Travel Dilemmas

The downside of my three exciting overseas trips next year is that I need to acquire travel insurance and book flights. This is not going well so far.

Today my conversation with the insurance agent, who must have been all of twelve, went something like this:
Him: ‘Is that Miss, Mrs or Ms?’
Me: ‘It’s Dr’
Him: (incredulous intake of breathe)
Having established that, no, my christian name does not have double T, nor indeed a double N (to be fair he didn’t ask if it has two Js), I spell my surname with little hope that this will end up correct. I know it is only three letters but people have tremendous trouble with it.
Him: ‘Where are you travelling to?
Me: ‘Alaska, Peru and New Zealand’ (I don’t do things by halves)
Him: ‘So that would be Worldwide excluding USA, Canada & Mexico’
Me: (thinks) ‘ermm, not unless they’ve moved Alaska’
Then the lengthy health questions because what I have fits none of the boxes and is actually is a lot less serious than any of the scary things on their list but does need to be declared and it seems is going to cost me an additional £350.
Him: ‘When were you first diagnosed with this condition?’
Me: ‘February 2016’
Him: ‘Is this in the last 1-3 years?’
Me: (despairing) ‘Yes’.
Him: (question eleventy million) ‘Do you suffer from anxiety or depression?’
Me: (thinks) ‘Well I didn’t before this conversation.’

Then the travel agent for one of our trips who sent us ‘the only’ flights. Outward at 6.20am (meaning 3.20am check in) – much as I love early mornings – just No. It so isn’t the only flight – I can use an internet search engine near me. Dashes off reply email politely declining these options and providing flight numbers of more civilised (and similarly priced) flights. I also quietly pointed out that her suggested return flight was 14 days before the holiday ended – sigh.
I hardly dare try to book our New Zealand camper van.

Sea Shanties and the Exciting News

On Saturday we travelled to see the amazing Fisherman’s Friends at the unusual venue Carnglaze Caverns. We are great fans of the sea shanty group that is Fisherman’s Friends and booked for this concert when the one nearer to home was cancelled in the spring, due to the liquidation of the local theatre. I was giving a talk to our local family history society in the afternoon so, afterwards, we set off for Cornwall, planning to grab some fish and chips to sustain us before the concert started. Carnglaze Carverns is not near anywhere much, or certainly not near any take-away outlets, so, having established where the venue was, we went into the centre of Liskeard to look for a Fish and Chip shop. We went round Liskeard, up and down Liskeard and through Liskeard. We approached Liskeard town centre from every conceivable direction but not a Fish ad Chip shop in sight. Actually that isn’t true, there was one that clearly had not been open for some considerable time. We passed up the options of kebabs and pizza and finally managed to purchase sustenance in a Chinese take-away.

I should explain that there are no numbered seats at Carnglaze Caverns. The doors were to open at 7pm for an 8pm start and seat allocation was to be first come first served. This obviously means that my plan was to be near the head of the queue well before 7pm. If it had been up to me I’d have been there about 3pm. This was all going well before the extended tour of Liskeard. We hot tyre it back to Carnglaze Caverns with our take-away steaming in the car footwell. As we approach the caverns, there is someone directing traffic. We are deemed not to be of ‘low mobility’. This is a moot point as my back is still not behaving itself. I should have done a better job of looking feeble, as, being allegedly of high mobility, we are to park in the overflow car park which is, we are told, 200 yards up the road and ‘a quick walk through the woods’ to the caverns. After identifying the overflow car park, a very long 200 yards away, we consume our hard won take-away. I am trying not to be concerned by the fact that many people are heading towards the front of the queue before us. More worryingly, they are all carrying cushions. We have no cushions. We have nothing with which to improvise. Ah well, you live and learn. Replete from the largest portion of chips we have ever seen, we head towards the cavern. We are parked in a squelchy field and water is seeping into my trainers. The walk may be quick but it is also very muddy and I speculate on how the return journey is going to go, as the path appears to be unlit and on our right is an un-fenced babbling brook. I am glad that, although we do not have cushions, we do have a torch.

Soggy socked we enter the cavern. Caves are not exactly my companion’s favourite thing but he appears not to be having a panic attack and we are ushered past many seated concert goers to the fourth row from the front. To be honest we are just glad that we are not seated under one of the persistent drips from the roof of the cave. There are yellow plastic wedges inserted in various fissures in the wall. We assume that, if one of these falls out, it is time to beat a hasty retreat. Always the girl guide I have availed myself of the facilities that I spotted on my way from the car. This was clearly A GOOD THING. Those less substantially shod than I are having to retrace their steps for some considerable way. The concert, as ever, was brilliant and the venue was certainly atmospheric. It turned out that the path back to the car was lit after all and we are soon driving home through the mists of Bodmin Moor.

You’ve persisted thus far, so you deserve to be in on the great reveal. The exciting news is that we will be going to the 2018 New Zealand Society of Genealogists’ conference next June. I have been sitting on this secret for a year and am really pleased to finally be able to say that I will be in attendance, along with Master Christopher and Mistress Agnes. Full details and fanfares have to wait until later in the year.

Ailments of various kinds: your ancestors in sickness and death

In the three weeks since my last post (three weeks! – you’ll guess I have been busy) I have spent four wonderful days in schools, swording and spindling away, extolling the virtues of the seventeenth century. Summer hit the west country last week. Temperatures rose to 85 degrees – that’s 30 to some of you and yes, in the UK, that’s hot. Four hours ensconced in crowded classrooms with a bunch of 13 year olds and no air-con – great. Followed by a chance to get outside – hurrah. Or rather not hurrah, as now I am on a scorching sports field for an hour, without a smidgen of shade, banging a drum – as you do. Well as I do. I should perhaps add that I was attired in multiple layers of thick wool at the time. I then went straight on to an evening presentation. Let’s just say that we brought the smells of the seventeenth century with us. I have also been finishing off the job I must not mention and presenting on various topics to adults. Today’s will be the fifth talk in four days – why do I do this?

dscf3202#Daisy is making some progress. Some lovely friends have read a chapter and didn’t hate it, which was encouraging. I am currently immersing myself in suffragette activities, purely in the historical sense, though I am not adverse to a bit of banner waving. Next on the list is research into the wartime experiences of a new character who has forced his way into the narrative. This did lead to that exciting moment when your ‘based on fact’ historical novel requires you to research someone new and you find that he attended a school that has an archivist. Better still, said archivist responds to your email (written after office hours) within minutes with information and a photograph. Ok, so he wasn’t the heart throb I was hoping for but I can get round that with a minor re-write!

I am looking forward to the start of my online course “In sickness and in death: the ill-health and deaths of your ancestors”, next month. I keep finding more and more gems and am resisting the temptation to add them all to the course text or it will become another novel. Did you know that bookbinders are adversely affected “by the smell of the putrid serum of sheep’s blood, which they used as cement.” (C Turner Thackrah 1831)? On the subject of ill health, I manage to move awkwardly and pull a muscle in my back so have been hobbling around all week. Great excuse for not doing any housework; now I just need an excuse for the preceding five weeks. May not try the C18th remedy, which is cow dung and vinegar.

Added to this a new research client has presented me with some fascinating family members to pursue. Despite explaining that I would not be able to start this for some time, it was just too tempting.

I am excited that a webinar I gave earlier in the year on surname studies around the world is now available online. That wasn’t the exciting news I hinted at in my last post; that‘s even more exciting but still under wraps – patience is a virtue and all that.