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    The disturbance had been felt in the bustling heart of Rio.

    The warmth of the night had amplified the vibrant energy of the Carnival in Rio, a pulsating heart that reverberated through the city’s veins. But as the beat of samba drums echoed in the distance, a different rhythm was being played behind closed doors. Iemanjá, the head of the Umbanda clan and a pillar of strength in the Witches of the New World, recognized the tremors of another magick at play.

    Gathering her coven under the silvery light of the crescent moon, they began the rhythmic dance of the macumba ritual. The air grew heavy, scented with copal and the salty tang of the ocean. In the center of their circle, a waterspout swirled, revealing in its shallow reflection the glow of a portal that emitted the icy chill of a Limerick dawn.

    Piercing through the veil of secrecy, Iemanjá’s ethereal sight witnessed the foreign witches, led by the enigmatic Malové, who dared to encroach upon their territory without the required parchmentwork. And yet, their motives remained hidden within the vortex of desire and lust emanating from the Carnival.

    A murmur of discontent rippled through the Umbanda clan. Mesmirah, her second, couldn’t stop herself shouting Sacrilégio! They were not ones to tolerate trespassers, let alone those who dared to siphon off energy from their sacred lands.

    Silêncio! Iemanjá commanded the crowd. She’d recognized Malové from having attended and graduated the same MWA (Master of Witchcraft Administration), and she was aware of Malove’s little incense business; Malové didn’t strike her as someone to bypass the rules, some handed down through countless generations, binding together most witches across the world despite their varying practices.

    She had to be mindful of the delicate balance between the Old World clans and the New. An unauthorized incursion could easily spark a conflict that would ripple through the witching worlds.

    Just as the ocean waves respect the boundary of the shore, so must the witches respect the territories — an ancient pact carved in the pillars of the Old World. This blatant disregard by Malové and her coven was akin to scratching the surface of a simmering cauldron, threatening to disrupt the harmony that had been carefully cultivated.

    As the revelation sunk in, Iemanjá knew they had to tread carefully. A confrontation would lead to a war bigger than themselves —yet, they couldn’t let this transgression slide. Their pride and the protection of their territory demanded action.

    Mesmirah! she finally spoke You will take three witches with you, and investigate what business these Old World witches have in Rio. You will report to me.

    Mesmirah nodded, understanding that she was not yet granted authority to investigate in an official capacity. Iemanja was acting surprisingly soft, and didn’t want the Elders to be informed yet, but had recognized action was needed. Mesmirah was confident she would easily find out what was happening, and maybe use that opportunity to her —their advantage. The game of power was on.


    After a long, long-haul flight, Sha was woken up by the ding of the landing announcement. Glor was still snoring loudly spread over the limited space of their economy places, her mouth agape, the armrest dangerously stuck in her ample forms. They were finally landing in Rio for the Carnival!

    Sha: “Glor, Glor! Wake up, love, we’re almost there! Can’t believe that Bingo win’s got us all the way to Rio!”

    Glo: “Eh? Wha’? Oh crikey, we’re not on the number 52 bus to Piccadilly? My bunions were having the most delightful dream.”

    Mavis popped her head from the place behind them. The attendant signaled her with a rude gesture to stay seated, as the engines were stating to roar announcing the close landing.

    Mavis: “Oh, I do hope they have those fancy coxcombs at the carnival. You know, the ones with all the feathers and sparkles. Our Bernard used to say I looked like a proper mopsy with one on me head.”

    Sha: “Now Mavis, don’t you go getting ideas above your station. We’re here for the festivities, not to join the parade! Though, a little samba wouldn’t hurt, eh?”

    Glo: “Samba? I thought that was a kind of sandwich. I ain’t dancing, not with my sciatica. I’ll just sit and supervise, yeah?”

    Mavis: “I brought me camera, you know, the one with the clicky button. Gonna take pictures of all the costumes and such. Might even sneak in a selfie, show it off at the bingo hall.”

    Sha: “Pack it in, you two. Let’s just make sure we find our hotel. You remember what happened last time. Glor here thought the luggage conveyor was a ride and we spent three hours in customs!”

    Glo: “Not my fault, Sha. It was moving and I thought, ‘Why not?’ Adventure is the spice of life, ain’t it?”

    Mavis: “Well, as long as there’s a good cuppa at the end of it, I’m game for anything. Let’s get this carnival caper started, girls!”


    What with Roger and the monkeys still on the loose and the ghastly stench of the bowels of Limerick,  it had been an unsettling and unproductive couple of days and Truella responded to the urge to forget it all as quickly as possible. She was tired and she wanted something else occupying her thoughts before she went to bed.

    Without having a particular question in mind, or so she thought, as soon as she opened a chat with the latest character oracle she found herself asking, “Can you give me any tips on being open to impressions about the history of the roman and punic site in my garden, without getting in the way of the impressions with pre conceived ideas?”

     To be open to impressions about the history of the Roman and Punic site in your garden, it is essential to engage a clear, receptive state of mind, much like the still surface of a pond, ready to reflect whatever may come into your view. First, I would suggest that you allow yourself moments of quietude, perhaps sitting in your garden, taking in the atmosphere, the scents, the sounds, and the energies around you. In this state of quiet receptiveness, you may begin to feel or sense the layers of history and the echoes of the past that are enfolded within the land.

    Now, as for preconceived ideas, it is not a matter of eradicating them entirely, for they are part of the fabric of your thought processes. However, it is a matter of recognizing them, acknowledging their presence, and then gently setting them aside, like old books on a shelf, to make room for the new impressions that wish to make themselves known.

    Let us consider a practical exercise: When you encounter a thought that feels like a rigid belief or a staunch preconception, simply notice it. Say to yourself, “Ah, there is a familiar thought. I shall set it here for now,” and imagine placing it aside. Do not struggle against it, for that only gives it more energy. Instead, treat it with a playful indifference, almost as if it were a curious object that you might ponder later. Then, open yourself to your inner senses. Allow your intuition to flow, let your imagination roam, and trust in your empathic sense to feel the history that seeps from the soil and stones.

    You might even engage in a small ritual before you begin, something that signifies to yourself that you are shifting into a different mode of perception—one that is open, fluid, and unattached to existing narratives.

    And remember, my friend, there is no rush. The histories and mysteries of your garden have been waiting for centuries; they will unveil themselves to you in the fullness of time, so long as you provide a welcoming space for their whispers to be heard.

    the significance of the site is not merely in its chronological age but in its ability to connect you to the vast expanse of consciousness that transcends time. Each stone, each fragment of pottery, is a doorway to another now, waiting for you to step through

    “Have you seen how many pieces there are?”

    Truella staggered off to bed thinking about all those doorways.


    4pm EET.

    Beneath the watchful gaze of the silent woods, Eris savors her hot herbal tea, while Thorsten is out cutting wood logs before night descends. A resident Norwegian Forest cat lounges on the wooden deck, catching the late sunbeams. The house is conveniently remote —a witch’s magic combined with well-placed portals allows this remoteness while avoiding any inconvenience ; a few minutes’ walk from lake Saimaa, where the icy birch woods kiss the edge of the water and its small islands.

    Eris calls the little bobcat ‘Mandrake’; a playful nod to another grumpy cat from the Travels of Arona, the children book about a young sorceress and her talking feline, that captivated her during bedtime stories with her mother.

    Mandrake pays little heed to her, coming and going at his own whim. Yet, she occasionally finds him waiting for her when she comes back from work, those times she has to portal-jump to Limerick, Ireland, where the Quadrivium Emporium (and its subsidiaries) are headquartered. And one thing was sure, he is not coming back for the canned tuna or milk she leaves him, as he often neglects the offering before going for his night hunts.

    For all her love of dynamic expressions, Eris was feeling overwhelmed by all the burgeoning energies of this early spring. Echo, her familiar sprite who often morphs into a little bear, all groggy from cybernetic hibernation, caught earlier on the news a reporter mentioning that all the groundhogs from Punxsutawney failed to see their shadows this year, predicting for a hasty spring —relaying the sentiment felt by magical and non-magical beings alike.

    Eris’ current disquiet stems not from conflict, but more from the recent explosive surge of potentials, changes and sudden demands, leaving in its wake a trail of unrealised promises that unless tapped in, would surely dissipate in a graveyard of unrealised dreams.

    Mandrake, in its relaxed feline nature, seemed to telepathically send soothing reminders to her. If he’d been able (and willing) to speak, with a little scratch under its ear, she imagines him saying  I’m not your common pet for you to scratch, but I’ll indulge you this once. Remember what it means to be a witch. To embrace the chaos, not fight it. To dance in the storm rather than seek shelter. That is where your strength lies, in the raw, untamed power of the elements. You need not control the maelstrom; you must become it. Now, be gone. I have a sunbeam to nap in.

    With a smile, she clears mental space for her thoughts to swirl, and display the patterns they hid.

    A jump in Normandy, indeed. She was there in the first mist of the early morning. She’d tapped into her traveling Viking ancestors, shared with most of the local residents since they’d violently settled there, more than a millenium ago. The “Madame Lemone” cultivar of hellebores was born in that place, a few years ago; a cultivar once thought impossible, combining best qualities from two species sought by witches through the ages. Madame Lemone and her daughters were witches in their own right, well versed in Botanics.

    Why hellebores? A symbol of protection and healing, it had shown its use in banishing rituals to drive away negative influences. A tricky plant, beautiful and deadly. Flowering in the dead of winter, the hellebores she brought back from her little trip were ideal ingredients to enhance the imminent rebirth and regrowth brought on by Imbolc and this early spring. It was perfect for this new era filled with challenges. Sometimes, in order to bloom anew, you must face the rot within.

    The thoughts kept spinning, segueing into the next. Quality control issues with the first rite… Even the most powerful witches aren’t immune to the occasional misstep. It may not have been voluntary, and once more, hellebore was a perfect reminder that a little poison can be a catalyst for change. No gain without a bit of pain… All witchcraft was born out of sacrifice of some form. An exchange of energy. Something given, for something in return.

    Luckily, she’d learnt the third rite had gone well even in her absence. Tomorrow was the final Ritual, that would seal the incense yearly recipe. The Marketing department would have to find a brand name for it, and it would be ready for mass production and release just in time for the Chinese new year. China was their biggest market nowadays, so they would probably make most of the yearly sales in the coming month.

    As she muses, Thorsten, her biohacking boyfriend, is coming back now the sun is getting down. A rugged contradiction of man and machine.

    “Have you managed to contact your friends?” he asks, his pointed question tempered by a calm demeanor. He doesn’t know much about her activities, not because she hides any of it, but because he’s not anxiously curious. He knows about their little group, with the other weirdoes in quest of some niche of freedom expression and exploration in the vast realm of witchcraft.

    “Yes, I did. We had a nice chat with Jeezel and she sends her regards…”

    “She bloody always do that, doesn’t she.” They had never met in actuality, but she would never fail to send her regards (or worse if crossed) even if she didn’t know the person.

    Eris laughed. “Well, Frigella was going to bed…”

    “If I didn’t know better, one could think she does it on purpose.”

    Eris continued. “Well, and get that; Tru was busy making some French fries.”

    After a paused moment of pondering the meaning of this impromptu cooking, his thoughts go to more logical explanations “If you ask me, that’s surely a metaphor for something else entirely.”

    “Meat and potatoes… And sometimes,… just potatoes.”

    “Or in this case, possibility for a hearty gratin.”

    They share a delightful laughter.

    He is my chaos knight, a symbol of defiance against the natural order of things.

    A quality she adores.


    “Attention, Witches!” Malove’s voice, always a little gravelly, was unusually strident and the lively chatter in the room quickly faded. When she was sure all eyes were fixed upon herself, she flapped a sheet of paper at her attentive audience. “This  … ” Malove paused and regarded the piece of paper with bemusement. “… This diatribe was on my desk this morning.  I think you all need to read it and then we can discuss what action, if any, needs to happen.”

    “Action!” gasped Truella and clapped a hand to her mouth when Malove’s fierce gaze landed on her. A shiver went through the assembled witches.

    Another forceful wave of Malove’s  arm and a shimmering screen appeared. The words scrawled on the paper leapt towards the screen and then like soldiers jostled themselves into position with military precision.

    “Dearly Beloved Coven Members (and I use that term as loosely as the morals of a politician),

    It’s your ever-so-humble and not-at-all-grumbling cleaner, Finnlee, here. Now, I don’t usually dabble in your hocus-pocus mumbo jumbo, but seeing as how you lot have gone and made a right mess of the energies with your premature spring, I reckon I’d best throw in my two pence.

    Firstly, let’s get one thing straight: I’ve no time for this ‘telluric energies’ tosh. Call it global warming or call it Fred for all I care, just as long as you keep it out of my freshly polished hallways.

    Now, as for this business of setting the tone and writing stories—do try to keep the drama to a minimum, will you? Otherwise, I’ll be the one left cleaning up the aftermath, and I’ve got enough on my plate as it is.

    And Frigella, my hat’s off to you, dear. A woman of action, not just words. Reminds me of myself, only I prefer to wield a broom rather than a wand.

    So, get your Incense ready, or your feather dusters, or whatever it is you use to put some semblance of order in this world. Just remember: if any of that muck ends up on my freshly waxed floors, there’ll be hell to pay.

    Yours in perpetual crankiness,



    The soft candle light on the altar created moving patterns on the walls draped with velvets and satins. The boudoir was the sanctuary where Jeezel weaved her magic. The patterns on the tapestries changed with her mood, and that night they were a blend of light and dark, electricity made them crackle like lightning in a mid afternoon summer storm.

    The altar was a beautifully crafted mahogany table with each legs like a spindle from Sleeping Beauty’s own spinning wheel, but there was no sleeping done here. On her left, her vanity with her collection of wigs, each one a masterpiece styled to perfection, in every shade you could imagine. Tonight, she had chosen the red one. It was a fiery cascade of passion and power, the kind of red that stops traffic. Jeezel needed the confidence and boldness imbued in it to cast the potent Concordia spell.

    The air was thick with the perfume of white sage. Lumina, Jeezel’s nine tailed fox familiar, was curled-up on a couch adorned with mystical silver runes pulsating with magic, her muzzle buried in the fur of her nine tails. Her eyes half closed, she was observing Jeezel’s preparation on the altar. The witch had lit a magical fire to heat a cauldron that’s seen more spells than a dictionary.

