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Sunday, 29 September 2013

Autumn Memories - " Book of Me - Written by You".

Wilton Lodge Park, Hawick in the Scottish Borders
With grateful thanks to Louise for letting me feature this stunning photograph
Copyright © 2012 · Louise Wallace.    All Rights Reserved.

Autumn is my favourite season.
I love the colours of, brown, bronze, burgundy, green and gold.  Has this anything to do with the fact I was a "September" baby - as were my grandmother, mother, aunt, two uncles and husband?   These colours were staples in my wardrobe in the days when I was a brunette, and still feature  in my  home decor.  

 I recall as a child:
  • Scuffing my shoes through the leaves, and enjoying the crunchy sound - this still appeals to me!

My little granddaughter enjoying
a walk in the woods

  • Collecting different coloured leaves to take home and make a picture.

  • Taking hips and haws into school for the nature table.
  • Gathering blackberries in the hedgerows and bilberries among the heather - and turning  our  lips purple as we sampled the fruit.
  • Watching my mother turn the glut of apples, pears and plums into tarts, sponges, crumbles, jellies and jam.

  • Singing harvest hymns at school and Sunday school - among  my favourites  hymns with their rousing tunes and evocative lines "~We plough the fields and scatter",  "Come ye thankful people come, sing the song of harvest home", "To thee, O Lord our hearts we raise" , and of course "All things bright and beautiful "  where I especially liked  the image created by the verse
The purple-headed mountain,
The river running by,
The sunset and the morning,
That brightens up the sky;

Autumn also meant for me new beginnings – of a new school year, armed with a new pencil case or satchel, new shoes or uniform.  Later on it meant the sense of anticipation of a new university year, riding on the top of the bus on a crisp morning,  seeing Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile skyline rising above the trees changing colour in Princes Street Gardens 

Now living in the Scottish Borders, the autumn gold colours can be magnificent - we just don't always get the clear  blue skies to show them off!     Autumn comes early, when there is a different smell to the  early morning air in late August.  The light in the sky changes and  mist hangs over the valleys.
Looking across from Hawick to the twin Minto Hills in the distance
A rare dry summer.
This view reminds me of the line from the hymn "Fair waved the golden corn".

The rowan berries  in full bloom on 20th August 2013.  Does this early sign herald a bad winter?
 Sunset over Hawick - October 2011

I was lucky enough to spend time in New England and yes, I became a "fall foliage leafer peeper"

I once read of someone who hated autumn because “everything was dying”.  I thought what a pity that they could not see the beauty in this time which to me is truly  epitomised by Keats’ classic poem  - I know it can be regarded as cliché, but it is so apt:

"A season of mist and mellow fruitfulness"

 Other Photographs Copyright © 2013 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved

This post was prompted by Julie at Anglers' Rest  and her new  series " Book of Me - Written by You", where she asks  us to write about our Favourite Season.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Beds, Boys & Toys - Sepia Saturday

Sepia Saturday gives bloggers an opportunity to share their family history through photographs.

Beds, boys and toys  are among my theme this week - not forgetting a look at girls. 

What has struck me in writing for Sepia Saturday is how limited the photographs were in my childhood -   either taken on a seaside holiday  or formal school or studio shots. Of course there was no flash for the average home camera - so no photographs of parties, or playing inside - nor do I have any taken in winter. So finding photos featuring toys was a challenge.    

Illness, beds, boy and toys are all here
 in this photograph of my husband, Neil and Panda friend, in hospital c.1948,
Ian  (my husband's older brother), smart in his thick winter coat, cap and gaiters -
 with doggy friend  in a studio portrait, c.  1937

My uncle Harry Rawcliffe Danson,  c.1916   No toy here but this is my favourite  photograph of my mother's brother.  Harry's middle name came from  his grandmother Maria Danson, nee Rawcliffe.
24 years later Harry survived the Battle of Dunkirk.  He retained his good dark looks all his life.

Below are two photographs from the large collection left by my Great Aunt Jennie (Danson), who grew up in Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire. She had written names on the back, of the majority of the cards,  but otherwise little is known about the people in them.    I suspect they are the children of friends,  and date from the period 1915-1925.  I was unable to make any headway in further identification through a search of the 1911 census.

Jesse and Bernard Pennington are identified on the back of this card.  I like the seascape background, to this studio shot, and is that a spade that Bernard has in his left hand?   - A prop rather than a toy perhaps.

