Christmas is Coming

DSCF1180Yes, geese are signing up for Weight-watchers in flocks as I type. I kid you not, the ‘Back to School’ shelves have not yet been cleared and the Christmas cards are on sale. For those of us in the northern hemisphere, with the dark evenings on the horizon, this means our thoughts turn to digging out our virtual or literal family history files and promising ourselves that this year we really will create some order out of the chaos that is the fruits of years/decades of research. Maybe we would like to tempt our dearest and not so nearest to take an interest in our obsession with a yuletide gift of a family history, or we would like to share family stories over turkey and tinsel. Now let’s be honest here, ‘would you like to see my spreadsheet of baptisms?’ just isn’t going to cut it. I can feel the glazed over looks from 100 paces. That fascinating story of great uncle Fred’s bigamy, or auntie Alice’s spell in jail, though, that could just raise a flicker of excitement. Even if your family is devoid of all black sheep, set their lives in the local and social historical context of their time and you could be on to a winner. ‘Did you know great-granddad was the local rat-catcher?’ ‘Granny served tripe twice a week’ or ‘Great great grandma died of cholera, did you know she would have passed 20 litres of diahorrea a day?’ (good one for the gore hungry children that) – so much more engaging than a list of names and dates. If you want some motivation then can I humbly recommend that you take a look at my five week online ‘Are you Sitting Comfortably: writing and telling your family story’ course that starts on 17 October. Details are on the Pharos website – you can click on the course name on the left hand side of the menu. This time, for the really adventurous, you can submit up to 3000 words for feedback but that is strictly optional.

Yesterday I went to purchase a new pair of walking boots. The old ones, despite liberal applications of superglue, require a plastic bag to be worn between sock and boot in order to remain dry, not a good look. To be honest I’ve been putting this off. I am not a great fan of any kind of shopping (unless it is books of course – that’s not shopping that’s surviving) but shoe shopping is a particular nightmare. My feet are almost square so when asked, ‘what are you looking for madam?’ (do people still say madam?). I say ‘anything that fits’ and I mean it. I dread it when pointed toes are in fashion as then I know I have no chance. I defer the dreaded shoe shop until the previous pair (singular) has fallen to pieces. I once went to one of the largest shoe warehouses in the country and they admitted that nothing fitted me. Walking boots tend to be on the rounder toed side, so I was hopeful.

It seems that the smallest ladies’ shoes are now two sizes larger than my feet, so I turn to the children’s section. There is nothing in the boys’ range in my size so I am stuck with girls’. Does this mean that I will be forced to buy walking boots depicting Peppa Pig? At this point I should say that I despise all this ‘girls’ toys’ ‘boys’ toys’ nonsense and the bemoan the perception that every girl wants to wear pink. If you like pink, fine but don’t force me and my female descendants into some pink, fluffy, glitter laden mode. I pass by anything that looks vaguely cerise, fuschia, salmon or rose. Eureka something that at least doesn’t cut off all circulation to my toes and at best might actually fit! The magenta laces I can live with/get dirty/change. Epic win – as these are held out for sale as children’s shoes, I save 20% because there is no tax!

Stop Press – #Daisy now has a publisher – more news of that soon. This means I have a deadline. I am usually quite good at deadlines but I am going to have to up my Daisy production rate!

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Being a Guest and other Randomness

