Don’t forget your research – and PRE-ORDER

There’s been lots of discussion about genea-cruising lately in  GeniAus’s great hangouts. In all of our angst thinking about packing and gadding around while on board a cruise, have we not placed enough emphasis on what we might do with our spare time when not absorbed in conferencing or chattering  networking with our genimates?

So a few reminders of things you might want to keep in mind while on your genea-journey. It doesn’t matter whether you’re cruising, travelling overseas, or doing an interstate trip. These are some of the things I’ve experienced while researching here, there and “everywhere”.

Are you going to visit a library or archive in one of the ports/cities?

Have you checked what you need to take you?

Do you need a passport photo, for example? I found out yesterday that you do need one to use the History Centre in the Tasmanian Archives. I got caught out in Edinburgh on my last trip and wasted time toddling off to the photo centre nearby for my pics. Actually I think Jackie is correct and I’ve misinterpreted what the archivist said “photographic ID and also something with your current address – drivers license is good” – I saw them as two different things but seems likely they’re not.

Maybe there’s a sign-up form you can fill out before you get there. I sometimes use that jetlag arrival time to sign up for membership and get my bearings. I’m then good to go the next day.

Check out the Catalogue

When I’m organised (which isn’t on every trip!) I try to have a running file of research activities, or specific mysteries I’d like to resolve using particular records. It makes it easier to maximise your effort, so if you’re waiting for document delivery you can skip through a microfilm which are usually accessible.

Archive catalogues can be somewhat opaque, but somewhere on their website there should be guides to their most-used resources, and they’re well worth reading, before, during, and after your visit.

I love having my family stories and information on the computer so everything I have is with me. But sometimes for all the joys of technology it’s easier to have this (or part of it) in hard copy while you’re in the archive. You can always tear it up and throw it away if your packing gets too heavy.

PRE-ORDER:

This was something that had dropped off my radar as it’s a while since I’ve needed to do it. Not all documents in archives or reference libraries are held on site. If it takes a day or two (or even an hour or two) this can really put the kybosh on your research plans…I’ve been caught out not planning when visiting John Oxley library, for example.

Yesterday I spoke to the Tasmanian Archives people via online chat and was reminded to do this. I’ve ordered up a swag of stuff in the hope of any tiny clue about my Florentia ambiguity.

Timing:

Check which repositories are open when, as well as where they are, how to get there, and phone/email contact details. Plan your research around that to maximise your time. I put all that in a document and discard it when we move on to the next place.

Libraries often stay open later than archives, even if it’s not the reference section, so you can fit a little more sleuthing in there after business hours. Check out the university libraries as well as they often have great books, newspapers and journals which are very useful – and they’re usually open later. You might be surprised by what records have been deposited with them. For example in Glasgow I visited the university library to look at a shipping company’s records – I didn’t find what I was hoping for, but at least I eliminated one possibility.

Genealogy Societies

If you’re planning on visiting any genealogy societies, don’t forget to take your home-state card with you as they may have reciprocal rights.

Clothes and Shoes

Good shoes for cemeteries are a must and after tearing one pair of trousers on a cemetery fence in Ireland I won’t travel with only one spare pair of trousers.

No doubt there’s something I’ve forgotten but these are the tips that have helped me in my genea-journeys over the years. I’m lucky on this cruise as, apart from Hobart and Sydney post-cruise, I have no pressing need to do research. I’m going to have fun hanging out with “old” mates and meeting a new cousin.

 Credits: GeniAus has invented so many great genea-words for us to describe what we do. Not to mention all the hangouts that she’s introduced us to. Thanks Jill!

Packing for the 4th UTP geneacruise

This week GeniAus hosted another Hangout – to which she’s become somewhat addicted <smile>>

220px-Steamer_trunkThe topic this week was “Packing for a Geneajaunt”. Since this time next week we’ll be sailing through Sydney Heads on the 4th Unlock the Past (UTP) cruise. My spare bed is currently inundated with bits and pieces of packing which looks like it might need an old-style steamer trunk. My husband asked, ever so politely, do you think that’s all going to fit?

So what I have got on my long-list and have I forgotten anything?

THE ESSENTIALS

My Sea Pass and relevant paperwork, including personal ID.

