Monday, 30 December 2013

Genealogy Proof, Fact and Sourcing

One of the things that I like the most about the Guild of One Name Studies is that there is a mailing list which does, from time to time have interesting posts and debates.

Just after Christmas, a link to a post that had been written by +Tony Proctor was shared on the mailing list. Tony's post can be read HERE. (Before I proceed further, the title of this post was initially used by +Jim Benedict and seems to fit the bill rather nicely, so it is correct that I acknowledge Jim)

Tony's post is thought provoking and clearly others on the Guild mailing list thought the same. I have been reading and contemplating since last Thursday and wonder if we are making genealogy too complicated?Hold that thought for a moment!

When we start researching, we are all I am sure a little careless when we come to noting down where we obtained information from. I know I was and that was back in the mid 1980's. Since then with over 25 years of experience and a history degree under my belt I am more careful, but on rare occasions I have had sources slip through the net. What can I say, it happens and I am human! In those situations I have had to back track through the documents so that I could clarify the actual and correct source.

Whatever the fact is, we need to be able to support that fact with a source. Now that may be a document or a statement of oral history or perhaps a combination of those things. It is the combination of those things that can perhaps fill gaps where there is an error or potential for error.

I will give you an example. A baptism certificate written by the Church just after the proceedings. The name on the certificate is incorrect. How can that be? I have a genuine written piece of paper to prove it....or do I? Well yes, I do have a genuine piece of paper, written by the vicar at the time. The date is right and the first forename is correct, but the middle name is  incorrect.  To be absolutely sure a search of the births register for the year preceding the event is searched. There are none. A search for any births with that combination of name is conducted in the County, again there are none. Then the search is extended further to the Country. Again there are none.

I can though provide with the baptism certificate a birth certificate of the actual birth with the correct name and the birth certificate with the mother's name which is correct. I can also add to that a paragraph of oral history from me with a hypothesis of how the vicar came to make the error in the first place.

In the previous example we have started with the evidence and worked backwards to substantiate it.  Now I am going to share a fact that is true and will form part of my oral history. I will then present a series of potential and documentary evidence which should prove the initial statement.

As I write this my Mum is in hospital. I can tell you when she was admitted. How can I prove it? Well the Ambulance crew who attended to Mum have recorded the events and should have left Mum a copy (they didn't and that is another story!). Mum was admitted to the hospital at accident and emergency and then to an assessment ward. The only proof I can provide is the official response from the hospital in regard to a complaint that I made and I was with Mum as she was transferred to the ward.  Having been admitted to that ward, she was then moved to another ward at 4am the following morning some 5 hours later. The only proof I have is what is documented in Mum's medical notes and my oral history that I visited her on the new ward twice daily for over ten days. Then on day eleven I was with her when she was moved to another ward which specialised with the diagnosis that Mum has.

Medical Records here in the UK are subject to Access to Medical Report 1988, therefore they are available to the patient only if it does not cause detriment to the patient involved. Limited access can be granted in the form of a statement to third parties for example insurance companies and alike. Access to historical medical records are sealed for 100 years from the last entry, if they have survived. Medical Records is the subject of a forthcoming article published on the regular column of Across the Pond published by the In-Depth Genealogist.

As to absolute proof, does it exist in the genealogical & historical field? No, it does not. Examples of official documents such as births, marriages and deaths that have been recorded incorrectly exist. An error, by omission in relation to cremation records exists with regard to my late father in law. In that instance some material was deliberately left out, which will undoubtedly cause problems in the future to those researching the family, and a fellow Guild of One Name Studies member!

What is important is that books such as these:

Both of these books exist to educate and inform genealogists, and encourage best practice. It is important to identify that records outside of the United States exist in a different form or maybe given different names. However despite this it is imperative that genealogists understand how to and what to extract and record in relation to citations. If the theory is understood then adapting the theory to the records of a specific country or unusual source is much easier and will be consistent across the genealogy of the researcher.

Back to my original question, are we making genealogy too complicated? Yes, perhaps on the face of it we are, but if sources and the format of material is recorded accurately then someone in the future can easily locate the material and follow your paper trail which will enable another genealogist to concur with your findings or alternatively prove or disprove your recorded hypothesis. Furthermore, reading these books will open your mind to sources and material that perhaps is not absolutely obvious.

This has been an interesting discussion and debating point which has distracted me from a few other issues. I have enjoyed contemplating it and writing this post; and I hope you enjoy reading it.

Worldwide Genealogy (Formerly known as Global!)

Do you remember that Geneameme that was shared back in the summer by my genie buddy +Jill Ball ? Well the Global Genealogy collaboration project was about to commence when  I was contacted by someone who stated that they have a business with the same name and that I "might like to reconsider the name". So I have an alternative name, nothing outstanding, but it does what I want it to do. Interesting that of all those who stepped forward to participate no one mentioned the company and they didn't step forward until just before Christmas. Perhaps they need to review their marketing plan as I had never heard of them but they do exist.

So, Worldwide Genealogy ~ A Genealogical Collaboration is born. The first tentative post is up and from the 1st January 2014 blogging from around the globe commences. You can subscribe to the blog by email or by following in your RSS reader.

If you want to take part there is space available and as long as the post has a genealogical or historical theme you would be welcome to join us. All I need from you is an email with your name, email address and your blog name (this will be used on the author page with a link to your blog). Your name will be the label so that posts can be filtered by authors.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

2013 Reflections

Well I started the year on a reasonable high and am going to end it in a reflective and low key fashion.

