I have just received an email from my cousin Lyn with some exciting new documents which she has uncovered in her loft.
The first is the confirmation certificate of Harriet Jane Hopkins (she was often called Jane) on Alderney on 10th August 1884:
The second is the actual marriage certificate of Harriet and Thomas Jackson. Up until now we only had a copy of the church records (note Harriet is Jane Harriet here):
For me these are quite poignant, when Thomas returned to Guernsey in WW2 and the family were concerned that they had not heard from him:
… and finally the news the family dreaded that Thomas Jackson’s had passed away on 26th August 1943 :
It looks like the family had to wait 8 months to hear this news.
The missing piece of the puzzle is still verification of Harriet Jane’s mother, but, since many records were lost or destroyed on Alderney during the evacuation of WW2, it is very unlikely anything will come to light now. Common sense is that her mother’s name was Jane, but we have no proof of that.
Harriet is the protagonist of my first novel Riduna.
I didn’t choose it for myself, but as a small Christmas present for my husband to get him in the mood for travelling to Greece and also to think about life. He didn’t read it. It sat beside his bed for ages and so I decided to take it with us and read it myself.
The premise of the memoir is the author’s search for the meaning of life and the pleasures to be pursued in old age. He did this by revisiting the Greek island of Hydra, where he spent some memorable months when he was a young man. He also reflects on life by reading the works of various philosophers over the centuries, including Epicurus who he quotes frequently, as he tries to glean hidden truths as well as the obvious ones.
Did you feel empathy for any particular character?
To be honest, and I’m being sexist here I know, a man would probably identify with Daniel in his search more then I did and greatly enjoy his travel writing and reflection on life. I also tried to read it through my husband’s eyes. Having said that it set the scene for me, in that there we were on a small Greek Island enjoying the freedom after lock down but also thinking ‘what next?’ ~ when we were not just ‘being’!
Is there a lasting thought or memory of the book which remains with you?
The value of companionship “Of all the things that wisdom provides to help one live ones entire life in happiness, the greatest by far is the possession of friendship” ~ Epicurus.
I actually bought the book in Waterstones, Princess Street, Edinburgh, since I try to support my local bookshops.
I was very fortunate growing up and then teaching because spring bank holiday, and the week’s holiday certainly enjoyed in England, usually meant that I didn’t go to school or subsequently have to teach on my birthday. Rarely it happened. Both my birthday and my Mum’s was around the same time, and so over the years we were often able to celebrate our birthdays together. Such happy memories! One was in 2016 when my cousins came over as a surprise on Mum’s birthday (30th) and visited us in Fife. Here are a couple of recent ones:
This year we have decided to go away for a long weekend up to Glen Clova, a very special place just on the southern tip of the Cairngorms, with an abundance of pathways leading up glens and into the mountains. It has poignant memories for me of 2020, when we were not able to share our birthdays due to Covid, so it is lovely to look back on happier times.
It will be good to recharge the batteries, enjoy a little bit of new found freedom to travel, albeit relatively close by, to have plenty of fresh air and walks and to be ‘in the moment’.