Favourite Book(s) #27 – 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

Thus is one of my favourite go to books if I have been in a reading slump or I have been reading heavy texts. It is a light and amusing book. This is the story of Helene Hanff and the wonderful relationship she built up between herself and Frank an employee of  Messrs Marks and Co, sellers of rare and secondhand books, at 84 Charing Cross Road, London.

There is something almost innocent in the writing, which comprises of a series of letters between Helene and Frank spanning the years following post World War II.

In fact I am going to cheat slightly and say that all the books written by Helene are lovely and have that same genuine innocence about them. My second favourite of Helene’s book is Apple of my Eye which is set in New York and has some wonderful descriptive elements of parts of New York, including the Twin Towers.

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Book of Me Prompts – July 2017

Book of Me2018

© 2017 Julie Goucher

Welcome to the seventh 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.

  • What is your favourite flower and why?
  • What is your favourite film or play and why?
  • Find a quote that speaks to you?
  • Do you have any regrets? If so, name two and why?
  • Do you believe what you cannot see?

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.

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Favourite Book(s) #26 – The Guernsey Novels by Anne Allen


This is a great fabulous series by author, Anne Allen who lives in Devon. Her  series of books are available on Amazon as both physical and Kindle books. The image here shows the first five books and the sixth book in the series was published in October 2017. I certainly hope there will be a seventh book in the series.

The books in order, in case you are like me and have to read in order are:

  1. Dangerous Water
  2. Finding Mother
  3. Guernsey Retreat
  4. The Family Divided
  5. Echoes of Time
  6. The Betrayal

All the books can be read as standalone books, but have the central characters the same with each book focusing on a different central character or two. I heard Anne speak at my local library in the summer of 2016. During that time she did a short reading and chatted about her journey before she became an author and why she selected Guernsey as the setting for her series.

The books are set in the modern time, but with flashes back to the days of the Occupation of the island during the Second World War. I truly enjoy them. I borrowed the first four books from the library, but actually own a full set as Kindle books because they are like trusty friends and I have read them all more than once!

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Guild of One-Name Studies Webinar – Publish & Preserve

Webinar 7

The latest Guild of One-Name Studies webinar is available to EVERYONE until 28th June 2018 and can be viewed HERE. It will become a members benefit on 29 June.

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Favourite Book(s) #24 – The Surnames Handbook by Debbie Kennett

Surname HandbookFirstly, a disclaimer – I know the author. Debbie Kennett is a fellow member of the Guild of One-Name Studies and has no idea that her book has made by favourite book list!

This is a great book (published 2012) whether you are new to surnames research or have been focusing on it for decades. The foreward is written by the President, Derek Palgrave.

As someone who is researching a European surname there is not much in this book to guide you, but I urge you to not let that discourage you from reading it! It has a distinct British focus, but that is not to exclude other regions, but it gives a clear foundation for studies whose surname originate from the British Isles.

Let’s go back a bit – Britain, whether that is prior to the formation of the Union with Scotland or not, desperately sought to claim lands in other parts of the world. In doing so, surnames whose origins are in the British Isles are found across the globe, including Canada, United States, Australia, New Zealand, parts of the pacific and many other places. There is a huge population in Patagonia of those with Welsh heritage and surnames for example.

For a researcher who resides outside of the UK, but researching a surname with ancestors whose roots are British, this gives a great foundation to that research and does focus on some data that is not found elsewhere, for example Hearth Tax which is explained with a link to the National Archives. This data gives insight into the financial status of your 17th Century ancestor, for the simple reason the more windows your house had, the more money you had and therefore the Hearth Tax you paid! Another example is the Protestation Returns, this dates back to 1641 where men over the age of 18 had to swear an oath to King James the First (James I).

At the back of the book is a wealth of information – links to other sites (some have since publication been folded into other genealogical organisations), organisations and journals, surname websites, Linguistic resources, Surname distribution maps, place name resources, populations studies and there is a substantial notes section as well as a chapter on DNA and surnames.

