I am just back from a brief jaunt to Norfolk to deliver the 2014 Sue Margeson Memorial Lecture to the Norfolk and Norwich Archaeological Society. I presented my paper in the wonderful surroundings of the lecture theatre at the Norwich Castle Museum, one of my top 5 favourite museums in the country. I used this as an opportunity to present to the good people of Norfolk and Norwich, including some extremely eminent archaeologists, my latest ideas about hogback stones and Viking period deathways more generally. My talk was well received and well attended by over 80 people…. which was nice. Furthermore, I received some insightful and pressing questions on the nature of hogback tombs and whether they are skeuomorphs of halls or a range of other architectures and material cultures. The talk was then wrapped up by a vote of thanks from Dr Tim Pestell of the Norwich Castle Museum.
My word Norwich is a long way to get to from Wrexham! Even more so when there are weekend engineering works around Sheffield which have led to a revised timetable for the Liverpool-Norwich services. Hence, I decided to go via Chester, London Euston and out via London Liverpool Street. A 5 hour 30 minute trek. It felt like some Tolkein-esque quest, with many a beast encountered en route. Actually, it took me over a year to get there, since I had originally agreed to speak in 2013 but the arrival of my twin girls delayed things more than Network Rail could imagine.
Still, I am delighted to be able to remind myself of the wonders of railway travel. Highlights included the miniature railway train in the garden on Chester railway station, the architecture of London Liverpool Street, and the beautiful Norwich railway station. Fortunately, I had the option of staying the night and after enjoying the hospitality of friends and going to a children’s football match (a first for me), I gave my talk and headed home the next day.
And Back Again – Virgin Toilet Humour
My journey back could have taken one of several routes. All I knew was that I wouldn’t be able to make it back if I had tried to catch a train to Liverpool via Birmingham. So I hopped on a train to Cambridge, down to King’s Cross and across to Euston, up to Crewe and to Chester and home. A tiring Saturday night on Network Rail. I wanted to share the mildly amusing notice in the Virgin Pendolino toilet on the service from London Euston to Preston. A message for everyone really.