Favourite Book(s) #34 – The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee

the geneI spotted this book when it was first released in paperback. I almost bought it then remembered that I could purchase it on the way back to the car, then promptly forgot. I ordered it from Amazon and it arrived the next day. I set about reading immediately; I was drawn in my the prologue alone.

It is not a book that you can read cover to cover, completing in a few days. I read in chapters and took a few weeks to complete the book, not because it was heavy going or difficult to read, but because I needed to think between chapters and reflect.

Whatever our personal circumstances, we are in many ways determined by our genetics and the blood that runs through our veins, whether or not we know those people. In the prologue to the book the author talks of a visit to India and visiting a cousin who had a mental illness diagnosis and had been confined to an appropriate hospital. In may ways, the circumstances for those with this diagnosis is tragic and those left behind struggle with acceptance and the stigma that is attached to that.

Like the author, my Grandfather had a first cousin who was confined to such a hospital from an early age. She remained there for decades until the Government began closing the facilities and selling off the land and promoting “care in the community”. By that point she was totally institutionalised, but went to live with her brother who condemned their father for putting her through that. I remember explaining to the two of them, that in the early part of the 20th Century and prior, many conditions that are treatable today were not then and furthermore, were not explainable. Conditions such as Epilepsy and even dementia like symptoms as a result of a untreated Thyroid condition all were treated the same, rightly or wrongly, as mental illness. We have come a long way in a short space of time in that regards, yet the stigma for some conditions remains and for some, the damage of decades of incorrect treatment and diagnosis remains; furthermore, a diagnosis and the modern knowledge may simply be too late to reverse the situation, which is thoroughly tragic on many levels. We can not condemn the past on the knowledge of the present.

The book has made it to my favourite list because I walked away from it reflecting and contemplating the medical conditions of the cousin mentioned above and even my late Mum, who did not have a mental health condition. She had Polio as a child and the effects of that, both at the time and decades later were not understood then and in some cases even now. I will write about that later this year when I unveil a project I have been working on!

Any book that makes you think, both as you read it and for days, weeks, months afterwards is, in my book (no pun intended!) a good one. The book has done it’s job, in educating, providing knowledge, thought, reflection and understanding all in addition to be a pleasure to read. In fact when Amazon had the Kindle version on sale at 99p earlier this year I bought that too, because at that price why not!

We are determined by those that went before us and that is why many of us spend decades researching the lives of our ancestors. It too is why some of us have undertaken DNA tests as a way of connecting with others with whom we share an ancestral link. I am no DNA expert, but more and more I am seeing the benefit of those tests. I will write about DNA tests, projects and my results later in the year.

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Polish Communities – Migration & Resettlement

On Friday I released a short presentation for Legacy Family Tree Webinars. This can be viewed, and the syllabus downloaded HERE, if you have a Legacy Webinar subscription.

This topic is a very interesting one and over the coming weeks and months I will share some material that did not make it into the presentation, so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, if you have Polish ancestry & a subscription do listen to the presentation and download the syllabus.

If you have any questions, please do leave a comment.

Posted in Genealogy, Presentations | 1 Comment

Webinar – My Italian One-Name Study

Orlando-ONS-PresentationThe webinar I jointly presented with Michael Cassara on Tuesday 21st August is now  available on the Guild of One-Name Studies website.

Usually the webinars are available to the public for a week before becoming a members benefit, but Michael and I both felt that we would like our webinar to be open for the public ongoing and the same applies to the handout.

You can watch the presentation and download the handout via this link.

I hope you enjoy the presentation and if you are researching an Italian surname or have any questions, please do get in touch or leave a comment. Our thanks to Tessa Keough for the introductions and being our host.

Posted in DNA & Surname Projects, Genealogy, One-Name Studies, One-Place Studies, Pharos - Introduction to One-Name Studies course, Presentations | 1 Comment

Webinar – My Italian Surname Study

Italian ONS PresentationNext Tuesday, 21st August 2018 the Guild of One-Name Studies will be offering their latest webinar in their 7 Pillars series.

Michael Cassara, who runs the Cuono One-Name Study and myself who runs the Orlando One-Name Study, will be talking about our perspective Italian Surname research and why we think there is a real and positive benefit to a One-Name study if you are researching an Italian surname or indeed any particular surname, especially if your ancestors hailed from Europe.

