Friday, December 30, 2011

My year in review - 2011

Happy New Year to you all!

Those of you valiant people who are still subscribing to Hunting Ancestors, will no doubt fall off your chairs "My goodness, Genebrarian has posted a blog!" No doubt, you've probably forgotten that you even subscribe, since you've not had a feed to your Google Reader (or however you choose to subscribe).

I've not blogged here since March. I have three blogs in draft format unfinished.

I had to abandon the 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History blogging challenge after only eight weeks.

I also had to abandon the Daily Image 2011 that I'd joined up for on Flickr. This was a group of mainly librarians, who were posting a photo/drawing/video with themselves in it somewhere, every day (a photo blog).

I enjoy blogging. I do.  I just kept running out of time to do so. My work blog Kintalk suffered too, with me posting minimally to it in the last year. My colleagues often helping me out when the gaps between blogs got too big.

I (only) managed to complete one of the tertiary papers I signed up to do this year, but had to defer the other; which means a delay in completing my Diploma in Records Management.

This year has been somewhat fraught. Family-work-study juggling act has resulted in too many balls in the air at the same time. 

On the personal front, my husband was hospitalised twice, mother twice, father once. Fortunately, all three seem ok now (touch wood), although they all had me terribly worried for a while.

On the positive side: I ran a couple of successful blog challenges in 2011. One of them focussed on Waitangi Day, through this blog. The other a trans-Tasman ANZAC-Day focused challenge with our Australian friends, in partnership with Shelley of TwigsofYore. Wrap up of this blog challenge can be read here.

I rolled out a training programme to approximately 200 staff in the new 55 libraries group, during July and September, which meant a raised awareness of family history resources within the library group (specifically my Research Centre) and also hands-on experience of how to use our Family History eResources and databases.

As well as my regular chatty updates in the New Zealand Society of Genealogists (NZSG) magazine The Genealogist, I managed to get a Rugby World Cup themed article published in the August edition of the UK Family Tree magazine.

August was Family History Month, and I "roadshowed" around approx 28 libraries during the month, showcasing our family history pages on our website, and our Family History eResources - this time to customers.

I attended the NZSG Conference in Dunedin in June; and spoke twice at the 2011 New Zealand Family History Fair in August. One presentation went really well, the other not so well, as it was to do with genealogy for medical reasons and was a bit too close to my own family circumstances at the time.

I assisted in organising the UnlockthePast shore-based Auckland seminars, prior to their Scottish-Irish History and Genealogy Cruise in November, in partnership with the NZSG and UnlockthePast.

We also had some amazing speakers, both local and international. Our normal family history lunchtime sessions were a success, but we also had extra ones too.

I was out and about during work time, and in the evenings and at weekends speaking throughout the Auckland region for libraries and other community groups such as SeniorNet etc.

 These conferences, exhibitions and events I have attended has allowed me to network and meet many people in the genealogy/family history community. I've made some fabulous friendships which I treasure. Wonderful to have personal and professional relationships with people who share my passion.

Of course, although my blogging was scarce, I still made measured use of social media tools and forums to promote all our events, and that in itself takes a whole heap of time!

And to round off the year, I have planned next year's events up till the end of July. Keep an eye on this page of our website, for upcoming events.

When I return to work at the beginning of February, I will have another Family History month (August) to organise, and the remainder of the year!

So having written this blog now, starting out feeling bad about neglecting it, and bad about the things I didn't manage to do - I don't feel so bad now.

Its been great to write this, and realise that I did achieve quite a bit after all. Must remember to celebrate the successes! And make sure I don't try and bite off more than I can chew!

Friday, March 4, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History:
- Week 8, Technology

The earthquake in Christchurch distracted all New Zealanders, and many many people worldwide, from the day-to-day activities that we would otherwise have been part of. Nothing else seemed more important to us, than what was occurring in Christchurch. It was difficult to focus on anything else.

My family were nice and safe up here in Auckland. I have friends in Christchurch, who are also safe (although their homes aren't). However, hundreds of lives have been lost, thousands of lives have been impacted. A city will never be the same again.

Somehow I didn't have the heart to blog about technology, when people had lost their lives or that of their loved ones, when they had lost their homes and businesses and way of life, when they had lost their City.

When they had no toilets, let alone technology. When many had no power, no water, no phones, no way of watching TV. All the things we take for granted in today's technology-driven world.

The pictures and the stories reminded me of what technology we take for granted. A Christchurch blogger Moata Tamaira can give you a much better run-down on what life is like down there than I - she's living it, I am watching it from the comfort of my Auckland-based sofa. She's better writer than I, managing to be witty and poignant all at the same time. Read Moata's Blog Idle if you want to know more. Its well worth the read.

But in the meantime, life goes on as it must. So as I write this reflecting on technology, I will be remembering my fellow Kiwis in Christchurch, some of whom are still going without their computers, as the electricity company struggles to get their power back on.

Week 8: Technology. What are some of the technological advances that happened during your childhood? What types of technology to you enjoy using today, and which do you avoid?
As a child growing up, life was so simple. Wasn't really aware of technology as such, on a day to day basis. Not like today's children.

When I was really young, I remember we got a home telephone. It was on a "party-line", which was shared with the neighbours. I remember times when my mother had to wait for the neighbour to get off the line before making her call. I also remember getting "crossed lines", when you could hear someone else's conversation, while having your own. Eventually, every home got their own phone line.