Laptop with my life’s work, photos etc (lightweight as that’s a key selection criterion)

iPad for reading and music on the plane flight and Feedly/FB etc when I have a connection, plus download cable for connection with SD card

Mobile wifi goes with me on every trip

Smart phone (mobile download to be turned off when not in port)

Chargers for each of course!

SLR digital camera, spare battery and SD card (spare)

US power converters for the cruise

Binoculars (in my packing but forgot them off this list)

A sheet of bubble wrap – for gifts etc (weighs nothing and can be thrown out if desired)

Society membership cards for visits to interstate genie societies

Sign-up forms for archives if required.

“Business” cards with my family research names on the reverse

Genealogists for Families postcards for the promos we want to do

My Flip-Pal scanner is coming because I’m visiting a cousin to do lots of scans & spare batteries

Notebook for reminders, planning and lecture notes

A hard copy of my presentation (insurance!)

Blank DVDs (maybe) and memory stick

Printed list of attendees

Headset for hangouts and skype calls home.

A geneabook for Jill Ball’s genea-reader forum.

A couple of zip-lock bags

Remote control for my power-point presentation

Small torch and red cellophane (for Melissa Hulbert’s sky tour)

Blogging badge

A couple of Australia Post post-packs

ODDS and ENDS (some suggested by geneacruisers, some from online cruise reviews)

suction plug for extra hanging space?

small sink plug

Small amount of laundry detergent and some pegs

Febreeze to spray on clothes and eliminate wrinkles

SPACE for gifts for my grandchildren, whose eyes sparkled when they saw the Disney characters.

WHAT HAVE I FORGOTTEN?

Hmm, clothes perhaps??

Bling enough to do you think? Just kidding...

Bling enough to do you think? Just kidding…

Some suitable evening wear tops to wear with black trousers on formal nights

Swimsuit in the optimistic thought that I’ll get to the pool

A weather-proof jacket and umbrella

A light jumper and pashmina for the conference room, having been warned how chilly it is.

Comfortable shoes

Let’s hope I can pull off a Mary Poppins, and fit everything into my usual suitcase and hopefully <17kgs (not counting my laptop bag).

Sepia Saturday : Skiing the black runs…or not!

Looking the part as we set forth from our cabin.

Looking the part as we set forth from our cabin at Methven.

Back in 1984, the Cass Mob ventured forth on their first skiing expedition as part of a driving trip around New Zealand. We’d first been there in 1975 but at a different time of the year, and with no plans to ski. This time we had promised the girls there’d be snow…and plenty of it.

Sure enough there was plenty as we drove over Arthur’s Pass without chains (don’t even go into the reason behind that, thank you Avis!)..scary enough that another driver had a heart attack. But by the time we got to our cabin near the Mt Hutt ski-fields, snow was a little thin on the ground.

Bizarrely at the same time there was actually snow falling at Stanthorpe, about 150kms from where we lived, and Dad always vowed and declared that when he was on night shift in the Roma St Railway yards that week, there’d been snowflakes which melted before hitting the ground. And there we were, almost snow-less in the ski-fields….well I exaggerate a little.

I suspect DD2 was laughing like a drain at this point. And big sister wanted to help. DD3 and I knew we'd be useless.

I suspect DD2 was laughing, or hamming it up, at this point. And big sister wanted to help. DD3 and I knew we’d be useless. Mt Hutt 1984

I think these photos were taken on our very first skiing expedition and as you can see we were the picture of skill, grace and glamour! I was clever enough not to be photographed actually trying to do anything!! That night there was a massive dump of snow and we were holed up in our cabin, log fire, marshmellows, games and books.Louisa and Bec skiing Mt HuttA couple of days later we were able to venture up what was a rather scary road for we sub-tropical folk and have another go at skiing. I think it’s safe to say that Mr Cassmob and I promptly decided any winter sports skills we had would be confined to skating, not skiing. Before we left that day the older two were whizzing down steep slopes quite confidently.

My feet are supposed to do what...?

My feet are supposed to do what…?

It was traditional at their school to do a ski trip in their final year of school. Each and every one of our little “angels” made it their mission to ski the black runs before they came home!! But my abiding memory is the bedraggled group of young ladies who set forth on one of the trips the night after their Year 12 final….wild and woolly.

