Tag Archives: Scotland

Ancestral Synchronicity in Saltcoats, Scotland

The Saltcoats train and bus station, with connections to Glasgow, Ayr, Kilmarnock and many other places in Ayrshire.

Jeff and I parked the camper for two weeks in Saltcoats because their “holiday park” had the amenities we needed for such a long stay, and it was a centralized location, with a train station, for my genealogy research in Ayrshire. Little did I know, when I booked our spot months before we left the States, that I would also find ancestral connections there!

Saltcoats Town Hall

Saltcoats is a cute little town on the coast of the Firth of Clyde in southwest Scotland, just a short hop to Kilmarnock—where most of my research was to be done—and to Ayr and Glasgow, also places with ancestral connections.

My husband (Jeff), my brother (Mike) and I spent a lot of time bopping around the town on the days that I didn’t feel well enough to be out scouring the countryside for genealogy clues. There were plenty of pubs to keep us busy, including The Salt Cot, where the food and drinks were very affordable and downright delicious. They have a great system where you order by app from your table by giving your table number and paying for it on the app when you order. They were also one of the few places I found with Pimm’s readily available.

On the days I felt well enough to leave the camper, I certainly kept up with Jeff and Mike in the ale sampling, in spite of (or because of?) being sick with a head cold. One of my favorites pubs was the Windy Ha, where Rabbie Burns is said to have been a regular customer because he enjoyed the friendly atmosphere.

The Windy Ha, where Robert Burns is rumored to have been a regular.

There’s a framed print on the wall, inside, saying that Rabbie wrote his 1792 poem, Saw Ye Bonie Lesley, “while having a quiet drink” in the Windy Ha, about a local woman named Lesley, with whom he had fallen in love.

In addition to enjoying our unhurried time in Saltcoats, which allowed us a chance to soak in some genuine Scottish life, as opposed to hurrying from place to place or only visiting tourist sites, imagine my surprise and delight when I discovered that my 3x great-grandfather, Alexander Garroch, lived in Saltcoats in his final years, according to the 1901 census.

Alexander is as far back as I can trace the Garroch name in my family tree. He was born around 1827 in Wigtownshire and, from what I can gather, was involved in a paternity suit in 1844 at age 17, while working as a farm laborer. He didn’t marry the girl, and she gave birth to a daughter. He married my 3x great-grandmother, Margaret, when she was 21 (he was 19). They had nine children in 15 years.

My 3x great-grandfather lived at this address at age 75, according to the 1901 census. He lived in many places throughout his life, but retired and probably died here.

Alex and Margaret eventually moved to Riccarton, near Kilmarnock, living for a while in a place called Bridgehouse Cathouse. I assumed, using American vernacular, that this meant it was a house if ill-repute, but my Scottish researcher friends were surprised at that and quickly assured me that it probably meant that there were just a lot of cats hanging out around that house. Many houses had descriptive names instead of street addresses. The local residents knew the houses by these names.

In 1861, they lived in the Gatehead Tollhouse, where Margaret was the toll keeper and Alex worked, again, as a farm laborer. She died in 1870 at the age of 45 and he remarried a woman named Jessie, with whom he eventually moved to Saltcoats and lived as a “Retired Ploughman” according to the census.

The most welcome ancestral connection, though, came in the form of meeting a living and breathing distant cousin, Sandra, who just happened to own a caravan at the same holiday park we were staying in. Sandra and I are related through our shared 5x great-grandmother, Grace Maxwell. Grace has been a brick wall for many of her ancestors, with a lot of different online family trees disagreeing about who her parents were. That mystery has finally been solved, but now her confirmed father, James Maxwell, is the new face of that brick wall.

I had a lovely chat with Sandra and her husband, Bobby, when they came to the park’s laundromat to keep me company as I tried valiantly to do two weeks worth of laundry. We talked like we’ve known one another for lifetimes. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any photos because I was distracted and looking pretty ragged, after so much traveling. The dryers weren’t working because the fish and chips shop next door had recently caught fire, so the gas was turned off in the building—meaning, no heat in the dryers!