I has been a bit quiet on the blogging front lately – places to go, people to see, sunshine to enjoy. I have been being visiting the descendents. That’s always a joy, even if the travelling can be tricky. There was an incident that illustrates the stresses of such journeys and perhaps has something to do with the effects of spending ten days in the company of the under 4s. Travelling from the World Athletics to Lincoln we passed though the Dartford Tunnel. For those who have not had this dubious ‘pleasure’, the toll charge for the tunnel has to be paid online by midnight the following day. Great, we think, we will pay that when we get to Martha’s. Our homeward journey is via Hounslow, to allow me to talk to West Middlesex Family History Society about the impact of non-conformity, as you do – well as I do anyway. On the way through some horrendous traffic back to the caravan I muse, ‘I wonder if we will go back through the Dartford Tunnel.’ DARTFORD TUNNEL!!! We didn’t pay the toll charge when we went through ten days earlier. How could we have forgotten? We grumble about the fine, which is in the region of £80. There are better things we could have spent £80 on. There will no doubt be a letter waiting when we get home. Next day, back home, the letter has not yet arrived. I am bemoaning to Martha that we forgot to pay the fine. ‘No you didn’t,’ she says, ‘you paid it while you were here’. This would have involved me on the computer and the fisherman of my acquaintance handing me his credit card with which to pay. Neither of us have the slightest recollection of so doing. Perhaps Martha is wrong (err, no, actually Martha is never wrong). Said fisherman checks his online banking and sure enough a £2.50 deduction for the Dartford Tunnel. STILL neither of us can remember paying! Should we be worried about this?

Not only have I had a wonderful time as a guest of the grandchildren but while I was away I was a virtual guest too. I had the honour of being interviewed for Wendy Percival’s blog. Wendy writes mystery stories with an historical and genealogical flavour, highly recommended, especially for my family history friends. Wendy was in one of my blog advent boxes last year and I am reliably informed that there will be a new Esme Quentin adventure soon – hurrah!

England has been enjoying what actually passes for some sort of a summer; I am endeavouring not to blink. In between bouts of attacking the still half-remodelled garden, I have been lounging in my amazing new garden swing chair. I have been trying to read books that might pass for ‘research’ but who am I kidding. I even managed to assemble this wonder single-handed, despite what purports to be the instructions indicating that it was not a one-man job. There was only one slight ‘mistake’. Let’s just say I now know how to disassemble the chair as well. It is super relaxing, to the extent that, after an hour in the chair, I still feel as if I am rocking when I am in bed at night. Now just to work out if I can use the laptop in the chair and I am well away!

There has been a surge of interest in the Braund DNA project that I administer, with several new results and more in the pipeline. Inevitably the results are not all as predicted but it has been fascinating as well as throwing up a few dilemmas. One of my DNA related posts has just appeared on the blog of the In-depth Genealogist, so another guest appearance. A webinar, about Following a Surname Around the World, that I gave earlier in the year for The Surname Society is also now available on the Legacy platform, so you can’t get away from me.

My ‘In Sickness and in Death’ online course for Pharos Teaching and Tutoring is going really well, with a very active bunch of students, all keen to research the history of medicine and its relevance to their family history. I have just found some wonderful new ‘cures’ involving boiled frogs, goose dung and trouts – great stuff! Next on the timetable is another presentation of ‘Are you Sitting Comfortably: writing and telling your family’s story’. This starts on 17 October and runs for five weeks, a must-do project in the run up to Christmas. Sign up, you know you’ve been meaning to organise your family history for eons.

Daisy and Hollyhocks#Daisy has been making progress and is currently requiring me to research the poetry of World War I and the Bideford shops of the 1890s. I have just realised that #Daisy is about anorexia, shell shock, death, menopausal women, depression and war – just wondering if that might be a tad dark! Still it is enlivened by depictions of the beautiful Devon landscape.

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.

Heredity, Hammocks and Heat: DNA and other adventures

I really wanted this post to be about some very exciting news but I am not allowed to tell anyone yet (no, no one in the family is, as far as I know, pregnant), so that will have to wait for another time. I could talk about the weather. Here in the UK we have been experiencing a mini heat wave. I was stuck in a northern city in a motel whose room did not go below 29 degrees for three days. What a joy to come back to my beautifully cool home (they knew what they were doing when they built houses in the 1600s) with the sounds of the local sheep baaing, I could even forgive the aroma of silage making. No problem, UK heatwaves never last long and we are back to normal today.

