Another one word prompt: Conversant

OK. I’m conversant with a lot of topics and issues. In fact some people call me a “know-it-all” but I DO know a lot about a variety of things and that’s definitely a fact! On quiz nights I’m quite handy except on sports and most things Hollywood.

In my various jobs as a university lecturer and a researcher I had to be conversant with a certain range of topics before I got those jobs. As time went along the jobs themselves required me to become quite conversant with new-to-me concepts and to integrate those with the knowledge I already possessed.

Now I’ve got into family genealogy I am almost wishing I was NOT conversant with the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA)! That might seem a strange pairing but believe me it is mighty annoying to look at the alternative spellings of surnames in BDM (Birth Death and Marriage) databases and wonder how anybody could pronounce them alike. For instance how are Cable and Cafley or Coville alike when spoken  by a native English speaker? cant2Sure the first two have some letters in common and have two syllables, but, honestly I cannot imagine anyone confusing them when spoken. However, the database never spits out any Kables (my name), Cabels, Cabells or even Cavel. Being conversant with the sounds of written names just leads me to frustration as I vainly search each separate possible spelling as deduced by myself.

I first became conversant with the IPA when I was 11 years old and we met Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales for the first time in our English class. Chaucer sounded really good when our teacher read it out, much better than the odd spellings looked on paper. In our textbook there was an explanation of how to pronounce examples of Middle English plus a copy of the IPA. So I taught myself how to sound out the IPA and then “translated” a page of Chaucer into phonetic symbols so I could have a go at reading it properly myself. It was great!cant1

But seriously, about the so-called phonetically similar alternative names in the FreeBMD and the England General Register Office of Births Deaths and Marriages, someone should give their basic programs a good polishing up, separating names that sound alike from those that might look alike when written in long-hand. They need to remember that names were often given to children by illiterate parents who could not tell whether the Parish Clerk or County Clerk was spelling them correctly when they registered their child. There is also the transcription of handwritten names to longer district lists and to “Bishop’s Transcripts” for ecclesiastical purposes. Once handwriting was mainly superseded by typewriters, then computers, there was another level of transcription to surmount. This is where the shape of a word or name becomes important and the shapes of letters in various styles of handwriting can have a large impact on both the spelling and pronunciation.

I have made some huge breakthroughs for some friends in the world of ancestor-hunting by finding that Jane Brown became June Bourne on her own marriage certificate through ambiguous handwriting. And Kable became Havel! Just last night I decided to try “Hedge” as an alternative to the surname “Kedge” when the database was trying to sell me “Kates”. I won! The shape was more important than the exact letters.

In conclusion I would say that being conversant with something is not always an advantage but at other times it’s almost miraculous what you can achieve!

Links to some BDM databases for anccestor-hunters and beginner genealogists:

  1. FreeBMD (UK) URL:
  2. General Register Office of Births Deaths and Marriges for England and Wales: URL: GRO
  3. South Australian BDM compiled by volunteers (not a government site): URL:



The prompt is: Assay

This prompt immediately brought to mind the time when I discovered a tin of heavy metallic blobs among the assorted possessions of my deceased Uncle Norman.

Uncle Norman was great to have as an uncle. He had no kids of his own and only a few nieces and nephews who lived a hundred or more kilometres away, as did I. When I went to visit him on his little farm near Armidale in the Northern Tablelands he let me join in and do things I could never do at home.

Firstly, he had some cows and sheep and some farm dogs to work with the stock. I would go out into the fields with him to fetch the cows up to the home paddock in the evening. The milking cow (or two) would know when it was time to go to the dairy each morning just on sunrise and Uncle Norman or Auntie Molly would let me have a go at milking. I was fairly hopeless as I didn’t want to hurt the cows! Besides, my hands were so tiny that I couldn’t get a good grip around the udder above the nipples – that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

During the day with the animals happily taking care of themselves my uncle sometimes took me rock-hunting. He had a huge collection of rock specimens from all over the world, though he had only collected Australian rocks himself. sapphmapHe used to trade rocks with other people to get the overseas ones but the vast majority he found on the East coast of Australia. Around Armidale you could find many different minerals and gemstones, the best known of which are sapphires.

