The Convict in my tree – Part 1

I started researching my family tree almost ten years ago and today, like thousands of other people across the world, I am still trying to find my story; where I came from and what shaped me.  I started where all good ancestry researchers should, with my living relatives.  From them I got a lot of basic, necessary information like dates and places of birth and names of spouses etc which was a great place to start.

As I built my family tree, with more and more information gleaned from various sources, not least of which was a story from my childhood kept coming back and niggling at the back of my mind.  My paternal grandmother was a great storyteller; I used to sit at her feet enthralled, listening to stories ranging from fairies at the bottom of my grandfather’s allotment to the tale of the man who, being wrongfully accused of a very, very bad crime, was sent far, far away from his family and friends to a desolate place across the sea, never to return.  I remember my sister and I having very bad dreams about him and my mother telling us not to fret as it was only a story and not true.

Over the years my research dragged on.  Then one day, I got a letter from my aunt, in response to a plea for help with the seemingly endless list of children borne to my great grandparents.  She listed all the children that she knew of and then, at the bottom of the last page, mentioned just how bad life had been for some people in those days and gave as an example,  the visits made to Lancaster Castle by female members of my great great grandmother’s family.  She had been told the stories as a little girl, about women walking miles to vist a male relative imprisoned in the jail there. 

 This must be the man in my grandmother’s story.  He was real!  I knew then that I wouldn’t rest until I had found out all Icould, I just had to know who this man was and if indeed he was one of my ancestors…………….(to be continued)


Happy Father’s Day dad………still miss you x

Its’ funny how for years you check out the latest cards for Father’s Day, looking for THE one; the one that says all you want to say and sometimes never do, the one that you know instantly will make him laugh and then suddenly out of the blue there is no longer any need for Father’s Day cards.  My father died 23 years ago and, though time is a great healer I still miss him just as much today.

I miss his laugh, the freckles on his arms and fingers, his voice when he sang old songs from the movies, his belief that you made your own way in the world without help or favour, his strong work ethic and the fact that no-one owed him a living. He didn’t suffer fools and could be impatient if he thought someone was wasting his time, but he was incredibly kind to those less fortunate than he and very generous to his friends and family. He had a great sense of humour and sometimes when repeating an especially funny joke would start laughing at the punchline before he got to it, so we would all end up laughing at him and missing the joke completely.

I remember walking with him to a cinema when I was very young to see John Wayne in “The Alamo” – I didn’t understand much of what was happening, but got the message that John Wayne was the one as far as my father was concerned!

He set up his own business and I watched him at work first hand as I joined the company when I left college. I started at the bottom, making tea and running to the shop for sandwiches and cakes for break times. I worked alongside his secretary, a woman whose idea of filling in what spare time I had on a Friday afternoon, was translating Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde from Pitmans shorthand!  But I learned a lot from her and others, as he had intended I should.

He taught me to drive and never had any doubts that I would pass first time and was enormously proud when I did. He drove fast, as I tend to do and often on long journeys on my own I sense that he is there, driving the long miles with me. He had a great love of nature and loved the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District in particular, which is where he used to cycle as a boy and later, as a young man with the local Cycling Club. From his days in the RAF where he was a despatch rider, came his love of motor bikes.  He bought one when he was 50 and could now easily afford the one he really wanted and much to the despair of my mother, he rode it regularly through the hills and valleys like some latter day boy racer!!

He fell off a few times and after one particularly nasty accident, the bike was sold.  My mother had put her foot well and truly down!

He loved old cars and when he retired was always tinkering around with some new project.  It was one of his projects that shortened his life. He had bought an old Alvis which had been found in an old farm outbuilding and brought it back home lashed to the back of a trailer.  Then the trailer started to run back down the driveway, he jumped on it like some Burt Lancaster stunt double and swung hard on the brake to make the trailer miss a neighbour’s brand new BMW parked across the road.  I don’t think his heart ever recovered from the strain.

So Happy Father’s Day dad, wherever you are. Thank you for all the things you taught me, some I never knew that I had learned; thank you for all the fun and  laughter and a few tears too, but most of all thank you for always being there when I needed those strong arms and a big hug; thank you for being my father.

Blackberry blogging on-the-go

I have just found out that there is an Blackberry App for WordPress -how brilliant is that? How much better to be able to post-on-the-go!

Was it a secret? Why didn’t you tell me? I always associated Apps with the iPhone or iPod, but Blackberry had them all along.

I can now go out and blog wherever I am; stuck in a traffic jam, or a long queue at the supermarket, on a boring train journey – the list is endless!

Well done WordPress & Blackberry a great combination for me!

That Friday feeling…….

That’s the only trouble with Bank Holidays, it is lovely to have a day off from work, but then, for the remainder of the week you are playing catch up, trying to cram 5 days work in to 4. And, suddenly, it’s Friday again!

I have to admit that I do love Fridays. It is a feeling that has stayed with me from my schooldays, leaving school and getting on the bus to go home, lots of chatter about what people had planned for the weekend. In summer it was especially nice, the anticipation of two whole days off, staying up later, being allowed to go into town to meet up with friends and the joy of shopping, when you had a bit of pocket money or birthday money to spend. 

Friday evenings were also the time my sister and I would go to the little sweet shop across the street, to spend the money our grandmother had left for us.  She called in every Friday to see mum and left some money for us for sweeties!  We had such a selection to choose from: Refreshers, Smarties, Fizzers, McGowans Highland Toffee (anyone remember them?) there were Gobstoppers, Aniseed Balls, Rainbow Drops, Liquorice Twists, Butterscotch Tablets, Punch Bars (do they still make them?) Fruit Salad Chews…the list seemd endless.  We would buy as much as we could, quantity over quality every time, then go home and put everything on the table and share it out. Trouble was, my sister’s share would last her all weekend and mine was gone by Saturday!!

Even now, the sense of something to look forward to is still there; Fridays for me, are still the best evenings to meet  up with friends; for a drink after work, for a trip to the theatre or cinema or a meal somewhere.  Or just chilling at home, relaxing after a hectic week, knowing that you can switch off the alarm and have a lie in if you want one. 

So, I’m off home to pour myself a cool glass of wine, sit in the garden and relax.  Hope you all enjoy your Friday and have a great weekend!