A lovely little curly headed  girl with her teddy.  Unfortunately this photograph was unidentified. 

And Dolly came too! 
An idyllic country scene as the studio backcloth for this photograph of Joseph Prince Oldham (1855-1917) and his granddaughter Elsie Oldham, p[proudly showing off her doll, c.1911.
Elsie Oldham and my mother, Kathleen Danson, were second cousins, and I am grateful for Elsie's son, Stuart for the use of this lovely photograph. 

Joseph became a carter and coal merchant in Blackpool, Lancashire, in a house with stables, opposite the North Station. His son John William Oldham carried on the business. In the 1920's, Elsie became a hairdresser, giving her name a French twist as "Elise", working from the family home

Here I am, aged around 2, clutching a soft ball, which i think is one my mother probably made.  She enjoyed making such balls from felt and embroidering the sections in contrasting colours with numbers, or motifs  for sale at village fetes etc.  Today the picture of my father smoking a cigarette by me, would be distinctly frowned upon! 

I was a "dolly girl" -  I loved my dolls, which, as my mother was a dressmaker, were the smartest on the street.  With my best friend, Carol, we would wheel  our prams up and down  and put the dolls in their cot (an old box), with a crocheted blanket and lace trimmed pillow and quilt cover, again  courtesy of my mother, or set up the doll's tea set for a tea party.
I had a "Last Doll" for my 11th birthday, which seems in today's lifestyle, really old for a doll. The inspiration came from the book "Sarah Crewe or the little Princess", by Frances Hodgson-Burnett, where Sarah was given a grand doll with an extensive wardrobe on her 11th birthday.  I saw the book serialised on television and decided that would mark the end of my "dolly" era - it didn't really,  as I went on to collect costume dolls.

 Funnily enough I cannot remember having any favourite soft toys, though presumably the one I am clutching in this studio photo must have been high on the list.  

As for other toys, I  remember being  given (from the TV series) a Muffin the Mule and a Sooty puppet and these formed a major part of the "make believe" games we played.    We got a new jigsaw every Christmas.  The one I best remember was of a winter scene of skaters at the White Horse Inn, near Salzburg in Austria - 45 years later I actually visited the inn on holiday.    Games were popular such as dominoes, snakes and ladders, ludo, tiddlywinks and colouring books and join-the-dot books.

Puppets were a favourite pastime.  We would set up a makeshift theatre in the  front room with the clothes-horse and a sheet, and make simple glove puppets from felt and bits and pieces from my mother's trimming box.  I was usually the script-writer and my brother did the  sound effects, with  my father the hero or villain role and my mother and aunt the audience.  

I loved getting in my Christmas stocking a pristine notebook to write in, a blank scrapbook to show off my collection of scraps and a new pencil case, with new pencils, rubbers and sharpener to take to school at the start of the fresh term.  The really classy one that everyone wanted was wooden where the top swivelled round to show the bottom compartment - the only drawback was it was heavy in your satchel. 

I enjoyed playing at shops, so a toy till , with play money  was an ideal choice.   We also played at libraries, so I was in seventh heaven to be given  a date stamp - and I went on to become a librarian!

Books remained one of my favourite presents for any time of year, with an Enid Blyton at the top of my list.

For my brother it was  meccano, marbles, conkers, his train set, Dinky cars and Airfix models.  Outside, he had his pedal car and football, whilst  I had my tricycle and skipping rope to practice  "crossovers" and "bumps".

Onto the next generation and my daughter's favourite toy -
 donkey, ridden later by her own daughter.

And finally back to  bed  with  a menagerie of soft toys.  My daughter was never a particularly "teddy" girl - panda was her favourite.   Here is Scottie dog, with two owls perched on top of him and alongside  two pandas, a  koala  bear present  from Australia and a  Brownie, knitted from a pattern in "Woman's Weekly" magazine - a great source of ideas for home made toys for children.


Looking back, toys seem very simple compared with the range
today's children have in their crowded toy boxes, but none then  needed batteries! 

 I have happy memories of what we did have.  

