From 1975 till last Monday, I was the proud possessor of 3 (and a half) vacuum cleaners. Number 1 was simple to use (old fashioned technology), the hose and nozzle easy to worry into tiny nooks and crannies. Number 2 was a wet /dry cleaner (newer technology of the time) which was brilliant for an all-encompassing ‘hoover-up’. Cleaner number 3 was meant to directly replace number 2 which I’d ruined by sucking up just too much fine cement dust from my cellar – not a great idea for a motor of any kind- but number 3 proved to be a very heavy laborious ‘tank’ to lug around the house. Last Monday, I bought number 4 which is the opposite, chosen because its weight is only 3 lbs compared to number 3 which was 10lbs.
My new cleaner number 4 is a pleasure to use with its up-to-date cyclonic technology. Well, it’s almost a pleasure, since I’m not OCD about vacuuming. Actually, I’m really more interested in training the next ‘hoover-upper’ seen in the photo. *smiley face here *
But the vacuum story doesn’t quite end there- I’ll explain the ‘half’. Last Christmas (Dec 2014) I got a present of a fantastic revolutionary cleaning device (technologically speaking) which was intended to take vacuum cleaning totally out of my list of household time-sucks.
‘Robby Robot’ became the newest family member. He’s very lightweight and comes with interchangeable brushes for different surfaces. He’s by far the most entertaining vacuum cleaner I’ve ever seen and attracts not only the dust around the house but that in-training assistant in the photograph, followed by his excitedly squealing 3 year old sister. Robby is quite effective as a cleaner but unfortunately takes hours and hours, randomly spinning his way around the floors. Some folks might be saying that I shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth and they’d be right, but by the time poor wee Robby cleans one room and moves on to the next (battery charging every 2 hours or so) the whole process has to start over again because the kids have made their new mark. I’m not sure that this innovative technology will ever meet my energy-saving criteria!
Domestic trivia? Yes, but what’s that got to do with my writing?
There’s a slight parallel with the research for my Celtic Fervour Series writing. There was a nice light foray into research as I amassed the historical facts used in Book 1. For Books 2 & 3, I was lugging around a heavy weight Vax cleaner, sucking up as much as I could about the invasion of the Ancient Roman Governor of Britannia, Gnaeus Julius Agricola, into what is now called north England and Scotland- since all of that research was new to me. The laborious, though still enjoyable, task was finding sufficient details to use from texts translated from their original Latin or Greek. My tendency to sidetrack during research mirrored my last inefficient vacuum cleaner as I poured over and over the same texts to suck up the tiniest debris.
Currently I’m now in a lightweight vacuum phase since there’s virtually nothing at all written of the period following the withdrawal of Agricola from ‘Aberdeenshire, Scotland’ back in AD 84. In the absence of written evidence, it gives me the opportunity to give my imagination free rein. Yet, that new freedom is tempered by an enjoyable frustration. New archaeological evidence is now being found on a fairly regular basis in north-east Scotland. Keeping abreast of this new interpretative evidence is another time-suck, yet very exciting when a new coin hoard is uncovered, or some other evidence of ancient Roman occupation found.
Back in the 1970s, there was little attention paid to pre-history by ‘John Doe’ in the UK. Researching was mainly done by the ‘fully trained’ archaeologists who tended to search only when funding became available. However, I’m totally delighted to say that the surge of interest from the early 1990s onwards in ‘finding ancient artefacts’, made popular on TV by celebrity archaeologists and historians, has considerably increased the amount of historical finds in my homeland. Innovative Technology has a huge bearing on this, equipment being much more user friendly and affordable by the amateur historian. It’s not unusual now to find an amateur ‘vacuuming’ a field area with his hi-tec metal detector (please excuse my generic use of the word) or other imaging equipment.
There’s now a booming market out there of possible equipment to help with surveying the land – the technologies honed for specific uses and too extensive to mention here. (I confess I don’t know much about some of these)
(Image from: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:62_H_Frox6.jpg)
This site, only one of many found on the internet, has equipment for sale for searching on land or under water. http://www.joanallen.co.uk/Metal-Detectors-s/50.htm?searching=Y&sort=2&cat=50&show=100&page=1&gclid=CPGxmPTshMQCFeHLtAod3yoAFw
Of course, there is no ‘Finders Keepers’ law in Scotland. Anything ancient requires to be declared to appropriate authorities – who, I’m glad to say, act on informtion much more quickly than ever before and rapidly send out experienced personnel to do the full excavation. Many more artefacts are finding their way through the proper channels and are being added to collections of similar items in museums, both locally and globally. It’s now easy for the amateur to make an initial enquiry online about anything they think might be of import. http://www.archaeologyscotland.org.uk/our-projects/discovery-and-excavation-scotland
I’m a member of a lot of Facebook History Groups which are a fantastic source though the downside is that these information posts are also wonderful time sucks!
Have a great weekend- cleaning, or whatever you intend to do!
Nancy Jardine’s contemporary mystery and historical romantic adventure writing can be found HERE