Always keen for a pose...just like her daughter is now.

Always keen for a pose…just like her daughter is now. Mt Hutt 1984

I was going to say that was the start and finish of our skiing adventures, but I just remembered I took DD3 and her cousin to the Snowy Mountains one September holidays when I had a week off work with the kids and it suddenly started dumping. So a 3000km drive to go for a few days’ skiing…I must really be mad!

What was that about posing? Surely I look the part at least?

What was that about posing? Surely I look the part at least? Perisher 1990

We camped among the snow gums below the snow line at Sawpit Creek and had possums visiting us every night. Possums have something in common with humans – they like to eat what they shouldn’t, especially marshmellows.Bec and possum Snowy

The kids had fun… attempting to ski and building a snowman and generally playing in the snow.

Having fun -the headband actually says "Ski Austria" not "Ski Australia"

Having fun -the headband actually says “Ski Austria” not “Ski Australia”

Posing seemed to be the name of the game.

Pauleen posing at Perisher -seemed to be the name of the game.

Camping below the snow line was a bit of a challenge though…one way to use every article of warm clothing in the car. And they made sure I paid for it with this glamour shot…after all when it’s below zero who cares how you look!

I wonder just how many layers I was wearing?

I wonder just how many layers I was wearing?

Why not see what  other Sepians have had to say about snow and skiing this week. Was it something they’re sick of or longing for?

Sepia Saturday 212

Kenya and Kiva

Image purchased from Shutterstock.

Image purchased from Shutterstock.

Have wondering where I’d vanished to? We have been adventuring in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, spending time with two of our daughters, one of whom lives in Nairobi, and seeing all sorts of wonderful animals from A to Z. We had a great time of it but must admit to being a little weary after the adventures.

We found the Kenyan people so friendly and engaging, and also very keen to better their lot in life. We who are used to conventional shops for all our necessities, or even our wants, were amazed by the sheer variety of products available on the roadside, each little stall or activity run by an enterprising individual. Admittedly we had flash-backs in part to visits to Bali over the road-side furniture manufacturing and stalls, but there were still significant differences. Whole stretches of footpaths had become garden pot sales areas, or mini (or not-so-mini) plant nurseries.

606 roses 2

Two dozen roses for about $5 is a good deal.

The abundance of roadside flower stalls with utterly magnificent roses and all manner of cut flowers was such a temptation, and while as a tourist one can’t usually take advantage of such things unless staying put for a few days, we were spoiled by seeing great arrays of them in our daughter’s home, and for a ridiculously cheap cost. Did you know that many of the flowers you see on display in Europe’s hotels and restaurants come from Kenya, especially near Lake Naivasha where the poly-tunnels are huge? Neither did I until the impact of the Nairobi airport fire made it clear.

The airport fire occurred about a month before we were due to arrive. It was certainly different to be processed by immigration in a marquee, though by the time we returned from Zanzibar, the newly built multi-story car park had been transformed into a very efficient arrivals hall. Having checked in, cleared immigration, and with “no guns beyond this point, on our outgoing flights, we headed for our departure lounge, which for each flight remained in a marquee or large tent, rather making me wish I’d dressed more casually given the heat in the confined space. We were taken by the inspirational signage near the baggage bays saying things like “every bag you lift raises Kenya up”. Not sure the men who unloaded the bags the first day were quite “on the page” with that one though <smile>. Kiva1

Business is done in all sorts of places, with little grocery and clothes shops everywhere. I saw quite a few micro-finance lenders’ offices which of course reminded me of Kiva. I’ve previously been reluctant to provide loans to those simply on-selling goods, but now I realise just how critical this is for people’s economic survival. I’ve also wondered from time to time why teachers might be applying for loans when they already had good jobs. That question was answered for me by a friend who is working as a teacher’s aide in Uganda. The monthly salary is an absurdly low amount and much lower than other career options. A gardener in a unit complex might have a reliable job, but his wages are very low and any medical expense, or the cost of a family funeral, will play havoc with the family’s budget and savings.

The impact of Jomo Kenyatta airport's fire.

The impact of Jomo Kenyatta airport’s fire.