But, just like family, Sandra and Bobby generously volunteered to take my wet laundry back to their house to dry it for me. Weeks later, as I write this, my heart still swells with gratitude for this huge favor. We had no way to get the wet clothes to another local laundromat (we couldn’t drive the camper, due to the diesel/unleaded fuel clusterboink) so I was screwed. My cousin’s willingness to help was such a godsend! Thank you, Sandra and Bobby!

And, of course, here’s you another dug (Scottish for dog), this one waiting for its people on the main drag in Saltcoats:


Lisa Bonnice is an award-winning, best-selling author. Her current passion-project is a series of metaphysical comedy novels. The first is entitled The Poppet Master (previously published as Be Careful What You Witch For!, now revamped and with a new ending). The Poppet Master is a modern-day fairy tale about Lola Garnett, a bored housewife and office drone who wakes up with unexpected psychic abilities, and no instruction manual, and Twink, the reluctant, sarcastic faery assigned to assist and educate her. The Poppet Master will be available in summer 2019. Its sequel is in the works.

Lisa is also writing The Maxwell Curse, a fictionalized version of a story she found in her own ancestral lineage about a witch trial, a generational curse, and massive mine explosion, all of which left ripples of destruction in their wake, devastating one family’s tree.

 

 

http://www.lisabonnice.com

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Ancestral messages delivered via involuntary altered states

This is what the sky looked like in Scotland much of the time we were there. It was windy, rainy and cold—not a good combination for an oncoming head/chest cold.

Almost immediately upon arriving in Scotland to begin the hunt for my ancestors, I caught a cold. Between adverse conditions and taking whatever cold/flu meds I could find in a country where I didn’t recognize the brands (no Nyquil or Sudafed*), my head was in an altered state for this journey.

My first reaction was panic, and then rage. I had been saving and planning for this trip for years and now it was about to be ruined. I had a schedule to keep, ancestral sites to visit and research to be done. Ain’t nobody got time for that. On top of that, the weather felt frosty, in spite of it being June, and I just couldn’t get warm.

I live in Arizona and, at home, summer means temps over 110 degrees. It was unseasonably cold in Scotland—the highs during most of our visit were only in the 50s, with thick clouds overhead, lots of rain and frigid winds. We were camping on the coast in a little town called Saltcoats, so the wind was gusting off the Firth of Clyde, adding a biting chill to the air.

I packed for the kind of summer I remembered from growing up in Indiana, where the average summer temp would be around 70, expecting that to be our experience in Scotland. But even the heavy sweatshirt I bought in London to wear under my jean jacket, once I realized I had underpacked, wasn’t enough to keep me warm.

This tiny bunk is where I slept and shivered with fever during our trip. I had a stock of nasal spray, tissues, ibuprofen and plenty of liquids tucked away in a corner near my head, along with a copy of Michael Caine’s book, Blowing the Bloody Doors Off, which I picked up at Tesco, in London.

As my teeth chattered from the fever, lying in my bunk in our camper, I was terrified. What if this gets worse? What if this goes from being an annoying cold to a full blown sickness, the kind that one needs to see a doctor or die? It can happen. I’ve been that sick in the past and I know what it feels like. This felt like it could turn into that.

Where was the nearest hospital? Where could I find a doctor if I needed one? What if that happened while I was a stranger in a strange land, stuck in a camper that had come to feel like a prison?

After all, we couldn’t drive it anywhere. Not only had Jeff accidentally put unleaded gas in the diesel tank (long story, but suffice to say in the UK, the unleaded pump is green, like diesel is in the States, and the nozzle fit in the tank, also unlike in the States where they’re different sizes) and we couldn’t drive it until we had it drained and refilled. And even if that weren’t a situation, he was still learning to drive on the “wrong” side of the very narrow roads and needed me as a co-pilot, and I was thoroughly unable to do that. We were immobile.

This is the view of Saltcoats from the bridge over the ScotRail train track, between the campground and the beach. Our camper is on the right and to get to any of the stores, which are mostly on the left side of the photo, is about a one mile walk. Surprisingly, being so close to the track wasn’t an issue. The trains were whisper silent.

The town itself was about a mile away from the campground so if we needed anything, we had to walk. I was in no condition to do so. Jeff would have to walk by himself and be gone for a long time, leaving me alone. So yeah, I was scared. Feverish and scared.

