Where have I been? You may wonder. So do I – surely it should be about April and here we are August coming to an end. No sign yet of the ‘less hectic’ year that I promised myself. I have been buried in visits from family and friends, always good fun. My children get me into untold scrapes. First a fairly pregnant Rebecca and I undertake a mad scramble across the rocks at Croyde. I have nobly leant her my brand new, ridiculously expensive, sandals on the grounds that they are blue and she is wearing blue. Keen as I am for her not to tear her feet to pieces on sharp rocks, I am not so keen on her getting the sandals covered in sandy salt water. Could I make my way across the rocks and throw the old sandals back to her? Could we wear one old and one new sandal each and hop? The whole process would be much easier if we weren’t laughing so much. We emerge relatively unscathed.
Then Martha and I get ourselves trapped in a local budget supermarket beginning with L. We are there to buy flowers. We enter with our basket. The flowers are outside. As we try to go back to the entrance, past the no entry sign the basket sets off the shop alarm. Even the empty baskets are alarmed here – what does that say about the residents of this town (unnamed to protect the guilty)? Not to worry we will just go out the exit and go back round again. It seems impossible to get to an exit without buying anything and what we want to buy is past the exit arghhh. In the end Rob comes to the rescue by barging his way past numerous people who have been over indulging on Doritos, lager and chocolate (I know I looked in their baskets) and brings us back in the flowers so we can exit in the appropriate way – i.e. having parted with some money.
Life in the seventeenth century continues, with now weekly visits from our friends at the local care home. We are working towards all their residents having enjoyed our peculiar brand of ‘fun’. If drilling holes in people’s heads and attacking them with pikes can be termed ‘fun’. One of our other young visitors, aged three, was very concerned that we didn’t seem to have any princesses with us. I might have pointed out that the princess of our time ended up incarcerated in Carisbrooke Castle under house arrest. Actually the young visitor was more concerned with telling me that she wanted to be Rapunzel when she grew up. There’s a career path. She also took well to pike drill with her mini pike. First time I’ve seen a pike wielded like a majorette’s baton.
I ventured overseas (well outside Devon) to give a talk on seventeenth century gardens to Bude U3A. I usually appear in period attire for these, leaving enough of my twenty-first (well ok twentieth) century clothing underneath, so I can strip off at the end without offending anyone. It was awfully hot but I went for it, tucking my trousers in my socks so they didn‘t show under the seventeenth century petticoat (an outer garment for the uninitiated). Pity I forgot to un-tuck them before sauntering back across the car park afterwards. The talk went very well, if the fifteen minutes of questions was anything to go by. Martha did point out that this might be because I hadn’t explained things properly in the first place but it didn’t seem to be.
An interesting Q & A session for the North Devon Group of Devon Family History Society and our 2014 programme is now nearly complete, with some fascinating presentations on the list. I’ve been revisiting a branch of my children’s ancestry, as we are planning a trip to south Devon and they came from that area. One individual, described as ‘an old offender’ seemed to spend every February being caught for salmon poaching. I am guessing it was a seasonal activity – something to do with spawning maybe. Thanks to the British Newspaper Archive, which I access via FindmyPast, I know all the gory details. Whilst on the subject of FindmyPast, I see they have added numerous Canadian resources. I hope that may help with my Devon emigrants research. I have also been running through (not with a weapon you understand – not in the C17th now) my chosen emigrant examples for the Exodus conference in a couple of weeks’ time. This means immersing myself in the history of the Bible Christian movement.
In fact, much of my research time lately has been spent on Methodist related topics. I strive to understand the mind set of the people of the past – as all true family historians should. Why would a local Anglican Lord of the Manor continue to allow one of his properties to be used as a Methodist place of worship, whilst conducting an acrimonious exchange with another Methodist group in the local press? I have proof read a new edition of an excellent book and I have had discussions concerning a local chapel which may be used to combine evangelism and heritage – exciting times. Exciting times too on the local history/one place studies front. It’s a secret at the moment but do watch this space. Not a secret is the launch of Buckland Brewer History Group next month – first meeting on 18th September. Be there or be something or other.