We would regularly go to spots along local rivers and pan for sapphires and we found many, some of good gem quality. These were either nice deep blue transparent stones or star sapphires.

The best sapphire he found he made into a ring for Auntie Molly and today I have this ring. An expert gem cutter shaped the stone for him but he actually forged the metal part of the ring himself using gold and a little silver he had scrounged himself. I was quite impressed that he was able to make the ring as he was an electrician by trade and usually did wood-turning as a hobby, not metal forging. sapphringThe ring is quite simple, just a few claws to hold the stone and a plain band. However, that leads me to the prompt, the Assay.

When I found the heavy tin of metal blobs I thought they might be leftover material from forging the metal from that ring. I knew that an assay was a method of measuring the metal content of a mixture of geological materials but had no idea who could do it. Secretly I was hoping there might be a little more gold in the mix that could be made into a few more rings or something. So I looked up metallurgical companies in the Yellow Pages and found one close by that was prepared to analyse my little sample.

A week later I was quite excited when I went in to find out the results. It was just a tin of slag! They thought it was probably left over from various attempts to produce a jeweller’s metal and contained no more precious metal that could be re-used. Oh well, it was interesting finding out!



It’s a word I look up repeatedly as I don’t really use it. I was thinking it meant something to do with the ringing voices of a choir of archangels but it’s actually about dancing. What prompted me this time was the name of a woman who was the the mother of a distant cousin’s husband – she was named Terpsichori and her son Andrew Demetrios Antonatos married a Miss Bayliss in 1925 in Mudgee, New South Wales.

As quite a few other bloggers have done (look them up!) I looked up the meaning of Terpsichore again and found:

“In Greek mythology “Terpsichore” was one of the nine muses and goddess of dance and chorus…”

There is some suggestion that voice might be included as in a chorus or this could more resemble a “corps de ballet”. Anyway it’s an interesting word and a difficult name to pronounce so no wonder it’s sometimes converted to Teresa in Australia. I couldn’t find a Terpsichori Antonatos in the record of Australian deaths and burials, but there was a Teresa.

Terpsichore is usually interpreted by artists as a seated woman dressed in a classical toga with a lyre. She is not dancing but playing music so my interpretation may not be so far off the mark.


Terpsichore, the Muse of dance

As Mr Antonatos was listed in the Electoral Roll as a Confectioner, I looked up Sydney confectioners to see if he was notable, but nothing turned up. There is a family of Antonatos listed in Wikitree in Australia using the surname “Donnes” from the 1830s but Terpsichori’s family was claimed to come from Romania, although the names are clearly Greek. I concluded they were some type of refugee from Greece due to regional,political or religious persecution.

I was going to expand on the word meaning here but it seems to be far too late, so that’s it! Blog done for the day. Ariel??

Pink hearts, mechanical sheep and flamenco

[This was dashed off ages ago, but I’ve only just re-discovered it. I’ve had stacks of dreams since but this one marked the end of YEARS without memorable dreams. A landmark in the unconscious world you might say.]

A dream, after all these years! This one was a strange mixture inspired by the movie I’ve just seen A Little Chaos, a trailer for another movie X + Y and some clips from the Motionographer* blog (I think). I knock on a door and behind I can hear a little girl yelling and running about saying fairly random and bizarre things. When the door opens, its Kate Winslet looking like her character in A Little Chaos but dressed in a light pink frilly dress with red hearts printed on it. She quickly conducts me into her backyard which is about Adelaide suburban-sized within a paling fence. There are garden beds and squares of lawn and it’s mainly flowers and vegetables in old-style beds. Sweet peas on strings, some tall odd-looking things; (hollyhocks?). These flowers probably originated in Alice Through the Looking Glass.

We sit down on a pink quilt on a square of lawn. The little girl flits about yelling and talking to herself. A plant is giving itself a vigorous brushing- it has grey stiff leaves and a drying head with tendrils like hair. A mechanical sheep about 6 inches high and looking like Shaun from the poster for the movie toddles around.