Nowadays, everyone has a home phone and most people also have a cellphone. Added to that you can now Skype each other using your computer - and see the person you are speaking to, even if they are over the other side of the world!

My Dad was in the Navy, and when he was away at sea we used to send him recordings on an old reel-to-reel tape recorder. I remember, singing "Sailor" to send to him once.

I vaguely remember us getting a black and white TV. I remember watching Andy Pandy on it. As I got older I remember us getting a colour TV a while after they came out. They were horrendously expensive and I know Mum and Dad got it on a rent-to-buy basis. Too expensive for us to buy outright at the time, but it had the bonus of allowing us to update our TV when the later models came out. Eventually colour TVs came down in price, and we started to buy outright. We have gone from one channel, to two - and then to four, all free to view.

Then SkyTV came to New Zealand, giving us a multitude of channels to pay for if we wish. I avoid Sky at the moment. I experienced repeated poor customer service from them, so when we decided we needed to economise, Sky was the first thing to go. Not saying it wouldn't have anyway, but it was an easy decision to make after all the hassles we'd had. Miss the History channel though . . .

We now have LCD or Plasma screens for better picture quality, and our TV signals are being digitised. The advent of digital TV means that we now have up to 19 free-to-view channels available. I'll leave it to you to decide which channels are worth watching though . . .

I'd left home I think by the time my parents bought a video recorder - but these days we have gone on to DVDs and recording TV programmes straight to hard-drive. We have a TiVo box,  which we really love.

While I was at high school, the typing classes got increasingly lighter manual typewriters, then eventually electric typewriters. By the time I left school, electronic typewriters had started to make an appearance. When I started working, one of my first purchases was an electronic typewriter with a memory and a marching display.

I've always been an early-ish adopter of new technology, and there are no technologies which I avoid as such. There's plenty I can't afford though! :-)

I'll just close by saying that I wish the people of Canterbury, their families and friends the very best. I send you my condolences - for your losses. You are in my thoughts all the time. My heart goes out to you. I wish you well in your rebuild.

Kia Kaha Canterbury.

Monday, February 14, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History:
- Week 7, Toys

This week's blog challenge:
  • Week 7: Toys. What was your favourite childhood toy? Is it still being made in some form today?
I was a real bookworm as a child. In fact, I use to read so much, curled up in my room, or on the sofa in the lounge, that my Dad used to often tell me to go outside and play.

Dad often brought toys back from his trips at sea - often from the States. Toys that we couldn't get in NZ. I remember when I was very young, Dad brought home a walking talking doll that was as big as me! She had curly hair, and I remember the first time I saw her walking: Dad had set her off, and she came walking into my bedroom crying "Ma-Ma, Ma-Ma". Well, I freaked out . . .  she terrified me!

As I said in the previous week, I was given a mechanical Dalek - which I thought really cool. Didn't last for long, as it broke. I played with my various Barbie dolls of course. Loving the ones with bendy knees. I use to role play, and act stories out with them; later I was to get good marks at school for my creative writing.

My Dad brought a lime green bike back from a trip, it had ape hangers and a banana seat, with "Dill Pickle" painted across its crossbar.

I remember a space hopper and a pogo stick at one point. And roller skates - I loved my roller skates. They were adjustable, strap on kind. We had a rink nearby that played disco music. I loved to dance (still do) and roller skating to music was just so much fun!

I played tennis, badminton and netball. So got a tennis racquet, badminton set and a netball at various stages of my life.

If I can't choose books, then I guess my favourite "toy" from when I was a young child, was probably my Barbie dolls (if I couldn't read books, then I could make stories up).

And when I was a young teen, it would have been my roller skates.

My daughters have had Barbie dolls of all sorts (including the Disney ones), and they have had roller blades - the boot expandable types.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History
- Radio & Television

This week's challenge:
Week 6: Radio and Television. What was your favorite radio or television show from your childhood? What was the program about and who was in it?
When I was still at primary school, my parents used to give me Dad's "wireless" radio to listen to on Sunday mornings. My "treat" was that I was allowed to lie in bed and listen to the morning stories. Stories such as Molly Woppy, Sparky and the Talking Train, Diana and the Golden Apple, Little Toot, and songs such as Flick the Fire Engine etc.

I thought it was a fabulous treat . . . of course it was a ploy to keep me in bed longer! And it worked!

TV: I was a big Doctor Who fan growing up. "My" Doctor was Jon Pertwee. The Daleks and the Cybernauts were my favourite baddies. I used to hide behind the couch when they came on (as nearly ever child my age did no doubt). I remember being given a toy Dalek, which another child broke (I never broke my own toys, others always did it for me). It was never quite the same for me when Tom Baker took over.

I also loved Follyfoot Farm. I love all animals, and I was a huge horse fan. Used to spend hours drawing horses. Reading horse books. Watching any programmes that had horses in it.

I also loved Lassie (dogs), Daktari (lions), Flipper (dolphins), and Skippy (the bush kangaroo).

I rarely missed an episode of the Tomorrow People. They use to "jaunt" everywhere  - hold on to their belts and disappear from one place and reappear in another. I remember the shaggy 70s haircuts and bell bottom.

Star Trek, Space 1999
were also huge. Not sure if I was a SciFi fan as such, or if it was just people had such a fascination with space due to the Moon landings, that those are the programmes that were made. Interestingly, my husband's father was an electrician who did "special effects" on Space 1999, (he also did Alien - which is another story).

