It is quiet in the office here at the moment and I have been browsing on the internet. I put our postcode into ‘Google Streetview’ and find that the property coming up is a bungalow which has been lying empty for several months and consequently shabby looking. Our home is a couple of hundred yards north of that spot but there are no other houses around and we share the same postcode. I find myself wanting to let you know that the house you see is not mine! Pride I think -but a good lesson in not jumping to quick conclusions about what we see be it advertisements or that tantalising ancestry.com connection we have emailed to us!
Since starting Scottish Ancestral Trail I have been very aware of the different countries so closely associated with Scotland. The visitors we have had from overseas have made the world a much smaller place.
I heard this morning from Cairns in Australia as they wait for the cyclone to reach them. They are well prepared and waiting…… It stops me complaining about our weather in Moffat.
This is the first time I have written here in 2011 – so Happy New Year would be appropriate – maybe somewhat belatedly. Everything over the festive season was rather disrupted though. The heavy snowfalls meant that many people were unable to be where they had expected to be over Christmas and the prolonged cold weather made me hibernate for longer still. I have only just wished wished Peter Chalmers a ‘Guid New Year’.
Peter is a highly regarded, retired, Edinburgh military gentleman who in his retirement does guiding work for us. Most people who have been on holidays with us will have met him. He is a repository of knowledge about Edinburgh, it’s buildings and its historic inhabitants. As Peter was unwell last year I had planned to visit before Christmas with a box of biscuits. Ice, snow and the general mayhem prevented me from making the trip to Edinburgh so it was not ’til yesterday that I made my way, with my by now tattered parcel – how is it that Christmas presents delivered late look so messy!
On his wall Peter has a copy of a John Ainslie map of Edinburgh drawn in the 1780s. He found the original himself in a bundle of books brought into the RCAHMS building in Edinburgh. It was a great find as it was a map that was unknown. They promptly to 4 copies of it and in gratitude to Peter gave him one! Quite something to have hanging on your wall.
We use the map library of Scotland ourselves as a resource for visitors tracing their ancestors homes. Searching old maps is a great way to while away the time and has the element of detective work in it.
Peter gave me a New Year kiss yesterday, so I feel the year has started.
History is recorded in place names round the world.
We visited New Zealand several years ago and as we travelled we recognised the names or Scottish towns and villages. Names cropped up in almost every township or farm name. It is a strange but comforting feeling of being at home while actually being far from home. I can sympathise with the desire to take your familiar and familial names from Scotland when you move thousands of miles away.
I read yesterday that the second biggest town in Liberia is called Buchanan.which is a very kent name to me as my mother was a Buchanan. To my knowledge Buchanan is not a place name here, just a family name.
Today I have been writing some Christmas cards and that has really brought it home to me. I was writting to relatives who have built a home in the Barossa Valley in Australia which they have called – Abbotsford – named after a Crescent in Edinburgh from which they emmigrated and also the name of the home of Sir Walter Scott in the Scottish Borders. Another cousin who lived outside Johanesburgh and was descended from Scottish Border farmers was himself known as Tweed which is the name of the River which flows through the family farm in Scotland and the farm fields in Johanesburgh were named after the Border towns in Scotland.
Maybe it would be fun to come to Scotland to see the place where your town name originated!
My husband, Peter, has been mumbling to himself in the kitchen. Well that’s not new!
He is reading out text from a small book written a hundred years ago by an ancestor of his about his family. The book was given by the author, Thomas Helm, to his niece (?) Peter’s mother when she was a lot younger and she is now 92. The question mark about their relationship is hers.
The text Peter is reading out is:- ‘my mother Euphemia Helm nee Hunter’. At the same time Peter is leafing through his family history records with a computer screen open in front of him. You probably know the sort of thing….. Mumble, mumble, ‘Euphemia Helm nee Hunter’ . Then he announced ‘something’s wrong – someone’s given me wrong information’. Ahhaa yes, well that is what happens – go to the original records yourself and don’t just take people words for it – the mind plays tricks and when we write down the precious memories of relatives they may well have names and the generations mixed.
Or then there is the typing error.
Caroline Makein, of ‘Fife Rootsearch’, a professional Scottish genealogist once told me of something which happened to her. When searching for information about one of her own ancestors she came across dates which were quite wrong. When she unearthed where the wrong information had come from she found it was from a typing error she had made herself. Of course the erroneous information was already out there in the ether getting itself quoted and copied into other peoples records. No doubt someone, somewhere, is mumbling to themselves in their kitchen ‘someone’s given me wrong information’. Check your original sources seems to be the byword for family history research.
We’re just home from a short stay in Wigtown in ‘The Machars’ in the west of the south of Scotland. I’m pleased that we’d arranged some accommodation and were able to spend time just looking round and taking in the atmosphere because it’s a strangely remote point of land which gives you a feeling of being disjointed from the rest of Scotland or even from the rest of the world. We were at the Book Festival meeting authors and buying books. Maybe it was through listening to Roddy Martine speaking about the book he has just written entitled – Hunted Scotland – that I experienced the strange isolation of the area. Then again maybe it is just auto suggestion! The scenery is richly green just now and with the stormy rain and striking mountainous backdrop we had some glowery sky above us at times! We drove to Whithorn the birthplace of Scottish Christianity and the site of the earliest Christian Church founded here in in the early 5th century by the now sainted St. Ninian. The the identity of Ninian is in some doubt but the settlement he established there is extensive.
The children have gone back to school after the summer holidays and today the rain has been falling fast and furiously. However the temperatures are still fairly mild during the day though the nights are getting chilly. But you don’t come to Scotland for the weather as they say!
Last night we ate out at our local Italian restaurant and sat beside a couple who had spent a holiday in Scotland. They had had a wonderful time and couldn’t speak highly enough about the friendly hospitality of the cheerful Scots. I love these comments and they should be broadcast everywhere. We don’t need great weather we have great folk!