The biggest change was in relation to the day job. Over recent years I struggled with the profit before people mentality within my chosen profession. I wasted a lot of energy and time arguing within a structure that was completely out of my control and remit to influence such change. A fellow colleague advised me many times to pick my battles more carefully and not to waste energy on the unchangeable. Whilst I heard his message, I didn't listen to him. More fool me. That was the catalyst for my change. The events that unfolded over the tale end of 2010 into 2011 lead to planning change in 2012 and then a completely different focus for 2013.

I still practice in my chosen profession. I need to for my professional development and registration, but I no longer have the passion for it that I once did; nor do I have the ambition. The corporate world, full of unrealistic pressures and budgets effectively left a shell of an individual as I walked away from a reasonably successful career. It was either walk or my sanity. The answer was effectively a no-brainer.

The dawning of 2013 produced The Book of Me, which has been successful and more so that I ever thought possible, both within the real and virtual world and groups. I am afraid to say that I once shared a project with someone who I considered a genuine colleague and friend who then took my idea and ran with their own project and published before my due date. I will never fall into that trap again. I lost not only a good friend and colleague but a great deal of time and effort on the project. So having said that I am observing from a distance several individuals who rather think my hard work on the Book of Me is theirs for the taking. It is not and I will name and shame those that overstep the mark.

The Book of Me continues to be a source of interest and I am at the point where my calendar for running physical groups is becoming very full and I have in the last few weeks accepted a booking for 2015.

The Anglers Rest blog has had a small facelift - I am a great creature of habit, I like the overall structure and feel of the blog, but am very irritated that in order to get around blogger not allowing comments from some I have had to opt for moderation and accept anonymous comments.

I spent several months earlier in the year moving my material from the web space allocated from my ISP to another provider. The Anglers Rest website is now in it's new home and I still have some material to load to the site. More recently I have structured and organised websites for several individual and specific projects - my one place studies and one of my one name studies. I also moved to publishing a quarterly newsletter for the Orlando ONS with the view that once written it is archived on the Orlando ONS website as well as the Guild of One Name Studies library. It is of course indexed by Google and available to other Orlando researchers.

My personal genealogy has been a bit slow this year, mainly driven by a poor filing system and time constraints. I spent about 5 months working with a selection of other genealogists forming the Society for One-Place Studies, which formed officially on 1st September 2013 and not before time! A society such as this one has been needed for a long time.

Global Genealogy

Having floated this idea briefly following a Gene Meme from +Jill Ball last August I was contacted by someone who stated that they have a business with the same name and that I "might like to reconsider the name". So I have an alternative name, nothing outstanding, but it does what I want it to do. Interesting that of all those who stepped forward to participate no one mentioned the company and they didn't step forward until just before Christmas. Perhaps they need to review their marketing plan as I had never heard of them but they do exist. A post will be published tomorrow about the new name and the blog address.

Keeping Mum!

As I said, I will be ending the year on a low as my Mum is in hospital and has been since 10th December. Thank you for the messages sent to me via this blog, Facebook and email. Mum is quite poorly and will be in hospital for at least another few weeks.

Coming up

I am still writing a regular column, Across the Pond for the In-Depth Genealogist digital magazine, it is hard to believe that it is a year since I wrote my first column and I still contribute regularly to the In-Depth Genealogist blog.

I am planning a regular feature on this blog linking in with the themed prompt hosted by Geneabloggers - Society Saturday. Here I plan to share details of some Societies that I am involved with, or have been involved with or others that cross my path. Most will be genealogical or historical but there maybe a few others too!

The book based on the Book of Me will be published a little later this year, I had planned for earlier, but given how I am ending the year I have delayed the publication date.

A few months ago I signed a contract with a publisher for a genealogical book which will be published early in 2015. So, I am rather busy researching and writing for that and looking forward to 2015.

All in all, I think 2013 has been a reasonable year. I am looking forward to 2014, with the all the promise it has.

Finally, thank you to all those who read this blog and comment or send me emails. They are appreciated and I do try to answer comments on the blog - keeping it interactive. I am a little behind with commenting at the moment and hopefully normal service will be resumed soon!

Happy New Year to you all and I hope that 2014 is everything you hope it will be.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Society Saturday - Revisiting Your Society

Over the years I have been a member of numerous and various Societies. As each year passes, the development of social media and the material available on line is tremendous.

Just recently I stumbled across a reference to the website of a Society I have been a member of since 1987. I noticed the mention of a members area and suddenly I asked myself when did that happen? I realise then that it is important to revisit the websites and archives perhaps already explored. Whilst the world of social media is moving along at rapid speed and the commercial entities growing at almost on a daily basis, the Societies that have been the constant of our hobby are tentatively chipping away with the valued work of volunteers.

Here are a few questions to ponder on -
  • When did you last revisit the websites of the family history societies that you are a member of? 
  • Have you made some wonderful and new discoveries?
  • Have you or do you volunteer within your Societies? 

Through the course of 2014 I plan to share details of Societies I belong to, those I have previously belonged to and those I stumble across through the course of my own research. Most of the Societies will be genealogical or historical, but not all, so stay tuned for
Society Saturday.

Book of Me, Written by Me, Prompt 18

Today is week 18 of what is going to be a 15 month project. Each Saturday, at around 12.30am UK time I will release the prompt for that week's Book of Me, Written by You.

If you are new here, welcome! The details, background flyer and Face Book link to the Book of Me can be found HERE

This week’s prompt is –  First Present or Gift
  • Can you remember it?
  • Who bought it for you?
  • Do you still have it?
  • Pictures or a description
  • Other special gifts?

Friday, 27 December 2013

Weekend Cooking - Nigella Christmas

Nigella Christmas: Food, Family, Friends,…
As promised, this is the final of four posts taken from this delightful book. This fourth recipe Eggnog Cream and take from the website.


