Sunday, 4 October 2020

Family Update

Further to my post on the 30th September 2020, I am now in contact with several members of my late father's family!!!

Within a 24 hour period, several cousins have come forward and I've been in direct contact with some of them. They have come across as very warm and friendly, and expressed their pleasure with my appearing on the scene - it seems that as I knew nothing of them, they in return knew nothing of me.

I've already heard several humorous stories of the family and I'm getting help with placing names and dates to people as well as connections to relatives that haven't, thus far, appeared on the records.

I have to say, I am excited by all this. Not only am I getting help and real information for the family history, I have also found a family that I didn't know I had. What could be better than that? So, from the sadness of my mothers death and the ongoing fight with my mental health, I have this new and, quite frankly, massive positive thing.

The actual family history work has slowed down over the past few days, and that's mainly because of the new connections I have found and made, but I am gearing up to get back at it during the coming week. I'm returning to work again tomorrow, but this time I do feel ready and I feel as though I want to go back. I don't think the return to some form of routine will hurt - I say that because I hate routine :-D

Today I have been experimenting again with the Brother DS-940DW portable scanner. All being well, I will be visiting my new found relatives within the next few weeks, and if there are photos or documents about, I would like to be able to scan them in situ as it were. I said in my post about the Brother scanner that it wasn't brilliant with photographs - I've spent this morning adjusting different settings, and alas, that remains the case. However, document scanning is off the scale brilliant, so it's purpose is still very much there and it will always travel with me.

I've been investigating various methods that I could use to scan or copy photographs and it seems that the simplest and most obvious answer was right there all along, in front of me, literally in my hand - my smartphone!!! I suspect eyes are rolling. And I found a fantastic app that makes the process a hell of a lot easier and produces amazing results. It's called Photomyne and it processes the image for you to balance up wonky edges, cropping, adjusting colour and contrast and saving as a high quality .jpg file, plus it can scan up to six photographs at once and then process them individually!!! Because of this, I made the decision to pay for the upgrade to the full version and I don't begrudge a single penny. I now have the equipment I need to be able to scan documents and photographs on the go.

I have received a few more certificates this week as well, a couple of death certificates, a birth certificate and a marriage certificate - they've all been really helpful.

The tree is starting to look as though it's taking shape - we have the (pretty much) immediate Fellowes family, and also the off-shoots are now starting to take their place, in the main my paternal mothers family, which look as though they extend back to 1587, though I still have to do a lot of verifying first before I consider it 100%.

Genealogy has started to become many things to me. It's fun, it's challenging, it's exciting and it's revealing. It's been a huge factor in my recovery, it's found me a family I didn't know existed and it's helped me regain my self-belief.

Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Oh, and......

 Have traced, it would appear, my paternal grandmothers family back to 1587!!!

Well what a day this has been!!!

 I have to repeat the title - well, what a day this has been!!!

This morning I requested to join a Facebook group called "Born in Willesden" as I wanted to see if anyone on the group might have known my family that lived in the area, and if so, I would love to hear anything they had to tell me. I have information, dates, causes of death, places of birth, who was married, who hasn't etc etc etc, but I just don't know anything about these people. My late father never really spoke of his family, and what little I did know was told to me MANY years ago and as with all things, the memories have become floating whispers, strands of something fragmented by time.

The acceptance soon came back and I put up a post asking if anyone knew of them or remembered them. Didn't think any more of it.

What I didn't expect was actual members of the family keenly and warmly contacting me, I even had a chat on the phone this evening with the son of one of my great aunts, and it was great.

I have the real hope that my research is about to take on a new dimension, that the names and dates and figures, on pieces of paper and in digital files, will start to come alive again, putting the flesh of reality onto the cold bones of raw information.

And they've all said the same thing: it's a colourful family - oh my, bring it on!!!

Monday, 28 September 2020

Back after a bit of a......

So, as stated n the precious posting, I went back to work on the 14th September 2020, and I managed to survive two and half days before the CMHS seriously kicked and dictated otherwise, necessitating a further two weeks off work. Now diagnosed with depression and on anti-depressants. Not as bad as it sounds because it means that with a diagnosis, I now have treatment and I have to say that I am feeling a whole lot better!!! This mental health thing really is in need of further acceptance and understanding in the wider community, I know I am certainly getting first hand experience of it!!!


I had to take a week or so away from everything and essentially sat on the sofa for the best of four days staring into space whilst the medication started to do its thing. Naturally, EVERYTHING got put to the wayside during this time, but last weekend, I got my genealogy mojo back and I hit into a solid three to four days of it, uncovering elements of many of the families on my tree and ordering certificates from the General Register Office like there was no tomorrow.