And so, with a fair bit of credit in my Kiva account from repaid loans, I’ve made several loans to hard-working Kenyans. If you feel motivated to join Kiva, you don’t have to support Kenyan loans, but do have a look at the Genealogists for Families Team to see just what great work has been done, in a very short period of time. Full credit to Judy Webster for setting up this team in honour of her father.

Another reason for providing our support for Kenyans on Kiva right now, is that they will be doing it tough as the economic impact of the Westside mall terrorist attack hits home. Sadly it’s likely that it will also impact tourism numbers to the country and ordinary Kenyans, working hard to provide for their families, will suffer. We were in Nairobi, staying less than 500 metres away, when the assault took place so it was very much “there but for the Grace of God” for us. Sadly 67, or more, people were not so fortunate. The knock-on effect will be huge as people curtail their trips to the shops and stay out for shorter times. Everyday Kenyans rallied to support those injured in the attack, or the families of those who were killed, with their prayers, support and blood donations, irrespective of their religious affiliations.

Mr Cassmob and one of our Samburu guides, Anthony.

Mr Cassmob and one of our Samburu guides, Anthony.

Our final safari, to Samburu, overlapped with the final days of the siege and the guides were already concerned about the impact on their livelihood. We can honestly say that the siege did not ruin our enjoyment of Kenya and all it has to offer.

Ordinary Kenyans were so inspiring with their commitment to learning more (languages, skills etc) and improving their lives. We would visit again tomorrow – after we catch up on our sleep.

605 roses 1

So if you’re on Kiva, or if you’ve been thinking about joining, why not provide your support to Kenya at this difficult time and show the people the world is thinking of them. The image on my sidebar will take you to Genealogists for Families.

In the coming weeks I’ll be posting photos and stories from our Kenyan travel on my other blog, Tropical Territory and Travels, and you’ll soon see why we absolutely loved this amazing experience.

Sepia Saturday 173: Vegetarians beware

Sepia Saturday 173I can’t believe I almost forgot last weekend’s Sepia Saturday when I had just the photos for it! Comes of dealing with technical problems I guess.

Borough markets1

A couple of years ago my husband and I were able to visit London and actually spent some time sightseeing rather than just doing family history. One of our “discoveries” was the joys of the Borough Markets. Now I’m sure this is old hat to my English readers but what a great time we had looking at all the produce, much of it so different from what we have here, and definitely fresher than a lot we get. The colours and the arrangements were just gorgeous and so photogenic. It was also incredibly cold that morning too, so we actually drank a mulled wine and followed up with a curry at some ridiculously early hour!.

At the Borough Markets

At the Borough Markets

Now I’m not vegetarian – I’m one of those food hypocrites who likes to pretend their meat just appears on Styrofoam trays in the supermarket. But even I couldn’t resist these images of freshly delivered critters. My foodie daughter has no such qualms -she’ll happily look at young lambs gambolling in the field and think how delicious they’ll taste.

Paddock to plate.

Paddock to plate.

I know rabbits can be a pest, and they certainly are here having been imported for hunting by nostalgic British settlers, but they are oh so cute, as well as delicious when cooked. I have a delicious homemade Italian rabbit ragu at a restaurant I like in Brisbane whenever it’s available, and I’m in town.

Bunnies

Ditto the ducks with their gorgeous heads still vibrantly coloured. Peking Duck anyone?

Ducks and pheasants

Not only did we have a fabulous time at the markets we were able to have an interlude visiting the adjacent Southwark Cathedral, St Saviour’s, where Mr Cassmob’s ancestors were married. One of the ushers looked appalled when I said it had a modern feel, I suppose quite rightly given its age, but what I liked about it was its simplicity of line.

St Saviours interior

I can feel a series of photos coming up about our travels on my Tropical Territory blog once I get through the April A to Z challenge.

Borough markets2

An invitation to A to Z

A2Z-2013-BADGE-001Small_zps669396f9 (1)Last year I participated in the 2012 A to Z challenge and my theme was my family’s heritage places, long past and recent. Because it related to family history, I my stories posted on this blog.

