Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Journal Jottings of my Everyday Life: Sept 15-30, 2018

LIFE: 17-30 September 2018
Gingham Girls, Blogging & Brambling 

Another busy two week,  as we say goodbye to a good summer (for once) and welcome Autumn, with the tree colours just  beginning to change and temperatures down in the low 50sF/12C, but with some lovely invigorating sunny days.
Across Britain, we did have one day of  raging storms with high winds and heavy rain, trees down,power cuts,  roads closed, buses and trains badly affected. We were lucky -  I just lost some decorative  plant pots which were blown off a garden table. 


  • Earlston’s  Gingham Girls was the topic at the last meeting at  the local SWI (Scottish Women's Institute) when two members spoke enthusiastically of taking part in a national event to commemorate women (* some) receiving the vote.  Processions were held in Edinburgh, London, Belfast and  Cardiff, with participants marchioness with banners around the city centre, with a 15,000 women  taking part in Edinburgh.

    e Earlston banner, (in the "Give Women the Vote" colours of Green, White and Violet),  paid tribute to the Whale Sisters - Christian and Marion,  who in the early 19th century put the production  of woven Earlston gingham on the map.  They were women ahead of their time,  managing their workforce and marketing their goods across Britain and  beyond. They stamped their mark on commercial life, yet they had no right to have their say on the government of their country.  Read more about them HERE.
    Two surviving examples of Earlston gingham,
    in the collection of the Auld Earlston Grou

    Unfortunately at the moment, only a black and white phtograph of the banner, but you get the idea, with the lettering picked out in  green and violet gingham.
    * In 1918,  only women who were householders and over 30 years old, got the vote.  The rest had to wait until  1928 when all women could vote on the same basis as men i.e. over the age of 21, with no property stipulation.
  • Food Train and Making Meals was   the theme of the talk at the Wednesday Club, An enterprising woman identified that many elderly people living on their own who had a great difficulty getting out to do shopping, if they had no friends of family nearby offerin support and that malnutrition could result.  Carers only made very quick visits and no longer fulfilled the role of home helps, seeing to housework and shopping.  So a charity was set up  whereby volunteers (police checked) offered to do a weekly shop for clients and provided a friendly point of contact.  Alongside this, people who liked cooking were matched with those who would welcome a home cooked meal - again offering mutual company along with the meal.  Simple ideas for a very good cause and now being introduced across Scotland. 
    Getting very close to our setting up date on Oct. 16th, so I have been busy finalising the information panels on our theme "Earlston in War and Peace: 1914-194"  - have Food and Rationing and VE Day  still to do. 

    Earlston V.A.D. (Voluntary Aid Detachment)  Nurses in the First World War 


    Strictly Come Dancing 2018 is back and will keep me going very nicely for Saturday night entertainment until Christmas - I am an enthusiast!  The dancing has been excellent, the ballroom dresses gorgeous and graceful, but I am less happy about the music choices - usually from "pop" music and inappropriate for  many of the dances e.g. Viennese waltz, jive, Charleston. Still I enjoy it all immensely  and it is occupying mega comment space on Facebook. (N. in meantime escapes onto the computer for the whole programme.)

    University Challenge - we both enjoy teing  our knowledge here,though  lucky if we can answer 5 questions each. Last Monday's round was disappointing, with a London University Institute of Paris team, who singularly had failed to absorb much European  history and culture,while being based in France.  They were well defeated. 

    Vanity Fair - I continue to be impressed with this productio of Thackery's novel - the actingis totally iconveniencing. with  my favourite character Amelia - the counterpoint to the scheming, manipulative  Becky.

    Celebrity Masterchef  - the all-male final with my favourite winning. It is very watchable but I do get a bit bored with the prolonged session  they show from their time in a professional kitchen - much prefer when they cook their their own dishes in the  Masterchef kitchen.


    Not much time for blogging lately, but I did contribute to the "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks" prompt where the theme was simply "Ten". I wrote about the ten children of my great grandparents James and Maria Danson.
                     My great grandmother Maria Danson, nee Rawcliffe  (1852-1919)

     Ideal weather for going up the Huntshaw hill to gather brambles - not a great crop, but deliciously tasty,   stewed with apples (bumper supply  this year, and no comparison with the cultivated variety you get in supermarkets. 