And what wonderful dividends have been reaped.

Information about dates, places, causes of death, places of death, parents names, confirmations of research already done. I tell you, it's been great.

I now have the families of both my parents back to the 18th century and what a colourful bunch they were!!! We have workhouses, illegitimacy, shotgun weddings, rag and bone men, multiple marriages and even a Chelsea pensioner on the Scottish side.

Now, I remember tales of a highwayman in the Scottish family, who was caught and hung (clearly not too successful) - I have to find him!!! And my late mother told me many years ago that we were supposed to have a link to the pirate Captain Henry Morgan - now I like the sound of that and it does somewhat go towards explaining my sons love of rum!!!

I have many names, many relatives and many connections and I still have more to find, but what a journey this is turning out to be!!! I have yet to go through my mothers collection of letters, documents and notes, many of which I already know will hold valuable bits and pieces of information that may provide some gentle steerage or confirm what's been found thus far.

On my fathers side of the family, I am back to 1790, I have a name, but at the moment I am struggling to find a solid connection other than the name and date of birth of his son, it's not enough at this stage as the sons name was quite common in North West London at that time. And then on my mothers side of things I am now back as far as 1787, so getting even further back is going to be something of a real challenge, as is finding out information about my four times great grandmother - at this moment in time, I have no date of birth, date of death or even a date of marriage. Fab.

These are the types of  riddles and mysteries that are fuelling my love of this pastime, teasing my addled brain and tempting my inquisitive nature.

Tuesday, 15 September 2020 and certs!!!

I've been hit by something of a major complication - I've gone back to work!!!

After nine weeks off, I returned to work yesterday (14th September 2020) and it's stolen my genealogy time!!!

However, in other news, I received today through the post, two death certificates for great-uncles on my fathers side, both of which provided a ton of information as well as verifying my own research.

Amongst the information was what they both did for a living and one of them was a "totter" or rag and bone man - how cool is that?

I clearly remember my father talking about "Uncle Les the Totter" and it was all true!!! Just fantastic and it's these kind of things that are really making genealogy fun, the discovery of what my ancestors did for a living.

Now, one particular recurring family occupation during the 19th and early 20th centuries is "coach painter" and a part of future investigations will be to discover a little more about what the jobs they did actually entailed. There are work records available, so with a bit of luck and a fair wind, I may find some of those sort of documents that relate to my family past and gain further insight into their world and their characters.

Back at work for a week and then I have two weeks annual leave (which was booked last year), so I will definitely be dedicating a few days during that time to a bit of family research.

Sunday, 13 September 2020

Breaking News: there be a portable scanner here!!!!!!

No, it's true, in this very house, delivered yesterday and tested out last night, is a Brother DS-940DW wireless portable scanner!!!

And as proof, here's a picture of the actual unit in question, on my bureau:

It's a very nice little unit, it does the job really well and whilst there are certain limitations and a couple of compromises I've had to accept, I am very happy with it.

So, let's just quickly do the negatives, there aren't many and they don't really make much of a difference in the long term.

The wireless aspect is just impossible when using a PC, I'm not without capability when it comes to computers and networking, but this I simply could not get up and running. I fear Brother may be shooting themselves in the foot if they don't sort this out as the DS-940DW, as I've already indicated, is a really good portable scanner. A different matter using wireless with my smartphone though where it does work - more in a bit.

The image quality of scanned photos is poor, I have to be honest. However, I have other options on that front so it really isn't that much of an issue, but it is something to be aware of if you are someone looking to archive old photographs.

And that's it on the negativity!!! Told you there weren't many.

So, let's get positive.

It's really easy to set up - plug in the USB 3.0 cable and install some software then you're good to go. You can scan from the computer or you scan from the unit itself using one of the buttons on the panel. The software that comes with it is fine and does the job, it's possibly a little too simplistic for my use, but I have other software that recognised the DS-940DW with absolutely no issues and I was able to scan directly into that software.

It's quick, it's quiet, document quality in both colour and black and white is excellent. It's small footprint makes it usable on just about any surface and it has a small pop-up tray thing that creates a "U" path for the document if you don't have a lot of space behind the unit - if you look at my photograph above, you'll see I have the feeder open so that when the document passes through the scanner, it feeds back over the top of the unit. It's very lightweight, considering that it has a rechargeable battery inside it. And that's really useful if you don't have a computer to hand because you can either scan direct to a microSD card or wirelessly. As I said earlier, the wireless element is more miss than hit with a PC, but using my Android smartphone, I had no problems setting up and scanning documents, with them being sent directly to whatever cloud service you might use, in my case OneDrive and Evernote, both of which worked with no problem at all.

