Family Tree Roots

Going to the kitchen one Sunday
morning I passed the TV  rolling
forth Orkney Island panoramas
near my ancestral home in the
uppermost corner of Scotland.
I got the urge to visit for
family history research.

As bidden by my aunt, the
family matriarch I wrote  to
her niece, my cousin, as well
as her brother, my uncle, though
my aunt and father were glad
this uncle lived 12,000 miles
away. They couldn’t stand him.

I duly wrote letters, went to
John O’Groats,Orkney Islands,
drove south to the uncle and his
wife. Luckily they were civil.

Now a big surprise came from
the cousin who was ecstatic to
meet antipodean family from
her birthplace. She, her brother
and sisters craved contact with
distant family, were desperate
to know their family roots
denied them for forty two years
by the older generation’s feud.

So the younger generation
reconnected our family links.

Family Tree Roots

Seven Things You May Not Know About Punctuation

I find this fascinating, along with all the evolving changes in English colloquial daily changes.

Interesting Literature

In this special guest post, Ana Sampson offers some little-known facts about punctuation marks, to mark the publication of Caroline Taggart’s new book, The Accidental Apostrophe: … And Other Misadventures in Punctuation

Did you know

1. The Victorians were crazy about hyphens?

Jane Austen’s nephew Edward Austen Leigh, composing a biography of his aunt in the 1860s, had occasion to mention the joys of spring in the country, including early primroses, anemones and the first bird’s-nest. That hyphen makes it absolutely clear that he means the first nest (of the season) belonging to a bird, rather than a nest belonging to the first bird. A bit over-precise by today’s standards, you might think.

2. Charles Dickens could work six semi-colons into a single sentence?

It’s right at the beginning of Great Expectations, and it’s a masterpiece:

View original post 685 more words

Seven Things You May Not Know About Punctuation

Sprawling Monster

As children we drove to visit
family in our little city and
nearby scattered villages.
Crossing farmland we visited
great aunts at the forest’s edge
near our city’s southern harbour.
We crossed the northern harbour
by car ferry visiting friends
on farms, family at beaches
further north, camping in tents
and caravans by the shore.

Until the juggernaut of change
bridged the long inlet of our
northern harbour sending out
broad arterial routes northwards,
subdivisions swallowing farmland
beach cottages, camping grounds.
A new bridge over our southern
harbour’s inlets sent arterial
routes southwards as mushrooming
subdivisions and town centres
swallowed farmland, villages.

Vast throngs flocked from round
the country, from overseas, to
fill apartment blocks, subdivisions.
Businesses, office blocks, shopping
malls, apartments condos soar
skywards in endless canyons.
Vehicles belching smoking fumes
clog up the widening roads.

Our little city is now buried
under this sprawling monster.

Sprawling Monster

Lakeside Resort

In student days and early
career days we holidayed with
flatmates and families around
our islands’ countryside.

Quiet friendly little Queenstown
on its southern lake shore sat
ringed by towering mountains
as families stayed in little
holiday cottages, or in tents
and caravans in the municipal
camping ground along the shore.

My friend’s family, enthralled,
bought a little section up the
hill for caravan, tent, boat,
then swam, boated, skied
each summer. They built a
little brick cottage there,
snow skied every winter.

On idyllic holidays there we
explored, visited, picnicked

That was long ago, for
Queenstown was “discovered”.
Amongst thronging tourists
hotels and shops cluster along
its lake, prices soar, the
camping ground is gone.

Lakeside Resort


On the bus from mountain lakeside
my friend and I travelled down
from hills over plains to
Invercargill on the coast.

Crossing farmland with prolific
crops and sheep through little
farming villages we picked
up people going to town.

At the little village, Dipton,
impatient at the wait, we
eavesdropped the driver’s
conversation which held us
stalled at the roadside.

A farmer refused to leave
his shearing to have his
false teeth mended in town.
The driver accepted these
teeth from the farmer’s wife
to pass to the dentist’s
receptionist at Invercargill’s
regional bus terminal.

We blithe healthy young
students giggled at these
teeth all the way to town.

Nearly fifty years later
I remember those teeth
with all the news of our PM,
most famous son of Dipton.



Over the brae, up the glen,
along the shore, out to sea,
highlanders eked out
a living from stony soil
rocky beach, sea churned
round off shore islands, off
the vast heaving ocean.

Sparse whelks, hard won fish,
meagre taties, milk, offal and
minced meat from scrawny
cattle and sheep were barely
enough to sustain them.

Little went to the landowner
in return for tenancies and toil.
His bailiffs came to expunge
holdings held over generations.
His life was in the far south,
these people were nothing to him.

As everyone slept in the dead
of night bailiffs stormed the
tiny cottages, evicted all
occupants, drove them off the
estate, down the road, down
the coast from their homes.

At last they came to the mighty
port down the coast, crowded
into meagre rooms in
ramshackle tenements ……..

…….. this was their new home.



A Scottish Soldier

“There was a soldier,
a Scottish soldier,
who wandered far away,
who soldiered far away….” *

In a lonely stony highland glen
lived a young Scot with his clan.
Each spring as the heather on
the hill began to bloom he and
his fellow clansmen left to
seek their fortune fighting for
the continent’s foreign armies.

After summer’s purple heather
blaze faded on the hills,
as gunfire ceased, cannon
stilled, the clansmen returned
to their families in the glen.

Until one summer’s end when no
welcoming embraces greeted them,
their stone cottages were empty
the hills and glen stood silent.

At last their searching found
auld Jock hiding in his
bothy in the hills with
a horrible tale to tell.

The landlord’s bailiffs had
driven women and children,
old and infirm far away to the
city port, shipped them all to
the distant Caribbean Isles.

They would only find their
families far across the ocean.

* Chorus of song written and sung 
by Andy Stewart.  1961.

A Scottish Soldier


The boy’s meagre earnings
fed himself, his mother, younger
brothers and sisters, all of
them thin, sickly, starving.

Seeing a shopkeeper busy
with customers he sneaked
out  a pound of suet, whisked
it home to mother,

The hue and cry came after him,
brought him before the judge
who sentenced him for this theft
“transport to Botany Bay”.

Shipped to distant Australia
in punishment, he left his family
without his earnings, only
deep shame for his crime.

Ch: “Singing too-ral-li-oo-ral-li-addity
         singing too-ral-li-oo-ra-li-ay.
         Singing too-ral-li-oo-ral-li-addity
         we’re bound for Botany Bay.”     *

*Chorus of an 1880’s London music hall
song still sung in Australia today.


‘Uss ‘Uss

Big sister as a toddler
adored elderly Ephraim
stroked his grey fur gently
all the way down to the tip
of his sleek elegant tail.
He purred deeply as she
cooed to him ” ‘Uss !  ‘Uss !”
her first word learned
after “Mummy”, “Daddy”.

Little brother toddles
around the house, claps
his hands gasps rapturously
when he finds the black and
white cat curled up in sunshine
on the couch by the window.
He pats and strokes the
thick fur carefully as it
vibrates under deep
rolling purring. Little
brother has learnt “Mummy”
and “Daddy”, now he is
saying ” ‘Uss !  ‘Uss !”


‘Uss ‘Uss