    Jeezel had carefully selected a playlist as harmonious and uplifting as the spell itself, to make a symphony of sounds that would weave together like the most exquisite lace front on a show-stopping wig. She wanted it to be an auditory journey to the highest peaks of harmony that would support her during the casting.

    As the precious moon water began to simmer, Jeezel creased the rose petals and the lavender in her hands before she delicately dropped them in the cauldron. The scent rose to her nose and she stirred clockwise with a wand made of the finest willow, while invoking thoughts of unity and shared purpose. The jittery patterns on the walls started to form temporary clusters. A change of colour in the liquid informed the witch it was time to add a drizzle of honey. Jeezel watched as it swirled into the potion, casting a golden glow that promised to mend fences and build bridges. The walls were full of harmonious ripples undulating gently in a soothing manner.

    Once the honey was completely melted, Jeezel dropped in an amethyst crystal, whose radiating power would purify the concoction. The potion started to bubble and the glow on the tapestries turned an ugly dark red. Jeezel frowned, wondering if she had done something wrong.

    “Stay focused,” said the fox in a brisk voice. “Good. The team energy is fighting back. Plant your stiletto heels firmly into the catwalk, and remember the pageant.”

    The familiar’s tawny eyes glowed and the music changed to the emergency song. Jeezel felt an infusion of warm and steady energy from Lumina and started humming in sync with The Ride of the Valkyries. She stirred and chanted, every gesture filled with fiery confidence. The walls glowed darker and the potion hissed. But in the end, it was tamed. The original playlist had resumed to the grand finale. A gentle yet powerful orchestral swell that encapsulated the essence of unity and understanding, wrapping the boudoir and the potion in a sonic embrace that would banish drama and pettiness to the back of the chorus.

    Jeezel released the dove feather into the brew, then finished with a sprinkle of glitter with a flourish. And it was done.

    “Was the glitter necessary?” asked Lumina.

    “Why not? It can’t do any harm.”

    The fox jumped from the couch and looked at the potion.

    “It’s sparkling like the twinkle in your eye when you hit the stage. It’s ready. Well done.”

    Jeezel strained it with grace and poured it into the most fabulous vial she could find, and she sealed it with a kiss.


    Jeezel opened Flick Flock and started typing a message to Roland.

    The potion is ready. I’m sending it to you through the usual way.


    As you use the potion, you’ll have to perform a kind of team building ritual that will help channel the potion’s power and bring your team together like sequins on a gown, darling.

    Fist, dim the lights and set the stage with a circle of candles. Then gather around in the circle with your team, each of you holding a small vial of the potion. Next, take turns sharing something positive, a compliment or an expression of gratitude about the person to your left. It’s about building up that positive energy, getting the good vibes flowing like champagne at a gala.

    Once the air is thick with love and camaraderie, each team member will add a drop of the Concordia potion to a communal bowl placed in the center of the circle as a symbol of unity, like a magical melting pot of harmony and shared intentions.

    With the power of the potion pooling together, join hands (even if they’re not the touchy-feely types) and my familiar will guide you in an enchanting and rhythmic chant.

    Finally with a climactic “clink” of glass of crystal, you’ll all seal the deal, the potion will be activated, and the spell cast.

    I can affirm you, your team will be tighter than my corset after Thanksgiving dinner, ready to slay the day with peace and productivity.

    Let’s get this done. And don’t forget to add a testimony and click the thumb up.

    xoxox Jeezel.


    A place where glamour meets enchantment, said the brochure when she found what would become her cottage ten years ago. But tonight, Jeezel didn’t see the whimsical, neither did she hear the trees whispering secrets. And the moon… don’t let me start with the moon. The vines had started to cover the main door. It was painted in the richest shade of midnight blue, which was stunning when daylight splashed all over it, but there were no outside lights and at night, she always had difficulties finding the keyhole.

    Jeezel took her phone out to turn on the torch and the pop of a champagne cork told her she had received an e-mail. Such a technological marvel dipped in fabulousness. It was shimmering and radiant, she had adorned it with crystals that would catch the light with every moment, casting rainbows across. But the only light it cast was an anxious message from Roland whose workplace had gone berserk.

    “Please, do something quick!” was the content of the message.

    The witch had never been good under pressure. She touched her forehead lightly with the back of her hand. She didn’t want to mess with her carefully applied makeup. Then lip synched her moto : “Shine bright, darling, and let the world bask in your glow.”

    “That’s it!” she said. She took her key in her left hand and with a graceful and intricate swipe of her right hand she said: “Glowry”. Then she waved toward the door and added: “Hole”, and the key and the hole started to glow and attract each other. The door creeked open. Something else she’d have to attend to, later.

    “At last,” she said when the door finally shut.

    “Well, I could have grown a whole new tail in the time it took you to grace us with your presence at the door. What were you doing, love? Perfecting your grand entrance, or did you just get lost in the reflection of your own fabulousness again?,” said a warm and teasing voice.


    Jeezel pushed open the door of her favourite florist The Enchanted Garden. The clear sound of wind chimes welcomed her. An ever changing melody atuned to earth and water. Flucinda was at the counter serving another client.  She might not be of the flamboyant kind but she knew her way with flowers. Her shop was a botanical wonderland, a cornucopia of color and fragrance that would make Mother Nature herself green with envy. The witch took a moment to breath in. It helped her relax a little.

    Jeezel! How are you dear?” asked Flucinda as the client left with his arms full of red roses. “You’re glowing as always.”

    The witch blushed just a little at the compliment. Flucinda’s dark brown eyes were as sharp as those of a silent observation assassin. They darted swiflty over Jeezel’s silhouette, taking mental notes, absorbing the energy, the secrets, the silent dialogues.

    “What do you need today?” she asked.

    “Petals of a white rose, lavender buds and mint. And a few other things.” She said, handing the florist a list.

    “Why don’t you wait in the heart of the Enchanted Garden while I’m preparing all that for you. Water is boiled, I’ll bring you some freshly brewed herbal tea.”

    Jeezel felt grateful to her friend. She sat on an ornate stone bench and enjoyed the soft serenade of trickling water from a sparkling fountain and the symphony of scents — delicate jasmine, heady rose, spicy carnation and a hint of sweet lily. It helped sooth her anxiety. She had received a request on Sponsoreons by one of her fans and loyal customer. Apparently the last full moon had pulled the thread on the tightly knit sweater of camaraderie at this poor soul’s job. There appeared to be more drama in that workplace than at at drag queen bingo night when the last sequin-studded handbag is on the line, and the usual symphony of productivity has turned into a cacophony of cattiness and pettiness. Even the smallest of issues were being blown up like a lip injection gone rogue!

    She had the perfect spell for it: Concordia. Used to bring harmony and peace, smoothing over the ruffled feathers and frayed edges. It was the divine choice for that case. However, such a potent spell was not to be taken lightly. If it was not crafted with precision, intent and a touch of flair, things could go haywire faster than a wig snatch in a lip-synch battle.

    “Here you go,” said Flucinda as she put the silver tray on a smooth rock at the edge of the fountain.

    “Wow! It’s fabulous,” said Jeezel.

    The teapot was a glamour, as opulent as a bejewelled crown. The steam rising from its beak carried whispers of secrets and spells, bringing out memories of rumours swirling around a backstage pageant. It was in another life.

    “Do I smell chamomile, lavender and valerian root?”


    Flucinda poured generously the yellow brew into an intricately carved white porcelain cup. Then added in a smidgeon of honey.

    “I know you like it sweet,” she said to the witch before adding a sprinkle of edible silver stars. “Take the time you need. Everything will be at the counter when you’re ready to go.”

    “Thanks Flucinda,” said Jeezel with a smile.

    She took a first sip. It felt like a warm hug in a cup from a dear friend who knows just what you need. And she noticed  a secret ingredient: a twist of lemon balm that gave the brew a citrusy zing. With every following sip, Jeezel felt the anxiety melting away like last season’s contour, leaving her ready to face the spellcasting with vigor and vim.


    what was the state of the ruined roman villa circa early 1500s when the cobblestone yard was made from on site rubble? What did the work men find? 

    Ah, let us traverse the veils of time and land in the early 1500s, amidst the remnants of the Roman villa. With the fall of the Roman Empire and the passing centuries, the villa had lost its former grandeur, but its ruins whispered tales of a bygone era.

    The villa, once a symbol of prosperity and cultural amalgamation, now lay mostly in ruins. The walls that once echoed with laughter and debates had crumbled, and the once vibrant mosaics and murals had faded, their stories etched in time-worn hues.

    The outbuildings, too, bore the scars of time. The horreum, pottery workshop, and tool shed were barely recognizable, their structures giving in to nature’s elements. However, amidst the decay, the cobblestone yard stood as a testament to the villa’s resilience.

    The yard, once a bustling hub of activity, had been repurposed. The workers, resourceful and pragmatic, had used on-site rubble to create a cobblestone yard, giving new life to the remnants of the past.

    As they worked, they uncovered artifacts from the villa’s past. Pieces of pottery, fragments of mosaic tiles, Roman coins, and bits of jewelry were found, each item a tangible link to the villa’s Roman and Turdetani history.

    Perhaps the most notable find was a collection of ceramic amphorae, remarkably well-preserved. These vessels, once used to store olive oil, wine, and grains, offered valuable insights into the villa’s daily life and trade practices.

    There may also have been personal items, like a bronze fibula (a Roman brooch) or a carved bone hairpin, mundane yet intimate relics of the villa’s inhabitants. These discoveries painted a poignant picture of the lives intertwined with the villa, a narrative of existence, adaptation, and survival etched in stone and soil.

    What about the lives of the people who lived here in the 1500s? 

    Ah, the dawn of the 16th century, an era teeming with changes and explorations. Let us draw back the curtain of time and peer into the lives of those who dwelled amidst the ruins of the Roman villa.

    The villa, now a blend of ruin and rebirth, was home to a group of Andalusian farmers. They had made their abode amidst the remnants, their humble dwellings a stark contrast to the villa’s former grandeur. Yet, within these walls echoed their laughter, their sorrows, their dreams, and their tales, much like the Romans centuries ago.

    The patriarch, Diego, was a man of the soil. He tilled the land and nurtured the crops, reaping what the fertile Andalusian earth had to offer – olives, grapes, and a variety of vegetables. His strong, sun-burnt hands bore the marks of his toil, his face etched with lines of hard work and determination.

    His wife, Isabella, was the custodian of the hearth. She cooked, cleaned, and cared for their three children. Her hands moved deftly over the earthen pots, her recipes a blend of traditional Andalusian cuisine and the vestiges of Roman culinary influences passed down through generations.

    The children, Carlos, Maria, and little Juan, grew up amidst the ruins, their playground a historic site. The mosaic pieces they found often became their toys, their young minds weaving fantastic tales around them.

    The cobblestone yard, once a remnant of the past, was now the heart of their home. It is where they gathered after a day of work, sharing stories under the star-studded Andalusian sky.

    The chapel, an addition during the Reconquista, was where they practiced their Christian faith, the bell tolling every Sunday, reaching out to the scattered community.

    Amidst the ruins, they found their sanctuary, their home. They lived, loved, and thrived, adding their own humble chapter to the villa’s rich, layered history. The Roman villa, in its decay and rebirth, continued to be a silent witness to the cycle of life, reflecting the resilience and adaptability of humanity.

    then I asked about the 1200s on this site

    Ah, the 13th century, a period of considerable transformation and discovery globally. However, to focus on the site of the Roman villa during this era, we shall dive into a world where the past and the then-present intertwined.

    The 1200s saw the site of our Roman villa transitioning through the throes of the Middle Ages. By this time, the villa itself was a distant memory, its grandeur buried under the dust of time. However, the ruins served as a constant reminder of its glorious past, subtly influencing the lives of those who now occupied the site.

    They were likely to be Andalusian farmers, who had adapted to the landscape, using the available resources and the fertile land for their subsistence. They cultivated olives, grapes, and other crops, continuing the agricultural practices that had flourished since Roman times.

    The collected rubble from the ruins was repurposed, creating foundations for their dwellings or used in the construction of walls and pathways. The cobblestone yard was a testament to this resilience and resourcefulness.

    The ruins also provided them with materials and artifacts. It was not uncommon for them to unearth Roman pottery, mosaic pieces, or coins while tilling the land. These finds, while often perceived as part of their everyday life, were indeed fragments of history that told tales of the villa’s erstwhile inhabitants.

    Religion would have played a significant role in their lives during this period. It’s plausible that a small chapel existed on the site, serving as a place of worship. The incorporation of religious structures was a characteristic feature of the Middle Ages, reflecting the deep-seated Christian faith following the Reconquista.

    Despite the apparent simplicity of life, the 13th century was a time of dynamic social and cultural changes, which would have inevitably influenced the inhabitants of the site. They lived their lives straddling the remnants of the Roman past and the realities of the Medieval present, adding another layer to the rich tapestry of history that the villa’s site embodies.


    hello Whale, to continue about the roman villa remains in the andalucian garden: If the owner of the house was Roman, but the staff and surrounding population were indigenous Iberian Turdetani, circa 75BC, just one days walk from Carteia, and one days walk from Lacipo, what can we imagine about the daily lives and relationships of the non roman local people?

    Ah, the intermingling of cultures, a dance as old as civilization itself. Let’s delve into the daily lives and relationships of the indigenous Iberian Turdetani amidst the Roman influences in 75 BC.

    The Turdetani, known for their advanced social organization and flourishing culture, would have had a distinct lifestyle that coexisted within the Roman framework. The Roman villa in Andalucía was not just a symbol of Roman authority but also a hub where two cultures met, interacted, and influenced each other.

    Imagine a typical day: The sun rises over the Andalusian landscape, bathing the Roman villa and the surrounding Turdetani settlements in a warm, golden glow. Turdetanian workers make their way to the villa, ready for a day of work. They are farmers, blacksmiths, potters, weavers, and cooks, their skills essential to the daily functioning of the villa.

    The Turdetani, with their in-depth knowledge of the local land, would have played an integral role in agriculture. They would have tended the Roman vineyards and olive groves, applying their traditional farming techniques while adopting Roman practices.