You can register for the webinar HERE – the webinar will be broadcast live at 7pm London England time (GMT+1) and we do hope you can join us for what Michael and I believe will be an informative webinar.

Posted in Genealogy, One-Name Studies, Orlando, Pharos - Introduction to One-Name Studies course, Presentations, Sutera Sicily | 2 Comments

Favourite Book(s) #33 – How to Bullet Plan by Rachel Wilkerson Miller

51kvt1Nnm8LFor reasons I cannot explain this book has become a favourite. It is a shame that this likely first book about Bullet planning was published by someone who did not devise the concept, but such is life!

I spotted this in a magazine I think last year and ordered it from Amazon because I could always return it, but it became a favourite, probably because like many others I am fascinated by what people include in their planners, whether or not they bullet journal.

This book has a mixture of snippets from famous diarists, such as Samuel Pepys and includes some  ideas for what you might keep in your planner or notebook, anything from tracking how much water you drink to chores, from health and food, debriefs if you see a councillor or similar professional. There are lists of quotes, planner set ups, daily, weekly, monthly and even future year – this is useful if you start booking events and things before purchasing the next planner. Packing lists, books and TV series lists and an assortment of others.

Did I learn something from this book, well yes I did and I dare say you will too if you choose to purchase the book or even look at the preview on Amazon. We are limited by only our imagination and sometimes, our imagination is expanded by the unlikeliest of books or things. There is a book written by the man (Ryder Carroll) who designed the concept of Bullet planning which will be published October of this year. I have it on advance order, because I would be interested in reading what he says about this style of planning and notebook writing.

At the back of this book is a small bibliography, a list of the pens the author uses. I don’t use the pens the author uses and when I did try them found them not to my liking. My preferred pen is a series of coloured Uniball ones and whilst I always by the set of 8 from Amazon, the colours I use the most are green and blue. Do I need to use colour pens? No, but that goes back to my O-level days and I am a creature of habit.

My advice to anyone is this – any pen and notebook (and/or planner) will work great. Make it yours and change the way you write and what you record until you find a way that works for you. Like with anything, our ways are always evolving.

Posted in Books, Favourite Book(s), Filofax, Journals & Notebooks | 4 Comments

Favourite Book(s) #32 – Sicily by John Julius Norwich

51uPSoGcJmLWhilst this book has hit my favourites list it almost did not. This is a not a substantial book in terms of pages, there are over 350, but in terms of contents and historical scope.

The book starts with the history of the island from the Greeks and continues through to the period just after the Second World War. As someone who is half Sicilian it is a great grounding for understanding the island through the historical trials, tribulations and more importantly perhaps, the habitation of other occupiers.

Whilst Sicily is part of Italy now, although with autonomy in it’s administration, that was not always the case and those early inhabitants left a variety of legacies, all of which have shaped the islands and the cultures of the islanders.

This is not a book which can be read over a few days, I have read this book several times over a period of a number of months, dipping into the chapters, needing time to digest and reflect on 2500 years of Sicilian history.


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Six Degrees of Separation from Atonement to….

I spotted the #6Degrees meme of Kate’s who blogs at Books are my Favourite and Best on the blog of Lisa who blogs at ANZ LitLovers and felt like playing along this month and think I might do next too!

AtonementIt has been a long time since I read Atonement by Ian McEwan, I pulled my copy off the shelf and the within a few pages of the first chapter could spot my books for this #6Degrees. Curiously, whilst I enjoyed it, I was not wowed by the book and I have commented recently that in my experience I have been often disappointed by the winners of literary prizes, so I was surprised that the book had survived several book culls (it might not next time!).

The MiniaturistWhen The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton was first published I really wanted to be able to get into the book. I had spotted it in the window of Waterstones, but there was something that just didn’t click for me. Then at Christmas the BBC released their three part series based on the book and I really enjoyed it. I decided to try again with the book and was not disappointed this time.

Coffee TraderThe Coffee Trader by David Liss is one of my favourite books and I probably read it every few years. I then went onto read other books written by Liss, including one called The Day of Atonement.

Having been to Amsterdam and visited  Anne Frank’s house which is a very powerful place to visit and well worth it, if you ever have opportunity I selected the next book because on that same trip I visited Delft and bought back a beautiful Delft mug for my late Mum which now resides in my Breakfast room.

Midnight BlueMidnight Blue is about the birth of Delft pottery and set in what is described as the “Dutch golden age” when Dutch trading ships were bring back discoveries and wares from the Far East. It is a lovely book and the cover is just “perfect”.

