Jan 302015

Dear Karma

2014 was a very odd year for me. What I had always taken for granted and accepted as ‘normal life‘ (whatever that really is), changed in many ways. All of the changes were made by me and were my own choice, though some decisions were significantly influenced by the actions of other people in my personal and genearena.

People are odd folk. I realise that we are not all put on this planet to ‘get along with one another’ and heavens, I know I am not always perfect – far from it! But I know the difference between right and wrong because Ma & Pa FWL brought me up well (don’t tell them that – they’ll only get big-headed). I know how to work independently and also as a team, to lead and be a team player.

NoneedIn 2013, I connected with some amazing people in the geneacommunity and this continued in various pockets of 2014. Karma, you played me a good hand with my geneatravels for sure and I am very grateful for that. But, you know, what I came to fathom out in 2014 is that some people obviously weren’t as lucky as I was. They weren’t taught the difference between right and wrong by their Ma & Pa. In fact, some people don’t seem to even know the difference between fact and fiction. They baffle others with falseness and untruths and think that you – Karma – won’t come back to bite them.

Well, I have to say an enormous thank you to you. Today is my birthday and you have given me possibly the best birthday present ever (sorry to all other gift givers but you will, I am sure, understand). Karma, you have let me watch when those who ‘hurt me’ in 2014 have royally messed up themselves. I have had the best day and your actions have been the ‘icing on the cake’. Thanks to my BNI colleagues @ Bath Parade, my dear friend Wendy, my team @ FWL, the long suffering Mr FWL, my family and friends (and over 100 well wishers on Facebook), I have today been made to feel very special.

Karma, I now class you as a friend. Please send me a friend request on Facebook or follow me on Twitter and I will most certainly return the compliment.

Kindest regards, one very happy MD@FWL.

Jan 292015

Today, I have made a major realisation which I simply have to share with you all. Nothing is impossible. At FWL, we specialise in finding people. We pride ourselves on a 100% crack rate and more than that, we succeed where others fail (or give up!). Every day we work on tracing beneficiaries in intestate cases (as well as a multitude of other things) – some cases are simple whilst others test our powers of lateral thinking. Who would ever have guessed that on one day, the BV list would present us with FORTY SEVEN new cases – oh my goodness, we were slightly stunned this morning! Plenty of work to go around though….

NothingIsImpossibleWe’ve had several calls back on cases we have already cracked and documentation has been flying in, along with TWENTY TWO calls on the office phone alone today. Wow – we are popular! Our pièce de résistance this week has to be locating two beneficiaries (male) whose surnames have changed twice since their birth innorwich-terrier the 1980s. It wasn’t so difficult but required that lateral thinking I was talking about earlier on.

Other cases bring up interesting stories and often, challenges. How to prove that a lady born with one surname and living with another surname, though never officially adopted or married, is one in the same person….? We’ll find a way – somehow! Because nothing is impossible as the word itself says ‘I’m possible‘. We are like terriers and we will not let anything go. [So be warned, if we are searching for you and you don’t want to be found – we’ll find you, no matter how hard you try to hide.]

Jan 282015

Having had several tradesmen in the office these last ten days – whilst having two rooms newly decorated and carpeted – I have become a master at the role of hostess. ‘Coffee or tea?’….’Do you take milk and sugar?’ This made me wonder: how common are these as surnames?

CoffeeTeaI am an avid coffee drinker and this is by far, the most common surname – of the four – in the 1881 census, with an interesting distribution, the predominant county for Coffee, housing 96 of the 369 Coffees, being Lancashire (see left).

Tea – I have often said – is not so popular. Just 50 name bearers in 1881 (see right) but a far more concentrated distribution with over half of them living in Gloucestershire. [I have to say, wonderful piece of software, Surname Atlas…. do take a shufty at Steve Archer’s website for more information.]