Then there was an Australian convict drama I used to love called Against the Wind, it starred Jon English and he also sung the theme song "Six Ribbons". I was a teen then, and had a wee crush on Jon. Loved his moody eyes etc.

Wow - walk down memory street or what?

Waitangi Day Blog Challenge
- Your earliest known New Zealand ancestor

I set this challenge, after seeing the huge success of the similar Australian blog challenge set by Shelley of Twigs of Yore, I thought I'd better contribute myself. I'm terribly embarrassed that this is so late, but had a very sick husband to contend with.

The challenge was to write a blog about your earliest NZ ancestor:
  • How different is our life from that of your early NZ ancestors? (settler or Maori)
  • What stories can you tell us about their lives? 
  • If you are first generation New Zealander or maybe a new Kiwi, perhaps you might like to tell us of your first impressions of New Zealand, and your experiences of settling in here; and how Kiwi traditions and culture differs from your own.
I wasn't born here, but definitely consider myself a Kiwi. I was born in Plymouth in England, and we emigrated to New Zealand when I was about four years old.

Dad was in the Royal Navy, and had had various postings around the UK and world. We had a spell in Bahrain when I was about two. Returning to England, I was plagued with chronic chest infections, tonsilitis etc.  The advice was to emigrate to a warmer climate.

Dad wanted Canada, as we had relatives there. Mum fancied New Zealand. She knew of people that had been there. So New Zealand it was. Dad transferred to the New Zealand Navy. More sensible idea probably - New Zealand's climate is more temperate, especially the North Island.

It was the late (19)60s, so we were hardly early settlers, but nevertheless moving to the other side of the world away from your family and starting again, in those days was still pretty admirable.

I don't really remember life much prior to arriving in New Zealand. Vague snatches of memory, that might not be true memories - could be implanted memories through hearing so many stories.

We lived in Devonport, Auckland. My early memories in New Zealand, are of beaches, and hot sunny summers. Freedom climbing trees.

We went back to the UK when I was eight. My sister had been born by then (a true Kiwi), and my mother was in the early stages of pregnancy. We were returning as "married accompanied".

Dad was one of the crew taking the HMNZS Blackpool back to the UK to be decommissioned; and would be returning later with the newly commissioned HMNZS Canterbury.

My memories of the UK then, are of being cold and damp. Snow, rain and greyness.

I also have memories of family. This trip enabled me to meet family again but this time, I would be able to remember them as I was older.

We spent time with my paternal grandfather Hedley, and my godfather who was also my great-uncle Jim. My Aunty Eve, and my Great-Aunty Maggie; and a variety of cousins.

Dad was again stationed at various places around the UK:- Portsmouth and Gosport are the two I remember the best in England; and Edinburgh in Scotland.

In Scotland, I got to spend time with my mother's parents. I lived with my maternal grandparents for a while, when my parents wanted to ensure I had settled schooling for a period. My grandparents lived in Corstorphine, and I was very proud of my school uniform which was a grey pinafore with white blouse and a tie. I got to meet my Scots Uncle and Aunty, and my cousins too.

My brother and sister were born in Edinburgh - my mother unexpectedly had twins! These were pre-scan days, and so they were a real surprise. The twins were the first babies born to a crew member that were christened on board HMNZS Canterbury. Not the first babies sadly, a non-crew member bet us to it. All their names are engraved on the ships bell, which is now in the naval museum.

Returning to New Zealand, I remember being very ill. I had a tummy upset, which I blamed at the time on the fact that I was made to eat pease pudding, which I hated. Turned out to be a bug though.

Dad sailed back with the Canterbury of course; so my poor mother had a (sick) eight year old, a two year old, and twins who were only a few months old, to cope with on the very long flights home!

Arriving back in New Zealand was confusing. We drove to the "Navy Pool House" that we would be living in, and found some kind soul had unpacked it for us and put everything away. I remember seeing my sister's Elephant Ride-On and saying "I thought Dumbo was in New Zealand".

Being back in New Zealand again evokes memories of sunshine, beaches and freedom. Again, we were in Auckland.

However, we soon moved to Wellington, when Dad arrived back, and lived there for a number of years. Wellington was cooler and damper, but still had glorious summers.

I remember Mum telling stories of little faux pas, that were made in the early days. In England, you would buy corned beef. When Mum bought the equivalent here, she found it very tough and salty. In the UK, she'd have slow roasted it in the oven. Course here, its corned silverside, and its slowly pot roasted (preferably in a crockpot).

Then there is the confusing "bring a plate" instruction, when coming to someone's house. Even more confusing is the "bring a bottle". Fortunately, with more frequent international travel and the influence of TV, these instructions are not so confusing these days.

I went back to the UK again, when I was 26. Felt my roots calling me, wanted to visit family, and wanted to travel.

First sensation, getting off a tube in Victoria Station, was the panicked feeling of claustrophobia. Too many people, feeling crushed. People seemed shorter. The streets were dirty, dusty. But I also felt awestruck - gorgeous heritage buildings, so much history.

I was in the UK for 11 years. During that time, I met my husband, and brought him back to New Zealand for a few visits. I saw New Zealand through the eyes of a tourist. Beautiful country, clean, green, gorgeous scenery. Friendly people.