My partly revamped garden is still mid-makeover. Given the heat and my absence I am quite glad that I delayed laying new turf. I was pleased that the plants survived my healthy neglect during the record-breaking temperatures. The hot weather made it seem like a good idea to erect a hammock that I have had for about twenty years but never used (I think it was free with something). All it required was two trees sturdy enough to support my burgeoning weight (it’s all that eating on expenses that does it). My tiny garden isn’t over burdened with trees but two were identified and with assistance from the fisherman of my acquaintance we began to adjust the ropes to what seemed to be a sensible height. This kind of occasion is when it is useful to know someone who can tie a decent knot or two. After one or two false starts (I ended up sitting on the ground) the hammock was in place and I was enjoying a meditate. The observant amongst you will have noted the word ‘trees’ above. Hammocks tied to trees mean, inevitably, that you are, to some extent, under a tree. Trees mean birds. Birds have digestive processes, need I say more? No sooner had I laid back and closed my eyes than I was required to move. Somewhere there is photographic evidence of this. Fortunately the photographer finds getting pictures from his phone to anywhere else a little challenging – phew!

Actually there is some really exciting news that I can convey and that is that my DNA results from Living DNA have arrived. This company calculate your ethnic origin on a regional level. Having ancestry that is, at least on paper, 100% English, I was particularly interested to see what this would reveal. As a teenager I longed to be Spanish, pretended to have Spanish ancestry and despite my total inability at languages, even tried to teach myself Spanish. Was this due to some ancestral memory?

After more than forty years of researching my family history, I know the names and geographical origins of 31 of my 32 3x great grand-parents and 75% of the generation before that. This means that I have a pretty good idea where the families came from before they all began to converge on London in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Whilst I was patiently (well, ok actually not that patiently) awaiting the results. I analysed my documentary evidence to work out what I might expect. I am aware that the DNA that I have inherited does not come equally from all my 3 x great-grandparents and that some of them may have left no trace in my profile but I had no way of taking account of this. I had a slight issue in that Living DNA don’t seem to acknowledge the existence of Buckinghamshire, which accounts for an eighth of my ancestry but I used my initiative and counted it as South Central England.

So did the test support the proportions that I estimated and what surprises were in store? Living in Devon and having a direct paternal line that for 37 years I believed was Cornish but has now been traced back to Devon, I am particularly attached to the 25% of my ancestry that comes from south-west England. Based on my knowledge, my expectation was that my genetic make-up should show that I was 20% Cornish, with 5% from Devon. Living DNA’s percentages were 7.4% from Cornwall and 11.7% from Devon. As my lot spent their lives on both sides of the Tamar, very close to the Devon-Cornwall border, I can live with this.

Turning to the other end of the country, my estimated 12.5% for Northumberland became 5.8% according to Living DNA. I did wonder if some Scottish blood might creep in, as they lived in border parishes but it seems that I must leave Scottish descent to my children and grandchildren. Living DNA also suggested that 7.2% of my origins were from Cumbria, which, when added to the Northumbrian percentage, comes close to my estimate.

My DNA estimates June 2017

My estimates of my ethnic origins

The marriage of cousins in two successive generations (I know, accounts for a lot) means that I have what is known as a collapsed pedigree, with the same 4 x great grandparents appearing on my tree three times. They came, as far as I know, from the south-east and the bulk of my ancestry (37.5%) is from that region, why do I find this boring? Living DNA agreed, with 35.3% from south-eastern England. I calculated that 19% of my ancestry was from the south central region, not much more exciting. Living DNA put this at 3.9% but also identified 5.8% from Southern England and 2.7% from Central England, which redressed the balance a bit.

What appeared to be missing was the 6% that I believe came from East Anglia but this could be accounted for by the 5.6% that Living DNA attributed to Scandinavia. One of the East Anglian family names was Daines! I do however have another possibility for the Scandinavian connection. Interestingly my test results with Family Tree DNA make my origins 100% British Isles, with not a long ship or horned helmet in sight.

I am still mulling over Living DNA’s 11.1% from North Yorkshire. I somehow don’t see myself as a Yorkshire lass. No disrespect to my friends from Yorkshire, it just doesn’t feel like me. I don’t begin to understand cricket for a start. Could this be the missing 3 x great grandparent or the 4 x great grandmother, who appears three times in my ancestry but whose full name and birthplace I don’t know? Or does the North Yorkshire element represent something earlier in the Northumbrian line?

