Friday, 27 November 2015

Coming Home - BBC Wales

BBC Wales has it's own answer to Who Do You Think You Are? - it has Coming Home. Coming Home is a series of half-hour programmes looking into the Welsh roots of the famous and semi-famous.

Series 10 (oh yes, this is a long-running series,) features a four-episode run, starring actress Sian Phillips, journalist Jeremy Bowen, comedian and actor Ben Miller, and sports star and One Show presenter Iwan Thomas.

The series starts tonight at 8.30pm on BBC1 Wales with Sian Phillips' episode - the episodes will be available after airing on the BBC's iPlayer for people living in other UK regions.

I usually find the series to be well worth the watch - so if you're interested in history, give it a try.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Last Chance For Christmas 2015 Orders

Hurry! My last date for Christmas orders is Friday 27th November!

So, if you want to treat someone with a very special present, you'll have to be quick!

As always, order and price information can be found on my website -

Looking forward to hearing from you very soon!

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
John McCrae
There is an excellent webpage about John McCrae, the author of 'In Flanders Fields' and a Canadian military doctor, on the website. John McCrae was killed in 1918, and is buried in Wimereux Communal Cemetery.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Some Things Never Change

Truly, some things are pretty unchangeable. The sky is blue, and boys will be boys and do stupid and dangerous things on bonfire night.

This article from The South Wales Echo on 15th November 1900:

Some Barry Boys are not likely to readily for-
get it. They attempted to celebrate Guy Fawkes
night by letting off fireworks in the street, and
this morning were called upon to appear before
the magistrates at the Police Court. Five lads -
John Ash, Henry Williams, William Harris,
Emmanuel Williams, and Alfred Williams -
were each fined 5s including costs, while Ree[s]
Jones, a Cadoxton juvenile, who disobeyed the
summons, was ordered to appear at the next
sitting of the court.
I hope no-one is planning the same on this November 5th - keep yourselves and your pets safe!

Friday, 23 October 2015

WDYTYA? - Frances de la Tour

Well! That's Series 12 done and dusted in style, with last night's episode starring British actress Frances de la Tour, who has suitably posh ancestors (have you ever noticed how many of our actors and actresses are descended from aristocrats?)

But there was the whiff of scandal throughout the lives of these aristocratic ladies - and Frances followed the path of affairs, drugs, and the stifling conditions of life as a high-class woman. It never ceases to surprise me just how naïve celebrities can sometimes be in Who Do You Think You Are? episodes. Maybe it's just the hardened genealogist in me that automatically jumps to affairs and opium - not that I was wrong!

So, with intriguing stories and access to surviving historical documents that most of us can only dream of, Frances de la Tour closed off the series with a compelling and interesting episode.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Trafalgar - 21st October 1805

110 years ago today, the Battle of Trafalgar took place. If your anything like me, then you'll be wanting to refresh your memory on all things Trafalgar.

What was it?

Basically a big naval battle between ships off the cost of Spain, between the British forces led by Lord Nelson, and Napoleon's French and Spanish forces.

Which one was Lord Nelson again?

Admiral Lord Nelson sailed on HMS Victory, he was shot during the battle, and famously said 'Kiss me, Hardy,' as he lay dying on Victory's decks, aged 47. His first name was Horatio, which for some reason I find amusing.

Napoleon... was he the short guy?

We Brits are excellent at propaganda - and delighted at portraying Napoleon as titchy. Napoleon was about 5ft 6, not tall by any means, but not especially short either - particularly in the time period, when this would've been about average. It helped that many of the British commanders and officers were notably tall.

Why were they fighting?

Well, basically, Napoleon kept adding countries and territories in Europe to his Empire. Those countries usually already had some form of governance - and weren't so happy about being annexed. The British Empire wasn't so happy about having a powerful rival.

Who won?

Well, the Brits won the Battle of Trafalgar - but the Napoleonic Wars continued until 1815 and the decisive British victory of Waterloo.

Friday, 16 October 2015

WDYTYA? Series 12 Finale Rescheduled

Frances de la Tour's episode of Who Do You Think You Are? was due to air last night, but was postponed in favour of The Apprentice. It's now scheduled to air next Thursday (22 Oct) at 9pm. You can check here for any further changes of schedule.

I'm sure I'm not the only one to find it a little odd that the BBC would take a break before the last episode of a series, but there you have it.