    View from Huntshaw Hill





    Journal Jottings   
    Recording my everyday life for future family historians 
    This blog developed from the "Genea-Pourri" prompt on Randy Seaver’s blog Genea-Musings.  I decided to change this title for my own version of this weekly online diary. 

    Wednesday, 19 September 2018

    Journal Jottings of My Everyday Life

     LIFE:  SEPTEMBER 5th -16th, 2018 


    “Away with the Fairies “ was the  intriguing title from the Wednesday Club speaker, who took us on a journey to the Isle of Tiree in the Western  Isles to look at the folk tales  and superstitions linked to fairies - I can’t really say it grabbed my interest.

    The theme of Enterprise and Entrepreneurship  was much more to my taste with the Women’s Group talk.  Tara Gray related her experiences in setting up and developing her photographic business,  along with helping her husband on their small farm in the Borders, with their Highland Cattle regular models.    She had diversified into greeting cards, framed prints and fridge magnets, with word of mouth, Facebook and Instagram her best form of advertising - a fascinating, engaging and impressive presentation.

     My photograph of young Highland cattle on the Isle of Mull, looking across to Iona.

    Vanity Fair  - I am enjoying this latest adaption of William Thackeray's novel - a stylish production,  beautifully acted and costumed and no expense spared with the street scenes. My only reservation - it is on ITV, so every 15 minutes I am catapulted from Regency England to modern days adverts, and I do not like it!

    Last Night of the Proms - English eccentricity as concert goers let their hair down for the traditional end with flags waving and patriotic songs sung with great gusto.  But the  star for me was the Canadian  baritone soloist, Gerald Finlay  - he sang the soliloquy from the musical  Carousel  with such feeling and in the section on World War One  songs, his interpretation of  "Roses of Picardy" was beautiful and very moving. 

    Three Tenors Concert   - I was so glad I caught this by chance on Sky Arts - a programme on the making of the Three Tenors concert in Rome in 1982.  My favourite  tenor by far has always been Placido Domingo and to hear him sing "You are my Heart's Delight and E Lucevan le Stella from Tosca - sublime with a strong "tingle" factor.

    Strictly Come Dancing 2018 - The launch of this year's show was way over the top,   I cannot say I liked the professional dancers' skimpy costumes and there was not even a glance of an acknowledgement towards  the ballroom dances.  But I shall definitely be watching it.  There has been a lot of criticism in the media  about Z list celebrities  -    I only knew three of the names, but that does not bother me.  I knew few last year, but it did not stop me getting to know them and  enjoying the show.

    I enjoyed the recap show of looking back over  the years of SCD, though some of the celebrities I could not place.  


    A busy time writing fact sheets, photographIc captions, display headers and then laminating them all.  Below  is one  of my favourite images of a fancy dress parade in 1943  for "Wings for Victory" week.  Cities, towns and villages across BritaIn were given targets to raise money for bombers. Earlston's target was £12.500 and the sum raised was over £22,000 - a magnificent community effort and equivalent to over  £786,000   in today's money. (Source:   National Archives Currency Converter)

    Auld Earlston had a stand with much interest shown in our displays of vintage photographs and the promotion of our forthcoming exhibition. 

     Llama visitors attracting attention

    My "new to me" bookcase was delivered and I am delighted with it.  I enjoyed setting out my family history and Auld Earlston files and just need to finish the labelling.  

    I was so in the mood for organising, I spent an afternoon clearing my summer clothes up to the loft and bringing down my autumn/winter wear.   

    MEMO  to myself - do not buy any more jumpers - I found clothes |I had forgotten all about, but am still hunting for my "must have" ankle boots which will  be in the loft somewhere!  


    Journal Jottings   

      Recording my everyday life for future family historians 
    This blog developed from the "Genea-Pourri" prompt on Randy Seaver’s blog Genea-Musings.  I decided to change this title for my own version of this weekly online diary. 

    Tuesday, 4 September 2018

    A Pet Talk, Christening Robes, Apple Orchard & A Paper Mountain.

      27th August to 3rd September 2018
    At the Wednesday Club -  A visit from a docile  and friendly  greyhound and a West Highland terrier -  with a representative of the Borders Canine Trust whose prime activity is taking pets into care homes, hospitals, prisons, special needs schools etc. to provide therapy, relieve stress and enhance health and well being.    

