Jul 242016

When I blog on a Sunday, I often look ahead and consider what we hope/need to achieve in the forthcoming week at FWL. Today has been a rather different day. In fact, the weekend has been somewhat out of the ordinary. The wheels don’t ever really stop turning at FWL, with all our offices across the globe. Some people work more hours during the week, whilst others prefer to work on weekends. We all have our own schedules…. and that’s what makes the wheels turn so well.

Tomorrow, we will be welcoming a new member of the team to FWL Towers in Calne. Exciting times and an extra pair of hands on deck will be most appreciated. An update to the tea/coffee list will be needed for starters but, prior to that, FWL Towers had to expand. More desk space was required and, in order to really motor ahead, we needed to make sure that the in-trays and out-trays were in place and all the processes in order and up-to-date. So, Mr FWL and Ma and Pa FWL have all played their part from cleaning the windows to archiving documents in the Office Attic, dusting, vacuuming and shredding…. nothing has been left on the job list. And it’s Sunday today…. Massive thanks to everyone for their time and help (and sweat…. in bucket loads!).

We have many time-critical missions at the moment where quotes and/or work are required quickly due to client ill-health. We can work magic but not always with immediate effect. Please don’t leave crucial researches until it’s too late …. or close to …. we can work fast but I am always worried that fast might not be fast enough.

I never cease to be amazed at the secrets people harbour for most (or all) of their lives. Some secrets are worth keeping, though often it would be much more beneficial if Pandora’s Box was opened a little earlier.

Jul 222016

Exciting news! Car Number 1 – as in, the normal set of wheels – has returned to FWL Towers. Having been driving around in a rather gutless ‘Festa’ (as the key fob said!), I could not have been more delighted to have ‘Ronnie’ back. In two weeks, it would seem I have become more accustomed to my new vehicle than I realised. ‘Ronnie’ has six gears and the Festa had five with reverse gear in the same place as 6th in Ronnie – you can imagine the minor challenges today. My ability to park in a larger vehicle was also mildly embarrassing…. hmm….

‘Ronnie’ has had trips to the Post Office (two) and a trip to Goughs to swear (not that kind of swearing) and do all our certified copies for the week. She is all shiny and back to her usual self (although with slightly different parts from those which I left her with when she was recovered). My trusty steed is back by my side….

Last night, we (me and the Festa) returned from London. Well, we travelled there first in the late afternoon and managed to circumnavigate a small portion (mileage-wise) of the M25. However, time-wise this took a lot longer than it should have done. With the ‘West Middlesex Family History Society‘ Chair hat on, I took the lead on a Family Medical History evening event with speakers from within the membership of the society. With discussions from small pox to polio, the past to the future, it was a meeting with a difference. A really warm evening (in every way) and the air conditioning and various conversations on our route back to Wiltshire were all much appreciated (Mr FWL, Ma & Pa FWL, two members of the FWL Team and a client!).

A small concern arose at Junction 15 of the M4. 25 miles of fuel left in the tank and the clock nearing 11pm. Whilst there are three fuel stations in Royal Wootton Bassett, I was unconvinced that any would be open post-11pm. However worse still, the six mile stretch of M4 between Junction 15 and Junction 16 saw a loss of 20 miles of fuel. So, on leaving at Junction 16, we had five miles of fuel in the tank. The first fuel station was closed. Lights off. Nobody in.

Those who know me, know that I am pretty calm, most of the time. In this instance, mild panic set in and pictures were forming in my head of me and the Festa marooned in Royal Wootton Bassett waiting for fuel in the morning. Thankfully, the second fuel station saved our lives and with three miles left in the tank, £15 of fuel was duly purchased along with the last bottle of diet coke. Clearly my lucky day….

New client work has come pouring in again today from France, Ireland and England with continued connections being made as a result of the Family Finders show in May…. still! Busy weekend ahead…. Weekend off work? What’s that all about….?! Too much fun to be had with FWL work!

Jul 202016

Well, it didn’t start out that way, to be honest. However, at the end of the day, it has been exactly that. Sadly, I made a mistake last night. A serious one. I forgot to silence the telephone which picks up all our work calls. Big Oops.

That said, I cannot complain that someone called us at half 5 to leave a message. However, I can kick myself for having the darned telephone on noise. It was someone who we desperately needed to speak to, but at half 5, that was not going to happen and a voicemail was left for later. Unfortunately, our office number is very similar to two taxi firms and so, I did not for one minute consider that the call was actually for us! I was mistaken. Clearly….

Some news is hard to break and it’s crucial that we make sure the person we are speaking to is the right person. There would be nothing worse than to tell someone their loved one has passed away and actually have made a mistake. We never leave this to chance. When we are in a position to discuss news like this, we make absolutely certain that the connections are right. Documentary evidence needs to be in place …. how/why would we contact people otherwise?

