Saturday, July 28, 2007

Response to comments

There is a fault in my comment section at the moment. The security window keeps popping up repeatedly and getting in the way of the comment box so comments can't be keyed in. This is happening on my own blog, and some of the other's I visit too. So I will have to make the responses I want to make here in a new post.

Climbing Trees (Genealogical research)

Paul ~ Yes, such a tool would be invaluable. On Avus's suggestion I took a look at, and thought it looked very promising. However, as soon as you get past the first page of interesting basic data, you have to sign up for a subscription (around £79.00 for a year), or a free 14 day trial. But even for the free trial you have to give them your card details, so they can charge you the minute the trial is over, if you haven't remembered to cancel. I just am not prepared to play that game.

My brother, who is the serious researcher in my family, tells me:

"There has, over the years, been a lot of criticism of in that they are very ready to take your money and reluctant to allow you to cancel. I don't know if this is still the case, although I suspect they may have pulled their socks up. I know that they are very widely used, however."

Avus ~ As you are happy with, perhaps you would tell us how you get the best value for money out of their system. Do you go for the full year's subscription? Have you tried Pay Per View (£6.95 for 12 views of records over 14 days)? I should be most interested to hear. I think there is an American website too, but I don't know about one for Canada, Paul.

The Sun

Julie ~ Thanks for the link to the cloud website. I agree that coudless blue skies can be quite wearing if the sun is in pitiless mood. I should no doubt be grumbling about heat exhaustion if we were to get that sort of weather to replace this.

Sharon ~ Nice to see you here again. I'm afraid I've been a bit short on inspiration in the last few months.

Friday, July 27, 2007

The sun

The sun is shining this morning. Is that really something worth blogging about? You notice I dare not even say 'today', but only 'this morning'. In this abysmal, dismal summer in which we are drowning this year, here in the UK, waking up to sunshine is certainly something worth noting.

I am a SAD case. Well, I may not actually suffer clinically from Seasonal Affective Disorder, but I sometimes think I am not far off it. Another summer like this one, and I could well lose my will to live.

OK - I don't want to depress you all. But I am sure there are few of you who will not resonate to what I am saying, except perhaps those who live in permanently sunny climes. My friends in Australia may not have the same problem, though they may have others.

So I have decided to celebrate the sun today. I searched Google Images for depictions of the sun. I was surprised at how few simple, graphic or cartoon-style images there were. I looked at 20 pages with 18 images on each, and found only 10 out of 360. I am offering you the best of these.

I also looked for poems about the sun. The first to catch my eye was one by Katrina Mathy which speaks directly from and to my heart:

I sit and wait for the sun to come
For the fog to clear
For I wish to leave this deep dark rest

I sit and wait for the sun to come
For the light to come back to my heart
For I wish to leave this barren cell

I sit and wait for the sun to come
For the rain to stop
For the thoughts to depart

I sit and wait for the sun to come
For the tears to stop
For the pain to cease

I sit and wait for the sun to come
For now it is too late
For now I will no longer come

But this is meant to be a celebration, so, a poem by Hafiz
Even after all this time
The sun never says to the earth,
"You owe Me"

Look what happens with
A love like that,
It lights the Whole Sky

And finally a quotation from William Empson, which also takes the long, long view:

Gods cool in turn, by the sun long outlasted.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Dressing up

1940s - at my first holiday camp

1950s - fancy dress parties in Bombay

1950s - pantomime in Bombay // 1969 - Miss Bourne in The Ghost Train

1980s - fancy dress nights at a Butlin's hotel

1997 - getting in the mood for turning 70

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Climbing trees

Too old at 79? Don't you believe it. Though I must
confess that this is not the sort of tree climbing that I have lately been engaged in.

Mine has been a virtual ascent of the genealogical tree of my husband's forbears. When I realised that we didn't even know the name of my husband's paternal grandmother - (that is to say, one of the only two grandmothers that he had, was unknown to him!) - I thought I should attempt to do something about it.

A friend told me about the website, where you can access the International Genealogical Index, and by filling in boxes with such information as you have about an ancestor, can search for him or her in this vast collection of data. It does not provide conclusive evidence, only clues to follow, and it is necessary to get access to original sources, such as parish registers etc, in order to establish the facts.