This year my theme is about tourist spots and interesting places to visit across Australia’s north, especially in the Northern Territory. As well as some “what’s there” and “why visit”, I’m including some photos and some Australian colloquialisms (Aussie-isms, I’m calling them) which might help decipher some of the weird things Aussies say that mystify visitors.

If you feel like a bit of a virtual holiday, I’d like to invite you to join me on my Tropical Territory blog through April. Here’s where I explain what it’s all going to be about, including some maps marked with the places where I’ll be your tour guide from Alice Springs (NT) to Zebedee Springs (WA).

Sepia Saturday 170: Cassmob & co coffee outings

Sepia Sat 170Happy Easter, one and all. How about a coffee with those hot cross buns or croissants?

This Sepia Saturday 170 image offers many story and photo opportunities but I’ve stuck with coffee though flower shops would have been another excellent option. I was vaguely surprised to find coffee with such prominence in the days of the photo when tea was so much more popular with Australians.

Coffee and this family are a matched pair. We’re far more likely to hunt down a café than a bar especially when we’re travelling…after all you can’t be booked for DUI with coffee…if you could we’d be in big trouble!

My first thought was the Monmouth Coffee Shop at the Borough Markets in London but then I found this photo of the nearby coffee and deli. It has a similar vibe I thought to the featured image despite its emphasis on formaggi (cheese). We absolutely loved the Borough Markets and would definitely put it on must-visit list for London.

Borough Markets, London.

Borough Markets, London.

As we got off the bus a man told us we “must’ go to Monmouth Coffee which we did but only took a photo later when it was crowded. It was a bitterly cold morning with a sharp wind and for once coffee just wasn’t a match for a mulled wine even mid-morning, followed by a huge plate of hot Jamaican curry…yummm.

Since I was already trawling my photo folders I just had to share a few of our other travel photos of cafés we’ve seen. France does tea and coffee shops with such glamour it’s hard to resist.

We loved this square in Aix-en-Provence and had a morning coffee there one day. We were amused by the Aix-presso name given Aix is pronounced X.

Aix-en Provence cafe.

Aix-en Provence cafe.

Or how about following in the footsteps of Cézanne at Les Deux Garçons in Aix?

510 Les deux garcons Aix

The vivid colours of this café in L’Isle sur la Sorgue in Provence really caught my eye, contrasting with the blue of the canal and perfectly offset by the matching colours of the family sitting there. Unfortunately since we were only having coffee we were sitting inside.

L'Isle sur la Sorgue, Provence

L’Isle sur la Sorgue, Provence

In Bali you can order your coffee pool-side and this is how ours was delivered.

Coffee by the pool in Ubud.

Coffee by the pool in Ubud.

If you find yourself in Winchelsea near Rye, Sussex, why not have a coffee at this wonderful coffee and tea shop plus deli. Delicious coffee and cakes!

P1120320

We didn’t imbibe at this lovely café in Tenterden Kent or the Mermaid Corner Tea Rooms in Cranbrook Kent but don’t they look appealing? 

Cranbrook Kent

Mermaid Tea Rooms, Cranbrook Kent

674 Tenterden cafe KentAnd just like that we’re off to Tasmania even though this café in Evansdale looks very Provençal. Lovely food and coffee (have I mentioned I like cake almost as much as coffee?)

Evansdale, Tasmania

Evansdale, Tasmania

Coffee anyone?

coffee and croissant

Fab Feb Photo Collage Festival: Day 28 Far and away

4 x 7UP collageThis is the finale of my collage series and while it hasn’t been precisely 4x7UP it’s covered the key events of my early years. In this post, I’m once again going to indulge myself a little so I hope you’ll come along on the trip and see some of our travel from a child’s point of view. Pinching the inspiration from Kristin at Finding Eliza my plan is to interweave quotes from some travel notes and my letters back to my parents.

Finally the Darling Daughters (DDs) 1 and 2 were getting the opportunity they missed a few years earlier. We were off to Europe! At the same ages then as our grandchildren are now, I still wonder what we were thinking taking two small girls on a Grand Tour to Europe, England and Scotland with a “dessert” of Delhi, Kathmandu and Singapore. Obviously we had way more stamina in those far-off days of our youth, as did they!

Every girl needs a haircut big trip...Ms DD2's sawtoothed fringe was crafted for her by DD1, just days before we left.

