Singer Sewing Machine 1953

Growing up in the 1950s all our clothes, except coats and undies, were home-made by our mother.

Mum was a dab-hand with her sewing machine and she made clothes for me, my younger sister and for herself.
sewing machine 6 kettlethorpeMum sewed dresses for winter and for summer; shorts for going on holiday; and blouses for school. She knitted cardigans, jumpers, gloves, scarves, hats; even once a woolly swimsuit.

She had a Singer sewing machine purchased in 1953 for £27 / 18s / 9d. My dad saved the receipt in case the machine didn’t work and he had to take it back to the shop.
sewing machine receiptThe sewing machine was the Singer 99 designed for family use with an oscillating hook.
sewing machine 1
sewing machine 2
The electric pedal was an optional extra which my mum didn’t want. She couldn’t afford it anyway but confessed that she was scared that she wouldn’t be able to control an electric machine as she’d been sewing for years with her mother’s manual Singer.
sewing machine
Mum used a paper pattern but she often adapted the patterns to make them more original. She made identical clothes for my sister and me, not because we were twins but because she could get more value from the fabric with careful positioning and cutting – almost two for the price of one!
Sewing 4 Sutton on sea 1956 Sewing 5 Newmillerdam 1956
As we got older our tastes diverged and we made our own choices of patterns and fabrics for the clothes our mum made for us. But in the sixties the days of home-made clothes came to an end as we couldn’t resist the lure of boutiques and department stores.
Mustn’t forget to add that mum made clothes for our dolls too. My sister still has her Rosebud doll wearing a skirt made for her by our mother. And, my sister has inherited mum’s Singer sewing machine and still uses it occasionally to this day.
Thanks for reading my blog today. You can read more of my memories of a 1950s childhood in ‘Cabbage and Semolina‘ and it’s follow-on, ‘Jam for Tea‘.

The impenetrability of the unrecorded past

weddingThis is one of my favourite family history photographs.

I’ve inherited it from my grandmother but I’m not even certain if she is in the photo. I don’t know anything about the photo. I’ve guessed that it might be at a wedding celebration but it might not. There’s no information about where the people are; who they are; what they’re doing all together; even when it was taken. The woman on the front row on the right looks a bit like another photo I have which I’m sure is of my grandmother. Obviously there’s no one alive today from that era who can provide the answers.

Why didn’t they write some names, dates and details on the back?

You would think with the great attention that was being given to emerging literacy in those days, they would have wanted to practise their skills and annotate their photos. I suppose if the photos went in an album originally they wouldn’t have thought there was any need. I know my grandmother and her mother and her sisters could write well because I’ve got a collection of postcards they sent to each other in the early years of the twentieth century when they went on holiday.

So why didn’t they add some captions to their photos?

I’ve spent hours (years!) researching my family history; and that of my husband’s family too. I’ve accumulated all sorts of documents that have been saved over the years. I’ve become my family’s custodian of old photographs; postcards; letters; diaries; receipts; birth, marriage and death certificates; birthday cards; wedding cards; engagement cards; funeral cards; school magazines; church magazines; newspapers and newspaper cuttings; medals; coins; jewellery; samplers; a christening gown; a wedding dress; a decorated rolling pin; nanna’s bag; a sewing box; china; glassware; two glass fronted cabinets; and a tiny silver thimble.

My family and friends were interested in my family stories and hearing more about our ancestors but I knew that with only a little time to spare there was a limit to the amount of information they could take in. That was when I started looking for alternative ways to share our family history and in the last couple of years I’ve tried a variety of social media and blogs to tell them about my discoveries.

The photo below is one of the few in my collection that does have a name on the back. Someone has written “Mrs Smith” and I think that is my great grandmother. I think she’s the one on the right as she closely resembles the older woman in the first photo. Even with the note of a name, there is little else to tell the story of what is happening. Who are these people? Where are they? What occasion caused them to come together for a photo?

When the past is unrecorded it can be the source of great interest and intrigue but also of total frustration. And even when the past is partially recorded it can still leave more questions unanswered.

Ever since the 1950s my husband’s grandmother had told him that one of her brothers had been drowned whilst working in the London docks. His mother and her sister confirmed the story and so for years this is what he believed had happened to his great uncle.

You can imagine how astonished he was when my family history researches revealed that great uncle Jack had not been drowned at all but had deserted and possibly executed during the First World War.