350 ml double cream
125 ml advocaat

  1. Put the cream into a bowl and, using an electric whisk, start whipping to aerate and thicken.  While it's still floppy, whisk in the advocaat, and once the yolk-yellow, eggnog-flavoured liqueur is combined and the cream thick but still soft, stop and spatula into a generous bowl and serve with the pudding.

Sounds just the thing to add some zing to the Christmas pudding!

Weekend Cooking is hosted by BethFishReads

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Free Credits at FindmyPast UK

As with recent years, FindmyPast (UK) has commenced Start You Family History Week.
Here is the link to the app - click on the boxes each day to reveal a tree. To kick off the first window on the week's calendar is 30 free credits.

Visit the link above, click on day One - The promotional code is XMAS13. The code will expire on 2nd January 2014, so don't delay!

In the meantime, happy Boxing Day!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Sending Christmas Wishes

"Remembrance, like a candle,
Shines brightest
at Christmastime"
Charles Dickens

With Mum in hospital, this Christmas it does not feel very Christmas like.  I just want to take this opportunity to say thank you to all the people who have sent good wishes to myself and my family and included Mum in their prayers while Mum has been poorly.  It has been very much appreciated and I have shared those good wishes with Mum, who is truly amazed at the power of the internet.

So, without further ado, from my house to your house Happy Christmas!

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Video - Maid of the Seas

Yesterday I shared my Virtual Advent Tour post, which centred around the Lockerbie Disaster that occurred on 21st December 1988.

Earlier today my husband shared the following video that he had come across from YouTube with me, which visually sums up all that I said.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Weekend Cooking - Nigella Christmas - Yule Log

Nigella Christmas: Food, Family, Friends,…
As promised, this is the third of four posts taken from this delightful book. This third recipe is for Yule Log and is taken from Nigella's fabulous website

For the cake
6 medium egg(s) (separated)
150 gram(s) caster sugar
50 gram(s) cocoa powder
1 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
4 teaspoon(s) icing sugar (to decorate)

For the icing
175 gram(s) dark chocolate (chopped)
200 gram(s) icing sugar
225 gram(s) butter (soft)
1 tablespoon(s) vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.
  2. In a large, clean bowl whisk the egg whites until thick and peaking, then, still whisking, sprinkle in 50g of the caster sugar and continue whisking until the whites are holding their peaks but not dry.
  3. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks and the remaining caster sugar until the mixture is moussy, pale and thick. Add the vanilla extract, sieve the cocoa powder over, then fold both in.
  4. Lighten the yolk mixture with a couple of dollops of the egg whites, folding them in robustly. Then add the remaining whites in thirds, folding them in carefully to avoid losing the air.
  5. Line a Swiss roll tin with baking parchment, leaving a generous overhang at the ends and sides, and folding the parchment into the corners to help the paper stay anchored.
  6. Pour in the cake mixture and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Let the cake cool a little before turning it out onto another piece of baking parchment. If you dust this piece of parchment with a little icing sugar it may help with preventing stickage, but don’t worry too much as any tears or dents will be covered by icing later. Cover loosely with a clean tea towel.
  7. To make the icing, melt the chocolate – either in a heatproof bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water or, my preference, in a microwave following the manufacturer’s guidelines – and let it cool.
  8. Put the icing sugar into a processor and blitz to remove lumps, add the butter and process until smooth. Add the cooled, melted chocolate and the tablespoon of vanilla extract and pulse again to make a smooth icing. You can do this by hand, but it does mean you will have to sieve the sugar before creaming it with the butter and stirring in the chocolate and vanilla.
  9. Sit the flat chocolate cake on a large piece of baking parchment. Trim the edges of the Swiss roll. Spread some of the icing thinly over the sponge, going right out to the edges. Start rolling from the long side facing you, taking care to get a tight roll from the beginning, and roll up to the other side. Pressing against the parchment, rather than the tender cake, makes this easier.
  10. Cut one or both ends slightly at a gentle angle, reserving the remnants, and place the Swiss roll on a board or long dish. The remnants, along with the trimmed-off bits earlier, are to make a branch or two; you get the effect by placing a piece of cake at an angle to look like a branch coming off the big log.
  11. Spread the yule log with the remaining icing, covering the cut-off ends as well as any branches. Create a wood-like texture by marking along the length of the log with a skewer or somesuch, remembering to do wibbly circles, as in tree rings, on each end.
  12. You don’t have to dust with icing sugar, but I love the freshly fallen snow effect, so push quite a bit through a small sieve, letting some settle in heaps on the plate or board on which the log sits.

Weekend Cooking is hosted by BethFishReads

Virtual Advent Tour - Lockerbie

I am delighted to take part in the Virtual Advent Tour hosted by Marg & Kelly. This is the third time of taking part. It is a wonderful way to meet other bloggers and spread festive cheer! When I decided to take part I selected two special dates - this is the second of those two dates.

The 21st December is my husband's birthday. He is the ultimate Christmas baby -  and loves the whole Christmas hype, foods, tree decorations and lots of sparkling, twinkling lights.

Sadly, there is also another dimension to the day. On my husband's 16th birthday in 1988 the Lockerbie Air Disaster happened. Pan Am flight 103 fell from the sky a victim of terrorist activity and landed in the Lockerbie area. The main fusilage fell in the parish of Tundergarth, a rural hamlet about 4 miles from Lockerbie whilst another part of the aircraft fell into a residential street in Lockerbie. 

My husband always remembers those events and the lives lost. Not just the 270 people, both passengers and crew on the plane, but the residents of Sherwood Crescent including a friend of my husband.