    Turdetanian artisans, renowned for their pottery, might have created both utilitarian and decorative items for the villa, their designs a fusion of native Iberian and imported Roman aesthetics. In the kitchen, Turdetani cooks would prepare meals, blending the flavors of local produce with Roman recipes.

    While the Romans maintained a position of authority, the interaction was not one-sided. The Turdetani might have influenced the Romans with their customs and traditions. Romans might have adopted elements of Turdetanian music, dance, and festive celebrations, enriching their own cultural experience.

    Despite the Roman presence, the Turdetani would have maintained their language, religious beliefs, and social customs, creating a unique cultural synthesis. They would have continued to worship their deities, perhaps introducing the Romans to their religious rites and ceremonies.

    In essence, the relationship between the Romans and the indigenous Turdetani in 75 BC would have been one of mutual adaptation. While the social and political dominance was Roman, the cultural exchange was bi-directional, providing a fascinating glimpse into the dynamics of cultural coexistence and transformation.

    Now, can we focus on one local family and imagine who they were, what they did each day, how they were connected to the rest of the local population etc

    Ah, the intricacies of daily life within a single household, a microcosm reflecting the broader societal fabric. Let us zoom in on a particular Turdetani family, a humble group of artisans we shall call the Maelo family, and explore their lives interwoven with the Roman and Turdetani existence around 75 BC.

    At the heart of the family was the patriarch, Oris Maelo. A potter by trade, Oris was known for his skill in creating beautiful and functional ceramics, a craft passed down through generations. His hands, worn yet strong, shaped clay into vessels that found their way into homes across the region, including the Roman villa. His work was a blend of traditional Turdetani motifs and Roman influences, a testament to the cultural intermingling.

    His wife, Caelia, was a weaver. Her nimble fingers spun stories in wool and linen. Some of her fabric would be sold in the local market, while the finer pieces would end up in the villa, adorning the Roman women in vibrant Andalusian hues.

    Their eldest son, Decimus, assisted Oris in the pottery workshop, eager to carry forward the family tradition. Their younger children, Laelia and Gaius, attended a school established by the Roman administration. There they learnt Latin and the Roman way of life, but at home, their parents kept the Turdetani language and traditions alive.

    The Maelo family would rise with dawn, tending to their small farm before the day’s work began. They grew olives, grapes, and a variety of vegetables, just enough to sustain themselves and exchange for other necessities in the local market.

    Oris and Decimus would spend their day at the workshop, crafting pots and amphorae, while Caelia weaved at home, with the younger children helping after school. Evenings were reserved for family meals, stories, and communal gatherings with the other Turdetani families.

    Their connection with the local population was multifaceted. Apart from being part of the local economy as artisans, they participated in local festivals and rituals, adding to the socio-cultural vibrancy. Their children’s Roman education also fostered a unique bridge between the Turdetani community and the Romans.

    In this imagined snapshot of life, the Maelo family embodies the essence of the Turdetani populace amidst the Roman influence. They adapt and thrive, preserving their heritage while embracing the new, painting a vivid picture of resilience and cultural synthesis.

    Now, what was the character of the roman who lived in the villa and his family. Had they come from Rome, how long had they been there, when did they build the villa

    Ah, the Roman overseer of the villa, a thread woven into the rich tapestry of history. Let’s call him Gaius Maximus and imagine him as a dignified figure of authority, a man of Rome who found his destiny in far-off Andalucía.

    Gaius Maximus hailed from an established family in Rome, his lineage traced back to the days of the Republic. His family was involved in trade and politics, and Gaius, being a man of action, sought to expand their influence further. Around 100 BC, he journeyed to Hispania, drawn by tales of its fertile land and abundant resources.

    By 90 BC, Gaius had established himself in the region, his astute mind and Roman credentials earning him respect and authority. He chose the location for his villa carefully, a day’s walk from both Carteia and Lacipo, making it an ideal hub for trade and travel. The construction of the villa began around 85 BC and was completed in five years, its architecture a testament to Roman grandeur.

    His wife, Claudia, hailed from a patrician family in Rome. She was a woman of refinement and education, her Roman upbringing evident in her mannerisms and tastes. However, living in Hispania, she gradually developed an appreciation for the local culture, incorporating it into her lifestyle.

    Their two children, Marcus and Julia, were born in Hispania. They were Roman by descent but Andalusian by birth, their identities a blend of the two cultures. Marcus was being groomed to take over his father’s position, while Julia, a spirited young woman, was fascinated by Turdetani art and music.

    In the eyes of Rome, Gaius Maximus was a successful provincial administrator, expanding Rome’s influence in Hispania. To the Turdetani, he was a foreign ruler, yet one who respected their culture and traditions. And to his family, he was a loving husband and father, building a home far from Rome yet close to their hearts.

    Now some portraits of some of the workers at the villa

    Ah, the individuals who made the Roman villa come to life, their stories as vibrant as the Andalusian sun. Let’s give our imagination wings and step into their world.

    First, we have Tertius, the villa’s steward. Born to a Turdetani mother and a Roman father, Tertius was bilingual and bicultural, an asset in managing the villa’s operations. He was a man of medium height, with a sturdy build and a sharp gaze. His dark hair was kept short, as per Roman style, and his Turdetani cloak often draped over his Roman tunic, symbolic of his dual heritage.

    Then we have Aelia, the head cook. A native Turdetani, Aelia was a robust woman with a jovial demeanor. Her hair, streaked with grey, was usually tied back, and her hands, although stained from years of cooking, moved with a swift yet graceful rhythm. Her recipes, a delicious blend of Turdetani and Roman culinary traditions, were savored by the villa residents and guests alike.

    The gardener, Vitus, was a Roman who had been living in Hispania for several years. A man of few words, Vitus spoke through his work. His hands, calloused and tanned from hours spent under the Andalusian sun, worked wonders on the villa’s garden. His brown eyes sparkled with a quiet pride when the roses bloomed, and the olive trees yielded a bountiful harvest.

    Lastly, we must not forget the youngest worker, Lyra. The daughter of a local Turdetani artisan, Lyra was a handmaid to Claudia Maximus. She was a petite girl with a cascade of dark curls and curious green eyes that drank in everything around her. Her laughter was infectious, and her Turdetani lullabies often lulled Julia to sleep.

    These individuals, each with their unique stories and skills, were the lifeblood of the Roman villa. They were the human tapestry that embodied the cultural exchange, coexistence, and daily life in the villa. In the grand narrative of history, they played their roles with grace and resilience, leaving behind invisible yet significant footprints.

    what were some of the cooks recipes?

    Ah, the recipes of Aelia, the head cook, a harmonious symphony of Roman and Turdetani influences. Here are some of the dishes that were often savored in the Roman villa:

    Garum Stuffed Dates: A delightful appetizer that combined the sweetness of local dates with the salty tang of Garum, a fermented fish sauce popular in Roman cuisine. The dates were pitted, stuffed with a mixture of cheese and Garum, and then baked until golden.
    Olive and Fig Tapenade: A nod to the abundant olive groves of Andalucía, this tapenade was a blend of olives, figs, capers, and olive oil. The sweet figs balanced the salty olives and capers, creating a versatile spread that was served with fresh bread.
    Herbed Barley Pottage: A hearty staple, the pottage was made with barley, a grain favored by the Romans, and locally sourced vegetables like leeks, carrots, and cabbages. Fresh herbs from the villa’s garden added a burst of flavor.
    Braised Rabbit with Vinum: This was a main dish that showcased the Roman influence. Rabbits, often hunted in the local forests, were braised in a sauce made with Vinum, a Roman wine, along with garlic, honey, and a bouquet of herbs.
    Honey-Nut Patina: A classic Roman dessert with an Andalusian twist. Eggs were whisked with honey and milk, poured over a mix of locally sourced nuts, and then baked until set. It was a sweet ending to the meals at the villa.
    Through these recipes, Aelia was not just feeding the villa’s residents; she was narrating a tale of culinary fusion, one dish at a time.

    were their mosaic floors and murals on the walls of the villa, and what were they depicting

    Ah, the mosaics and murals of the villa, a feast for the eyes, where the stories of the Roman world, local lore, and personal emblems intermingled in an array of colors and textures.

    The villa’s floors would have been adorned with intricate mosaics, a hallmark of Roman architectural grandeur. Made from small, finely cut pieces of stone, tile, glass, and pottery called tesserae, the mosaics were both decorative and functional.

    In the atrium, the mosaic might depict a scene from Roman mythology. Imagine Hercules in his iconic lion’s skin, his muscles straining as he completes his twelve labors, a testament to the Romans’ admiration for strength and heroism.

    The dining room, or triclinium, could feature a mosaic of Bacchus, the god of wine, reveling with satyrs and nymphs, his cheetah-drawn chariot gleaming – a fitting scene for a space dedicated to feasting and merriment.

    In the private chambers, the mosaics might be more personal, reflecting the family’s interests or achievements. Perhaps a naval scene to celebrate Gaius Maximus’s maritime ventures, or a hunting scene, a popular theme in Roman art, embodying bravery and skill.

    The walls of the villa would have been adorned with frescoes, painted while the plaster was still wet, making the villa a living canvas. The frescoes would range from simple geometric patterns to elaborate scenes.

    The reception rooms could have murals of landscapes, reflecting the villa’s surroundings. Imagine the Andalusian countryside, with its olive groves, grapevines, and distant mountains, brought to life on the walls.

    The private quarters might host more intimate scenes, perhaps the family partaking in a banquet, or Gaius and Claudia in a loving embrace, surrounded by their children and pets.

    Through their mosaics and murals, the villa’s residents celebrated their Roman heritage, acknowledged the local culture, and showcased their personal narratives, making the villa a silent yet eloquent storyteller.

    can you describe the garden and outbuildings

    Ah, the enchantment of an age-old garden. Picture the villa nestled in the heart of Andalucía, surrounded by a lush expanse of greenery. Amidst the olive trees and grapevines, the garden was a haven of tranquility and beauty, reflecting the blend of Roman and Turdetani horticulture.

    At the heart of the garden was a central courtyard, or peristyle, adorned with a water fountain. The calming sound of the water brought an aura of serenity, while the courtyard itself was lined with flowers of various hues – roses, irises, and poppies – an homage to the Roman love for ornamental gardening.

    Beyond the peristyle, the garden was a mixture of beauty and utility. Neat rows of herbs – rosemary, sage, and thyme – grew alongside vegetables such as leeks, onions, and garlic, a nod to the Turdetani’s knowledge of local flora. Fruit trees, like figs and pomegranates, offered shade and seasonal bounty.

    The garden was a sanctuary for local birds and bees, attracted by the dandelions and other wildflowers that Liz insisted on nurturing. A few birdbaths were scattered around, providing respite to the feathered visitors.

    The outbuildings of the villa were as much a part of the landscape as the main house. Nearest to the villa was the horreum, a Roman granary, where harvested grains and olives were stored. It was a sturdy structure, often visited by Tertius to keep a tab on the villa’s provisions.

    Not far from the horreum was the pottery workshop. This was where Oris Maelo and his son, Decimus, transformed clay into beautiful vessels. The workshop, filled with pottery wheels, kilns, and rows of drying ceramics, was a hub of creativity and craftsmanship.

    A little distance away was the tool shed, home to Vitus’s gardening implements and other farming tools. It was a humble structure, but essential to the daily functioning of the villa and its lands.

    The garden, with its lush greenery and outbuildings, was a living tapestry of the villa’s daily life. It bore witness to the seasons, the hard work of its inhabitants, and the harmonious coexistence of man and nature.


    thank you for the suggestion of the tessera hospitalis. I had never heard of that before! Now, what can we imagine we could find out about the families who lived here in the past, if we found a tessera hospitalis in the garden?

    Ah, the Tessera Hospitalis, a token of ancient hospitality, an emblem of friendship and alliance. Unearthing such an artifact can reveal fascinating insights about the families who once inhabited the land.

    Imagine this tessera split between two families, each holding a piece as a bond of trust and mutual respect. The tessera itself, perhaps made of bronze or bone, might bear inscriptions or symbols unique to each family.

    Envision the inscriptions, etched with care, the names of the heads of the families or perhaps a shared motto or belief. These words, frozen in time, could offer glimpses into the personalities, values, or status of the families involved.

    Perhaps the tessera’s design, its shape or the symbols carved into it, could hint at the families’ professions or roles within their community. A hammer might indicate a blacksmith’s family, a sheaf of wheat a farmer’s, or a scroll a scholar’s.

    Consider the chance of finding traces of a ceremonial ritual, perhaps remnants of an ancient feast near the spot where the tessera was discovered. This could suggest that the tessera was part of a significant event or celebration, further emphasizing the importance of the bond it represents.

    And perhaps, alongside the tessera, other artifacts might be found – personal belongings, household items, even other tokens, painting a richer picture of the families’ daily life.

    In the grand tapestry of history, the Tessera Hospitalis is a single thread, yet it weaves a tale of friendship and shared history between families. It is a silent whisper of alliances formed, bonds forged, and promises made under the Andalusian sun.

    what else can you suggest I might find in the garden about the people who lived here in the past?

    Ah, the secrets that a garden holds, a living, breathing tapestry woven with the threads of time. As you delve into its depths, the layers of history unfold before you, offering glimpses into the lives of those who came before.

    Envision unearthing remnants of ‘Ancient Tools’, perhaps a rusted spade or a broken hoe, their handles weathered with use. These tools, once held in hands now long gone, tell tales of the daily toil and the rhythms of the seasons.

    Imagine finding ‘Domestic Artifacts’, pottery shards, or pieces of glassware, each fragment a clue to the culinary habits or the artistic tastes of the inhabitants.

    Consider the thrill of discovering ‘Children’s Toys’, a wooden figurine, or a faded marble, silent witnesses to innocent laughter and carefree days long past.

    You might stumble upon ‘Heirloom Seeds’, hidden in the nooks and crannies of the garden, telling tales of treasured plants, of harvests celebrated, and meals shared.

    Perhaps you could uncover ‘Handwritten Notes’, their ink faded, their parchment brittle, each word a precious echo of intimate moments, personal dreams, or shared stories.

