Apr 182015

Is it actually possible? Sadly, it is. It’s over. Completely and utterly. Finished. Who Do You Think You Are? Live has been looming on the genealogical calendar for so long and now, the stands have been packed up and we are all returning to our homes across the nation, nay the globe. ‘We’ includes all the family history society volunteers, companies, professional genealogists, members of the public and everyone else who made this ‘weekend’ (Thursday to Saturday) so special.

11173477_905075889557957_176679049_n (1)Checking out of the hotel and losing your base is never the greatest experience but the Hilton Hotel has provided an excellent facility – local, affordable (who would have guessed that part!) and also the ‘home’ of various other attendees (Joe Public and volunteers). The day has, for me, been filled with varied conversations from finding long lost family in South Africa to teaching beginners how to order BMD certificates online and everything in between. It really is remarkable the records which are available and the knowledge out there now with regard to how to trace the lives of our ancestors. Who’d have thought it?20150418_132046

One lecture for me today and the battle of the audio equipment was well and truly mine! I delivered ‘The Raw Materials of Industry and Industrial Power’ in Studio 4 – the same one as yesterday, so it was like home from home. [Photograph credit (left): Christine Woodcock @genealogytours]

We had a brief Society for One-Place Studies ‘team meeting’ over lunch and it was lovely to catch up with Janet Barrie, Suzie Morley and of course, Janet Few (though Janet and I had crossed paths a number of times during the event, as per usual).

Some people have been at WDYTYA for three days and I have completely failed to touch base with them. That’s what these events are like though…. And so, here I sit on the train home and wonder: When will we all meet again? Well for me, I will see Maurice Gleeson, Brenda Turner and Christine Woodcock again in just six weeks at the Ontario Genealogical Society Conference in Barrie (29 to 31 May). Others…. who knows?

Here’s to next year’s event – or will there be another WDYTYA?Live later in 2015?? [Note: there have already been two dates publicised for next year’s event!! 7-9 April or 28-30 April – what will it be!?]

Apr 172015

It’s the end of Day 2 and we are ‘over the hump’…. two down and just one to go. The planning takes forever and the event is over in a heartbeat. A different day today – aren’t they all? Began with what I thought was a joke, but it transpired it was not. In fact, no joke at all. A good friend and colleague at Devon Family History Society walked in this morning with a rather large dressing on his head, having fallen over in the bath (on soap of all things) and had to go to A&E to get it glued back together. Cracking start!

20150417_111459Having written yesterday about how little I had done in the way of talks, I decided today to push the boat out. ONE. Well, one and a bit. My own and the Celebrity talk from Alistair McGowan. I had not seen his episode of WDYTYA but his video clips and interview with Sarah Williams was very interesting, particularly the part about him having to traipse through long grass to locate his ancestor’s grave with the dangerous possibility of snakes – and poisonous ones at that.


Fish and chips for lunch – naughty but nice – and then a short time to digest it before delivering my own lecture at 1:15pm (without Christine Woodcock!). Shocking – she comes all the way from Canada and can’t be bothered to come (actually, bless her, she’s heard it before, so I will let her off).

Reading Industrial Communities lecture – from my perspective – went well, despite the challenges of the sound systems from SoG Studio 3 and SoG Studio 4. Beryl Evans – superb lecturer – but hearing every word of her talk on Welsh Ancestry during my own presentation was a little bit distracting. Note for the future: Don’t put two studios facing each other!

Much networking with The Surname Society members and other fellow genealogists from across the globe, the magic of the day was clearly the Ask the Experts. I only had two 20 minute sessions to cover at the end of the day and who would have expected one of them to have been born in the same maternity home as me.

Onward to a genie-dinner and a relaxing evening ahead. One more day to go – and the busiest day of them all, no doubt.

Apr 162015

It’s amazing what the important things are at conferences/events like this …. the carpet colour, the length of the queue for the ladies toilet and how good the catering is!! Well, that’s what people seem to be talking about a lot anyhow! As I mentioned yesterday, the carpet is blue. Much easier on the eye than the bright pink of last year and more ‘corporate colours‘ I would say? The ladies toilet queues have been rather long (so I am told) though clearly I managed to select a ‘good time’ as there were no such issues when I visited!

This year’s event is the first time that I am completely itinerant. For as many years as I can remember, I have been behind one stand or another, publicising a society or organisation of some ilk. Today, I have just been me and I’ve been able to talk to whoever I wanted to, avoid whoever I wanted to (successfully I might add) and generally network with fellow genealogists.

20150416_155710The beginning of the day started well – breakfast in the Hilton with Dick Eastman and Mia Bennett followed by a brisk walk to the NEC. With no plan whatsoever, I pottered around a few stands prior to ‘official opening’ and managed to locate the enormous bag of marketing goodies (for The Surname Society and Society for One-Place Studies) with some long-standing friends at Devon Family History Society to avoid rupturing my back on Day 1.

Although I have neither attended or given any lectures, I did  a two-hour stint on the Ask The Experts tables, helping members of the public with their queries. Some initially filled me with dread but in fact, each and every case I managed to advise on and even made significant progress for some individuals.

Networking is the key at these events and it is lovely to meet up with so many fanatical genies in one place. Apparently, we are returning here to the NEC next year – so the sign outside tells me – from 28 to 30 April 2016. Date in the diary….

And now to the Findmypast evening reception, in their 1939 Tea Rooms! How lovely to be invited and thankfully, we do not to have to dress up!

[Note to self: Tomorrow, I must attend some lectures – perhaps most importantly, my own!]

Apr 152015

Who Do You Think You Are? Live is the biggest genealogy show in the UK and is a ‘must’ for all professionals, amateurs and beginner family historians…. This year is its first outing to Birmingham having previously been at Kensington Olympia and a brief (2 day) visit to Glasgow in August (2014). Having popped into the NEC en route to my residence (avec the lovely Mia Bennett), the venue looks to be much improved on previous years; wider aisles between stands, blue carpets as opposed to pink (vast improvement) and a much better layout in general. So, a fine start!

logoThe journey however…. oh heck, where do I start? I decided that the ‘still-not-named’ not-so-new-anymore car did not need to make the journey to ‘Brum’. M4-M5-M6 is not a route I relish and so it was decreed (by me) that I would travel on public transport. Taxi from Calne to Swindon, train from Swindon to Didcot, another train from Didcot to Oxford, another train from Oxford to Birmingham New Street and another train from Birmingham New Street to Birmingham International. Remind me: why did I decide to travel on public transport?

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most annoying journey I have ever had, I think this would score around 7.8 to 8. Seriously…. No delays but THREE changes and only ONE train with Wifi? The whole point of travelling this way was so that I could WORK en route. Although I met a lovely young lady on one brief part of my Oxford to Birmingham leg and we had jolly good chats, even that didn’t really make up for the four hour voyage. Calne to Swindon, Swindon to London Paddington and then, the tube to Olympia is much simpler. I guess we’ll have to see how the show itself goes to decide….

Looking forward to catching up with members of Team FWL, fellow professionals, members of the public, stand holders and more…. BRING ON THE SHOW!

Apr 142015

There are times when the candle simply has to be burnt at both ends at FWL. Short deadlines on projects? Well, I guess we could say NO, but we rarely do. We just raise our game to achieve the (sometimes) seemingly impossible. Don’t get me wrong, there will be times when we are asked to do something which is utterly ridiculous and beyond the realms of possibility - like a fully documented tree overnight, for example! – but this team is super human. How many MDs can say that they have team members who say ‘I’m all yours – what can I take off your plate?’ Two of my mega-squad asked me that this morning, knowing that I am busy writing lectures for Who Do You Think You Are? Live in Birmingham and that there were many jobs which could be delegated (sometimes I just need the offer)!

PlugHaving had far too little sleep last night finishing a project for a client’s father’s 80th birthday this Sunday, the packing is not going brilliantly well in preparation for my departure tomorrow afternoon. What does a girl need for a three-day genealogical conference? Well, all the publicity material is in hand for The Surname Society and the Society for One-Place Studies – lots of exciting goodies for interested visitors to the event. Unfortunately, fitting these items into the smallest suitcase I possess (in the hope that I can ‘travel light’) left pretty much no space for the other necessities, like clothes and toiletries. So, this evening saw a brief trip into the ‘upper strata’ – the loft – to locate an alternative receptacle for all my stuff. Whoever would have thought that this trip could be so dangerous….

The ladder expedition was no problem and I scaled the dizzy heights without any altitude sickness. However, in switching on the light to actually see where the other suitcases were, I managed to smack myself in the mouth with the plug! Are you kidding???! Ouch!! Ice duly applied and I am sincerely hoping that when I awake in the morning, I am not going to have a bruise/lump/other damage to my face to explain for the remainder of the week. New day, new brain tomorrow (please)!

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