There is suddenly an old dining table and carpet in a room. Musicians are on a few chairs holding Renaissance instuments. A woman in a long wool jersey dress does some flamenco steps. We try to clear the room of debris and furniture so she can dance. The lamb toddles about, chasing real kittens.


The kittens have apparently been starved as I have forgotten to feed them for weeks. Perhaps I’ve been sick? Steve yells at me for starving the kittens! [What has HE been doing?] He chases me from the house and says he’ll never forgive me and not to come back. The kittens are mewing and clutching their stomachs. I can’t remember them being so tiny and me not feeding them. Oddball stuff.

Maybe I was supposed to wake up and answer the kitties’ call for breakfast instead of writing this blog entry?

Example of typical Motionographer blog’s clips:

Sprint vector trailer

#dreams #fantasy #kittens #kitteh #movies #Kate_Winslet

The abysmal luck of Alice Mary Ashlee

This unfortunate woman was born on 18th February 1895 at the beachside town of Margate, Kent in Southern England. I assume her parents, William Henry Ashlee and Mary Ann were a poorly resourced couple as were most working people in those days; though if anyone knows the contrary I’d be pleased to hear from them. Alice Mary seems to have been an only child and I have no idea if she ever experienced caring for other babies before she had her own in quite sad circumstances.

The tiny trawler, Sarah Alice, sunk by a German torpedo from a U-boat 26 September 1916

Sarah Alice trawler

When Alice Mary married a second cousin of mine, Frederick Norman Cadby, in mid 1916, she immediately fell pregnant and Fred went off to sea to work. As the previous post revealed, Fred’s boat was torpedoed on Tuesday September 26th by a German U-boat and he never returned to his wife and new son. The boat was merely the trawler Sarah Alice, commissioned by the Royal Navy as a mine-sweeper. Fred and his mates went down in 15 seconds. Fred Junior arrived on November 2nd. Poor Alice.

Now the plot thickens. Alice reared the young Frederick Norman William Cadby with help from her family until she married a Charles Cox in 1921. It sounds as though Mr Cox was rather a con-man as he already had a wife named Mabel Florence Cuckow whom he had married as Victor Cox in 1918. Evidently he became dissatisfied after their first baby, Walter, was stillborn and the poor girl was probably quite upset at the time. Never mind, his solution was to insinuate himself into Alice’s home, change his name slightly and marry again, bigamously.

James Charles Victor Cox and Alice had 4 children, Ernest Victor Cox b. 1922; James L Cox, b.1923; Edward G Cox b 1925 and Winifred b.1929. In the 1940s, the Cox boys somehow discovered they were the result of a bigamous union so two of them decided to revert their surname back to their mother’s at the time of their birth. They were so angry at what their biological father had done that they had their births re-registered as Cadbys! A child of Winifred Cox contacted me and explained all this after seeing my Family Tree on the American “A” site. What an intriguing story!

Here is the re-registration of Edward Cox’s Birth:

“Births Mar 1949   (>99%)
CADBY Edward C [mother’s surname] Ashlee; Folkestone Vol. 5b  page 925

The above transcription represents what is in the GRO index but it is referred to by the following entry :

Births 1925 Mar: Cadby,Edward G,Cadby,Folkestone,5b,See M49

After separating from Charles/Victor, later in life Alice married a man oddly named Lewis Fright, dying as Mrs Fright. My apologies if a reader shares this surname, but I find it a bit scary!

On a slightly happier note to end this saga: JCV Cox’s first wife Mabel Florence Cox (nee Cuckow) met a much nicer fellow, Percy Mabb, married, and had a daughter named Estella. I also had a letter from Estella’s grand-daughter recently, telling me that her part of the family seemed to be quite stable and content these days.

#52Ancestors #genealogy #Cadby #Cox #Cuckow #Mabb #Ashlee #Fright

Who ARE these people?