The Hungry EmpireAs the same time as the Dutch Empire was shaping and dominating parts of the world so too was the British Empire and here enters my next book, which has been brilliantly researched and is filled with examples of how the foods from parts of the Empire were used. There is an extensive bibliography and notes section.

Tea Planter's DaughterMy next book links in to the Empire and a significant commodity that was adapted and exported, drunk the world over and that is Tea. This is the first of a series, The Tea Planter’s Daughter. You can view the series HERE

Marigold HotelAnd the last book in the #6Degrees is The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach. The BBC have recently in the last few years launched a series, The Real Marigold Hotel where they take a group of celebrities who are in their retirement years (65+) and take them to India to see if they would consider a retirement in India. The third series is currently being broadcast in the UK and you can see some details HERE on the BBC website.

I have just spent a lovely hour writing this post and reacquaint myself with the books here. I did not manage to leave the Amazon website without a purchase though! Thanks so much to Kate and Lisa.

Posted in #6Degrees Meme, Books | 3 Comments

Favourite Book(s) #31 – The Harry Potter Series

Harry Potter SeriesI was a late starter with the Harry Potter series.

I started with the first three films then whilst I was waiting for the next film began reading the fourth book. There is something about the series, both books and films that I really love and can be swept away in the magical world of witches and wizards, he who must not be named and Hagrid.

For me, who does not usually read this type of book it is escapism and just reading a book because you feel like it and no other purpose – magical!

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Book of Me Prompts – August 2018

Book of Me2018

© 2017 Julie Goucher

Welcome to the eighth set of prompts for the 2018 Series of the Book of Me. You can read when the prompts are published and about the few changes at my earlier post HERE

There are five prompts each month and you can undertake as many or as few as you wish to.

  • Who understands you? and are you related to them?
  • Who do you understand? and are you related to them?
  • What was the last thing you learnt?
  • Why are you doing this program? And what do you want to achieve?
  • What have you learnt about yourself?

If you have any questions or want to share thoughts or a blog link, if you decide to share via a blog (remember to, that you don’t have to share to take part in the series) then please leave a comment. Further discussion is also happening in the closed Facebook Group.

Posted in Book of Me, Book of Me - Series 3 Getting to Know You (2018) | Tagged | Leave a comment

Planners, Notebooks & How it Came to be…

I was educated in Surrey, where at the time the school system was three tiered – a primary school, middle school and then senior school. On day one of senior school I, along with my class mates was presented with a small book, measuring 8 cm x 15 cm on the front of it was “homework journal” Inside there was space for each day, Monday to Friday and a small section for notes. As I progressed through probably the first few years I found that the homework journal didn’t have enough space and by the time I was working towards O-Levels it certainly didn’t and I migrated into a notebook. At the time it seemed bizarre, none of my friends that went to other senior schools had those books of course, looking back it was a really useful thing to give a teenager so that they got use to the concept of planning and remembering when things were due

All the way through senior school, University, additional courses, working and decades of genealogical research I have kept both a planner and a notebook. I have always kept one planner; a page a day and use that to track appointments, my to do list, notes when I have called somewhere and what was said. In a working environment I used the same planner. I knew of colleagues who kept a work planner and private planner but I found because of the roles that I had that the day job would merge into the evenings and two planners would have been a nightmare.


Planner exampleThis is a page from my planner from last Friday. I had no appointments or timed specific matters, so the page has my to do list. If I had a timed appointment after I started the to do list I would have either written in a different colour or highlighted it so it was not missed. In some ways I use a bullet system, I number my tasks, a tick means I achieved the task and the > means I migrated the task to a different day, sometimes that is the next day and on other occasions it is a few days later.

This particular planner is the large hardback Moleskine page a day and has in my view a few unnecessary pages at the front of the book and has a bookmark built in. The best bit is the integral pocket at the back, where I can keep any bits of paper that I need to retain, usually post it note size, the other thing I especially like is that Saturday and Sunday have a page each, whereas most other page a day planners have the weekend days share a page. These planners are not cheap, and the 2019 is currently retailing at £22! I know, that is wow! and I have never paid that, I wait until a bit later in the year when the price drops!

NotebooksOn occasions I have lots of both appointments and items to do, in that case I write the additional few on a post it note and stick it in. I retain that post it note too and often use washi tape to fix it in.

