Most people enjoy pleasant surprise gifts and I am no exception. Recently I received one from my cousin John. He sent me a list of our ancestors on our maternal grandmother’s line which stretched back to 1480!
He had very generously been given permission to extract this from the research of Martin F. Jackson. This is meticulously researched and documented by church records and wills etc.
I have always been interested in my family roots, but until about 10 years ago knew only the knowledge passed on by my mother and older relatives. Most of the facts passed on by my mother have been verified by actual records, but her knowledge only stretched back to her grandparents. The other family members passed on family legend and I suppose all families have unverified tales of family fortunes which have gone astray, attachments to noble families etc.
When I discovered the wealth of information in pubic records offices, the scope widened considerably and then the internet increased the availability to amazing levels.
One of the first problems I discovered was the frequency with which my antecedents changed their Christian names. I searched in vain for my grandfather because he was always known as Edwin, (one of my cousins was named after him!) only to find that his given names were Arthur George. Once this was established I found ancestors back to 1790.
My maternal grandmother had a more common name and I could find nothing about her father, so I put a query on the Nottsgen forum and a very kind lady, June from Edinburgh, sent me a very full family tree back to Daniel married in 1803 in Sutton in Ashfield Notts.
Now, thanks to my latest gift, I find that Thomas was born in Ellastone Staffordshire 1480 and the family moved to Cubley Derbyshire in 1556 and stayed there until Daniel’s birth in 1775.
I like reading historical novels and now I have the added pleasure of fitting in which of my ancestors was alive at that particular time.
I find it fascinating trying to fit them in to general history. Thomas was born during the War of the Roses, were his family Lancastrians or Yorkist? I do hope they were the latter as I am very much pro-Richard, and believe that he was much maligned by the Tudors. I suspect they may not have been as Thomas junior left a will disposing of “considerable assets.” Maybe they were apolitical and just kept their heads down in their little Midland village! They also survived the Civil War and the Great Plague in he 17c.
I think the 18c must have been kind to both my maternal and paternal lines as they both had long lived members, one being born in the reign of Queen Anne and dying in the year of Trafalgar.
Oh for a loan of DR Who’s TARDIS sometimes
One thing I was gratified to note was that, if the children survived infancy, they lived to (what was then) a ripe old age, 60s, 70, 80s and two into their 90s!
I have been greatly helped in my research by the generosity of strangers. I find most amateur genealogists are kind people who willingly give information, some of wich they have spent years accumulating. There are others who spend their free time logging gravestones, church records etc. and putting it on line for the benefit of others. To all these friends I say a BIG THANK YOU.
Most people enjoy pleasant surprise gifts and I am no exception. Recently I received one from my cousin John. He sent me a list of our ancestors on our maternal grandmother’s line which stretched back to 1480!
The Francis report on the Staffordshire hospital makes disturbing reading and sets
me wondering how nursing could have changed so much since I trained in the 1950s and 1960s.
As an outsider it is difficult to understand how things could have changed so much. I know that today’s nurses work in a very different environment (new drugs, hi-tech equipment, more advanced techniques etc.) from that we enjoyed, but surely the basic ethos of caring should still be there.
I think (as with many professions) that the chain of command has become far too complicated, so that it is much easier to “pass the buck” when things go wrong.
We had a simple, and easy to understand, structure. Matron was at the top and made sure she knew what was happening throughout the hospital. She and her deputy matron visited every ward every day. One day she would take the even numbered wards and the next the odd numbered wards. She went round every patient, and woe betide the nurses if a patient was in a soiled bed or had a genuine complaint.
We had one sister and just one staff nurse on most wards and they alternated their off duty. They were very much in evidence at all times. They went round as soon as they had received the report from the night staff, they did the medicine rounds and served the dinners and many of them rolled up their sleeves and worked on the ward. They somehow managed all this as well as mentoring the student nurses, ordering supplies, arranging the off-duty rotas and writing reports etc. They also accompanied the consultants on their rounds. Visiting times were more regulated then and either the sister or the staff nurse was available for any queries from the relatives.
When I was in hospital a few years ago the only time I ever saw the sister was when the lady in the next bed to me inadvertently pressed the emergency bell and the “crash team” rushed in through the door with all the equipment for resuscitation.
I think successive governments have had ministers with ideological missions, who have added more and more layers of authority, who have taken the authority from the clinical staff. Then in the 1980s Mrs Thatcher and Ken Clarke brought in the idea of “market forces” and put a price on everything and thought that patients would behave like commodities. Sorry MPs but patients are people and people behave differently! Some are textbook cases and “follow the rules” but many others don’t and cannot be put into groups and get all sorts of complications which go far beyond their “price range”
The other scheme in the 1980s was to privatise the domestic service. Before this we had an orderly and a ward maid on each ward. They took great pride in “their” ward and the wards were spotless. One of the orderley’s duties was to clean and refill the water jugs at least twice a day so no one had to drink water from a flower vase! They were accountable to the sister but now no one knows who is going to be doing the domestic work, this has also taken away the satisfaction the old domestic staff could take from looking after “their ward”
We have all seen how this cost cutting exercise was a false economy when the spread of secondary infection caused so much harm.