While I lay there shivering and half out of it, I received my first message, this one from my great-grandmother Helen: this is what it felt like for them, to get sick. Any illness was potentially deadly. And it was cold in their houses, up there in Scotland, in the days before electricity. This inability to stay warm was part of being sick for them.

Helen had 10 children, and only four lived. She knew the gut-wrenching terror that a fever could cause. She watched her babies die and then died, herself, at the young age of 38. Early death was a reality for them.

In modern times, if we’re privileged enough, we can pop a pill or go to the health food store for bone broth and echinacea tea (which I couldn’t find locally, either). Maybe we visit the local Urgent Care center, or even the Emergency Room, but at least we have these luxuries (those of us who can afford them, that is).

I also heard, loud and clear, that there was a reason I was sick. I had intended, planned and requested my ancestors’ help for a specific type of trip. I wasn’t just in Scotland to sight-see, I was there to walk in their footsteps, to pick up as many psychic impressions as I could and that couldn’t be done without being in a slightly altered state. I wasn’t so out of it that I was tripping, just enough to tilt my reality and allow for information to enter that would have otherwise been blocked by my rational mind.

See that brick building way in the distance? That was the bathroom/shower building. That’s how far I had to walk, in my weakened condition, to use the facilities because we were not using the camper toilet/shower. If I wasn’t sick, I might have grumbled occasionally about the long walk, but I was sick, so it became an issue. I realized, though, that this was part of it. My ancestors didn’t have indoor plumbing. They would have to walk to the community privy. Yes, even when they were sick.

Add to the illness the appearance of dark, cold and stormy weather, which was weirdly frightening. Also, we were so far north, and so close to the summer solstice, that the days were 17 hours long. That’s a lot of daylight for someone not used to it. Even though it was mostly cloudy, it was light when I went to sleep and when I woke up. I was definitely outside of my comfort zone and very open to feeling the echoes of the ghosts of the past, throughout the rest of the trip.

Fortunately, a few days after we got to Scotland, my brother Mike flew in from the States to meet us and hang out for a week (staying at a local B&B, with a rental car), and he’s a seasoned enough traveler to have brought Sudafed and Nyquil with him. He gave good advice on traveling while sick, and kept me well supplied and able to push through while feeling like crap.

Thank God, I didn’t end up getting desperately ill, but I did stay sick the rest of the time. I ended up going to my doctor a week after getting home, as I had developed a sinus infection. But I’m on the mend now and finally able to sit down and write a blog. I’ll be sharing more, in upcoming days, about the continuing series of synchronicities and messages I received from my ancestors.

(* I did eventually find Sudafed at a Boots pharmacy, once we were in Glasgow, but I couldn’t find it in Saltcoats.)

Also, here’s you another dug (dog, in Scottish)— this one was always tied up to a camper between ours and the bathroom:

That was one ferocious beast, barking its head off every time I’d walk past.


Lisa Bonnice is an award-winning, best-selling author. Her current passion-project is a series of metaphysical comedy novels. The first is entitled The Poppet Master (previously published as Be Careful What You Witch For!, now revamped and with a new ending). The Poppet Master is a modern-day fairy tale about Lola Garnett, a bored housewife and office drone who wakes up with unexpected psychic abilities, and no instruction manual, and Twink, the reluctant, sarcastic faery assigned to assist and educate her. The Poppet Master will be available in summer 2019. Its sequel is in the works.

Lisa is also writing The Maxwell Curse, a fictionalized version of a story she found in her own ancestral lineage about a witch trial, a generational curse, and massive mine explosion, all of which left ripples of destruction in their wake, devastating one family’s tree.

http://www.lisabonnice.com

Setting foot on ancestral land

This flag attached to the ceiling of the Tam O’Shanter Inn in Ayrshire, Scotland reminded me that I was in the land of “Freeeeeeeeeedom!!!”.

I knew, when I set off for Scotland, that I would come back changed. I knew that some “ancestral healing” would occur, because that was my intention. And, boy, did I get it … in spades!

For the first time, I set foot on Scottish soil—the land of my mom’s dad, and his folk for as far back as I can trace. I went because I’m that serious about  genealogy and because these people have a fascinating story. But mostly I wanted to figure out why my mom—who died last year—was chronically depressed, because she passed it on to me and I had to know: Did she inherit the gray gloom from them? And, did I have to inherit the gloom from her?