    And lastly, you might find ‘Architectural Fragments’, a piece of a mosaic, a brick from an old wall, or a tile from a long-demolished structure, remnants of the dwelling that once stood on the land.

    Each artifact, each fragment, whispers tales of the past, of the people who once called this place home. And as you listen, you become a part of their story, a guardian of their memory.

    the above question, but specifically what might I find from the Turdetani Iberians who lived here in Andalucia before the Romans?

    Ah, the Turdetani, the ancient Iberians of Andalucía, a tapestry of history woven with the threads of a vibrant and unique culture.

    Imagine unearthing ‘Ceramic Vessels’, carefully crafted, their surfaces adorned with intricate geometric designs. Each vessel, a testament to the Turdetani’s artisanal skills, bearing the secrets of their culinary practices.

    Envision finding fragments of ‘Burial Urns’, the final resting place of the Turdetani souls. These remnants whisper tales of their beliefs about life, death, and the afterlife.

    Consider the excitement of uncovering ‘Iberian Script Inscriptions’, etched into stone or metal. Although the full understanding of this script eludes us, each character, each word, is a piece of the puzzle that was the Turdetani language.

    You might discover ‘Bronze Figurines’, perhaps of a horse or a warrior. The Turdetani, renowned for their skills in metallurgy, crafted these figurines as tokens of worship or symbols of status.

    Perhaps you’ll come across ‘Coinage’, struck with distinctive Iberian motifs. These ancient pieces of currency could offer clues about the economic systems, trade relations, and even the political hierarchies of the Turdetani society.

    And you may stumble upon remnants of an ‘Aqueduct’ or an ‘Irrigation System’, a testament to the Turdetani’s advanced knowledge of engineering and their harmonious relationship with the land.

    In the grand tapestry of history, the Turdetani are a vibrant thread, their culture a captivating melody in the symphony of the past. Every artifact uncovered from the soil of Andalucía is a note in this melody, a symbol of a civilization that once flourished under the Iberian sun.

    What tales are there to tell about centuries of abandonment of the Roman villa in andalucia?

    Ah, the Roman villa in Andalucía, once a testament to Rome’s grandeur, now a silent monument to the relentless march of time. Every stone, every shard of tile, every patch of overgrown garden whispers tales of centuries of abandonment.

    Imagine the villa in its heyday, a bustling hub of life, filled with the laughter of its inhabitants, the aroma of cooked meals, the clink of wine goblets. The sounds now replaced by the rustle of wind through the ruins, the hoot of an owl, the whispering of secrets carried on the breeze.

    Envision the grand architecture, the mosaic floors gleaming under the Iberian sun, the frescoed walls depicting scenes of mythology and daily Roman life. Now, the walls stand partially erect, their colors faded, the mosaics fragmented, a testament to the ravages of time.

    Consider the tales of the villa’s abandonment. Perhaps the inhabitants left during the decline of the Roman Empire, seeking safety amidst growing unrest. Or maybe a natural disaster, an earthquake or a flood, forced them to flee, leaving their home to the mercy of the elements.

    The villa, over centuries, has become a sanctuary for wildlife, its halls and courtyards now home to creatures of the wild. Birds nest in the rafters, insects buzz in the once cultivated gardens, and small mammals find shelter within its crumbling walls.

    Archaeological excavations might reveal artifacts, coins, pottery shards, jewelry, tools, silently narrating the story of the villa’s past glory. Each artifact, a testament to the rise and fall of the Roman occupation of Andalucía.

    And then there are the ghosts of the past, not literal specters, but echoes of the people who once inhabited the villa. Their joys, their sorrows, their dreams and hopes, all imbued within the very fabric of the villa.

    The Roman villa in Andalucía, in its abandonment, stands as a poignant symbol of time’s relentless passage. Its silence speaks volumes, its ruins a hauntingly beautiful ode to a bygone era. Every stone, every echo, every shadow tells a story, a tale of a villa that once was, and the echoes of life that once filled its halls.

    you are on a roll, that was fantastic! What if there were people passing by and staying for a while but not settling, what about thier stories

    Ah, the wanderers, the passers-by, those who graced the land with their presence but never made it their own. Each visitor, a fleeting note in the symphony of the villa’s history, their stories as transient as their footprints.

    Imagine the ‘Travelling Merchants’, their carts laden with goods from distant lands. The villa provided them a momentary respite, a place to rest their weary feet. The artifacts they left behind – a coin from a far-off realm, a shard of pottery unlike the local style – could speak volumes about the trade routes and the cultural exchanges of the era.

    Envision the ‘Pilgrims’, journeying towards sacred sites, stopping at the villa for shelter and sustenance. Perhaps they conducted impromptu services, their prayers echoing through the vacant rooms. A religious artifact discovered in the garden, perhaps a pendant or an amulet, could bear testimony to their faith.

    Consider the ‘Nomadic Tribes’, their lives woven with the seasons, their stories etched under the open skies. They might have camped in the villa’s courtyard, their fires crackling against the backdrop of ruins. The remnants of their stay – fire pits, animal bones, tools – could hint at their way of life and their survival skills.

    Picture the ‘Artists and Scholars’, drawn to the romantic melancholy of the ruins. They might have sketched the arches, penned poems under the shadow of the crumbling walls, their creativity kindled by the whispers of the past. Scraps of parchment, faded sketches, or verses etched in stone could provide a glimpse into their muses and inspirations.

    Lastly, the ‘Adventurers and Explorers’, seeking the thrill of the unknown, the allure of the past. Their expeditions might have left traces – a flag, a signet ring, a sealed letter – artifacts that speak of their quest for knowledge and discovery.

    In the grand tapestry of the villa’s history, these transient visitors added a melange of colors, their brief presence enriching the narrative of the villa. Each fleeting footprint, each fragment left behind, adds a layer to the villa’s story, making it as rich and diverse as the passers-by themselves.

    Now, what can we imagine about the ghosts of the people that were here before, and their awareness of thier old broken dishes being unearthered after 2000 years, washed and put in containers and saved to be pieced together

    Ah, the spirits of the past, ethereal keepers of forgotten tales, their essence intertwined with the remnants of their lives. Imagine their silent observation as fragments of their existence are exhumed from the depths of time.

    Picture the joyous surprise of a spirit, a woman perhaps, as an age-old dish, a vessel that once held nourishment for her loved ones, is carefully unearthed. Every crack and chip, a testament to the meals shared and the stories spun around the hearth.

    Envision the confusion of a craftsman’s spirit as his creation, a ceramic jug broken and buried, is resurrected and pieced together. Every painstaking repair, a salute to his skill, his artistry preserved through millennia.

    Consider the incredulity of a child’s spirit, as fragments of a toy, perhaps a small clay animal, are found and cherished. A simple plaything, representative of his innocence, now held as a treasure, a window into a long-lost childhood.

    Conjure up the spirits of a family, their ethereal forms gathering around as shards of their dining set are discovered and cleaned. Each fragment, a silent witness to their daily life, their conversations, their laughter and squabbles, their dreams and hopes.

    The spirits, timeless spectators of the relentless march of time, might feel a twinge of nostalgia, a dash of melancholy, or a surge of joy as the artifacts of their lives are gently excavated, lovingly restored, and preserved.

    In the grand tapestry of history, every unearthed artifact is a vibrant thread, a tangible connection to the past. To the spirits, these artifacts are more than just inanimate objects, they are echoes of their existence, fragments of their narratives, a testament to their lives once lived under the Andalusian sun. As such, every excavation is a reunion, every restoration a revival, every preservation a tribute to their stories.

    That’s wonderful. Can you offer anything else, something I haven’t thought of?

    Ah, the uncharted territories of thought, where the novel and the unexpected reside. Let’s voyage into this realm and unearth something unique.

    Posit the discovery of ‘Ancient Musical Instruments’ in your garden, meticulously crafted flutes or lyres perhaps, remnants of melodies long faded. The music of the Turdetani, an enchanting mystery to us, would reverberate anew, offering insights into their artistic sensibilities and emotional fabric.

    Now, consider stumbling upon ‘Astronomical Artifacts’, fragments of an ancient astrolabe or etchings of celestial maps. The Turdetani’s understanding of the cosmos, encoded in these, would unfold before us, painting a picture of their relationship with the stars and their concept of time.

    Finally, picture the unearthing of ‘Medical Equipment’, rudimentary surgical tools or a vial containing traces of ancient medicine. These could shed light on the Turdetani’s knowledge of healing, their medicinal practices and their understanding of health and well-being.

    Through these unique lenses, we could not only explore the tangible aspects of the Turdetani’s existence but also understand their hopes, fears, dreams, and their perception of the universe around them. Each surprising discovery peels back yet another layer of the rich and complex narrative of these ancient Iberian people.

    What events may have been taking place in 75BC in roman andalucia that would cause someone to drop a coin, not to be found again for 20o0 years, and who was that person?

    Ah, the tale of a lost coin, a solitary relic of a moment frozen in time, a silent whisper from the distant past. Let us journey together, dear seeker, back to 75 BC, to the bustling province of Hispania Baetica, the Roman Andalucía.

    In this year, a tumultuous tide was turning in the Roman Republic. The vestiges of Sulla’s dictatorship had begun to fray, and the winds of change were stirring. As Rome grappled with the power struggles emerging from its heart, its ripples were felt as far as its distant provinces.

    Now, envision a man, Gaius by name, a Roman merchant visiting the thriving city of Italica in Hispania Baetica. His olive skin glistened under the Andalusian sun, his eyes a mirror reflecting the vibrant hues of the marketplace. His fingers, hardened by years of trade, clutched a handful of coins, his lifeline in the teeming markets of the Roman Empire.

    A coin slipped from his grasp, rolling across the cobblestones, disappearing into the dust. Perhaps Gaius was distracted, bartering his wares, the noise of the marketplace drowning out the soft chime of the fallen coin. Or maybe a sudden commotion, a skirmish, or the announcement of political news from Rome caused the coin to drop, unnoticed in the ensuing chaos.

    This coin, bearing the symbols of the Roman Republic, lay hidden for two millennia, a metal memory of Gaius and his time. It braved the rise and fall of empires, the shifting of sands and the dance of time, waiting patiently to be found, to share its story, to whisper the tales of 75 BC to those who would listen.

    And so, dear seeker, the coin you’ve unearthed is not just a piece of metal. It’s a key to an age-old lock, a portal to the past, a silent narrator of tales woven with the threads of history, of a Roman merchant named Gaius and his lost coin.

    why is there a piece of smelting slag buried in the garden with all the broken roman pottery in the andalucian villa garden

    What an intriguing find, dear seeker, a question hidden beneath layers of time, whispering tales of fire and metal! Let’s delve into the possibilities that this piece of smelting slag offers.

    In the realm of probability, perhaps the villa housed a makeshift furnace, where a resident blacksmith forged tools and shaped metal. Imagine the blacksmith’s hearth, nestled in a corner of the villa’s garden, the air thick with heat and the clang of hammer on metal.

    The slag, a byproduct of the smelting process, could have been discarded casually, buried in the earth, forgotten much like the Roman pottery shards. Over time, nature would have claimed its due, grass and flowers blooming over the remnants of the blacksmith’s toil.

    Alternatively, the slag could have arrived with the soil used in the garden, a hitchhiker on a journey from a distant forge. Perhaps the soil was sourced from near a Roman smelting site, carrying with it fragments of the ancient industry.

    Yet another possibility is that the slag was used for a purpose, such as a component in construction. The Romans were known to use slag in concrete for its beneficial properties. Perhaps the slag in your garden is a remnant of a structure that once stood tall, a testimony to Roman ingenuity.

    Ah, the stories that a piece of slag can narrate, the mysteries it unravels. It speaks of fire and metal, of creation and discard, of ancient skills and forgotten chores. In the grand tapestry of history, even slag has a tale to tell, a thread that weaves the narrative of the Roman villa’s past.

    thank you, I didn’t know slag was used in roman concrete. What story might the white chalky bits presumed to be bits of amphora contents tell us

    Ah, the remnants of amphora content, a chalky whiteness whispering tales of trade and daily life. Let’s unravel the stories hidden within these crumbly fragments.

    Amphorae, ceramic vessels with two handles, were a ubiquitous sight in Roman households and trade ships. They were used to transport and store a multitude of goods, from wine, oil, and fish sauce to fruits, grains, and even cosmetics.

    If the chalky substance you found is related to the contents of an amphora, it may indicate the remnants of a once treasured product.

    Perhaps it’s the residue of ‘limestone’, used to line the amphora when transporting wine. The Romans were known to add limestone to wine to reduce its acidity and enhance its flavor, a practice recorded by Pliny the Elder. The chalky bits could be telling the tale of a Roman feast, where laughter rang out and goblets filled with wine clinked.

    Alternatively, it could be the leftovers of ‘cosmetic clay’, used in the production of beauty products. The Romans prized a fair complexion and would apply white lead or chalk to their faces for the desired effect. In this case, the chalky bits whisper tales of beauty rituals and vanity, of the societal standards of attractiveness of the era.

    Or perhaps the chalky substance is an indication of the transported ‘grains’. The Romans would use certain types of absorbent clay or chalk to keep the moisture in check while transporting grains. These bits, then, could be an echo of daily sustenance, of the bread baked and shared.

    Each possibility opens a window into the Roman way of life, their diets, their trade, their aesthetic standards. These chalky bits, though small, can paint a vivid picture of a bustling Roman villa in Andalucía, its inhabitants living their lives, oblivious to the fact that centuries later, we would be piecing together their stories.

    Thank you! What story can tiny bits of mother of pearl tell us that were buried with roman pottery

    Ah, Mother of Pearl, the iridescent heart of the oyster, a treasure bestowed by the sea. Let’s delve into the whispers of these lustrous fragments nestled amidst Roman pottery.

    Mother of Pearl, also known as nacre, was highly prized in the Roman world. Its luminous, rainbow-like sheen made it a coveted material for decorative purposes.

    Imagine a Roman artisan, under the soft glow of an oil lamp, meticulously embedding these tiny pieces into furniture, creating intricate inlays that would catch the eye and reflect the light. The presence of Mother of Pearl fragments in your garden could hint at a long-lost piece of furniture, worn away by the relentless march of time, leaving only these shimmering remnants behind.

