Thursday, September 21, 2017

Senior moments

The Gorse Fox has the odd senior moment. This week he's been convinced that he is running a day ahead. On Monday he thought it was Tuesday, on Tuesday it was Wednesday and so on. Thus he managed to send Birthday wishes to Cousteau-cub a day early. He should know better, especially as he wears socks with the day of the week embroidered into the soles!

The Silver Vixen was out learning some new spells today. The Gorse Fox spent the morning searching for her elusive grandmother or gt-grandmother. All he has managed to achieve is to further confuse matters by finding facts that almost fit, but contradict logic or other facts. He has a feeling that these problems will not actually progress until either the 1921 Census is released or he builds a time machine in his garage.

On a completely separate subject the Gorse Fox's football boots have seen better days. The heel is wearing away and the toe of the right boot is coming apart.  He decided it was time to replace them. A quick spin into Bognor Regis saw the Gorse Fox wandering through the boot section of Sports Direct. He saw several boots that he liked; one was not available in his size, another was available but was much too tight, and the last one seemed just a tad too long. He decided on the last pair, and also picked up a couple of pairs of football socks. Let's just hope we have enough people to play on Sunday and he gets a chance to run them in.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

And so it came to pass

There was no football this morning (for whatever reason the lazy devils could think up). The Gorse Fox was not amused but decided to make the most of the day. He grabbed his stuff and headed for Winchester.

It was quick and clear run across to the old capital and the Gorse Fox made the most of the Park & Ride. This meant he just dropped down off the motorway, parked up, paid his £3 and got on a bus for the last couple of miles. This was quick and trouble free, dropping the Gorse Fox outside the County Archives.

His research went well. They had all of the Electoral Registers that he was after and homed in immediately on the Silver Vixen's great grandmother. Even though her grandmother is an enigma, the Gorse Fox has some good solid facts about her gt-grandmother. The hope is that with some additional information he can then start searching for the gt-grandmother's family and end up with the grandmother.

Having found the gt-grandmother, he then continued by looking for her death. He found this and was amazed to see that she lived to the ripe old age of 96. He also found her (last) husband's details and those of a daughter (or maybe step-daughter). Felling smug he sat in the records office wondering what else he could achieve before leaving... Nope that was it. He packed his stuff, thanked the kind ladies on the help desk and headed off.

He strolled down through Winchester High Street and stopped for a spicy wrap at a street stall. Heading back to the bus stop he grabbed a ride back to car and headed home.

Having recorded all the new information in the tree and done some initial research, the Gorse Fox can confidently say that this has not clarified matters at all. In fact it has confused matters even further. Oh well!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017


The Highways Agency are preparing to upgrade the A259 between Flansham and Ferring. Signs are being put up to warn of possible disruption... from Summer 2017 through to Summer 2020. This could prove to be a major inconvenience as this is route that the Silver Vixen takes to Pilates and the various meetings of her coven. It is also the route taken by the Gorse Fox to get to football. The only alternative route is via the A27 which, in turn, can be a serious traffic bottleneck as it squeezes past Arundel. Don't misunderstand... the Gorse Fox is not complaining. These infrastructure projects are important but it will mean allowing extra time on these regular journeys.

Football was much the same as usual today. At least the Gorse Fox was teamed up with someone else who is clearly an experienced defender. This was just as well as the team selections meant that we were effectively pinned to wall throughout. The Gorse Fox did manage to create a very good goal and then go on and score one himself. Overall it was 3 losses, 1 draw, and 2 wins.

Back home the Gorse Fox phoned the Hampshire Archives. He's had a bit of a wild, off-the-wall thought regarding the detective work for the Silver Vixen's grandmother. He can feel a trip to Winchester on the cards so that he can examine some Electoral Registers.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Home alone

The Silver Vixen had arranged to meet a girlfriend for lunch and then had an appointment later in the afternoon. The Gorse Fox was left home alone (obviously with Jasper in charge).

To a certain degree, he was confined to barracks as he had to wait in for a delivery. This meant that he could sit in front of the computer and do more research. He has mentioned before that the Silver Vixen's grandmother was an enigma. (Not covered in dials and encrypted tattoos, just a mystery). She definitely existed... the Gorse Fox met her on many occasions. He has her death certificate. He has her marriage certificate. What he cannot track down is her birth certificate. This isn't helped by the story given by her daughter. Her daughter was not clearest of writers and didn't believe in punctuation. Her letters to the Gorse Fox were just a stream of consciousness and it was up to the Gorse Fox to parse and re-parse the lists of words into possible phrases and sentences.