Did I mention 2-sided scanning? No? It scans both sides of your document if required and that function for genealogy is a huge plus and incredibly easy to do. I love the simplicity of the DS-940DW, it doesn't require any real effort (unless you want wireless, then it's a bastard of thing) and for the price, it does an awful lot for the money.

I mentioned that the accompanying software was not quite what I needed, again, not a problem as we all have individual needs and as I use .pdf creation software, it made good sense for me to connect the DS-940DW with that. As I intend to use as little paper as possible, I am using .pdf documents a lot now and I will also be creating my own .pdf forms, so I use PDF Architect 7 from pdfforge which I can scan directly into, even setting up the scanner from within the program. I had no problems at all in marrying the hardware and the software together, within minutes, I was scanning into PDF Architect 7 and creating multi-page .pdf documents, complete with editable text and edited scans (rotation and cropping in the main).

With the 2-sided scanning, various document options and portability, as well as the ease of integration with third party software, the DS-940DW is setting itself up nicely to be a more-than-capable substitute for the Canon unit I originally wanted to get.

I'm happy.

Friday, 11 September 2020

Something of a massive update!!!

Okay, a quick but very important question for you......

Where the hell has all the time gone???!!!


In a week, so much has happened and it's all been great.

Not so great is that I return to work on the 14th September. I really do not want to go back yet as I simply don't feel ready, but a possible reality is that I actually might need to go back. My hope is that some kind of "enforced" routine may help the progress with my CMHS (Current Mental Health State). And quickly, I have to say that my employer has been amazing. Not everyone can say that.

So, back to the more important stuff.


A week ago on the 4th September I visited four cemeteries to find headstones that might yield interesting and hitherto unknown information. That happened. And during the course of this last week, I've been acting on that information and raiding the family history research sites in search of snippets of info that might propel me further back into the past or give me more insight into the people I have already found.

Got that in bucket loads.

I've had a number of birth, death and marriage certificates come through from the General Register Office and it's incredible how much detail they give you and how much information they hold to help you cross-reference and/or start looking at other people. Birth and marriage certificates give details of parents, so that makes them the perfect platform to the next generation from the one you're working on.

Of interest has been the cause of death on the male line of the Fellowes family back to the 1920's, dominated by heart and lung issues, all of which is not only interesting, but makes for a solemn warning for myself and my son. Heart issues are recurrent, my father died from a heart attack and I have, in the last couple of years, had tests on my heart (thankfully all well at this time!!!) for fibrilation problems plus I am a type 2 diabetic. Bronchitis has also featured heavily, making victims of several male Fellowes folk, old and young.

I've been going through my parents photograph albums and finding many photos from their youth that I have not seen before - as I am more interested in my fathers side of the family at the moment, his photos have given me an insight to his life, his character, his surroundings and his friends and family.

The Canon photo scanner.


Laptops Direct didn't deliver.

Didn't inform me of any issues.

I got quite shitty - CMHS makes me very intolerant and quite unpleasant sometimes. Upshot is order cancelled and refunded. I now have a different brand of portable scanner on order from Amazon which will be delivered tomorrow (Saturday 12th September 2020).

I'm not saying any more.

I don't want to jinx it.


My daughter Alannah and I went down to London yesterday (10th September 2020) to scatter my late mothers ashes at Golders Green Crematorium, as per her wishes. My son, Callum, was supposed to have come with us, but sadly his work wouldn't give him the time off. Naturally, he was quite upset as the three of us have done everything between us following my mothers death, but regrettably, nothing could be done about it. It went very well, the weather was perfect and both Alannah and I felt a sense of relief once it was done. My mother is now where she wanted to be and my hope is that she now has the peace she so longed for. Golders Green Crematorium was brilliant, their staff are very friendly, very professional and a credit to the funeral profession. We spent a little time just sitting in the gardens, chatting about all sorts and wishing those we've lost well.

Okay, we also did a bit of celebrity plaque hunting!!!

Once we had said our goodbyes to my mother and finished looking for celebrity plaques, we made our way back to the car - today was the turn of my late mothers black Suzuki Jimny, hereinafter referred to as Jimny, and now in my care and possession until such time as my son passes his driving test - and readied ourselves for our next mission.