    We know from our own three cocker spaniels over time, how calming it can be to have a dog's head on your lap,  as you stroke it. Our last dog Casmir would have made a lovely "Pat Visitor". 

     Casmir  - on N.'s knee.

    Earlston Church  held a Christening Robes exhibtion, following its successful Wedding Dresses event a couple of years ago.  The robes were beautifully  displayed  and I had to admire the skill and workmanship in  their making - and in their laundering as they looked so fresh.   Several dated from the 19th century and one had been used down seven gernations and worn by 40 babies - very impressive.
    Not the easiest to photograph because of the light.



    Our back room is overflowing with books, files and papes and the only solution seems to be - build upwards. Then this week I came across an ideal full length shelving unit  and  I bought it.    The only things is it involves a major reorganizing  and moving around  of our current book shelves.  Cue - granddaughter to help shift stuff.  This is the picture of my family history collection at present in our bedroom .  Delivery date next Tuesday - and I trust my shelf measurements are correct!   

    I was so looking forward to getting my new glasses, following my cataract operation.  But sadly disappointment!  The left (operated eye) is brilliant, but the right vision now seems much worse than I thought and I feel very disorientated.  I am almost better not wearing the distance glasses  at all. I also have to learn at juggling two pairs, but at least the reading specs do help me at the computer and I am not "nose to the keyboard”, as before.   The good news is I am down to be "fast tracked" to get the right eye done - but quite what "fast track" means in our current NHS remains to be seen.  

    The rowan berries are out in  full force - to brighten up what has been a grey day of continuous heavy rain - at least welcome for the garden.

    Journal Jottings   
      Recording my everyday life for future family historians   

    This blog developed from the "Genea-Pourri" prompt yon Randy Seaver’s blog Genea-Musings.  I decided to change his title for my own version of this weekly online diary.  

    Banner Photograph: 
    Looking down on the Earlston High School from the Black Hill 

    Monday, 27 August 2018

    A Typical Week of My Life in the Scottish Borders

     LIFE:  19th-26th August  2018

    A NEW LOOK FRONT PAGE  - with a photograph taken by my daughter from the top of the Black Hill looking down on Earlston High School and in the distance the Lammermuir Hills. 

    THE WEATHER - the perennial British conversational  gambit.  April in August has been the weather theme with some pleasant sunny periods when I got the grass cut and weeding done,  but intermittent showers, sometimes heavy - bad luck if you got caught in them, as you would have been soaked! Still it is good for the garden.  

    A  lot cooler today   - around 17C/64F and pouring down as I type this on Sunday  A great pity as the massed pipe bands are playing at Floors Castle.
                                         Pipe Bands at Floors Castle a few years ago.

    • Galashiels  to be fitted for new spectacles following my cataract operation. 
    • Our local garden centre  - for a browse  and lunch in its new look  cafe. 
    • Earlston Horticultural Society Show  -   display of flowers and produce;  plus  a crafts section.  I must  get my act together for next year and enter some classes - notably photography n oerhaps crochet.  
    • "Move It or Lose It"  Exercise Class  - a very enjoyable way of exercising to keep those joints and muscles in good working order - to lively 50's and 60's music.

    • Begonia Blooms at the Flower Show
    ON THE BOX - A much better week of viewing for me. .

    WDYTYA (UK) featured Para Olympic sprinter Jonny Peacock.  Of most interest was the life of his 19th century ancestor,  Louise Boss  who was  an agricultural  labourer (Ag. Lab.) - a hard working life in all weathers - who had four illegitimate children and was forced to seek help in the Workhouse.  That struck a chord with similarities  to the  life of my great great grandfather's second wife, who came to the marriage as a spinster with three illegitimate children  - no father named on the baptism records.

    A brilliant Proms concert from the Royal Albert Hall, London  in a programme of Hungarian music  - Brahms, Liszt, Sarasati with two virtuoso violinists-playing foot tapping Gypsy/Roma pieces and a soloist on the cymbalom - a bit akin to a xylophone and zither.    The only thing lacking - some dancers! 