The Gorse Fox thinks the story goes like this. She was born in Bridgwater or Highbridge in the Lamb Hotel (or maybe it was Frome in the Bull Hotel). Her father was killed before she was born... but her family name was Miller when she was born (possibly). Her mother remarried a chap named Gerrard and had two daughters. She then married again to a chap named Gough and had a further daughter and a son.

Now the Gorse Fox is really quite expert at finding certificates and records from wide range of sources. Despite this he cannot find a single corroborating fact for any of this story. No birth certificates, no marriage certificates, no baptisms, no census information.

Virtually the whole day was spent trying every trick in the book to elicit some verifiable information. Nada! Nothing!

It will return to back burner and the Gorse Fox will try again in months to come.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Strolling along

Jasper ensured the Gorse Fox had an early start. It's a shame really, he was very comfortable in bed and had no football scheduled this morning, so was in no rush. (Rush, of course, is a relative concept - anyone who knows the Gorse Fox knows that he never has to rush as he always allows plenty of time plus contingency plus a random fudge-factor).

Urban-Cub called. She suggested we met up for a walk along the sea-front. This seemed like a very attractive idea. We pottered across to LA and parked up at the east beach car park and a few minutes later Urban-Cub turned up with Ellie and Amber. We had a lovely walk along the promenade - interrupted briefly when Ellie needed a comfort stop (this, you understand, is a euphemism). We diverted to the nearby Harvester and once she was clean and redressed we continued the walk along to the mouth of the River and then along the riverside walk to the Look n Sea Centre.

We stopped for a coffee and a cake and to feed Ellie before resuming on the return leg of our walk. It was only a couple of hours but was very refreshing.

Back home the Gorse Fox returned to the filing and the research. He is trying out a completely different approach to the latest paper files from those he had done in the past. He is trying a reverse chronological system, separated into generations. This seems to be working quite well so far and may be the start of a major re-filing exercise. (Only the Gorse Fox can get excited over techniques for organising data - be it digital or physical!)

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Mixed day

It's been a mixed day. During the morning, the Gorse Fox cleared one end of the living room and started shampooing the carpet. While this was going on, the Silver Vixen started to clean the inside of her car. The carpet came up nicely and after it had been left to dry for a while the furniture was all shifted back to the clean end and the other end was attacked. This took longer. There was one stubborn mark by the door which took a lot of intervention. In the end it was done and we have a nice clean carpet again.

The afternoon was spent with the family tree files. This was less about research and more about creating reports, printing, and filing.

Friday, September 15, 2017


Pistol Pete was back on duty and not due home until late. Urban-Cub thought it would be good to bring baby Ellie and spend the day with us. This meant that we had a very domestic day. As usual, it was great fun as she is such a cheerful little soul.

The Gorse Fox did pop out for a while. The recent genealogical research has stretched his paper files to their limit. It was time to spend some quality time in the stationery store (Cousteau-Cub would be jealous as she, like the Gorse Fox, has a thing about stationery). Back home with five new lever-arch files he started to filet one of the existing files. As he moved records from one to the other, and updated the printouts where relevant, he realised that for that family he had filled even the new file.

As an aside he has also been looking at a new investment. He was fairly bullish yesterday, but now the numbers start to crank up it becomes a little less attractive. If the Gorse Fox had unlimited funds, then he wouldn't hesitate, but (strangely) that's not the case.

The Gorse Fox cooked a recipe from one the Silver Vixen's new cookery books. Unusually, he followed the instructions to the letter... and the results were absolutely underwhelming. It's a shame as  Urban-Cub was with us for supper.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Oops, We've done it again

Thursday is pretty much back to normal. Ocado were scheduled to deliver the week's shopping and the Gorse Fox spent time catching up on the accounts.

With that out of the way the Gorse Fox attacked the upstairs landing carpet. Jasper had conducted a dirty protest while we were away and the neighbours had kindly cleared it up. It was, however, appropriate to get the carpet shampoo/vacuum cleaner to work. It took a little while to get it working - we hadn't used it for a long time, but Urban-Cub had used it. What with the dog hairs from her house and the cat hairs from our, some of the mechanism was clogged up. It's done now and with that practise complete, the Gorse Fox will attack the lounge tomorrow.