When our girls were born, we realised what NZ had to offer for families. Its a family-friendly country. Parks are clean and free of litter and dog pooh (no syringes, cigarette butts or condoms either). We could let our girls down to play. The malls and shops all had decent parent and baby rooms. (I remember trying to breastfeed the girls in Debenhams in Kingston upon Thames, in a mother and baby room which was little more than a window-less cupboard with a chair in it).

That trip was the decider for us. I was coming home, and bringing my family with me. 

– My "One large and two small souvenirs of my big OE"!

See other Waitangi Day Blogs on Facebook.

Friday, February 4, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History:
- Week 5, Favourite Food

This week's blog challenge:
Week 5: Favorite Food. What was your favorite food from childhood? If it was homemade, who made it? What was in this dish, and why was it your favorite? What is your favorite dish now?
Food was largely plain when I was growing up. New Zealand in the 1970s didn't have lot of choices in the shops. Cooking was largely bland, with few people experimenting. Our home wasn't that different, I expect.

However, one thing my mum cooked that I loved, was a sweet curry. True, it was a tamed down version of curry, but curry it was nonetheless.

She used to make it with chicken, and put sultanas, apples, pears, bananas - oh whatever she got her hands on, in it. I loved it. Mum had learned to cook it when Dad was stationed in Bahrain, in the Persian Gulf (when he was still in the Royal Navy). We lived there for a couple of years from when I was about two.

The weather was very hot there of course, and the idea was to eat hot spicy food to bring your internal body temperature up to your external body temperature.

I still love sweet currys (although spicier than when I was a child). I love the fact that you can get so many different ingredients, and eat food from so many different ethnicities.

My favourite food of choice though, is Italian food. Not so much the pastas and pizzas, but the other Italian dishes. I just love the mix of herbs, spices - the sauces etc.

I do cook a mean lasagne actually, so I am told by anyone who has it. I usually cook a beef lasagne, although I have been known to whip up a vegetable lasagne when we have a vegetarian come over for dinner.

I love the Kiwi barbecue. My husband, who is English, has a Kiwi soul. And even before I'd brought him back to NZ for a visit, he could cook a barbecue better than most people I know. We like meats with marinades, yummy potato salads, and I do a green salad that has so many different ingredients in it: sweetcorn kernels, egg, cheese, tomatoes, beetroot, cucumber, peppers, grated carrot - and lettuce (mesculin preferably).

Now its 11.30pm and all this talk of food has made my tummy rumble . . . I'm hungry!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Waitangi Day Blog Challenge
Your earliest known New Zealand ancestor

Recently our Australian cousins have all been encouraged to blog about their earliest piece of research about an Australian ancestor in celebration of Australia Day (see Shelley’s blog at Twigs of Yore)

We think this is a terrific idea and have noticed that it has provoked participation from loads of people.

Waitangi Day, on February 6, is our national day.

Its intent is to celebrate a bringing together of the peoples of New Zealand and its usually a family day. Often we spend it on the beach, or maybe have a barbecue with family and friends.

We'd like to invite you to write a blog - post the link to your blog in the discussion board on our Facebook page.

If you don't have a blog, perhaps post your story itself within this discussion board instead. Just click reply.

Write about:

* How different is our life from that of your early NZ ancestors? (settler or Maori)

* What stories can you tell us about their lives?


If you are first generation New Zealander or maybe a new Kiwi, perhaps you might like to tell us of your first impressions of New Zealand, and your experiences, of settling in here; and how Kiwi traditions and culture differs from your own.

If you are on Twitter, you can follow the hashtag #waitangiblog for updates and alerts.

Please join us, we’d be interested in hearing your stories!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal History & Genealogy:
- Home

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History by Amy Coffin is a series of weekly blogging prompts (one for each week of 2011) that invite genealogists and others to record memories and insights about their own lives for future descendants. You do not have to be a blogger to participate. If you do not have a genealogy blog, write down your memories on your computer, or simply record them on paper and keep them with your files.

A new challenge wil be listed each Saturday which should be completed by the following Friday. This week's challenge:
Week 4: Home. Describe the house in which you grew up. Was it big or small? What made it unique? Is it still there today?
 My childhood was spent in loads of different places, with my father being in the Navy.

However, the home I remember most as being the family home, was the house we lived in, when we were in Lower Hutt, Wellington - 49 Chapman Crescent.

It was basically a two-bedroom with sunroom home, average size lounge, and a combined kitchen diner. I shared the sunroom with one of my sisters.

Looking back, it now seems quite small, for a family of six:- two adults and four children. Finding somewhere for peace and quiet was always difficult. I remember struggling to concentrate on my homework frequently: my siblings were quite a bit younger than me, and didn't yet have the pressure of homework, study, exams etc.

However, it was most probably the norm for those days, and it didn't feel small to me then. Houses were smaller, families did live in close proximity, and there was no such thing as "personal space". If you search further back in your family history, most will see that families had even less space.

As each generation has passed, the need for space seems to have grown. Affluence and expectations have changed. Where once, whole families or even just children were packed in six or more to a bed in one room, now we all get our own bed, and often even our own rooms.

Anyway, back to the home in question:

My bedroom had windows on three sides. It was the sunroom, so jutted out from the front of my house slightly (the room with the venetian blinds in the picture). It had a concrete patio attached to it. There was just enough room in the bedroom for a single bed down each side of the room, and a chest of drawers between the beds. You accessed my bedroom through a sliding door off the lounge.

The lounge was a good size with many nights with us sitting there as a family watching TV. My parents and I used to often play cards, scrabble or Monopoly in there too. Good fun.