Lockerbie remembers the tragic event in such a tasteful and sombre way. There are various plaques and memorials in Lockerbie and Tundergarth.
  1. A Series of plaques at the Church in Tundergarth Parish, Lockerbie
  2. A Memorial at the location where some locals were killed - Sherwood Cresent, Lockerbie
  3. The Memorial at Dryfesdale Cemetery, Lockerbie
  4. Plaques at Dryfesdale Cemetery, Lockerbie
  5. Tree Plaques at Dryfesdale Cemetery, Lockerbie
  6. Headstones within Dryfesdale Cemetery, Lockerbie
Over the last 20 odd years I have visited the memorials fairly regularly and taken photographs. It was a truly tragic event and yet the locals of Lockerbie have embraced the situation with such a degree of decorum that is refreshing. 

The town will never forget the bond that exists between the border town and the United States. It will never forget the disaster, nor that in a split second or two the lives or so many were lost or changed beyond comprehensible thought. The population of Lockerbie tend the memorial and graves of all as if they are tending one of their own and that is what is so refreshing.That even in death strangers are welcome and remembered.

Dryfesdale Cemetery and Memorial Garden
Taken by Julie Goucher April 2006
You can view the range of photographs commemorating the disaster HERE at GraveEncounters

Book of Me, Written by Me, Prompt 17

Today is week 17 of what is going to be a 15 month project. Each Saturday, at around 12.30am UK time I will release the prompt for that week's Book of Me, Written by You.

If you are new here, welcome! The details, background flyer and Face Book link to the Book of Me can be found HERE

This week’s prompt is – Toys & Games
  • Can you remember your first toy, or game?
  • Do you still have it?
  • Who did you play with?
  • Did you play board games?
  • Have you inherited any of your family games & toys?
  • Share some pictures if you would like to!

Friday, 20 December 2013

Postcard Friendship Friday - Christmas Card circa 1843

First Christmas card

Submitted as part of Postcard Friendship Friday hosted by The Best Hearts are Crunchy 

The In-Depth Genealogist - Digital Magazine - Issue 11 - OUT NOW!

The next issue of the free digital magazine is available NOW!

You can read my Introduction post HERE and you can follow the column by visiting The In-Depth Genealogist website and subscribing via email or via twitter and Facebook.

This month's Across the Pond column is about Festive Spirits

Happy reading & researching!

Thursday, 19 December 2013

A Merry Little Christmas by Debbie Macomber

A Merry Little Christmas (A Cedar Cove…
A delightful little book with two festive reads from Debbie Macomber. Both stories are centred around the fiction and lovely town of Cedar Cove.

1225 Christmas Tree Lane

Continuing with the popular Cedar Cove stories. This festive catch up is based around divorced Beth Morehouse. Beth has been divorced for a few years and has two adult daughters who conspire to get their parents back together. Following her divorce Beth gave up teaching and purchased a Christmas tree farm. She also has a love of animals and her Christmas is further complicated when she finds 10 black lab puppies on her doorstep. Meanwhile the daughters have asked that their father,Kent, join them for Christmas as the start of the plan for reconciliation with their mother. Kent meets a colleague at the airport and confesses he is miserable without his wife ex wife and he decides to make her jealous. Meanwhile back in Cedar Cove Beth is starting a friendship with the local vet. Will they get back together?

5-B Poppy Lane

A spin off from the Cedar Cove series. The central characters are Ruth, a post graduate who is completing her teacher training at the local college. It's the festive season and she randomly writes a Christmas card to a marine based in Afghanistan and over a period of months they develop quite a friendship. Will it develop further? Once the marine, Paul, is home on leave they see each other often and the relationship develops. Ruth's Grandmother upon meeting Paul is taken back to the years of the Second World War and over the course of a few weeks she shares, previously unknown to Ruth, information of her time in France, the Resistance and then a concentration camp.

The two stories are lovely, lighthearted festive reads and whilst Poppy Lane deals with some serious issues, it highlights the point of talking to your elderly relatives and perhaps uncovering some long hidden truths.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Virtual Advent Tour - Kiva - Genealogists for Families Project

I am delighted to take part in the Virtual Advent Tour hosted by Marg & Kelly. This is the third time of taking part. It is a wonderful way to meet other bloggers and spread festive cheer! When I decided to take part I selected two special dates - this is the first of those two dates.

The 18th of December always signifies two things in our family, exactly one week to Christmas and my late beloved Grandmother's birthday. Today she would have been 101 years old and I so wish she was here, more so this year than any other.

Back in 2011 I made my first loan of $25 to the Genealogists for Families Project at Kiva. The basic principle is that you loan $25 through the scheme to individuals who do not have access to traditional banks. When the loan is repaid you can either withdrawal your money or loan again. You can make many loans or just one or two. The choice is up to you. I should point out, that you don't need to be a genealogist to join the genealogist team, who have made loans of a staggering $82,250 at the time of writing this post. To demonstrate how successful the project is, when I wrote a similar post in 2011 the team had loaned $5,350. In fact for the last two years I have made regular loans and I always make a loan commemorate my Grandmother's birthday.

My Grandmother was a true inspiration to me. We spend many, many hours together, shared shopping trips, hospital visits, conversations, jokes, hugs, cuddles and laughter. When she passed away she left a void that was very big and I knew that I would never fill that void. That has indeed been the case and today, I feel a real sadness, not just that she is not here, but that Mum is in hospital and I so wish that my Grandmother was here, so that I could share my worries and concerns and tap into the wisdom font that my Grandmother was.

So, in memory of an outstanding lady, who gave me so much I have made another loan with Kiva.

Christmas is the time for giving and I want to commemorate the lady who was my Grandmother. Acknowledge her achievements and values and to assist others in her memory.

The photograph here is of my Grandmother, Lilian Edith Butcher nee Matthews (1912 - 1995) on the occasion of her 21st Birthday.

