Of Bird and the bees – Part 2

Standfast Billings, a cobbler living near Amherst in Nova Scotia in the 1700s, had a wife who appeared to be near the end of her days.  Since there were four small children, Billings decided to prepare for the future by writing up an advertisement to be made public in Halifax, and he entitled it “To Any Capable Healthy Middle-aged Female Willing to Wed an Honest Cobbler.”  He gave the letter, unsealed to save the posting fee, to the postman and waited for his wife’s passing and the arrival of a new bride. Continue reading “Of Bird and the bees – Part 2”

Of Bird and the bees – Part 1

The boundary between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia is the Missiquash River, although it was briefly called the Marguerite, and how the name was changed is a “love against family wishes” story.  Not far from the river lived, in 1676, the French nobleman Michel Le Neuf, overseeing his feudal possessions in the New World. His beautiful daughter graced the new settlement with her courtly manners and charm.  Her Continue reading “Of Bird and the bees – Part 1”

Underground in the war – Part 2

Significantly different from the book of Loek Caspers is the one written by my aunt Susan, even though both cover the lives and actions of members of the Dutch resistance.  As Susan said in her book, “I am not focused so much on the war itself, but rather the experiences, the emotions and feelings amongst members of my family…”  This she does quite well, allowing us to feel the dangers, to undergo the surprises (both nasty and pleasant), and above all to reflect and ponder what motivated the family to involve themselves knowingly in life-or-death situations. Continue reading “Underground in the war – Part 2”

Underground in the war – Part 1

It is understandable that when people have gone through a very difficult time they don’t want to talk much about it.  That has been the reported situation in many familes who lived through the Second World War.  In many cases, stories have not come out until a generation or two later, and that was reflected in a 2008 Dutch volume about the Nazi occupation in the central Netherlands, a book which published some wartime experiences involving members of my family. Over the years there had been hints, bits Continue reading “Underground in the war – Part 1”

Another mystery for Phil Harding

For those who have been following regularly, this will be the final installment  of Alistair Moffat’s book called Before Scotland, and I think it will be a dilly!   You remember from the previous blog Phil Harding of Time Team.  It seems he was raised near the famous “Stonehenge” monument in southern England.  He says that as a child he watched the archeology being done there and that appears to have influenced his choice of occupation, much to his mother’s chagrin.  An interview in The Guardian tells us that Phil was very different from his mother and that she tried to prevent him from pursuing archeology.  His father was more open but he died tragically of a heart attack when Phil was in his twenties.  Many of us would wonder why and try to plum this painful mystery if it happened to us, and poor Phil maintained a long bitterness over it. Continue reading “Another mystery for Phil Harding”