It makes sense that an inherent miasma of woe was passed down through this lineage, considering what happened to her own dad, William (called Willie, as a child—in his homeland, that’s pronounced “Wullie”).

On the right side of this photo taken in Coalburn, Scotland, there used to be a coal mine. My great-grandfather and his son Wullie, my granddad, used to walk to work down this road. I walked in their footsteps.

Wullie had a hard childhood, working in the coalmines as a teen, and then losing both of his parents before he turned 19, right after emigrating to the States and leaving everyone and everything he knew behind.

No wonder he couldn’t show love to his own kids, when he eventually had them. His ability to feel must have been blown to bits after his mom died of cancer and was buried on his eighteenth birthday, and his father was killed in a mine explosion just a few months later, leaving all four of their children orphaned in a strange land.

(Image Source) This photo was taken days before the March 8, 1924 explosion at Castle Gate Mine #2, in which my great-grandfather was killed. For all I know, he could be in this photo.

Wullie could have died alongside his father that day—he should have been in the mine, but was laid off because work was slow and he didn’t have a family yet. Men with families to support were allowed to work that day.

So, let’s add survivor’s guilt to an already very full plate. It’s no surprise that he was unable to connect emotionally with his children or his many wives, leaving my mom hurt and resentful through the end of her days.

If you want to talk about passing down depression, this is a pretty good place to start. Mom, even though she had a good life by normal standards, was never happy. No matter what she achieved, or what gorgeous possessions she surrounded herself with, she just couldn’t be happy for herself, or anyone else. In fact, many of us wouldn’t even tell her our own good news because she’d always find a way to look at the dark side and pee in our Wheaties.

I have a tendency to look at life the same way and have, therefore, been as deliberate as I can to instead view things in a positive light. In spite of these efforts, I have always been tortured by depressive thoughts. No matter how much I accomplished, no matter how nice a home I created, it just wasn’t enough to feel okay. That’s all I wanted—to just feel okay, and that’s not a very high bar. Even so, I couldn’t do it.

It didn’t start with my mom or Wullie, though. I experienced things in Scotland that showed me that they were just cogs in a very large wheel. I could write a book about how this trip has changed my outlook (in fact, don’t be surprised if you see it fictionalized one of these days). But because this is a blog and needs to be kept short, I’ll just say that these past few weeks of being put through the ancestral healing grinder have been truly transformative. I’ll tell more about it in the days to come, but this is enough for now. The story needs time to unfold.

I’ve been home less than 24 hours and my house feels both alien and familiar. Yes, this is the same place I’ve lived for a long while, and these are the things I’ve collected over the years, but I’m seeing it all like a hologram through prismic lenses.

Right now, I’m struggling to fit back into my old life without losing any of the expansion I’ve attained. It feels like trying to force myself into a pair of favorite shoes that I’ve grown out of over the past month. I loved those shoes, but my feet are bigger and I can’t wear them anymore.

Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae let the Lord be thanket.

So, I’m stretching those shoes as I reminisce, unpacking my souvenirs and showering with the remains of the travel-sized soaps and shampoos. I’m hanging up the Rabbie Burns plaque that we bought in an antique shop in Ayr, and finding a place for the rock that I picked up in the parking lot at Stonehenge. I’m eating the last of the chocolate Weetabix that I brought home, and drinking my morning tea from the cup I bought in London on our first day there. This is all helping to assimilate old me into new me.

I’m changed. I’m more multidimensional. I’m bigger on the inside. I’m deeper and richer, and somehow … happy. So, the healing begins.

Stay tuned for more and here’s you a pair of Scottish dogs (or dugs, as they pronounce it there):

 


Lisa Bonnice is an award-winning, best-selling author. Her current passion-project is a series of metaphysical comedy novels. The first is entitled The Poppet Master (previously published as Be Careful What You Witch For!, now revamped and with a new ending). The Poppet Master is a modern-day fairy tale about Lola Garnett, a bored housewife and office drone who wakes up with unexpected psychic abilities, and no instruction manual, and Twink, the reluctant, sarcastic faery assigned to assist and educate her. The Poppet Master will be available in summer 2019. Its sequel is in the works.