Obviously the story of his drowning had been fabricated to cover up the family’s perceived disgrace. If I hadn’t stumbled upon a brief record which documented the fact of his great uncle’s desertion my husband would never have known the truth. The lie about the manner of his great uncle’s death would have continued on down the generations.

Just a chance family history find opened up the past and yet it posed more questions that  still couldn’t be answered. Was Jack suffering from PTSD or another medical cause for his desertion? If he’d come home on leave and decided not to return, what had become of him? Was the story of the drowning made up to facilitate his escape from the horrors of the Western Front?

We’ll never know. Michael’s grandmother and her only  surviving brother both died in the 1950s and if they knew the truth they’ve taken the story with them to their graves.

It’s salutary to think that even in this day and age with all our sphisticated technology so much of our existence is completely unrecorded. It just vanishes into the ether and future generations will struggle to imagine what life was really like for all of us.


Writing blogposts

cloud-709089_1280Now you’ve got your blog set up on Blogger, WordPress or some other platform of your choosing, I’m going to say a few things about writing blogposts.

There are numerous websites on the Internet telling you how to write a good blogpost and I have read lots of them. My conclusion is that most of the advice is for those who are blogging with an intent to sell something. If you’re blogging not for profit but from a desire to write and share information about your personal memories or family history to a targeted audience, commercial blogging rules will be irrelevant and will not apply to you.

Write what you want!

However, if you’re writing text I would aim for at least 300 words so there’s something for your readers to settle in to; but if you’ve got your own reasons for writing fewer words (my Writing a Family History Parish Churches blog illustrates the point) go for it! Possibly, if you’ve got more than 1000 words you might want to consider whether you’ve got enough material for two posts or more. Nevertheless, I would definitely stick to one subject or theme per post.

Of course, your blogposts will have to conform to the Blog Host’s site rules which you’ll have read in the Terms and Conditions. But why would you want to use foul language or express yourself as a racist, homophobic, sexist bigot anyway? Your family and friends are going to read this.


Think about inserting images into your blog but again this is determined by what you’re trying to achieve. Writing a Family History Parish Churches is nearly all images; Cabbage and Semolina has only a few; my Writing a Family History website blog has a mix of images and text.

It’s your blog – you choose!

There are some sources of images that are freely available as long as you adhere to certain rules. I get photographs of churches and other places I’m interested in from a remarkable site called Geograph: photograph every grid square. People have uploaded photos on here and you can use them for non-commercial purposes if you give an accreditation to the photographer and a link to the Creative Commons Licence (made available by Geograph) that allows you to use the image.


You must be wary of copyright infringements if you use images. If the images are your own, no problem because you own the copyright. As far as I’m aware, postcards published pre-1925 are out of copyright. Publications, again as far as I’m aware, are out of copyright seventy years after the death of the author. So for example, it was okay for me to quote from “The Mysteries of London” by G.W.M. Reynolds in a blogpost about coal whippers because the book was published in 1846 and is now in the public domain. Do be cautious. If in doubt write a reference to whatever you’re interested in and provide a link to the website where you found the information or image.

To create a link: you highlight the text you want to use for your link and then click the hyperlink button on the menu bar and copy and paste the web address you’re linking to in there.

Are you going to start writing a blog?

I hope this section has encouraged you to start a blog. Do let me know by leaving a comment in the box below or via my website: I’d be delighted to read it.

You can read a free sample of ‘Cabbage and Semolina: Memories of a 1950s Childhood’ in the Amazon Kindle Store and you don’t need a Kindle to read Kindle books!

Setting up your Blog

blog-327071_1280This post is a continuation of an earlier post:

Blogs are a fantastic way of sharing your personal memories on-line.

This is what you do when you set up an account using my preferred blog hosting sites: Blogger and WordPress.

How I set up my Blogger Blog.

First you need a Google account. Go to, fill in the details and away you go. Don’t forget to read the Terms and Conditions.

If you’ve already got a Google account for something else such as your email you can use that to get your Blogger account too.

Go to the Blogger part of the Google site.

Once you’re signed up to Google go to the Blogger part of the site to create your blog. You will be taken, step-by-step, through the process. You only need to fill in the boxes and click!

First you have to type in your blog title and get the blog address sorted out; (see previous note).

Then you choose your template i.e. the style and layout you want for your blog. Don’t worry too much about this because you can change it later. I would go for the first, simple choice that you’re offered to start with.

