chat over a much-needed cup of tea (I was “spitting feathers”).

I would be fibbing if I said this was my first attempt at public speaking (but it was the first time doing something like this) as there were many occasions, just as many years ago, when I did do a little. I used to read the bible lesson in school assembly every other day (my best friend who attended the talk, read on the other day’s) and I once made a speech at the public hall, introducing the mayor of Preston. The peculiar thing was (I thought so then and well, still do), the mayor was a woman but I still had to introduce her as Mr. Mayor! Since then I’ve kept myself pretty much in the shadows as far as the public eye is concerned, that is, up until now.

Jacqui had made sure the library’s projector and screen were available for my laptop, as I’d decided to do a power point presentation – one I’d already been working on for the occasion and in all, there were some 19 slides with headings and bullet points (with a few pictures here and there). These points not only reminded me of where I was at (a must for my memory) but allowed the audience a chance to keep track of the whole “picture” and where previous elements could easily be referred back to later. I called the talk “The Wonderful World of Metal Detecting” and in the end, it lasted about an hour and a half.

Someof the group looking at some finds from another fellow detectorist and myself.

Some of the group looking at finds from a fellow detectorist and myself.

A bit of self-analysis.

I suspected this was going to be a steep learning curve and I wasn’t disappointed as on reflection, there were several valuable lessons learned. I wish to share these with you but of course, the conclusions I arrived at are only my humble opinion, so here’s a few points I thought were relevant:

  1. I felt that I should have spent a little longer on some points than others, to make sure new people interested in the hobby are comfortable. I’ll explain more about best detecting techniques and what that involves, more data about setting up the detector properly, swinging the coil, pinpointing with or without a pinpoint mode etc., I did cover this but I didn’t explain in the detail I was satisfied with.
  2. I took my detectors with me, to show the different sounds made by each type of metal but there was a lot of interference from all the electrical equipment present, like the library’s personal PC’s, extensive wiring and other stuff. The detectors were very unstable and in my anxious state, I even forgot to press the “Noise Cancel” button on my Minelab, which tries to find a quiet channel automatically when pressed, especially good when there’s a lot of “outside” electrical influences. Doh! I’m particularly embarrassed about forgetting such a simple one as this! As it was, I turned them off and moved on to give a verbal explanation!
  3. I sometimes found it difficult to keep to the structure of the talk as I allowed it to become a little unstructured from the word go. As I explained some points, I was drawn into speaking about other immediately related topics, either by branching off myself or by questions from the audience. Maybe the next time, I’ll ask of the audience that if I could first give the talk and then we could have a question-time at the end.
  4. Next time I will prepare a fact sheet, with links to relevant pages on my blog or elsewhere, which will provide helpful information i.e. tips on how to gain permission, letters, agreements, tides, beach tips and more!
  5. Again, as I look back to the first point, I had planned a strategy and decided on a power-point presentation, I just need to trust myself more and remind myself to stick to the plan.

Anyhow, those were the bits which I think I need to work on besides my general presentation skills (which will improve with experience) but all things being considered, the talk seemed to have been enjoyed by everyone.

Some finds I brought with me.

These are some of the finds that I brought along with me. A fellow detectorist and member of the Blackpool Metal Detecting Club attended the talk, my sincere thanks to him as he brought some of his superb finds for us to look at. They included a spectacular bronze age axe head, hammered silver coins, crotal bells (including a rarer crotal bell which was the largest I’d ever seen) and many other superb finds. I apologise that I didn’t photograph them for you and this is another thing I must remember to do in the future.

(I did a little research on crotal bells and found they actually go up to a giant 158mm in diameter – over 6″. Robert Wells bell foundry of Aldbourne, Wiltshire produced the largest range in sizes of bell, with over 30 different ones produced 32mm – 158mm).     http://www.bbc.co.uk/ahistoryoftheworld/objects/nictdQS0TayEgPCH-vq3FA

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Some lead tokens, military badges, weights and a few buttons etc.

I think I passed on my passion and deep connection to the past which metal detecting brings to life for me and I do hope some take up the hobby and enjoy it as I do. I just wish to remind anyone in the group, to email me at any time and I will do my utmost to help or answer any questions, it would be my pleasure.

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Most of my silver collection – nothing older than 1818.

Besides these finds, I’ve boxes of other stuff including thousands of pre-decimal pennies, hundreds of half-pennies, some farthings, thousands of modern coins I haven’t cashed in yet, musket balls, pistol shot and lots of other curiosities.

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Bits and pieces and including weights, pins, buttons, lead toy, junk rings, a hub cap from an old pram and the odd-shaped thing at the bottom is made of bronze – I don’t know what this could be?