Lisa is also writing The Maxwell Curse, a fictionalized version of a story she found in her own ancestral lineage about a witch trial, a generational curse, and massive mine explosion, all of which left ripples of destruction in their wake, devastating one family’s tree.

http://www.lisabonnice.com

Money … tickets … passport … holy water

We’re leaving tomorrow for our trip to the UK so it’s crunch time! Do I have everything? Money? Tickets? Passports? My sanity?


I’ve been planning this trip since 2013 and it feels like a lifetime. But now that we’re less than 24 hours from departure out of Phoenix, we’re zooming through time at the speed of light and if that isn’t enough to bend the time/space continuum, I don’t know what is.

It’s not just the physicality of what we’re doing … money, tickets, passport … that’s looming large. It’s the psychicality (is that a word? it is now!) that’s blowing my mind.

See, there’s a lot going on here. I’m not just going to fly across the Pond for the first time, I’m going to achieve a Bucket List event — visiting the glass-floored “Eye” of the Blackpool Tower. But even more importantly, I’m also doing research for two books, including genealogy research into a witch trial in my family’s past AND doing what I can to break the resulting curse.

Although I’m ecstatic that we’re going, I’m also on the verge of empathic overload. Those of you who have at least one foot consciously in the psychic realm will know exactly what I’m talking about. For those who don’t, I probably already lost you when I wrote about breaking curses.

But, for those of you who are still with me, I’m what some would call “overly sensitive” to the thoughts and feelings of others. It’s easy to sometimes lose track of where I end and the “external” world begins. So, therefore, all of what I’ll be doing over the next few weeks is a little overwhelming.

But I’ve learned, from many years of experience, to just put one foot in front of the other. And for today, that means … money, tickets, passports.

Before I go, here’s you a traveling dog:


Lisa Bonnice is an award-winning, best-selling author. Her current passion-project is a series of metaphysical comedy novels. The first is entitled The Poppet Master (previously published as Be Careful What You Witch For!, now revamped and with a new ending). The Poppet Master is a modern-day fairy tale about Lola Garnett, a bored housewife and office drone who wakes up with unexpected psychic abilities, and no instruction manual, and Twink, the reluctant, sarcastic faery assigned to assist and educate her. The Poppet Master will be available in summer 2019. Its sequel is in the works.

Lisa is also writing The Maxwell Curse, a fictionalized version of a story she found in her own ancestral lineage about a witch trial, a generational curse, and massive mine explosion, all of which left ripples of destruction in their wake, devastating one family’s tree.

http://www.lisabonnice.com

Bucket Lists are scary as hell

Anyone who’s been reading my blog for any length of time knows that my biggest Bucket List item is to visit the Blackpool Tower in Blackpool, England. Well, it’s FINALLY  about to happen and I’m freaking out!


I’ve been yearning for this since 2013 (and having psychic dreams about it for far longer). It’s taken years to materialize, no matter how much “Law of Attraction” work I’ve done. I realize now that there were some very good reasons for it to take so long.

In “New Age” speak, it’s because I didn’t vibe with it yet. I get that—I understand that “like attracts like” and I wasn’t “like” this yet. But understanding that didn’t make the waiting any easier.

Turns out there were things I didn’t know yet—important information that I needed before heading off on the second leg of the journey, to Scotland.

For example, I didn’t yet know about the Scottish curse on my family, or what to do about it (I’ll talk about that in another blog). I also didn’t know a lot of the things I’ve recently discovered in my genealogy research which I can only follow up on when I’m there, where the original records lie. If I had been able to make the Bucket List trip back when I first conceived of it, I would have completely missed out on my chance to easily visit these places.

The Blackpool Tower, on the coast of the Irish Sea.

It’s also clear now, when I look back at my original reasons for wanting to do this, that my motives have changed entirely. I didn’t realize then that the Blackpool Tower was merely acting as an antenna, drawing my undivided attention to the UK, but for much different purposes than I ever could have known back then.

However, the most important thing at this stage is my “Duh!” realization that Bucket List items are hard to attain—unlike everyday life—because they scare the crap out of you. I’m not big on facing fears head-on, hence the long delay.

