What a couple of weeks it has been. Firstly, frantically preparing for our trip to Canada, when I still haven’t quite got my head round not being at sea on the Baltic Cruise. I polished off my school-girl French (never a strong point) in order to book camp sites in Quebec – only to get the replies in English! Be fair, I tried.
Before that I have my talk at Cambridgeshire Family History Society Fair to look forward to. This involved creating a Swords and Spindles display. Thanks to Jo Rutherford and her Alter Ego project, I had some great material to work with. I also have a school day in the seventeenth century coming up – a great start to their (and our) school year.
And the fame? Well, in the space of a couple of days, my Canadian presentations were mentioned on the Anglo-Celtic Connections blog, a blog post that I wrote was referred to by Dear Myrt and then this is picked up in Randy Seaver’s blog. To add to this, today I find that my cruise presentations and Coffers, Clysters book have been mention in Jennyology’s August podcast. For non-genealogy readers, who are now totally bemused and going, ‘So?’, these are some of the big names in the world (and I do mean world) of family history. What am I doing being mentioned in the same breath?
I have also been struggling to finish ‘editing’ the Braund Society journal. Why is it that sometimes ‘editing’ just means ‘write the whole darned thing yourself’? That is a little unfair but I did seem to have to do the lion’s share this time. In the course of this though I found an interesting and comparatively recent, murder accusation that did not seem to come down in family or local gossip and was all over the newspapers in 1919. Such are the excitements of an historian’s life.
Then there was the spectacular Torrington Bonfire last night. These extravaganzas take place every few years and are truly bonfires like no other. This year they were setting fire to a life sized model of Trumpton – as you do. It was amazing but also a chilling reminder of how fire would have spread through, predominantly wooden, towns in the past.
Well no sign of life calming down then. It has been all systems go trying to get the manuscript of Remember Then: women’s memories of 1946-1969 and how to write your own to the publishers. Yesterday really was the deadline if there was to be any chance of a pre-Christmas (Christmas 2015 that is) publication date. There are still no guarantees but it has been sent and I have given it half a chance of being available for you to put on your Christmas list. I was quite demob happy until I looked at the 3 volume novel that is the list of things I need to do before my trip to Canada. It has been a great project (the book not the to do list, despite them being similar in length) and I am so grateful to all the lovely ladies who have been helping me. My Google search history has been diverse as I finish this off. ‘Slang words for drugs 1960s’; ‘UK church attendance 1951’; ‘Mrs Dale’s Diary’ and ‘Civil Defence Corp.’ to name but a few. I have had a bit of trouble with auto-correct – why it would think I meant ‘supine’ when I actually typed ‘tuppence’, I have no idea.
On the book front I was very excited to learn that Family Historians’ Enquire Within has been nominated for the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP), Information Services Group Reference Award 2015. No, I’d never heard of it either and I hope that I don’t have to be able to memorise what must be the longest award title in the world but it is flattering to have been nominated. Not that I can take any of the credit, as this volume is really the work of others. It only has my name on the front because I updated it ready for the latest edition, which was the first reprint for nearly 20 years. Apparently the award is for (deep breath) ‘outstanding works of reference in print or electronic format that are available and relevant to the library and information sector in the UK, and published in 2014.’
I have also been giving a talk to Australia. Sadly no all expenses trip round the globe for this one as my presence was virtual. It was great fun and I do hope that I might be asked again. The system used by the Australian Society of Genealogists means that participants can see my computer screen but can’t see me. Wish I’d known that before I tidied up. I could have been wearing my pyjamas, picking my nose or eating a sandwich and no one would have known. In fact I was doing none of the above and the tidying up bit was stretching the truth somewhat as well. I have though started to empty and sort the contents of my loft. I have a sneaking suspicion that most of it will be returned from whence it came but a small selection has found its way to the tip so far.
I learned this week of an exciting project to index the Principal Probate Registry wills by place. What a wonderful one-place resource that will be. There is only a very small date span available so far but I found several that interested me. Every encouragement needs to be given to those who are making this index available.
And next week? Well it is back to the seventeenth century, although I have been having a taste of that (fortunately not literally) with a medicinal recipe book that someone is transcribing with me. Well, in the interests of honesty, she is transcribing it for palaeography practice and I am ‘marking’ her excellent efforts. Peacock dung for convulsions or wax from the head of a sperm whale (what do you mean, you don’t have any in your medicine cabinet?) for bruising anyone? Oh and if anyone knows what Benjamine Laddarell is please tell. It appears to be an ingredient and is written with upper case initial letters. It is definitely Benjamine (which may refer to a form of benzoin) but I am willing to stand corrected on the second word.
We got up at the crack of dawn to hear Chris Paton speak on ‘The Godly Commonwealth’. Unfortunately Chris did not get up quite so early, having had an alarm clock malfunction when moving to a new time zone. Nonetheless, the session was well worth waiting for. I give my penultimate talk on emigration from North Devon in ‘Celebrity Central’. This was followed by ‘Using Manorial and Parochial Records’ from Caroline Gurney and the story of Miss Monk’s ‘bride ships’ from Tricia Fairweather.
After lunch, my final session and Mistress Agnes made an appearance once again, extolling the delights of life in the seventeenth century. The day was not yet over. Chris Paton again, on ‘Irish Land Records’, Paul Milner speaking about ‘Maps and Gazetteers’ and then Cyndi Ingle encouraging us to ‘Build a Digital Research Plan’. After our final evening meal, we foregathered in the Sky Observation Lounge to hear Carol Becker’s hilarious ‘So you are married to a Genealogist’. Then it was time for sad goodbyes. Most of the others will meet again on future cruises but sadly we are unlikely to be able to travel to Australia to start another UTP event.
On Saturday morning we played our very last game of ‘Guess the Lift’ and wait in the Eclipse Theatre for our disembarkation slot. The gangplank is on deck 5. At one point the Australian announcer suggests that a group head to deck 15, then realises her mistake. We have visions of people leaping on to the quay from deck 15 but she hastily corrects herself. ‘I don’t mean deck 15, there is no gangplank on deck 15, please don’t go to deck 15’ she pleads. We wonder how many tourists are still aimlessly wandering around deck 15 looking for a way out.
There are the inevitable issues as Chris tries to reclaim his confiscated equipment. He lacks the required receipt therefore the box has not left the ship and there is a distinct lack of security persons who can fetch it for him. As Chris has been officially disembarked there seems no way he is going to be allowed to return to fetch the box himself. The wait does give me a chance to use Southampton Port’s free wifi and download over 1000 emails. It has been a great trip. I have visited seven countries, listened to 46 lectures, drunk several gallons of coffee and made some amazing new friends. I also proved that I can go internet free (you can scarcely count half an hour’s limited access at Vasa Museum) for two weeks and survive.