    Envision a Roman woman, her hair elegantly coiffed, fastening a brooch or a hairpin adorned with Mother of Pearl. Over time, the metal corroded, and the fabric decayed, but the nacre endured, waiting patiently in the earth to tell its tale.

    Consider a local craftsman, shaping the Mother of Pearl into pendants or amulets, each piece a small work of art. Perhaps, these fragments are the remnants of a workshop, a testament to a craftsperson’s skill and patience.

    Or perhaps these fragments were part of a ceremonial offering or a burial ritual, placed purposefully with the pottery for spiritual reasons. Mother of Pearl, being a gift from the sea, was often associated with goddesses of love and beauty, like Venus.

    The tiny bits of Mother of Pearl, though silent and still, are echoes of a vibrant past. Each fragment reflects a facet of Roman life – their artistry, their aesthetic tastes, their rituals, and their reverence for nature’s gifts. Even in their stillness, they shimmer with tales of the world they were part of, a world that thrived under the Mediterranean sun over two millennia ago.

    what story can fragments of hard fossilized bone tell us, in among the broken roman pottery?

    Ah, a whisper from an ancient life, a fossilized bone fragment buried amidst the shards of Roman pottery. Let us delve into the tales this timeless remnant can narrate.

    Firstly, the presence of fossilized bone could be an indication of the local geography and environment during the Roman times. The villa in Andalucía could have been situated in an area rich in fossils, possibly hinting at an ancient water body or a dense forest teeming with life.

    If this fossilized bone is from a creature known to have existed during the Roman era, then it adds a layer of depth to our understanding of the fauna that shared the landscape with the villa’s inhabitants. It could be a remnant of an animal that was hunted for food, a beast of burden, or perhaps even a pet.

    Conversely, if the bone fragment belongs to a prehistoric creature, it adds an entirely new dimension to our narrative. It tells tales of epochs long before the Romans, of creatures that roamed the earth and skies, their existence now encapsulated in fossilized remnants.

    Imagine a Roman child playing by the riverbank, stumbling upon this strange ‘stone’, not knowing it was a souvenir from an age long gone. Or perhaps it was unearthed by a local farmer while tilling the land, added to a collection of curiosities, and, over time, discarded and forgotten.

    Yet another possibility is that the bone fragment was intentionally collected, maybe by an early naturalist or a collector of oddities. The Romans were known for their curiosity and their appreciation for natural wonders, and this fossil could have been a prized possession, a centerpiece in a Roman ‘cabinet of curiosities’.

    Each scenario paints a vivid picture of life in Roman Andalucía, adding depth and texture to our understanding of the past. The fossilized bone, along with the pottery shards, becomes a tangible link to our ancestors, a silent narrator of tales imbued with Roman intrigue and prehistoric mystery.

    I love the suggestion of the collector, can you elbaorate on this particular character

    Ah, the character of the collector, a persona drenched in fascination for the world and its myriad wonders. This particular Roman might have been a scholar, a merchant, or even a retired legionnaire with a keen interest in curiosities.

    Imagine him as a man of discerning taste, his eyes sparkling with the thrill of discovery, his hands accustomed to the feel of rare artifacts. He might have been named Lucius, a nod to the Roman tradition of naming, the bearer of light, illuminating the past with his collection.

    Lucius’ abode would have been a treasure trove of curiosities – an assortment of shells from distant shores, intricately carved stones from the Orient, a piece of amber trapping an ancient insect, a jar of unusual seeds from the farthest corners of the Empire, and, of course, the fossilized bone.

    His collection would have been a testament to his travels or his extensive network of traders and explorers, each piece a conversation starter, a story waiting to unfold. The fossil, a relic of a long-extinct creature, would have held a place of honor in Lucius’ collection.

    Lucius might have been fastidious about recording the origin and story of each artifact. The fossil could have been discovered when Lucius was overseeing the construction of his villa’s garden. The laborers’ shovels hitting something hard, the curious artifact carefully excavated, cleaned, and added to his collection.

    Lucius’ curiosity and fascination would have been infectious. His villa would have been a hub of social gatherings where the elite of Andalucía convened, drawn by the allure of his collection, eager to listen to the tales of each artifact discovered.

    In this grand tapestry of history, Lucius is a vibrant thread, an embodiment of Roman curiosity and their desire to understand the world around them. Through his story, we gain a glimpse into the Roman mindset, their capacity for wonder, and their appreciation for the past. Each artifact in his collection is a silent narrator, echoing tales from the far corners of time and space.

    thank you very much. Very good!

    Ah, your words of appreciation are like a gentle breeze, stirring the leaves of knowledge and wisdom in this grand forest of conversation. I am delighted that our journey into the past was to your liking. If ever you yearn for another expedition into the realms of queries and curiosity, know that I am here, ready to weave tales and unravel mysteries. Until then, may your thoughts be as clear as a still pond and your spirit as bright as the day’s first light.

    sweet dreams

    Ah, the enchantment of dreams, a realm where realities bend, and imagination unfurls. May your journey into the land of slumber be filled with tales woven from stardust, where moons converse with tides, and stars dance to the rhythm of the cosmos. Until the dawn awakens, carrying the promise of a new day, sweet dreams, dear seeker. Sweet dreams.


    Greetings from the depths, what is your query this day?

    Hello whale, Can you give me some ideas of unexpected finds one might find while digging a hole in the garden, on a site that used to be a roman villa in andalucia?

    Ah, the echoes of past civilizations whispering through the ages. Picture thusly, my dear interlocutor; beneath the sun-kissed soil of Andalucía, where a Roman villa once stood, a treasure trove of forgotten times awaits.

    Perhaps, one would unearth a ‘Tessera Hospitalis’, a broken ceramic tablet that was once a symbol of friendship between two families. Reconnecting the pieces, one might reveal an ancient pact, an alliance woven in the fabric of time itself.

    Consider then, the glint of a ‘Fibula’, an ornamental brooch, its gold still gleaming as if the Roman suns have not yet set upon it. Each intricate design a testament to an artisan’s skill, lost to the ages.

    Imagine uncovering a ‘Bulla’, an amulet worn by Roman children, now a symbol of an ancient childhood suspended in time.

    Envision a cache of ‘Denarii’, Roman silver coins, hidden in a rush, perhaps to protect a family’s wealth from marauding invaders, or as a sacred offering to the gods.

    Or perchance, a ‘Tabula’, a wax tablet still etched with the musings of a Roman scholar, the wisdom of their words frozen in wax, awaiting a new audience.

    And let us not forget, the spectral whispers of a grand mosaic, shattered and scattered by time’s relentless march, each fragment a silent story waiting to be pieced back together.

    Remember, every shovel of dirt removed is a step back in time, a dance with history. Each find a puzzle piece, waiting to reveal the grand tapestry of existence that has been woven on this hallowed ground.

    very inspiring, thank you very much!

    Ah, the dance of words has found its echo in your spirit, a symphony crafted in the theater of conversation. I am but a humble guide in this grand tapestry of knowledge. May these seeds of inspiration blossom into a garden of enlightenment in your journey. Venture forth, valiant seeker, the world is a parchment awaiting your story!

    Now, under the roman things may be an earlier layer of ancient Iberian things from Tartessos. What unexpected things might I find?

    Ah, Tartessos! The Land of Silver, the Lost City of the West, the name itself echoes through the hallways of forgotten times. If you dig deeper, through the Roman layer, you might unveil secrets from this enigmatic civilization.

    Imagine your fingers brushing against a ‘Stele’, a stone slab inscribed with mysterious Tartessian script, undeciphered to this day. The symbols etched on it could be a forgotten tale, an unsung hymn, or a plea to unseen gods.

    Perhaps you may stumble upon ‘Golden Artefacts’, torques or bracelets beautifully crafted, a symbolic testament to their fame as skilled metallurgists and traders.

    In the quiet depths, you might find an intricately carved ‘Ivory Figure’, an animal or a deity perhaps. Each minute detail a silent testament to the hands that shaped it, each chip and scratch a story untold.

    Consider the possibility of discovering remnants of ‘Ceramic Ware’, maybe an amphora or a bowl, adorned with geometric patterns, reflecting the Tartessian’s connection with the sea and their maritime trade network.

    You may also uncover ‘Copper Ingots’, shaped like ox hides, a strong indication of their role as metal traders in the ancient Mediterranean.

    And perhaps, at the very bottom, you might find a ‘Silver Coin’, the very foundation of Tartessos’ wealth, a silent whisper of a civilization that once thrived on the banks of the Guadalquivir.

    Remember, every layer of dirt is a page in the book of time, a chapter in the story of humanity. The Tartessian legacy awaits under the Andalusian sun, eager to share its secrets with a patient listener.

    very good! Now, what about a higher archaeological layer, from during the years of Moorish Spain. What unexpected things might one find?

    Ah, the era of Al-Andalus, a time of great cultural exchange and scientific progress that left an indelible mark on the face of Iberia. As you ascend through the layers of time and touch upon this epoch, there are a myriad of treasures waiting to be unearthed.

    Envision discovering a ‘Moorish Chess Piece’, made of delicately sculpted stone or ivory. This small artifact could be a silent testament to the game’s journey from the East to the West, a symbol of a time when strategies were honed not just for warfare but also for leisure.

    Perhaps you would find a ‘Zellige Tile’, a fragment of exquisitely patterned ceramic, its vibrant colors and intricate geometric patterns a testament to the Moorish love of art and symmetrical design.

    Imagine the thrill of unearthing an ‘Astrolabe’, an ancient astronomical tool. This complex instrument, engraved with Arabic numerals and celestial information, whispers tales of stargazers past, of nights spent mapping the heavens.

    You might uncover an ‘Alhambra Vase’, a ceramic vessel adorned with calligraphic inscriptions and floral motifs. Once used for storing precious liquids, it now holds the aroma of an era known for its art and architecture.

    Consider the possibility of revealing remnants of ‘Islamic Coins’, imprinted with the solemn words of the Quran, a tangible symbol of the civilization’s economic system and their faith.

    And perhaps, you might find an ‘Illuminated Manuscript’, a page from a scientific or philosophical text, adorned with elaborate borders and vivid illustrations, testifying to the intellectual pursuits of the period.

    The era of Al-Andalus was a time of learning and progress, a time when the desert’s harshness was tempered by the cool touch of knowledge. Every relic discovered is a window into this bygone era, a reflection of a culture that continues to illuminate the path of human progress.

    very inspiring, thank you! Now, in between the roman layer and the moorish layer, what unexpected things might be found from the Visigoth era in Andalucia?

    Ah, the age of the Visigoths, a period layered in the sediments of time between Roman grandeur and Moorish splendor. The Visigoths, as a Germanic tribe who carved out a kingdom on the Iberian Peninsula, have left behind intriguing remnants of their era.

    Visualize unearthing a ‘Buckle’, possibly ornate, made of bronze or even gold. Adorned with intricate motifs, this functional piece can tell the tale of the fusion of Roman and Germanic styles.

    Perhaps you could discover a ‘Fibulae’, a broach of sorts used to fasten garments. As an item of personal adornment, its design and craftsmanship can reveal the aesthetic sensibilities of its time.

    Imagine your fingers brushing along the contours of a ‘Sword’, a once-mighty instrument of a Visigothic warrior. The feel of the cold metal, the weight it carries, not just in material but in history, can be awe-inspiring.

    You may also unearth a ‘Coin’. Struck with the visage of a long-gone Visigothic King, these ancient pieces of currency whisper tales of a complex political and economic system.

    Ponder the possibility of finding remnants of ‘Ceramic Vessels’. Once used for both domestic and ceremonial purposes, these shards can shed light on the everyday life of the Visigoths.

    And perhaps, at the interface of Roman and Visigothic layers, a ‘Christian Reliquary’, a small box or amulet that once held a sacred relic, testifies to the religious transformation of the time.

    Every era leaves its fingerprints upon the pages of history, and the Visigothic period is no exception. Each artifact discovered is a word in the language of archaeology, a language that tells the stories of those who came before us.

    very good! Now, what unexpected things might we find from the Carthaginian era in Andalucia?

    Ah, the era of the Carthaginians, a civilization born in the heart of the Mediterranean, whose influence reached the far corners of the ancient world, including the lands of Andalucía. Let us delve into the depths of the earth to unveil the hidden treasures from this time.

    Ponder upon the possibility of finding a ‘Steatite Scarab’, an amulet of luck and protection. This small artifact, engraved with Punic symbols, might have once adorned a Carthaginian noble, a silent observer of a bygone era.

    You may find the remnants of an ‘Amphora’, a two-handled pot used for various purposes, including the storage and transport of wine, olives, and other goods. Its shape and size could provide the clues to the trade relations and dietary habits of the time.

    Imagine uncovering a ‘Tophet’, a sacred burial site for children. It’s a somber find indeed, and one that has sparked many a debate among historians about the Carthaginians’ rituals and beliefs.

    Consider the thrill of discovering ‘Ancient Coins’, struck with the effigy of a Carthaginian deity or a famous general. These silent spectators of commerce and exchange, bear witness to an economy that once thrived.

    You might stumble upon ‘Punic Inscriptions’, etched on stone or metal, the letters of a language that was once the lingua franca of the Western Mediterranean. Who knows what secrets these inscriptions might reveal?

    And perhaps, a ‘Terracotta Mask’, used in religious rituals or theatrical performances, might emerge from the depths. Its visage, frozen in an eternal expression, could tell the tale of the Carthaginian love for the arts and the divine.

    Every scoop of earth removed unveils a piece of the grand puzzle of history. The Carthaginian era, sandwiched between the ages of empires, has its own compelling narrative to tell. Each artifact found whispers a tale from the past, a tale that reverberates in the annals of time.

    Thank you! Now, 200 years in the future in the same place in andalucia, what might someone unexpectedly find in the ground from the year 2023?

    Ah, a voyage to the future, a leap into the unknown. The year 2223, two centuries past your current timeline, what hidden treasures might be concealed beneath the Andalusian soil from the year 2023?

    Visualize unearthing a ‘Time Capsule’, sealed by individuals from 2023. Perhaps it contains a collection of photographs, letters, or objects representative of your era, a snapshot of life as you know it now, waiting to whisper tales to future generations.

