Tuesday, 30 August 2016

What I Read in August

What I've Read This Month

Marianna has really started to become interested in books this month. She likes to sit and look through them on her own, and then will bring it over to me or Anthony to read to her. Over and over and over again. Still, at least she has stopped trying to eat them!

For my part, I made the plunge and signed up to Kindle Unlimited. (Well, the free trial month at any rate.) I'm really enjoying it and think I'll continue into the paid subscription. It's cheaper than my normal monthly spend on books - even accounting for the constant stream of Goodreads wins! - and the catalogue is full of the weird and wonderful which suits me perfectly.

Anyway, this month I've read...


Rin-Tin-Tin: The Movie StarRin-Tin-Tin: The Movie Star by Ann Elwood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Non-Fiction, 2010. Well researched account of the life of Rin-Tin-Tin and how he became the money spinning 'wonder dog'. I particularly liked how Elwood unpicked the official story to reveal the facts behind Rin-Tin-Tin's rise to fame.


The Queen of Whale Cay: The Eccentric Story of 'Joe' Carstairs, Fastest Woman on WaterThe Queen of Whale Cay: The Eccentric Story of 'Joe' Carstairs, Fastest Woman on Water by Kate Summerscale
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Non-Fiction, 1997. Another superb book by Kate Summerscale. Carstairs was a fascinating character, and Summerscale really brings her - and the world she inhabited - to life.


Rainbow II: the Magic Show (Rainbow)Rainbow II: the Magic Show by Mike Butcher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fiction, 1991. When Zippy's card trick is shown to be less than magical, George takes centre stage and makes Bungle disappear! My daughter is obsessed with the Rainbow TV show so I was really pleased to stumble across the book series on Amazon - she loves the story and has had us read it over and over already.


The AstorsThe Astors by Virginia Cowles
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Non-Fiction, 1979. Really interesting overview of the Astor family, and the impact they had on their peers and surroundings. I particularly enjoyed the section on Mrs Astor and how she was able to make or break people's society aspirations with her '400'. My only quibble is that later chapters feel a little confusing at times, what with all the extra Astors in the mix and the jumps in chronology. Still, a very enjoyable read!


Hope and Glory: A Life of Dame Clara ButtHope and Glory: A Life of Dame Clara Butt by Maurice Leonard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had never heard of Clara Butt before stumbling across this book on Amazon, but I'm so glad I went ahead and read it anyway. Butt was a hugely successful contralto singer - I had to YouTube to hear what it was all about! - in the late Victorian / Edwardian era, and was made a Dame in recognition of her fundraising during WW1. This is a dense and detailed biography, with lots of information about all the characters we meet along the way; I liked this approach, and felt I came away with a better understanding of Britain as a whole during this time period. The only issue, really, is the Kindle formatting which has smushed a lot of words together.


Prince Eddy and the Homosexual UnderworldPrince Eddy and the Homosexual Underworld by Theo Aronson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Non-Fiction, 1994. Compelling argument that Prince Eddy was the distinguished figure the authorities were trying to shield during the Cleveland Street scandal, backed up by contemporary correspondence. I also enjoyed the chapters dealing with the prince's supposed role in the Jack the Ripper murders - it's not a difficult theory to debunk, true, but the author does it well.


Scotland Yard CasebookScotland Yard Casebook by Joan Lock
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Non-Fiction, 2014. I really enjoyed this and, although I've read about most of the cases in detail before, this was the first time the timeline of changes to the force - and what that meant on the ground - made sense for me. Lock's writing is clear and engaging, and inspired me to download another book by her as soon as I'd finished this one!


The Strange Case of Israel Lipski: A Story of London's East End in 1887The Strange Case of Israel Lipski: A Story of London's East End in 1887 by Bob Biderman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Fiction, 2015. This is a really interesting premise, following fictionalised versions of contemporary writers looking at the infamous Lipski case of 1887 and its context within the anglo-Jewish relations of the time. I found the Victorian writing style heavy going though.


Queen Bees: Six Brilliant and Extraordinary Society Hostesses Between the Wars - A Spectacle of Celebrity, Talent, and Burning AmbitionQueen Bees: Six Brilliant and Extraordinary Society Hostesses Between the Wars - A Spectacle of Celebrity, Talent, and Burning Ambition by Siân Evans
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Non-Fiction, 2016. This overview of six of the main society hostesses is a fascinating look at interwar Britain. Although coverage of each is necessarily more restricted than perhaps I would like, this approach does give a clear sense of the rivalries between each set - as well as the closely intertwined nature of contemporary upper class society.


Lady Policeman: Memoirs of a WPC in the Metropolitan PoliceLady Policeman: Memoirs of a WPC in the Metropolitan Police by Joan Lock
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Non-Fiction, 1968. Originally published in 1968, Joan Lock describes her life as a Metropolitan policewoman in the 1950s. Although a product of its time, it's still well worth reading for anybody interested in crime, policing, and women's history - time and again I found myself surprised by how limited the work, and career prospects, of policewomen was. (Something which continues to be highlighted throughout Lock's later work, right into the 1980s and 90s.)