As indicated in my blog entry post thing "The Great London Grave Quest 2020", I had, in the last week, read up on cleaning headstones and had duly ordered some headstone cleaning solution called, wait for it......Headstone Cleaning Spray......

So, fast-forward back to yesterday, Alannah and I pointed Jimny in the direction of Kensal Green Cemetery and we headed off to revisit the grave of my great grandmother, Ethel Fellowes and two of her daughters, Queenie and Alice.

Alannah was hugely impressed with Kensal Green Cemetery and was open-mouthed as we drove through the lines of mausoleums and memorials to the Fellowes plot. And whilst the photographer in me will still be visiting this place on another day, I couldn't resist a few shots on my smartphone:

As with my previous visit with Kaa (the trusty black Ford Fiesta), I parked Jimny up on the side of the track near to the site of the Fellowes grave. We took a walk over to the plot and I introduced Alannah to her great great grandmother and her two daughters. We then set about cleaning the headstone and oh my, what a difference once we'd finished. The details that the headstone gave were fantastic, I now had the dates of death for the three occupants.

Alannah was quite delighted with the end result of our headstone cleaning exercise and said that she would have been happy to have done the whole of the grave. Possible excuse for another visit methinks. I'm of a mind that we should maybe give the Soanes grave in Willesden New Cemetery and the Cull grave in Camberwell Old Cemetery the same treatment. But that's for another day.

Here's a before and after of the Fellowes headstone:

Isn't the difference quite something?

Upon our return to Norwich, I found an email from the General Registry Office telling me that a death certificate I had ordered was ready to download.

I wasted no time.

Once more, the date, location and cause of death found on this certificate have provided some very welcome information, and the person who registered the death was not who I thought it would be!!!

It seems that my great great grandfather remarried after being widowed (currently working on the details of that) and so a new wife has consequently appeared on the radar, who I've now identified and the relevant (I hope) marriage certificate has been ordered.

The game continues.

The Great London Grave Quest 2020

So, on Friday the 4th September 2020, I headed off to London in our trusty black Ford Fiesta (very affectionately known as Kaa) in search of graves and homes.

And boy, did I get some.

And none.

Read on.....

I went for a nice early start (7.30am- that's ridiculously early for me) so that I might miss the worst of the traffic. It takes about two and a half hours from our front door in the centre of Norwich to London. Obviously, it's nigh on impossible to predict the nature of the traffic within London itself, and as I was starting my quest in South East London, it meant a steady slog through East London and the Blackwall Tunnel.

But that's okay, I'm something of a seasoned "driving through London" driver, meaning I have no high expectations and accept what will probably be ahead before I've even picked up the car keys.

Anyway, I arrived at my first port of call, Camberwell Old Cemetery just after 10am, the weather was perfect, the temperature was around 18 degrees (I do not like heat!!!), it wasn't too sunny (fair-skinned and bald - I hate the sun at times) and it was dry, though there was a little bit of something for a few minutes that really didn't amount to anything, so I didn't get soaked.

My goal was to locate the grave of Emily Ellen Cull. She is a someone from my maternal grandfathers side of the family and my reason for wanting to find her grave was to:

1. Confirm details we already had.

2. Get a pictorial record of her grave at this moment in time.

3. See if there was anyone in the grave with her or mentioned on the headstone and record any relevant information accordingly.

The graveyard was VERY overgrown in places and I started to wonder if I might experience a high level of difficulty in locating Emily. It took me the best part of an hour, and at one point, I was thinking the grave was either too overgrown or that the headstone was either so damaged it had been removed or was so severely weathered that it was illegible. Working as an undertaker gave me a small advantage in that I have become accustomed to how things are numbered and laid out and how the undertakers and/or their stonemasons, might indicate the plot number and location on the grave surroundings or the headstone itself. This was how I located Emily - I looked at a couple of graves to get some bearing, and one told me that I was in the right area and the number on it meant that I was very close. I checked to each side and just behind, but Emily wasn't there. As the pathway I was on ran directly through the section, I looked to the other side and there, under a small amount of brambles was a little memorial stone indicating the presence of Emily within the grave, along with Joseph Willliam Cull. I now have the details for two people confirmed and added to the family tree.

This was my first success and it was a very satisfying feeling.

Two weeks ago, I had no interest in family history and was busying myself with a minor nervous breakdown. This one single thing gave me such a personal boost and was an example of a bit of work paying off.