But it is a fascinating and compulsive pastime chasing back through the generations, and finding links, and filling in gaps. Only sometimes you find that you have followed a false trail, and, as I did for instance, put together a man and a woman as husband and wife, only to find the man would have been only 13 on the date of his marriage! So back you go and start again.

In the end I found it too difficult, and have sent off the data that I have to the appropriate County Records Office, with a request for them to do the research for me. Is it worth spending money to satisfy one's curiousity, I ask myself, but I know that having started the search, I could not let it go now. I'm stuck up the tree, and I need help to get down again!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Royal procession

Another great find amongst my husband's papers: a copy of The Bath Journal published on Monday, April 13th, 1789. The paper reports proceedings in the House of Lords, where the Lord Chamberlain announces that his Majesty King George III has appointed a day of public Thanksgiving, in recognition of his recovery from a recent illness, and that he and the Queen will go in procession to St Paul's to give thanks to Almighty God for his mercy.

Turning - (very carefully, for the ancient newsheet is extremely tattered and fragile) - to the advertisements on the back page, I found this:


The proprietor of a large commodious house, most conveniently situated, for commanding a full view of the royal procession to St Paul's Cathedral, on the day of general thanksgiving, intends to let out places in his windows on the following terms, and under the following regulations, viz.

Ladies of middling sizes and under, to pay two guineas each. Ladies over the middling size, to pay five shillings per inch, for every inch exceeding twelve, in the diameter of their heads, or another part that must be nameless.

False rumps, false hips, full pockets, and every species of hoops, hats, caps, and bonnets, to be included in the mensuration.

Gentlemen at the same rates, and only to be admitted in the second rows.

Dapper beaus, petit maitres, and children, to be rated at half price as children.

Devourers of turtle, eaters of venison, and all other ladies or gentlemen with protuberant bellies, to pay double price.

N.B. For measuring the ladies, wo celebrated Men Milliners are provided, who will perform their duty with the strictest delicacy and decorum.
I think it has to be a spoof, don't you? Although the fashions of the time would justify it. "Petit maitre" ~ two definitions from the web ~

The term arose before the Revolution, when a great dignitary was styled a grand-maître, and a pretentious one a petit-maître.

A fop; a lad who assumes the manners, dress, and affectations of a man.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

More visual diversions

Elsie's sister Janet wrote articles for the papers, and amused herself also with child-like drawings which might have been used in a schoolroom - although I think this one is a cautionary tale for adults.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Friendship book ~ more pictures

Elsie had three sisters, and they could all draw or paint, and so could her daughter. Elsie's sister Mary passed on her talent to my husband, and our third son has inherited it too. Although it's only fair to say, my mother's grandmother, and her sister were artistic as well, so he gets it on both sides. And he's married an artist, so we expect a lot from from their son and daughter!

[NOTE : This picture has now been re- positioned so that it will enlarge, so the text can be read.]

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Friendship book

Another find amongst my husband's papers: an autograph album - only that is far too boring a word for it - which belonged to his Aunt Elsie. The book is inscribed on the flyleaf: Elsie Burrow, from Mother and Father, Xmas 1889.

Many of the entries are copied poems and maxims, but for me the appeal is in the drawings and paintings, some of which have considerable merit and charm, and are most painstakingly executed.

I believe the end of the 19th century was the time of the Boer Wars, so this is probably a soldier of that time.

The pages of the album are coloured, and by some chance many of the best pictures are on grey pages, which is a pity. Here are two like that: a painting, and an incredibly neat and polished work in pen and ink with highlights in white paint.

I have redesigned this post with the pictures on the left, and it should now be possible to enlarge them for closer study, although they become so enormous that they then have to be looked at in small segments at a time!

And finally a little cartoon-like drawing, to take us back into a long-ago baby's world. Corsets on babies? Please!

I am always astonished that people should undertake works of this kind straight onto the pages of an album, and get it right. There are a few (including the soldier) which have been worked elsewhere, then stuck in, but the majority of contributions have been made directly on to the page.