Next, when given the option to write your first blog post, paste the one you copied earlier and give it a title.

Click the Preview button to check your post for typos and other errors. If you need to make any changes close the preview page to get back to the original page. Make any necessary amendments; click Publish and you’ve done it!

Your blog is up and running. It really is that easy.

A few more things to sort out.

However there are a few more things you need to do so don’t log out straightaway.

After you’ve published your blogpost you’ll be taken to a page that lists all your posts. There is a menu on the left of this page. This is your Dashboard and you use it to manage your blog.

Now you need to go to Dashboard > Settings and check a few things.

In Settings > Basic you can add a description that will show up underneath your blog ‘s title. This is useful if your title isn’t self-explanatory. For example on my Writing a Family History Parish Churches blog the description is: “These are the parish churches which have associations with our ancestors” which gives any reader who randomly arrives on the blog a big clue about what they’ve landed on.

Settings > Basic > Privacy allows you to decide if you want search engines to find your blog. Click “Yes” to both questions if you do.

At the bottom of this screen it says Blog Readers: click “Public” if you agree to anyone reading your blog. If your audience is limited to a few selected family members you can make your blog restricted to just them. Personally I make all my blogs public: the thought that other people are interested in my personal memories, my family history, my researches and what I’ve got to say about the subject is great and when I get a new reader I’m delighted.

Settings > Posts and Comments lets you decide how many posts to show on one page of your blog and whether or not to allow comments. Explore each box in turn and set up your blog to suit you.

If you decide “Anyone” can comment you should make Comment Moderation “Always”. This way you can vet any comments before they are posted. Always remember that some people are not as nice as you. A comment was once posted on my blog that went on about how interesting it was blah, blah, blah and invited me to look at the person’s blog. I dread to think what was on it because when I clicked the link my Computer Security went into over-drive; a large notice came on the screen saying “Whoa! Do you really want to go there?” Needless to say I didn’t!

Settings > Language and Formatting: you might want to change the time-zone from the default time to some other region and you can do that on this page.

Settings > Search preferences: this is really important if you want your blog to be found by search engines. You need to write something in the first section: Meta tags. (A meta tag is part of the code that the website creates to identify and describe your blog to search engines.) Click Edit, write your description and Save. For Writing a Family History Parish Churches my meta tag description is: Parish churches where our ancestors had their weddings, baptisms and funerals as described at Writing a Family History. If you don’t write something here you won’t enable the Search Description on each of your blogposts.

There are several other options and each has a helpful explanation. Just click the question mark next to each one. However, I think the main ones are those I’ve identified above.

Now, go back to the blogpost you published earlier (Dashboard > Posts). If you click the post title you will get the option to Edit your blogpost. Click Edit and you’ll see that Search Description is now enabled on the menu bar to the right of your blogpost. You can write a few words in here describing each blogpost to help search engines find it.

Later on you might like to explore the other options available too. Labels, for example, gives you the facility to link blogposts together in categories which makes it easier for readers to find blogposts you’ve written about the same subject.

What did you decide about your profile? If you decided you didn’t want to display anything you need to remove the “About Me” that might have appeared on your blog. Go to Dashboard > Layout and locate the “About Me” in the side bar; click Edit and then Remove and it won’t show on your blog anymore. Save your arrangement and go back to your Dashboard.

You’ve done it! Your blog is up and running.

So, now you’ve got a basic blog up and running and all you have to do is log-out and come back another day with a new blogpost. I find it easier to write my blogposts as a Word document and copy and paste the finished post onto the Blog but sometimes I write directly onto the blog and that might be the way you prefer. The advantage of copying and pasting from a word processor is that you keep a copy on your computer to use for other purposes if necessary. Also you don’t have to worry about losing your written work if you inadvertently crash your blog.

Change the look of your blog.

If you want to change the look of your blog go to Dashboard > Template and experiment with the different designs. You can make additional changes if you want to customise the design. It’s lots of fun to mess about with although I’ve found the Dynamic Views can cause problems because the reader can change the view to any of the options and their choice of view might not suit your blog.

Add features to your blog.

If you want to add features to your Blog you go to Dashboard > Layout. Now, if you click “add a gadget” you will see a whole range of options including, for example:

Blog’s Stats
Displays the number of page views to your blog.
Popular Posts
Displays a list of the most popular posts from your blog.
Search Box
Allows your visitors to search your blog and everything you’ve linked to.