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Jacqui and Joyce once again for their wonderful hospitality, this made all the difference and has left me with a warm and positive feeling and two new friends. Thank you both very much and thank you for the lovely present of a bottle of wine and some chocolates, I enjoyed them tremendously (had to keep wrestling them from my wife though heh heh) :D

Finally but foremost in my thoughts, I would like to say a big thank you to the people who attended and made the talk possible, it was a real pleasure to meet you all. You were all so very kind and I really appreciated when people came to me afterwards and said thank you, that was very thoughtful and gave me such a lovely feeling. Maybe we’ll bump into each other sometime, perhaps even on Blackpool beach and we can discuss finds, that would be really good :) As long as I find all the gold that is :D

I’ll be back soon so cheerio for now dear friends and my best wishes, James.

Anxiety Medication Withdrawal…

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Greetings my friends.

Something happened at the weekend which sent me into a terrible spiral of dark confused thoughts, profuse sweating, sickness, diarrhoea and I was trembling in what felt like every cell of my body. It was my fault but having made a mistake with the date of my medication, I ran out of two tablets for my anxiety condition – pregabalin and propranolol, on Friday evening. I realised my mistake early Saturday morning and rang the doctors as soon as it opened, only to be told that “they don’t do prescriptions on Saturday’s – it’s for emergencies only”.

I explained the emergency, I explained the predicament I was in, I explained about withdrawal, I explained that I’d tried on several occasions to bring all my medication under one date so accidents like this wouldn’t happen and that this was the first time I’d messed up in two years.

Anyhow, my doctors receptionist would not allow the prescription. I went to my pharmacologist and explained to them but received no help there either, I understood the chemists point of view though and left. I should have asked for an emergency appointment at the doc’s but by this time I was getting rather anxious, confused and a bit irrational. The documented withdrawal symptoms for these drugs and backed up by doctors experience, state that one should not just stop them but I now faced 48 hours without.

Suffice it to say that in a few hours, I could not talk to the family or take any interest in anything but what was going on in my body. I went to bed and after changing the pillow, which was soon drenched in sweat, I thankfully fell into a troubled sleep for 12 hours straight – anything was better than being awake!

To “cut to the chase” then, I’m still here, and its now Monday evening. I rang the doc’s again this morning and received a prescription within the hour. I took the tablets outside the chemist, now I’m just beginning to settle down but still pretty shaky though.

The pharmacologist phoned the doc’s this morning and must have sorted things out – the normal time one has to wait for a prescription at my doc’s is 72 hours, so to obtain it within the hour was good going. I’ve been on repeat prescription for years, so it wasn’t like they didn’t know about the tablets I took. Anyhow, I won’t be forgetting any more prescription dates any time soon, touch-wood!

It was a hard lesson and one that showed up some issues for me. For anyone who takes these type of drugs, or any other which is on repeat, don’t run out of them!

Best wishes and regards, James :'(

P.S. I’m off to Blackpool on Thursday for a little detecting trip, so I’ll “see you on the beach” :D

Something To Get Your Teeth Into…

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Greetings my friends.

A couple of weeks ago, I was on my way home from a shopping trip for groceries, a job which I usually don’t mind doing but today was different, I was having trouble with my mouth! (Image: Courtesy of ClipartPal).

Now, I know what your thinking, “the trouble is, he can’t keep it shut” and although this has been a problem on many occasions, it wasn’t the case this time. Because of my ageing and decrepit, weak body, I’d developed a couple of ulcers in my mouth due to my false teeth rubbing my upper gum – joyous occasions! I prematurely acquired the teeth after an accident weakened most of the top set some years ago and then I lost them, now all I have left are about four back ones and two Dracula like fangs at either side, which show when I have a broad smile or when I laugh, ha ha ha!

Anyhow, seeing I was alone in the car, I decided to take my teeth out and just pop them on the seat between my legs whilst I was driving home and “oh yes indeed” I thought, the relief was wonderful! The trouble actually started though, when I decided to call at a bakery just round the corner from my house, I only wanted a French stick but as per usual, my mind was on other things.

Off I went into the shop and knowing all the staff fairly well, I wasted no time in having a laugh and joke with them, prancing around like a court jester and enjoying being in a good mood. It was only as I walked back to the car, I realised I’d forgotten to put my teeth back in and my embarrassment was made all the worse, as I remembered all the staff in the shop were female….great! (Image: Courtesy of NJ.com)

As I made my way back and thinking I’ll never go into that shop again, I pondered where my teeth would be. I expected them to be sat on the driver’s seat in full view, whilst into the bargain, acting like some sort of bio-hazard anti-theft device. When I arrived back at the car and peered in however, they were nowhere in sight! From the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of pink on the tarmac, it was in the next car space to mine and even before I could get a decent look, I just knew something bad had happened…..and you guessed it, a car had run over them, they were smashed beyond repair!

