"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

A New "Toy", Recent Reading and Family History

We've always had a minimum/maximum thermometer in the garden and some years ago we bought a basic weather station that recorded current weather, outside and inside temperature, pressure and humidity. We've been toying for ages with the idea of buying a more expensive one that uploads data to the computer and finally we decided to treat ourselves as a Valentine's Day/Belated Wedding Anniversary present. So far we are really pleased with it - it records loads of data - temperature, wind chill, dewpoint, wind speed/gust and direction, pressure, rainfall etc. and the software enables you to analyse the data in many different ways and even produce graphs. As time passes and we have more records it will become even more exciting.

Just after installation - the wires have now been tidied away!

Recent Reading

Usually when a new book by a favourite author comes out I wait for the kindle version to come down in price but I am afraid I just couldn't resist buying the latest Merrily Watkins book by Phil Rickman as soon as it was published and it didn't disappoint!

Common Ground is a superb book with a wonderful sense of place encouraging the reader to look at areas near to home more closely. The author has recently moved from London to a new home in Harrogate and not long after the move he discovers he is to become a father for the first time. The book details his exploration of an area of "edge-land" not far from where he lives and his feelings as he prepares for the birth of his child. I found the whole book magical.

Having finished all the Shetland novels by Ann Cleeves, I have now started reading the Vera Stanhope books. I really enjoyed the first book of the series and can't wait to read the rest.

Family History

I first became interested in researching my paternal family tree many years ago inspired by the usual family stories/myths(?). I then discovered a distant cousin who was a genealogist had already traced the tree back to 1590. He kindly sent me a copy and over the years I have dabbled from time to time trying to fill in extra details. Of course, these days with computers and the internet research can be a lot easier. To take my mind off the problems with my mother's house (sadly, still ongoing - in fact, I have slowly had to accept it is going to take months to resolve the ongoing issues) I've been taking a free online 6 week course with Futurelearn on Genealogy. The course really is excellent and I am learning so much about research methods. It has been pointed out during the course that, even if you have been given a family tree, you should verify the information yourself especially if it is not sourced. Unfortunately, it looks a rather expensive hobby but I have discovered that my library ticket enables me to go along to the library and use one of their computers to access the library's subscription to "Ancestry" and FindmyPast". So once the course has finished I will be doing that to see if it would be worth taking out my own subscription.

Week 5 of the course has covered, among many other things, the important information you can get from local history societies on family history. My ancestors lived in Broseley, Shropshire from around 1590 to 1872, then moved to the Sarnesfield and Kings Pyon area of Herefordshire before finally settling in Hereford. I do wish I had realised about Sarnesfield and Kings Pyon when we had a short break staying at Weobley a few years ago as they were only a few miles away! I've found a really excellent Local History Website for Broseley which has Parish Registers etc. online and was thrilled last night to find the baptism record for my 9 x great grandmother on 8th June, 1590 and then records of her marriage to my 9 x great grandfather 16 years later. I shall explore the website a lot further when I have finished the course! and I see a trip to Broseley being on the cards later in the year.


amanda peters said...

So pleased the weather station is so good, looking at the data over the years will be interesting .
Common ground is a book I might read, had looked at it before. When it first came out I remember now Harlow Carr near Harrogate had some singed books.
I can see you are enjoying looking at your family history.
Amanda x

Midmarsh John said...

I am sure you will have many months of fun watching the results with your weather station.

David said...

The new weather station looks like a cracking piece of kit and the ability to download data direct to a computer will be really useful no doubt. If you publish any of your data on here it will be interesting to compare with my own weather data :-)

Family history is a fascinating subject isn't it and it is amazing you have managed to track back your family so far. I believe there is a West Midlands branch of my family (Black Country I think), but apart from East Anglia and North-east England, my ancestors come from pretty much all over the place but especially Somerset, Westmorland, and Ulster (at least that is what I've been told over the years!)

Hope you are well and best regards to all :-)

Simon Douglas Thompson said...

My manager would be thrilled, he's a big weather buff and edits magazines for amateur meteorologists!

Ragged Robin said...

Amanda Peters - Thanks so much Amanda. If you decide eventually to go ahead with buying one yourself the one we've got is worth checking out although some reviews mentioned having problems uploading data but we haven't experienced any so far! I think you would enjoy the book especially as you live close enough to check out his edge-land. Have a look at the reviews on Amazon which will give you more of an idea of the book content.

Midmarsh John - Thanks very much John - I am sure we are going to have lots of fun with the weather station.

David - Thanks so much David. When we have records for a month or so will look into publishing some on here and as you say it would be fascinating to compare with your results. I think you have been keeping records for a long time.

Family history is fascinating as you say and very absorbing although it is so easy to spend hours and hours on it and not notice the passing hours! I think I was lucky my cousin knew what he was doing and did all the hard work! Not sure I would ever have got back that far! I think it helps for us that they lived in so few areas. Sadly, said cousin has now I understand died so I have no idea of his more recent research. I do have another distant cousin who lived in Dilwyn Herefordshire who did a lot of work too but sadly they are no longer with us either. Another cousin has reams of stuff but she lives in Presteigne just over the border which is a long way. Perhaps one day I will be able to go and see her as she has loads of information!

Fine here thanks - hope you are well too and kind regards to you all :)

Simon Douglas Thompson - Thanks Simon - your manager has interesting hobbies :)

Rosie said...