You can take your pick depending on how you want your blog to look and what your purpose is in writing it. If you look at my Writing a Family History Parish Churches blog you’ll see it’s very plain and simple. I only use it to show images of the churches that have connections with my family history so there’s very little there apart from a short explanation and a link to my website. Having no “gadgets” on the side at all provides space for extra-large photos which the reader can really enjoy. By way of contrast, if you look at my I Think I Prefer the Tinned Variety blog you’ll see there are several items in the side bar all of which were added from Settings > Layout > add a gadget.

Blogger or WordPress?

I mentioned earlier that I have a couple of WordPress Blogs. There is no doubt that blogs hosted on this platform look smarter and are more stylish and they offer access to a community of bloggers on an epic scale. The screens are sharper; the layout clearer; the fonts more distinct: but I think these blogs are more difficult to set-up than Blogger and there are limits on what you can change without incurring charges.

I think it boils down to style versus simplicity.

If you want a blog that has a smarter, more stylish appearance go for WordPress; if you want it to be as easy as possible go for Blogger. Or do what I did: start off with Blogger and when you get the hang of it graduate to a WordPress blog too.

How I set up my WordPress Blog.

Go to to set up an account.

As always read the Terms and Conditions but I thought these were the most accessible Ts & Cs I’d ever come across.

At the sign-in page you need your email address, a name for your blog and a user name for yourself.

You’ll be asked to pay for a domain name but this isn’t necessary. You can get a free blog here as you can on Blogger.

You need to give yourself a password and then you can get on with setting up your blog.

After you’ve got your blog name fixed you get the option to give it a tagline (description) and to set yourself a posting target. I went for one post a week which I thought was manageable but the target’s only there to help keep you on track if you’re a bit lazy; which you won’t be because you’re full of ideas for your blogposts before you start.

Next, you’ll be invited to select a theme (style and layout) for your blog. I took the first theme offered because you can change it later but you can explore the options if you wish. There are other options you can choose at this stage to customise your blog but you can do that later as well if you prefer.

You can opt to share your posts on your other social networks and I opted for Twitter at this point which was a bit premature because I ended up tweeting a blogpost before it was finished; so I would suggest you defer this until later too.

You’ll be invited to create your first post and I copied and pasted one I’d prepared earlier. I then clicked Publish before I’d given myself the chance to preview it, so look carefully at the options (top right of the blogpost screen) and get the right one. Anyway, despite the set-backs, and although it isn’t as straightforward as Blogger, I got the hang of it quite quickly and now I think it’s great.

WordPress send you a confirmatory email to activate your account before you can access your Dashboard. I think it would be a good idea to logout and close the site before you activate the email and then log in again. This way you should avoid the muddle I got into.

If you log in again and go to Dashboard you can customise your blog. I got rid of the header photo that came with the theme I’d chosen to start with and then I went to the Settings page to make sure everything was fixed up as I wanted it to be. A lot of this was too technical for me and I set much of it to “No” or “Off” and it didn’t seem to affect the blog.

You can change the theme of your blog if you wish although there is a charge for many of the alternative themes. Once you’ve settled on your theme, get on and publish your first post so that you’ve got something to see for your efforts.

You also need to edit the About Page which has been pre-written by WordPress. I’ve looked at several WordPress blogs where the blogger has overlooked doing this. Go to Dashboard > Pages > All Pages and click About. Then delete the WordPress blurb and write whatever you wish to introduce your blog.

And that’s it: away you go!  And when you’ve set up your own blog for personal memories please leave a link in the comments box so I can come and visit it.

More details of Cabbage and Semolina: Memories of a 1950s Childhood in the Amazon Kindle Store.

Writing family history and personal memoirs

BeethovenI’ve always enjoyed undertaking history projects: in fact one of my earliest memories from primary schooldays was writing a little booklet about the life and times of the composer Ludwig van Beethoven.

My happiest secondary school memory is of a Sixth Form project researching the history of our local town as it prepared to celebrate the nine hundred years anniversary of the founding of its magnificent abbey church. As sixth-formers we’d been invited to write a history booklet which was to be printed out and copies given to local dignitaries. We were given access to all the abbey documents and were staggered to find in an old, rusty chest the original Elizabethan Poor Law documents for the town. Needless to say it was only a few days before they were all packed up and whipped off to the local diocesan archives away from the heavy handed research methods of four over-enthusiastic teenagers.