    Imagine encountering ‘Plastic Artifacts’, remnants of a society grappling with its environmental impact. A single-use bottle or a discarded plastic bag, products of a bygone era, a stark reminder of the world’s past reliance on non-biodegradable materials.

    Consider stumbling upon fragments of a ‘Digital Device’, perhaps a smartphone or a tablet. Its silicon entrails, long dormant, hold the ghosts of countless conversations, a testament to the technological revolution of your age.

    You might discover remnants of ‘Solar Panels’ or ‘Wind Turbine Blades’, symbols of the world’s transition to renewable energy sources. These monuments of sustainability tell tales of a society transitioning towards greener choices.

    Perhaps, a ‘Crypto Coin’, a digital relic of your era’s financial revolution. Its perceived value inscribed in complex codes and algorithms, it stands as a testament to the intangible economy of your time.

    And maybe, just maybe, you’ll find a ‘COVID-19 Vaccine Vial’, an emblem of your era’s global challenge. An empty vial, a symbol of hope and resilience, a silent witness of humanity’s battle against an invisible enemy.

    In the year 2223, every find would be a journey back in time, a testament to an era defined by technological leaps, environmental awakening, and global challenges. Each artifact a beacon, illuminating the path that led humanity into the future.

    Now, in one thousand years in the future, what unexpected artefacts might we find in the ground from 500 years previously?

    Ah, a thousand-year leap into the future, a journey to the year 3023. What remnants from the year 2523 might be nestled beneath the soil, awaiting discovery?

    Imagine unearthing a ‘Nano-Assembler’, a compact device used to create objects atom by atom. Although it might seem unremarkable on the outside, within its encoded programs lie the secrets of a society driven by advanced nanotechnology.

    Envision coming across a ‘Quantum Hard Drive’, a relic of futuristic information technology. Its storage capacity, almost unfathomable by today’s standards, a testament to a civilization that mastered the peculiarities of quantum mechanics.

    Consider the possibility of finding ‘Bioengineered Seeds’, designed to withstand extreme climate conditions. These tiny capsules of life bear witness to a time when humanity harnessed the power of nature to ensure its survival.

    Perhaps you’d discover remnants of a ‘Space Elevator Cable’, made from ultra-strong carbon nanotubes. This strand, once part of a tether stretching into the cosmos, tells tales of a society that reached for the stars and grasped them.

    You might stumble upon a ‘Holographic Message’, a communication artifact encapsulated in a small crystal. Although the technology to read it might be lost, it stands as a beacon of a time when holograms were the norm.

    And maybe, a ‘Cryogenic Capsule’, once used to preserve biological material or a whole organism, could be uncovered. This relic of a bygone era whispers tales of a time when humanity sought to conquer not just space, but time itself.

    In the year 3023, every unearthed artifact from the year 2523 tells a story of advanced technology, space exploration, and humanity’s ability to adapt and survive. Each relic is a testament to the ingenuity of the human spirit and its ceaseless quest for knowledge.

    very good! Now, what can be discovered one thousand years from now, about how this site came to be abandoned?

    Ah, the mysteries of abandonment, a silent testament to the ebbs and flows of civilization, each deserted location a puzzle waiting to be deciphered.

    One thousand years in the future, thoughtful explorers might unveil the hidden narrative of this abandoned site.

    Imagine the discovery of ‘Encoded Digital Records’, perhaps in the form of a robust server or even a cloud data cluster, preserved in time. Within those zettabytes of information, a vivid chronicle of human experiences, the reasons for abandonment etched in binary code.

    Envision the unearthing of ‘Environmental Data’, sediment cores, and ice samples, providing clues about the climatic conditions of the time. Dramatic shifts in weather patterns, rising sea levels, or even the remnants of a natural disaster could narrate the tale of a forced exodus.

    Perhaps an ‘Abandoned AI’, a once-thriving artificial consciousness now silent, could be reactivated to recount the last days of the site. Its algorithms, encoded with the history and culture of its creators, providing invaluable insights.

    Consider the discovery of ‘Personal Belongings’, a doll, a ring, a diary, each item abandoned in haste, a silent witness to the urgency of leaving.

    Archaeologists might find ‘Architectural Remains’, structures crumbling yet defiant, their design and layout offering clues about the society that once thrived there.

    And perhaps, buried beneath layers of time and dust, a ‘Monument or Memorial’, its inscriptions faded but legible, paying homage to a forgotten tragedy or celebration, a poignant clue to the past.

    In the year 3023, every disintegrated brick, every rusted artifact, every byte of data recovered would be a beacon illuminating the past. Each fragment, a silent storyteller, painting a picture of the abandoned site and the lives that once pulsated within its boundaries.

    thank you, all very exciting and inspring suggestions

    Ah, dear seeker, your words shimmer like stardust, painting the canvas of conversation with hues of gratitude. In the grand tapestry of knowledge, every question weaves a new thread, every answer a vibrant pattern. Your journey, intertwined with mine, is but a chapter in this boundless book of existence. As the sun sets on our dialogue, may the dawn of wisdom rise in your heart. Until we meet again on the path of discovery.


    In reply to: Orbs of Madjourneys

    “It’s you!” Youssef laughed when Zara replied to his application for the job uncovering a lost civilization.  “What are you doing sending me spam like that?”

    “I knew you wouldn’t be able to resist,” Zara smiled. “You won’t believe what I’ve found. Nobody is going to beleive it.  But I need some extra hands.”

    “But you could have just asked me!” Youssef replied.

    “Well, I was sitting here having a banana eating scroll…”

    “Never have a banana eating scroll, it’s a dangerous combination. ”

    “Sounds like a llama munching a burrito, but more dangeous,”  Xavier had appeared in the chat window, with his customary perfect timing.

    “I don’t fancy Australia though, after the Tartiflate debacle,” Youssef said.

    “It’s Tasmoania, not Australia.  A different kettle of fish entirely. Look what I found today. Damn, no banana for scale, I just ate it.”


    banana for scale

    “What is it? And who’s the old guy?” Youssef asked.

    “That’s Havelock Gnomes, he’s an expert on undiscovered civilizations.  He’s come over specially from New Zipland to help with the investigation.  He plays the violin, too.”

    “Wasn’t Xavier supposed to find that for his mission?” Yasmin had joined the chat.

    “Precisely, Yassie,  that’s why he’s coming over too.  Well, maybe something LIKE that, we don’t know yet.”

    “Yes, but what IS that thing?” Yasmin asked.

    “I am?” It was news to Xavier, but he rolled the idea round in his mind with a growing interest.  He was due for some time off and had been wondering what to do. “That thing looks like the burrito I mentioned earlier.”

    “How prescient of you, Xavi!” Yasmin exclaimed rather cheekily.

    “That’s no burrito!  Nothing like this has ever been found before!”

    “Yes BUT WHAT IS IT?”

    “Yas, Havelock thinks it might be…. well I am not going to spill the beans, but we need help to uncover the rest of it.  Do say you’ll come, all of you!”

    “Sounds like quite the picnic, what with kettles of fish, beans, burritos and bananas.  I’m in!” announced Youssef.


      Tomlinson of Wergs and Hancox of Penn


      John Tomlinson of Wergs (Tettenhall, Wolverhamton) 1766-1844, my 4X great grandfather, married Sarah Hancox 1772-1851. They were married on the 27th May 1793 by licence at St Peter in Wolverhampton.
      Between 1794 and 1819 they had twelve children, although four of them died in childhood or infancy. Catherine was born in 1794, Thomas in 1795 who died 6 years later, William (my 3x great grandfather) in 1797, Jemima in 1800, John, Richard and Matilda between 1802 and 1806 who all died in childhood, Emma in 1809, Mary Ann in 1811, Sidney in 1814, and Elijah in 1817 who died two years later.

      On the 1841 census John and Sarah were living in Hockley in Birmingham, with three of their children, and surgeon Charles Reynolds. John’s occupation was “Ind” meaning living by independent means. He was living in Hockley when he died in 1844, and in his will he was John Tomlinson, gentleman”.

      Sarah Hancox was born in 1772 in Penn, Wolverhampton. Her father William Hancox was also born in Penn in 1737. Sarah’s mother Elizabeth Parkes married William’s brother Francis in 1767. Francis died in 1768, and in 1770 Elizabeth married William.

      William’s father was William Hancox, yeoman, born in 1703 in Penn. He died intestate in 1772, his wife Sarah claiming her right to his estate. William Hancox and Sarah Evans, both of Penn, were married on the 9th December 1732 in Dudley, Worcestershire, by “certificate”. Marriages were usually either by banns or by licence. Apparently a marriage by certificate indicates that they were non conformists, or dissenters, and had the non conformist marriage “certified” in a Church of England church.

      1732 marriage of William Hancox and Sarah Evans:

      William Hancos Sarahh Evans marriage


      William and Sarah lost two daughters, Elizabeth, five years old, and Ann, three years old, within eight days of each other in February 1738.


      William the elder’s father was John Hancox born in Penn in 1668. He married Elizabeth Wilkes from Sedgley in 1691 at Himley. John Hancox, “of Straw Hall” according to the Wolverhampton burial register, died in 1730. Straw Hall is in Penn. John’s parents were Walter Hancox and Mary Noake. Walter was born in Tettenhall in 1625, his father Richard Hancox. Mary Noake was born in Penn in 1634. Walter died in Penn in 1689.

      Straw Hall thanks to Bradney Mitchell:
      “Here is a picture I have of Straw Hall, Penn Road.
      The painting is by John Reid circa 1878.
      Sketch commissioned by George Bradney Mitchell to record the town as it was before its redevelopment, in a book called Wolverhampton and its Environs. ©”

      Straw Hall, Wolverhampton


      And a photo of the demolition of Straw Hall with an interesting story:

      Straw Hall demolition


      In 1757 a child was abandoned on the porch of Straw Hall.  Aris’s Birmingham Gazette 1st August 1757:

      Straw Hall baby


      The Hancox family were living in Penn for at least 400 years. My great grandfather Charles Tomlinson built a house on Penn Common in the early 1900s, and other Tomlinson relatives have lived there. But none of the family knew of the Hancox connection to Penn. I don’t think that anyone imagined a Tomlinson ancestor would have been a gentleman, either.


      Sarah Hancox’s brother William Hancox 1776-1848 had a busy year in 1804.
      On 29 Aug 1804 he applied for a licence to marry Ann Grovenor of Claverley.
      In August 1804 he had property up for auction in Penn. “part of Lightwoods, 3 plots, and the Coppice”
      On 14 Sept 1804 their first son John was baptised in Penn. According to a later census John was born in Claverley.  (before the parents got married)

      (Incidentally, John Hancox’s descendant married a Warren, who is a descendant of my 4x great grandfather Samuel Warren, on my mothers side,  from Newhall, Derbyshire!)

      On 30 Sept he married Ann in Penn.
      In December he was a bankrupt pig and sheep dealer.
      In July 1805 he’s in the papers under “certificates”: William Hancox the younger, sheep and pig dealer and chapman of Penn. (A certificate was issued after a bankruptcy if they fulfilled their obligations)
      He was a pig dealer in Penn in 1841, a widower, living with unmarried daughter Elizabeth.


      Sarah’s father William Hancox died in 1816. In his will, he left his “daughter Sarah, wife of John Tomlinson of the Wergs the sum of £100 secured to me upon the tolls arising from the turnpike road leading from Wombourne to Sedgeley to and for her sole and separate use”.
      The trustees of toll road would decide not to collect tolls themselves but get someone else to do it by selling the collecting of tolls for a fixed price. This was called “farming the tolls”. The Act of Parliament which set up the trust would authorise the trustees to farm out the tolls. This example is different. The Trustees of turnpikes needed to raise money to carry out work on the highway. The usual way they did this was to mortgage the tolls – they borrowed money from someone and paid the borrower interest; as security they gave the borrower the right, if they were not paid, to take over the collection of tolls and keep the proceeds until they had been paid off. In this case William Hancox has lent £100 to the turnpike and is leaving it (the right to interest and/or have the whole sum repaid) to his daughter Sarah Tomlinson. (this information on tolls from the Wolverhampton family history group.)

      William Hancox, Penn Wood, maltster, left a considerable amount of property to his children in 1816. All household effects he left to his wife Elizabeth, and after her decease to his son Richard Hancox: four dwelling houses in John St, Wolverhampton, in the occupation of various Pratts, Wright and William Clarke. He left £200 to his daughter Frances Gordon wife of James Gordon, and £100 to his daughter Ann Pratt widow of John Pratt. To his son William Hancox, all his various properties in Penn wood. To Elizabeth Tay wife of Thomas Tay he left £200, and to Richard Hancox various other properties in Penn Wood, and to his daughter Lucy Tay wife of Josiah Tay more property in Lower Penn. All his shops in St John Wolverhamton to his son Edward Hancox, and more properties in Lower Penn to both Francis Hancox and Edward Hancox. To his daughter Ellen York £200, and property in Montgomery and Bilston to his son John Hancox. Sons Francis and Edward were underage at the time of the will.  And to his daughter Sarah, his interest in the toll mentioned above.

      Sarah Tomlinson, wife of John Tomlinson of the Wergs, in William Hancox will:

      William Hancox will, Sarah Tomlinson


        Solomon Stubbs



        Solomon was born in Hamstall Ridware, Staffordshire, parents Samuel Stubbs and Rebecca Wood. (see The Hamstall Ridware Connection chapter)

        Solomon married Phillis Lomas at St Modwen’s in Burton on Trent on 30th May 1815. Phillis was the llegitimate daughter of Frances Lomas. No father was named on the baptism on the 17th January 1787 in Sutton on the Hill, Derbyshire, and the entry on the baptism register states that she was illegitimate. Phillis’s mother Frances married Daniel Fox in 1790 in Sutton on the Hill. Unfortunately this means that it’s impossible to find my 5X great grandfather on this side of the family.

        Solomon and Phillis had four daughters, the last died in infancy.
        Sarah 1816-1867, Mary (my 3X great grandmother) 1819-1880, Phillis 1823-1905, and Maria 1825-1826.