Interestingly, I also have 1.2% of my DNA from Lincolnshire. Although my maiden name, Braund, is firmly rooted in Devon and is found there back to the mid 1400s. Prior to that (11th-14th centuries) there are instances of the name in Lincolnshire but no connection has been found between the Braunds of Lincolnshire and those of Devon; could this minute trace in my DNA be attributable to this? The theory and it is just a theory, is that as both countries were key wool producing areas in Medieval times and are linked by drovers’ roads, this may have been how the name moved to Devon. The Lincolnshire Braunds are believed to have had Viking origins, so we are back to Scandinavia.

 

Living DNA June 2017

Living DNA’s analysis of my ethnic origins

Finally there is a random 2.1% from Chechnya. To save you looking that up, it is in the bottom right hand corner of Europe, not far from the Caspian Sea and given the political situation there, it probably isn’t the sort of place to be making an ancestral visit any time soon. I have heard of a few others whose profile contains this element and I feel this may be an anomaly that will be ironed out when more data becomes available. In the meantime Салам (hope Google translate has got that right). So much for being Spanish!

 

Who Do You Think You Are? Live Day 1

Yes, Yes, I know it is the end of Day 2 – give me a break, it’s pretty full on all this networking lark. For once no trolleys were harmed in the process of our Who Do You Think You Are? Live experiences (see previous blog post for links to further details). Today (that’s of course now yesterday) was my busy day. On arrival we were guided to a car park that was as far as possible from the hall as the NEC complex allowed and took the shuttle bus down the hill amidst many folk who looked like they were in for a fun day at some form of transport convention or what appeared to be an OFSTED conference.

I hastened to get my presentations uploaded ready for later in the day (Miss Efficiency me) and was flattered to be remembered from last year by one of the technicians. Then it was off to the experts’ advice tables. Always a good plan to offer to be an ‘expert’ as it does at least ensure that you are able to sit down. I did have one of those ‘arrgggh’ moments. My appointment sat down early for their twenty minute slot, as my previous satisfied customer had gone away early. ‘I don’t know anything about my great grandfather Joe Brown’ (the name has been changed to protect the guilty but it was an equally common name). A large sheaf of typescript, which appears to have been taken from Ancestry is proffered. This contains dates of birth, marriage and death, entries in every applicable census, parentage, spouse and offspring of the ancestor about which the enquirer ‘knows nothing.’ ‘It says here he was born on 6th January 1870’, say I, ‘where did you find this information, was it from the family?’ ‘Oh that’s definitely right.’ says the enquirer.  I pursue the named parents, finding their marriage index entry. I explain how to get a marriage certificate and how that should hopefully give Joe Brown’s grandfathers’ names. I find Joe Brown’s father in more than one census. I find Joe’s spouse’s line back to grandparents. ‘You haven’t told me anything about Joe,’ is the response. I point out what we had discovered. ‘Oh but I knew all that already.’ I gritted my teeth and resisted the temptation to point out that I had not only answered the question he had asked but also the question he should have asked – what more could be expected, great granddad’s shoe size? Well that was thirty minutes of my life wasted then.

Sheridan Parsons

Photo by Sheridan Parsons

It was then time for my first talk, twenty minutes on inspiring young children to take an interest in history and heritage. This session was the best kept secret of the convention, somehow having been left off the website and display boards. Nonetheless it did attract an audience of more than one and led to a very interesting contact. Then it was pretty much straight off to my full length presentation in the main studio. Mustering ‘rent a crowd’ is no longer possible now these sessions are charged for. Nor can you rely on acquiring an audience from those who need to rest their bunions after a long day on their feet, so I was worried about speaking to an empty hall.

John Boeren

Photo by John Boeren

In the end, this was a sell out session with over two hundred people who had parted with real cash in order to hear me talk about finding elusive ancestors. This included several friends who had turned out to support me – thank you. My worries that the audience would demand their money back if they couldn’t find their elusive ancestors by the end of the session were unfounded. I did explain that I had left my magic wand at home. Despite something very weird happening to the formatting of my slides as they translated to the double screen, the talk did seem to go done well and I had a large queue of questioners outside the studio afterwards.

