Day 1– June 17–Tour of Hadrian’s Wall

For our first full day and only full day before Kristin started in on the NEHGS research tour, we had pre-booked a tour of Hadrian’s wall with Rabbi’s, one of the big bus tour companies. The tour left at about 8:00, so we checked the tram schedules and routing on Google Maps and set our alarm for about 6:30 to allow time to get there and find breakfast. Google Maps and Bing Maps are fantastic for figuring out public transportation when travelling.

The Rabbie’s Cafe is convenient, but it is mobbed in the morning when tours leave.

The tour was time and money well spent. Hadrian’s wall would be a major construction and garrison project today, and was clearly a major undertaking when it was constructed. The fact that there are really two walls–Hadrian’s and Antonine–is pretty amazing.

The railroad bridges and aquaducts around Edinburgh are spectacular
Hadrian's Wall Tour-River Tweed
Hadrian’s wall did not dissapoint.
Hadrian's Wall Tour-The Wall

We were exhausted at the end of the day and did takeout from the convenience store for dinner, since the Vietnamese place was closed.

Day 2– June 18–Edinburgh Castle and Seminar Dinner

We started the day with sleeping in, checking out of the Hub Haymarket Hotel, taking the tram to the Apex Waterloo Place Hotel that was part of the NEHGS research tour, and breakfast. First, the hotel Hub Haymarket is a very convenient and inexpensive hotel if you are planning a trip to Edinburgh. It is one minute from the tram line, and a 10 minute tram ride to the Scottish National Archives. The food choices are limited, but we found a great Vietnamese place about 50 yards away. The Apex Waterloo Place is a full service business hotel that is centrally located with prices to match.

We had breakfast at Pep and Fodder, a few doors down from the Apex Waterloo hotel where the seminar is based. This could become our culinary home base–inexpensive and good. We walked up to the Royal Mile and turned right (W) to head to Edinburgh Castle, where we spent the afternoon. The Royal Mile reminded both of us of the Rambla in Barcelona; one of the highlights was a Celtic quartet that talked a group of Irish college students (all women) into doing an Irish dance. They were far from Riverdance, but it was clear that they all knew the basics. When visiting the castle, make sure to stop for tea at the Red Coat tea room on the north side of the castle. Go the north room (not immediately obvious) and get a table near the windows to enjoy your tea. The view is incredible; this is a great place to regroup and figure out the plan for the second half of your visit. For photography, late afternoon provides some great opportunities.

The view of Edinburgh from the castle is breathtaking.
Edinburgh-Edinburgh Castle View

Kristin returned to the hotel at 2:30 to get ready for the 3:00 to 5:00 orientation session for the seminar, and I returned at 4:30 in time to shower and nap before the 6:00 dinner at Howie's, where I had haggis, neeps and peeps for the first time. I will do this again; haggis is much better tasting than it sounds. It is really just a peppery sausage without the casing.

Dinner was a lot of fun with discussion on Segues, Master Genealogist, GRAMPS as a replacement for Master Geanalogist (see tmg2gramps by Coherent Software, LaTeX and frustrations with genealogical citation, lasers, physics, laser physics, and a host of interesting topics.

Hagis, Neeps and Tatties
Edinburgh-Hagis, Neeps and Tatties

Maps

Google Map for National Archives of Scotland and Nearby Hotels

Dallas Genealogical Society Spring Seminar with Tom Jones

Tom Jones spoke at the Dallas Genealogical Society (DGS) Spring Seminar on March 18, 2017, covering a variety of case studies for both online and primary-document research. This was the first time that I've heard him speak, and I got a lot out of each of his lectures, but especially Solving the Mystery of the Disappearing Ancestor and Creating a Family History of Lasting Value.

Because Kristin is the DGS Vice President and arranged the seminar, we had the privilege of having dinner with Tom as part of both the Friday night and Saturday night groups, where we learned the joys, trials and tribulations of editing the National Genealogical Society Quarterly. When asked about tools for managing sources and citations conveniently, he wants to know if someone finds one; it was both a revelation and a disappointment to know that even the editor of the NGS Quarterly has not found a source/citation tool that works well for genealogical sources.

Day 0–June 15/16–Travel to Edinburgh for Kristin’s NEHGS Scotland Research Tour

Kristin signed up for an NEHGS Scotland Research Tour in June and we decided to make a long trip and combine it with the UseR! 2017 statistics conference in Brussels a week later. This meant that I had to figure out how to keep busy for a week in Edinburgh and she had to figure out how to keep busy for a week in Brussels, both difficult and arduous tasks. We planned to do the week in between in the Glasgow area doing research on Kristin’s ancestors from there

Our flight from JFK to Edinburgh was uneventful but interesting; our seatmate in the window seat was a guitarist for a band called Dan Baird and Homemade Sin. We had an interesting conversation about the music industry and how it has changed over they years.

After dropping bags off at the Haymarket Hub hotel (no rooms for check-in at 8:30 am), we walked to the city center and picked up a hop-on hop-off bus to see the city. The walk through the Princes Street Gardens was quiet and a great respite from the surrounding Saturday traffic.

Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh, Scotland with Edinburg Castle to Right and Princes Street to the Left
Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh, Scotland with Edinburg Castle to Right and Princes Street to the Left

I was stunned at the number of tour buses. The tour was really pretty amazing, even though we were tired. I will be busy while Kristin is doing research.

We were exhausted, so we stopped for lunch at Belle Italia, an Italian chain–I know, it is just wrong to eat Italian when traveling in Scotland. It was a lucky find. They had a spaghetti with lentil sauce that was excellent and unlike anything we've had before. My lasagna was also quite unusual...two layers in a cast iron skillet. We will go back if there is time.

After going back to the hotel for a nap (I didn't sleep in the flight, so I was several hours past doing an all-nighter) we went out to find something simple for dinner. The pub connected to the hotel was was unpleasantly noisy, so we went to the one across the street, which didn't serve food until 9:00. We next tried a pizza place...which turned out to require reservations. We ended up with sandwiches from a convenience store; a tuna with corn, salmon and cream cheese and a ham lettuce and tomato.

It turns out that the combination of adapters that I brought will not work in a UK plug, so I've got to get another adapter at some point.

For purposes of genealogy research trips to the Scottish National Archive, the Haymarket area is much cheaper than the area around the archive and is only a 10 minute tram ride. Dining options are limited.

DAR - Family Bible Records to the Rescue

We have been looking for a marriage record for a set of great grandparents for...a long time. This was the first task my sister gave to me when I went to Salt Lake City with Kristin for RootsTech in 2013.  I was brand new to genealogy–it was Kristin’s hobby–and I asked my sister for some goals. She gave me the goal of finding documents that had eluded her. In hind sight, this was perhaps not the best way to begin learning genealogy techniques.

Her first brick wall was fo find a marriage record from Indiana in the 1870’s, and the second a birth record from New Mexico in 1881. There are good reasons that she has been unable to find anything.

Kristin recently went to Washington, D.C. for a college room-mates reunion and planned to spend a couple of days afterward at the National Archives and at the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Library. In preparing for the trip, I did a little work on the DAR website and pulled down a couple of relevant DAR applications that referenced family bible records extensively. I suggested that she try to find some family bible records. She did. She found a family bible record in the Genealogical Records Committee Collection that is not part of any of the applications that I retrieved, but which was part of a collection scanned and indexed by a DAR member in South Texas in the 1980’s. It has much of the information that we have been chasing and opened up a new line of research.

Kristin’s visit to the National Archive provided a treasure trove of Civil War service records, but that is her blog entry.

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