At college the most enjoyable part of my history course was when we had to undertake original research using first hand material and for this I got access to the local school records. These admission registers, site plans and log books allowed me to lose myself in the minutiae of everyday life in a Victorian elementary school.

I think it was inevitable that I would turn to history and writing after my retirement from teaching. I love undertaking family history research, writing about it and sharing it with my family, friends and all the new people I’ve met and “e-met” who are interested too.

I hope that in Cabbage and Semolina I’ve shared my enthusiasm and inspired my readers to write their own personal and family memories too.

Thanks to all readers and reviewers

It’s been a while since I thanked everyone who’s downloaded Cabbage and Semolina and Jam for Tea.


It’s also been a while since I thanked the reviewers.

With 108 reviews for Cabbage and Semolina (and only three negatives), I’m thrilled!  And Jam for Tea has collected some very positive feedback too.

Today I was delighted to see my books almost side by side in the Social and Urban History category Top 100.

two covers

I’ve been featured in the Spring/Summer edition of Mccarthy and Stone’s Life and Living magazine.

Follow this link

and turn to pages 16 / 17 to see the article. You’ll have to pass the interview with Julie Walters but if you get to the page entitled “The Story of Your Life” you’ll see why I’m so chuffed!

Once again, many thanks to all readers who’ve supported my books and encouraged me in writing them.




Blogs are a fantastic way of sharing your personal memories on-line


Blogs are an excellent way of sharing your personal memories on-line. You can write as much or as little as you please and as frequently as you wish; your audience can read your posts on the day they are published or a few at a time at their leisure. Your blog can be really simple in layout and design or you can be as creative and original as your blog host will allow.

In addition to my Cabbage and Semolina Blog I have several other blogs for various purposes.

I Think I Prefer the Tinned Variety Blog
I established this blog to display additional resource material for I Think I Prefer the Tinned Variety. For about eighteen months I wrote regular blogposts related to my ebook which had additional background material, up-dates on the book’s progress in the e-publishing world and other posts of a more general nature themed around World War II. I used Blogger for this which was easy to set up and, of course, free! You only need a Google account and you’re in business.

Writing a Family History Blog
I started using the blog on my website Writing a Family History to write posts about the background researches I was doing into my mum’s 1947 Diary. I used some of the diary entries as a starting point for exploring the era and the blogposts are the outcome of my inquiries. The diary is an account of the early months of 1947 from the personal perspective of a young woman, aged just nineteen years, who had grown up during a period of all out warfare and who, like all her contemporaries, had to start to come to terms with the peace. The diary entries are all very short, only a few words for each day. There is no description or analysis of what she is experiencing: she just states facts but occasionally she notes something that makes me think, “I wonder what that was all about?” or “Is there more to find out about that?” and, after researching, that’s what I wrote about.

Parish Churches Blog
Parish Churches is on Blogger and I started it because, whilst researching my family history I discovered several photographs of the churches where our ancestors had been married, baptised and buried. Many of these buildings were magnificent both inside and out; some were in particularly interesting locations; some had become redundant. I wanted to let family and friends see more of these amazing buildings and thought this blog would be a quick and easy way to do it.

First World War Stories Blog
I set up my First World War Stories blog because as the centenary of 1914 approached I became interested in the part some of our ancestors had played in WW1. My husband (Michael) had some great-uncles who’d been in the British Army 1914 – 1918. Although he had some hazy recollections of what his grandmother told him about her brothers, there were few details and, of course, no-one alive any longer to answer the questions. The blog provided a repository for our researches and every time I published a new story Michael received it as an email to read at his leisure and ponder over. The blog is there too for a wider audience of family and friends plus anyone who has an interest in micro-stories from that era.

No doubt I’ll be writing other blogs in the future: it’s such good fun and an easy and satisfying way of sharing your personal stories on-line.

So, if you’ve asked your Why? Who? What?  fundamental questions and decided that the answer to the How? question is a Blog you need to decide which blogging website to use for writing your personal memories.

There are loads of websites that will host a blog for you; some are free and some will charge you and I’ve no doubt that many of them are excellent. Before you start you might want to explore what is available but if you just want to get stuck in, then my experience is that you can’t go wrong with either a Google Blogger blog or a WordPress blog.

Whichever blog hosting website you decide to use there are a few things you need to do first.

Before you start

Look at some examples of the blogs being hosted on the site and take a look at the promotional material the site offers.

Read the Terms and Conditions for the site you’re planning to use.