 

On the strength of the book sales after my talk, I then invested in the most expensive bottle of water in the world, in the form of a ‘free’ gift as a recompense for purchasing a Living DNA kit. This involved a charming young man watched me scraping the surface off the inside of my cheek, all in the name of discovering where my geographical origins might be. At the end of a long day we joined in a world record attempt for how many people you can cram into a shuttle bus and then crawled along the motorway back to the caravan to collapse in preparation for doing it all again tomorrow.

More Talks (by me and others), Another Award and Time with Friends

After three hours of non-stop chatter on Friday, whilst single-handedly womaning the registration desk at the Guild of One-Name Studies conference, my errant voice had all but deserted me. This did not bode well for my presentation on Sunday. Cue throat sweet overdose. To be fair, there were others assigned to the registration desk but they were needed at the main reception to welcome folk in, leaving me to fling bags and badges at what seemed to be a never ending stream of delegates alone. I took a much needed break and attempted to learn more about autosomal DNA with Barbara Griffiths. Having been hard at work all day, we forewent the pleasure of one of Alan Moorhouse’s fiendish quizzes and repaired to the caravan.

IMG_0704a.jpg

Photo by Peter Hagger

The following day, it was back to the melee by 8am in order to greet the new day’s delegates. We were provided with our room ‘key’ (card), which bizarrely depicted Peppa Pig – nope, no idea. The chance to actually inspect said room was not forthcoming. During the AGM, I was surprised and honoured to be presented with a Guild ‘Award of Excellence’ for an article I had written about a member of the Braund family, whose census entries were an amazing work of fiction. I was very glad that fellow awardee, Marie Byatt, was also in the audience. At least this spared me from smiling inanely at the camera, clutching my award, on my own.

The first presentation of the day was Suzie Cox who told us about the archives of the P & O company. This was followed by Ian MacDonald’s story of the Mewburn family. I then chaired Kim Baldacchino’s session on the Navy in Malta. There’s another destination on the future holiday list then. The final presentation was by Michelle Patient from New Zealand, with some interesting insights on migration. The two hour special general meeting that followed meant that preparations for the banquet had to be swift and we finally got to inspect our room. We were provided with water (free) in an £8 bottle and a coffee making machine but no kettle. We never did tackle the learning curve that may have allowed us to boil water in order to a) fill a hot water bottle or b) dilute ginger cordial (good for non-existent voices). Despite leaving the banquet at what for most people would have been an early hour (the middle of the night by my estimation) sleep eluded me.

After no more than two hours sleep I was required to be alert and audible enough to give my own presentation. This actually seemed to go remarkably well (I did at least stay awake). I promised to pass on a few websites from the talk, although the complete handout can be accessed here. Three of my favourite finds were the British Southern Whale Fishery  database, with 13,500 entries from 1775-1859. The details are mainly taken from The National Archives’ Board of Trade records. Then there is the list of  Lost Trawlermen of Hull. Finally a record of Hastings’ fishermen, which not only provides a list from 1623 but also records nicknames of later fishermen. How do you fancy being related to these characters: Tambourine Jack Cobby, Hard Pudding White, Rum Cheese Tassell, Whip-me-naked Gallop or Licksnot Sutton? Bob Cumberbatch followed on with a session on Caribbean surnames. We then had video presentations from Peggy Chapman and Tessa Keough on Canadian and US records and the day ended with Jean-Marc Bazzoni entertaining us with tales of the London Dock Police. All in all another great weekend, the best part of which was the opportunity to be amongst friends.