We had a quick trip into Chichester this afternoon. It should have bee short and inexpensive. The Silver Vixen needed some calico and the Gorse Fox wanted a new water bottle to take to football (the cap on the old one was leaking). Unfortunately we had to walk past the gallery where we bought our Akiyama triptych earlier this year. The artist has a new painting "Refuge" in the window.

We just stopped to look. Nothing more.

We just popped in to find out the price. Just being nosey. Nothing more.

Oooops, we accidentally put a deposit down and are now awaiting delivery.


Wednesday, September 13, 2017


The Gorse Fox had his usual start, courtesy of Jasper. With coffee clutched in hand he started with some research but found that Ancestry was having trouble and couldn't display some of the certificates that he had found. Very frustrating.

After breakfast the Silver Vixen headed off to Pilates and the Gorse Fox headed off for football. It was a very enjoyable game today. Fairly even, though the Gorse Fox did end up on the losing side. We seemed to treat the "walking" rule with a degree of disdain which made for a good free-flowing game. The Gorse Fox was pleased that he managed to get one our few goals... described by the other team as the Gorse Fox's Exocet. Very satisfying.

Back home the afternoon was spent enjoying the Orangery and then more research into the Silver Vixen's family tree.

Late afternoon he started to prepare a chicken passanda. As he writes, it is nearly finished. It smells wonderful so we'll have to see how it tastes.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Gone phishing

Tuesdays started much the same way as it usual does. Jasper yanked the Gorse Fox out of bed and demanded his breakfast. The Gorse Fox obliged and settled down to his first coffee of the day and eventually some breakfast of his own.

Next there was football. Not a great success today with only one win out of 6 games. What did make it interesting, however, was the fact that the ref ditched the "walking" rule for the very last game and allowed unconstrained running. The Gorse Fox loved this. It made the whole thing so much more natural. (His team still lost, but that's the way it goes).

When he got home and showered he checked his phone. There was a message (shown here).

At first you worry. Then your brain kicks into gear. HSBC do not identify themselves as H.S.B.C. Perhaps more importantly, the Gorse Fox doesn't have any HSBC accounts. The worry stopped.

The Gorse Fox decided he should do his civic duty.

He called HSBC and eventually got through to an account representative who show no interest whatsoever. He just told the Gorse Fox not to worry and to delete the message. With service like that, the Gorse Fox is glad he isn't an HSBC customer.

Next stop was the Action Fraud line. The Gorse Fox phoned and waited in a queue. He continued to wait in a queue. A glacier melted. He waited some more. Continents drifted apart. He waited. Finally someone finished their lunch and answered the phone. He explained the nature of his attack and the young lady said she would prepare a report and could the Gorse Fox wait on the line. In a distant galaxy a star collapsed and formed a black hole. The phone crackled back into life. She had prepared the report and would submit it. Finally she asked if it would be ok for media companies to contact the Gorse Fox - he said no. Did he need counselling because of the experience? - he said no. Did he need emotional support? - no (but he would like the last hour of his life back). She then read out his reference number and a password to allow him to track the report. That was it. Bizarre!

Doing your civic duty can be a strange experience and occupy a significant portion of your day.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Pressing problems

Over the weekend the Silver Vixen has caught up on all of the post holiday washing. It was only right that the Gorse Fox chipped in. So it was that he spent a couple of hours this morning standing by the ironing board moving creases about in shirts, slacks, and bedding.

Once that was done it was time to deal with his long flowing locks. He phoned the barber shop. No answer. Edward Scissorhands must be dealing with a customer. The Gorse Fox decided to walk down there and sit and wait. Wrong. He wandered down and tried to enter the shop. It was firmly locked. The sign on the door no longer includes Monday in the list of opening times. Oh well there will have to be a trip later in the week.

The Silver Vixen was out during the afternoon so the Gorse Fox spent more time researching. Interestingly there was a clutch (copse?) of existing family trees that included this ancestor. Better still they all provided names of a further generation back. Now, you might have guessed from previous comments that the Gorse Fox never takes these things at face value. He looks at their sources and examines the citations. In the end he concluded the information was rubbish (e.g. one researcher showed a daughter Elizabeth born in 1794 in Coventry and another called Elizabeth born in Bilston in the same year). Again, for any people, this seems to be a game of pin the tail on the donkey! The Gorse Fox concluded that he would not be adding this new generation until he had discovered it himself and had clear and incontrovertible proof that it is correct.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Penmanship and transcription

One of the issues you face when doing genealogical research is the combination of illiteracy, strong accents, poor penmanship, and interpretation. Perhaps the Gorse Fox should explain.