The reason sisters could manage with one staff nurse was that all the nursing staff, even the lowliest junior, had at least 12 weeks training before they set foot on the ward and most had had considerably more.
We ranged in experience from those just out of the preliminary training school in 3 month sets to those within 3 months of their final exams. There was a new intake of nurses “sets” every 3 months, so, as well as giving us a wealth of experience, the wards were well staffed.
I think one of the best piece of advice I got was, “However dirty, manic or disagreeble the patient may appear this may be part of the illness and you must treat them all with as much compassion as as you would like your own relatives to be treated”. This stood me in good stead when faced with a patient who wet the bed as soon as you had changed it, handed you a present of faeces, or tried to pinch or thump you!”
I have still to be convinced that a university degree is necessary for all nurses, could there not be a different title for those who would be quasi doctors and leave the nurses to do what they are best at, caring, keeping the patient comfortable, fed and hydrated and carrying out the apprpriate nursing procedure efficintly and professionally.
It should be mandatory for politicians, business managers and such individuals to actually work at the business end before they are allowed to make major changes.
As patients we should be more careful when complaining or taking legal action. Of course when there is a valid complaint it should be investigated, but not all patients will recover however dedicated and skillful the medical team, and every time frivolous complaints are made it gives the bureaucrats an excuse to add more paperwork. Very often all the patient wants is a polite and rational explanation. They just want to know that they have had the best care and attention.
Iknow that there are many younger people who will argue against our method of training, but the general consensus among those who trained this way is that we would have more cofidence being nursed by the old style nurses than by the new method. Judging from the presents of chocolates, tights, biscuits etc. left by the majority of patients, I would say that the patients were happy with their treatment.
The first month of 2013 is already near its end and I have not written a blog since before Christmas. Where do the days go?
We had a lovely family Christmas with Jennie and co. It was a lovely sunny day and it reminded me of how Sundays used to be. The streets were empty and had that just washed look from the rain during the previous night, and everywhere seemed peaceful and special. I am sure there were many cold, wet, snowy or foggy Sundays but, in the “rose-tinted” way of memory I only remember the sunny days, just as I remember the sunny days we spent on the East Coast every summer!
Jennie and I took the boys to her local church, which is a very friendly and welcoming church. The men stayed home and minded the baby and watched over the dinner.
We had a splendid repast and then spent an enjoyable time opening presents, breaking off only to watch the Queen’s Christmas message. Everyone seemed very happy with their presents.
I was very lucky. One of my presents was a ticket to see Anton and Erin next month when they make their annual vist to Cardiff. Jennie and I have been every year and have enjoyed it tremendously.
JW worked very hard finding my presents this year. I have been trying to find out more about the part my father’s ship HMS Biter played in WW2 and he had found two books which each had chapters about Operation Torch and the Atlantic convoys. He also found details of Captain Abel Smith who commanded Biter from January 1942 till July 1943 so I was able to fill in some gaps. I remember that we used to get Christmas cards from Captain Abel Smith for a few years after the war. I think that has stuck in my memory because I had never heard that name before (except for Adam’s son!)
Another present from JW were two wall maps, one of the world and one of the UK. I have this rather “nerdy” fascination in seeing where I have been and where I would like to go. I spent a pleasant afternoon sticking in coloured pins. (I know, it takes all sorts )
Since Christmas we have had alternating cool sunny weather and rain, with a break for a couple of weeks snow. This has all disappeared now but the ground is still soggy, however I was surprised to see that the spring bulbs are coming through already and the dwarf iris, primula, cyclamen and chionodoxa are in flower and the leaves of the potentilla are beginning to unfurl, so can spring be far away? I won’t believe it until the snowdrops bloom!
The sea had calmed and we passed the Bay of Biscay quite calmly as we sailed northward. We began to realise that the cruise was nearly over and we would soon be back to everyday life…and the British winter!
Tony Gledhill gave his last talk, the watercolour class were busy finishing their paintings ready for the exhibition they were holding on the last day, the boutiques had special displays of their wares to tempt anyone with spare holiday money and we had our last talk from Tony Russell, this time on “Cotswold gardens”.
I enjoyed, as usual, chatting to the other passengers. We had met some lovely people.