If you would like to join the team, then please click HERE

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

The Newfound Land (Graham Saga Book 4) by Anna Belfrage

Back in October I read and reviewed the three earlier books in the series.

Book 1 - A Rip in the Veil
Book 2 - Like Chaff in the Wind
Book 3 - The Prodigal Son

In this latest book, Matthew and Alex continue their journey in Maryland in 1672. The family have been fairly successful. They own land and the family are thriving.

Sadly, their enemies have found them, their is a degree of ill-health and there is a general feeling of unrest.

Slave traders, missing children, men capturing women and the white man ignoring the Native Americans.

Like with the earlier books in the series, there is a sense of similarity with the Outlander Series Diana Gabaldon. This is a great series of books and I look forward to reading the next in the series.

About the Author

I was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result I’m multilingual and most of my reading is historical – both non-fiction and fiction.

I was always going to be a writer – or a historian, preferably both. Instead I ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for my most favourite pursuit. Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career I raised my four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thrive … Nowadays I spend most of my spare time at my writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and I slip away into my imaginary world, with my imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in my life pops his head in to ensure I’m still there. I like that – just as I like how he makes me laugh so often I’ll probably live to well over a hundred.

I was always going to be a writer. Now I am – I have achieved my dream.

For more information, please visit Anna Belfrage’s WEBSITE.

Disclaimer - I was provided with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Sentimental Sunday - Polio and the Journey Ahead

Poliovirus by Jason Roberts
Image courtesy of
Back in 1953, so 60 years ago, my Mum then aged four and a half contracted Polio. All through my childhood I was aware of the impact that the disease had, had on Mum, although she never used a calliper or a stick.

Fast forward to 1997 and Mum was diagnosed with Post Polio Syndrome, a condition which affects those who suffered from Polio back in the 1950's. There is no cure and year on year I see Mum battling to remain independent and strong. Mum is Fiercely independent and stubborn.

As I type this Mum is in hospital, and has been for about 5 days. She looks vulnerable and older than her years. The NHS here in the United Kingdom, envied across parts of the globe is feeling the pinch in the global recession. Wards, with 20 or so patients looked after by a team of six, three nurse and three auxiliary nurses. I am frustrated beyond belief with the care Mum is receiving, almost as much as Mum is frustrated because her body can not do what her brain believes it can.

The situation is woeful and I could seriously sit down and weep. How do people with no family, much less those who do not spot the medical issues because those family members are not equipped to spot such things deal with the inefficiency or concerns?

Through the whole of my professional career, I have cared for the patient in front of me, as if they were my relative. That I learned as a newly qualified professional and I always stuck to that belief and passed it along to newly qualified or trainees working alongside me. 

I recall in my post qualified days those who worked within the hospital sector sneering at those who had opted for the retail sector, as if we were a poor relative. I did my stint in the hospital sector too, both within the NHS and private, within the Prison Service medical teams and industrial settings. I always returned to retail settings because of the interaction with the patients and health professionals, but one thing that has always been consistent  across all those different settings is the frustration I feel when the organisation puts profit or money before people, patients and their needs. 

The road ahead for Mum is going to be rocky, frustrating and I suspect a battle. As I told the staff today."I have one Mum, and she is in your care. She is a patient not a piece on a chess board. Please treat her with dignity and respect" I wish I could say that this is a one off, but sadly no, the same applied to yesterday too.

By coincidence, Sky News ran an article yesterday about the NHS virtually grinding to a halt because some departments and staff do not work weekend. Excuse me? My personal views are this. The NHS is run by the department of Health and funded from the Government by the taxes and insurances that are paid by those who work and/or pay such taxes. 

The NHS is a multi tiered organisation. Each of those levels has a management structure that is perhaps too manager heavy. With each level of manager, those who have a professional qualification - nurse or medical background, are removed from the ground level objectives, which is fundamentally the patients. As policy and bureaucracy are introduced, so is a new manager level, so as to cope with the endless spreadsheets, policies and alike.

As I looked around the ward today at the staff the average age was probably 30, which is half of the time that Mum had Polio. In fact when I was talking to one of auxiliaries, she told me that she thought polio had been eradicated and what was post polio syndrome?   Through no fault of their own there is a generation or two that has no idea of the legacy Polio has left behind. These are though the health professionals of the future.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Weekend Cooking - Nigella Christmas - Star -Topped Mince Pies

Nigella Christmas: Food, Family, Friends,…
As promised, this is the second of four posts taken from this delightful book. The second recipe is Star-Topped Mince Pies and this recipe makes 36 of them! This comes from Nigella's fabulous website

For the pastry

240 gram(s) plain flour
60 gram(s) vegetable shortening
60 gram(s) butter (cold)
1 orange(s) (juice)
1 pinch of salt
350 gram(s) mincemeat
1 sprinkling of icing sugar (for dusting) 

For the cranberry studded mincemeat - makes about 600ml

75 gram(s) soft dark brown sugar
60 ml port
300 gram(s) cranberries
1 teaspoon(s) ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon(s) ground ginger
½ teaspoon(s) ground cloves
75 gram(s) currants
75 gram(s) raisins
30 gram(s) dried cranberries
1 clementine (zest and juice)
25 ml brandy
3 drop(s) almond extract
½ teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
2 tablespoon(s) honey

