Sunday, 25 November 2018

Journal Jottings Online is Coming to an End

For various reasons, I have decided after one year to call a halt to my blog Journal Jotting,  recording my everyday life for future generations.  In many was I have  enjoyed the challenge of writing it and featuring my photographs,  but feel a change is now appropriate.

 Thank you to all my small band of loyal readers for your “Likes”. I have much appreciated your support.

 I shall still be writing  about my activities and thoughts on a word document, which hopefully future  family historians  might find of interest in reflecting the times we live in.

Blogging is something that has given me a great deal of pleasure  and it suits my style of writing.   So I am continuing with  my family history blog which will appear on the related Facebook page and also the local history blog I manage - Auld Earlston.

With kind regards - Susan.  


The Leader Water at Millbank, Earlston - Nov. 2017

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Journal Jottings - A Week of Remembrance

LIFE:  NOVEMBER 5th TO 11th 2018

My  week has been  dominated by events commemorating Armistice Day 1918  and the end of the First World War one hundred years ago.

As a child I grew up as part of a family that always marked Remembrance Day either attending the local war memorial ceremony or watching on TV the national tribute in London. Unlike many who served in the forces, my father (right) was happy to talk about his experiences, but I am in no doubt now that we got a sanitized version. It was much later I realised the war was a life-defining time for him. He wrote down his memories for me and these remain among my family treasures. 

On BBC television this week, I saw so many moving programmes
Antiques Roadshow where people showed their family memorabilia and  told the stories of their ancestors who served in WW1.    It reminded me of our visit to the show last year where I took my album of  cards and documents relating to my Danson

                   One of the many cards sent back home by my grandfather from France
  • With my granddaughter and the Military Expert
    at the Antiques Road Show, Floors Castle, Kelso


    Last of the Tommies - An oral history project gathered over many years.  The three   programes followed the course of the war and  featured reminiscences from  soldiers, filmed when they were  in their 80's and 90's.  The films also showed so graphically what my great uncle George Danson must have experienced as a stretcher  bearer in the field facing shells and gun fir,  as he recovered the wounded and the dead.  The men  recalled their memories of the horrors of a war which remained very vivid in their minds, but rarely spoken about - as was the attitude of my own grandfather (below)  who won the Military Medal for gallantry and fought in the mudbath and bloodbath of Passchendael. 
     My grandparents - William and Alice Danson 

    I  thought  back to the  time of commemorations for the evacuation from Dunkirk in 1941.   My Uncle Harry had been among the men, wading into the sea to reach the rescue boats. I asked Harry if he had seen any of the  TV programmes.  I knew immediately  I had made a horrible mistake, as his eyes filled with tears and he was quite emotional.  He never talked about the war, but  memories of what he had witnessed so many years ago could still move him so deeply.  

    The Final  Hours - The Day War Ended -  the drama-documentary  with silent actors, solemn  narration and contemporary film, depicted the negotiations that led to Germany's surrender in the railway carriage in a forest, deep in northern France.

    I learned  a lot from this engrossing programme.  The negotiators were the Allied Supreme Commander Marshal Foch, a British Admiral Rosslyn Wemys and a German politician Matthias Erzberger - the latter two names new to me. Up for discussion were 14 principles put forward  by US President Woodrow Wilson with the  intention of never allowing Germany to wage war again - heavy financial reparations to Belgium and France, surrender of all weapons, Alsace-Lorraine returned to France and a naval blockade stopping supplies reaching the people of Germany.

    I ended up feeling quite sorry  for Erzberger - he could do nothing but accept the terms of peace.  But amidst chaotic scenes of civil  unrest in Germany, he returned home and was assassinated by naval officers who felt he had betrayed them. 

    A first class history programme, essential viewing for anyone studying those tragic times, with the scene already  set for another  war just twenty years on. 

Festival of Remembrance in the Royal Albert Hall  -  This opened   with the beautiful  solo voice of a choir boy, singing "Keep the Home Fires Burning".  Highlights for me  - Bryn Terfal singing "Rose of Picardy", the cello playing of the Young Musician of the Year as the audience stood,  holding photographs  of their loved ones killed in war, the Cumbrian couple recalling  the death of their daughter in Afghanistan,and the parade of the servicemen and the national flags of Commonwealth countries whose contribution has often been ignored. How could anyone not be moved? 

Service at the Cenotaph and at Westminster Abbey 

The four-year long programme of commemorative  events  ended with the German President Mr Steinmeier laying wreaths  at both the Abbey and at   the traditional Remembrance  Day ceremony at the Cenotaph, with  the march past of veterans - and new this year - a  10,000 strong People's Procession with the public invited to request tickets to walk  from Buckingham Palace, to pass the Cenotaph, and pay their own tribute   I would have been proud  to take part in memory of my extended family.

