Tag Archives: olympia

Two weeks and counting …

10 Feb

Two weeks today sees the start of Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2012 at Olympia, London, billed as “the biggest family history event in the world”.

Everything is in place for my three days family history extravaganza, all that I need now is for the snow to clear off and I am all set.

Looking through the list of exhibitors I noticed a rather surprising, but welcome, addition to the usual list of names. The Weald and Downland Open Air Museum from Singleton, West Sussex will have a stand in the Society of Genealogists’ Family History Show.

The description from the list of exhibitors gives a good idea of what the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum is all about, “Over 45 rescued buildings rebuilt in a beautiful setting in the South Downs National Park, bringing to life homes, farms and workplaces of the South-east over the past 500 years.

Although there isn’t really a direct connection with family history (except there is in my case), it is a perfect fit for those wishing to learn more about the rural lives of their ancestors. Most rural crafts and occupations are represented at the Weald and Downland in one way or another, especially when you factor in the special events that are held throughout the year.

On top of that you can also take courses at the museum, from working with heavy horses to hedgelaying. As is to be expected from the once heavily wooded counties of Southern England there is a particular emphasis on the use of timber, from charcoal burning to construction techniques.

The museum is a superb place to explore, as I have done on several occasions, and not just because it is set in the Singleton in the South Downs, home to many of my ancestors. If you are at WDYTYA Live then make sure you stop by and find out what they have to offer.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Three weeks and counting …

3 Feb

Three weeks today sees the start of Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2012 at Olympia, London, billed as “the biggest family history event in the world”.

All being well I shall be there for all three days, I have booked the time off work and my tickets have been bought (I like the new three-day ticket option), all that is left is to decide which train to catch each day and work out what I am doing whilst I am there.

The third celebrity guest has now been announced, Emilia Fox will be appearing on Saturday 25th February, joining the previously announced Larry Lamb (on Friday 24th February) and Richard Madeley (on Sunday 26th February), making it a hat-trick of celebrities from the most recent series of Who Do You Think You Are? in the UK.

The February 2012 issue of Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine comes with a copy of the show guide, so you can get a head start on planning how you are going to spend your time, although it has to be said that most of the information in the show guide can also be found on the WDYTYA Live website, but I for one find it easier to have all the information bound and gathered in one place.

Another interesting addition to the show this year is a section entitled Our Working Past which is described as a “new, interactive feature for 2012 which aims to throw a little light on the occupations of our ancestors.” In this area you can examine the tools of our ancestor’s trades and learn more about their working lives. I see that the British Postal Museum and Archives are going to be contributing to this area.

Reminder: Don’t forget to buy your ticket for Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2012

9 Jan

This is a reminder for me as much as anyone else. We are about a month and a half away from Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2012 and I still haven’t bought my ticket.

I have taken my eye off the ball somewhat where WDYTYA? Live is concerned and as it is fast approaching I really ought to start getting organised. I know I say that every year and still every year I leave it to the last minute. I don’t expect this year to be any different. At least I have booked the time off from work, which is the most important bit, but now I need to get my credit card out and buy a ticket.

The website seems quite comprehensive, two out of the three celebrity guest have been announced, Larry Lamb (on Friday 24th February) and Richard Madeley (on Sunday 26th February), both from the most recent television series and neither on my “must see” list this year.

There are plenty of other talks and workshops going on that will make it on to my “must see” list instead, the timetable is almost complete (there are still a few gaps), so I can start choosing what I would like to see, and not standing in the queue for tickets frantically trying to make a decision as I move closer and closer to the front of the queue.

An interesting addition to the schedule is the Keynote Workshop on Saturday afternoon, the interesting thing for me is not the subject (“the development of social networking in technology and how it can help in genealogical research”) but the fact that there is a separate charge for this and it seems to have replaced the “conference within a conference” element of the show from previous years. However, I am not interested enough to warrant buying a ticket, although I might be in a minority.

A quick look through the list of exhibitors throws up the usual mix of stalls, I did notice one or two new names. It looks like the flip-pal scanner could be making its UK debut at show (although the URL for the website just goes to a holding page). There seems to me to be more exhibitors involved in getting your family history into print than previous years, although there are still a fair number of societies and archives due to attend as well.

Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2012 tickets go on sale tomorrow

1 Nov

According to the new look  Who Do You Think Are? Live website tickets for next year’s event go on sale frpm the 2nd November 2011, although some pages of the website just say early November.