Click HERE to read  contributions from other bloggers on this week's  theme.
Copyright © 2013 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved


Saturday, 21 September 2013

The Bloggers' Geneameme - Describing Your Blogging Journey

Jill at http://geniaus.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/the-bloggers-geneameme.html is celebrating NationaI Family History Month  in Australia with this Geneameme to hear about the practices and thoughts of fellow bloggers

She is  inviting bloggers  to respond to the questions in this short geneameme via a post on their blog.

"Please write as little or as much as you like and don't feel obliged to answer all the questions. Once you have posted your response please share your link on the comments section at the bottom of this post or send the link to bibliaugrapher@gmail.comOnce I have a few replies I will compile a hit of responses"
  1. What are the titles and URLs of your genealogy blog/s?
    Family History Fun. Rather unoriginal, but  I wanted to convey the enjoyment that can be gained from family history and also have FH in the title from the point of view of search engines.  ScotSue in my address was a mistake - when setting it up, I thought I had to include my user name  - hence it came out  rather longer than I would have liked.  
  2. Do you have a wonderful "Cousin Bait" blog story? A link to a previous blog post might answer this question.  Not one single post as such, but a newly found third cousin contacted me having found  my blog after a Google search for our common Danson   ancestry.   It turned out we lived only 50 miles apart, met and Stuart has given me access to a wonderful new set of stories and images that I have featured on my blog.
  3. Why did you start blogging? Is there someone who inspired you to start blogging?
    I have always had an interest in journalism and have written press releases etc.  for various activities I have been  involved in.  My work had just started  a blog which I contributed to, and the format and writing style appealed to me.  Then  I was reading "Woman & Home" magazine (aimed at the mature, enquiring woman!) and an article said if you enjoyed writing, had time to write regularly   and had something you felt strongly about,
     set up a blog.   So I did and have never looked back!  The support of fellow bloggers has been crucial. 
  4. How did you decide on your blog/s title/s?   See Q 1.
  5. Do you ever blog from mobile devices? What are they? No
  6. How do you let others know when you have published a new post?  
    At the start I did e-mail some friends with a FH or local history interest, giving a link to my site.  Joining Geneabloggers was a key step in widening my audience, followed by the Sepia Saturday network  Otherwise I do nothing particularly pro-active and rely on my follower's to pick up  posts.   Perhaps I should be doing more.  I am not on Twitter or use Facebook much.   
  7. How long have you been blogging? Since late August 2010.
  8. What widgets or elements do you consider essential on a genealogy blog? 
    Not sure about this.  I make full us of Labels/Topics, but suspect this is more for my own benefit in finding past material more easily.   I like a  clean, unfussy, uncluttered  look to my blog, so moved Blog Favourites and Blog Awards to a Page each  which works well, I think. I also like my other Page headings in giving a long term overview of my activities.
  9. What is the purpose of your blog/s? Who is your intended audience?
    To reflect my own family history.  To "meet" fellow enthusiasts - I don't count my family amongst them! To have a medium for my writing.  Anyone with an interest in family and local history.
  10. Which of your posts are you particularly proud of?   Where do I start!  Blogging in particular has helped me to  appreciate more the lives of  my parents and I am proud to pay tribute to them though my posts.  Historically I am proud  of the posts relating to my ancestors'' experiences in two world wars which were moving  to write.  Posts which receive a lot of comments are very satisfying to look back on. Until I joined Geneabloggers I never thought of my own memories as being part of my history. Writing personal  accounts to various prompts has been fun.  From the start I was amazed how the photographs showed up so well on screen and blogging has helped develop my interest in photography to better illustrate my posts.  I could go on and on....!
  11. How do you keep up with your blog reading?  
    With difficulty.  My priority  - posts on my reading list and other contributors to the weekly Sepia Saturday prompts.
      Following Geneabloggers daily prompts has fallen by the wayside to a large extent.  Their new way of featuring photographs is attractive to see,  but it does not make it as easy or quick to pick out posts that could interest me - as in the old method when just the title was shown.  
    I tend now to focus on one prompt subject a day, instead of running down the list of  all the topics.
  12. What platform do you use for publishing your blog/s?   Blogger
  13. What new features would you like to see in your blogging software?
    Don't know  - I am not particularly IT savvy to answer this. I wish there was some way whereby spam page views were not counted in my stats. 
  14. Which of your posts has been the most popular with readers?
    I used to be n avid reader of my stats with the story of my great grandfather sitting merry  in the stocks coming top, followed by anything to do with wedding photographs.  Unfortunately the past year has seen me getting a lot of spam which has played havoc with page view figures, so I now rely on the number of comments. My posts on  the A-Z Challenges and on Sepia Saturday have  proved most popular.  
    I recognised that some posts are more for my own interest and satisfaction than a wider audience.
  15. Are you a sole blogger or do you contribute to a shared blog? Sole
  16. How do you compose your blog posts?
    Straight onto blogger.  I have a long list in my Drafts folder of anything that occurs to me for future posts - many times it can be no more than a photograph  or title to develop further when I have time.   .
  17. Do you have any blogs that are not genealogy related? If you wish please share their titles and URLs. No other separate blogs, but I have touched on topics not family history related e.g. on local history,  on the changing seasons,  on featuring photographs of where I live. .I am keen to promote my own area of the Scottish Borders which is often a forgotten part of Scotland between Edinburgh and the English Border - with a very distinctive history and culture.
  18. Have you listed your blog/s at Geneabloggers?   Yes
  19. Which resources have helped you with your blogging? Basic - digital  camera and scanner.  Where would I be without Google for help with background information!.   Top of the list - fellow bloggers,  I have learnt a lot from them e.g. Amy Coffin's e-book on blogging.
  20. What advice would you give to a new Geneablogger? Just start writing - think carefully about the title of your post as it is crucial in encouraging  readers to open your post.  Make sure your first sentence/paragraph is full of interest to attract the reader and ensure a high search optimization.  Make full use of images to add interest.  Build up your followers by making comments on posts from other bloggers.  Learn from other bloggers.  There are lots of tips out there.    
Please feel free to add an extra paragraph or two with extra comments.

