Those of you who also read my beloved's blog will know that we have an allotment. You will have heard that we spend lots of time there - digging and planting and hoeing to get it to look like this:
And because we work pretty hard on it, we're pretty damn smug when it comes to eating the goodies it yields in return. So we both wax lyrical about the wonder of the first new potatoes of the season and the tender juicy crunch of our own golden sweetcorn.
This week, however, we struck real treasure......
One corner of the allotment has been under carpet for the last two years - we simply haven't had time to dig it over and plant it. This year I am determined to get that corner sorted, so this week, while I've been off from work, I started digging.
In my endeavours to ensure that no trace of dock or rye grass makes it back to the plot, I generally sift quite carefully through the soil. While checking through one fork-full, I came across a very small, rather thin and very dirty coin. Three days later, having steeped it first in vinegar then in cherry coke (what can I say - it was all we had) - we've discovered it's a silver sixpence from 1859!
Now I know it's not going to make us rich (yes Philip did get as far as checking out on e-bay how much it might be worth...) but we've had fun imagining how it made its way into the ground; who might have dropped it and when. We've also done some thinking about sixpences and their uses.
I've been reminiscing about my mum's Christmas puddings, which always had a sixpence in them when we were young, and we've found out that, traditionally, a silver sixpence was placed in the bride's left shoe to bring wealth - not only financial, but also a wealth of happiness and joy for all her married life.
Something old, something new,
Something borrowed, something blue,
A silver sixpence in her shoe.I've remembered the song we sang as kids; with much hilarity and more than a little viciousness in our pecking:
Sing a song of sixpence a pocket full of rye,
four and twenty black birds baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened the birds began to sing,
wasn't that a dainty dish to set before the king?
The king was in his counting house counting out his money,
the queen was in the parlor eating bread and honey.
The maid was in the garden hanging out the clothes,
when down came a black bird and pecked off her nose.And I've been thinking back to my eighth birthday, when my dad took me to see the film Half a Sixpence, starring Tommy Steele. The film, set in Kent (now there's a coincidence) tells the story of Arthur Kipps, a draper's assistant who falls in love with a chambermaid called Ann. In quick succession, he comes into a fortune, nearly marries a wealthy girl, marries Ann instead, loses his fortune, but then regains it and lives happily ever after. The half a sixpence of the title was a silver coin split in half, with each half kept as a love token by Arthur and Ann. The film was critically slated, but I've always had a bit of a soft spot for it.
So....what do to with our treasure?