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Picking up the pieces of my family history

22 Jun

I feel it is time I got on with some family history, but I am not quite sure what at the moment. My father encouraged me in everything that I did and family history was no exception. He enjoyed hearing about my latest discoveries even if he wasn’t able to participate himself and I am sure he wouldn’t want me to stop now.

He was a source of so many family stories and he was the one who had saved so many family photos and documents over the years. This is just one of the many things that I have to thank him for.

To stop researching now is not an option, there is just so much unfinished work to be done but I am struggling to find away back in. From this blog I can see what I had been working on, and I should really try to pick up from where I left off, but that just doesn’t appeal to me at the moment.

What I really need though is something that is going to get me excited and inspire me to get researching again and also give me something to write about.

There are lots of other things I wanted to start looking at and many stories that I need to share, but again none of them are really appealing to me at the moment. I don’t know whether I want to be focusing in detail on one person or family or perhaps trying to expand my tree a little further. Should I look at a recent generation or something further back? Do I want to answer some of my outstanding questions or start something fresh.

Perhaps I should be thinking about places first, perhaps a pub or house, maybe something larger like a village or town, perhaps a county or a geographical area like the Weald or South Downs. Perhaps I should just concentrate on some housekeeping, trying to tie up some loose ends and organising my files.

The other thing I must do is answer some emails, I have let them pile up over the last few weeks and I apologise to those that haven’t had a reply, but I will try to get back to you soon I promise.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.
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With love on Father’s Day

19 Jun

 Roy GASSON
(2nd November 1938 – 27th May 2011)

Seen through rose-tinted glasses

13 Mar

Sometimes the simple things in life are best. Like yesterday morning when my wife and I visited Worthing, West Sussex. We took the bus and it was busy, getting uncomfortably crowded and warm, so by the time we got to Lancing we had enough and decided to escape and continue the journey on foot. That was the best decision day.

It was only a couple of miles and for the first stretch of the walk the busy road was within sight and earshot, but we soon picked our way across the pebbles and down to the sandy beach, and we could easily have been miles away.

For a mile or so we almost had the beach to ourselves, only the occasional dog walker and a trio of fishermen hauling their boat ashore. The sun was shining and although it really isn’t that warm yet, for those few minutes the sun shone upon us and warmed our hearts. The promise of spring and summer was in the air.

All too soon our beach ran out, the incoming tide making it harder and harder to find a dry path. It was too cold to think of paddling so we reluctantly made our way back up the beach to civilisation.

After that the day never recovered, the crowds, the shops, the traffic and the cloud blocking out the sun. Our brief moment of pleasure gone, but leaving us with a taste of what we can look forward to.

The Census: Now it’s my turn…

11 Mar

Having spent many years look at the census it is finally my turn to fill one in. The 27th March 2011 is census day here in the UK and for the first time in my life I am going to be the head of household, although my wife might have something to say about that!

The census forms have returned, although I haven’t bothered to open the envelope yet, but I will be doing my bit on the 27th March. Of course this isn’t the first census I will be listed in (the first was 1981) and hopefully it won’t be the last just yet.

I shall do my best not to uphold the traditions of my ancestors, so I won’t be:

  • Hiding somewhere else on census night
  • Spelling my surname wrong
  • Lying about my age
  • Forgetting where I was born
  • Mixing up my first and middle names
  • Exaggerating what I do for a living

Happy blogiversary to me

1 Mar

Can it really be two years ago that I started writing this blog, it seems like only yesterday. As I am not really one for parties what better time for a bit of reflection and perhaps a look forward to the future as well?

My life was full of challenges last year, beginning with unemployment in January. Although this gave me time to pursue a lot of the things I wanted to, there was always the worry that my dwindling pot of redundancy money would run out before I found work. Back in employment in the middle of the year it was suddenly all changed, from plenty of time to very little spare time at all. Money was still a problem as my travel costs increased along with the cost of doing genealogy, but at least I have some job security.

Still that shortage of time is a problem, I have tried to keep up my daily blogging schedule (and succeeded), but often this has often been at the expense of other things, such as actual family history research. Blogging is too much of a part of my life now to give up, but a delicate balance has to be found. I haven’t quite found that balance yet but things are improving. It is like anything in life, if you really want to do it you will find a way.

So what of the future? I have lots of idea for this and other blogs, but I know that I would be stretching myself too thin if I was to try to pursue them now. Their time will come in the future but for now I need to concentrate on this blog and improving my communication. I wrote a while ago that I was particularly bad at replying to emails and comments and commenting myself, hopefully things have improved slightly, but I feel there is plenty of room for further improvement.

One thing I really want to do is improve the appearance of this blog, I want a more professional appearance, which may mean moving away from a free wordpress.com blog to paid for wordpress.org hosting. Also I am getting bored with the photo of me at the top of the right-hand column and I would like to replace this with a logo of some sort.

I also have an idea for a series of guest posts with a difference, I am not sure if it will work out (I haven’t asked the guest poster yet) but it would be a win-win situation for me if it does happen.

Finally, thank you to everyone who has made this such a wonderful experience, I wouldn’t have got this far without you. Whether it is by commenting, emailing, providing ideas and inspiration in your writing or by just proving that I am not alone. Thank you all.

Confessions of a Geneablogger

24 Jan

I have a confession to make, don’t get excited, it is nothing scandalous or salacious and probably won’t come as a surprise to some of you, but I am pretty appalling at communicating. I appreciate that blogging is not just about publishing content, but also about community involvement and building relationships, and I am just not very good at those.

If you were to ask me why I would probably lay the blame on a lack of time, and whilst there is an element of truth to this it is more of an excuse rather than the reason. I guess the real reason is a cross between laziness and not being that outgoing a person.

So let me take this opportunity to apologise for my lack of involvement in the community and slowness to respond to emails and comments, and tell you that I am going to try harder in the future.

Starting today I am going to put aside some time each day for commenting, replying to comments and dealing with emails. It is true that I don’t have a lot of spare time, but I am sure that I can spare 15 to 30 minutes a day, it is after all part of the whole genealogy process, so I will still be able to count it as doing my family history.

Picture Postcard Parade: The Aquarium and Madeira Drive, Brighton

13 Jan

The postcard below is provided as a contrast to the one from last week, this one probably dates from the late 1960s or early 1970s and show a slightly different view (looking east) of The Aquarium at Brighton, Sussex. Madeira Drive is the road to the right of the Aquarium. The postcard was published by Photo Precision Limited, about whom I have been unable to find out any more information.

This is much more the way I remember it from my childhood. I have tried to remember when it was that I went on a school trip to the aquarium or dolphinarium as it also known. It must have been in the late 1970s. I don’t remember much about the visit, I have recollections of large red plastic covered seats with tables where we had our lunch, and I seem to recall the smell of egg sandwiches, but I could be wrong.

I remember there was a display by the dolphins (long since moved on) in a giant pool, with the dolphins splashing those sitting near the edge of the pool. Also I think they “sang” happy birthday to someone in our school group. I can’t remember anything else about the aquarium, but I do remember we went out onto the beach afterwards, where one of my classmates found a dead fish.

The building now houses the Brighton Sea Life Centre which is much more focused on conservation and education than when I was there, although I have not been there since that visit thirty or so years ago. This is how the entrance looks today (or a couple of years ago) on Google Street View.

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