This book is also one of the two key text for the Advanced course in One-Name Studies course for which it is recommended that students have previously completed the Introduction course in One-Name Studies (next course runs 16 October 2018). The second key text for the advance course I wrote about here.

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Favourite Book(s) #23 – First Class by Chris West

First ClassI was about three when my Grandfather gave me a penny stamp in an old matchbox. As time progressed I joined the millions of children across the globe who collected stamps and found myself fascinated by the person who might have licked the back of the stamp to affix it to the envelope. What did the envelope contain, a love letter,a recipe, a note? The list is endless.

I no longer collect stamps, but do still have my childhood collection that began from a simple stamp in an empty matchbox.

I spotted this book in the window of a bookseller and knew that I had to buy it. It came home with me that day and the book takes us on a journey from the first stamp, a penny black in 1840 up until the last stamp in 2007.

The book contains information on 36 stamps and not just the stamps, but also social history and other snippets of information that show the history of Britain in just 36 stamps.

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Surname Fascination

A few days ago, there was a fascinating discussion on the Family Tree Magazine (UK)  Academy Facebook group about surnames and asked the question, how many different surnames had readers come across?

Anyone who has been reading this site for a while will know I have a bit of a “thing” about surnames, after all we all have one!

Like the folk at Family Tree I devised a graphic, but I opted to create two, this first one representing some of my maternal & British side.

Maternal Line

Designed by Julie Goucher using Wordclouds.com

and this second one representing my paternal and Sicilian side.

Paternal Line

Designed by Julie Goucher using Wordclouds.com

Do we share any surnames? If we do please leave a comment below.

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Book of Me Prompts – June 2018

Book of Me2018

© 2017 Julie Goucher

Welcome to the sixth 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.

  • What do you share?
  • How do you relax and unwind?
  • How do you keep emotionally strong?
  • What is your coping mechanism when things get tough?
  • What is your favourite colour?

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.

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Favourite Book(s) #22 – And Ladies of the Club by Helen Hooven Santmyer

51Eu6xToXdL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_This was a book that was selected to be a book club read. I bought the hard backed version because it was the only one available online at a reasonable price – the book comprises of 1176 pages and is an ideal door stop should you not like the book! Given this series is about my favourite books it sits on my bookshelves and has survived many book culls!

The book is set in Ohio between 1868 and 1932 and reviews the town’s changes through the political sphere, culture and social changes through the eyes of the women of the literary club.

Given that I had opted for the hardback it was way too heavy to read on my various commutes and was reserved for bed reading, I managed to read the book in two months and even that was quicker that most people in the group.

I have one more book by the same author, Herbs and Apples which I picked up about a decade ago from Hay on Wye, alas that book has sat on my to be read pile for the whole of that time!

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Favourite Book(s) #21 – The Recipe Club by Andrea Israel and Nancy Garfinkel

51A6ITgX5lL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_This was one of those books that I bought because the cover appealed. It sat on my growing pile of books to be read and when a long standing friend mentioned it to me in an email, asking where would I keep it – on my regular bookshelf or with my cook books? I commented that I already had the book and it was a to be read book and I had not made that decision yet.

We agreed we would read together and discuss by email. I struggled with the first few pages and could not get into the structure of the book, but after beginning again I absolutely loved it.

Written between two friends by email when they reconnect for a short time in 2000, the book then turns back to the early 1960’s when they shared a friendship and recipes until the 1970’s when something happens that tears their friendship apart. In 2002 the friends reconnect again when one receives a letter from the lawyer of the father of the other friend, that letter contains an emotional grenade and forces the friends to communicate again. After an hiatus the communications, friendship and relationship begins again.

This is a fascinating book about friendship, love, family and deceit, all interspersed with recipes.

The friend I read the book with I have known for 40 years, We often email, anything between several paragraphs to one line emails and I also have every letter she has has ever written to me from the days before email. And to answer the initial question, I keep my copy of the book in the breakfast room along with all my cookery books!

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