It hardly seems possible that it was a year ago since the last Who Do You Think You Are? Live event at the NEC in Birmingham…. that year certainly went by rather quickly. With the aid of my usual amazing scheduling, I managed to get to the church on time…. oh no, that’s a different story…. I managed to get to the train station on time (well, with a few seconds to spare, and a rather faster walk than usual over the footbridge to ensure I actually got on the train!) so as to leave Chippenham at 16:25. Cue minor heart failure. In my mind, the train to Birmingham would have taken me to Bristol Temple Meads first and then, with a change, to Birmingham International. However, this train was travelling towards London! After consultation with my travel assistant at FWL Towers, it transpired that all was indeed well and I would be changing in Reading, not Bristol.
On the Cross Country train from Reading to Birmingham, it would seem that Wifi (despite having a Myfi device) is sporadic at best and a number of reconnects were needed to even send emails, let alone do any genealogical research! Frustrating…. but we arrived on schedule and I almost completed mission one: To walk over the bridge from the train station to the NEC without meeting a genealogist! Failed as @pennysresearch appeared from nowhere, just shy of the escalator!
Mission two was to assist with the setting up of the University of Dundee stand and this was achieved without event. Sylvia Valentine (@HistoryLady2013) and I then returned to the Hilton so I could check in and as we were heading out for dinner, bumped into Aiden Feerick (an Irish genealogist) and so we ended up dining as a trio. A very pleasant evening was had by all.
This year, I had a somewhat busier schedule than I have had at past events and, in my usual fashion, made myself available for additional appointments during the course of the show. I already had four hours of Experting booked in (two on Thursday and two on Saturday) but ended up doing six eventually, along with much networking with fellow genealogists from across the globe and three lectures. I love helping out on the ‘expert’ tables and I was certainly able to help a large number of people to further their research in various ways from adoptions, people telling lies on certificates and in censuses or people simply hiding (or otherwise, being abducted by aliens, as we often say at FWL Towers!). There is still an urban myth that if the record isn’t available online it doesn’t exist, so I also spent some time encouraging people to visit various record offices across the nation.
My three lectures went well it would seem as, not only were they all packed with standing room only, but several people stopped me in the Exhibition Hall to make positive comments and others were heard discussing my lectures over breakfast in the Premier Inn! Rummaging in the Parish Chests, Free sources for the Frugal Genealogist and Using Social Media in your Research will certainly have further airings in the future.
The event comes around very quickly each year and there are so many people to try to ‘catch up’ with, there are always some I seem to miss, or only spend five minutes with before being sidetracked. I was pleased to spend quality time with several genealogy colleagues from overseas who I see even less frequently than the Brits – John Boeren from Antecedentia Research (Netherlands), Marie Cappart from Histoires de Familles (Belgium), Liv Birgit Christensen (Norway)…. some made it back home before those of us in the UK as there were several train strikes affecting journeys.
The trip home after an event is generally an anti-climax and mine was more challenging than most. Birmingham and its environs (for those of you not in the UK and/or those who do not follow football) is the home of many and various football teams. Sadly, a number of those teams were playing at home yesterday and hence, I had to stand in the train corridor with another 15-20 passengers, outside the toilet. Suffice to say, the aroma was not particularly rosy and, having been stood for much of the previous three days, standing on the train on the way home did not go down well. However, ever one with a sense of humour, I rallied the troops and most were at least swearing less/looking less miserable than they might have done otherwise.
And now, back to whatever normality looks like tomorrow (Monday). I am told it’s a four-day week. I am not so sure it will be for me/FWL!