The house had a large back garden. Dad had a vege plot down the back, and grew a wide variety of vegetables such as carrots, pumpkins, marrows, lettuce, cauli, radishes, and tomatoes. Dad loved radishes especially and would eat them straight from the soil.

We had a small Para Rubber swimming pool, that was a real bonus in the summer. Great for keeping cool. I lived in the house from about 12 to 17 years old. It was by the far, the house I lived in the longest till I left home. In fact, to this day, I don't think I have lived longer than that in any house - even as an adult!

I took my daughters to Wellington for a holiday two years ago. I had a lovely time, showing them where I went to school, the playground I used to play on (Avalon), and man-made lake I learned to kayak on, and the house in Chapman Cres I used to live in. Would love to have gone inside, to see if it had changed!

It had been painted (of course) and the patio had been changed. But still brought back that nostalgic feeling you have when you revisit the home of your childhood!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday
- in memory of Able Seaman George Harvey

My father was the youngest of seven children. The nearest sibling to him in age was eight years older. The oldest sibling was a whole 20 years older than him.

Grandad, and Dad's two oldest brothers and his sister all served in the Second World War. All in the Royal Navy.

Like many families, our family lost someone in the War. My Uncle George, Dad's second oldest brother, died during an enemy engagement in 1943. My Dad was a toddler at the time.

We'd always been told that Uncle George was buried in Hull, and as a consequence, my father had never had the opportunity to visit his grave.

A chance Google search, led me to an entry on Flickr, and we discovered he was buried in Great Yarmouth - not that far from Kent where my father grew up. And in fact, I had visited Great Yarmouth myself a couple of times.

George Henry Harvey, Able Seaman, Royal Navy

G. H. Harvey
Able Seaman R.N. C/JX.317419
H.M.M.G.B. 612
19th September 1943 Age 19
"Thy Will Be Done"

Son of Hedley and Edith Mary Harvey, of Sheerness, Kent.

For many years Great Yarmouth was a naval base, containing a Royal Naval Hospital and there are three naval plots in the burial ground at Great Yarmouth (Caister) Cemetery which contains war graves of both World Wars, as well as other Naval graves dating from 1906 onwards. Some of the 1914-1918 graves are in groups to the west of the entrance, while others are scattered. After the 1914-1918 War, a Cross of Sacrifice was erected near the mortuary chapel. During the early months of the 1939-1945 War, ground in plot M in the eastern part of the cemetery, north-east of the mortuary chapel, was set aside for service war graves, and this is now the War Graves Plot. It was used for Army, Air Force, Merchant Navy and Allied casualties, and the Naval plot A was used for Royal Naval casualties and for some of the Merchant Navy men; but there are a number of scattered war graves in the cemetery. There are now 168 Commonwealth burials of the 1914-1918 war and 115 of the 1939-1945 war commemorated in this site. Of these, 13 from the 1939-1945 War are unidentified. There are also 3 Foreign National war burials there.

(Special thanks to UK taphopile "Claire" from Flickr, and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission).

I went online to do further research, to see if I could find out any information about the gunboat and the action George died in. I was fortunate enough to find naval researcher, Ted Else online - World Naval Ships forum - , who provided me with the following info:
According to Leonard Reynolds book “Dog Boats at War” (ISBN 0 7509 1817 9) MGB 612 was hit during a surface action with M class German vessels (not aircraft).

On the night of 19th/20th September 1943 an offensive unit of 6 “D” boats made up from the 17th and 31st Flotilla’s led by Lt Bradford RNR, Senior Officer of the 31st aboard MTB 617 (MTB 624 had returned to base - HMS Bee Yarmouth with engine problems) leaving the unit as - MTBs 617, 621, 652from the 31st Flotilla, with MGBs 606, 612 and 610 of the 17th Flotilla .

The action is graphically described in the above book which is certainly recommended. There were 2 fatal casualties on that night :-

MGB.610 ROBSON, Eric, Leading Motor Mechanic, P/MX 503089, killed
MGB.612 HARVEY, George H, Able Seaman, C/JX 317419, killed
(source Naval-History.Net)

MGB 612’s Commanding Officer was Lt P Wilkinson RNVR.

RIP Uncle George

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Surname Sunday

I've collated the raw information from my husband's family, but not had a chance to verify any of the information given so far.

His family does have a family researcher doing the Lewis side, so I have quite a lot of her research.

Anyway, we're interested in hearing from other family researchers, and hearing from descendants, and also about ancestors of course.
• LEWIS, Caernarvon, Wales
• JONES, Caernarvon, Wales
• FIPKIN, London, England
• ANDERSON, London, England

Specific persons of interest:

• Richard Evans LEWIS b1888 Caernarvon, who m1913
• Catherine Grace JONES b1892
• Their children: Elizabeth Martha, Myfanwy, Gracie, Gertrude, Richard, Hugh, Robert, Beryl, Morfudd, Eric

• Hugh William JONES b1861, who m
• Elizabeth ROBERTS
• Their children: Grace Catherine, ?any others?

• John LEWIS b1862 m Martha ??
• Their children: Richard Evans, (any others?)