Every girl needs a haircut before a big trip…Ms DD2′s sawtoothed fringe was crafted for her by DD1, just days before we left.

It’s greatly to the girls’ credit that they stood up to the demands of the trip so well…trains, buses, boats, huge ferries, small and large aircraft and multiple sights and cultures. For children who only travelled by car or plane, there were new experiences aplenty.  “The kids enjoyed the train to Florence” and DD2 apparently “LOVES buses!”

Travelling by train was fun for the kids whether in Europe or Scotland. They even survived overnight sleepers.

Travelling by train was fun for the kids whether in Europe or Scotland. They even survived overnight sleepers.

I wrote to my parents: “we are all well, having arrived safely unlike those poor souls in Tenerife” …this was a reference to a horrendous KLM-Pan Am on-tarmac crash with 583 casualties the day before we left Moresby.  We had “arrived at Moresby airport at 11.40am on Monday and arrived in Rome 27 hours later.” After a three hour stopover in Manila “we did not get off in Bangkok as the kids had not long gone to sleep…Likewise in Karachi.

Jet lag, little sleep, strange city: our first day in Rome. Thank heavens for gelati but even that didn't put a smile on anyone's face.

Jet lag, little sleep, strange city: our first day in Rome. Thank heavens for gelati but even that didn’t put a smile on anyone’s face.

Not surprisingly by the time we landed in Rome the kids (and we) were exhausted, and not impressed at having to be reclothed in warm attire (them). Miss DD1 who had been so peeved to be denied the earlier trip with us, decidedly announced “she did not like Rome and why had we come?! My sentiments exactly at that point!” Isn’t long-haul travel grand, not to mention jet lag. They were so tired they fell asleep on the airport bus and “missed the Colosseum and the man sitting in a truck full of artichokes“. “Rome station is an interesting place at 8am in the morning –you see all the latest fashions –high heeled boots, skin tight jeans and tartan skirts.  The Cass kids are IN already.” (Peter’s mother had bought the girls kilts while they were living in Scotland the year before.)

The "on trend" Cass girls in their tartan rubbing the pig's nose for luck.

The “on trend” Cass girls in their tartan rubbing the pig’s nose for luck.

However after a good sleep we all felt much more human and willing to be tourists. Staying near St Peter’s we “showed the kids the statues, Swiss Guards and the Pieta but I suspect what they’ll remember is the pigeons and horses!” Actually pigeons and coin throwing, initiated by the traditional Three Coins in a Fountain at the Trevi Fountain, which “took the kids fancy”. When Miss DD2 would get tired or grumpy we’d shoo her off to terrorise the nearest pigeons…there were always some.

This may be where DD1 acquired her love of Italian food and culture.

This may be where DD1 acquired her love of Italian food and culture.

Florence was a huge hit with the kids as they were spoiled by stall holders in the markets with little leather shoulder purses and per DD1’s letter home “Mummy bought us a dolly”, one each actually. Too true, but little did we suspect that DD2′s chosen baby doll, dressed in blue, was actually a fully-appurtenanced boy (it was Italy!). She (DD/Mum!) was a tad surprised but made a good recovery.

Watching the photo shoot wistfully.

Watching the photo shoot in St Mark’s Square wistfully. No shortage of pigeons here.

The kids were enthralled by Venice: DD1 jumping up and down with excitement at her first sighting of gondolas and the Grand Canal. But have you ever had to find public toilets for four-year olds in Italy, especially Venice? A nigh impossible task! As we travelled we selected charms for the girls to remember their grand adventure. They never wanted them on a charm bracelet but a couple have recently been added to a birthday gift for DD2.

Easter in Lucerne.

Easter in a snow-sprinkled Lucerne.

Lucerne was once again a thrill, it’s such a chocolate-box-picture kind of place, and it’s handy to be able to speak a little German. “It’s about a week earlier than when we were here last time and it has been snowing since about midnight. The roof tops have a covering of snow as do the trees and grass. It is all very picturesque if rather more winter than spring…It came down in big flakes mid-morning and we all went out for a look and a feel.” I wrote “we caught an overnight train from Salzburg to Zurich…to be sure of getting a room here for the Easter break”. We managed to “get a three-bed room plus kitchen and balcony overlooking Lucerne for $18 a day which is good for here” Of course being in the country of chocolate is the perfect place to be for Easter <smile>.