Determine what, if any, are the charges that will be made either immediately or in the future. Unless you want your own domain name (.com) there isn’t any reason why the blog should cost you a penny.

Be confident that the site has a reasonably long term future: you don’t want to accumulate a year’s worth of blogposts and find the site’s gone bust!

Be prepared

Once you’ve finished checking out the site you can open your account and create your blog but my advice is to have a few things ready before you start.

Ideally, to make your blog more memorable, the blog title and the blog address should incorporate similar words. For example, I have:

Blog Title:
Writing a Family History Parish Churches
Blog Address:

Blog Title:
Cabbage and Semolina
Blog Address:

If your title is unusual it’s not too difficult to get the address you choose but if it’s more obvious you might need to add numerals or whatever additional symbols the site allows to get what you want.

For example, I once set up a Blogger blog entitled Michael Murray Author for my husband but there are countless Michael Murrays in the world and I had to settle for for his blog address.

Your profile

Probably while you’re setting up your account you’ll be invited to complete a profile. You can usually ignore this and complete it later but it’s well worth thinking through beforehand what you intend to say about yourself and how much personal information you intend to reveal. If your main purpose is to write for family and friends presumably they will know about you anyway. If you’re hoping to share your blog with a new audience they might like to know a bit about you but be careful: not everyone on the Internet is as nice as you are.

For example, a person I follow on Twitter regularly tweets offering specialist advice and giving an email address to send queries. What’s to stop some malicious person sending her an email with a contaminated message or attachment? If, in her kind enthusiasm to offer advice, she opens the attached file and it consequently infects her computer or she is directed to some triple X rated site that normally she would avoid like the plague she might think twice about what information she shares so publically.

Introductory post.

After you’ve gone through the necessary steps to set up your account you’ll eventually arrive at your first opportunity to write a blogpost. If you’ve got one ready on your word processor you can copy and paste it and you’ll be up and away in no time.

So, you’ve chosen the platform you’re going to use to host your blog and thought through a few of the details. Now you’re ready to start setting up the blog.

I’ll continue later with what you do when you set up an account using my preferred blog hosting sites: Blogger and WordPress.

Meanwhile, if you’ve set up your own blog for personal memories please leave a link in the comments box so I can come and visit it.


Use your email account to share your memories


Writing about a memory and sending it to someone as an email is the easiest way to share your personal memories on-line.

Ask yourself the key questions and make the most of your email account.

Maybe you’ve got a one-off story; a snippet of information; an interesting website that adds something to a story you’ve already shared; information you’ve just remembered or re-discovered; or an up-date to an old story with something new. A quick email to those who have an interest in your memories shares your latest instalment on-line.

If you’ve got something a little longer, for example, an anecdote or a reminiscence that you’ve written on your word processor (1); a photograph; or a slide-show attach it (2) to an email and your file is quickly sent off to your audience.

I’ve had some lovely emails from readers of Cabbage and Semolina telling me about things they’ve remembered from their own childhoods while reading my ebook.

If you don’t want to write a great deal and you’ve got some photographs or old cards, making a slideshow is really fun. I use Windows Movie Maker which I got as a free download from the Microsoft website. When it’s completed you can attach your slideshow to your email and share it with your family and friends. Just remember your fundamental questions and let them help you structure and arrange your slides.

Although I might share new slideshows as email attachments I sometimes upload them to YouTube (3) which makes them really easy for family and friends to see. The rest of the world can view your video as well unless you make it  private. If you select private you can specify the people who are allowed to access your film.

Of course, you can upload any video film you might have as well. If you’ve got any old cine-film that you’ve had digitised maybe YouTube would be a good place to share it. Remember you can make your video private if you wish: no embarrassing moments offered to the world for global consumption unless you choose. On my YouTube channel I’ve made some of my slideshows private and others are public.

If you added some music to your slideshow when you created it, the chances are it will be copyrighted and when you upload your video, YouTube will flag up a warning that you are about to transgress. You will be given the option to have the soundtrack removed and you can, if you wish, add some of the copyright free music that YouTube makes available for the purpose. You click Audio from the Edit dropdown menu and search amongst the samples until you find some music which is suitable. Now, this isn’t as good as the music you added for private viewing and you can’t control where it begins and ends very easily but it’s better than nothing; it’s free and it’s legal.

Here’s one of my public videos “4 Wedding Cards and a Baby”.