• Richard LEWIS b 1833 Banger, m? Martha ??
• Their children: John, William, Richard
The LEWIS and JONES family seem to have come from mainly round Caernarvon. Banger, Llanddeiniolen, Llanbeblig, Llandwrog are mentioned.
• Thomas FIPKIN b? London who m?
• Alice Martha ANDERSON b? London?
• Their children: James, William, Katherine, Reginald, Violet Margaret
The FIPKINS come largely from the East End of London. Notably Holborn. We know nothing as yet, about the ANDERSONS.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Info and Library Industry Tweet-Up:
- aka the power of social media

A few of us on Twitter: myself (@genebrarian), @seanfish , @catatonichic and @kowhaiAnne , had been discussing the possibility of a bit of a Tweet-Up, just to chat about the exciting changes in our professional lives, brainstorm new ways of using social media, and oh a whole heap of things we were excited about.

This idea has grown to a general more inclusive, but much broader invite to all who might be interested.
Event: Tweetup / MeetUp / We’re not eliteup
Venue: Auckland Domain, near the Band Rotunda. See number 24 on this map:
Date: Waitangi Day, Sunday, February 6
Time: 12 noon
Bring: yourselves, a picnic, a blanket, a musical instrument (if you are keen to join the jam session) . Its a family day, so partners and kids also welcome
Enquiries to: or follow #aucklibtweetup on Twitter
Agenda: Fun, socialising, (food?), a bit of "shop-talk", music - and a group visit to the Museum about 2pm for those interested

The only requirement for attendance is an interest in the information and library sector. You don't even have to be an Aucklander, just be able to get to Auckland Domain on that day. You don't even have to have had an official invitation, just see the event publicised somewhere.

What I find interesting about this process, is that each of the organisers have been using their own individual streams of social media to send the word out.

It started on Twitter: #aucklibtweetup and is being re-tweeted.

More info is available on @seanfish's blog here:
and its being blogged here -and I've seen it being re-blogged elsewhere already!

A Facebook invitation has been sent out, with the idea that people being invited, "pay it forward" to others already not invited that are in their circle of FB friends. The FB invite also links to @seanfish's blog.

And its been announced on LinkedIn on my profile page  with links to the Facebook invite.

Hopefully, it will be a good day - with an opportunity to meet loads of my social media "friends" IRL (in real life).

I am looking forward to it!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History: Week 3 - Cars

This week's genealogy and history challenge:
Week #3 – Cars.  What was your first car? Describe the make, model and color, but also any memories you have of the vehicle. You can also expand on this topic and describe the car(s) your parents drove and any childhood memories attached to it. This challenge runs from Saturday, January 15, [...]
Our family's first car was a Mini, then we had a few Ford Cortinas, and I seem to remember an Austin Maxi.

I used to get horribly carsick as a child. Especially when we had reason to travel from our home in Lower Hutt, over the Rimutaka Hills. My parents put a rubber strip trailing from the back of the car to the ground, allegedly designed to "earth" the car to the ground to help prevent carsickness. I don't think it made much difference.

My first car was purchased with my then-boyfriend. It was a red 1963 Hillman SuperMinx. I was living in Hastings by then, and we spent many a weekend, either travelling down to Featherstone to visit his father, or going further over the Rimutaka Hills (the other way) to visit my parents in Lower Hutt.

We had a series of Humbers and Hillmans, and also a Holden Stationwagon at one stage.

By the time we moved to Auckland we were the proud owners of a chocolate Mitsubishi Mirage hatchback. I inherited the car when we split, and it became my first real car that I owned all by myself.

I loved that car. I drove it all over Auckland, and up and back to Hastings on a regular basis, to visit my old friends, Even drove it all the way to Wellington a time or two.

I affectionately called the car "Mitsy" (of course), and was gutted when I had to part with her to travel overseas to the UK. I left her in good hands though . . . she was sold at a car fair to a couple of Scottish nurses that were planning on travelling around New Zealand. Made perfect synergy to me!

When I was in London my English husband bought this horrible a black Vauxhall Cavalier. I hated it on sight. Hated it even worse, when a few weeks later, someone hit the front passenger door and we ended up buying a red door from a wreckers. Only really used the car at weekends, as we used the Tube or a train to get from A to B.

Next car we had was a red Peugeot 405 sedan. I loved that car. We did a lot of travelling around in it. Often taking off for long weekends out to quaint country villages.

When I got pregnant with the twins, we realised we probably needed something a bit bigger. My husband had a son from his previous relationship, and we needed something that would fit us all, including two car seats, a double buggy and luggage. We bought a Ford Galaxy, an MPV. Another vehicle we loved.

Now in New Zealand we have a Honda Odyssey that we really love. A seven-seater, it is really adaptable, and can be a van, or a stationwagon as well as an MPV. We have a dog (Sasha, big labrador), so we can fit her in along with everything else. Its easy to drive and doesn't feel like a van.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday

Today I'm writing a "Tombstone Tuesday" blog, in honour of the paternal great-grandparents that I never knew.

James Edward HARVEY and Evelyn Julia POTTLE were my father's Newfoundland grandparents. He also never knew them, as his father ran away from Newfoundland at age 15, to join the Royal Navy and sign up for WWI.

James was born in Freshwater, near Carbonear, Newfoundland in 1851. He married Evelyn Julia POTTLE in 1895. Evelyn was born in the next door village of Flatrock in 1872. They had 10 children including my grandfather.

James was a fisherman who went to sea on extended fishing trips up the coast of Labrador for months at a time. The family were from "planter" stock - that is settlers who were settled near the coast, and had "fishing rooms" and land. From what I have read about early Newfoundland, it seemed like it was an incredibly hard life.