Don't they look just so cute?

Don’t they look just so cute? DD2 and DD1 in Interlaken.

We left Lucerne on Easter Monday, travelling via Interlaken. Despite telling the children repeatedly not to walk into the snow or their feet would be wet all night (another overnight train trip), quite naturally that was exactly what they did. This is one of our favourite photos of DDs1 and 2 from this holiday.

Over the sea to Skye and Peter in his new woolly coat.

Over the sea to Skye and Peter in his new woolly coat.

Much as we loved the Netherlands it caused us plenty of hassle when Peter’s shoulder bag was expertly “picked” on a near-empty tram in Amsterdam one Friday evening, removing his passport, rail passes and travellers cheques. Luckily we each carried our own travel documents, and I had the girls’, or we’d have been in a pickle.

In my aerogramme to my parents I said we “couldn’t file the report with the police as they were called out to a robbery, grabbed their guns and (leather) coats and took off! Quite impressive!…Whatever else you lose it is imperative never to lose a passport- you can’t move without it –literally or figuratively”. The consequence of this mini-drama was a trip to The Hague for a new passport and trawling all over London to get new visas to Nepal and a new entry permit for PNG. American Express was amazing, replacing their travellers cheques quickly. Our Australian bank much less so!

There's always time for sandcastles, even on a chilly day by the Dutch seaside.

There’s always time for sandcastles, even on a chilly day by the Dutch seaside.

We mostly avoided the churches and art galleries and looked for child-friendly outings. On this particular day at Madurodam, DD2 had been excelling herself wanting to throw coins into the myriad waterways: as I said, one of her travel addictions. If you look carefully at mother’s fingers you will see that her sentiments may not quite have matched her charming smile.

Madurodam, the Netherlands.

Madurodam, the Netherlands.

Kathmandu had long been on Mr Cassmob’s travel wish-list so when my friend and her husband relocated to Kathmandu and invited us to visit, the temptation was too much. The family story (totally true!) goes that after I’d chased DD2 who’d escaped outside the travel agent’s, I returned to hearing the agent recap our flight bookings, including a stop in Kathmandu! It would have been too stressful to be staying in hotels there so we were fortunate to be in our friends’ home. We were also pleased that the husband was in charge of airport electricals when we arrived in the midst of a major lightning storm. Kathmandu was an eye-opener for all of us, even after living in a developing country, but it was less discouraging than New Delhi which drove us all mad with the constant hassling. Still, despite the practicalities I rather regret we decided not to make the day trip to Agra. I suspect we never will see the Taj Mahal.

aerogramme 1977004

Our stay in Singapore ended up being rather longer than planned as the Australian airport baggage handlers were still on strike. One of the moments when you’re glad you have some credit cards but also a good chance to chill out by the pool. Finally the strike broke and we raced to the airport in company with some colleagues’ family, who handpassed the girls over people’s heads, such was the crush of humanity in the terminal that day. We also got a side trip to Brisbane, because we’d had to re-route our tickets if we were ever to get home to PNG.

We were on top of the world on our Everest sight-seeing flight.

We were on top of the world on our Everest sight-seeing flight.

The Qantas aircrew were as pleased to be finally going home as we all were and as soon as the doors were locked, announced free drinks all round. As the steward pulled the cap off Peter’s first XXXX beer (that’s its name) in a long time, the beer spewed everywhere having been languishing in a hot plane for over a week. Spilling all over the steward, he announced “wouldn’t that rip the fork out of your nightie”. We knew we were once again heading for home!

Fab Feb imageFamily Hx writing challengeThis is the final 4x7UP post for the February Photo Collage Festival and the Family History Writing Challenge.

