A Good Time Off for a Genealogist

Technically speaking I’m having a weekend or week or whatever off. I say it that way in the same way that technically I’ve retired twice; i.e. not at all. But I recently finished a very interesting commission for a Private Client and I always feel a strange feeling of loss after having immersed myself in a family’s intimate history spanning a few hundred years, all the triumphs and tribulations, and the knowledge that as I always say “No one gets out of a family tree alive”. This tension between the drive to bring these people back to life, to ensure that their currently forgotten memories will never be forgotten again, and the need to make sure that the story told is as near to their reality as is possible, for better or worse, takes a toll, and a Family Historian’s batteries need recharging. The biggest boost is to receive appreciation from a client for the work done, and I must say I’ve had this in spades from a lovely client and her delightful family who purchased my services.


One way to recharge the batteries is walking, a four mile walk in the countryside is a real recharger, and if I can walk through the landscape that the people who I have been studying walked through, then that enhances what I am trying to achieve for my clients. In this recent case we walked through a landscape of Salterns, originally rectangular ponds cut into low lying land near the sea, into which sea water was either pumped by hand, by windmill, or by the action of tides sluice and dykes. Once much of the water had evaporated the resulting brine was transferred to boiler houses and reduced down to reveal the salt. This was the environment that had made my client’s ancestors travel for miles from the poor wages and fields of Southern England to the seacoast in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Surprisingly, despite the fact that the Salterns were put out of business in the first half of the 19th century by the opening of underground salt mines in Cheshire (as mentioned in a recent edition of DNA Journey featuring John Bishop) undercutting production costs and volume of production of the Salterns, meaning they were no longer worked, turning back to fields and marshes, but the ghost of their outline is still clearly visible today 200 years since they were last worked. This was the environment that these men toiled in.

Of course some walks don’t need to be attached to research, and are worth doing just for the pure joy of feeling your heart beating and taking in the sights.


Of course, one of the greatest joys in life is eating, and life would be pretty short without it. So we took ourselves out for a recharge in a local Pub, in this case The King and Queen, and the food and drink was wonderful.

But never one to let an opportunity go by, I had a chat with Janet the owner, and turns out there’s enough room to do a talk to a local audience that will benefit a local charity, so I’ll be following up on that with a talk on Family History and working on the telly, and helping a local good cause.


The greatest recharger is being with the family and we managed to see both of our sons and their families, which is also a massive boost to the system and reminds me of all the relationships I try to reconstruct in the trees and stories I create for people.

At one time or another I’ve worked with both of my sons in various companies I’ve either run or been a consultant with (when I used to do a ‘propah’ job) and am always looking for business opportunities that we can pursue together, and it looks like there may be a new one coming up, I asked one of my sons if he could produce unique original artistic illustrations I could use in my work, and he produced the picture below as an example, it’s a London Dustman, my 3 x Great Grandfather (my son’s 4 x Great Grandfather) who could find no other work after being imprisoned for stealing a book from his employer at the age of 15. Watch this space for more historical artwork, and if you can’t wait, you can find his Children’s book here Milo and Rex: Monster Helpers


Who doesn’t feel uplifted, appreciated, and recharged by a nice surprise? And I got one this week with the confirmation of a talk I am doing at the Royal Southern Yacht Club. This was originally set for a few months back, but sadly the Queen died the day before, and being a Royal Club, it wasn’t appropriate to have a jolly night out after such sad news, so by mutual agreement we delayed doing the talk. Happily now we have a new date, as you can see from the flyer for the event below (also with details of how to get tickets).

So all in all a good few days off, although like my two attempts at retirement, I can’t let a bit of relaxation stop me looking for ways to inform and entertain. Now to roast that lamb.

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