Blogging has been a huge benefit to me.  I  expected to have exhausted my family history material long before now, but the prompts and support from fellow bloggers has been so stimulating, so  here I am still!  Recognition is a great motivator.   I cannot emphasise enough what pleasure and satisfaction I get from this all engrossing hobby.

The links to responses can be found at : http://geniaus.blogspot.com.au/2013/08/feeling-love-responses-to-bloggers.html


Friday, 20 September 2013

Sepia Saturday - The Peace of a A Gaelic Blessing

Sepia Saturday gives bloggers an opportunity to share their family history and memories though photographs.
The idea of featuring a poem, a prayer or a choir to reflect this week's theme of Peace had never occurred to me until I read this week's Sepia Saturday post. 

This beautiful Gaelic Blessing  immediately came into my mind
There are several blessings with their origins in the Gaelic language of Scotland.  Probably the best   known is  "Deep peace of the running wave to you".   its gentle words have been set to music by modern composer John Rutter, most famous for his arrangements of Christmas carols.

You can hear the blessing sung HERE  on TV's "Song's of Praise" from Chester Cathedral.  
Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you
Deep peace of the gentle night to you.
Moon and stars pour their healing light on you.
Deep peace of Christ,
Of Christ the light of the world to you.
Deep peace of Christ to you.
"Deep peace of the running waves"
The Isle of Iona in the Western Isles  


"Deep peace of the flowing air to you"
Approaching the Isle of Arran

 "Deep peace of the quiet earth"

Cowdenknowes Wood, Earlston in the Scottish Borders

Deep peace of the gentle night to you"
Sunset over Hawick in the Scottish Borders 

"Deep peace of Christ to you"
Celtic Cross on the Isle of Iona.

Click HERE to find more peace offering from bloggers.
Photographs - Copyright © 2013 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved


Thursday, 19 September 2013

Sepia Saturday - How Dad's War Ended

Sepia Saturday gives bloggers an opportunity to share their family history and memories though photographs.

This week's prompt of women at a peace conference in 1918 had me struggling for a contribution.  I have already featured the only two photographs I have of women in groups and hats have provided me with many a post.

So I have taken a sentimental journey  back to  my father's account  of  his war time experiences, which I have featured before on my blog. Here is how peace came to him with the end of war in 1945.

Dad often talked about his war time  experiences and I am afraid it did provoke the reaction “Not the war again, Dad”. We also used to joke about him being in the Intelligence Branch.  It was only later that we came to realise what a life-defining period it was and  I persuaded him to write an account for me.

Dad always had an interest in journalism and it was a familiar sight to see him seated at the typewriter on his bureau, which had been a  wedding present from my mother.

