Sep 022015

mountain-goatYou are probably wondering if I have finally completely lost the plot this evening but please, don’t panic – all is not lost. There is method in my madness. There is a connection between family, local and social history and mountain goats. Honest. Stay with me….

Sometimes known as the Rocky Mountain goat, a mountain goat is a large-hoofed mammal found only in North America. A sub-alpine to alpine species, it is a sure-footed climber commonly seen on cliffs and ice. A bit like my team…. Sure-footed and more commonly seen on more challenging cases! Confession time. Last night, I was so frustrated with a case that hadn’t worked for another member of the team, I stayed up way too late to get it cracked…. It’s addictive this job!

This sure-footed climber has steely determination and by jove, I won’t be walked all over or leave any stone unturned on a job. You have an axe to grind? Go and grind it somewhere else…. You want a researcher who cuts corners and does your research ‘on the cheap’? Then, find someone else….

According to Wikipedia (so it must be right), “Daily movements by individual mountain goats are primarily confined to areas on the same mountain face, drainage basin, or alpine opening“…. again, like Team FWL. The site goes on to say that “the mountain goat’s feet are well-suited for climbing steep, rocky slopes with pitches exceeding 60°, with inner pads that provide traction and cloven hooves that can spread apart.”

We have had expansion in sure-footed climbers over the past six months and we may well have roles for some more. Anyone considering climbing mountains? Fancy a new challenge? From a few hours a week to a dedicated role in the mountain goat team, there are lots of opportunities. Why not try it out? See if you like it…. The current goatherd look forward to hearing from you, out there in the field.

Sep 012015

Have you ever stared at a blank screen waiting for inspiration? For that course essay which is due this week (or more likely, tomorrow!)….? Or for that article you should have written long before now….? We’ve all been there.

When I meet people in social (replace with genealogical) settings, they often ask me how I manage to write a blog every day. I am not going to lie, folks. Sometimes it is a challenge to create a piece of writing which (I think) will be interesting to my followers/readers. Do people really want to know my opinion on certain matters? I’d guess, no. So, more often than not, I steer clear of talking about issues such as migration, politics and other such divisive topics. After all, it is meant to be about social and family history (as well as a smattering of business/management/team-related ‘gems’ at times).

If 1 September is a sign of how September is going to continue, it can – quite frankly – do one. I’ll have August back …. although to be honest, that wasn’t all that and a bag of chips either. Maybe today was just a blip? A blot of the landscape which will otherwise be beautifully clear in September. I am hopeful.

Many people swear by chocolate when they need inspiration. That doesn’t fit in the current plan, sadly. I will just have to use the power of my brain to get me through. In the longer distant past, I have commented on the fact that my English teacher would be surprised that I am a writer. It was certainly not something I found easy during my formative years.

This evening, I watched a TV programme called Me and My Brain. Fascinating it was…. about a young lady who was a snowboarding teacher and, after badly landing a jump, has had to re-learn how to do all the everyday things we take for granted. Walking, talking, eating…. what an inspiration she is, and she still snowboards today.

Inspiration often comes from the strangest places. Sometimes, blog topics are inspired by a single sentence on the television, a conversation I have had in the post office …. all sorts. Those BSOs I talked about the other day can also inspire your research! So, take those moments of inspiration and run with them…. Carpe diem.

Source image: The Inside Word, Student Blog (University of Auckland)

Aug 312015

What a mighty odd day it has been today! Summer Bank Holiday in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. No mail, hardly any emails and even more rubbish on the television than usual…. Yuck! A good day to catch up on admin though and so, I am certain that the post office will be busy tomorrow. Personally, I have one more set of estate accounts to finalise and then I think the calculator can be put back in the drawer. The team have been paid and so we are set for a fantastic September….

Am I the only one who doesn’t really focus on what day of the week it is? Is it just me who has to have a diary to keep me in check? The benefit of being your own boss is that you can organise your week according to when you need to be available – if I have enough cover on the team, I can be out of office and doing other tasks but if I haven’t, my hands need to be on deck.

At FWL, we say that the office is open 9am to 9pm Monday to Saturday. Is that strictly true? Well, no. If the phone rings, there is usually someone on the end to answer it! Failing that, leaving a message ensures a call back pretty darned quick (PDQ)! Some people may ask why we do that? Being available to our clients is important to us. Ensuring that we provide a good service is crucial to our reputation. If you call/text us at 11pm, we might sound a little surprised though!

Doing what we do is a labour of love – in fact, just this last week, we offered our services on an intestate estate for nothing. Yes, you did read that correctly…. Many reasons why…. and several hark back to the ethics we have talked about over the last few days.

Time to be ethical. Time to be professional. It’s not difficult – we do it every day.

Aug 302015

Over the past nine days, I have eagerly watched the World Athletics Championships from Beijing. No, I have not stayed up until stupid-o’clock to watch the morning sessions, but over breakfast/coffee I have avidly caught up on the goings on and marvelled at the achievements of sporting greats from across the globe. The Great Britain and Northern Ireland Team have been simply amazing from the ‘old hands’ to the ‘young guns’ with Personal Bests and National Records in so many events.


Some athletes didn’t achieve what they set out to do – Katarina Johnson-Thompson (KJT) was gutted in the heptathlon to fail at all three attempts in the long jump, rendering her competition over with no points in that event. Others punched the track in disgust when they did not get to the final. But not one of them gave up. Each and every competitor gave it their all.

Our GB&NI team competed fairly with no cheating, and came out with the position they deserved on the day. It’s only one competition. The Olympics returns in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil next year (2016) and most of the competitors will make another appearance there, with another year’s training under their belts. Not all though.

Kenyans Joyce Zakary and Koki Manunga were the first athletes to fail drugs tests at the World Championships and it was already taking place under a cloud of doping allegations in the sport. Several drugs cheats had served their bans and been allowed to compete at the event. Some people would say that they should be banned for life. BBC commentators were criticised for their commentary on the 100m sprint when Bolt beat Gatlin…. in my opinion, they spoke the opinion of many millions of people around the world. Competitors should never give up but why do they cheat and lie to get ahead of others in their profession? It’s not ethical. It’s not professional. Stop.

[Source image:]

Aug 292015

Hmm…. and, at times, grrr …. Our sphere of work can be challenging. In fact, it is most days of the week. I cannot count the number of occasions in the last two weeks alone that I have had to break the news to people I have never met that someone in their family has passed away. When I say that, I mean – they didn’t know.

More often than not, we are one of the first telephone calls or first letters (if not, the first) the individual has received. Imagine that as the recipient of the call/letter. An unexpected contact, out of the blue, from someone you do not know. And then, you get another company contacting you about it …. and another…. and another.

CAPFor our Senior Research Team, we never know what to expect when we dial a telephone number. Will our call be received well, or not? Will another company have been in touch with the potential beneficiary and broken the ice already? If we send a letter out, will the recipient communicate with us in any way?

porkpieCracking a case is about a quarter of the battle, if not less. We don’t sign every case we crack. No-one does. We pride ourselves on high moral values and an ethical approach to our profession. If people choose another company to represent them, that’s fine. We will never lower ourselves to lying to people to get contracts signed.

However, others do it would seem. Two companies have come to our attention recently, encouraging folks to break contracts with us as other members of the family had signed with them and also, telling people they had been in contact and been asked to represent other family members when they had not. It’s a challenging game but lying is too far below the belt for words.

Telling pork pies to seal a deal is not right. It’s not ethical. It’s not professional. Stop.

[If in doubt of the translation of the term ‘pork pies’, check out the Urban Dictionary.]

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