61MO5MzHPwL._SS100_I don’t know if any of you have had a similar experience – I mean, loosing or breaking ones teeth, can make one feel very self-conscious. Trying to talk without smiling is harder than you think, easier when talking to family but not so when it’s an acquaintance one meets on the street say, whilst walking the dog. (Image: Courtesy of Amazon).

Anyhow, I couldn’t wait to arrive home and find my spare set and as soon as I did, I washed and put them in straight away. It was all good – for now!

Later that day, it was indeed time to take Sam (my little dog) out for a walk, so after putting on his lead and gathering a couple of doggy bags, I looked in the mirror for a final check, just to see if my spare teeth were OK to be seen in public and thankfully, they just about passed muster.

T - Courtesy of Kids Creative Chaos.

I did meet two other dog walkers and as there were no mishaps whilst talking to them, I was quite pleased and this set would do nicely until my new ones would be ready, in one month’s time. In fact, I had the first appointment the following day to start the four-part procedure!

(Picture: Courtesy of Kids Creative Chaos).

I always wear casual clothes around the house, so when I arrived home I “slipped into something a little more comfortable” and leaving my going out clothes on the bed, I made a mental note to sort them out later……

I decided to make something nice for tea, so I went off into the kitchen and started to prepare some vegetables, when in trotted Sam….. I thought he looked pleased with himself and without any hesitation, he just made himself comfortable and carried on chewing something he’d found. I thought it was one of his doggy chews but then I had a more sinister notion, one which sent me into a panic. I remembered taking my spare teeth out when I first entered the house and then slipping them in the top pocket of my shirt, the shirt which was now on the bed…..I looked back at Sam.

Protruding from the corner of his mouth, I could now see some pink and one white human sized tooth, my heart sank. Sam was looking up at me with his sweet appealing face and an expression of pure innocence in his eyes – the teeth were in pieces!

He’s always had a fascination with my false teeth, not wasting any time in taking this opportunity to stage a covert raid into the bedroom, almost immediately after I left. What a good job I was going to the dentist the next day, at least I’ll be able to get things moving…..then the phone rang!

It was the dentist’s receptionist and after the opening greetings she said, “sorry Mr Oliver, I have to cancel your appointment”….. In the end it will now take just over six weeks for my new teeth to be made and just to “put a top hat on it”, I’ve a few important meetings this week. Ah well, I hope they can take me seriously heh, heh but anyhow, this ends the tasteful story of my teeth, may they rest in pieces…..

I hope you have a good week my friends, oh and by the way, does anyone know where I can get my teeth insured?

Best wishes, James :D

A Ghost and the Silver Half Crown…..

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Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo drying itself – a quick shot on the way to Blackpool.

It’s official, I’m losing my mind. Walking past the Pleasure Beach amusement park (situated on the promenade, just south from south pier), I was making my way to the sand and my chosen detecting spot for the day, when I had a big realisation…..my right hand was empty! Don’t ask me how a person who’s going metal detecting, manages to walk about 300 meters from the car and only then realise they haven’t got their metal detector with them…..well, I just shook my head in disbelief, turned around and made my way back. This isn’t the first time I’ve done this kind of trick, oh no, not the first time at all…..I once left the detector at the side of the road and drove all the way home before I realised my mistake, I was very surprised then, to find it just where I’d left it but it was panic stations for a while. I also like to leave digging tools behind, either at home or in the field, usually reaching the furthest distance away from them before I realise, a wonderful sinking feeling, ho ho ho!

As I shamefully walked back south after retrieving the detector, again past the pleasure beach, I cast my mind back to the last time I visited here and oh my, how time has slipped away. Forty three years have flown by since I shakily stepped off a ride called the octopus and spewed my guts up in front of my new girlfriend – it was my sixteenth birthday! I remember the cost for two people to ride the rides for an entire evening, was just £5 exactly.

We went on a ride called the grand national, the ride borrowing its name from the infamous horse race at Aintree, Liverpool and the first drop on the roller coaster, took one’s breath away. I’d bought a giant red toffee lolly for my little sister (horrible monster, more like) and as there was nowhere to leave it, I took it on the ride with me, wedging it between myself and the side of the carriage. As we went over the first bump, my girlfriend and I lifted bodily from the seat and came crashing down, smashing the red lolly into tiny pieces. Back then, the carriages just had a flat bench to sit on and a metal bar to cling on to, it wasn’t much and one had to hang on for dear life! I couldn’t afford another lolly, so my sis wasn’t too impressed when I gave it to her and she refused to have anything to do with it or me but my dad laughed and I think I ended up nearly sick again, as I had to eat most of it myself…..oh and by the way, my “girlfriend” ended up dumping me that very same week (couldn’t understand why)!