The little we knew about my great-grandfather was that he died young, while at sea and had been pickled in rum to preserve him and buried much later. Terrible waste of rum I thought.

I found out later, he was actually packed in ice and buried three months later. His youngest child Julia, was born three months after he died.

I was relatively new to family history research when I found out about James and Evelyn. I had posted my interests in researching my grandfather Hedley HARVEY from Freshwater, Newfoundland on a Newfoundland genealogy site (Newfoundland Grand Banks), and got a message through from a Fred HARVEY. Fred (now in his 80s) turned out to be a distant relative. His great-grandfather John and mine (James) were brothers.

So he sent me the above picture of my great-grandparents tombstone. Up till then, I wasn't even sure of what my grandfather's parents names were. Fred was able to give me all his research, which I have incorporated into mine (correctly cited of course), and he has also been kind enough to send me what photos he had, and also any copies of certificates I might be interested in. Fred had been unaware of my grandfather's children and grandchildren.

This was sufficient information to really get me started on researching my father's family tree.

Sadly, I don't have any photos of James and Evelyn - apart from this one of their tombstone.

Maybe one day.

And I am still trying to find out about Evelyn's POTTLE family. I have been told that they owned the general store in Flatrock, but have yet to verify it.

Anyway, RIP to my great-grandparents James and Evelyn. Wish I could have conducted an oral history with you, I'm sure there are lots of great stories that you could have told.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Using Social Media

Why do you use social media? (you are here, so you do - whether you realise it or not!)  People use social media for all sorts of different reasons.

Some use it to converse and interact with people that they know very well. Either professionally or socially.

Some people use it to network with mere acquaintances. Some with people they do not know at all. Sometimes peoples motives for using social media aren't apparent.

The reasons I use social media are wide and varied. I use my personal Facebook account to converse and share with family and friends. I also use it to create Groups pages for my personal family history interests. I've had quite a few previously unknown family members and/or fellow researchers contact me as a result.

I manage a professional Facebook account (Auckland Research Centre) I use to promote my specialist subject and collection (family history) and my library.

My personal Facebook account has strict security controls, so that I can control who sees what exactly. The professional account has very few security controls - I want as many people to find and interact with us as possible.

I use my Twitter account (@genebrarian) for the widest reasons: to converse with friends and colleagues, network with professionals, to promote my library and collection and for my learning. There's an amazing amount to be learned by clicking on someone's link. I also follow people "for the hell of it". Their "Tweets" interest and inspire me.

I manage and write for the Kintalk blog for work, and I've just started this blog.

LinkedIn is still relatively new for me, I'm dabbling to see what I can get out of it.
I suspect I can learn alot from it, as well as network.

My personal and professional interests are not just family history and libraries,
they are also graphic design and print (my old career), marketing, digital preservation/digitisation, internet and the web, and yes social media. So I hook up with as many contacts on there as I can.

I also use delicious to store the many hundreds of useful bookmarks I find when trawling the internet. They are portable, I can access them from any computer any time, and I can share them with people - I can "follow" others with similar interests as me, so I can share their bookmarks too.

Its great how you can link with people from one Social Media account to another. Someone you follow on Twitter, you feel you get to know them, so you then feel you can follow them on LinkedIn etc.

I think the Social Media explosion is definitely a boon for us family historians - as evidenced by the amount of blogging (and microblogging) being done out there!

Monday, January 10, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History:
Week 2 - Winter Memories

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History by Amy Coffin is a series of weekly blogging prompts (one for each week of 2011) that invite genealogists and others to record memories and insights about their own lives for future descendants. You do not have to be a blogger to participate. If you do not have a genealogy blog, write down your memories on your computer, or simply record them on paper and keep them with your files.

A new challenge will be listed each Saturday which should be completed by the following Friday. This week's challenge:

Week #2 – Winter Memories

What was winter like where and when you grew up? Describe not only the climate, but how the season influenced your activities, food choices, etc.
I lived in a variety of different places growing up. My father was in the Royal Navy, then later, the New Zealand Navy, and we went with him as a family whenever he went anywhere.

I’m not sure I have many winter memories as such. I am a “summer” person, and I suspect I block winters out as I dislike them so much! Give me trips to the beach over ski trips anytime!

I remember being miserably cold in Gosport, England, when I was about eight. It was a snowy winter, and I had not long been there from New Zealand.

The school I went to, “Peel Common,” wouldn’t allow pupils to stay indoors during break times. I remember being discovered hiding under a desk at lunchtime, and getting kicked outside into a snow covered playground.

I was gloved up, scarved, with a thick winter coat and hat. But still freezing. I remember sneaking into the bathroom to run my hands under the hot tap (wrong thing to do, I was told later – but nice at the time!).

When I got to about 10, we lived a more settled life, as Dad was stationed on shore in New Zealand, pretty much from the mid-1970s on.

Winters growing up in Wellington, were mainly cold, wet and windy.  Different type of cold: the type of damp cold that gets into the bones.

Nice memories from then though, were going to Petone Beach and collecting driftwood for our open fire. Dad, myself, and my siblings would make quite an outing of it, and I remember enjoying the peacefulness of beach-combing.

I loved our open fire, not so much for the physical warmth it radiated (although I do like being warm), but also the visual warmth it gave you when snuggled up in front of the telly.

I was gutted when the fireplace came out to make room for necessary walk-in pantry in the kitchen. Although we really did need the extra cupboard space – and the pantry was quickly my mother’s pride and joy.