    Another Proms performance "On the Town"  - a  concert version of the 1940's musical  by Leonard Bernstein.  The orchestral playing, and the actors/singers were first class, and it is fascinating to watch an orchestra and the way the musical themes move from one instrument to another.  But I cannot say I really liked the music, though I can  see how it represented a change in  classical style.  The only song I knew "New York, New York".   I much prefer "West Side Story". 

    Symphony Orchestra Concert Philharmonic Ha
    Celebrity Masterchef is back - and as usual I knew none of the so-called celebrities.  That doesn't bother me, as I still find it a watchable programme, though some of the challenges are fierce!   The contestant who went out first failed largely because of her unintentional mistake of creating, instead of fluffy rice,  a rice loaf that you could slice and pick up with fork prongs! 

    • A bevy of Scottish related enquiries on the group Facebook pages I read - so I enjoyed adding my comments.
    • An interesting  enquiry from a reader asking if what she was writing was a family history or a family bible.   What was the differenc?  She did n''t seem to realise that the Bible was a book of scriptures of the ChrIstian church - and often in the past was a prized family possession that was used to record births,  marriages and deaths.  Mm - makes me think about current education!
    •  "Murder and Execution in Earlston in 1823"  was the latest topic for the Auld Earlston blog that I write  andit is proving a popular one as regards page views.
    • Prepared two blog posts for publication next week, so for once getting ahead.  
    Lately I have been ignoring what has been going on in the world around me - not surprising as it is depressing with:

    • Continued Tory divisions about our  Brexit negotiations with  the European Union.
    • Continued trouble in the Labour Party over charges of anti-semitism.
    • Continued scandals, sackings and court cases/tribunals/inquiries relating to President Trump’s actions
    •  Continued scandals about world wide child abuse in the  Catholic Church, as Pop Benedict visits Ireland.
    • Former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond under investigation for harassment. No further details have been given, not even to the accused. 
    • Australia in political turmoil with five Prime Ministers in eight years.

    The latest photograph from G. and Nh of "the boys"  -  their pet guinea pigs. 

                                    Chocolate and Marshmallow enjoying their tea.   


    Journal Jottings   
      Recording my everyday life for future family historians   
    This blog developed from the "Genea-Pourri" prompt yon Randy Seaver’s blog Genea-Musings.  I decided to change his title for my own version of this weekly online diary. 

    Wednesday, 22 August 2018

    Holiday Fun, A Bookshop Read and a Pleasure to Shop

    MY EVERYDAY LIFE:   August 6th-19th

    We know we are moving into Autumn, when the air changes and the dew settles on the grass in the morning. A mixture of grey days, showers and sunny periods - but at least we can look back on a marvellous few months of an actual summer this year. 

    For various reasons, Granddaughter Nh has spent much more time with us this summer holiday.  Having fun was on the cards, involving (with some help), draping blankets and throws over the whirly, pegging them together, making sure there were gaps for an entrance and window, setting out the folding chairs and a picnic table  - and us all enjoying a snack in her tent. 

    Icing Fairy Buns was a happy  and lengthy occupation, accompanied by a continuous commentary,  as Nh concocted different toppings,  as  if she were a chemist or a magician, mixing potions. 

    The Wednesday Club resumed after a summer break. I have  to admit the thought of a talk on "Earlston Community Council" was not much of an enticing prospect, but the speaker managed to make it lively and interesting with audience interaction on local issues.  

    A quiz followed on music from the 1960's, to identify the singer and the song from the snippet we heard.  I was pretty hopeless - I recognized the music  but not the names. but all very nostalgic. So do you remember such performers as Guy Mitchell, David Valentine, the Carpenters, the New  Seekers, Matt Monroe, Dusty Springfield, Dans, Petula Clark, Adam Faith, The Batchelors, Connie Francis - and many, many more? 

    Girl Books School Reading Learning Happy SThe Community Council talk had me fired me  up to record my protest on three local issues:
    • The proposal by Scottish Borders Council to remove school librarians frmm High schools and replace them with pupil volunteers -obviously the powers that be think librarians do nothing but stamp books out!
    • Failure to put a notice in the Square bus stop that it was out of action during High Street road works.
    • Poor design of new bus timetables at bus stops - feint, small print that is difficult to read, often placed too high to be read and confusing , in particular for visitors (as I have seen in Melrose).  The previous format was far better.  
    A committee meeting  where we discussed out forthcoming exhibition in October"“Earlston in War and Peace: 1914-1949". Much of my time is taken up with searching old newspapers online,  printing photographs, writing fact sheets, and preparing posters and display headers.  

