Wednesday, May 28, 2014


Well, we've been having a very interesting time. Interesting to us, anyway.

Mr Life's father was one of four children, three boys and a girl. His father, Tom, was the oldest. The next brother, Charlie, went to Australia in 1965. The other brother settled in the south west of Scotland, quite a distance from Tom, and the sister was nearer, in Fife.  Tom seemed to be closer to his Australian brother than the other one (Kenneth), and also quite close to his sister, Margaret. However, when Tom died, in 1984, there wasn't a lot of contact beyond Christmas cards between Mr Life's mother (who didn't drive, so couldn't easily get to other towns under her own steam - and anyway didn't keep good health) and the rest of that side of the family. When she died, in 1991, I continued the Christmas card communication but it wasn't much more than that. When Kenneth died, we went to his funeral and met the cousins again, but just the once. 

Having no first cousins of my own, I always rather regretted not really knowing this side of the family. We do see, fairly regularly, Mr L's cousins on his mother's side.

All the older generation of Mr Life's father's family have now died, but when the Australian son of Charlie - also Charles - decided to come with his wife to visit Scotland, we invited them to stay with us. We did some sightseeing and also arranged a reunion of all the cousins and any available spouses and offspring at our house on Sunday. One cousin is too ill to come and another couldn't make it, but above you can see the assembled gathering. 

It was lovely to see them all. Really none of the cousins knew each other at all well (apart from the two who're brother and sister) so it was all slightly stressful - though very good fun.

The first cousins in the photo, by the way, are the two on the left in the back row and the two on the right in the front row (if you don't count Son, who's in the blue t-shirt, sitting on the arm of the sofa). 

Then yesterday, the Australians and we met up with the cousin who couldn't make the reunion the previous day. She brought one of her sons. The little gnomelike person in the middle is me. Mr Life's family are tall; I come from a family of short people.

It's very intriguing to try to spot similarities in the next generation - those who share a set of great-grandparents. Mr L's father and his siblings bore a strong physical likeness to each other. The Australian young folk, all male, also look (judging by photos) strikingly like these siblings - their grandfather, great-uncles and great-aunt - resembling them more than they do their own parents. The young man on the left of the picture above, however, and his brother (whose photo we also saw) don't look like that side of their family at all and are both very sporty, which most of us couldn't claim to be. (This young chap and Mr Life share the same first name - which was the maiden surname of Mr L's great-grandmother, so really quite remote from the sporty young chap - but both were given it as a family name). Our children resemble my side of the family more - though of course they're a mixture.

The Australian cousin and his wife kept saying how much Mr L reminded them of his (the cousin's) father, particularly in gesture and expression - even though Mr L hardly knew his uncle and never saw him after he emigrated.

The brother of the young man on the left of this picture is married to a girl who was adopted from an orphanage in Lahore (and brought to England at the age of 5), so their children look - as you might imagine - totally different from the Scottish and Australian/Scottish lot. We also saw photos of them.

I suppose that sharing a set of great-grandparents is quite a distant relationship really. But our children know the equivalent relations on Mr Life's mother's side very well, whereas they would have walked past all these other cousins without knowing who they were. And there are still others of our children's generation who didn't make the reunion, of whom this is still the case.

Many old photos were exchanged, many half-remembered stories were compared - as I say, it was very interesting indeed.


  1. Gnome like indeed, nonsense! How lovely to get everyone together and how interesting re the likenesses. Love the one with my favourite bridge in the background...

  2. How lovely.....usually it is only a funeral that unites long lost family, so getting together in this circumstance was sweet....and you are not gnome like..they are just tall.

  3. What a lovely gathering you arranged.
    I apparently carry a strong resemblence to my mother's side, to the point where I have been stopped in the street by total strangers who checked that I was who they thought, and then walked away from me!

  4. What a good thing you did to get everyone together, even if it must have been quite exhausting! Maybe the connections will live on now, even though that may be through Facebook rather than through old fashioned letters and Christmas cards.

    Your Australian relatives will now go home with a stronger sense of their Scottish family and their roots.

  5. Family resemblances are quite interesting......sometimes it's not just looks but gestures or a manner of speaking that can also be passed on through a family.

  6. Wow, so interesting Isabelle! I'm always intrigued too, that some family members could care less about the family connections, and others want to continue them for many generations. I've always loved genealogy and like you pointed out -- I often think that a person I pass on the street could be a person with whom I share g-g-grandparents or something. Good for you for encouraging the connections for your children!

  7. I love family reunions of all sorts. You are not gnome-like! My goodness.My husband sometimes called me vertically challenged.This kind of reunion can make people feel a bit more grounded, even if they have no lack of that sense.

  8. How absolutely wonderful to have so many members of the family visiting! Your smile is telling - it looks like you really did have a g'day! Sadly, I got way behind in my blog reading - your posts made me smile. Your grandchildren are growing so quickly!

    P.S. Have you been keeping up with the Outlander filming news? Amazingly, I don't believe it is due to be shown in the U.K. when it premiers on August 9. However, I also know that between the worldwide fan base, the "exec's," and the "Twitterverse" the show is being pitched globally and has already been picked up in Australia and Canada. I do hope you are able to watch your beautiful country on television, as well as watch your very talented (and handsome I must say) actors and actresses! Also, Gaelic is being highlighted (and not translated on screen).

  9. Anonymous3:13 pm

    What an amazing achievement, bringing all those relatives together, well done you.

    You are no more gnome-like than I am, my newest pictures prove that I am not at all gnomic (sic).