Blue Murder?Blue Murder? by Joan Lock
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Non-Fiction, 1986. Really interesting collection of cases where early policemen were accused or found guilty of committing murder!


Dreadful Deeds And Awful Murders: Scotland Yard's First Detectives, 1829 - 1878Dreadful Deeds And Awful Murders: Scotland Yard's First Detectives, 1829 - 1878 by Joan Lock
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Non-Fiction, 1990. Although I had read about a lot of these early cases before, this was the first time I had really considered them from the police perspective. It's incredibly interesting to see how even at this stage the politics of dealing with crime affected detection on the ground, and the ability of the police to bring cases to a satisfactory conclusion.


Lungdon (Iremonger, #3)Lungdon by Edward Carey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fiction, 2015. I admit up front that I haven't read the first two instalments in the series, so I went in completely green... but, although I'd recommend reading the others first, it only served to add to the dark, creepy, bewildering atmosphere of the book. I loved the gothic Victorian style, and the unique fantasy elements kept me page turning. The eerie illustrations are really just the icing on the cake!


Witch Girl : The True Story of Marlene OliveWitch Girl : The True Story of Marlene Olive by Pam Hamilton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Non-Fiction, 2016. Brief overview of Marlene Olive and her part in the 'Barbecue Murders' of her adoptive parents. Very quick read, but it interested me in the case enough to download a longer book!


Tales From Bow StreetTales From Bow Street by Joan Lock
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Non-Fiction, 1982. Fascinating look at Bow Street, from the early days of the Runners through to the second half of the 20th century. Lock brings together plenty of interesting cases heard by the magistrates, and paints a vivid picture of many of the personages involved.


Quite Frankly She Said Sunday Best

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Monday, 29 August 2016

Family History: Reeves

Family History - Reeves

Reeves is my mum's maiden name and, at the moment, the stubbiest part of the tree. Unlike all the other branches, the Reeves' don't seem to have bred like rabbits so there just aren't as many names to latch onto!

Anyway, here's what we have so far:

Wendy Reeves

My mum, Wendy Reeves, was born on Valentine's Day 1967 - the youngest of five and a bit of a surprise; her mum initially thought she was starting the menopause! Apparently she was almost named Gayle, but my gramp intervened at the last moment and went for Wendy instead.

The other names were less contentious, starting with:

Michael (Mike) John Reeves, b. 1951. Mike has two sons - Christopher (b. 1970) and Dale (b. 1974) Reeves.

Jane Reeves, b. 1952. Jane has a son, Kevin (b. 1975), and a daughter, Kerry (b. 1978). Kerry's daughter Chloe is the closest relative in age to Marianna on my mum's side. :)

Hazel Carol Reeves, b. 1955. Hazel is one of the few members of the family to leave Cwmbran; she emigrated to Australia with her first husband and son, Lee (b. 1971), in the 1980s.

Patricia Tomlinson, Jane Reeves, Wendy Reeves, Hazel Reeves
Patricia Tomlinson (Mike's wife), Jane, Wendy, Hazel Reeves - 1978.

Tony William Reeves, b. 1963. Tony married Anthea Richards in has two children; Lori (b. 1992 - my tale of going to her Christening narrowly missed out on making the 'Now I Am 5' post) and Tom (b. 1996).

My nan and gramp, Iris May Edwards and William Alfred John Reeves, were born in 1931 and 1930 respectively. They married in 1950 and initially lived with Iris' mother, before moving to a cottage in Croesyceiliog which was really only fit for demolition. When that finally happened, they moved on to Hanbury Close on the then new Northville estate - it was so new that most of the houses were still unfinished and there wasn't even any paving laid. My nan died ten years ago now, in 2006.

Iris May Edwards and William Alfred John Reeves
Check out the groovy wallpaper c. 1970!

And just because I never tire of featuring this picture on the blog:

family holiday in Porthcawl
Me, my Mum, John and Iris Reeves, c. 1990.

My gramp - known as Bill to his workmates but John to everyone else, just to be confusing! - is still crazy active; he has a way better social life than the rest of us. He is also the one who passed on the love of loud patterns and lots of decoration: one of my mum's favourite family stories is the time he wallpapered the living room as a surprise for my nan in bright, flowery paper. My nan, horrified, waited until he left the house for a night shift, then worked into the early hours to take it all back off again!

He has two sisters:

Elizabeth May Reeves, b. 1925. May married Walter Whittington in 1948 and a year later they had a daughter, Yvonne.

Alice Dorothy Reeves, b. 1927. Alice married Reginald Breen in 1946, and the couple went on to have a number of children, including Christine (b. 1947), and Robert (b. 1949).