When it comes to my late mothers side of the family, it is very important to remember that whatever I achieve on that front will be down to the ground work she had already done over many years. In some respects, I feel a bit like a curator of her endeavours, my responsibility at this stage to collate and present her findings with anything that I may find myself. And I use the word responsibility because at the end of the day, I have chosen to carry on that which she started, there's a lot of work gone into this side of the family already. I quietly wished she had been with me as I trapsed through the undergrowth (more like overgrowth at times!!!), but alas she would never have been able to have walked the miles I did today. However, I like to think she was there in spirit - I have a little something to share later on regarding that sort of thing, was quite spookily fun and made me smile.

So I'm now emboldened and having taken a number of photographs (including the obligatory "selfie" - see above - and get used to it, it's a thing), I was ready to set off to the next part of the quest - the Cull family grave in Streatham Cemetery!!!

It took a good while to get through the South London traffic as there were a lot of roadworks and drivers in London are just plain crazy, rude and stupid - there's no particular order there by the way. It was during this part of the journey that my SatNav decided it didn't want to do anymore work today and shut down. Moral of the tale is "always take the power cable or else just charge the damn thing up". Thankfully, Google Maps is simply fantastic as a SatNav, so I keyed the details into my smartphone and away we went.

I arrived at Streatham Cemetery in good time considering and so I set about the task of locating the Cull family grave.

In the back of my memory, somewhere, I seemed to remember that I had been to this cemetery before with my mother, many many years ago, and when I got to the section where my information had told me the plot would be, I found myself looking at a sparsely populated but large, patch of green. I walked around all of the graves with stones, with the hope that one would be my goal and at the same time, trying really hard to remember what the grave looked like, even though I wasn't certain of my memory. I spent over an hour checking each headstone twice, just in case I missed it first time round, and I even took a look at the next section (even though I knew it was not the right one) to be certain.

I had to call a blank on this one, which was a shame as the information on the headstone would have been good. And this is how it can sometimes go I suppose. So, no point in crying about it, you can't look at what isn't there. The information I have from memorial cards and registry documents is pretty conclusive, so I decided to call a halt and determined to contact the cemetery direct to confirm the removal of the headstone and move on to the next port of call.

Take a look at the pictures below, somewhere in there lay the Culls:

Streatham Cemetery may not have been a success, but my spirits were most definitely not dampened as I drove to Kensal Green Cemetery to locate the grave of my great grandmother, Ethel Kate Fellowes, and two of her daughters. This one I was particularly excited about as finding the details of this grave was one of the first fruits of my own labours and I hoped it would yield some missing information relating to dates of death which were not directly available through the various genealogy sites.

I drove Kaa through the fabulous necropolis-like scenery of Kensal Green Cemetery - elaborate headstones and memorial stones, amazing mausoleums and a vista of graves and burial plots, seemingly covering acres of land. The photographer in me decided that a return visit was definitely happening to capture images of this wonderfully gothic landscape. But today was not about photography, time was starting to slip away and I had to focus on finding the targeted grave.

I had to drive up and down a few track ways before I finally got my bearings and found the section within which the grave was situated. I parked Kaa up and then proceeded on foot through the myriad of headstones and memorials. Kensal Green Cemetery had sent me two very detailed maps, one showing me the section I needed and the second showing me where the plot was within that section - many of the plots on the map had the family names of the occupants and it was this that proved to be the key to finding my great grandmother and aunts.

I spent a good half hour or so stumbling through the graves, my brain was clearly not firing on all thrusters as I just couldn't tally the map with what lay before me - I'm usually quite proficient at map reading, but not today it seems. It was when I thought to use the names on the map to try and pin-point my actual position within the section that I finally found what it was I had come in search of.

And the bloody thing was right behind me!!!

The headstone was not in perfect condition. The metal lettering was starting to come away from the headstone in a couple of places and it was almost impossible to read because of what I thought was weathering along with moss and algae. I applied a little water to the stone to loosen the solidified moss and that enabled me to make out my great grandmothers name and the date of her death. This one thing was a major step forward as I now had a definite date of her death, which in turn would help to strengthen the integrity of future searches. I was just about able to make out the names of the two daughters, which again gave me clarification that my research was working in the right direction.

I was now in a good place, two out of three searches had been successful, and the information gained was solid. I knew that I would be returning to London within the next week or so to scatter my mothers ashes at Golders Green Crematorium, so I made the decision to look into how to clean a headstone with a view to returning here, cleaning the stone and seeing what else it might tell me.

Soon enough, it was time to head off to the fourth and final grave yard, Willesden New Cemetery and the burial plot of the Soanes family.