MilkDo you take milk with your tea or coffee? Well you SUgarwouldn’t be likely to find the name bearers in the same area! 84 people called Milk in 1881 and 69 of them lived in Norfolk, way away from the Teas and Coffees! (see left)…. and if you wanted sugar, well you can have it with coffee but not much else! (apart from milk down in Sussex but I cannot imagine that just sugar and milk together would be very pleasant!)

I wonder if there are any Coffee place names in Lancashire? Or Milk place names in Norfolk?


Interestingly, Reading has the most Coffees per 100,000 people with a 1 in 1500 chance of meeting someone called Coffee in the Registration District in 1881. Fascinating software to play around with!

Jan 272015

Remember the 1970s? The excitement in your house when the telephone rang? That telephone which was plugged into the wall and was unmovable…. that the children in the house would run to and want to answer. That telephone which you would not be able to use if you wanted to connect to the internet via a dial-up connection from your home computer with the enormous monitor….

GoodTimeOver the next few decades, computers became smaller and more portable. Home telephones became cordless and in many residential and commercial properties, several handsets are now available for use in various rooms. Laptops, tablets and heaven alone knows what other technical gizmos are now available…. imagine being born in the 1920s or 1930s – how much change have people of that generation witnessed during their lifetimes?

In the 1970s, when people answered their ‘land line telephone’, they spoke to whoever the caller was. No-one really asked if it was a good time to talk. If it wasn’t, I guess you would not have answered the phone! But now, in the 21st century, I often find myself either asking or being asked, ‘Is now a good time?’ On numerous occasions, I am either told that calling back in an hour (later in the day, tomorrow or whatever) would be better or I ask the caller to do so. [Sorry Mr/s Conservatory Sales Person, Confession time: I clock your number and then do not answer your call in future.]

We live in such an immediate world – with emails, mobile phones, Facebook, Twitter, blogs etc. etc. – that we almost feel we might miss out if we don’t pick up the call. When given the option of speaking at a more convenient time, we’ll take it. But heaven forbid we miss the call entirely.

When is a good time? The caller – whether it’s you calling or receiving – will never know. But we are such polite people (well, most of us) in the 21st century, that we give people the option – progress is sometimes a good thing, I guess.

[Editorial note: if you are tired of getting annoying calls on your mobile, download the Truecaller app from Play Store on your Android phone – you can block numbers, tell Truecaller who callers are and everything! It’s awesome!]

Jan 262015

Wouldn’t we all like to find that we have famous people in our family trees? Personally, I was lucky enough to have an ancestor who I already knew had been knighted before I began my research. More recently though, several instances have cropped up when I have found myself questioning comments made by other researchers (mainly amateur family historians) about how ‘interesting’ (or not) their ancestors were.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFinding an ancestor who did something noteworthy is all very well but does that make them any more ‘interesting’ than the agricultural labourers of the past? When I blogged through 52 of my ancestors last year, several of them did what some people would refer to as ‘run of the mill’ jobs….  half of my forebears hailed from Devon and worked on the land in some fashion or form, but does their occupation and apparent ‘lack of noteworthiness’ mean that I have left them on the shelf and not researched them? Hell no!

I even saw a reference to ‘dead beats‘ recently in some publicity for an online discussion – ugh! Maybe an Americanism and possibly lost in translation across this side of the pond, but I would never ever refer to anyone in my ancestry as a ‘dead beat’. What an awful turn of phrase….

But, what makes someone famous? It’s a question I often ask in terms of celebrities too – what makes someone a celebrity? For readers in the United Kingdom, just take a look at the current series of CBB and you’ll probably question whether your own view is shared by producers on Channel 5!

Are you descended from the monarchy (as so many Ancestry users appear to be!)? Do you have actors, television presenters, directors, land owners, managing directors, magistrates etc. in your family history? What kind of information have you managed to locate relating to those characters? And are you just as pleased to find information about your ‘every day’ ancestors as the famous or notorious ones …. I sure am!

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