  1. Make the mincemeat in advance.  In a large pan, dissolve the sugar in the ruby port over a gentle heat.  Add the cranberries and stir.  Add the cinnamon, ginger and cloves, currants, raisins, dried cranberries and the zest and juice of the clementine.  Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 20 minutes, or until the fruit has broken down and has absorbed most of the liquid in the pan. (You may need to squish the cranberries a little with the back of a wooden spoon to incorporate them fully.)  Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little.  Add the brandy, almond extract, vanilla extract and honey and stir well with a wooden spoon to mash the mixture down into a paste.  Spoon the mincemeat into sterilised jars and, once cool, store in the fridge for up to two weeks.
  2. Then once you are ready to make your mince pies, get out a tray of miniature tart tins, each indent 4.5cm in diameter, along with a 5.5cm fluted, round biscuit cutter and a 4cm star cutter.
  3. Measure the flour into a shallow bowl or dish and, with a teaspoon, dollop little mounds of vegetable shortening into the bowl, add the butter, diced small, shake to cover it, then put in the freezer for 20 minutes. This is what will make the pastry so tender and flaky later.Mix together the orange juice and salt in a separate, small bowl, cover and leave in the fridge to chill. 
  4. After the 20 minutes, empty the flour and fat into the bowl of your food processor and blitz until you’ve got a pale pile of porridge-like crumbs.  Pour the salted juice down the funnel, pulsing until it looks as if the dough is about to cohere; you want to stop just before it does (even if some orange juice is left). If all your juice is used up and you need more liquid, add some iced water.
  5. If you prefer to use a freestanding mixer to make the pastry, cut the fats into the flour with the flat paddle, leaving the bowl in the fridge to chill down for the 20-minute flour-and-fat-freezer session.  Add liquid as above. I often find the pastry uses more liquid in the mixer than the processor.
  6. Turn the mixture out of the processor or mixing bowl onto a pastry board or work surface and, using your hands, combine to a dough. Then form into 3 discs (you’ll need to make these in 3 batches, unless you’ve got enough tart tins to make all 36 pies at once).
  7. Wrap each disc in clingfilm and put in the fridge to rest for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 7.
  8. Roll out the discs, one at a time, as thinly as you can without exaggerating; in other words, you want a light pastry case, but one sturdy enough to support the dense mincemeat. This is easy-going dough, so you don’t have to pander to it: just get rolling and patch up as you need.
  9. Out of each rolled-out disc cut out circles a little wider than the indentations in the tart tins; I use a fluted cookie cutter for this.  Press these circles gently into the moulds and dollop in a scant teaspoon of mincemeat.
  10. Then cut out your stars with your little star cutter – re-rolling the pastry as necessary – and place the tops lightly on the mincemeat.
  11. Put in the oven and bake for 10–15 minutes: keep an eye on them as they really don’t take long and ovens do vary.
  12. Remove from the oven, prising out the little pies straight away and letting the empty tin cool down before you start putting in the pastry for the next batch.  Carry on until they’re all done.
  13. Dust over some icing sugar by pushing it through a tea strainer, and serve the pies with one of the butters from "Nigella Christmas".
Picture courtesy of Nigella's website

Weekend Cooking is hosted by BethFishReads

Book of Me, Written by Me, Prompt 16

Today is week 16 of what is going to be a 15 month project. Each Saturday, at around 12.30am UK time I will release the prompt for that week's Book of Me, Written by You.

If you are new here, welcome! The details, background flyer and Face Book link to the Book of Me can be found HERE

This week’s prompt is – Message in a Bottle
  • If you were to physically write or virtually write a message to place into a bottle what would you write?
  • Do you live by the sea and are able to potentially throw into the Ocean? Or perhaps a river
  • Do you feel strongly that you would not "litter" in this way - in which case you may complete the task virtually
  • What would you like to happen with the message?
    • Do you hope it is picked up somewhere, miles from home?
    • Are you going to create a secret email account in case it is picked up and someone emails you
  • Or would you like to write an anonymous note to someone that you know
  • Or write a message to a deceased loved one?

Friday, 13 December 2013

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Book of Me Hangout - Some Future Prompts

This morning we had the last Book of Me hangout of the year. Today's discussion focused on three forthcoming prompts

  1. Message in a Bottle (week 16)
  2. The Feeling of Home (Scheduled 11/1/2014)
  3. Memory Board (Scheduled 1/2/2014

The hangouts are all archived at YouTube - HERE
The prompt short videos are archived at YouTube - HERE
You can also subscribe to the channel

Thanks to everyone who took part today, and in the previous weeks. The support and involvement is much appreciated.

The first hangout for 2014 is going to be on the 7th January at 4pm UK time - check WorldTimeBuddy to see when that is in your time zone.

One Little Christmas Tree by The Curto Family & Rusty Fischer

A delightful children's book about a small Christmas tree, sitting and waiting to be selected by a family.

Planted as a small tree, he waits and waits for the moment when the owner comes along with a bucket to dig him up.

Over the years, other trees come and go including the fully grown tree next to him and suddenly he feels all alone. Then one year he finally understands the point of the Christmas tree selection and the happiness that brings.

This was a delightful small part; part of a trilogy. The accompanying Facebook Page.

Disclaimer - I was provided with a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Society of One-Place Studies Hangout - Choosing Your Place

A very interesting discussion took place today; The Society for One-Place Studies monthly hangout. The subject for discussion was Choosing your Place.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Weekend Cooking - Nigella Christmas - Seasonal Breeze

Nigella Christmas: Food, Family, Friends,…
As promised, this is the first of four posts taken from this delightful book. The first is a refreshment called Seasonal Breeze (page 11) and does not contain any alcohol.

The recipe is simple.

1 part chilled cranberry juice
1 part chilled clear apple juice
1 part chilled and freshly squeezed orange juice
ice (optional)

To make one glass - the three ingredients should be in equal parts of 75 mls each. To make enough for 10 glasses each part should be in equal measures of 750 mls each.

Nigella's tip is that this can be made in advance and kept cool. Adding chunks of ice just before serving.

