19 April 2013

CAMRA Beer and Roman Lamps - Can't be bad!

Yesterday was the start of Hull's Real Ale and Cider Festival, now in its 35th year, which again was held at Holy Trinity Church in the 'old town' of the city. 

Needless to say, there is a need for a designated driver, so while I can't speak for the 160 beers, real ales, ciders and perries on offer, I can say that the peanut butter muffin I bought in aid of church funds was decidedly delicious, and the tea - "make us a donation" - most refreshing.

The line of barrels shown, the gravity ales, are in the north aisle of the choir on the other side of the screen. There was another line the same size in the south aisle, all hand-pumped, with the ciders and perries, and a few world beers, scattered around the area.

The place was not as deserted as it looks. In fact it was heaving, and I had to wait ages for the picture above. 

 So what did I do after I'd dropped off the imbibers? Well, the 'old town' - yes, it did at one time have walls - is home to the Museum Quarter, so I made straight for the Hull & East Riding Museum.

The Celtic and Iron Age galleries provided a lot of input for Torc of Moonlight, but this time I was heading for the Roman area as the period features strongly in The Bull At The Gate

The city of Hull has mediaeval roots, but a few miles further down the River Humber is Brough, which was the Roman Petuaria. The museum gallery has been laid out to give a semblance of a street from the town, but unfortunately its a low-light area so taking photos wasn't easy.  

On display are some of the best preserved mosaics in the country, all excavated from villa remains in the area. The partial shown is from Rudston and is a Seasons mosaic. The bull in the foreground is for spring, and the inscripton reads "Taurus - Mankiller". I was particularly taken with the crescent on a stick, as both feature in the second in the trilogy.

What I wanted to hunt down, though, were household items, particularly Roman lamps, and I wasn't disappointed. In fact I was rewarded - there was an entire case of them - and the dark one in the centre held a bull motif.

There were all sorts of lamps on display, including one in the shape of a foot. I was looking through the glass case at it when I heard the ominous clomp of male footsteps, footsteps which were not slowing for their owner to view the exhibits. As the footsteps grew louder I started looking, not at the exhibits but at the glass for reflections, seeing a dark shape pass from one to another.

Set out as a series of Roman shop-fronts, the gallery is a warren of alcoves and doorways. Was I in a CCTV blindspot? Probably. To move, or to stay put? As the footsteps neared I drew further into my alcove waiting for the footsteps, and the man, to pass me by. 

They stopped. I straightened. A head popped round the corner. A face beamed. 'Madam, just wanted to make you aware that we are closing in 15 minutes.' Obviously I'd been watched on CCTV. In fact, considering what I'd been doing, crawling about on hands and knees and taking pictures, I bet I'd been the subject of some interesting exchanges, and that particular museum assistant had pulled the short straw.

Mind you, I still reckon it would make a good scene for a novel. And no, you can't borrow it.

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