The Perils of Metal Detecting

My wife and I went to South Wales for a holiday a few years ago and of course my metal detectors went with me. We stayed in a lovely flat overlooking an estuary. The flats owners also happened to own two fields leading down to the estuary. I asked for permission to detect on these fields and estuary and they said it was OK. So after tea I went down to the estuary, the tide was out and I started detecting. There seemed to be old Napoleonic bullets everywhere. I found a few coins (all modern) and a few foreign coins including a Chinese cash coin.

The next day I decided to search the two fields. The owner told me that in the days of old, the pilgrims used to walk across these two fields following an old but still clearly visible shingle footpath, which in some places had been built up onto a banking that was over two feet above the field. I walked down the ancient path to a point where it was only a couple of inches higher than the field and decided to step down into the field. I must have put my foot onto some loose shale because all I remember was a loud crack before I passed out.

I finally came round and just sat there groaning and shaking my head to keep myself from blacking out again, such was the pain in my right ankle. After about half an hour, I felt I had finally recovered enough to try standing on my one good leg, I thought how on earth am I going to make it back to the flat, which was about a quarter of a mile away and up three flights of steps. I decided to use my spade and detector as supports and to hobble back to call for help. As I set off I didn't realise that I had left the detector turned on, and using it as a make shift walking stick I took my first tearful step and immediately I got a signal, well I had to dig it didn't I? I knew I couldn't dig standing up so I slid back down into a sitting position and began to dig and soon held in my hand a Queen Elizabeth II penny in very good condition, well at least it showed I hadn't damaged my detector or my enthusiasm.

My wife was very upset when I finally managed to stumble back into the flat, she sent for a doctor and he sent for an ambulance and off to the hospital I went. It turned out I had a very nasty complicated compound fracture of the ankle. They put a temporary pot onto it and told me to go straight home and to my local hospital, which I did. I was rushed into the operating theatre were they opened up my ankle and tried to pin it all back together again. I spent the next week in hospital. Well that was a perfectly good holiday ruined, but I had found that old penny and it wasn't really the digging season, so other than being on crutches for the next six months and the scolding from my wife for being so clumsy, nothing was lost.

I suppose the moral to this story is never go digging on your own or without a mobile phone, as you will invariably end up hidden in some out of the way place, and if you have an accident no one will know where to find you.

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