Been a while since I had a photo that I felt was worth sharing, this is Cockleroy in West Lothian, not the highest hill in Scotland but one of the best views in eastern Central Scotland, from the Trossachs to the Pentlands, Fife, the islands of North Berwick, and even Arran on an exceptionally clear day. Sharing the view with family for the first time in what feels like forever, and knowing that others were meeting loved ones too, it was a good day.
For some years now some of our family have been discussing the mystery of The Sicilian, a female ancestor about whom very little was known. Thanks to some new research, she has been identified as Elizabetta Calabro. She and her spouse, Andrew Walker, had a daughter named Mary, in 1815. Mary was born in Gosport, and was referred to as English. Mary is our direct ancestor.
Andrew Walker was “of this parish” in Towie, Aberdeenshire, so the birth was recorded at his church. Family legend has it that Elizabetta was a contessina, and eloped with Andrew when he was en route home. Maybe they were on their way north when the baby was born?
Andrew was recorded a a wine merchant, which could explain why he visited Sicily in the first place.
Ban the Wasp was originally set up to share family history; it’s good to know that there is still an interest. For anyone brave enough to ask, I now have a family tree printout – it’s three metres wide….
In the process of filing away my birthday cards for 2020, each one is unique and special, thank you to everyone who took the time to draw, paint or send their good wishes. As I said on the day, this one couldn’t have been more different from the last, but there are very precious memories to be saved. If I were to upload all the cards I’d be way over my bandwidth for the page, so you’ll just have to come and see them when all this is over.
Update 14.05.2020 – Was NO-ONE going to point out the grammatical error in the title?
Biggest surprise of this week though was the delivery of advance vegetables, in advance that is by about a week of when they were expected.
Nothing daunted*, I have been farming out chunks of cabbage and leek, with some lovely recipes (and cakes) passed back in exchange. To date we have had steamed cabbage, pickled cabbage, it’s going in the Scotch Broth, there’s coleslaw en route – and there’s still some left. One chum has passed me a rumbledethumps recipe, another made turkey, leek & cabbage soup, then bubble and squeak. The roast cabbage was a total failure and stank out the house for 24 hours. A bay leaf was added to the steamed version, which successfully contained the odour. There have been roasted carrots, leek mornay, banana breakfasts and clementine conferences.
*I think those who had to listen to me squawking about those vegetables would detect the lie here….
Cabbage (Brassicaoleracea) from the French caboche – head, Latin caput.
“The time has come,’ the Walrus said,
To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —
Of cabbages — and kings —
And why the sea is boiling hot —
And whether pigs have wings.’
Extract from The Walrus and the Carpenter by Lewis Carroll.
Flying Crooked – Poem by Robert Graves
The butterfly, the cabbage white,
(His honest idiocy of flight)
Will never now, it is too late,
Master the art of flying straight,
Yet has — who knows so well as I? —
A just sense of how not to fly:
He lurches here and here by guess
And God and hope and hopelessness.
Even the aerobatic swift
Has not his flying-crooked gift.
04:50 a.m., been awake since 02:40, nothing new there and I may manage to go back to sleep yet. A year ago I had just retired, and was hosting a birthday party in our room at the Kenmore hotel, with Paul, the band, and the folk club. This one couldn’t be more different but hopefully the weather will be decent and the cake will be edible.
Some pictures from yesterday and this week. I have very little to say about the increased craziness that is the 21st century. Ali and I had a lovely walk round the Pentlands reservoirs yesterday, and yes, there were dogs.
The Second Coming
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
It seemed like a good idea to go to England on the day of the Rugby World Cup Final, so we found ourselves in Wakefield, after a stress free train trip with added random acts of kindness.
Our stay was in the hotel in Holmfield Park. We’ll need to go back to see the rhubarb sculpture, which I would have sought out had I known about it. The grounds were well stocked with mature trees which put on a stunning autumnal display, augmented by the fireworks display at night which we also did not see, but certainly heard.
On the Sunday we managed to get ourselves and luggage to the Hepworth Museum. This houses a permanent display of the works of Dame Barbara Hepworth, sculptor and native of the town. The building, designed by architect David Chipperfield,* sits astride the river Calder, and the full length windows in the building give excellent vistas of the river, in particular the weir. It also houses exhibitions, currently on show are works of the young David Hockney and Alan Davie. It opened in 2011 and it’s free to visit, has storage lockers and a decent café.
Trip home was also on time, and smooth. Thanks to Tickety Split and a rail card bought with Tesco points, we saved over 50% of the original cost.
*cracking pictures if you follow the arrow on this link.
It wasn’t planned, but I fell into writing up some family history today. There has been a lot of information retained from Windsor Road, which was my father’s home pre-marriage, and my aunt’s until her death earlier this year. .
I have often read of huge families in the pre war years, but it hits home when you document your own ancestors.
So here’s to Dinah Melville Miller, who bore 11 children within the space of 22 years, and raised her granddaughter too, if the census is anything to go by. In a two roomed house.
Dinah was our great great grandmother.
I have also resolved, for myself at least, the conundrum surrounding the identity of “Uncle Lawson”. I was never sure who this was. It’s another given that first names were rarely unique, my father was technically Alexander Miller VI (at least), so the practice of naming a child Lawson when the surname of a large part of the family was also Lawson, means that it is a particularly tortuous process to define which Lawson is under discussion. I have not uncovered anyone called Lawson Lawson…..yet.
I love my family dearly, but their reluctance to use commas in sentences also adds to the confusion. Legends on the back of photos such as “This is my cousin Robert Janet and I frae Uncle Alex” take a little untangling, although it’s great that they are there at all.