Notebooks are an essential part of my schedule and working life. I note everything. I am and always have been a prolific note taker. My preferred notebook is from Leuchtturm1917. These notebooks are not cheap and they come in a range of colours and in a lined, plain and dot grid which is what most of the “true bullet” journal folk use. These books come with two page markers, the pocket at the back, which is the same as the Moleskine range of planners and notebooks. They also come with the pages numbered already and two pages marked ready to index the pages. Some of the large grocery stores do their own brand of these books, with the pocket at the back and they are cheaper, if I purchase one of those then I leave a few pages at the front for the index and number each page myself. I also date every page.

I tend to use lined and my notebooks incorporate a number of things. Scoping out presentations, proposals and articles, research notes, writing notes from a website & reading etc, all with citations. I have a page for books I want to read and websites that I come across when I am reading. I draw out trees when I research as that helps me think and I often do a page for ancestors or people in my study where I want to track them.  Here are a few examples:

Notebook Example 2

So this page is where I was working on a branch of my Italian family – the page on the left is where I was following Concetta Bellantoni whose mother’s maiden name was Licata, sister of my paternal Grandmother. Concetta migrated to the United States along with her Mother, Sister and Aunt; her father had already travelled to the US and settled. Her Aunt, also called Concetta was according to the passenger list going to meet her brother who had already migrated. On the right is the print out from Gens.info where I was looking at the distribution for the surname of Virciglio which is the surname of my paternal Great Grandmother.

Notebook Example 1

This is the page where I was working on the Licata family and you can see Concetta who migrated to the United States and was Aunt to Concetta Bellantoni. My Grandmother is the youngest in this family, Maria, who was the only one of her family to remain in Sutera, Sicily. You can see on this page the washi tape, that appears on every page with a tree.

The reason I draw this out like this is two fold – it helps me think! and it helps me identify who sits where, especially with Italian families where names often repeat. Italian certificates provide the full names of the parents; women retain their birth surname even after marriage.

I do transcribe and add this into my genealogical programme, which is Roots Magic – I always work this way for my own family. For individuals in my study it varies. When I work on a particular individual, family or group of people, then I do work in a similar fashion as I reconstruct their family. Sometimes, this is a partial note a list of the Census years and a tick for when I have located them on a Census & downloaded a copy, I note the place they are living and the occupation. As I work through the data for any individual or family I record where I found what and what I didn’t find, children on one Census but missing from the next is an example.

I also scope out blog posts in this notebook – especially if I am planning a series and when I will scheduled them; as they are scheduled they receive a tick. I have just planned out a series for this blog for October and I did one during April this year. I have the material for my DNA results and I am currently scoping our a DNA series for this blog. I am no expert on DNA, but things I have observed on my own results, about my DNA surname projects etc. On occasions someone will ask a question on this site and I answer the question, but perhaps it eventually generates into a post of it’s own. I have a list from the April 2018 series, which I won’t show you, otherwise it will spoil the surprise!

I am busy planning a trip to Sicily for next year and purchased a specific notebook, in lime green, but opted for the plain version because I know I am likely to stick bits in. That will contain all the notes in the planning stage of the trip and material once we get there – some of the usual holiday things  – what we do and when as well as research material, by that I mean notes taken whilst researching on the trip and the Italian bit of my to do list. The rest of the material will all be on my website – even if the One-Name Study of the material is not completely up to date, my personal line will be so that I can use the website instead of carrying paper around. Material on the website that relates to living people is hidden, but I will be able to see it, as long as I am logged in.

I use both Evernote and One Note and I use them for different things. I might have an idea and want to record that, so a one line pondering which I might scope out later and sometimes, much later.  I much prefer pen and paper, even though I love the technical abilities we now have. The Evernote web clipper is fabulous and a real help to archive material. I used One Note to scope out a project which I have just about completed, all 50,000 words of it. I chose One Note in 2014 when I started the project and whilst I have some of the notes I took as I researched that project in previous notebooks, the basic idea and the scope is in One Note. I will at some point archive the material electronically, because I never discard anything, even if I never used the material in that particular project – once I research I retain the information as sometimes it contains a gem which I use for something else.

Sorry this has been such a long post and I hope those Guild of One-Name Studies members who were interested found it helpful and if you have a comment or there are any questions, ask away…….


Posted in Filofax, Journals & Notebooks, Genealogy | 15 Comments