This week is the third anniversary of me starting my blog, Essex Voices Past. Reflecting back on the previous year, it has been an exciting and emotional year, both personally and professionally. Please indulge me by letting me reminisce back on my 2014.
Personally, I welcomed into our family my new son-in-law when my precious first born married her love almost exactly a year ago. I am delighted to say that they are expecting the imminent arrival of their own first-born anytime within the next few weeks. My second born, my beautiful wildchild (shhh don’t tell her I said that!) has also flown the nest to live in Bishop’s Stortford with her love. Ironically, whilst I was researching my first local history book, Bishop’s Stortford Through Time and coming home recounting tales of what a great place it is, my daughter also fell in love with the town. She and her young man now live in the historic centre of Bishop’s Stortford town. My youngest, my last born, who I had to home educate for a year (and wrote about on this blog in a series called School Trip Friday for the Academically Challenged), is now thriving at a specialist dyslexia school in the heart of rural Suffolk. My fight to get him an education he could access was worth the almighty fight I had with my local authority.
I am very proud of my family: my daughters, son and son-in-laws. With all the horrors currently going on in the world, it is fantastic to see the next generation steaming through and making something good of their lives.
My family – posing for a photograph for my first local history book
On the same note (my children), much of what happened when I was fighting for my son’s education should never have happened because of the laws and regulations in England, which are supposed to protect our vulnerable children. With that in mind, I complained to Local Government Ombudsman about my local authority’s behaviour during my struggle. In spring 2014, my complaint was upheld by the Ombudsman with the result that top bods at the Council had to apologise to me both in person and in writing for their behaviour, and give the Ombudsman assurances that they would change their processes. Justice for the little guy.
Professionally, I made the move from my career as a full-time technical business consultant, to concentrating on being a full-time historian and author (but still doing the very ad-hoc piece of IT work!). The move has been fantastic – I commuted for nearly 3 hours each working day from Essex into London for over thirty years. My commute is now 10 seconds: I rise from my bed to put the kettle on for the first cup of tea of the day before settling down at the kitchen table with a cuppa and opening my laptop ready to start work.
I have expanded my writing and now spend all my working time researching and writing either blog posts or books. My first book Bishop’s Stortford Through Time was published in September and appears to be selling well. In October, to promote my book, I went on a virtual tour around the internet, talking about “all things history”.
In January 2014 I started writing a regular slot on Julie Goucher’s Worldwide Genealogy – an international collaboration of genealogists, family historians and historians. It is a fantastic blog, I do recommend you to take a look. My December post was about the famous Christmas Truce 1914.
Shortly before Christmas 2014, the British Newspaper Archive (a department of the British Library) printed a condensed version of my blog on the Christmas Truce 1914 on their own blog: The story of the 1914 Christmas Truce, as reported by WW1 newspapers. This led to an editor from the BBC World Service contacting me and requesting that I give two radio interviews to the BBC world service about my research into the Christmas Truce. It was very exciting to give the radio interviews and it was from this point that I finally felt that I had arrived as a bona fide historian.
My 2015 is also shaping up well with the highlight being the imminent arrival of my first grandchild. I am also in the process of moving houses and will shortly be leaving Great Dunmow to live in one the most beautiful and wildest parts of Essex, on the Blackwater Estuary in between Heybridge and Goldhanger. My current bannerhead on my blog is an aerial view of the Blackwater Estuary (photographed by my son’s drone) – my new house is “somewhere” on the photograph. I will continue to write about the history of Great Dunmow and the beautiful district of Uttlesford, but will also be writing about Maldon and Heybridge.
X marks the spot of EssexVoicesPast’s favourite
place in the whole of England.
I also have four books – all commissioned by Amberley Publishing – in the pipeline. The first two on the list are shaping up well and are due to be published this summer.
- Saffron Walden Through Time
- Sudbury, Lavenham and Long Melford Through Time
- Billericay Through Time
- Postcards from the front: 1914-1919
My 10 most viewed posts over the last 3 years were as follows:-
– School trip Friday: Of cabbages and kings
– A pinch and a punch for the first of the month and no returns
– Queen Elizabeth I’s visit to Great Dunmow
– Images of medieval cats
– Interpreting primary sources – the 6 ‘w’s
– Thomas Bowyer, weaver and martyr of Great Dunmow d.1556
– The medieval spinsters
– Primary sources – ‘Unwitting Testimony’
– Elizabeth of York
– Witchcraft and bewitchment: the Tudor witches of Great Dunmow
I will be continuing to write on this blog, but perhaps not as frequent as before, until after my next two books have been completed.
Thank you for indulging me and allowing me to reflect.
Kate Cole – The Narrator
Essex Voices Past
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