Next up a couple of days’ rest. Rare is it that I can describe days with Edward as a ‘rest’ but sandwiched as they were between the conference and Who Do You Think You Are? Live, they did seem comparatively restful. So, I have helped to pitch tents, identified wildlife and spent a day at the Birmingham Think Tank. This was followed by a trip to L**l’s for supplies. A staff member trundled by with a large wire trolley full of yoghurts and other goods to be put on shelves. Regular readers will remember that Who Do You Think You Are? Live is, for us, not infrequently accompanied by wheels falling off things (see 2013 and 2014) and yes dear reader the wheel fell off this trolley leaving groceries descending or suspended precariously. A fisherman of my acquaintance leapt to the rescue and was to be seen supporting trolleys and grovelling on the floor trying to refix wheels. Meanwhile I continued shopping and attempted to remain unobtrusive. P.S. I am still shamelessly touting for an audience for my two Who Do You Think You Are? Live talks on Thursday, especially the one at 2.15 in the Education Zone, which does not yet appear in the programme – come and find out how to inspire young people to take an interest in history – this one is free!

Awards, Book Sales and Young People and Family History

IMG_20170328_132302_467Well, what a busy week it has been. Firstly, preparing my presentations for the Guild of One-Name Studies conference and Who Do You Think You Are? Live. I have come across some great websites whilst working on the former, which is entitled Ship to Shore: sources for researching coastal communities and their inhabitants but no spoilers. For those who aren’t at the conference, all will be revealed next week. Then the really exciting news that I have been allocated an additional presentation slot at Who Do You Think You Are? Live. So at 2.15pm on Thursday 6 April I shall be in the Education Zone talking about Give me a child until they are seven: young children and family history. This is a subject that is very dear to my heart and Edward has been helping me with some of the slides. This is a free, no need to book session but it hasn’t been publicised so please spread the word. It is such an important subject and I don’t want an audience of one. I have the large hall to fill for my second session at 3.15pm The Ones that got Away: tracing elusive English ancestors. There are still some spaces for that one, says she, shamelessly seeking support. Most importantly, if you are there, do come and say hello. I shall be there on all three days.

Then I’ve been writing an article for The In-depth Genealogist about the history of prostitution, well the column is about working women. It has made my internet search history look a bit dodgy. I have learned the hard way that it is best to go for ‘Prostitution in Victorian times’, rather than ‘Victorian Prostitution’. I could but won’t, give you some interesting information about shady goings on in Victoria Australia and Victoria Canada. I managed to restrain myself before searching for ‘copyright free images of prostitutes’.

Next, I attended the excellent book launch event for Liz Shakespeare’s Postman Poet and the accompanying CD by Nick and Becki (with a small contribution from a fisherman of my acquaintance). It was a brilliant evening and I have already started the log-awaited book. I even got VIP treatment and an honourable mention on the strength of providing my kitchen.

Then it was off to the ENT department for the next instalment in what has now become the ‘what Janet hasn’t got wrong with her’ saga. This time it was to determine why my voice periodically sound like a frog on steroids (one drug that has not yet been suggested). Turns out my knowledge of anatomy is more rudimentary than I thought. In order to look at my voice-box, I had a camera shoved up my nose. This is a strange sensation and not to be tried at home, particularly not if you use a Canon G7X. Allegedly all looked fine and the verdict was that I seem to have somehow learned to talk using the wrong muscles (but weirdly not all the time). Nope, I don’t understand it either. I am now being sent for speech therapy. I am viewing this as Continuing Professional Development and wondering if the travel costs to the hospital are tax deductable.

On the good news front, copies of Putting your Ancestors in their Place: a guide to one place studies are now in short supply. It must be the recent publicity. At least, I think this is good  news. I hadn’t really factored working on a revised edition in to the diary. Then even more excitement as I receive a letter to say that an article that I wrote so long ago that I barely remember has been short listed for a British Association for Local History Award. I feel like I’ve been nominated for, if not quite an Oscar, at least a Brit Award. So The Impact of the Bible Christians in Rural North-West Devon: a force for unity or division? must have gone down well. Devon History Society is well represented as another article in the same edition of their journal was also nominated. There are usually about eight nominees chosen from hundreds of local history articles. Now I am just working out if I can possibly get to London to collect the certificate that all nominees are awarded. Fortunately I don’t think I need to prepare a speech that thanks my agent, my family and my dog and makes telling comments about the current political situation.