If Mary Ann Bowler was illiterate, then when she appear in formal registers her name is written by the registrar. It is written as he interprets and spells it. In this case he might have written Bowler, Bouler, Boler Boaler and so forth. Whatever he writes, it is the same person and what is written on her baptismal certificate may be different from what was on he marriage certificate and different again from what might be written in the census returns.

Now as time goes by these registers are consolidated and stored. Eventually, they get indexed and, with luck, transcribed. Here we introduce the next level of complexity. The person doing the indexing or transcription reads the certificate and makes his best guess at what the handwriting says. Bowler may, by now, become Bouder, Boullier,  Bolder or something equally obscure.

Finally, the Gorse Fox comes along and tries to find out about Mary Ann Bowler. The indexes can't be trusted so you have to try each variation of the name. Then you have look at all of the accompanying information to ensure that the Mary Ann you are seeking is indeed the Mary Ann you are looking at. Eventually you find a trail through the information and, hopefully, a few trusted citations that you can include in your research.

This explains the afternoon that the Gorse Fox has enjoyed. (In a parallel three, Cambridge University are considering allowing students to type their exams as the standard of penmanship in the latest generation is so poor that the examiners can't decode the results).

This morning was different - a Sunday football game for the first time in a month. It was very tight finishing up 5-4 to the other team. The Gorse Fox was pleased with the way he played and did manage to score our 4th goal.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Our friends domestic

It was a post-vacation domestic day.

The Gorse Fox popped over to Urban-Cub's to drop off the high-chair that we had brought back from The Lakes in our car. Meanwhile the Silver Vixen had started on the washing. Load after loads was washed and hung out to dry.

We hadn't arranged an Ocado delivery so needed to do a week's shop. We picked an ideal time at Sainsbury's. It was quiet and even the checkouts were empty. We were there and back in an hour.

In the late afternoon we popped round to see Lady Penelope and Old Bill to thank them for looking after Jasper last week. (We thanked Tinkerbell and Two Hats yesterday).

Friday, September 08, 2017

Long day

The alarm was set for 6:15 - there was was much to do before vacating the cottage at 10:00. Urban-Cub was already up with Ellie so we tag-teamed her for a while so that we could both get things done. The Silver Vixen emerged and Pistol Pete came down. The cottage became a have of activity, clearing, packing, cleaning and loading the cars.

Pistol Pete and Urban-Cub set off first. Ellie was due for a bottle within the hour, so the idea was to get on the way and stop for breakfast and to feed Ellie at the first sensible service station.

The Gorse Fox and the Silver Vixen left at about nine o'clock and headed out northwards. The idea was to fill up with diesel near Penrith and pick up the motorway at junction 40. It probably added a few miles to the journey, but the motorway was virtually empty and with cruise control set, the drive was quite relaxing.

The first hold up came as we entered the roadworks down near junction 19 through to 16. Traffic slowed right down, but it did keep moving (unlike the northbound journey last week). We stopped at Sandbach for a comfort break and some coffee then merged back into the traffic, slipped onto the M6 Toll road and and continued on home. M42, M40, A34, M3, M27...

We got home just before four o'clock - the 360 miles had taken just under 7 hours, including the fuel stop and the comfort break. This was really better than we could have hoped for on a Friday. The latter part of the journey was through several cloudbursts - but even still, the traffic behaved. As we approached the M3 we heard that the M6 had been closed behind us in both directions up in the roadworks by J18. An hour later it was still closed. We had been so lucky to get through without incident or delay.

It didn't take long to unload the car and unpack. Jasper was clearly delighted to see us as he hovered around our feet as we sorted things out.

It had been a good week and was so nice to spend time with Pistol Pete, Urban-Cub, and Ellie.

Addendum: The Gorse Fox has just read that the M6 remained closed for 8 hours. Two lorries had collided and one had leaked 18000 litres of liquid onto the carriageways. Fire service had declared a major incident.