As my friends irl know, I have been involved in chasing up my ancestors for a few years. On one side my mum’s forebears have been thoroughly researched by others because they were the first Australian First Fleeters to come ashore at the founding of our country in 1788. Legend has it that my GGG Grandfather, convict Henry Kable (also spelled Cable, Cabel, Cabell and Cavell), and another guy named Green carried Governor Arthur Phillip ashore through the shallow water left after the landing craft was rowed in. They placed him on the sand in Sydney Cove and there he raised the British flag and founded the new penal colony of New South Wales at Port Jackson, later renamed Sydney.parttalm

My father’s family were, in contrast, extremely difficult to trace, not least because Walker is an extremely common surname, especially where his family originated in Midlands Britain. I didn’t even know the names of dad’s parents and only vaguely knew some of his brothers and a sister. It took me two years to locate records for the correct father for my father whose name was William Walker although his mum, Gertrude Lawrence was much easier to trace. I remembered at some stage that my grandmother had the same name as a singer from way back and that’s how I knew who to look for in the Births Deaths and Marriages, otherwise I was clueless.

How I discovered the rest of my Walker ancestors back to 1810 is a long story, peppered with false leads and a stack of logic tables, so I’ll save that for another time. Meanwhile I came across a twisted little tale with some 20th century descendants of my GG Grandmother, Eliza Cadby (born 4 May 1812 in Birmingham, Manchester, England; died Jan 1878 Dudley, Worcestershire).

This little tale started when I had a lot of trouble tracing what had happened to a descendant named Frederick Norman Cadby who was born in 1892. He married Alice Mary Ashlee in 1916 and she bore him a son in 1916 F N William Cadby. After some searching I found another son, James Leonard born in 1923, but no more children. As I had no idea of Fred the father’s job, since he hadn’t been an adult during the 1911 Census, I had a look in the Electoral Registers but couldn’t find him anywhere! Perhaps he had joined the Army and got killed in World War I? So I consulted the Deaths section of the BMD and discovered the poor guy had died in 1916, one month after his marriage! He was killed on a trawler that got torpedoed by a German U-boat and his body never recovered. He left his wife with a new baby to care for and the course of her life changed forever. But, hey!, where did the son come from who was registered in 1923, seven years after his apparent father’s death?

Then I discovered that Alice Mary had remarried to a Charles Victor Cox in 1921 and had a further 4 children, including  the one named in the BMD as James Leonard Cadby. Had Alice met one of Fred’s brothers later, or what exactly was going on here? It took a contact through that big American genealogical company to reveal the hidden twists and turns of Alice Mary’s life and I will leave that for tomorrow’s blog post. See if you can work it out!


Oops! Slipping a bit.

Didn’t manage to blog yesterday. No excuses. Today I wasn’t wildly inclined either but I’m trying. (Yeah, I know – very trying!)

Yesterday I was trying to tell someone that other people don’t really care what happens to you. She has a hang-up about caring and she thinks everyone should make allowances for her when she’s been ill, just because she says she’s been ill. She frequently says things like “They don’t care about me. I could drop off a cliff in front of their eyes and they wouldn’t notice”.

Now in real life I know some people are very attentive if they know you have been crook, but these people are few and far between. Most of us say we care and we think we are caring people but we don’t ever follow up with some caring act. And that’s what is the norm. Sure we care while we’re saying it but we forget a minute later and never do anything. This is accepted but is abhorrent to people who are Narcissists (who also never do much for anyone else either). Narcissists think everything is about them. If their electricity goes off during a suburb-wide outage, they have the loudest voice at the front door or on the phone, describing all the disasters the outage has created at their place. They never ask if it caused a major inconvenience for you even if you’re obviously halfway through drying your hair. But their oven clock stopping is everyone’s problem and you’ll never hear the end of it. It will be sooo difficult to restart and you have to run through the whole twelve hours before you can reset it to afternoon time… and it’s sooo hard for her to hold 2 buttons down at once with her fresh nail job!P1120036 (2)

