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From the family album: My grandfather at work

1 Aug

I mentioned painting and decorating yesterday, so below is a photograph of one of my painter and decorator ancestors at work, my grandfather Charles Percy GASSON.

Unfortunately I don’t know where or when this photograph was taken, but I am guessing some time in the mid 1950s and probably somewhere in the vicinity of West Grinstead, Sussex. The glass roof is quite distinctive but I suspect it may well have been replaced by something easier to maintain by now.

Time: the family historian’s biggest enemy

18 Oct

[I will apologise right at the start that this is going to be a rather rambling post, probably repeating itself several times and wasting a slice of your precious time, but thanks for reading it anyway]

I would have to say that a lack of time is probably the family historian’s biggest enemy (I am talking here about the amateur researcher, not those that do it for a living) and certainly my own biggest challenge. There are just too many demands on our time these day, some of these are of our own making, but the vast majority are things we need to do just to survive.

If I had lots of money things would be easier, but where is the enjoyment of paying someone else to visit an archive and search the records for you? Effectively reducing your role to an observer rather than participant. Family history doesn’t make a good spectator sport.

The change in my employment situation about three month ago (getting a job again after six months out of work) has had a major impact on my ability to carry out any family history research. A big part of the problem was the sudden dramatic change, from lots of free time down to virtually none. Rather than being grateful for having a job, it felt like someone had stolen all my time and I would never have time to do any family history ever again.

I realised that thinking like this wasn’t going to get me anywhere, if I actually wanted to carry one doing family history then I would have to change my way of thinking more than anything else. Family history was a big part of my life, and I wanted it to still be a part of my life, but I had to accept that it wasn’t going to be such a big part.

There were several things that I had to do, part of that was to do with managing my time better and making the most of the available time, but a large part of it was about setting my expectations and accepting the situation:

The situation isn’t going to last forever – I don’t realistically expect to be in this job for the rest of my life (although it would be nice if I was), so one way or another the situation is going to change again at some time in the future, and hopefully I will be able to spend more time on family history.

I couldn’t do everything that I wanted with my family history – Until my situation changes again I am not going to be able to do everything I want to so I need to get used to the idea and make the most of the time I do have, rather than worrying about what I don’t have time to do.

Sometimes family history has to take second place – There are many other demands on my time, and some are more important than family history. I shouldn’t resent the time that I have to spend doing other things and not necessarily see them as things that are preventing me from doing family history, but rather to see them as opportunities to take a break from family history and relax.

Family history is not just about collecting names and dates – By changing what I consider to be family history work, I have enabled myself to spend more time doing family history. This blog is now part of my family history work, reading other blogs and buying postcards of ancestral villages are also family history, as is walking around the places where my ancestors lived. It turned out I was doing more family history than I thought!

In conclusion, whilst I have made some effort to adjust they way I work to make it more efficient, by far the biggest answer to my lack of time has been changing my attitude and way of thinking rather than anything practical.

Walking back to happiness

16 Apr

Last year I used try and walk home from work on a Friday evening, it was a wonderful way to start the weekend. Today it was the other way around, I was making my way into Horsham to pick up some shopping. I also had a couple of other things to do on the way.

This week I have been sorting through GASSON files and came across a monumental inscription which I had transcribed back in March 2003. I discovered that I didn’t have a photo of it, and I am not even sure that I had a digital camera seven years ago.

Not only that, my transcription was different from that provided by the Sussex Family History Group. I felt I should visit Nuthurst, Sussex and get a photo of the headstone and check the inscription. Whilst I was in Nuthurst I also wanted to take a look at New House Farm, where my ancestors were living in the 1841 census.

I had a nice walk, the weather wasn’t brilliant to start with, lots of cloud with the occasional break that let the sunshine through (at least there wasn’t any volcanic ash!). The route was a bit further than my walk home used to be, about 10 miles in all, and I didn’t quite make it all the way to Horsham (I caught the bus for the last little bit).

It was good to get out and forget about job hunting for a few hours, enjoy a bit of sunshine and do a bit of genealogy as well. Just the sort of thing a wandering genealogist should be doing. Plus I got plenty of photos and things to write about along the way, like the one below of the primroses along the side of the disused railway line south of West Grinstead.

Primroses on the Downs Link

Snow Shovel Sunday

10 Jan

I’m not trying to start a new blogging meme, just recording the fact that for what I believe is the first time in my life I have been shovelling snow today.

I don’t remember ever having to shovel snow before. I think mainly because when I was living with parents we were so far away from the main road it would have been an impossible task.

Of course it is very rare that we have more than an inch of snow here in Sussex, and it is nearly always gone within a couple of days anyway.

Today we awoke to find the snow was finally beginning to melt, and things are beginning to get back to normal, so I cleared a path to the main road so my wife can get her car out tomorrow.

The weather forecast looks better and temperatures are starting to rise, so I doubt the snow will be with us much longer now, although there are still some large chunks of ice about which may take a while to disappear.

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