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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Nov 262015

…. with a few battles! I am not the biggest fan of London. It’s a nice enough place with lots of stuff to see and do but getting into and out of London always seems to be fraught with problems. The first one being parking at the local train station….!

Let’s start at the beginning though. Normally, I travel from Swindon to London Paddington. New plan: depart from Chippenham. Why? Every time I travel from Swindon station in the week, I have a devil’s own job trying to park. Guess what? Chippenham is no different! Round and round in circles, with random comments about other driver’s inability to park in the spaces provided and finally, a space appears. Reasonably wide as well!

ROYou are probably wondering why I am in London and it may have crossed your mind to consider which record office/archive/repository I might be frequenting. Well, let me tell you, whichever one you were thinking about, you are wrong as I am not here to do any research actually. It’s a trip for pleasure rather than business. I will (by the time you read this blog) be in Covent Garden, watching a show (avec Ma & Pa FWL).

The FWL office has therefore been in various locations during the course of the day. The office itself, the train and then two establishments with Wifi so that I could continue my normal work without interruption. It’s amazing how, as soon as I am Wifi-less, it feels like my right arm has been severed from my body.

This evening’s return to the homestead will be very late. Couple that with the need to be out of the house and in Bath by 6:30am tomorrow and I think I will be very grateful to see Friday evening and a sofa! Eek! Being MD@FWL is all fun and games…. And the week doesn’t stop there as Saturday’s diary sees several meetings, one to talk about our recently advertised administrative assistant role. Exciting times!

[Watch out for some crazy name finds blogs over the next few days – we have a fair few to share with you!]

Nov 252015

What-Are-You-DoingThere is, most definitely, a time and a place for an update on our world. So, what are we doing? Erm, loads!! Continuing our research behind the scenes for various television series (Family Finders, Long Long Families, Who Do You Think You Are? …. and more), we are filming in two weeks for a major BBC TV production company. Yes, we know…. Our MD has a great face for radio (so she says) but someone seems to want her to be on the television. Oh heck!

She ventures out from the office on more occasions that she should – really, the asylum should keep a better check on her whereabouts! But the weird thing is, she has a canny way of cracking the  most challenging cases…. and so, the asylum management extends the leash more than they probably should….

Good heavens, our MD networks more in a month than she has hot dinners. Believe you/me, that means about six and then less than six! She is one of the best communicators in the business – what do we do? Well, if you’ve ever been to a meeting with our MD, you will know that ‘We find people and we change lives‘. Frankly, she works more hours than someone (whoever you believe in) sends down to us all! Far more than she should…. but do you know why? Because what we do, changes lives.

This evening, our MD engaged with young people…. a regular occurrence, it has to be said. You may ask, why? To educate future generations…. and not in family history, but in other more academic subjects. Two of three young people asked our MD about ‘the day job’ and she inspired them with stories. That’s what makes what we do worth doing. We tell stories…. in fact, we often track down hidden stories, and surprise the recipients of our tales ….!

What are you doing about finding your ancestors? You may be making great progress, but maybe you aren’t? Do you need the expertise of FWL?

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Nov 252015

What an interesting day…. and on reflection, one I have learnt a huge amount from. Three challenges presented themselves in quick succession this morning. Firstly, a disgruntled customer who felt that she should have received an update on her claim to her uncle’s estate, followed swiftly by a property manager who wanted to make his point and finally, a house buyer who wanted to bend the terms of our signed contract (with my permission, of course) and sub-sell a property (i.e. transfer the benefit of the sale to someone else).

PTBP4-100Dealing with these individuals requires tact and diplomacy and also, at times, steadfast determination. In the first instance,  “I am sorry that you feel that way but I can assure you that we are progressing your claim just as fast as we are able” goes some way to improving things and also, if possible, providing an explanation as to why the claim is taking longer than the client had expected. Situation 2 can easily be resolved by allowing Mr Property Manager to put his point across and then moving on! The past cannot be altered but the future can, so it is much better to focus on things which can be affected, rather than things which cannot.

The final scenario was by far the most odd. Sale of this particular property has been nothing if not interesting from the outset with the estate agents often saying, “We’ve never known this to happen on an estate before!” This week, our house buyer decided to ask for a variation in the contractual terms of the exchange. On hearing that we were not willing to do so (because sub-selling is restricted under Standard Condition 1.5 of the Standard Conditions of Sale 5th Edition), instead of being polite and courteous, the gentleman was rude and obnoxious before hanging up the telephone. Well, that is certainly not going to make me change my mind!

Throwing the toys out of the pram rarely achieves positive results, in my experience, whether it is me throwing the toys or others throwing them at me! The right approach must be measured and calculated appropriately according to the situation in question, so as to achieve the desired outcome. In all three scenarios, the desired outcome has been achieved, though not necessarily by the first chosen method. Well, we live and learn….

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