Transport (old and new), gardens and Great Fires

I am seeing the advantages of the C17th lack of reliance on the internal combustion engine. Few people realise that, due to the state of our roads, wheeled farm traffic came very late to the west country – probably not until the late C18th. River or sea was the easiest mode of transport, followed by horse or donkey, equipped with panniers or a device resembling a native American travois. Mind you, the current state of our roads is probably not much better. When looking for migrating ancestors people often don’t stop to wonder how these moves from a to b occurred. Even with minimal belongings, it can’t have been easy.

My dilapidated and elderly Nissan Micra has had to go to the big scrap yard in the sky. Chris seems to think I can drive his people carrier instead. Please remember, dear reader, that I am not a natural car driver – I don’t leap into any car without a thought and drive it as if it was my own, I don’t do busy roads, or indeed other traffic really (comes of learning to drive in the Isle of Wight where there is only a couple of hundred yards of dual carriage way). I am quite a dab hand at reversing long distances up narrow country lanes but there my driving expertise ends. I also have trouble with large cars because my feet are too small to comfortably reach the pedals. The people carrier is an automatic – I’ve never driven an automatic – I keep trying to change gear. I have yet to locate the hand brake. This is as bad as horse riding; I really don’t feel in control. I drive about 8 miles, twice. Chris now thinks I am fit and able to drive anywhere alone in this vehicle. I don’t even know how to make it go backwards (actually that is pretty much the same as other drivers on the Devon lanes). He is deluded. Fortunately for my North Devon friends I don’t think I am fit to drive anywhere, so you needn’t keep a safe distance from any people carriers that you see.

I now have a new to me car. The man in the garage asked what I was looking for. My criteria are: safe, reliable, ecologically sound, cheap, in that order. Oh and it must have four doors and I really don’t want a sun roof or electric windows. At this last the garage man looks at me as if I am barking – sorry hate them – I’ve only too often sat in a boiling car waiting for someone to turn the engine on so I can open a window. The car I fancy almost has a personalised number plate – when I see this I stop wondering if it is actually working and even ignore the fact that it has electric windows. Watch this space – I may be changing my middle name.

Apart from the time consuming job I must not mention, I have been to the C17th. So rewarding when a six year old says ‘that was the best thing ever’, when you have just blown up buildings in London to stop the Great Fire spreading. Ok, so some of his class mates were in tears but most thought it was a wonderful adventure and modern children really shouldn’t be so woossy. I also managed to make over a lovely gentleman in a mobility scooter as a C17th cavalry officer – well he had brought his horse. Mind you his horse apparently only goes 8 miles an hour instead of the more realistic 25 but it was the best I could do.

A lovely weekend in our village for Open Gardens, despite the weather. I did once open mine but currently, it would only serve as an example of what not to do. I do however now possess a certificate in healing garden design – just because I can!

Exciting developments afoot for local historians – plenty of possible projects for our proposed Buckland Brewer history group. Looks like there may be the chance to share my Neolithic house building skills with young people too.

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Just how many lies can one person tell on a census return? and problems with online family trees #familyhistory

Been a flurry of interest in The Braund Society lately. One enquirer had acquired her family tree from the internet. Interesting to see that it cobbled together no fewer than three different lines! The downside of the internet revolution in family history. Then a real tussle to take a New York Braund family back to the UK. Took 2 days but I managed it. Let’s just say that in 1900 he was called John Joseph Braund (he was actually John Thomas), he was born in 1845 (no – born in 1841), he was born in New York (born in Falmouth Cornwall), his eldest son (who may not have been his son) was born in Idaho (he was born in Canada). Sorry JT, despite all your efforts at covering your tracks (possibly because you appear to have run off with someone else’s wife who was 20 to your 45) I got you in the end!

If you’ve been wondering where I’ve been – you clearly don’t have enough to do – but I have been here there and Cornwall (twice). Another successful ‘Writing up your Family History’ day course – I cannot believe that people came from as far away as Stafford to Devon to attend. Looks like I will have to take this course on the road. Then down to Cornwall for some brick wall bashing. Happy to find 12 great aunts and uncles for a lady who thought she had 5! Back to Cornwall again the following day to talk on North Devon emigrants at a family reunion for a fellow member of the Guild of One Name Studies. Shame I can’t go into details but let’s just say that some interesting people are getting in to family history these days.

Thanks for all the enquiries about the state of my back. Still with me I’m afraid. Seriously tempted to visit the barber surgeon but opted for ringing my local surgery instead. I asked for an appointment to see a member of the NHS (that which my C17th colleagues term No Hope Surgery). From the reaction of the receptionist, you’d think I’d asked her to walk on water. After I got through her ‘you must be joking’ attitude, I managed to squeeze a slot with what can best be termed triage. Lovely nurse but no diagnosis or solution and I hobble along. Appointment with the doctor today. So now I have taken up 2 appointment slots instead of one, bear in mind these appointments seem to be as scarce as hen’s teeth, how has this helped?

Sitting in the sun Doing some vital background research, I finally read one of my haul from February’s Who Do You Think You Are Live? – Anthony Adolph‘s ‘Who am I?’ – family history for young people. Another excellent book encouraging the next generation. I am already planning activities for my poor unsuspecting grandchild – who isn’t even born yet!

And AT LAST Clovelly Community Archives‘ Heritage Lottery bid is submitted – and I have had an acknowledgement and there’s no suggesting (yet) that we are lacking any vital documentation – hurrah – now we sit and wait to find out if we are successful!

Will I be resting? No. This week I have 2 days and an evening in the C17th, then off to the industrial north (be fair, pretty much anywhere is north from here) for the job I mustn’t mention.