Sepia Saturday 163: Snow deep and crisp and even

This week’s Sepia Saturday image fairly shouted “Kinsale” (Ireland) to me. In a surreptitious test I asked Mr Cassmob what it reminded him of….”snap” …he said the same thing! Why don’t you have a look at the professional image online here and see what you think…not only snow but a snowed-over barrel outside the pub! I have always loved this photo, which I bought it as a souvenir on one visit. Paradoxically it reminds me of a photo my daughter took from near here with a background of spring-blooming flowers.Sepia Saturday 9 Feb snow

Anyway, back to task. Snow isn’t exactly common in the tropical and sub-tropical areas where we have lived but somehow in our travels we’ve managed to come a long way since the days when we whispered to each other on a European train “is that snow falling?” Even our choices of major snow falls covered places from New Zealand to Switzerland and Scotland, Yorkshire to New England. However many seemed to be situated in a natural context and I wanted at least one photo with an urban perspective like the one featured.

The snow-sprinkled rooftops of Lucerne, Easter 1977. © Pauleen Cass 1977

The snow-sprinkled rooftops of Lucerne, Easter 1977. © Pauleen Cass 1977

We were in Lucerne for Easter way back in 1977 when there was a massive dump of snow overnight and then more the next night. With two little girls who lived in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea (not to mention the adults!) you can imagine the excitement! We were staying in a pension up on the hill so we had a lovely view over the rooftops of the town. Later in the day after a bout of snowman building and snowball throwing, we headed down to the Lake where the exquisite Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge) over the lake was iced with snow.

The old Kapellbrücke over Lake Lucerne under snow, Easter 1977. © Pauleen Cass 1977

The old Kapellbrücke over Lake Lucerne under snow, Easter 1977. © Pauleen Cass 1977

And how could I resist including these “wilderness” images of the Rest and Be Thankful pass from Loch Lomond to Loch Fyne, and ancestor country.

Rest and Be Thankful Pass, Argyll, Scotland. © Pauleen Cass 2006

Rest and Be Thankful Pass, Argyll, Scotland. © Pauleen Cass 2006

A rest stop at Rest and Be Thankful, but perhaps not in the  snow.

A rest stop at Rest and Be Thankful, but perhaps not in the snow.

My A to Z challenge: what’s it all about about?

I am participating in the A to Z 2012 blog challenge throughout April. My theme is a genealogical travelogue or a travel genealogue (I’m not sure which).

This is how I introduce each post, but really, what is it I’ve been trying to achieve? There are, as I say, two strands to my stories: family history and travel. Mostly it’s the former with occasional sprinklings of the latter.

Those who’ve been reading the A to Z posts (well most of my posts) know that I don’t really do short and sweet. I probably could, but it’s not a priority. I want to tell a story, which is why I much prefer the description of family history to genealogy. In this particular challenge I decided I wanted to talk about the places of significance to my family history, wherever they are in the world. I wanted to describe the place, give some sense of its essence (if I can manage it) and explain why it’s important to my family history.

Rather like the 52 weeks of Personal Genealogy and History series, this theme has been an opportunity to bring a collection of writings together which I can leave for my family, so they know the places of importance to our family tree. Obviously I also hope that some elements of the stories will be of interest to my readers, however if that was my only purpose I’d probably only focus on one place for each letter and leave it at that…more likely to be a small meal rather than a buffet.

Some of the elements include more recent family history because it occurred to me that even our children possibly don’t know all the places their paternal grandparents lived and we visited. An unanticipated outcome from the series is a “to do” list for future research.

My intention is to batch this theme with the 52 weeks posts from 2011 and put them in a book. I’ve already done this with Blurb for my general 2010-2011 posts but I wanted to keep the thematic posts separate. Much as I like technology and instant access around the world, at heart I still believe books will survive longer. Maybe I’m wrong, but then I’ll never know, and anyway I’ll have done my best.

As to the travelogue, mostly it’s pure self-indulgence with the excuse that it keeps the story alive, and hopefully my readers entertained. Australians tend to be travellers, but even so we’ve been very fortunate to be able to travel a fair bit. Neither of us was born with a silver spoon in our mouths, rather we decided that travel (and family history) was important enough to prioritise so that we had no regrets. While we have informal bucket lists, that’s as much about going back to places as exploring new ones. Let’s hope there are yet more adventures ahead.

Meanwhile if you enjoy dabbling into these posts and reading a little about the people and places, I’m pleased. I really feel my readers are part of a community to which I’m proud to belong. I thoroughly enjoy getting your insight and comments. Thank you!.