The good news is that this year there is a larger range of ticket options including the option of a three-day ticket for £30.00, for people like me who intend on visiting for the entire show this is a big improvement on previous years and represents great value for money.

The new look website has been around for a while and is still a little bit devoid of information yet. Hopefully this will change soon and we will start to find out the details of who, what, where, when and how.

It might be worth waiting a little while before buying your tickets to see if there are any special offers this year, like there has been in previous years.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.
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Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2011 – Day Three

27 Feb

Day three of Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2011 and fatigue was starting to take its toll. Fortunately it was a much shorter day for me, due to the deficiencies of public transport on a Sunday (don’t get me started on that).

The show was also a lot quieter than the previous two days which pleased me, there were still plenty of people about but it seemed a lot calmer and relaxed, or was that just me. I took the chance to take advantage of the Society of Genealogist’s Ask the Experts service, I spent twenty minutes or so discussing the missing 1841 census entry for Henry SHORNDEN/WRIGHT. I have one or two things to try out which might help solve the mystery, but it is just great to be able to discuss a problem with someone else, you know what they say “two heads are better than one”.

I deliberately didn’t go crazy with the talks/workshops today, although there were several I would have liked to see, but I really wanted to spend a bit more time visiting the stands, taking advantage of the fact that there were fewer people about. Time seemed to fly by and I had a fascinating discussion with a representative from the Science Museum Library and Archives about one of their exhibits and what records they might have relevant to my family history (there is another story in there that I need to research and write about). I learnt so much in those few minutes and not just about the museum but also about research beyond the museum itself.

I also had a fascinating discussion with a lady from the Isle of Man Post Office, about their new genealogy stamps and genealogy in general. It turns out that as well as working for the Post Office she is also a genealogist herself. The stamps themselves have even more depth than I first realised (I will tell you more later). I could quite easily have stood and chatted for hours, but I had to move on.

The first of the talks I attended was given by Dr. Chris Watts and entitled “From census entry to Google Maps”. This was an unusual one, I had heard the talk before because it had been made available as a podcast by The National Archives, but it was a very visual talk about taking addresses from census returns and using different types of maps to learn further details, so seeing it in person was a much better experience.

My final talk of the show was by Celia Heritage and was entitled “Do You Know Who You Are Yet?”. To be honest I chose this talk because the title intrigued me and I didn’t really know what it was going to be about. It turned out to be about the reasons why people research their family history, largely based on the speaker’s own motivations and genealogy research. It was definitely thought provoking, I am not quite sure about my motivations, but it has made me think that it would be interesting to look back and see how and why I got started on my family tree and whether those motivations are still the same now.

I then spent a bit longer wandering around the stands, the show was beginning to wind down and I was able to pick up a couple of bargains on my way out, but on the whole I don’t think I spent so much money this year, which is probably just as well. Then began the marathon journey home and I think I actually spent longer getting home than I actually spent at the show today! It was sad to say goodbye to Olympia for another year (hopefully there will be another one next year) as it was starting to feel a bit like a second home after three days.

Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2011 – Day Two

26 Feb

Refreshed after a good night’s sleep (I could have done with a couple more hours sleep, but you can’t have everything) I was soon back up to Olympia again today for day two of Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2011. The queue was about the same as yesterday, but running down the other side of the building this time, beginning near the railway station, again it moved pretty quickly, but once I stepped inside it appeared that there were already more people than yesterday.

Again I headed upstairs to collect tickets for the days talks (tickets are free, but on a first come first served basis). Like yesterday many of the talks were soon sold out. I skipped the celebrity talk with Hugh Quarshie and spent the first hour or so on the ground floor.

I sought the assistance of the good folks at the Somerset and Dorset Family History Society, hoping to identify the birth place of my 4x great-grandmother, I am pleased to say that they were just as puzzled as I was over the bizarre place name on her 1881 census entry. Her parents could be a big stumbling block in trying to find all my 5x great-grandparents.

I had booked an appointment with the Ancestry.co.uk scanning team, and got my few documents scanned. They were mostly original certificates and all bigger than A4, so that saved me a lot of cutting and pasting if I was to try and do it myself at home. This a great free service provided by Ancestry and I just wish I could take their equipment home or to the archives with me.

Then I was into a succession of talks. First up was Jayne Shrimpton “Looking at family portraits: artworks and photographs, 1780-1920”. This was an excellent talk, with some great illustrations. It provided a really good overview of the evolution of family portraits from oil paintings to amateur snaps. She has a new book out, which I picked up yesterday and can’t wait to explore deeper, I really need to be making more of my family photos.