Thanks for reading my blog today. If you’ve got any of your personal memories on-line do let me know. I’d love to take a look. You can leave a comment with a link or send a message via


(1) If you don’t normally use a word processor, don’t forget that your P.C. probably has a basic word processor installed called “Notepad” which will serve adequately for this purpose. If you’re using an iPad you can download a free word processor app called “Pages”.

(2) To attach a file to an email, hover your cursor over the buttons on your email tool bar until one reads “attachments”. On mine it’s a paperclip icon. Click and then navigate through the folders on your desktop to the file you want to attach. Click “Open” or double-click the file and it will be attached to your email. Write a short message to explain what the file is and click “Send”.

(3) Go to YouTube and Sign-in with your Google account assuming you have one. If you don’t you’ll have to get that sorted first. You then follow the steps to set up an account including, of course, reading the terms and conditions.

Copyright is a big deal on YouTube and you need to be sure you’re not breaching anyone’s copyright in the material you decide to upload. There’s an excellent section about Copyright on the site which is well worth reading.

Your YouTube account is known as your channel. You can manage your account and upload your videos from your channel.

While you’re waiting for your video to upload you can complete the Settings and decide if you want to make your video public or private. You can add information about your video as well.

It can take rather a long time for your video to upload if it’s a large file. I make videos of only a couple of minutes’ duration and save them as email attachments. This keeps the file quite small and the upload is therefore quicker. I don’t know if this is the orthodox method to use but it works okay for me.

(4) Image credit:



1950s Childhood in Pictures

I found these photos on Getty images.

I think they really capture the spirit of the era.


I’m not 100% certain the images will show up on all devices so if all you’re looking at is a series of jumbled letters try this link.

Thanks for checking out my blog today and hope you have a great weekend.

You might also like Learning Handwriting in the 1950s  and Cabbage and Semolina.



Before you start to write your personal memoir on-line ask these four questions.

Before you start investing your precious time in writing your personal memoir on-line, or helping an older relative or friend to write theirs, you need to ask four questions. The answers to these questions will help you make the right decisions about how to write your personal memoir on-line.

The first task is to ask yourself why you want to write a personal memoir on-line: clarify the purpose of your writing project.

Why Do I Want To Write A Personal Memoir on-line?

Maybe you’ve been talking to family and friends about the past and you’re looking for interesting ways to share your memories. Possibly you want to inspire some of your family and friends, particularly younger members of your family, so they will have a better knowledge and understanding of you and your family’s past. Perhaps you don’t want your life story to become lost with your own passing: you want to preserve your experiences for posterity.

I love family history researching because I enjoy finding out about the lives of ordinary people. No-one on my family tree was ever rich, powerful or famous but each person had their own unique contribution to make to their family, their community and to society at large. Like me, you might want to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the wonders of Internet technology to celebrate and share memories, reminiscences and anecdotes with your family and friends.

So my own answer to the first question
Why do I want to write a personal memoir on-line?
To share some of the experiences I’ve had in my life.
To interest younger generations of my family in our family’s past and help them to know and understand where they’ve come from.
To celebrate and recognise the lives and contribution of the ordinary men and women who make up my family background and who, over the years, have given me so much.

Having got your answers to the first question, it’s time to move to the second question and clarify who you want to read your personal memoir.

Who Will Read My Personal Memoir on-line?

You will probably have partly answered this question when establishing the purpose for your writing. It’s likely to have included your family; some of your friends; your descendants in the future; those with an interest in family history; and historians with an interest in social history.

Thus my own answer to the second question
Who will read my personal memoir on-line?
would be:
My sisters, my few surviving older relatives, some of my friends.
My sisters’ children.
Family history enthusiasts anywhere in the world.
Historians seeking first hand recollections of life in the middle years of the twentieth century.

Okay, so you’ve made some decisions. You’ve clarified why you’re going to write a personal memoir on-line and who you want to read it. Now you need to consider a third question.

What Am I Going To Write About In My Personal Memoir on-line?

The choices for my first family history writing project were made for me by my niece, Sally. She was at primary school and her class were studying the Second World War. She knew that I was the keeper of our family’s history and she asked me what her long deceased grandfather had done in the war.

I selected a few photographs and wrote a simple text to create a short booklet which I emailed to her. She printed out her own copy of the file and took it to school for her class to see and it was added to the school’s resources for that particular topic. Inspired, my niece went on to garner more information from me and other family members before producing her own family tree on a long strip of wallpaper, photographing it and emailing it to me in return.

