Getting to the Old Country

Sarah William's Book 1807

Sarah William’s Book 1807

I started my family history with the goal of “getting everyone out of Australia”. It’s been remarkably easy with the help of an Ancestry subscription for the records and a good working knowledge of family stories. For many years I’ve been a repository for papers and photos and lists and memories, but committing to a subscription was the start of getting all this stuff organised and put into some sort of context. As I don’t have too many “old people” left to ask about things it had to be now or not at all. Ever.

So getting back to England or Scotland or wherever seemed like a good first goal. Along the way I met some intriguing characters. I am impressed by the number of these ancestors whose genes seem to have past on their occupational skills to me!

There’s the linen weaver from Ireland and the flax dresser from Yorkshire. I have a deep love for wearing linen and also for spinning it. There’s also the shipbuilder who settled in Tasmania with his convict wife – is he the reason I seemed to understand sailing (at least crewing) the first time I was taken out on a skiff? Was she the reason I have a love of silk as well? Poor Rebecca certainly ended up Down Under because of her attraction to silk shawls!

My coal miners from Scotland perhaps gave me my preference for the dwarves in Lord of the Rings when most people loved the elves. And is the Belfast shoemaker behind my insistence on simple well made shoes?

But wait.

All those dressmakers – what happened to their skills? I certainly didn’t get those genes although sometimes I wish I had.

And so it goes on. My Names List page is where you can meet those folk who took the arduous voyage to get to Australia, a voyage that has been likened to us taking a trip to Mars, an incredible distance with little hope of returning.

And these folk left behind brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, parents – some of whom travelled the other way to Canada and USA. And here it gets really interesting because it is with those North American descendants that I’m finding a lot of DNA relatives.

The other thing that’s fascinating is how many of these ancestors married more than once which has a huge impact on working out DNA connections – it’s no longer just my direct line and their siblings who must be found but their half-siblings as well. There really is no end to the research that can be done.

Which suits me just fine – I love it. But I’m wondering, have you set out to create your own family tree? And if you have how do you choose who goes into it?

Bye for now

A Renovation!

Remember seeing those little yellow gifs of a road worker and the bold heavy words “Under Construction”? Well, instead of starting again and constructing a blog from the beginning I’m having a little renovation.

For the last while I have been deeply immersed in our family history and I’m hoping to share some of the stories I am uncovering – both fiction and non fiction. Even my spinning and walking and photography have changed and adapted to reflect this blossoming passion. It’s wonderful to continue to learn even as I get older.

I’ll be changing my “About Page” soon but I’m still pondering how to organise the material. I’ve seen so many different ways other people have developed their Family History blogs I’m not sure which way to go at the moment. For me the simpler the better.

Lastly, the current header image is of a section of Dere St, a Roman Road in Southern Scotland. It was great to discover that my Roxburgh family had lived very near by. Whether they knew much of the Romans is another matter. For them it may have been simply a way to get from one place to another.  You can see the road following the dry stone fence into the distance beside the pine forest. It was a beautiful walk the day we did it – warm and sunny and without wind. Even the boggy bits down in the hollows were kind of fun.

But now I must make some decisions and follow my own new road.

What’s this all about anyway?

A month into this blogging and I guess I’m trying to refine my thoughts and direction. I sometimes feel pulled in all sorts of ways – should do this, should do that – and then end up in a heap of doubt and inactivity. Those other things are currently taking priority at the moment (like being the organiser of an international competition). This is why the posts are short. But I figure it’s better to be short than non-existent.

This morning I woke up knowing what I was looking for – Simplicity. It’s what I’ve been striving for most of my life but often forgotten.

So – here’s an image that reminds me I can get rid of the things I don’t need.

although I did keep the kitchen sink!


PS. It’s also a great opportunity to try the “aside” post format for this theme.