 In later life,Dad was a regular contributor of  letters to local newspapers and prepared talks on a variety of topics  to present  to local societies.  He would have loved the world of blogging!


Dated on the reverse
Paris - Sept. 12th 1944
 "I was stopped by a Frenchman who said in English “RAF Sir? My name is Joseph Calmy. I was the Shell agent here before the war”. I offered him cigarettes and he then invited me to a building and gave me a bag full of Chanel perfume, toiletries, powder and cream – it lasted Mum for ages.  I  flew back with it when I got some leave in March ‘45.   

On another day, a man motioned me into a courtyard and into a large house where his  daughter,  who spoke very good English,  said “My papa wants you to stop and have dinner with us”. We ended up in a café and went through some rush curtains into a back room. In a few minutes a man and a woman came in carrying a bag, which they unloaded to reveal eggs, butter, meat, grapes and champagne. I had a meal of steak with a large bunch of grapes.   When we came to leave it was as if I was walking on air – I floated out of the café!

A letter home to my mother - Sept 1944 
By April 1945 Dad  was in Germany -  in Wiesbaden on VE Day. 

 "The GIs went wild, but we British took it all very quietly, with coffee and doughnuts from the Red Cross post – very very nice!”

Dad thought his war had ended in Germany, and was looking forward to heading home,  but to his shock he was posted to the Far East.
"I had a short break in Bombay before sailing on the "City of Asia" for home.  We eventually arrived at Liverpool on Christmas Day 1945  and went to a camp at Birkenhead.  Then I caught a train to Blackpool and arrived home by taxi at 2pm. 
One of the first things I did was to cradle you in my arms – you were shy – no wonder!"
Click HERE to find more peace offering from bloggers.
Copyright © 2013 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Re

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Sepia Saturday - Flying the Flag

Sepia Saturday gives bloggers an opportunity to share their family history and memories though photographs.  

This week's  prompt made me think immediately of my  seamstress mother.  But I wrote recently about her in Happiness is Stitching.  So instead I picked up on the theme of Flags and Patriotism .

Here are four  embroidered cards from the First World War, sent by my grandfather William Danson of Poulton-le=Fylde (left)  to his wife and family back home.    They are part of a larger collection which is one of my family history treasures. 

 During WW1 silk postcards and handkerchiefs were bought as souvenirs by soldiers who were serving on the Western Front. Local French and Belgian women embroidered the different motifs onto strips of silk mesh which were sent to factories for cutting and mounting on postcards. There were two kinds of cards, one was a piece of embroidered silk mounted onto a card and the other was two pieces of silk sewn and mounted to form a pocket to contain a message or a silk handkerchief. It is an example of an industry which appeared as a result of war and must have been a useful source of income for families in France and Belgium.

Naval officer, Lieutenant Anthony Fasson  (1913-1942) grew up near Bedrule in the Scottish Borders.    He was on board the destroyer HMS Petard in the Atlantic when it torpedoed a U-boat.  Lieutenant Fasson, with two colleagues, dived into the sea, boarded the stricken vessel and recovered top secret codebooks and a German Enigma coding machine from the captain’s cabin.  He was lost when the submarine sank, but the papers were saved, and once deciphered provided crucial intelligence for the Allies on U-boat movements. For his actions he was awarded the posthumous George Cross. This commemorative  plaque in Bedrule Church depicts the Union Jack and the Naval Ensign.

"The Times" newspaper of 16th September 1916 

The Union Jack Club, is a private members club for serving and former non-commissioned military personnel of Her Majesty's Armed Forces and their families. The idea came from a Red Cross nurse Ethel McCaul who had served in field hospitals during the South African War.  The Club offering accommodation, food  and recreation was opened by the King in 1907 and still operates today.

This colourful pariotic school certificate from the time of the First World War   is in  the archive collection at  the Heritage Hub in Hawick, and featured here with their kind permission. 

My Coronation Mug, handed to all children in 1953 to mark the crowning  of Queen Elizabeth !!. 

Flags attract me!  So when I am abroad, I always make a point of trying to capture an image of the country's flag,

Outside the Hotel de Ville in Paris

 The Austrian flag

 A wall mural depicting the distinctive blue and white lozenges of the Bavarian flag - a reminder of when Bavaria, ruled by the Wittelsbach family,  was a separate state of southern Germany, .  
 Click HERE to find out how other bloggers picked up on this week's theme