This journey wasn't too bad as Kensal Green is quite close to Willesden compared to the first two cemeteries I visited and it wasn't long before I was driving around the cemetery in search of the plot, and that didn't take long either as I have good and clear memories of visiting Willesden New Cemetery when I was younger as my mother and her parents lived but a stones throw away, quite literally.

I parked Kaa up on the side of the track and walked over to the Soanes family plot. You'll see from the photograph below that the grave was originally white in colour:

Not so now:

But what it lacked cosmetically, it certainly didn't lack in terms of information. The grave contains an additional family member as well as memorials to several other relatives who were cremated instead of being buried, including my grandfather, Arthur Soanes and my great aunt Margaret ("Marge") Soanes, whose memorials were added by my mother soon after their deaths. As a side note, I did ponder about having my mothers name added. I have since had other ideas, however, I may still do it for the sake of continuity. The grave next to it (to the right of the main grave on the photograph below), I believe, is of another member of the Soanes family, but I need to do a bit more research before I commit the information on that grave to what has already been gathered. Once I've ascertained the deceased is indeed a Soanes, then I will update in a future bloggy post thing.

The information that this grave holds has proven invaluable, verifying much of what was already known - I like this kind of back up as it provides me with on going proof that I'm on the right pathway with how I am going about my family research.

And that was the grave quest element completed. Three out of four is a good result in my book and I was really happy with what I had discovered, not just the information and verification, but also that my research methods are working.

I bid the Soanes family a quiet farewell and decided to take a walk along Ambleside Road which runs alongside Willesden New Cemetery. As I mentioned earlier, my mother and her parents lived on this road and I have many memories of the house in which they lived and the road upon which I walked with my parents and grandparents many times when I were but a wee lad. Nostalgia at the moment is a good thing for me and is helping me come to terms with the shift in my life as it is at the present. My memories of this area are generally very good ones and I recall many happy times playing in Roundwood Park. I walked past the house that was home to my mother, pausing briefly to remember how it looked more than 40 years ago - very obviously, it has been painted up since that time.

I returned to Kaa and keyed into Google Maps my fifth and final destination for today, my fathers childhood home in West Hampstead.

My father's childhood was very different to my mothers in almost every respect. Whilst my mothers childhood was not the happiest by a long stretch, she had a more than comfortable life as her homes in both London and Edinburgh were not without money. On the other hand, my fathers upbringing was not one of money or comfort it seems. The Fellowes family in West Hampstead lived in poverty, my paternal grandfather died of tuberculosis at the age of 42 in 1954 when my father was 15 years old. As his older brother was away in the army doing National Service, it fell to my father to take over. He gave up the prospect of becoming a professional footballer (for Hendon) and playing cricket for Middlesex Cricket Club to work in a pencil factory to support his mother and his younger sister who was still at school. Going back in time, when he was born in 1938, the family lived in a three-storey house along with three or four other families and money was non-existent as my grandfather had apparently been in poor health for most of his life. And it was to this house that I travelled, a mere 15 minutes from Ambleside Road in Willesden.

To see the house now, you would find it difficult to imagine its past. The area doesn't look so bad, the house looks smart and has clearly been modernised. It's still flatted, but it seems with students and professional people. The two houses in the photograph below were linked by the fact that my paternal grandmother, Annie, lived in the house next to the one she occupied with her husband before they got married.

The house on the left was where the Coker (my grandmothers maiden name) family lived, and the house on the right is where Annie and my grandfather, William, lived and into where my father, Ronald, was born.

I mentioned earlier about a slightly spooky but fun little thing that happened. The black car you can see in the photograph above is Kaa and once I had taken my photographs and had my moments of thought and remembering, I was sat in the car keying my route home into Google Maps on my smartphone. So, please keep in mind that my father died in 2006 (14 years ago) and my mother died in July of this year (2020), not even 2 months before my visit here, my emotional state is bordering on fragile and I'm outside my fathers childhood home (to which I don't really have any emotional attachment to as I've never been inside it).

When Google Maps calculated the route home, it informed me that I would reach my destination at 19.38.

The question you may very well be asking is "and?" or "so what?"

My father was born in 1938.

Thursday, 3 September 2020

Moving forward......

The Canon portable scanner saga continues!!!

Paid for Next Day Delivery on Tuesday 1st September for Wednesday 2nd September, it's now mid-afternoon on Thursday 3rd September and yep, no sign of the bloody thing.

