Dec 022015

December1Ebenezer Scrooge was the cold-hearted miser who despised Christmas at the  of the famous Charles Dickens novel, A Christmas Carol. I won’t tell you porky pies, but this time of year is not my favourite. However, it is the beginning of December now and so I will not begrudge people putting their Christmas lights up…. apart from the ones who fill their front gardens with lights and waste a huge amount of energy!

I get the feeling that I need to add another 15-20 minutes onto every journey I make for the next month to ensure that I arrive on time. Jaunts today were not too troublesome but I can imagine the town/city centres are not the best places to be right now.

Advent calendars are undoubtedly out in force in family homes across the globe and, doing some research earlier today, I was surprised to find the name Advent used over and over again as a first name in some families of yesteryear – particularly the Alcock, Blandford, Hunstone and Swindell ‘clans’ – and generally in Northern England. The strange thing about Advent as a surname is that there are only three records on FreeBMD – Sarah Advent born Prestwich RD, March quarter 1894 and the marriage and death of Joseph Advent in Norwich RD (1946 and 1965 respectively). Where was Joseph born? And what happened to Sarah?

These days, advent calendars seem to take a variety of themes. Many take the form of a large rectangular card with 24 windows. The calendar windows open to reveal an image, a poem, a portion of a story or a small gift of some sort (like a toy, or a chocolate). However, I have seen some fairly outlandish advent calendars and although the concept was originally for children, many adults now have advent calendars too!

I am sorry to say that I am not in any way prepared to welcome advent. The only thing I have sorted is my Secret Santa present for BNI! That person should feel very honoured that they were my first Christmas present purchase of the 2015 festive season!

Dec 012015

As I sit here writing this blog, I am somewhat staggered. I was expecting to write a blog today about ridiculous names. However, I feel compelled to inform you that I have already done ten active minutes today….! Yes, on 1 December at 1am ….

MotivationSeveral days ago, I entered into a discussion on Facebook about fitness (or perhaps, lack thereof) and how us genies might get off our collective backsides and move more. Regular readers of this blog will know that I have a Fitbit (aka Prison Bracelet) which forces me into doing a certain amount of steps, active minutes and distance per day, along with a desirable level of calories to burn. Anyone who knows me will vouch for the fact that I am certainly not OCD (you should see the house!) but, when it comes to the turquoise (cold)/yellow/red/green Fitbit adventures of each day, I do not like to lose…. certainly not to the machine itself.

I bought the Fitbit some months ago now and it motivates me each day (all by itself) to do what I am supposed to in terms of a daily step count and such like. Thanks Fitbit! On a local level, in historical terms, family history societies engage with their members in a similar way, sharing the enthusiasm and dedication, towards a particular goal…. though not a step count, as such!

Motivating people is never easy. Fitbit does it just by being there. If I fail to achieve 10,000 steps in a day, what would happen? Nothing. No-one would die and nothing bad would happen. However, I cannot fail. I am motivated to achieve this goal on a daily basis. Motivation is personal to each of us. It is about having a focus in mind so that even when you want to give up (which at times we all do!), there is something telling us not to. It may be a voice in our heads saying “NO” or a physical barrier holding us back…. Whatever it is, motivation is the key.

OK, so 1am is an odd time of day to have already managed to achieve ten active minutes. But something has clicked….! Thirty active minutes is the daily goal – so I have twenty minutes to do when I wake up and it’s actually Tuesday! Time now for some Zzzzz…. See you on the other side!

Nov 302015

…. my working day! No kidding…. Sunday, for some, is a day of rest. Not for me….

The amount of paper I have shifted today is quite unbelievable – estate accounts, administration documents, letters to beneficiaries and heaven alone knows what else…. I am done! It is way past the witching hour and the ‘to-do’ list is still long. To those hoping for an email from me today, my congratulations or apologies. Undoubtedly – because I am OCD – if you have not received an email, you are on the list, though you may not quite have achieved ‘top position’. The list is god, however …. so fear not.