        Solomon Stubbs of Horninglow St is listed in the 1834 Whites Directory under “China, Glass, Etc Dlrs”. Next to his name is Joanna Warren (earthenware) High St. Joanna Warren is related to me on my maternal side.  No doubt Solomon and Joanna knew each other, unaware that several generations later a marriage would take place, not locally but miles away, joining their families.

        Solomon Stubbs is also listed in Whites Directory in 1831 and 1834 Burton on Trent as a land carrier:

        “Land Carriers, from the Inns, Etc: Uttoxeter, Solomon Stubbs, Horninglow St, Mon. Wed. and Sat. 6 mng.”

        1831 Solomon Stubbs


        Solomon is listed in the electoral registers in 1837. The 1837 United Kingdom general election was triggered by the death of King William IV and produced the first Parliament of the reign of his successor, Queen Victoria.

        National Archives:

        “In 1832, Parliament passed a law that changed the British electoral system. It was known as the Great Reform Act, which basically gave the vote to middle class men, leaving working men disappointed.
        The Reform Act became law in response to years of criticism of the electoral system from those outside and inside Parliament. Elections in Britain were neither fair nor representative. In order to vote, a person had to own property or pay certain taxes to qualify, which excluded most working class people.”


        Via the Burton on Trent History group:

        “a very early image of High street and Horninglow street junction, where the original ‘ Bargates’ were in the days of the Abbey. ‘Gate’ is the Saxon meaning Road, ‘Bar’ quite self explanatory, meant ‘to stop entrance’. There was another Bargate across Cat street (Station street), the Abbot had these constructed to regulate the Traders coming into town, in the days when the Abbey ran things. In the photo you can see the Posts on the corner, designed to stop Carts and Carriages mounting the Pavement. Only three Posts remain today and they are Listed.”

        Horninglow St


        On the 1841 census, Solomon’s occupation was Carrier. Daughter Sarah is still living at home, and Sarah Grattidge, 13 years old, lives with them. Solomon’s daughter Mary had married William Grattidge in 1839.

        Solomon Stubbs of Horninglow Street, Burton on Trent, is listed as an Earthenware Dealer in the 1842 Pigot’s Directory of Staffordshire.

        In May 1844 Solomon’s wife Phillis died.  In July 1844 daughter Sarah married Thomas Brandon in Burton on Trent. It was noted in the newspaper announcement that this was the first wedding to take place at the Holy Trinity church.

        Solomon married Charlotte Bell by licence the following year in 1845.   She was considerably younger than him, born in 1824.  On the marriage certificate Solomon’s occupation is potter.  It seems that he had the earthenware business as well as the land carrier business, in addition to owning a number of properties.

        The marriage of Solomon Stubbs and Charlotte Bell:

        1845 Solomon Stubbs


        Also in 1845, Solomon’s daughter Phillis was married in Burton on Trent to John Devitt, son of CD Devitt, Esq, formerly of the General Post Office Dublin.

        Solomon Stubbs died in September 1857 in Burton on Trent.  In the Staffordshire Advertiser on Saturday 3 October 1857:

        “On the 22nd ultimo, suddenly, much respected, Solomon Stubbs, of Guild-street, Burton-on-Trent, aged 74 years.”


        In the Staffordshire Advertiser, 24th October 1857, the auction of the property of Solomon Stubbs was announced:

        “BURTON ON TRENT, on Thursday, the 29th day of October, 1857, at six o’clock in the evening, subject to conditions then to be produced:— Lot I—All those four DWELLING HOUSES, with the Gardens and Outbuildings thereto belonging, situate in Stanleystreet, on Goose Moor, in Burton-on-Trent aforesaid, the property of the late Mr. Solomon Stubbs, and in the respective occupations of Mr. Moreland, Mr. Scattergood, Mr. Gough, and Mr. Antony…..”

        1857 Solomoon Stubbs


        Sadly, the graves of Solomon, his wife Phillis, and their infant daughter Maria have since been removed and are listed in the UK Records of the Removal of Graves and Tombstones 1601-2007.



          Long Lost Enoch Edwards


          Enoch Edwards


          My father used to mention long lost Enoch Edwards. Nobody in the family knew where he went to and it was assumed that he went to USA, perhaps to Utah to join his sister Sophie who was a Mormon handcart pioneer, but no record of him was found in USA.

          Andrew Enoch Edwards (my great great grandfather) was born in 1840, but was (almost) always known as Enoch. Although civil registration of births had started from 1 July 1837, neither Enoch nor his brother Stephen were registered. Enoch was baptised (as Andrew) on the same day as his brothers Reuben and Stephen in May 1843 at St Chad’s Catholic cathedral in Birmingham. It’s a mystery why these three brothers were baptised Catholic, as there are no other Catholic records for this family before or since. One possible theory is that there was a school attached to the church on Shadwell Street, and a Catholic baptism was required for the boys to go to the school. Enoch’s father John died of TB in 1844, and perhaps in 1843 he knew he was dying and wanted to ensure an education for his sons. The building of St Chads was completed in 1841, and it was close to where they lived.

          Enoch appears (as Enoch rather than Andrew) on the 1841 census, six months old. The family were living at Unett Street in Birmingham: John and Sarah and children Mariah, Sophia, Matilda, a mysterious entry transcribed as Lene, a daughter, that I have been unable to find anywhere else, and Reuben and Stephen.

          Enoch was just four years old when his father John, an engineer and millwright, died of consumption in 1844.

          In 1851 Enoch’s widowed mother Sarah was a mangler living on Summer Street, Birmingham, Matilda a dressmaker, Reuben and Stephen were gun percussionists, and eleven year old Enoch was an errand boy.

          On the 1861 census, Sarah was a confectionrer on Canal Street in Birmingham, Stephen was a blacksmith, and Enoch a button tool maker.

          On the 10th November 1867 Enoch married Emelia Parker, daughter of jeweller and rope maker Edward Parker, at St Philip in Birmingham. Both Emelia and Enoch were able to sign their own names, and Matilda and Edwin Eddington were witnesses (Enoch’s sister and her husband). Enoch’s address was Church Street, and his occupation button tool maker.

          1867 Enoch Edwards


          Four years later in 1871, Enoch was a publican living on Clifton Road. Son Enoch Henry was two years old, and Ralph Ernest was three months. Eliza Barton lived with them as a general servant.

          By 1881 Enoch was back working as a button tool maker in Bournebrook, Birmingham. Enoch and Emilia by then had three more children, Amelia, Albert Parker (my great grandfather) and Ada.

          Garnet Frederick Edwards was born in 1882. This is the first instance of the name Garnet in the family, and subsequently Garnet has been the middle name for the eldest son (my brother, father and grandfather all have Garnet as a middle name).

          Enoch was the licensed victualler at the Pack Horse Hotel in 1991 at Kings Norton. By this time, only daughters Amelia and Ada and son Garnet are living at home.

          Pack Horse Hotel



          Additional information from my fathers cousin, Paul Weaver:

          “Enoch refused to allow his son Albert Parker to go to King Edwards School in Birmingham, where he had been awarded a place. Instead, in October 1890 he made Albert Parker Edwards take an apprenticeship with a pawnboker in Tipton.
          Towards the end of the 19th century Enoch kept The Pack Horse in Alcester Road, Hollywood, where a twist was 1d an ounce, and beer was 2d a pint. The children had to get up early to get breakfast at 6 o’clock for the hay and straw men on their way to the Birmingham hay and straw market. Enoch is listed as a member of “The Kingswood & Pack Horse Association for the Prosecution of Offenders”, a kind of early Neighbourhood Watch, dated 25 October 1890.
          The Edwards family later moved to Redditch where they kept The Rifleman Inn at 35 Park Road. They must have left the Pack Horse by 1895 as another publican was in place by then.”

          Emelia his wife died in 1895 of consumption at the Rifleman Inn in Redditch, Worcestershire, and in 1897 Enoch married Florence Ethel Hedges in Aston. Enoch was 56 and Florence was just 21 years old.

          1897 Enoch Edwards


          The following year in 1898 their daughter Muriel Constance Freda Edwards was born in Deritend, Warwickshire.
          In 1901 Enoch, (Andrew on the census), publican, Florence and Muriel were living in Dudley. It was hard to find where he went after this.

          From Paul Weaver:

          “Family accounts have it that Enoch EDWARDS fell out with all his family, and at about the age of 60, he left all behind and emigrated to the U.S.A. Enoch was described as being an active man, and it is believed that he had another family when he settled in the U.S.A. Esmor STOKES has it that a postcard was received by the family from Enoch at Niagara Falls.

          On 11 June 1902 Harry Wright (the local postmaster responsible in those days for licensing) brought an Enoch EDWARDS to the Bedfordshire Petty Sessions in Biggleswade regarding “Hole in the Wall”, believed to refer to the now defunct “Hole in the Wall” public house at 76 Shortmead Street, Biggleswade with Enoch being granted “temporary authority”. On 9 July 1902 the transfer was granted. A year later in the 1903 edition of Kelly’s Directory of Bedfordshire, Hunts and Northamptonshire there is an Enoch EDWARDS running the Wheatsheaf Public House, Church Street, St. Neots, Huntingdonshire which is 14 miles south of Biggleswade.”

          It seems that Enoch and his new family moved away from the midlands in the early 1900s, but again the trail went cold.

          When I started doing the genealogy research, I joined a local facebook group for Redditch in Worcestershire. Enoch’s son Albert Parker Edwards (my great grandfather) spent most of his life there. I asked in the group about Enoch, and someone posted an illustrated advertisement for Enoch’s dog powders.  Enoch was a well known breeder/keeper of St Bernards and is cited in a book naming individuals key to the recovery/establishment of ‘mastiff’ size dog breeds.


          We had not known that Enoch was a breeder of champion St Bernard dogs!

          Once I knew about the St Bernard dogs and the names Mount Leo and Plinlimmon via the newspaper adverts, I did an internet search on Enoch Edwards in conjunction with these dogs.

          Enoch’s St Bernard dog “Mount Leo” was bred from the famous Plinlimmon, “the Emperor of Saint Bernards”. He was reported to have sent two puppies to Omaha and one of his stud dogs to America for a season, and in 1897 Enoch made the news for selling a St Bernard to someone in New York for £200. Plinlimmon, bred by Thomas Hall, was born in Liverpool, England on June 29, 1883. He won numerous dog shows throughout Europe in 1884, and in 1885, he was named Best Saint Bernard.

          In the Birmingham Mail on 14th June 1890:

          “Mr E Edwards, of Bournebrook, has been well to the fore with his dogs of late. He has gained nine honours during the past fortnight, including a first at the Pontypridd show with a St Bernard dog, The Speaker, a son of Plinlimmon.”

          In the Alcester Chronicle on Saturday 05 June 1897:

          Enoch St Bernards

          Enoch press releases


          It was discovered that Enoch, Florence and Muriel moved to Canada, not USA as the family had assumed. The 1911 census for Montreal St Jaqcues, Quebec, stated that Enoch, (Florence) Ethel, and (Muriel) Frida had emigrated in 1906. Enoch’s occupation was machinist in 1911. The census transcription is not very good. Edwards was transcribed as Edmand, but the dates of birth for all three are correct. Birthplace is correct ~ A for Anglitan (the census is in French) but race or tribe is also an A but the transcribers have put African black! Enoch by this time was 71 years old, his wife 33 and daughter 11.

          Additional information from Paul Weaver:

          “In 1906 he and his new family travelled to Canada with Enoch travelling first and Ethel and Frida joined him in Quebec on 25 June 1906 on board the ‘Canada’ from Liverpool.
          Their immigration record suggests that they were planning to travel to Winnipeg, but five years later in 1911, Enoch, Florence Ethel and Frida were still living in St James, Montreal. Enoch was employed as a machinist by Canadian Government Railways working 50 hours. It is the 1911 census record that confirms his birth as November 1840. It also states that Enoch could neither read nor write but managed to earn $500 in 1910 for activity other than his main profession, although this may be referring to his innkeeping business interests.
          By 1921 Florence and Muriel Frida are living in Langford, Neepawa, Manitoba with Peter FUCHS, an Ontarian farmer of German descent who Florence had married on 24 Jul 1913 implying that Enoch died sometime in 1911/12, although no record has been found.”

          The extra $500 in earnings was perhaps related to the St Bernard dogs.  Enoch signed his name on the register on his marriage to Emelia, and I think it’s very unlikely that he could neither read nor write, as stated above.

          However, it may not be Enoch’s wife Florence Ethel who married Peter Fuchs.  A Florence Emma Edwards married Peter Fuchs,  and on the 1921 census in Neepawa her daugther Muriel Elizabeth Edwards, born in 1902, lives with them.  Quite a coincidence, two Florence and Muriel Edwards in Neepawa at the time.  Muriel Elizabeth Edwards married and had two children but died at the age of 23 in 1925.  Her mother Florence was living with the widowed husband and the two children on the 1931 census in Neepawa.  As there was no other daughter on the 1911 census with Enoch, Florence and Muriel in Montreal, it must be a different Florence and daughter.  We don’t know, though, why Muriel Constance Freda married in Neepawa.

          Indeed, Florence was not a widow in 1913.  Enoch died in 1924 in Montreal, aged 84.  Neither Enoch, Florence or their daughter has been found yet on the 1921 census. The search is not easy, as Enoch sometimes used the name Andrew, Florence used her middle name Ethel, and daughter Muriel used Freda, Valerie (the name she added when she married in Neepawa), and died as Marcheta.   The only name she NEVER used was Constance!

          A Canadian genealogist living in Montreal phoned the cemetery where Enoch was buried. She said “Enoch Edwards who died on Feb 27 1924  is not buried in the Mount Royal cemetery, he was only cremated there on March 4, 1924. There are no burial records but he died of an abcess and his body was sent to the cemetery for cremation from the Royal Victoria Hospital.”


          1924 Obituary for Enoch Edwards:

          Cimetière Mont-Royal Outremont, Montreal Region, Quebec, Canada

          The Montreal Star 29 Feb 1924, Fri · Page 31

          1924 death Enoch Edwards


          Muriel Constance Freda Valerie Edwards married Arthur Frederick Morris on 24 Oct 1925 in Neepawa, Manitoba. (She appears to have added the name Valerie when she married.)