Your new toy sounds interesting! What a coincidence, well two really I too have just finished reading 'All of a Winter's Night' - another couldn't put down book and yesterday we drove through Broseley, not once but twice as somehow we took a wrong turning. I've been researching my family history for quite a few years now and subscribe to Ancestry. On my mother's side of the family one branch comes from the Vale of Belvoir around Hose and Long Clawson and my 2x great grandmother was born in Hose and is buried there. I always thought she was an only child but I've found seven siblings in the Baptist Registers. Something made me look through all 42 pages of it and I found them all between 1805 and 1821, so I've added quite a bit to my tree recently:)

Bovey Belle said...

Are you my long lost sister or something?! We are reading the same books (though the Common Ground book is so far just something I have looked at - and put down - in Boothes in Hay-on-Wye). You know my Phil Rickman addiction alaready and I have recently discovered Ann Cleeves, so am having a season of reading my way through her books.

I have also taken out temporary membership of Ancestry (though I suspect I need a course like yours to really get the benefit of it). We're house hunting in Herefordshire soon - our recent viewing was encouraging, and so fingers crossed.

Ragged Robin said...

Rosie - Thank you Rosie - weather station is really fun - keeping an eye on wind speed and gust at present - will turn into a weather bore!

All of a Winter's Night was rather unputdownable - just hope it is not too long before the next one! and every time I read an Ann Cleeves I thank you for introducing me to her books :)

Yes, I noticed recently you had a family history section to your blog - hope you don't mind but I checked it out and found it fascinating. That is brilliant news about the new additions to your tree - amazing what you can find unexpectedly if you check. Must have been such an exciting moment for you. I've wondered about researching my mother's side as it would be a new challenge and something to start from scratch as no-one else has done it.The trouble is I know so little about her family as she was an only child and there is no-one left alive to help. Mum has advanced alzheimer's and doesn't even know who I am let alone remember her family. I do know her maiden name but little about her father as he walked out on mum and her mother when mum a baby. I think mother's mother's maiden name was Phillips or Philips (not sure of spelling).

I couldn't believe the coincidence of your post today as I had been reading up on Broseley yesterday thinking of visiting the pipe museum (3 of my so many great great grandfathers were pipemakers!) and was also reading of the tile museum you visited!!!! I was hoping to go to the church and look for family graves but reading the church website tonight most of the grave stones have been removed :(

Bovey Belle - Thanks - it is one thing I love about blogger the way you find so many people with similar interests and you feel as if you actually know them. I have to thank you for my discovering Phil Rickman - forever grateful :) I am so enjoying Ann Cleeves and I think the CommonGround book is worth a read - lovely book :)

I was so pleased to read on your blog that the recent viewing went well - am keeping my fingers crossed for you. Would love to move to Herefordshire but sadly my family don't share my love of the County so I think it is unlikely :( Check out the FutureLearn website - the Genealogy course has just started the final week (not sure but may be worth checking if you can still start??) If not, the courses are often repeated once or twice a year so worth seeing if it re-appears. It is run by the Uni of Strathclyde and is free unless you want a certificate proving you have studied the course and you have to pay for that I think. I do have some ancient books on family history research which I have never got round to reading - they were probably written pre-internet days!!!!!! Would like to join Ancestry but some years back OH took out a free trial and cancelled it saying it was far too expensive to join!! :( so I may have problems!!!

Margaret Adamson said...

I think you are goingto have a lot of fun with this.

Pam said...

How interesting to have a weather station!

With regards the Ancestry website i've had a subscription on there for a few years and it's really been worth it for me as i've been doing all sorts of branches of the family tree, it has a lot of information, you can get lost in it for some time though! It's fascinating :)

Ragged Robin said...

Margaret Adamson - Thanks Margaret. Yes, it is a lot of fun - love looking at the graphs it produces. The amount of data it collects is amazing. Really pleased with it :)

Pam - Thanks Pam - yes, hooked on watching the weather data!

Thanks for the info on Ancestry - I have realised it is time consuming and so easy to get lost in it all. Only meant to spend a few minutes checking out the Broseley Local History Society site and I was on there for hours!!! I know at the library you have to pay to get stuff printed so if I find it is costing a lot that may help justify getting my own subscription! May have to wait though until all the work is done at my mother's house as when that gets started may be time consuming too :(

Toffeeapple said...

I would not have a clue about the data on your weather station.

I have done several Future Learn courses, some are better than others. Have you tried Coursera too?

Ragged Robin said...

Toffeeapple - Thank you - I am in the process of revising all I ever knew about the weather!!

Yes, I agree about the Future Learn Courses varying - I did think the University of Exeter Climate Change one was good as is the Genealogy one but a few others I was not so keen on. No, I haven't tried Coursera - thanks for the suggestion I will check them out :)

Countryside Tales said...

Fascinating stuff about the family history and how wonderful to have it so far back. I rely on you for book suggestions 😆 And didn't know the latest merrily was out. Will check them now. I did get a fab book on ancient customs and festivals called the English year for £4 from the charity shop this week. Fascinating stuff! X

Pam said...

I think then using the library is your better option at the moment :) I must admit I rarely printed things off just wrote copious amounts of notes and now I have folders full of family history!

Ragged Robin said...

Countryside Tales - Thanks CT. I get book ideas from other people's blogs too - have found several brilliant new authors that way :) The book on ancient customs and festivals sounds very good - love reading about that type of thing :)

Pam - Think I may have to put everything on hold now for a while as first major job at my mother's may be about to commence - not looking forward to the next 3 weeks :( I have folders stuffed full of stuff too! I really do need to sort it all out and get it in some sort of order - once I've finished the course!!