I suppose, before going on any cruises as a passenger, my view of people who went on cruises was coloured by my time on “Bergensfjord” in the 1960s, when only the rich could cruise. Now it is within the reach of a far wider community and most of those I chatted to were just ordinary folk who had worked all their lives, most of them from the age of 15-16. I don’t think any of them had “gold plated” pensions and many of them were like us paying from our savings. As most of them said, thanks to the actions of bankers and governments, savings are eaten up by inflation and interest rates are so paltry that we might as well enjoy them while we can!
Before dinner the Captain gave his farewell cocktail party and the dinner was the last formal evening so the last chance to wear our finery. The dinner was especially splendid culminating with the waiters bringing in the flaming Baked Alaska.
That evening there was the usual choice of entertainment and as usual we opted for the talented Phillip Bond.
Thursday and our last day. It was like the last day of term at school swapping adresses etc with our new friends, packing all but the essentials needed for the evening. We had our last meeting with our splendid garden hosts, Matthew, Tony and David when they held a question time hour. We did the usual thing of saying goodbye to our new friends and some we met over and over again and others we missed altogether. All the time we were getting closer to the English Channel and the sky was getting greyer and the wind cooler!
A friendly little robin met us and sat on deck for a rest and then flew around the ship.
We arrived on time at Southampton, the luggage was swiftly taken ashore, we said our fond farewells to our lovely stewardess, Nam, and then it was time to go. Disembarkation was as efficient and speedy as embarkation had been. The Parking company met us with the car as arranged and we drove off with a last look back at the Balmoral.
The autumn colours were slightly faded and more leaves had begun to fall, but still the countryside was still glorious and I wondered anew whether they had cut the M4 through natural forests or whether some clever landscape gardener had designed it.
We arrived home in Cardiff by lunchtime to find everything in order…..and a huge pile of junk mail!
We had had a splendid cruise, seen new lands, made new friends and travelled 3,436 NM. We had consumed 1,651 litres of icecream (not all by JW
So thank you to Cruise.co.uk and their helpful, efficient staff, to our garden hosts, Fred Olsen and the wonderful crew of the Balmoral and to all the new friends we made.
We left the quayside and travelled through the suburbs and out about25 Kms to the pretty old world resort village of Sintra. We visited the beautiful gardens and palace of Monserrate which was built by the Englishman Francis Cook. There are an amazing variety of trees and shrubs on a steep hillside. JW and I stayed near the top of the hillside and enjoyed wandering among the plants there and then sat in the sun and enjoyed our picnic lunch.
When the more energetic gardeners climbed back up again we boarded the coach and went down to the Quinta da Regaleira Park and Palace.
This was a garden of trees spreading upwards for 4 Hectares and here and there leisure structures throughout the park.
We left this park and walked down to the village to board the coach. I would have loved to explore the village and the tempting looking shops but our time was limited, so we wil have to go back another time!
We arrived back at the ship just before the gang plank was raised. We had not seen all the gardens (thanks to my limited mobility ) and JW was very patient and kept me company, but it was well worth going just for the journey.
The wind increased to force 6 during the night so it was a bit of a bumpy ride, but it was very sunny and quite invigorating on deck. There was the usual varied programme of activities to entertain us. We had the added attraction of a talk by Matthew about making the most of the kitchen garden, which was, as usual, both entertaining and informative.
In the afternoon there was a raffle in aid of the RNLI, which raised a good sum.
In the evening it was an International “themed night” and not only the passengers dressed up, the crew joined in. The bar staff were especially colourful in their national costumes.
The sea began to get calmer later but we had already lost some time so we found that the estimated time of arrival in Lisbon was not until 12.30pm, which would, sadly, cut down our time in Portugal.
Next morning we woke to a sunny day and calm sea and at 12.15pm we docked in Lisbon, straight off the ship to the coach for our visit to the gardens of Sintra.
Once again we docked early in the morning and it was hot and sunny. My back was easier and after a massage by JW felt ready for a gentle stroll into town to get the “hop on, hop off” bus.
Outside the dock gates is a large shopping mall bearing many familiar names.
We strolled along the promenade to the Parque Santa Catalina where there are numerous cafes,shops and restaurants and is reputed to have a varied nightlife.
We took the bus and were taken around all the main parts of the town from the local sights and out to the wealthy area with its glorious villas to the poorer areas where the little boxy houses cling to the hillside in a precarious fashion.
On the way back to the ship we stopped at a stall on the dock side selling leather goods. It was family business and they were very friendly and helpful. We bought several items and the daughter gave me a small brooch shaped like a dagger, which apparently has significance, but as I don’t speak Spanish and they didn’t speak much English I am not sure what it is.:) I managed to convey that we have a tradition in the UK that if someone gives you a knife you give them a coin so that it does not cut the friendship, so we parted friends!
We left at 6pm for Lanzarote.
(Sorry this episode is out of synch. It should, of course, have been published before Lanzarote, but my technical skills are rather limited!)