The view, straight down, from the “Eye” of the Blackpool Tower. The Comedy Carpet is to the right, and the Irish Sea is just beyond that.

For some unknown reason, I’m drawn to the Blackpool Tower (which is similar to the Eiffel Tower) to ride to the top, step out onto the glass floor and look down at the Comedy Carpet. Then, while I’m up there, I’ll watch the sun set over the Irish Sea.

Have I mentioned that I’m terrified of heights?

I’m also afraid of flying across the ocean. I’m afraid of driving on the “wrong side” of the road. I’m afraid of being in another country, on the other side of the planet, and not having everything I need. The list of things that cause me crippling anxiety goes on and on.

And yet … I persisted.

I think the reason I’m finally able to go is because I’ve finally matured enough to do this. I have all of my research ducks in a row and I’m go for takeoff. I may still be terrified, but I’m now actually looking forward to facing these challenges.

I better be, because we’re leaving in a little over three weeks.

FINALLY!

Here’s you a scared dog:


Lisa Bonnice is an award-winning, best-selling author. Her current passion-project is a series of metaphysical comedy novels. The first is entitled The Poppet Master (previously published as Be Careful What You Witch For!, now revamped and with a new ending). The Poppet Master is a modern-day fairy tale about Lola Garnett, a bored housewife and office drone who wakes up with unexpected psychic abilities, and no instruction manual, and Twink, the reluctant, sarcastic faery assigned to assist and educate her. The Poppet Master will be available in summer 2019. Its sequel is in the works.

Lisa is also writing The Maxwell Curse, a fictionalized version of a story she found in her own ancestral lineage about a witch trial, a generational curse, and massive mine explosion, all of which left ripples of destruction in their wake, devastating one family’s tree.

http://www.lisabonnice.com

Ancestry search reveals the beginning of a story

I didn’t know my mom’s dad. Her parents divorced when she was a teen, and I only have a vague memory of meeting him once when I was a kid. All I knew about him, growing up, was that he was born in Scotland and he was an engineer who worked at the Nike missile sites in Norway during WWII.

Because she never talked about him, and he didn’t seem interested in us, I wasn’t very curious about who he was. I concentrated all of my genealogy research on my dad’s side of the family, and was able to unearth his ten long-lost cousins. I am now in contact with cousins all over the world, people who look just like me, who I never knew existed!

But now that I’m planning a summer 2014 trip to Scotland, where my grandfather was born, I thought I’d do a little research on Ancestry.com to see if I could scout out any locations to visit while I’m there. Oh boy, did I find some stories!

I’m still putting the pieces together but, from the looks of it, just his lifetime alone was a heckuva tale. He was born in 1905, in Dreghorn, to a coal-mining family. Ancestry.com searches have given me actual locations where they lived, in various “Miners’ Rows” in Dreghorn and the surrounding villages around Kilmarnock, Ayrshire.

Never having been there, the phrase “Miners’ Row” meant nothing to me. I had no frame of reference. My husband’s parents were also coal miners’ kids, but they grew up in America. Their lives were hard–I’ve seen the movie Coal Miner’s Daughter, and I’ve visited Elkhorn City, KY, where his dad grew up–so I expected to find that my grandfather’s life wasn’t a cake walk. But here in the US, life was easy compared to the conditions in turn-of-the-century Scotland!

Here is a description for Six Row, which Ancestry.com listed as one of his family’s addresses (from the Scottish Mining Website):

“There are two water-closets for each row placed immediately in front of the houses and two washing-houses. There are also very filthy cesspools in front of the doors. The brick tiles on the floors are very much broken up, and holes inches deep are to observed everywhere. The walls of the houses are very damp, and the partitions do not appear to have been plastered. There is one ash-pit for every two rows. A well with gravitation water is placed in each row. There are two washing-houses for each row, but the floors are so sunken and broken up that the women complain that they have to stand to the ankles in water when doing their washing. The condition of the roads into these rows is abominable.”

I found this photo on an Ayrshire history site (ayrshirehistory.org.uk). It seems to be a fairly representative photo of the miners rows back then.

