This is my final post on our family history, showing how Alderney has been indelibly imprinted upon my soul.
Since I have no children I am the end of the line on this part of our family tree, which is one reason why, even though married, I chose to write under my maiden name Jackson.
Born in 1958, my memories of family holidays growing up are delightful, either going west to Devon or Cornwall or over to the Channel Islands, first to Guernsey (once too early in my life to remember) then to Sark when I was ten and then three wonderful breaks on Alderney, three weeks at a time over Alderney Week when I was in my teens.
And so, here’s my life in photos, focussing mainly, but not exclusively, on trips to Alderney:
We did return to Alderney in the autumn of 2022, hopefully one of many visits to come. I feel emotionally drawn to the island; I have a connection through time and family for nearly 200 years and the Alderney will always remain in my heart.
Isn’t it heart warming looking at photos of parents when they were young or when they were married!
Following on with my series of blog posts on my family history and how it has influenced my writing, we have reached Mum and Dad.
They were both brought up in the Southampton area and were married at Weston Road Church, Woolston. As a family we made regular visits to see Grandma Green there while growing up, and so the whole area was extremely familiar to me. Being a family of walkers, you get to know a place far better that way. Thus, it wasn’t difficult to make it the main setting for my second novel Ancasta ~ Guide me Swiftly Home.
Over the years my parents have shared many memories of their childhood and adolescent days and I’m sure all of this has coloured my writing too.
Arthur Jackson (my dad) didn’t work at Supermarine, like his father (Arthur Walter Jackson) and sister. He joined the RAF right at the end of WW2, but he did remember seeing the prototype Spitfire fly overhead, before he was evacuated to Bournemouth.
Mum and Dad also shared my Great Grandmother Harriet’s love of dancing and, legend has it, that she could turn on a sixpence.
On this trip here, we shared my parents’ last voyage on their favourite P&O ship the Oriana, chosen because it had a good dance floor; our last port of call was (fittingly) Guernsey.
Here are Mum and Dad on deck waving their flags, just as we passed Sark and Herm, two of the smaller Channel Islands.
…and so The Channel Islands, particularly Guernsey and Alderney are in my blood and my family heritage and childhood memories are also of holidays in Wooston, Southampton.
As it happens, when I began writing the first draft of Riduna, my parents decided that they would have a go at writing too. There’s was a sort of prequel to Riduna, set at the time of Elizabeth Quesnel and John Taylor.
I started working on their little book with Dad when they were both showing signs of dementia. He had been frustrated that he couldn’t write conversation. In the end he did not have the patience anymore to focus on it and so, since they passed away, I have spent some time working on their story. It is now at proof readers, but then I hope to work with someone from Alderney Museum to check it for historical authenticity. I won’t say accuracy because, although inspired by our family history, it remains fiction. I’ll keep you posted.
A comment on my last post from my niece prompted me describe how our family history search was carried out, predominantly by our parents.
Firstly it was started in the days before internet searches.
Research on Alderney
Dad wrote down all he knew of his Grandmother Harriet Jane, alongside lots of questions and we headed on a family holiday to Alderney and then on to Guernsey. Here are a couple of key questions:
Who were Harriet’s parents? (my Great Grandmother)
Where did she live?
What happened to them? Dad knew that they had died but how?
There were three ways we could find out information:
Visiting a dear lady on Alderney who was in her 80’s, but worked with families who were researching their family trees. All she asked was a donation for the museum and for us to send her any information we gleaned.
Visiting the museum where the potter Peter Arnold (and curator I believe) allowed us to search all the old acetates of any records the island possessed on a machine where you carefully turned the handle and looked into a viewer.
Looking around the graveyard for possible relatives.
As I have said in a previous post, records on Alderney are not complete due to the evacuation and occupation in WW2.
Most which are available, of course, can now be accessed on-line.
(Meanwhile I researched life on Alderney in the Victorian Age for my novel)
Research on Guernsey
Here there is a Records Office and the Priaulx Library, both mines of information, not to mention Trinity Church where my Great Grandmother Harriet was married. Our parents went back to work on their searches. Family History is absorbing but time consuming.
After our trip together
A few days was not enough, although we had an enjoyable time together. After that Mum and Dad made another trip to both islands on their own and I too visited Guernsey on my own for my research, which was now diverging from the truth into fiction. I travelled to Guernsey, in the opposite of the journey made by Harriet and her young family, on the slow ferry from Portsmouth, when you are still passing The Isle of Wight after an hour at sea!
As Mum and Dad went on to do more detailed research, uncovering much of what I have described in the previous few posts, they also went on to access records on the internet too, as soon as it was available.
It was a wonderful topic of discussion when we met and they distributed much of it to all the family, although it was poignant but also a delight to find all the original documentation and notes in their things when they had passed away.