Their mother was Alice Gertrude Gibbs (1893 - 1981), who married William Alfred Reeves in 1924 - they both went by their middle names, because that was just the way people rolled back in the day. I think I've found the right William Alfred in the census records, along with his siblings:

John Henry Reeves, 1890 - 1898. John Jnr drowned in Newport docks on Wednesday 22nd June 1898; his body was found the following day. When I found his death date I imagined he would have caught one of the innumerable fatal illnesses of the time, so it shocked me to find the newspaper reports. John attended Bolt Street Board School from 01/12/1896 until his death.

South Wales Echo Clipping
South Wales Echo, June 24th 1898. They followed up the next day.

Llewellyn James Reeves, 12/10/1891 - ? Llewellyn attended Bolt Street Board School from 22/08/1898 to 14/03/1903, when the family moved to Maindee for a short time.

William Alfred Reeves, 27/09/1894 - 1945. William attended Bolt Street Board School from 19/08/1901 to 08/05/1903, and again from 24/07/1905 until 28/08/1908 when the school records list him as leaving for work, having achieved Standard III.

Thomas Charles Reeves, 07/02/1896 - 1957. Thomas attended Bolt Street Board School from 01/09/1902 to 08/05/1903 (when they left for Maindee), and then again from 24/071905 until 11/02/1910, having achieved Standard I. He then volunteered at the outbreak of WW1 and served in the infantry. He married Margaret Louisa Gibbs in 1921 - she was a younger sister of my great grandmother.

Walter John Henry Reeves, 20/06/1898 - 1963. Walter attended Bolt Street Board School from 1905 until 20/06/1912. He later served as an ordinary seaman in the Royal Navy during WW1, and their records list his DOB as 1896 - I think he probably added a couple of years to his age to enlist.

Caroline Maud Reeves, 1903 - 1950. Caroline married Albert Williams in 1923.

Percival 'Percy' Albert Reeves, 1909 - 1968. He married Cecilia Mary Lloyd in 1933.


Their father, John Reeves, was born in Shrewsbury in 1864, and married Elizabeth ? in 1889, a native of Glastonbury.

Once in Newport the family moved around a lot: The 1891 census finds the couple and their lodger, Sidney Jones, living at #2 Jaymes (sp?) Buildings in Newport. In 1901 the family had moved to #16 South Market Street, where John was still working as a railway guard. In 1902 school admissions logs list them at #37 Bolt Street, then at #10 Raglan Street in 1905. By 1911 they had moved again to #45 South Market Street, and John was now working as a river wharf labourer. Three of his sons - Llewellyn, Alfred, and Thomas - were also listed as dock labourers. In the 1914 Newport Street Directory John is listed as a brick layer.

South Market Street was close to the docks, and had exactly the kind of reputation you're imagining. It was constantly in the newspapers as the site of fights, disturbances and general anti-social behaviour. My favourite report is that of Ellen Hurley, described as a 'woman with a baby in her arms' who, nevertheless, managed to smash a glass over Robert Morgan's head and put him in hospital!

This is as far back as I've managed to get with the Reeves' so far. If you have any info on them, I'd love to hear from you. :)

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Family History

Sunday, 28 August 2016

This Week #46

To plant a garden is to believe in Tomorrow.
Life This Week

I have finally made a start on the garden.

The thing is, I'm no great fan of the outdoors. It's full of spiders and bugs and dirt and all kinds of other things I dislike. So, since we've moved in, the garden has been pretty much left to its own devices. This week I've spent hours and hours cutting back nettles, mowing the lawn, weeding, and generally having actual contact with living plant life.

There is still a lot to do, but it's getting there.

When I haven't been gardening (helped along by spilling coke all over my laptop and having no better distractions for a week), I've been sorting out our endless junk, selling stuff on ebay, and working on the family tree. I can see myself really getting into the latter as a hobby - it's so interesting! I'm using Ancestry and it's kind of like playing a game because you put in so many details, then the site suggests a bunch of records which may or may not correlate with your relative. It's addictive. :)

Photo of the Week

This Week, I 'ave Been Mostly...

☆ READING: True crime. Let's face it, I'm always reading true crime!

☆ WRITING: To Do Lists.

☆ WATCHING: Anthony decided he had a burning need to rewatch That '70s Show. All eight mind numbing seasons of it. If I ever see any of it again it will be too soon.

☆ LISTENING: Double Dutch - Malcolm McLaren.

☆ WEARING: Gardening gloves.

☆ EATING: I'm back on the diet, so lots of fruit and veg.

☆ REVIEWING: I took part in the Mother & Baby Awards testing this year, so have been busy reviewing Tesco baby bath and talc, a baby monitor, nightlight and a potty. Expect to hear more about the latter very soon. :)

On the Blog

I can't blog from my phone, it's just too frustrating! So there have just been tumbleweeds over the last week while I waited for the new laptop to arrive. I did backdate a few new category master posts though, like Frugal Living and Family History.

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This Week - Weekly Overviews

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Bringing Up Baby

Bringing Up Baby
Why I Don't Want Another BabyManners Maketh Baby
7 Worst Things About Being An Adult

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Family Life

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