Chin, Chin!

Weekend Cooking is hosted by BethFishReads

Book of Me, Written by Me, Prompt 15

Today is week 15 of what is going to be a 15 month project. Each Saturday, at around 12.30am UK time I will release the prompt for that week's Book of Me, Written by You.

If you are new here, welcome! The details, background flyer and Face Book link to the Book of Me can be found HERE

This week’s prompt is – Snow!
  • Do you live in area where you routinely have snow?
  • How old were you when you first saw snow?
    • Do you remember it?
  • Did you make snowmen?
  • Throw Snowballs
  • Sledge Rides
  • What is the image that first came to mind when you read snow?
  • What does snow 
    • feel like, 
    • smell like 
    • how do you see snow
The video is on the You Tube Channel

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Nelson Mandela

Just before I head off to bed each night I flip the television on or over to Sky News for a quick news fix.
I was saddened to see and hear that Nelson Mandela had passed away, aged 95 years. 

What an inspirational man.

Nelson Mandela was a major driving force to end Apartheid in South Africa. Apartheid was system of racial segregation which was enforced by legislation by the National Party of South Africa who were the ruling party between 1948 and 1994.

It was during this process of enforced segregation that the media of the United Kingdom became somewhat focused on the athlete, Zola Budd, well known for competing barefoot.

Zola Budd is a white South African, who aged 17 years  was denied the status of holding the world record in 1984 because South Africa was at the time unable to compete in International athletics due to the apartheid status. In 1985, whilst representing Great Britain Zola claimed the world record for the 5000 meters.

She represented Great Britain, because, one of the British tabloid papers, The Daily Mail, persuaded her father to apply for British Citizenship on the grounds that her Grandfather was British. 

I recall the media coverage of the campaign held by the Daily Mail because it was whilst I was at my Aunt's she mentioned the fact that her Great Grandmother had been called Budd. As a teenager I listened and added the data to the memory bank. Further coincidence occurred because Zola made her home in Guildford, my home town and not more than 4 miles from Puttenham where my Budd ancestors hailed from. Another fact that I had added to the memory bank and had not recalled those facts and events until I sat and saw the news of Nelson Mandela's death.

I have no idea if there are links between my Budd family and Zola's. I guess anything is possible. Budd though is a fairly common name in my bit of Surrey and genealogy can be plagued with serendipity as we all know.

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Recipes

My Grandmother always used to buy hamper coupons from the Unigate milkman, I don't know if she received any special discount as my Grandfather had worked for them up until he retired, but she always had the coupons and then exchanged them a week or so before Christmas for a hamper.

There was always lovely boxes of chocolates, biscuits, tins of ham and deserts and a shop made Christmas pudding. I am sure that there may have been a bottle of Sherry in the hamper, even though my Grandmother was not able to drink alcohol. There was also some lemonade and dilutable juices - like Robinsons, and some fruit.

Even though we had the hamper there was also other bits bought or made. The Christmas cake, and Christmas Puddings were both home made, a delicious joint of gammon that was cooked on the stove on Christmas Eve to be consumed for Christmas Day teatime, a tin of Victoria biscuits made by McVitie's

We always had Turkey for Christmas Day along with the trimmings. On Boxing Day the usual lunch meal was bubble and Squeak with either the Turkey cold or made into Rissoles. I still have the mincer that my Grandmother used and I still do some of things that we did when I was a child, and those special moments live on for another generation.

Mum makes the most lovely rum truffles, with the proper stuff, not the cheap essence.

Every year, this rather tatty extract from a Woman's Realm Mag appears. I had chance to have a proper glance at it. The receipe is from The Archer's Country Cookbook by Martha Woodford published in 1977.

I can certainly vouch for the truffles!

4oz dark cooking chocolate
4oz icing sugar
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons ground almonds
2 tablespoons double cream
2 tablespoons rum
chocolate vermicelli

Melt the chocolate over a basin of hot water. Beat in the icing sugar,egg yolk,almonds,cream and rum and pound altogether until mixture is smooth, and form into little balls. Roll each truffle in a little vermicelli and coat it.

My Grandmother spotted this Christmas Cake recipe in a copy of Woman Magazine, and since then both my Mum and I  have used it.

The photograph is of the actual page from the magazine, which does look in rather a sorry state! The actual date is gleaned from a book review on the reverse of the recipe - 1983!

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Music

Well, being married to a Christmas baby, I can not escape the almost weekly viewing of the film Home Alone. Four films were made, we have all four, but films one and two are the favourites.

Anyway, one of the Carol's sung on the film is simply lovely and I had a real challenge trying to find out what it was called and had to resort to getting the film and playing the credits!
Here is the details from YouTube - The Song is Carol of the Bells written by John Williams.

Here are the lyrics

Hark! how the bells
sweet silver bells
All seem to say
throw cares away.

Christmas is here
bringing good cheer
To young and old
meek and the bold

Ding, dong, ding, dong
that is their song,
With joyful ring
all caroling

One seems to hear
words of good cheer
From everywhere
filling the air

O, how they pound
raising the sound
Oer hill and dale
telling their tale

Gaily they ring
while people sing
Songs of good cheer
christmas is here!
Merry, merry, merry, merry christmas!
Merry, merry, merry, merry christmas!

On, on they send
on without end
Their joyful tone
to every home

Hark! how the bells
sweet silver bells
All seem to say
throw cares away.

Christmas is here
bringing good cheer
To young and old
meek and the bold

Ding, dong, ding, dong
that is their song
With joyful ring
all caroling.