Anyways, that’s by the by. The reason for our perfect day is that, at the start of the day, it looked like our MD would be ‘laptopless‘ today. With a ‘knackered’ Dell Hard Drive (on a two-year old laptop), it required specialist treatment by the IT Gurus at Everything IT. Not only that, Chief Mark took the time out to do the job himself. We were so honoured. Not only that, but our MD was able to work in Bath at Everything IT HQ on the new laptop whilst the old (decrepit) one was fixed. Where else would you receive that kind of service? And the offer to work there again…. maybe our MD isn’t so bad, after all!

Jul 182016

Guess what? It’s arrived! With temperatures of 30 degrees Celsius plus today in the FWL Wimborne Office, we are apparently in for a further TWO DAYS of hot weather. Yes. That’s it. Then the British Summer is over. We are apparently not allowed more than three days of sunshine, otherwise we will all lose the plot, get burnt and never consider going overseas for a summer break again – yeah right!

It has been a day of meetings and collections for me. It’s not so often I get to travel to the Wimborne Office nowadays. Leaving early this morning (via the post office to collect everything before Calne departure), I wended my way down towards Dorset but via Hampshire. On one of our estates, the deceased’s personal property and a ‘not-insignificant-amount-of-cash‘ had been stored and cared for by the University Hospital Southampton NHS Trust. Not knowing (but surmising) that I would need some identification (other than Family Wise Limited emblazoned across my jumper), it was a good job that I had my driving licence up my left trouser leg.

‘Twas pretty warm en route in Car 2 and my driving stance was clearly different to the usual Ronnie mode as my back and shoulders certainly felt it when we arrived in Wimborne, three hours after we had started. Made an interesting discovery on the way down to Dorset – Google+ works pretty well on a mobile phone through a Parrot system, but not once a telephone call comes in!

Met up with the lovely T & M this afternoon – beneficiaries on one of our cases – to return countersigned copy contracts and ID. Afternoon tea was much appreciated and an unexpected extra! Follow that with a trip to the bank to pay in the cash from the morning, and two cheques (one invoice payment and one from HMRC – it is possible!!). And then the new case list came out – at after 3pm. Some interesting ones for sure which will keep my brain going for a while yet.

Oh, and I nearly forgot…. a case back from the GLD this morning…. rather sad circumstances of death with the cause of death noted as ‘unascertained’ as the deceased was not found for a long while after her demise. How does this happen in this day and age?

Jul 162016

For fifteen years (well fourteen really, because one of my University years was actually in Canada!), I lived in Reading. 1996 to 2011, minus September 1998 to June 1999. Reading…. 30 minutes out of London Paddington. When travelling to the Big Smoke now (generally from Chippenham, Wiltshire), the additional train time is suddenly clearly evident. Today was a day at the Society of Genealogists in London for me. Strange though it may seem, I was allowed ‘out of the office‘. However, it would seem that the ‘phones in the office were so busy that on a number of occasions, my mobile rang as all the lines were busy. Fatal … don’t let the MD out of the office!

I did have a really good reason for my exit stage left to the Big Smoke and it was not research-related. Educating interested members of the genealogical public on the subject of My Ancestors Came From Cornwall was the order of the day. In London, I was guessing that none of the attendees would be travelling from Cornwall itself and I wasn’t wrong…. However, my travel to the Big Smoke was eventful (as my travels often are). The finishing touches complete for the half-day course (starting at 2pm), the exit from the office was scheduled for 10am in order to be on a train by 11am. Chippenham Station is 15 minutes drive from the office and, with Car 2, it would certainly take additional time to navigate the telephone parking system. 

Well, that would have worked fine…. except that there were ‘signalling problems‘ between Bath and Chippenham. If it’s not the wrong leaves on the track, there is always another excuse to be concocted. Initially 10:55 became 11:02, despite the fact that a stationary train was on the platform our train was supposed to arrived on, which was not due to depart until 11:08, so the writing was on the wall. Suffice to say the word ‘delayed’, with no actual expected time, was eventually provided on the information boards in respect of our train.

25 minutes late on arrival. Well, that stuffed up my travel plans good and proper. [Do I wish I still lived in Reading? … even after this morning, no!] Arrival was well over 30 minutes late into London Paddington and so the madness of trying to work out District and Circle Line underground stations ensued. I did rather well and hence, arrived at 1:30pm for a course starting at 2pm.

Without going into the minutiae of the course (you needed to be there or buy the book!), I was very pleased to catch up with previous acquaintances but also to meet up with a Twitter friend who made the effort to come and say ‘Hiya!’ There are so many genies who I only know via Social Media and having a real – though brief – opportunity to meet in the flesh was wonderful! Thanks Penny!

Returning to the homestead, the travels were (once again) none too easy. Further delays on incoming trains (knock-on from the morning) caused issues on the home leg of the journey as well. However, I managed to clock a member of the train crew for the Taunton train I was waiting for and so, not only had advance warning on the platform, but also landed myself the first seat on the train! Who knew that half 6 out of London towards the West Country would equal a packed train…. I do now!

So, note to self …. when returning in two weeks for the next half-day course at the Society of Genealogists: (a) leave even earlier, (b) hope to heaven and earth that Ronnie is back [Car 1 and my trustee steed] and (c) continue to befriend random train staff for the greater good of the journey plan!

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