In my late 20s, I made the trip back to the UK to do my belated-OE. My friend Jude came over to visit me at Christmas time, and we had two weeks travelling around the south of England – mainly Devon and Cornwall.

Memories filled with English-pubs with roaring fires. Another memory of climbing over the fence to Old Sarum – we’d gone to sight-see and couldn’t believe they were closed, so we decided to have a look anyway.

On that trip, I also remember visiting Tintagel Castle, and walking over the bridge in the wind. Right on the coast, and quite exposed, it was cold. But so worth the effort. Medieval history, tales of King Arthur and Merlin . . . all good stuff!

English pub grub was the best. Really basic good fare. Sunday roasts that cost next to nothing. Yorkshire puddings the size of dinner plates, with your roast dinner inside it. Toad in the Hole. Lasagne and chips (in England, you can get everything with chips if you like – having chips with lasagne sounded gross to start off with, but you got used to it!)

I lived mainly in London, while I was in the UK, although I did spend a couple of years living in Hertford, Hertfordshire. We had heavy snow one year, so bad that I couldn’t get into work. I lived on a hill, and we couldn’t even drive the car down the hill. No trains running from the train station.

Winters in London, were drab and grey. It got light late and dark early, so days were incredibly short. We used to take advantage of the deals on Teletext, to go get some winter sun. The UK was great for that . . .  you could book really cheap, late last minute deals somewhere warmer. We holidayed in places like Lanzarote, Cyprus, and Egypt (Cairo and Sharm el Sheikh).

Today's winters, I associate with the beach . . . New Zealand's winter beach. We live near some of NZ's best beaches, and walk the dog there - summer and winter. The kids look in the rock pools to see what's been turfed up in the last storm.

We eat soup, casseroles from the crockpot, and roast dinners.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Surname Sunday

Every so often, I like to post my research interests on Twitter - hoping to connect with an unknown descendant or fellow researcher. I've often found (or been found by) descendants or researchers courtesy of the internet:- Rootsweb and other genealogy message boards, Facebook - even by Googling.

You never know who is looking, or might recognise a name and pass on info.

I have researched most of my branches back to the early 1700s - but it must be noted, that I only have verified info for them all up till 1800, as I haven't as yet been able to purchase certificates for them to be 100% confident. In some cases, these certificates just don't seem to exist (Newfoundland and Ireland having similar histories in that their records offices went up in smoke and destroyed quite alot of valuable info). But mostly, its a question of economics. I'll get round to it.

In the meantime, I am trying to flesh out the histories around the people that I have verified.

For those interested:

  • HARVEY – Carbonear, Newfoundland and Kent England; 
  • POTTLE – Carbonear, Newfoundland;
  • BOOTHER – Kent and London, England; 
  • SULLIVAN – Kent, England and Cork, Ireland
  • McKENZIE – Aberdeen, Scotland; 
  • SWANSON – Aberdeen and Olrig, Caithness, Scotland;
  • LITTLE– Kilmanock, Ayr and Edinburgh, Scotland;   
  • DUNCAN – Edinburgh, and Cupar, Fife Scotland
  • Seeking descendants of TURNER, BARCLAY, McKENZIE - descendants of Alexander McKENZIE  (b 1865, Aberdeen, Scotland) and Georgina SWANSON (b 1869, Caithness, Scotland) - children: George, Margaret (Cissie), Robert, David, Mabel and Elizabeth (Betty)
  • Seeking info on ancestors and descendants of James Edward HARVEY (b1871 Freshwater Newfoundland) & Evelyn Julia POTTLE  (b1872 Flatrock Newfoundland)  - Canada
  • John William HARVEY (b abt 1836 Clowns Cove Newfoundland), m Elizabeth SNOW; & father William HARVEY (b abt 1803 ?Ireland?) m Jane NOEL/NEWELL  
  • Seek descendants of Margaret (Cissie) McKENZIE (b abt 1897 Aberdeen, Scotland) & James TURNER, children Alex, Margaret, Doreen, Eric, James 
  • Seeking info Daniel SULLIVAN (b 1831 Cork?) m Julia UNKNOWN (b abt 1834 Cork?), children Ellen, Johanna, Michael, Margaret 
Anyone interested in learning more, or who thinks they may have a connection should go to my Tribal Pages site, and have a look.

You can contact me via a request to join there, or via this blog.

How I got bit by the (genea-)bug

Having been transplanted from the UK to New Zealand when I was four years old, I knew little of my extended family other than what my parents were able to tell me.

I grew up on stories of my mother's Scottish family. The characters and stories she told me were real and tangible and stimulated my imagination. They gave me a sense of belonging and a feeling of Scottishness. Helped me feel more accepting about having an annoying Gaelic name that no one could pronounce. I always felt very Scottish.

My father's family however, was something of a mystery. I'd met a couple of his relatives, and I'd met my paternal grandfather when I was very young, but knew little about him.

My father also knew very little about his family. His mother died of TB when he was a few months old, and he was brought up with a neighbour's family.

I was living in London, when my father asked me to look up some info at the Family Records Office for him. He'd been writing his life story and trying to piece together info from his older surviving relatives including his older sister.

I did the look up for him - and that was it. I was bitten by the bug and have been obsessed ever since.

The hobby, led to a new career, and the rest as they say is HISTORY (or in this case HERSTORY LOL)