I don't have a tracking number because the scanner was being despatched from one of their suppliers. Yes folks, that's Laptops Direct for you - so, twice in the space of a week I'm let down by two very crap companies.

I took a look at TripAdvisor, the review site and oh dear, oh dear, Laptops Direct do not have a very solid fan base. I have a feeling that all the really good reviews were probably written by them. Yet you would think with my experience of on-line purchasing that I would have checked before using any on-line company, but no. I will blame my current mental health state.


As the title of this bloggy post thing suggests, I have to move forward (please note I really hate the buzzword thing, so apologies for saying "moving forward"). Perhaps I should say, I've decided to leave that behind me and plough on ahead.

Yeah, that sounds better.

So, as the title of this bloggy post thing suggests, I've decided to leave that behind me and plough on ahead. The scanner on my Canon MX495 all-in-one is very good, so today I've been getting to grips with it's various functions, not least the "Scan and Stitch" facility. Not only is this very handy, it's pretty cool - two scans that you stitch together which makes life that much easier when you're dealing with the longer style of birth and marriage certificates (see the photo below). Yes, it's a little more effort, but definitely worth it and once I've got the hang of it, like anything else, it'll be pretty quick.

As you will see from the two photos below, I have to scan from each end of the certificate separately:

So once you've done your two scans into the computer, you use the scanner software to "stitch" the two images together, crop the "stitched" images to create the proper aspect and then save as a .pdf file. And the photo below is my first attempt, which, even though I say it myself, isn't too horrendous and didn't take too long:

Alongside sorting out the Canon all-in-one, I've been going through my mothers certificate folder, it's quite a treasure trove of letters, certificates (of course), memorial cards and a whole host of other bits that'll soon be on this blog. I found a series of memorial cards and letters from local authorities that gave very detailed information of grave plots for members of my maternal grandfathers' family in London. I went on to Google (as you do) and sourced section maps for 3 of the 4 cemeteries where family members lay. The fourth is the one I already have from Kensal Green Cemetery. I've been contemplating a "field trip" before I have to return to work, so after checking the weather for tomorrow (Friday 4th September 2020), I've decided that I'm going to head off to London first thing in the morning and go in search of the graves.

The cemeteries I will be visiting are:

1. Camberwell Old Cemetery: herein lies Emily Ellen Cull and I'm hoping one or two others as I think she is in a family grave.

2. Streatham Cemetery: here I shall be searching for the grave of Edward Cull, and I already know that this is a family grave, so I am expecting to see one or two other names on the headstone.

3. Kensal Green Cemetery: this is where my great-grandmother, Ethel Fellowes and two of her daughters, Queenie Midwinter and Alice Holmes, are resting.

4. Willesden New Cemetery: here I will be looking for Frederick Soanes and Mary Soanes. Again, I'm hoping that Mary's grave will be a family plot with other names. Fredericks grave should be easy to recognise as I have a old photograph of it which I scanned and printed off earlier today.

Taking an early night tonight (10.30pm is early for me, very early) as I want to be on the road by 7.30am. My camera (Canon of course) is ready complete with two spare batteries, I've laminated the cemetery plans (just in case) and a USB memory stick has been loaded with tunes. Hopefully, some fairly interesting updates over the next couple of days to report.

Night night xxx

Warp speed Mr. Sulu.....

 Right, it's gone supernova.

I've been beavering away for a few days (the Canon scanner still not bloody arrived by the way) and I have gathered so much information already, with tons more on the way.

A chance glance at another person's family tree made me inquire a little further regarding the relationships between the people I have on my tree and the consequence is the discovery of SIXTEEN children born to my great-grandparents between 1910 and 1935, and, this is the real kicker, the answer to the mystery of why my father and his brother were so, as I was told, vehemently against the family history of their family being looked at!!!

It's better than Eastenders!!!

Lots of note writing, lots of bookmarking, lots of TreeView updating and lots of death/birth certificates ordered. It's getting busy!!!

So, I've also spent some time sorting out my workspace.

Initially, I thought it would a good idea to enable my three computers (1 x PC and 2 x laptops) to access the TreeView software - this didn't prove too successful in that I basically got confused. I'm getting old, I'm slowly coming round to the idea. Plus, I started to find I had papers and books and the like scattered all over the house. Now, my good lady is supportive and tolerant, but she's not that into the genealogy thing (yet!!!) and it's about playing fair. Ultimately, I decided that Genealogy HQ would be the old battered bureau in the dining room. I dragged the plastic drawer unit through there (the wheels fell off with the weight of the stuff in the drawers) and brought down my Canon all-in-one- printer/scanner/copier/fax/tea-maker/dishwasher......sorry, you get the idea. Oh, the Canon printy thing is also wi-fi enabled - well cool - so that means I can print from anywhere in the house from my PC (upstairs in my little recording studio - I'm also a recording musician), my Samsung smartphone and my Samsung Galaxy tablet.

