Those of you who are a little longer in the tooth will remember Douglas Adams’ fabulous theory of retail economics which he called the “shoe event horizon”, inspired no doubt by a visit to Street in Somerset where it really is impossible to find a decent pair of shoes in amongst all those shoe shops!
This evening I located the Scottish equivalent in the bank of the river at the bottom of my garden here at The Chookery. To give some geographical background, about 300 metres upstream is a bridge where one road crosses the river and joins onto the road that runs up this side of the loch; at this junction the enterprising Victorians built an hotel. Waste management facilities in the nineteenth century generally being a case of chuck it and leave it, the hotel appeared to have adopted the river as their waste disposal facility of choice. When we moved in to The Chookery, there was a box in the garage containing a selection of stone pots and even a couple of clay pipe bowls, all of which showed signs of having been immersed in the river. For the last several days it has been very dry here and the river level has been dropping, to the extent that it is possible to walk across in wellies below the house. Exploring a little further down the riverbank, I could see across in the water what appeared to be several more of these pots, so crossed over and made my way down to where I could get into the river and firkle about. A few minutes work saw me the proud owner of seven assorted nineteenth-century pots, one at least of which was enscribed “Golden Shred” on the base. It was while I was hoicking the pots out of the river bed that I came across an old boot and then, next to it, an old shoe. Closer inspection revealed that these were amongst a whole seam of footwear that was being eroded from the river bank and which has obviously been laid down at the same time as the pots that I was pulling out. Interestingly, the shoes and boots were all in a seam of burned and charred wood about 150 mm thick.
Very proud of my finds, I took them back up to show off to Her Maj, who wasn’t that impressed at all … women just don’t understand the sheer puerile pleasure to be gained from these enterprises!