We arrived in Lanzarote at 8am and,as my back was feeling better we decided to risk going on the tour we had booked to “the fire mountain”. This was a spectacular drive to the SE of the island and through the lava fields.
Once again we had a guide who gave us an excellent commentary on historical, geographical and cultural facts about the island.
I noticed that the traffic islands had a mulch of black material and this was explained when she told us that, as Lanzarote has no springs or rivers and very low rainfall, water conservation is of great importance for any horticultural effort. They plant into the earth and then mulch with a very thick layer of lava gravel, which not only prevents evaporation and attracts night dew but also adds nutriment.
It struck us that this would also combat the problems caused by snails and slugs. If I were younger and of an entrepreneurial nature what a great opportunity to import lava gravel. I am sure it would be a winner, especially after a summer such as we have had!
All the houses have water tanks to store the precious rainfall and they have now built two desalination plants to utilise sea water.
With all these measures they manage to grow tomatoes, sweet potatoes,vines etc. Most of the gardens by the houses had the ubiquitous palm trees and giant cacti, but every so often we saw very colourful gardens and I was full of admiration when I thought how much effort thet must involve.
We saw the vineyards which must be very labour intensive as each vine is planted into a scooped out hollow and protected on the north side by a handbuilt semicircular stone wall. We called in at a winery and sampled the product. It is similar to Madeira wine.
The drive through the National park was surreal. Only coaches are allowed to drive through and they played special music. I couldn’t help wondering if the writer of Doctor Who had made this journey because I kept expecting to see an Oud appear.:)
The lava fields were black and forbidding but here and there small sprigs of greenery showed that Nature wins through eventually. The roads were very good, but I suppose the lack of snow and frost helps, not to mention no electric, gas and waterboards digging them up! The driver was very skilful and manoeuvred the coach around the tightest of hairpin bends as we descended into the valley.
There has been no active volcanic for about 200 years but there is still a lot of heat just below the surface. This was demonstrated by one of the Park guides when he thrust straw just below the surface and immediately it caught fire and then he poured water down a pipe which 3 seconds later shot out as steam.
One of the features of this tour was the offer of a camel ride. There were 300 camels waiting for us. Some looked very gentle, most disdainful and a few were protesting loudly and vociferously. I decided that a camel ride would be testing the recovery of my back too far so watched the others.
It had been an amazing tour which we both enjoyed.
We sailed from Lanzarote at 2pm.
As this was Remembrance Sunday there was a very moving service in the afternoon which was attended by many of the passengers.
We arrived at Santa Cruz de Tenerife at 7.30am. Another warm, sunny day. Tenerife is the largest in the archipelago. Homer said that the Canaries are a kingdom where winter does not exist. It is also where Lord Nelson lost his right arm in a night action off Santa Cruz.
Santa Cruz is the island’s capital and we had planned to go on the “hop on, hop off” buses, but our plans were foiled when my back seized up at breakfast! I had been fine when I went in but could barely stand when I tried to leave. JW had to borrow a wheelchair from the medical centre to take me back to the cabin. We made an appointment to visit the Spa for a massage from the lovely Luiza.
Luiza gave me a very good massage with aromatic oils and loosened up the muscles which had been in spasm. She also showed JW how to massage and gave him a bottle of the oil.
I took advantage of the cabin service and had lunch in the cabin and, dosed up with aspirin, I was able to walk with the aid of a walking stick. I persuaded JW to go ashore and spent the afternoon sitting on deck.
He took a few photographs but did not stay long.
That evening was a theme night – tropical- so all the men were wearing gawdy shirts and the women colourful dresses. We were all given leis to wear to complete the outfits.
Woke up to bright warm sunshine. We were due into San Sebastian the capital of La Gomera at lunch time so spent part of the morning listening to the interesting talk by Tony Gledhill and the rest watching the coast of La Gomeira coming into view. La Gomera is the smallest of the Canaries and the least commercialised. It is a rocky mountainous island, but the industrious inhabitants manage to overcome the difficulties and farm there by digging out terraces and conserving moisture.
We docked in San Sebastian at 12.30pm so had lunch on the boat and then walked into the town centre. The main street, which winds around the busy harbour, is lined with palm trees and the double wall around the harbour is like one long window box with a variety of plants.
We found the shops had a tempting array of locally made souvenirs and postcards etc. so indulged in some “retail therapy” and then went to look at the main church, Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion, where Christopher Columbus is said to have prayed for the success of his “Enterprise of the Indies when he stayed there just prior to his voyage in 1492.
It is quite plain looking on the outside, but inside quite spectacular with its ornate altars down three sides of the building.
The Island is sometimes called Christopher Columbus Island and The Fiesta Colobina is celebrated every year on September 6th to commemorate the first voyage.
Note how steep and rocky the surrouning areas are. On the top right you can just see a house and colourful garden on the top of the rocks…..what persistance!