     A patriotic Certificate awarded to children  n the First World War for their help in  in the fund raising efforts for Soldiers’ Comforts.

    Who do You Think You Are  (WDYTYA) - one of the best in this series.  Robert Rinder discovered the dreadful experiences of his grandfather from Poland, who lost all his family in the Holocaust - his parents, brother and four sisters.  His great grandfather from Latvia came to Britain, served in the First World War, but suffered shell shock and spent his last 14 years of his life in a mental hospital - very sad and moving. 

    Dragons Den has returned where budding entrepreneurs pitch their case to be offered investment by five business men and women. It is a bit false as we only see a very edited snippet of the negotiations and I cannot see the point of the warehouse/jail likeb setting. But I enjoy the discussions and hearing what can help make a good new business.

    The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun BythellThe author Shaun Bythell owns "The Bookshop" in the book town in Wigtown in south-west Scotland. Specializing in second hand books, it is the second largest such shop in Scotland, with over a 100,000 volumes. Shaun gives us a day by day account of his life and trade over one year as he deals with the trials and tribulations of the job - his staff, notably the eccentric Nicky, his customers (most of which he seemed to dislike), travelling to collect stock, and above all his hatred of the Amazon mammoth machine in destroying independent booksellers.

    I came across this book at Melrose Book Festival in the Scottish Borders and was attracted by the colourful book jacket, the title and the book’s format, with each day ending with a note of the cash through the till and the number of customers.

    My opinion of it was rather mixed.  It could get repetitive “Nicky in late as usual” etc was a frequent day’s opener. I can't say I took to the author.  I  did not like his unconventional approach to customer service which bordered on being rude.  Yet there were more sympathetic moments, as when he visited relatives to clear book collections after a death, and his delight in finding a rare or signed volume.

    I would like to have known more about how he listed, catagorised and shelved the books (so he could find them again) - that is the librarian in me coming out again; also,about how books were chosen for  each Random Book Club member (an interesting initiative); I also felt I did not get a true picture of the finances, and how on earth he remained solvent, particularly based in an old difficult-to-heat building which ate up money in maintenance. He seemed generous in what he was often offering to sellers, but the till sales seemed slight apart from Book Festival Week.

    Despite these criticisms, there was something about the book that kept me turning the page, with enough anecdotes and witty observations about customers, staff, the local community and the odd titles requested.  to maintain my interest. I particularly liked the chapter headings with  quotations from George Orwell on books and booksellers,  which led the author to add his own comments, A different kind of read, but a must for anyone interested, like me,  in books and the book trade.
    Talking of customer service  - When I worked at the Tourist Board, (left)  I benefited from a wealth of customer service training - done the course, got the certificate and wear the badge! So I am very aware of the lack of good service and human nature being what it is, we often remember the awful situations rather than the happy encounters.  

    So I decided I  would record when and where it was a pleasure to shop.  All my examples here are from a recent visit to shopping in Galashiels. So stand up:
    • The man at the collection desk at Argos Cataloguing Shop. who I turned to for  help when I couldn't  read the small print in the printed catalogues. We had quite a chat about our eye problems!
    • Sid at Car Warehouse who didn’t make me feel stupid at my lack if technical knowledge and was very patient with my search for a new mobile phone that suited me.
    • Corner Computer Shop- it doesn't look much from the outside, but the staff have been very pleasant and helpful with my IPad problems.
    • Tesco - the man stacking vegetables, who took me where I would find pod peas - I had no intention of wandering up and down all the veg. aisles to hunt them out - I love fresh peas raw in a salad.   Plus the smiley checkout assistant, with a foreign accent, who complimented me on my shopping bag!
    • Gala Water in Galashiels

      Monument in Galashiels  to 19th Century writer Sir Walter Scott,

      Journal Jottings   
        Recording my everyday life for future family historians   
      This blog developed from the "Genea-Pourri" prompt yon Randy Seaver’s blog Genea-Musings.  I decided to change his title for my own version of this weekly online diary.