The week began with a bang at the Society for One-Place Studies conference, which this year was held in Swindon. What an enthusiastic group; I came away really fired up to take my own one-place studies in new directions. The first part of the proceedings was a fascinating visit to the Historic England Archive, a real treasure trove this one. As the majority of their holdings are photographs they need to be kept in very cool conditions. We entered the cold storage area at six degrees, having been told to dress warmly. I’ve done the ice hotel, this was as nothing but I did wonder why the staff member who accompanied us was still in a short-sleeved dress. By way of contrast, our conference room on the Saturday began the day with additional heating and a thermostat set at 30 degrees. The temperature restored to a more acceptable level, it was fascinating to listen to our five speakers for the day talking about aspects of their one-place study. I have to say, apart from the obvious attractions of the Historic England Archive, Swindon does not rate highly on my list of must re-visit places. Just too many people, too much traffic and too few or too expensive car parks. To be fair to Swindon, they have tried to make the most of their heritage as a railway town but it is still a town and as regular readers will know I just don’t do towns.
This must be the week when programme secretaries fill their 2017 calendars; I have taken a record number of bookings and will be crossing the country as usual next year. I am relieved that the description for my Tracing your Elusive English Ancestors talk for Who Do You Think You Are? Live now matches the title. Great to see so many friends amongst my fellow speakers. Bookings are now open and early-bird offers are in place. I have also been a writer in residence in some small way. Sitting in our ‘authors in a café’ café and hoping I would not be talking to myself or the resident pigeon. As it turned out I was able to chat away for most of the morning. So thanks to John who came and stayed and others who said hello. I even succumbed to the delicious cake. I wonder if my Zumba fees are tax-deductable? After all if I wasn’t ‘forced’, purely in the line of duty, to eat all this cake……
I am the editor for the journal of our Braund Family History Society. Sometimes this writes itself, on other occasions, such as the issue for this quarter, for ‘edit’ read ‘write’. Just to prove that I am already encouraging my descendants to be creative I am reporting a conversation with Edward, aged 2¾. Conversations with Edward often have a surreal tinge but he understands that Granny does writing and I was asking what I could write to fill ten pages of a journal that was already at deadline minus a few days. “You could write a list of my vehicles, Granny.” So next time you read something from me that begins “Orange tractor, blue digger …….” you will know the source of inspiration.
Forget super moons, you may have observed some porcine shapes in the skies yesterday because, wait for it, I took a ‘day off’ to do some of my own family history. I discovered more about gg granny’s ner-do-well brother, who had more than one brush with the law. On this occasion he was in trouble for dumping the comatose body of his lodger on the steps of the workhouse – brilliant stuff.
The festive season must be upon us. I am surrounded by bubble wrap and brown paper, parceling up copies of my books that are to find their way in to the stockings of folk across the globe. Although Remember Then, which wasn’t even born this time last year, has sold better than I could have hoped, more copies are available – that would be quite a lot more – most of which are being carefully nurtured under the bed in the home of a fisherman of my acquaintance. Take pity on a fisherman – buy a book. Actually buy any book, not just mine, get the world reading again.