 The Cenotaph, London, Britain's national war memorial
Taken November 2007 whilst on a visit to the city.

  • Great uncle George Danson - as stretcher bearer, killed on the Somme in 1916, aged a week after his 22nd birthday.
  • Great uncle John Danson - died whilst in army training in 1917, leaving his only child an orphan.
  • Great uncle Arthur Matthews  -  killed during the ill fated Gallipoli Campaign of 1915, leaving a widow with four young children. 
  • My Cousin's Grandfather Edward Ingram Smith -   troubled by his experiences in the First World War.
  • My husband's great uncle Frederick Donaldson - killed on the Somme in 1916. 
  • My father John P. Weston -  who in WW2  landed at Omaha beaches with the Americans in 1944, moved through Normandy, Paris and Luxembourg, fighting in the winter Battle of the Bulge, before crossing into Germany.
  • My uncle Charles Weston  - captured at Singapore as a Japanese Prisoner of War
  • My uncle Harry Danson - evacuated from Dunkirk and fought in North Africa and Italy.
  • My uncle Billy Danson - in the naval forces.
  • My aunt Peggy Danson - who served in the WAAF and  worked on the barrage balloons.

I can understand the disillusionment of soldiers  at the end of the First  World War, as they  returned to the harsh reality of a life that was far removed from  "The Land Fit for Heroes" as promised.   But  I   defy anyone who says that such ceremonies  today,  with the symbol of the poppy,  glorifies war. The ceremonies are not celebrations but sad commemorations  - something I have tried to reflect in this post. 


My great uncles John and George Danson named on the  War Memorial 
at Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire  


   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 regular online diary. 

Monday, 5 November 2018

My Life in the Past Week - A Bloggin Boom, TV & Garden Colour

LIFE: 29th OCTOBER - 4th NOVEMBER 2018

I began the week still hobbling around  (sprained ligament),  missing my walks and fresh air,  and no doubt putting on weight with lots of cups of tea and biscuits. But by the end of the week, the pain had eased and  I am getting slowly out and about up to the Square. 

Still it was amazing what I got done with more  time at home,  on top of the usual  domestics and a major updating of the household files and papers. 


Wrote three posts for my blogs - Family History Fun, Auld Earlston and Journal Jottings 
  • W.W.1 Military Tribunals in Earlston
  • Auld Earlston on Show - report on our recent exhibition 
  • My bearded great grandfather  - for the “52 Ancestors in 52. Weeks” prompt of "Beards".

  • Journal Jottings for October - update
    I am still dithering on whether to carry on with this online journal.  I began  it a year ago and in many ways I enjoy trying to make it interesting to others with catchy headings and attractive photographs. But  I struggle to come up with effective titles for the posts,and the number of page views is dismal - despite a handful of loyal readers.

    Might I be better  composing it on Word just for myself, which has the advantage of giving me more freedom of expression?  Watch this space! 

Drafted two other  articles - for posting this coming week: 
  •  Famous Men Remembered in Stone (statues in Edinburgh and the Scottish Borders) - for the next Sepia Saturday prompt of "Statues".
  • How Earlston marked the Armistice in November 1918

    November 2018 - Earlston's Fall of Poppies in commemoration of the end of the Great War.

ON THE BOX - a lot better week for me.  Just my personal view of course. 
  • Strictly Come Dancing - remains the best  light entertainment show on TV - not that there is much competition!    Even N. has been watching it.  The fact I only knew 3 "celebrity" contestants at the start is immaterial, as you soon get to know them and pick out favourites.   I am less fond of the production team's choice of good music with the emphasis on modern pop, which just does not work a lot of the time.    The best dances are always danced to the appropriate music e.g. 50's/60's rock for the Jive, 30's/40's Ginger & Roger style for the Foxtrot & American Smooth, classic for the Viennese Waltz. 
  • Great British Bake Off - We were not going to watch this when it transferred to Channel 4, without Mary Berry, as I don't care for any of the presenters.  But again it is  easy to get involved with the contestants and admire their skill. Any of the three finalists would have been worthy winners, but I was pleased to see the Indian doctor take the trophy. 
  • Discovering Dirk Bogarde - N. is the film buff, but we are both enjoying a  Sky Arts series, profiling film actors from the past, with clips from films and measured comments from  critics.  This week - Dirk Bogarde who I had a major crush on in my teens, from his early days as a light comedy matinee idol  (Doctor in the House), to more classic roles (Tale of Two Cities where I wept buckets at the end),   and then to very much more serious, often dark roles, in his later career.    He proved to be a very versatile actor and I enjoyed this nostalgic look back.