My next project repeated the theme but on a larger scale. I became involved in e-publishing to help my husband bring his novel Magnificent Britain to an audience. It was several months after the launch of Magnificent Britain that I began to think about publishing a diary that my father had written during World War II.

After many months of research, I Think I Prefer the Tinned Variety: The Diary of a Petty Officer in the Fleet Air Arm during World War II was released as a Kindle ebook in October 2012. I’m really pleased that I took the decision to publish it; my dad would have been amazed.

The diary had a collection of photographs with it and so I started a blog as my next project to display the photographs and to add more information to the story of my dad’s war-time experiences.

A few months after the ebook was published, I was looking through the family archives again. I realised there were still lots of documents, photographs and memorabilia that had accumulated in the loft as grandparents and parents had died. From amongst these I began selecting items to include on a website.

My mum wrote a diary in the early months of 1947 which prompted an interest in that difficult year in Austerity Britain. What a year! As well as the on-going post-war trauma there was to be the worst winter weather of the twentieth century; there would be rationing of petrol, potatoes, bread and just about everything else; there would be power cuts and make-do-and-mend; there would be the New Look and Utility furniture. I found the diary so compelling that I started using it to inspire some of the blogposts I was writing for my Writing a Family History website.

This prompted me to start thinking about my own life and I remembered how we’d encouraged my mother-in-law, Rose Murray, to write down her life’s story. Aged about ninety two she made a start but it was too late. She couldn’t sustain the interest or the concentration and so all we have is a short memoir about her schooldays. Bearing this in mind I started writing my Cabbage and Semolina Blog to record my memories from my 1950s childhood. This evolved into my ebook of the same title and it’s follow-up, ‘Jam for Tea’.

So my own answers to the third question:
What am I going to write about in my personal memoir on-line?
came out of my responses to the first two questions.

I wrote Grandad’s War because my niece asked me to and she and the other children in her class were the intended audience. (Unintentionally, future generations of children at her school will also be the audience until the school curriculum changes and the resources for the WW2 project go in the bin.)

I wrote I Think I Prefer the Tinned Variety: The Diary of a Petty Officer in the Fleet Air Arm during World War Two because the diary was so special to me and I could make it a tribute to the ordinary guys, like my dad, who weren’t heroes in that war but were still very brave. My audience was family, friends and any members of the wider reading public who might have an interest in World War II and Family History.

I set up my Tinned Variety blog because I needed a place to display the photographs associated with the book. I also wanted to continue researching and sharing new aspects of the story. My intended audience for the blog was those who shared my interest in the aspects of World War II that are explored in the book.

I started building my Writing a Family History website because I thought some of the items for which I was the custodian were unusual and interesting and they were just stuck in a suitcase mouldering away. I thought they deserved better than that. I wanted to share the website with my family (especially the younger generation) and my friends but also with anyone potentially interested in the minutiae of family history and the accumulated documents, photos, greetings cards etc. associated with one family from the last one hundred years or so.

As starting points for Writing a Family History blogposts I used some of the entries in the 1947 Diary because they gave unique insights into that post-war era from the perspective of a young woman who had grown up in the dark days of World War II. I especially wanted to share these insights with my two sisters and also members of the wider family and anyone who had lived through that year to help ensure it didn’t get forgotten.

I started writing my Cabbage and Semolina Blog and the subsequent ebooks to record some of the experiences I’d had while growing up in the 1950s. I wanted to share them with my husband and my younger sisters. I particularly wanted to share my memories with my youngest sister who hadn’t yet been born when I was a child. I wanted to share my memories with the younger generation of my family. And knowing how much I enjoyed reading other people’s memories I wanted to offer my experiences to anyone who happened to stumble over them on the World Wide Web.

So, now that you’ve considered the Why, the Who and the What you finally get to the fourth question: How?

How Am I Going To Write A Personal Memoir on-line?

My personal answer to this question has been a journey through the opportunities of the Internet:
Social Media

In February 2012 I didn’t have a blog. I hadn’t published an ebook. I didn’t have a Facebook page; a Twitter account; a Pinterest account; a YouTube account or a website.

In this series of blogposts I’m going to take each in turn and explore how it can be used to write your personal memoir on-line.

Thanks for reading my blog today and hope your day is going well. Please come and visit my ebook website when you’ve a few minutes to spare.