So I guess it’s no surprise that the entire family packed up and moved to the US in the 1920’s. Things didn’t get much better for my grandfather, because within two years of moving here, his mother died of cancer and, a year later, his father and uncle were killed in the famous Castle Gate Mine explosion in Utah.

Photo of the Castle Gate memorial “borrowed” from Paul and Kathleen Smith’s travel-blog http://www.lazydazers.com/index.cfm?fa=ShowItem&ID=3232

I don’t know why my grandfather wasn’t there that day. My mom thinks that it may be because he told her that his parents didn’t want him to be a coal miner–they wanted a “better life” for him. However, just two weeks before the explosion, the mining company cut down on their work force and laid off many men who had no dependents. So that could be why he wasn’t there. In any case, he and his sisters, according to the records I found, were taken in by his mother’s brother, who was killed in a car accident in 1944.

The irony is that, if I follow his family tree backward into history, he is descended from royalty on his mother’s side of the family (by about twenty generations). The Littlejohn branch takes us backward to the Stewart/Bruce lineage!

At this point, that’s about all I know about him. I can’t wait to get to Scotland to walk the same ground as these people about whom I only know the stories of their deaths. I look forward to learning about their lives.

Help “crowdfund” my trip!

Follow my progress on GiveIt100!

Looking for Experts: Sponsorship

I’ve reached a point in planning this trip where I am ready to take the next step: looking for sponsors. I’ve done a lot of research into “who” and “why”, and I have a pretty good list of the kinds of companies to approach. What I need from the experts is advice and/or assistance in “how”.

What I’ll be pitching:

WHO: I am a best-selling author of four books and part of my planned “Bucket List” trip to the UK is to do research for two (or more) upcoming books. My husband Jeff and I are both former standup comedians, and we make great traveling companions and story tellers. You can read one of our month-long adventures beginning with this blog.

Tintagel Castle, Cornwall.(zpqt)

Tintagel Castle (Photo credit: Bob Linsdell)

WHAT: We’re planning a summer-long trip to the UK in 2014. We will be exploring Arthurian legend sites, tracking Doctor Who shooting locations, visiting ancestral sites (we both have extensive and interesting ancestor stories from all over the UK), interviewing the occasional celebrity that we’ve seen on BBC America (we’ve already successfully started booking interviews), taking gorgeous nature walks, blogging and writing restaurant reviews. The pinnacle of the trip, for me, will be to face my intense fear of heights and take a photo of the sunset over the Irish Sea from the top of the Blackpool Tower.

English: Blackpool Tower

Blackpool Tower (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WHERE: England, Wales, Scotland and possibly Ireland.

WHEN: We’re shooting for next summer, from the start of June until the end of August. We’ve been invited to a Druid Solstice ritual shortly after we arrive, and we’ll spend June in southern England and Wales, exploring Camelot and Avalon, and Jeff’s ancestry and Doctor Who locations.

In July, we’ll spend time in Liverpool, because we’re Beatles fans, then head to Janet’s Foss, a waterfall in central England where the Queen of the Faeries is supposed to have lived. Along the way, we’ll be taking long nature walks to see the beauty that is the United Kingdom. Then we’ll head up to Scotland for a visit, to find where my ancestors ranged from dirt-poor coalminers to ancient royalty.

English: Janet's Foss

Janet’s Foss (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In August, we’ll still be in Scotland and possibly Ireland, but then we’ll come back south in time to spend a week in Blackpool during their annual Illuminations celebration. We’ll be tracking down shooting locations for the incredible BBC miniseries, Blackpool (starring David Tennant, Sarah Parish and David Morrissey). We’ll wrap up the trip in London and head home.

WHY: Why not? Life is short and the world is waiting.

Regarding sponsors, I have a list of several companies to approach. I’ve already started to build a platform. I have very good reasons why each of these companies may be interested in trading goods/cash in exchange for shameless pluggery. We’re going anyway. They may as well come along for the ride.

So … now what? How do I make this happen? What kind of presentation should I create? How do I pitch this? Do you want to sponsor us? Do you want to help us find sponsors in exchange for sponsorship? Your expertise is requested and appreciated. Fill in the form below, or email me at lisa @ lisabonnice.com.  Meantime, I will continue to plug away with research.

Follow my progress on GiveIt100.com!