Blog Rolling

Blogrolls – not sure about these. I guess I suffer from the disappointments from the early days when site owners didn’t keep them up to date and so frequently the links led to dead ends. So much so that there was a joke going around about The End of the Internet. I was delighted to see that the site still existed even though it’s changed significantly – no Facebook that long ago.

Anyway. Blogrolls – I’ve decided to handle this a bit differently. Rather than dedicate space to a list of names on the side I am going to occasionally post links to some of the sites I’ve been visiting. It will certainly make me think through the time I spend here and hopefully introduce you to someone new.

Judith posted a prompt inspired short piece of fiction called The Wherry which I “liked”. This post lead directly to the Friday Fictioneers which sounds like a lot of fun to be part of. Judith’s also a very experienced weaver – you can get to her weaving site from the writing site.

Can you smell the apple crisp? A delightful post from the blogger whose self description goes – I am an Artist, Philosopher and Photographer.  Just one cool cat.

An Open Letter to Peter Jackson Susan Roberts reflects on her journey to fiction writing and, of course, Peter Jackson and his ability to bring Tolkein’s story alive. It includes a youtube video of those wonderful lines given to Sam: “There’s some good in this world, Mr Frodo”.

Lastly if you’re into various weekly challenge groups Sunday Photo Fiction provides photo prompts and is a great place to start, there are links to other sites as well.

That’s it for this post, it took me way longer than I anticipated so let me know in the comments if you would prefer a real blogroll.

Phoneography – Macro


Phoneography and Non-SLR Digital Devices Photo Challenge: Macro

I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to post this week – I’m not happy with my phone camera – it has been taken ill with the dreaded “HTC One Purple Tint” lurgy. So I’m now limited to broad daylight shots. Or, what I’m inclined to do, adjust the settings so that everything is in B&W and call it “creative”.

I am full of admiration for the contributions of the other participants in this week’s challenge organised by Sally of Lens and Pens by Sally. There has been some very thoughtful discussions in the posts and in the comments. One of the threads on Sally’s own post was on the nature of creativity. It has prompted me to think through my own ideas. I have not studied creativity, so my thoughts about the topic are instinctive and as you will see I still have a bit of a dilemma.

The stitching in my photo is part of the cover on my writing journal – I’ve had it for nearly four years and use it daily and yes the grime is starting to show. The photo itself is just a snap shot – nothing really special except as a memory for me when the cover gets worn too much to use. But, the moment I decided to take the picture – just very briefly – there was a moment of joy. A sensation of rightness. Is creativity the product? Or is it the inspiration or even the process of doing?

It’s something I’ve pondered quite a lot over the last few years in relation to my handspinning. For me the moment when bits of fibre get twisted into a single, not yet even a fully formed yarn, is the moment of creation. I no longer care what happens to the yarns I make as long as I can go on experiencing the formation of yarns – their creation. So I guess I’m feeling that creativity is an act, an experience, a moment; the finished thing that other people get to see is, dare I say, the byproduct?


When I admire my journal cover I am admiring the byproduct of someone else’s creativity. When I handle it, run my fingers along the ridges, play with the beads, delight in the colours, I do get a sense of wonder and delight – I am experiencing something. Creativity? Mine? Or that of the woman who so very carefully crafted it? So I’m now wondering if creativity is the ability to make something that of itself can go on giving others the opportunity to create their own experience of the item?


I left this post sitting overnight and I’m so glad I did. Before I went to bed I was browsing a new book on Haiku poetry. What I’ve read so far is about Basho, the Japanese poet, whose work has inspired and encouraged many modern people to read and write Haiku.

The author says of him:

A wanderer all his life both in body and spirit, Basho concerned himself less with destination than with the quality of the traveller’s attention. A poem, he said, only exists while it’s on the writing desk; by the time its ink has dried, it should be recognised as just a scrap of paper.

From Jane Hirshfield The Heart of Haiku

Closer to home – a blog post inspires a thoughtful comment – a shared act of creation?

For more information about this challenge and links to the participants click the logo