Friday, 19 February 2016

A famous author in the family tree

Thanks to my mother, I have a pretty good idea who's sitting up there in the branches of my family tree.

Up until now, there's been nobody famous, although she discovered I am directly descended from a man who fought in the last battle on English soil, the Monmouth Rebellion, in 1685.  I'm rather proud of that, and the fact that he was on the ill-fated Rebel side. It's something I plan to explore further when I have more time.

Mr Grigg thinks he has a link to Archie Leach, better known as that suave and most debonair of English-born actors, Cary Grant.
He knows this because he found a Leach in his family tree who lived in Bristol, which was where Archie was born. I got very excited and suggested it could be the same family as Archie's. When Mr Grigg has more time, he's going to look into it further.

In the meantime, I had nobody famous in my tree and always felt a little bit of a Billy No-Mates.

And then, this week, I had a message via my Maddie Grigg Facebook page from a man in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He'd found a post on my blog about my grandfather, a farmer and poet, who lived in Somerset.

Was it the same one as the one in his family tree, he wondered, giving me some details.

Indeed it was, I was able to tell my new distant cousin.

He quickly responded by giving me more information, and then a little aside about one of the greatest American novelists of the 20th century.
It turns out that the brother of my great-great-great-grandmother, Harriet Hancock, was Ernest Hemingway's sea-faring great-grandfather, Alexander.
According to an interview with Hemingway's nephew, John Sanford, for the Hemingway Project, Ernest's mother Grace’s maternal grandfather, Alexander Hancock, was 'a sea captain and part-owner of the three-masted barque, Elizabeth of Bristol. Captain Hancock sailed his ship from England in 1853 to Melbourne, Australia with a load of immigrants seeking gold. 

'Also on board were Hancock’s three young children who had lost their mother in a train accident just days before departure. One of those children was Grace’s mother, Caroline Hancock (Hall) who traveled from Australia to Panama with her father, sister and brother, crossed the isthmus on mule-back and took passage to America. From the East Coast they Hancock family took trains to Dyersville, Iowa where they had a relative and where Captain Hancock “swallowed the hook” and became the town’s postmaster.'

So Ernest (I'm on first name terms because he's family) and I share common ancestry, my third great-grandmother Harriet and Captain Alexander Hancock's parents being my great-great-great-great grandparents and Ernest's great-great grandparents.

I've got my genealogist mother on the case.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Monday, 15 February 2016

Hardy Country skies on A Dorset Year

I've been busy blogging for A Dorset Year these past few weeks.

The plan is to record the seasons in this part of Thomas Hardy Country over the next twelve months, with my French friend Natamagat, who takes the most delightful photographs.

Although I was quite pleased with this one snapped on my phone.
That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Friday, 5 February 2016

For sale: one lovely yacht with lots of happy Greek memories

For eleven years, this was my holiday.
Not bad for a confirmed landlubber.

It all began in 2004 when Mr Grigg and I were looking for a holiday home on the beautiful island of Corfu.

The place we wanted, on the edge of a village called Kavalouri, fell through. So on the last day of our fact-finding holiday, we called in at Gouvia Marina where my husband had an appointment with a man selling yachts.

I'd sooner sit by the sea than sit on it. And then I saw an advertisement for a partnership scheme with the aptly-named Odysseus Yachting Holidays. We'd pay half the price for a boat and the company would pay the rest and charter it out. At the end of five years, it would be ours and, in the meantime, we could use it for up to five weeks a year. 

Mr Grigg is crazy about the water. I am not so. I prefer rolling hills, cows and agriculture. However, I am pretty passionate about Greece, its islands, its people, ancient history and culture. And those azure waters are pretty inviting.

So when we got home to windswept Blighty, we talked about it. Mr Grigg got very excited and I overcame my aversion to being a tiny speck in a vast ocean and reasoned it was a great way of seeing Greece. It would be like a sea-borne caravan.

In any case, the partnership scheme was much cheaper than buying a house and it meant the Ionian would be our oyster.

Of course, it wasn't quite that simple. I had to learn to sail first. But I did it, passing my competent crew course at Weymouth to qualify for a life on the ocean wave.

Over the years, we've visited some wonderful places, had great holidays and had family and friends join us. I genned up on ancient Greece by studying for an MA at Exeter University.

We've sailed, like Odysseus, into Ithaca, we've been caught in thunderstorms fierce enough to shipwreck an ancient hero, we've found ancient ruins, met some wonderful people and put our feet under the Greek table. 

But all good things must come to an end. And now Nestor, our 36ft Bavaria, is up for sale

Our adventures in Greece and connection with the good people at Odysseus will continue as will our love for the village where we lived for twelve months in 2012 and 2013.

I'll be back in Corfu at Easter to launch my book about our grown-up gap year.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

A horror film for Halloween

On Halloween, I head out under the cover of darkness, a tub of sweets by the front door for young trick or treaters on the prowl with their ...