I sat down with the first drawer of my mothers research papers and weeded out all her hand-written notes. She had a penchant for writing her thoughts, ideas and information on the backs of envelopes, calenders and scraps of paper. I had a quite a pile of seemingly jumbled scribings, actually there was nothing "seemingly" about it all, they were a jumbled heap of paper. So, I gathered them from the smallest scraps to the sheets of A4 and wrote everything on them onto fresh sheets of A4 paper, a new sheet for each note. That might seem a little wasteful as some notes were only a line or two, but separated from the whole, each note started to look more like a piece of the puzzle. There were a lot of things that were repeated several times, but I came to recognise this as my mothers thought patterns and ways of bringing forward ideas in her mind. That won't work in the slightest for me, but it worked for her and I could soon see how her information was taking shape - quite literally method in the madness. I have one drawer three-quarters done, the rest will be done over the next few days, in between my poking around Ancestry (.com) looking for anything related to my fathers family. The work on my mothers side of the family is very advanced and needs properly collating and presenting -this will be easy.

Anyway, things are looking a little more organised and that's a good feeling. I decided to cancel the order with eBuyer for the Canon scanner. Quite frankly they've pissed me off and I will never use them again as this was not the first time they've done this sort of thing. I reordered the scanner from Laptops Direct, opting for Next Day Deliver's not here yet, I ordered it yesterday in the time they said for getting delivery today. No tracking to speak of and yes, I'm feeling a tad pissed off. Again. You know, I can't even buy the damn thing locally as nowhere has it in stock, including the likes of PC World (or Currys, whatever the hell they're calling themselves now), Argos and even Amazon can't deliver until Saturday at the earliest.

You may be getting the vibe that I don't do the "waiting" thing very well and there's a good reason for that.

I don't do the "waiting" thing very well.

In the meantime, I've been preparing research documents such as family group forms, research logs and source records. I've put together a couple of folders to take care of certificates that I print off from the Internet and get from the General Register Office - I said at the beginning that I do the paperless thing, and whilst I accept that I am going to need to use some paper documents, I will be going digital on everything else. And talking of digital, on the computer I have set up folders for images, the various families, documents and templates. I've created my own blank printable forms using Microsofts' Excel spreadsheet and set up the scanner on my Canon all-in-one to send its output to the Family History folder on my OneDrive.

With the information I have already gathered, I have started filling out the family group forms - what a great idea they are, so simple, so obvious and so very useful. These will present a picture of a single family unit, for example, the first form has my details along with those of my ex-wife and our two children, the second form has a shorter version of my details along with my parents and the next two family group forms will be for my parents and their parents and siblings. It simplifies the information and lets you see what each family looks like away from the family tree.

Amongst my fact-finding tour of Ancestry, I found out where the family grave containing my paternal great-grandmother and two of her daughters is, so earlier today I spoke with Kensall Green Cemetery in London and they very kindly (and quickly) sent me a map of the location of the grave within the cemetery. Hampstead Cemetery please take note, I had this information within an hour!!! I've also been tracking my father's family through North West London on Google Earth, so I will be taking something of a "field trip" (probably early next week) to London to visit the grave of my great-grandmother and great aunts as well as taking a drive around the places where the family lived through Kilburn, West Hampstead and Paddington. Being a photographer as well, I'll be taking the camera (yep, it's a Canon) along so I can get some decent images. Finding the grave might prove useful as headstones (assuming there is one!!!) can sometimes yield a lot of information - I remember many years ago when I accompanied my mother on a cemetery visit to London when she was researching her fathers' family, that we looked up two or three graves and gained a lot of knowledge from them, not least dates and names we hadn't come across.

Once again I've hit the 2am mark. I've got to start trying to stem this as I'm back to work in less than two weeks and not being 25 years old anymore, I struggle if I don't get sufficient night's sleep - this getting older business can be shit at times, not helped by the onset of arthritis in my knees and type 2 diabetes (which I really do need to manage better!!!).

Anyway, enough, I have to sleep now.

Family Update

Further to my post on the 30th September 2020, I am now in contact with several members of my late father's family!!! Within a 24 hour p...