Following on from that I headed to The Genealogist stand and a talk by Mark Bayley about the website entitled “The Genealogist: unique tools and data”. The presentation was a useful run-down of the contents of the website and it’s search tools. It has been a while since I looked at The Genealogist website but it seems to have improved a great deal in both content and appearance from what I remember. I was particularly impressed with their search tools, there is a lot of flexibility there, probably more than the two main providers. I need to remember that when I draw a blank on Ancestry and Findmypast.

I then headed upstairs for the talk by Ian Waller about “Farming Folk? Researching agricultural labourers and country ways”. Much of his content was from his book “My Ancestor Was An Ancestral Labourer”, but it was still good to hear it again and got me thinking about so many of my ancestor who were farmers or farm labourers. I really ought to dig a lot deeper on some of them to see what other records I can find.

Then came the highlight of the day, lunch. Taking a break for lunch enabled me to sit down and check my emails. I was surprised to find an email from a probable distant relation in New Zealand, from a branch of the GASSON family I have been hoping to get back in touch with. He had found my mention of James William GASSON in this blog. More proof (if it were ever needed) of the power of blogging.

After my break for lunch I returned to the WDYTYA Theatre for a talk by Dr Geoff Swinfield entitled “Smart genealogy solving genealogical brick walls”. This was more a lesson (based on a particular case study) on how to use web resources effectively and some strategies for overcoming their deficiencies. I don’t think I actually learnt anything new, but was re-assured that the process described was pretty much the same as I would have followed.

My last talk of the day was by Schelly Talalay Dardashti, the title was a bit vague “Online ancestral communities: recreating roots, preserving memories” and I wasn’t really sure what to expect. The audience was quite small but the talk was excellent, describing several online projects that aim to preserve particular communities that no longer exist (with the focus being on Jewish heritage).

After a quick stroll around the stands again and buying a few more Alan Godfrey Maps for my collection, it was time to head back to the station and make my way home, the only disappointment was the delayed train which made me miss my bus and forced me to hang around for nearly an hour waiting for the next one. At least it wasn’t raining.

Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2011 – Day One

25 Feb

It is good to be home, the train and bus ride home have rested my aching legs and feet but my brain is still a little fried from day one of Who Do You Think You Are? Live.

Travel up to Olympia was pretty straight-forward, one bus and three trains (it could have been two trains, but I jumped off at Gatwick Airport for breakfast!), in reasonable comfort without any delays. I actually arrived slightly earlier than I had planned and had to join the queue running along the side of the hall. It had already started filing in through the doors so it didn’t take long for me to reach the entrance.

The good thing about the event being in the same place every year is that I know my way around the building quite well, so I headed upstairs straight away to go and get tickets for the talks and workshops. When I joined the queue for tickets I still hadn’t decided which talks I was going to attended, again the queue moved quickly and forced me to make my choices.

In the end I decided my first stop would be to go and see the celebrity interview with Monty Don and it turned out to be a good choice. He was very easy to listen to and described with enthusiasm the process of making the show and the bit of filming that were left out. It was a very gentle and relaxing way to start the day.

After that it was time for a bit of Latin with a talk by Dr Bruce Durie. I have always been meaning to learn latin, but it has always seemed rather daunting and I remember nothing from the few lessons I took whilst at school (except for one of the display boards falling off the wall and hitting me on the head). The talk made it seem a lot less daunting, although still pretty confusing.

The talk by John Hurley on The Parish Clerk concerned the parish official whose role was seemingly varied and ill-defined. Unfortunately the talk didn’t really add any clarity to the description, although there were some entertaining descriptions of parish clerks, both good and bad.

The last talk of the day for me was Preserving Family Treasures presented by Maureen Taylor. For me this talk was the highlight of the day, I wanted to go to the same (or similar) talk last year but all the seats had been taken so this I made sure I got a ticket first thing. I didn’t have many family treasures to worry about until a couple of months ago when I was given a bundle of photos, certificates and cuttings so now I really need to know how best to look after them.

The time in between talks was spent wandering around the stands. Asking a few questions and spending some money (although I fear I might be spending more tomorrow) although not as much as I expected. The range of stands was very much the same as last year (and previous years), there were a few new faces this year and a couple missing this time around. As well as spending some more time exploring the stands I will try to take advantage of the Ancestry scanning service and try to get dates for a couple of photographs.

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