Narcissists also prey on people via social media. They have some problem and they want everyone to pay attention to it. For instance, it might start with something simple like where to buy a certain type of light bulb. But when they get little response they can up the ante until they’re demanding you come over and stop them from over dosing or similar. Kind but naive people can become virtual servants to narcissists who operate this way and start phoning or going around to check they are OK! The best thing to do to protect your own mental health is to kindly and firmly explain to the narcissist that this is exactly what you are doing. Tell them you are protecting your own mental health and you can’t afford to be taking care of others at this time. Advise them of the accepted channels for getting urgent help and wish them well in therapy, meditation or whatever they may have chosen to assist them after you cut ties. Then un-friend or cut contact, block their number on your phone if you have it and start concentrating on yourself again!P1120067 (2)

No trip



I couldn’t quite believe I would not go on our planned trip to Iceland when my back was playing up. I thought the back would get under control before we left and could I look after it well while we were away. But no, once we got into the “no withdrawal/no refund” period of two weeks the bloody thing got worse.

So I had a CT scan and X-rays which showed that the disc between L5 and S1 (in the small of the back, where it curves towards the stomach), was bulging out in a big lump that would not fit back through the space leading to where it belonged. I decided to get some physio to relieve it but finally gave in and had a cortisone injection into the nerve root. I screamed a little but did not lose my cool. The radiologist was quite surprised I held so still he got it in first go! So now I can sit here comfortably and blog in contrast to my constant twitching, and getting up and down, beforehand.

Iceland would have been brilliant. Steve wants to do it in a few years’ time by car on our own while I still want an organised tour to take me to places I normally couldn’t go. A movie funded via Kickstarter was on Netflix the other night and showed the main tourist attactions very nicely but I’d like to see the bird colonies and geological hotspots. Named “Bokeh”, keen photographers will know what it means and labeled as “sci-fi”, younger viewers may be perplexed to find something slow and uncomplicated.

With full-on gorgeous cinematography you could believe was directed by the Iceland Department of Tourism, I didn’t have to worry about the characters and plot. Although they weren’t bad at all! There  were scenes of the hot lakes in the snow where you can swim until your hair goes all stiff with mineral salts, of gigantic waterfalls you can walk behind and view the world through a curtain of crystalline water, and geysers that whoosh up boiling water into the air at regular intervals. The two characters gallivant about on devastated black-sand beaches and over ancient lava flows covered in lichens, having picnics in the grass and swimming in a variety of settings. Very picturesque, both the young actors and the scenery.

The typical Icelandic golden horses appeared in the movie, abundant and friendly as reputed in our tourist brochure. It was a shame the movie didn’t permit a glimpse of the abundant nightlife in Reykjavik, but the plot didn’t allow for crowd scenes. If you are intrigued, there is a review at Screen Anarchy and I’m sure you’re perfectly capable of finding alternatives.

Meanwhile, I can cruise among the photos on Flickr and do some armchair travel while my various structural problems resolve. Look at this!

I took this in Adelaide, years ago and thought it looked a bit Icelandic:

Adelaide could be Iceland...I don't think so!

For the real Iceland, you’ll have to go to Flickr and enjoy the amazing pix taken by people who’ve been there (lucky sods).

Here’s a link to the tour we had booked:



A new kitchen for a new start

We have decided we need a new kitchen after putting up with the boring and inconvenient one of the original owners for 12 years. It is drab (all a creamy white with  ?brass handles), the glass front of the oven surround had a crack and chip out of it, the sink is right in the corner and our fridge opens the wrong way in it.

Although recently I have been unable to do much at all, even when Steve cooks I need to enter the kitchen for glasses of water and to throw out organic recyclables like banana skins. The dopey arrangement of workspace means we bang into each other (or the fridge door), frequently and I hate that! At our other homes we used to call it “the kitchen quadrille” and laugh about the fancy footwork needed to avoid getting in each other’s way! The new kitchen should prevent most unwelcome dancing. So far the kitchen company has been outstanding in it’s friendly design service and attention to detail in the planning. We chose Wallspan rather than one of the upmarket kitchen companies as we have fairly simple tastes – no marble, ice makers or Miele.

We even decided to get our awkward laundry re done as well when the guy came to measure up. has already delivered a new front loading washing machine to get us started in style in there.

Since I have no access to the autocad depiction of the new kitchen, this is a photo of something similar to show the quiet colour scheme. The paint colour is for the frames on our conservatory window over the sink, rather than wood tones.