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Ghost Train – Blackpool pleasure beach. Courtesy of Blackpool Pleasure Beach.

It goes without saying that we also took a ride on the ghost train (this was before my projectile vomiting exhibition) and there’s me, praying it was going to be sooo spooky…..and it did the trick, the girl was clinging to me for dear life, it felt wonderful! We’d just passed the Dracula display and reached the skeletons when something or someone gently moved the hair on the top of my head (long hair in those days) and a voice said “Ooooowwwww Daddy” in my ear – it scared the living daylights out of me and I still can’t decide whether it was part of the ride, or if it was the people in the carriage behind us!

Then of course, there was the spooky tale of a supposedly real life ghost which has been haunting the ghost train for many years. In both life and death, his nickname was Clogger or Cloggy (his real name seems to be a mystery), because he always wore clogs and on many occasions since his death, the clop, clop, clop of his footfalls have been heard echoing down the tunnels of the ride…….

So, here’s a little diversion for you but before I go any further, a short disclaimer; whatever I feel about the authenticity and methods used in the video’s made by various ghost hunting crews, has no bearing on my personal interpretation and belief (or not) in paranormal activity of the ghostly kind, you dig?

“Most Haunted” Paranormal Investigations – Blackpool.

Britain’s answer to the USA’s Zak Bagans and the “Ghost Adventures” crew, is a paranormal investigation show hosted by UK tv personality Yvette Fielding and medium Derek Acorah, called “Most Haunted”. A show which has been blasted by sceptics on many occasions (including this episode) but nevertheless, has gained in popularity throughout the UK. The show visited the Ghost Train, Ripley’s, the Tower and one or two other places and was televised in October 2012. The team tried to experience the ghostly happenings and capture them on camera for all to see…..(those who are really terrified or with an uncontrollable desire for the detecting section may skip this bit now, heh heh!).

So there you go my friends!

The Metal Detecting Session.

As I’ve said, today I’m just south of south pier and the topography of the beach is different on this side of the Victorian structure. This is due to the action of the tide and the direction it comes in at (a better explanation of tide action may be found on the Fylde Coast page). In short however, the tide comes from south to north and then prevailing winds coming from the south-west, blow the tide on shore at about a 45 degree angle. When the tide hits an obstruction like the pier, there are further disruptions in the sand. Notice the difference, the sand is much lower on the other side of the pier and with a couple of drainage channels:

Pier

South Pier and the sand is much lower on the other side, giving better chances for the detectorist. This is one example of the changes in topography, one must look out for.

Anyhow, I arrived on the sand and despite a lot of poor souls being lost off Blackpool, I hadn’t heard about any ghost stories around this spot yet (there probably are though!) and my thoughts came straight back to the job in hand.

Starting in the furthest channel from the pier, I quickly gained a 10 and a 20 pence piece, they were like new and in the next hour, I also added a few more coppers to the bag, along with a couple of rivets and a piece of flat copper strip. As I approached the pier structure, two £1 coins and my first pre-decimal joined the rest (it was a penny), another two modern coppers followed and then I had a spate of trash items which I thought were never going to come to an end.

By about lunchtime, I was detecting close to the end of the pier and the sandy bed of the channel now had a layer of pebbles showing through, definitely a good sign and so it proved in this case. My next coin and only the third I’ve ever found at Blackpool, was a silver half-crown piece – wonderful! Sadly though, the coin was rather encrusted and I suspected it’s was of a date later than 1919, when copper was added to save on cost, the coin probably comprising only 50% silver. To remove some of the contamination, I had it soaking in olive oil to loosen the dirt, before I tried to gently clean some of it off (not very successfully I might add, more soaking needed, much more!) and here it is…

Half crown

Half crown (1920) 50% silver 50% copper (1 year after sterling silver had ceased to be used). This standard was maintained until 1946 after which, silver played no further part in British coinage.

…here’s the rest of the coins (half-crown at bottom right):

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Finds.

Not much spending money this time, the wife will have to go without her dinner again LOL but the day was already complete…..I’d found the half-crown.

Cheerio for now folks and take care, regards James :D

The Blog Gets A New Theme…

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Greetings my friends.

I’ve thought of changing the theme on this blog for quite some time now and so today, finally, I browsed the options available. I tried quite a few themes like “Manifest, Shine On, Syntax, Twenty Eleven, Ryu and Twenty Twelve” etc. but decided this fit the bill quite nicely and is called “Chateau”. I might change the header to a photograph of my own and a couple of other little tweaks but essentially, that’s about it.

Hope you like it folks :D

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