Chuffed to find that my In-depth Genealogists’ blog post about twentieth century research was picked up as a favourite read of the week in the ‘writing’ category by the Family Locket blog. Yesterday was the annual Devon Family History Society (North Devon group) quiz. Six teams fought it out in rounds about Devon, Families, History and Societies, as well as identifying some of the many celebrities who have died during 2016. Proud to announce that my team were victorious, although I am not sure how valuable my contribution was.
Part of the loft clearing exercise has unearthed my untouched-for-ten-years teaching materials. In the unlikely event that I am ever called upon to teach GCSE history, geography or law (yes really, law – and no, I have no idea how that happened) again, the syllabuses will have changed beyond recognition, so it was time for a serious cull. There were twelve lever arch files rammed full of plastic wallet encased paper. I decided that, in the interests of the environment, the paper should be recycled and in the interests of economy, I should reuse the plastic wallets. I therefore enlisted the services of a trusty assistant and we began to extract paper from plastic wallets. If you think you know how long it takes to take paper from 1000+ (at a conservative estimate) plastic wallets you are wrong, it takes much longer. It is also a surprise how much room all those empty plastic wallets take up. I now have several lifetimes’ supply. Then there is the task of recycling the paper. Our weekly collection consists of whatever I can fit into a small plastic sack (not much). I have a cubic metre of the stuff. Simples, you might be thinking (if you are a meerkat) take it to the recycling centre, upend the large boxes into the appropriate skip and drive off into the distance. Ah, not so. All paper has to enter a skip through a slit the size of a large letter box. It is enough to put anyone off being green.
We are in Devon again for today’s historical novelist and the final genealogical sleuth of the advent calendar (there are others but there weren’t enough days). Wendy Percival has created a female genealogist in the shape of Esme Quentin, a thoroughly believable character who I hope will have a long career. The first book, Blood Tied, begins with the murder of an unidentified victim and unravels a sixty year old family mystery. The Indelible Stain takes us from a dying woman on a North Devon beach, to the story of a young girl’s transportation to Australia. Although Wendy has changed the names of her locations, they are recognisable to lovers of the North-west Devon coastline. What pleases me is that the genealogical methodology is believable. I don’t find myself screaming, ‘Why don’t you look at (insert a common record source here)’, as I do with some other authors of similar works. This is not surprising as Wendy is a keen family historian herself but the same can be said of other creators of fictional genealogists, whose careers and research techniques are much less believable. Highly recommended for lovers of mystery stories or family history. If, like me, you are a fan of both, you are on to a winning series.