One seems to hear
words of good cheer
From everywhere
filling the air

O, how they pound
raising the sound
Oer hill and dale
telling their tale

Gaily they ring
while people sing
Songs of good cheer
christmas is here!
Merry, merry, merry, merry christmas!
Merry, merry, merry, merry christmas!

On, on they send
on without end
Their joyful tone
to every home.

On, on they send
on without end
Their joyful tone
to every home.

Book of Me, Prompt 12 - The Year I was Born

I was born in the year........

  • Jersey and Guernsey in the Channel Islands started to issue their own stamps
  • The Monty Python started being aired on the BBC
  • Neil Armstrong stood on the moon
  • Prince Charles was invested as the Prince of Wales
  • The Beatles released the album, Yellow Submarine
  • British troops intervene in Northern Ireland
  • Mick Jagger was accidentally shot whilst filming Ned Kelly
  • John Lennon returned his OBE in protest of the Vietnam War
  • Britain abolishes the death penalty
  • United Kingdom and Rhodesia sever diplomatic ties
  • The Teignmouth Electron a trimaran sailed by Donald Crowhurst, is found drifting and unoccupied - this is a local history fact and I understand that Hollywood are planning to make a film of the event.
  • Of the Rooster -

The Rooster
Image from
Chinese Astrology
People born in the Year of the Rooster are deep thinkers, capable, and talented. They like to be busy and are devoted beyond their capabilities and are deeply disappointed if they fail. People born in the Rooster Year are often a bit eccentric, and often have rather difficult relationship with others. They always think they are right and usually are! They frequently are loners and though they give the outward impression of being adventurous, they are timid. Rooster people¦s emotions like their fortunes, swing very high to very low. They can be selfish and too outspoken, but are always interesting and can be extremely brave. They are most compatible with Ox, Snake, and Dragon. You can read more here at

The year was 1969!

Christmas at Harrington’s by Melody Carlson

Christmas at Harrington's by Melody…
This is the story of Lena, newly released from prison for a crime that she didn't commit. She feels vulnerable and very alone in what is a period of time for families.

She is immediately plunged into the spotlight as she takes on the role of Mrs Santa at a local department store. As soon as her face is in the paper she is recognised and she is the target of unpleasantness.

Lena rises above it and the story, apart from sharing the Christmas message is about forgiveness, hope and finding peace with yourself.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Christmas Cards

I remember both my Mum and Grandmother sending cards, but not how many or what happened to them. I have a few old cards, perhaps the last one received from a particular relative, or those with a photograph or letter. Any that my Grandmother received I now have. I always keep the card given to me by family members and special friends and mark on the back the year received. I have every card my husband has given me.

Currently they are in a box packed away in a box awaiting scanning and archiving. I can't really remember where they were displayed, I suspect the mantle piece as that is where I have mine and on the dresser and other furniture in our lounge.

I probably started sending cards when I as about 12 or 13. Mainly to school friends, but when I left home and then subsequently married to family members. In many cases a Christmas card is the only contact we have, which is a shame.

When we first set up home together and started sending cards as a couple I asked for Stuart's card list. He looked at me blankly and said he only sent about 6 cards, I was amazed, that meant the other 60 odd were mine! Since then I have written all the cards and letters and Stuart's list has not really got any bigger. My list has reduced a little bit, but not by much. Even people that I communicate with on line, up until now still received a card in the post and they get an additional email. I keep the email letters and file these with letters I receive, along with any letters and cards that arrive in the mail. From this though I am going to reduce the amount of cards I send.

I usually aim to send my cards out early December, but each year I seem to get later and later. The overseas ones always go first and the final posting date looms this week.

At the end of the 1980's I bought a card booklet, with the details of card and present and address. The book was set up for about 10 years. At the end of the 10 years I looked around for another book similar but no one seems to sell them any more, so I have a bit of paper in my Christmas card box and each year tick or highlight in a pen to say that I sent the card. I really should find a better way of recording it, but somehow the scrappy bit of paper is likeable. I usually buy Charity cards apart from ones that I send to close relatives. I tend to go for the Charities whose good cause has touched our family life, mainly Cancer Research as many of my family have suffered in this way.

Annie Prudience Butcher nee Harris 1955
This photograph is of my Great Grandmother, Annie Prudence Butcher nee Harris,which was sent as her Christmas Card in 1955.The picture was taken in Guildford Surrey England in the prefab house the family lived in after the War.

The photo was certainly sent to her children, I have my Grandfather's copy George Butcher (1908-1974) and I know of at least one cousin who has his father's copy.

Do you have a copy in your photo collection? If so please get in touch.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Christmas Trees

Taking part in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories.

As a child we always had an artificial Christmas tree I think, usually a traditional styled green one with pretty coloured fairy lights and the fairy that my Grandparents used to put on their tree.

When I married we purchased a lovely and different artificial white tree which we got from the department store here in the UK called Alders, they have since gone under, but the tree lives on with another family.

Tree Christmas 2011 - copyright J Goucher
Our current tree, which is shown here is also artificial but with a look of realness about it. It is a beautiful green one, with a hit of snow and built in lights, nice and tall, well taller than me! - It is about six foot. My hubby is the usual tree decorator in this house, I find it a bit of a performance; I am not known for lots of patience!
I would really love a real tree, but we don't mainly because of mess and because they are not terribly pet friendly and we have to remember Alfie's paws!

Outside, on the edge of our path leading to the house we have a medium size planter situated on the end pillar. There did use to be a leaping salmon until it disappeared, despite us not living in a dubious area, anyway after spending over a year looking for a replacement fish, and failing we decided on the planter. That spent a few months empty then about three years ago we saw in the local garden centre a miniature Blue Spruce and thought why not? It sat in the planter, undecorated the first as we were not able to find suitable lights for it, but since we have located some lovely solar powered lights.


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