Stephen Grey – a City Boy in the Country…

While scattershooting the other day I came across this photo on Facebook, and being the curmudgeon I am I just had to share it.  I contacted Stephen Grey, the detectorist who posted the photo, and not only got his permission to use it but also the following story about Derek, the gentleman in the photo….




by Stephen Grey

I’m a city boy born and bred so I am . I’ve lived all my life in an English shipbuilding town . I have a craving to be out in the countryside however any spare minute I get . Although it is good for my health and the scenery is beautiful these are not what drive me . It’s all about that next elusive signal . I’m a metal detectorist you see and I’m constantly searching . If you asked me what I’m searching for I couldn’t rightly tell you . I’m not overly anxious to dig another coin or relic .


Stephen Grey…

The greatest high I get is when I hear the faint audio of another signal , another target . I’ll quickly sweep my search coil over the area until the audio confirms that I’ve found what I’m looking for . That’s what it’s all about for me , all about the beeps as I say .

Another huge bonus is the friends and connections I make in this hobby . Because I run detecting groups on Facebook and have a YouTube channel I get out many times meeting friends and making new ones .

Although I really enjoy looking after my father who has dementia the hobby provides me with a window on a whole new world . A world of constant learning , of history and most importantly of comradeship . I regularly travel across the country to meet up with my buddies far and wide .  I like the open road and the possibility of adventure . Although I am rooted in my home town still I have spent many years on the road working from the highlands of Scotland to way down on the south coast . So to get in my car and drive four hours to find that next target is easy for me . A little joy ride and another pleasant day in good company .

People like myself would not have a hobby tho unless the farmers we asked graciously gave us access onto their fields . The fields of glory as I often call them .  Not so long ago I didn’t have access to many of my own farms . One day saw me 30 miles from home in the Cheshire countryside . Not In search of the next signal but in search of the keys to the kingdom , friendly farmers who would give me permission to search their fields .

I’d had a few refusals for all the right reasons , many farm houses were also empty when I came calling . A couple of hours go by and I turn down a small country lane . One house from the 1800s stood on the side of the road . It looked a little lived in to say the least . A spry cheery looking figure sat atop an old Massey Ferguson tractor nosing out of his drive way . Aha goes my detecting brain and before I know it I’m out of my car and walking over to this old boy . He looked to be in his eighties , cheery looking but also wise . The type of person it would be pointless being anything but yourself with because this chap would see right thru anything not quite right .


Stephen’s friend Steve with Derek….

I said hello and went thru my spiel of what I was about and how he could help me if he so chose to . He listened patiently with the occasional nod of his head . Then just asked straight out if I was a decent sort of person . How could I not but take an immediate shine to my new friend farmer Derek ? I laughed heartily and reached into my pocket and pulled out some silver coins from the 1800s . I crossed Derek’s palm with silver and so our friendship began .

Many times I would go up to that area to do some detecting and spend a good few hours chatting to Derek instead about days gone by and also looking at his amazing selection of ancient tractors . Some belonged to Derek’s father and Derek himself was 84 when we first met . He told me of his father’s time during the war years . He carried on running his farm whilst serving in the home guard and patrolling the ridge at the back of the farmhouse . No doubt some of the shell casings me and my friends found harked back to those dark days .

Just had to get aboard this old one...

Stephen on one of Derek’s antiques…

He told me how to keep rabbits from making even more of a mess of the local graveyard and its tombs . He used to put ashes down the holes that were literally sitting on top of his families graves . He told me how to kill vermin and swore me to secrecy . He alluded to so much more but most of the time that wry smile would appear and he’d say he’d get into trouble if he told me any more .

We would have a good laugh then and move on to the next subject . Tractors , vermin , country characters long since gone . Such was the time we spent chatting together . Sometimes I’d see him cutting his hedgerows or chopping wood on a band saw run from a belt on the back of his tractor . Eighty four years young and so full of life .

Time passed and Derek helped me get five of his neighbours farms . Myself and many friends have passed endless days up there after that next magic signal . For a city boy like myself I feel truly blessed to be able to indulge in my obsession in such beautiful countryside .

One day I went up for my regular chat and he came to the door not looking his usual chipper self . He said he had a gall stone problem . I cheered him up with a bit of banter and shook his hand . A few weeks went by and things had taken a turn for the worse . Poor Derek was in the wars and he mentioned the word tumour . I tried to keep him up beat and persuade him it would all be fine eventually . I sincerely wanted to believe that myself . I shook his hand again and this time left with a heavy heart .

A couple of weeks went by and this time when I knocked his lovely wife answered the door . She gave me some news that really upset me . Poor old Derek was terminal and wasn’t eating and was bed bound . His dear wife was very practical about it all explaining that he was 85 now and had lived a good healthy life doing what he loved . I couldn’t help but admire her courage although I was deeply saddened . I left that morning with a heavy heart . I had driven one hour to get up there tho and I’d brought a friend along . We went ahead with our days detecting and somewhere along the line I decided to make the most of it because that’s what Derek would have wanted .

More time passed and a disturbing thought kept popping into my mind . That because I wasn’t family I’d never get to see old Derek again . After all he was very weak and bedridden . Imagine my surprise when I next saw his wife , me thinking maybe the worst had happened . She informed me that Derek was out in his yard with his daughter and grandchildren amongst those amazing tractors where he belonged .

Such is the circle of life , they’d put him on a course of steroids that had reinvigorated him up to a point . I was so happy to see him and also to meet his daughter and grandchildren for the first time . They were highly amused when I told them Derek was quite famous around the globe these days thanks to the wonders of Facebook and YouTube .

If I never see my favourite farmer again I’ll not be sad this time . Life is a circle and it must turn . I had a good chat with him that day . I’ll never forget the look in his eyes . So wise , a real piece of the landscape up there . Like a mighty oak hit by lightning he will be greatly missed . Never will he be forgotten and I’m sure he’ll still be out and about in his ancient tractor long after I have passed on .

Be sure to check out Stephen’s Anglo Celtic Metal Detecting YouTube channel



Check out this article……

Archaeology Crisis to be Investigated

Apparently they can store them away out of sight, but we are not allowed to find and share….




Filed under Metal Detecting

7 responses to “Stephen Grey – a City Boy in the Country…

  1. What a great read! Stephen makes some great metal detecting videos on YouTube and as you say they are worth checking out


    • Thanks for the kind words Andy . I make metal detecting videos that’s true . Some are probably half decent . Some are pretty whacky to say the least . It is all about the beeps for me but I have to have a huge serving of fun with them too . Take care mate and be lucky .

  2. Great post. He put it better than I could ever do it: all about the beeps. Also, what a great way to convey one of the best things about metal detecting; learning to appreciate the scenery, including the people.

    • Thank you buddy . For the last 3 years I’ve been running groups on Facebook . It’s always been about collecting people , making good friends for me . I stick up for the new guy and I try to get them out in the country when I can . The people , the scenery , the history , so many things 😊

    • Hi John , your friend Dick hit me up and asked if he could use Derek’s pic . I’ll be honest I’d never heard of Dick but I am very busy doing things myself and I’m in the UK . I’m an aspiring writer myself these days . I have time on my hands being a carer for dad . So a quick peruse of Dicks blog here and I was buzzing . Not only is Dick a published author but also he has you chipping in too . So I’m in good company by the looks of things . Thanks for your comment .

      • “I’ll be honest I’d never heard of Dick but I am very busy doing things myself and I’m in the UK”…….

        The story of my life….

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