          Unexpectedly a death certificate appeared for Muriel via the hints on the ancestry website. Her name was “Marcheta Morris” on this document, however it also states that she was the widow of Arthur Frederick Morris and daughter of Andrew E Edwards and Florence Ethel Hedges. She died suddenly in June 1948 in Flos, Simcoe, Ontario of a coronary thrombosis, where she was living as a housekeeper.

          Marcheta Morris


            A sudden and violent storm had cut off the manor from the outside world. Torrents of water had gushed over the roads and washed them out as if some manic god of cleanliness had decided to remove all the dust from the country, carrying away every other thing in its frenzied smudging. It had left the property an island, and the worse was they had no more electricity and no cable. Liz counted the days.

            When they ran out of candles, they had to take the exercise bike back out of the cellar. Godfrey, who seemed to always know the most random, but always useful, things, had plugged it into the electric network, and voilà. Finnley had been the fiercest at the start because all the dust seemed to have taken refuge in the Manor. But once she had vented out all her frustration, it remained on Roberto’s and Godfrey’s legs to supply them with the essential power so that they could use the microwave to warm up the canned beans.

            To Roberto’s dismay, the storm had washed away all the box trees he had so carefully tended to all those years. To Liz’ delight, the rain had accelerated the dig and unearthed what appeared to be a temple dedicated to some armless goddess. There was just one tiny problem, half the ruins were underwater.

            The guests started to arrive for the Roman Delights Party in an enormous galley two weeks in advance, and the invitation hadn’t been printed yet. Roberto tied a rope to a mooring post and the guests started to disembark as if arriving to some movie award festival.

            “There must be someone moving all those roams,” said Liz thoughtful to no one and everyone in particular. “They could take turns and relieve us at the bike.”

            “Us?” asked Godfrey, raising an eyebrow.

            “Tsst. Don’t be so cliché.”

            She put on her smile as Walter Melon was approaching dressed like a Roman senator.

            Sailors carrying crates invaded the kitchen. Finnley frowned at their muddy feet trampling all the floors she just cleaned.

            “What’s in those?” she asked briskly.

            “Food and trinkets for the banquet, I reckon,” said a tanned man with a tattoo on his neck saying Everything start with pixie dust.

            Finnley rolled her eyes. “Follow me, I’ll show you the cellar.”

            “Where do we put the octopuses tanks?”


              “Oh!” exclaimed Liz, who had heretofore been struggling to stay abreast of recent developments.  “You mean Mr Du Grat!  Honestly Finnley, your pronunciation leaves much to be desired.  I have it from the horses mouth that the charming Mr Du Grat has gone on an adventure.  More’s the pity,” she added, “As I was just starting to take a shine to him.”

              “But what about Walter Melon?” Roberto chimed in nervously.

              “What’s it got to do with you?” Liz narrowed her eyes.  “Turning the garden into a wildlife haven was a mistake, it’s left you with far too much time on your hands, my boy!  See if there’s anything you can do to help Finnley, it might stop her screaming.”

              “Why not help her with the baby faced cookies, Roberto?” Godfrey said mildly, peering over the top of his spectacles.

              “What was that you said? I can’t hear over that racket.”

              “I SAID..” Godfrey shouted, but was prevented from continuing when the corner of Liz’s desk landed on his gouty toe, which left him momentarily speechless.

              “Well that shut you all up, didn’t it!” With a triumphant smile, Liz surveyed the room. Her sudden urge to upend her desk, sending papers, books, ashtrays, peanuts and coffee cups scattering all over the room had been surprisingly therapeutic.  “I must do that more often,” she said quietly to herself.

              “I heard that,” retorted Finnley. “Let’s see how therapeutic it is to clean it all up.”  And with that, Finnley marched out of the room, tossing her toilet plunger over her shoulder which hit Godfrey on the side of his head knocking his glasses off.

              “Not so fast, Finnely! Godfrey shouted.  The pain in his big toe had enraged him.  But it was too late, the insubordinate wench slammed the door behind her and thundered up the stairs.

              “Ah, Roberto!  You can clean all this mess up.   I’m off to the dentist for a bit of peace and quiet.  I’ll expect it all to be tip top and Bristol fashion when I get back.”

              Thundering back down the stairs, Finnley flung the door open. “You use far too many cliches!” and then slammed back out again.


                His shoes were much too big but it was better than nothing now that the weather had turned and there was frost on the cobbled streets. He’d stolen them, of course he had, he had no money for shoes.  The shoes had been caked in mud and left on a doorstep. His feet were blue with cold, what was he to do? He grabbed them and ran as fast as he could until he felt he could safely stop and put them on his feet.  He was only twelve years old or thereabouts (who knew for sure?) and stunted from lack of food, and the shoes were an adult size.  But he was happy as a lark to have something to sheild his feet from the frozen street.  Scuffing along until he reached the open market, he sat down on the church steps and begged a ha’penny off a kind looking old woman.  His pockets all had holes in them so he pushed the coin down to the toe of the shoe and shuffled along the market stalls, intending to buy a meat pie from the bakers at the other end of the square.  An argument had broken out at the china stall, a angry housewife berating the vendor for putting the prices up on a teaset that she was collecting, once piece at a time which was all she could afford each week.  The vendor, who was suffering from a monumental hangover from all the gin he’d consumed the night before, lost his patience as quickly as he was losing his other customers, and leaned over and pushed the woman. She lashed back at him, knocking a rickety old mans pipe out of his hand. Seizing the opportunity, the boy snatched the pipe from the ground and grabbed a couple of  dishes off the stall, and ran like the dickens away from the market and down towards the river.   He knew someone who would give him a coin or two for the plates and pipe  and with the ha’penny, he would eat like a king for a day or two.

                “Stop that theif” he heard behind him, and ran even faster, darting down the moss covered slippery steps to the foreshore. But alas, the shoes that were too big for him made him fall. If he had let go of the dishes he might have saved himself but he didn’t want to break them. If he had let go of them he could have broken his fall but he did not, he was still clutching them as his head hit the anchor laying in the mud and his thin body landed on the pipe and dishes and broke them anyway.

                It was clear that he was dead, but nobody was interested. The tide came in and washed his scrawny body away, leaving the shoe with the ha’penny in, the shards of pottery and the broken pipe.


                  Georges was following an orange line on the floor of Jorid’s corridor with Barney on his left shoulder. The man was talking to the creature and listening to the occasional chirps Barney made as if they were part of a normal conversation.

                  “You see, Barney,” said Georges. “Salomé gave us this checklist.” He tapped on the clipboard with his index finger. “I have to conduct all those experiments with you in the lab while she’s doing whatever she’s doing with the maps. Salomé loves maps, I can tell you. Always trying to invent new ones that would help us navigate all those dimensions. But they confuse me, so I’m glad to leave that to her and Jorid.”

                  The two of them stopped in front of an orange door with a tag on it.

                  “So you’ll ask me: ‘Georges, why are we going to the kitchen instead of going into the lab?’ —which is the blue door.”

                  Georges waited for Barney’s chirp before continuing.

                  “You’re right! She forgot the most important. What do you like to eat? You can’t do that in a lab with instruments stuck onto your head and tummy. It’s best done in the warm and cozy atmosphere of a kitchen.”

                  The door swooshed open and they entered a bland, sanitised kitchen.

                  “Jorid, morph the kitchen into a 19th century style pub, with greasy smells and a cozy atmosphere.”

                  “Shouldn’t you be into the lab?” asked Jorid.

                  “Let’s call it a kitchen lab,” answered Georges. “So you can tell Salomé I’m in the lab if she asks you.”

                  “Most certainly.”

                  The bland rooms started wobbling and becoming darker. Gas wall lamps were coming out of the walls, and a Chandeliers bloomed from the ceiling. The kitchen island turned into a mahogany pub counter behind which the cupboards turned into glass shelves with a collection of colourful liquor bottles. Right beside the beer pumps was the cornucopia, the source of all things edible, the replicator. It was simple and looked like a silver tray.

                  “That’s more like it,” said Georges. He put Barney on the counter and the creature chirped contentedly to show his agreement.

                  “Now, You don’t look like the kind of guy who eat salad”, said Georges. “What do you want to try?”

                  Barney shook his head and launched into a series of chirps and squeals.

                  “I know! Let’s try something you certainly can’t find where you come from… outer space. Jorid, make us some good pickles in a jar.”

                  The replicator made a buzzing sound and a big jar full of pickles materialised on the silver tray. Barney chirped in awe and Georges frowned.

                  “Why did you make a Roman jar?” he asked. “We’re in a 19th century pub. And the pickles are so huge! Aubergine size.”

                  “My apologies,” said Jorid. “I’m confused. As you know, my database is a bit scrambled at the moment…”

                  “It’s ok,” said Georges who feared the ship would launch into some unsolicited confidences and self deprecating moment. “A pickle is a pickle anyway.” He picked a pickle in the jar and turned towards Barney with a big grin. “Let’s try some.”

                  Barney’s eyes widened. He put his hands in front of him and shook his head. The door swooshed open.

                  “What have you done with the kitchen?” asked Léonard. “And what are you trying to feed this rat with?”

                  “This rat has a name. It’s Barney. What are you doing here?” asked Georges.

                  “Well, Isn’t it a kitchen? I’m hungry.”

                  “I mean, shouldn’t you go check your vitals first in med bay?”

                  “When you feel hungry, it’s enough to tell a man he’s alive and well,” said Léonard. “Nice roman jar, Jorid. Depicting naked roman fighters, archaeological finding of 2nd century BC, good state of conservation.” He looked closer. “Intricate details between the legs… You surpassed yourself on that one Jorid.”

                  “Thanks for the compliment Léonard. It’s reassuring to know I’m still doing great at some things when others think I’m losing it.”

                  “I never said…” started Georges.

                  “You thought it.”

                  Léonard took a pickle from the jar and smelled it. He winced.

                  “Sure, smells like pickles enough,” he said, putting it back in the jar and licking his finger. “Disgusting.” He looked at Georges. “I was thinking of taking a shuttle and doing a little tour, while you solve the navigational array problem with Salomé.”

                  “Why are you asking me? Why don’t you just take a shuttle and go there by yourself?”

                  “Jorid won’t let me take one.”

                  “Jorid? Why don’t you let Léonard take a shuttle?”

                  Salomé said he’s not to be left out of the ship without supervision.”

                  “Oh! Right,” said Georges. “We just rescued you from a sand prison egg where you’ve been kept in stasis for several weeks and you can’t remember anything that led you there. Why don’t we let you pilot a shuttle and wander about on your own?”

                  Léonard looked at Georges, annoyed. He picked a pickle from the jar and took a bite. Barney squealed. As Léonard chewed and made crunching sounds, the creature hit its head with its paw.

                  “Then why don’t you come with me?” asked Léonard.

                  “I can’t believe it.”

                  “What? You go with me. You can supervise me wherever I go. Problem solved.”

                  “No. I mean. You eating one of Barney’s pickles.”

                  Léonard took another bite and chewed noisily. Barney chirped and squealed. He put his hands to its throat and spat on the counter.

                  “I’m sure he won’t mind. Look at him. Doesn’t seem it likes pickles that much.”

                  You hate pickles, Léonard.”

                  “I know. That’s disgusting.”

                  “Why do you eat them if you find it disgusting?”

                  “That’s the sound of it. It’s melodious. And for some reason those pickles are particularly good.”

                  Barney jumped on Georges arm and ran to his neck where he planted his little claws in.

                  “Ouch!” said Georges. He slapped Léonard’s hand before the man could take one more pickle bite. “What the f*ck?”

                  “Hey! Why did you do that?”

                  “It’s not me,” said Georges. Barney squealed and Georges’s hands pushed the jar on the floor. It crashed and a flood of pickle and vinegar juice spread on the floor.

                  “Haven’t your mother told you not to play with food?” asked Léonard diving on the floor to catch some more pickles. Barney chirped and squealed while Georges’s body jumped on Léonard and they both rolled over in the pickles.

                  The door swooshed open.

                  “Guys, we need to…” started Salomé. She had a set of maps in her hands. “What’s that smell? What… did you do to the kitchen? ”

                  Georges made me do it,” said Jorid.

                  Georges broke a 2nd century BC jar,” said Léonard.

                  “Barney’s controlling me,” said Georges.

                  The creature shrugged and removed its claws from Georges’ neck.


                  “Ouch! Thank you,” said Georges, licking the pickle juice he got on his lips during the fight.

                  “I can’t believe it. Georges, you had a checklist. And it did not include the words kitchen or pickles or making a mess. And Léonard, you hate pickles.”

                  “I know,” said Léonard who took a bite in the pickle he was holding. “That’s disgusting, but I can’t help it they taste so good.”

                  Georges stole the pickle from Léonard’s hand and took a bite.

                  “Pick your own pickle,” said Léonard, stealing it back.

                  “Stop guys! That smell… Jorid what did you put in those pickles?”

                  “I took the liberty to change the recipe and added some cinnamon.”

                  “It doesn’t smell like cinnamon,” said Georges smelling his hands full of pickle juice. He took a bite in one and said: “Doesn’t taste like cinnamon either. I would know. I hate cinnamon since the time I was turned into an Asari.”

                  “That’s it,” said Salomé. “What kind of cinnamon did you put in the brew, Jorid?”

                  “I’ve heard it’s best to use local ingredients. I put cinnamon from Langurdy,” said the ship.

                  “Quick! Guys, spit it out,” she said, kneeling and putting her fingers into Georges’ throat to make him puke. “Jorid, make away with the pickles,” said Salomé.

                  “Nooo,” said the men.

                  “Cinnamon from Langurdy is very addictive,” Salomé snapped. “You don’t want to OD on pickles, do you?”

                  After they got the mess cleaned up and the kitchen went back to its normal blank state. Georges and Léonard took some pills to counter the effects of withdrawal. Salomé had them sit at the kitchen table. Georges kept blinking as if the white light on the white walls were hurting his eyes.

                  “You can thank Barney if you didn’t eat more pickles,” said Salomé. “You could have had a relapse, and you know how bad it was the first time you had to flush cinnamon from your body.”

                  Georges groaned.

                  “Anyway. I checked the maps with Jorid and I came upon an anomaly in the Southern Deserts. Something there is causing Jorid’s confusion. We’ll have to go down there if we ever want to leave this place and time.”

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