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Sail and Steam

When I was a child, there were still working horses on the streets, though motor cars had been around for over fifty years.  The milkman, the coal merchant and the rag-and-bone man all had horses.  One of my earliest children’s books had a picture of a milkman’s horse ‘eating its breakfast out of a nosebag’.  … Continue reading »

Categories: 19th Century, Journeys | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

25 Years after the Fall (of the Berlin Wall)

Exactly 25 years ago today, the Berlin Wall fell. Tonight, a concert at the Brandenburg Gate commemorated one of the most important events of the 20th century. It did so by releasing 8,000 white helium balloons which were illuminated and lined up next to one another over a nine-mile line; the same line along which … Continue reading »

Categories: How we write, Journeys | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Three years on

A little over three years ago, without quite knowing what I was letting myself in for, I arrived at the Faber offices in Bloomsbury for the first meeting of their new Writing Family History course. I had signed up the summer before and had not given it much thought until the day arrived for that … Continue reading »

Categories: How we write, Journeys, Out of Africa | Tags: | 1 Comment

Great- Grandpa writes from St Petersbourg 1912

  The last letter I have that my great-grandfather, Alfred John Liversedge (AJL), wrote to his children is from 1912.   He is writing to my great aunt, his elder daughter Ethel, by now she is 24 and a young woman.  He is with two companions in St Petersbourg in April 1912.  This is the time … Continue reading »

Categories: Journeys | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Great-grandpa and the social whirl

The next letters I have from Alfred John Liversedge, AJL, to his daughter Ethel are from Curepipe in Mauritius in May and July 1894.  In May he asks her to send him some primroses or violets or even some daises from the fields.  He is sending her and her little sister a box with a … Continue reading »

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Great-grandpa in Albion

Tracking the travels of my great-grandfather, Alfred John Liversedge, is proving difficult; in his adventures in sugar he hardly stayed anywhere long enough to leave a mark.  There are some photographs but most have a minimal description, with the plantation name rather than the country and no date.  But there are a few letters that … Continue reading »

Categories: Journeys, Men of God, and of Commerce | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Different views of Cyprus

There is a small black and white photograph of my grandfather, Arthur Slaughter, sitting on a sunny verandah. On the back it simply says ‘Self, Cyprus 1916′. That is all I know of his stay there. It must have been taken some months after he was evacuated from Gallipoli in July 1915. He suffered from … Continue reading »

Categories: How we write, Journeys | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

What is a “Mother Tongue”?

The phrase “Mother Tongue” has always intrigued me.  Up until a few years ago I didn’t even think very much of it.  To me it had always meant a person’s first language, period, no more and no less.  There didn’t seem to be anything more interesting to know or even learn about the expression.  However, … Continue reading »

Categories: How we write, Journeys | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

War Baby

My mother-in-law, Diana Gutch [nee Worsley], who died three months ago would have celebrated her 100th birthday on 26th February 2014.It used to amuse her to call herself a ‘War Baby’, although she was born six months before the outbreak of the first World War. However,her early life was greatly affected by the events in … Continue reading »

Categories: Journeys, World War One | Tags: | Leave a comment

Another Glance Back to 1947

On April 16th, 1947 American financier and presidential adviser Mr. Bernard Baruch describes the then increasingly evident post- Second World War tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States as a “Cold War”.  The terms sticks and on May 22nd , 1947 when President Truman signs the Act of Congress which implements his Truman … Continue reading »

Categories: Journeys | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments