We were hampered by the incredibly slow traffic on the motorway due to an accident we arrived at the XP Rally registration tent at 4:30pm.
After checking in and getting our wrist bands we had a look at the stalls that were setting up there. The first tent had the XP stand showing the new 9" elliptical and 9" round coils that have much higher frequencies than the current XP coils.
Also on show was the new XP hand-held pointer, what a great piece of kit this is! Without going into too much detail (as that info is already on the net) it looks to be the one to beat.
The next day we had breakfast and spotted two more "wrist bands" in the restaurant. This couple asked if we were looking forward to the rally etc.
Low and behold it was only the same guys that had invited us up to the gold panning championships in Scotland after seeing the huge gold nugget that we'd found early last year. These guys were serious about detecting and diving for our heritage and experts in that field.
The Saturday session started off at 9:30am with detectorists heading off in all directions. This is unusual territory for the PAST as I for one haven't attended a rally for over 4 years.
Rob and I stuck to what we know and followed the line of the crop for as long as we could. This was in contrast to most participants as they wandered all over the place often crossing our path and sometimes even choosing our line ahead of us. This wasn't a problem as we just moved sideways and carried on regardless.
What did amaze us was the speed that some covered the ground, almost running! The other thing was the swing that some had... the coil was at least 15 inches above the ground at both ends of the swing and about 5 inches from the surface at the lowest point.
Both these attributes WILL reduce recovery rates to a bare minimum.
Even the girls commented on their actions and they have no interest in detecting whatsoever!!!
Feedback from the rally was that the expected amount of finds was far less than anticipated. The above comment in the previous paragraph may have some influence on this.
After a couple of hours it was decided to retreat to the hub for something to eat and drink.
We arrived at "site central" at 13:00hrs and decided to have a pizza from the wood-fired pizza van. I must say, it was easily the best pizza I'd had in a field! We had to endure two pints of alcohol while we waited as the pizza's were so popular but it was well worth it!
The side stalls were now fully active so we sauntered around looking at the Medieval stall, the ancient leather fabrication bit and the Celtic forge they had on the go. We were also hoping to bump into fellow forum members and we met up with Andy (Wesser), Ollie (potter01), Ferret and Liamnolan.
We also met the wife and son of a fellow detectorist that I'd not seen for about 4 or 5 years. We had such a laugh as he should have been there but was on business in China. She sent a selfie of us all just to let him know we were ok and having a great time.
The second day saw new fields for the Sunday dig so we started off near to the village there. Quite a few detectorists were in the same field with some nice finds coming up. We met up with an Australian guy who was over here for a 10 weeks' detecting holiday.
The wives decided to leave after a hour or so and head for the refreshments tent about a mile-and-a-half away (as the crow flies) and took one of the two-way radios so as to keep in contact.
Lunchtime loomed so we decided to head back to base for the same refreshments. A French couple asked if we were going back to base for something to eat using a series of gestures, French and pointing... we said yes and waved for them to follow us to our vehicle. We all laughed when it was realised that it was them offering US a lift and not the other way around.
En-route we saw a lone detectorist walking along the road towards base with at least about another mile to go. We stopped and offered him a lift of which he was very grateful. He jumped in and I said "5 Euros" which made us all laugh. He was from Austria and he asked were we came from, I said England (with a definite delivery), he laughed out loud at my pithy wit to which I then said Manchester (this was far easier than trying to explain that we where from Preston). We parked up and shook hands with our Austrian guest and parted ways.
The girls were holding fort at the bar so we joined them in sampling the Cotswold lager at 5%. We decided to share a couple of the superb pizzas from the pizza van and do a bit of people watching whilst digesting.
We had the gold stater that we'd found a couple of weeks ago so thought that we'd show Alain Loubet (XP's MD) as we'd already shown the XP team pictures of the coin the day before to which they said that they'd love to see it in the flesh (or I think that's what they said in french). Before long all the team were handling our precious item with all sorts of comment and good humour.
XP's software engineer tried the stater with the new coils at 55khz and the coils were picking it up at least 12 inches in the air tests. This may have been the first time that a UK gold stater had challenged the new coils.
We'd printed out 10 packs of info about The PAST and passed them on to Alain Loubet, Nigel Ingram (MD at Regtons), ECMD's main representative, The FLO's in attendance at the rally and other individual detectorists.
This may hopefully open doors that were firmly closed in favour of detecting being accepted as a powerful tool that will aid each country involved in many ways.
After lunch we decided to call on a landowner that was nearby and check out the crop conditions there.
We were met by the landowners wife who enthusiastically invited us all in for a cuppa! We did a bit of catching up as we hadn't seen them for quite a while. Amongst other things we chatted about the holidays we'd enjoyed over the last few months which included her favourite... Italy.
During our research we'd spotted a farm that has a substantial Roman settlement there and I asked if she knew them. Of course she did as this family are well known and connected in the county.
Her son appeared and he was keen to show us his recent finds at the farm.
We decided to have a quick hour on a field that we'd never detected but this only produced modern lead.
Anyway, time to head back and freshen up for dinner.
We ended up at the Indian restaurant in Burford which was very nice indeed. We'd already spoke to a few detectorists that had already eaten there and they said it was brilliant.
So, all in all not a bad weekend (except for the finds in our case). We got to meet Alain Loubet from XP and his team, Nigel Ingram from Regtons, the main guy from ECMD and some lovely detectorists too.
The girls loved the scenery in the Cotswold's and are more than willing to join Rob and I on another venture into the unknown.
The raffle prizes were great including 10 full Déus machines. One excited Déus (Day-us) winner had one under his arm and exclaimed on the 'phone that he'd just won a "Juice"?
Some great aerial footage can be seen here.
Overall this was a superbly executed and well organised rally and although the finds were less than expectations, it was an event that was a pleasure to attend. 300 French, 30 from Germany and many more from Italy, Belgium, Austria, USA, Portugal to name a few.
Hopefully next week will see the continuation of our quest to recover more of Britain's history with the possibility of two current permissions coming back on-stream at the same time!