It is too-few-days until that event in December and we (Team FWL) are desperately trying to push estates forward to get them paid out before Christmas. As I have mentioned already, we also have an enormous number of family history binders to create in the next few weeks and a further order is going in with S&N Genealogy Supplies in the morning. If you are still looking for a special gift, it’s not too late, though time (and wo/man power is running short)! Gift vouchers were very popular last year and we can certainly provide them, if desired/required….

You may well ask why I am up so late….? Well, as MD@FWL, I wear many hats across the globe and several hat wearing missions involve meetings at rather ungodly hours for me (GMT). All very worthwhile though and sometimes, I even talk sense at midnight and on….! Well, maybe others will say different!

The Post Office team in Calne (home of FWL) might well fall off their perches in the morning…. More mail than I have created in many months! Some letters still to be written although I feel, at this time of night, the morning might be a better time to write them! Bonne nuit!

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Nov 282015

Facebook is full of it. The streets of Calne and Chippenham are full of it. Apparently, Christmas has arrived much earlier this year than I have ever known before in all my X years on this planet. I even asked a young person today – just in case I was really becoming an old granny/Scrooge – and he agreed that this was emphatically ‘too early’. But, the lights are on in Chippenham, thanks to actor and TV presenter, Warwick Davis. That’s quite some signing for the Christmas Lights, I’d say….!

Advertisements have filled our televisions and radios for weeks already and Black Friday purchases were (I am sure) made in preparation for the big day. We have a huge amount of work to complete and deliver to clients for Christmas. A family history binder is a very personal gift and we have nearly two dozen to research, write up, design, print, prepare and deliver in the next I-don’t-want-to-calculate-how-few days!

I do have to ask though – when is it reasonable for Christmas to begin? Some people (Mr FWL included) would say 24th December and no earlier. The Royal Mail would say that you have to be ready by 4th December if you want to get any post to the Middle East or Africa – though to be honest, that’s perhaps not crucial for all that many of us! Last recommended posting dates range from 4th to 18th (for what was Airmail) …. I best get cracking on the Christmas letter.

Each and every year, I write a letter to all my friends and family at Christmas. Some of them I keep in regular contact with (via Facebook, email, etc.) whilst with others, we catch up in one fell swoop in December! Time to get prepared once 1st December arrives. That’s Tuesday, I know, but not a moment before will it all begin in the FWL Office. Bah Humbug!

[Back to genealogy tomorrow….]

Nov 282015

…. I’d like to know. How am I still awake having slept through the three alarms this morning and woken up after the time I should have left the house?! [The alarms were set to go off some 3 hours and 30 minutes after I switched off the light!] How is the driver in front of me (at 6am) who decided to locate his fog lights (presumably to encourage me to remove myself from his rear end) rather than find the accelerator pedal, still on this planet and on four wheels?

It has been a long day and I – with the help of Ronnie and Gertrude – have covered a lot of miles, both en voiture et à pied. From HQ in Calne to Bath, back to HQ and onward to Reading…. then to almost Didcot and then back to base camp. Most of the day has been somewhat sedentary and so, the evening has been dictated by walks to ensure that the steps are done. Last night saw a very late night walk up and down the last train back to Chippenham to make it happen – thank heaven, not so late tonight, nor so challenging with regard to ‘walking in a straight line’. Train aisles – anyone will know – are not designed for most people to walk straight down once the train is moving, especially older individuals and those who have had a few bevvies! [That probably equates to about 70/75% of the train population, according to my rough calculation on the aforementioned late night train.]

How can the genealogy community be so supportive? Just this evening, a discussion about health and well-being developed into one about using Fitbits. Before, I was connected to a couple of genies. Now, a whole host of genies are collaborating to support and encourage each other to keep active and get our steps done each day. Why? Some of us have never even met. But, that’s what the community is all about.

How have I got through the day with so little coffee, so little Wifi access but bucket loads of energy? Adrenaline for the job I love, maybe? How did I land myself this job? Simple! I created it. End of.

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