  • The film of  “An Inspector Calls” by J. B. Priestley, starring a sinister Alistair Sim.  I remember first seeing this play in my teens with my parents,  and was impressed with it then.  G. studied it when it was a set text for her Higher English and saw it at the theatre in Edinburgh.

    Set on one night in 1912 in a well-off middle class home, the Inspector  questions the family about the suicide of a young working-class girl. It was regarded as a criticism
    of the hypocrisy  of  Edwardian English society and an expression of Priestley's socialist principles.   Brilliantly acted and very thought provoking.
  • The Apprentice (UK)   - one of those programmes which is so awful, it is watchable.  The candidates are so arrogant and full of themselves, which is probably why they got through the audition process I stage.  The format of the challenges has hardly changed over the years and could do with being updated.  In one,  the  two teams were being sent to Malta for the "treasure hunt" task  In the car taking them to the airport, one girl remarked "Does anyone know where Malta actually is?"  AGH! 

    I just wish that the two panelists who closely monitor the teams were given more opportunity to air  their views.   The  start of each programme is irritating and time wasting,  with a candidate dashing down stairs in their nightwear to answer the phone at an esrly hour (surely a large  London townhouse would have a phone connection upstairs?), to be told "The taxis will be with you in 20 minutes".   I defy any girl to shower, wash, dry and style her hair, put on make up, dress in formal  business wear and be out of the house in 20 minutes!!

    The best part is everyone back in t he Board Room, where Lord Sugar lets them talk themselves into one person  being told "You're Fired".

Weatherwise this has been a good month, colder, with little rain and bright,  sunny days.  I am just sorry I have not been able to get out and about with my camera.  But there is still colour in our garden, with these photographs taken last Monday.  

               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 regular online diary. 

Banner Photograph: 
Looking down on the Earlston High School from the Black Hill, 
taken by my daughter


Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Journal Jottings of My Life: October 2018

Blogging has taken a back seat this past month, as the Auld Earlston exhibition has taken up so much of  my time at the computer - so a lot to catch up on here.




The theme of "Earlston in War and Peace:  1914-1949"   drew a large audience throughout the two days.   Visitors had the chance to browse through information panels  vintage photographs, memories of older residents,  and memorabilia of  life in the first half of the 20th century. Among topics featured were Earlston soldiers, prisoners of war, the German air crash of 1943, Polish troops in the village,  and the sterling efforts of the community to raise money for both national causes and local war comfort charities.  Drawing particular  interest was a table of the weekly rations available for one person in 1942. 

As a contrast, the displays on the inter-war years focused on Earlston at work and leisure, including a look at housing, wages & prices, and the 1934 Ercildoune Pageant which depicted scenes form local history.

Throughout the event, four slide shows attracted capacity audiences who enjoyed a tour  around Earlston's people and places, with the history and anecdotal  commentary  sparking lively discussion. The programme ended with a unique short film of Earlston in the 1930's, showing rural life, schoo

All in all a great weekend and very satisfying to hear such positive feedback from visitors.  But I was shattered afterwards!  

 As if this month was not busy enough,  I am hosting the October online discussion for the African charity that invites us to knit or crochet squares.  These are sent to Africa and then sewn up into blankets by the various communities and distributed to orphanages and nurseries, primarily for children suffering from AIDS.  The theme this month is "The Seasons"  - right up my street, as I particularly like interpreting them in colours, with my first four squares below.

People post their contributions for comment  on the Square Forum page   and there are some wonderful examples of individual skills on show. 

FALL FOLIAGE PHOTOS (Try saying that quickly and repeatedly!)
Autumn is my favourite month.  I recall as a child scuffing my shoes through the leaves, and enjoying the crunchy sound - this still appeals to me!  I love the colours of brown, bronze, burgundy, green and gold.  Has this anything to do with the fact I was a "September" baby - as were my grandmother, mother, aunt, two uncles and husband?   These colours were staples in my wardrobe in the days when I was a brunette, and still feature today in my  home decor.  

My idea this month was to get out and about  with my camera, but a sprained ligament in my leg has left me largely inactive, so not to be.  Instead  I am taking a look back at earlier photographs to remind me how beautiful the Scottish Borders is this time of year.  We are lucky to live here!

Photographs all taken around Earlston, 2017   


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 regular online diary.  

Banner Photograph: 
Looking down on the Earlston High School from the Black Hill, 
taken by my daughter

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.