Hello and welcome to The Compost Bin. I'm Compostwoman and I live with my family in rural Herefordshire. We have nearly four acres of garden and woodland, all managed organically and to Permaculture principles, which we share with Chickens, Cats and assorted wildlife. We also grow a lot of our own food, run courses in all sorts of things and make a lot of compost!

I am a Master Composter and have spent more than a decade as a volunteer Community Compost adviser with Garden Organic and my local Council.
I'm a self employed Environmental Educator so I run workshops and events where I talk about compost, veg growing, chicken keeping, cooking, preserving and sustainable living. I also run crafts workshops and Forest School/outdoor play sessions in our wood.

We try to live a more self sufficient lifestyle here, as best we can, while still having a comfortable life and lots of fun.

To learn more about us click on the About Compostwoman tab and remember to click on the photos to make them full size!

Monday 27 April 2009

More great stuff via Freecycle! including some family history for me.....

Last week I got some tomato plants in exchange for some eggs and surplus organic onion sets. I arranged this swap via the comments pages on this blog, with Sue-from-Hereford. She was a lovely lady, and the tomato plants ( yes I know, I know, I already have far too many!) are of a variety I haven't grown before! She had tried and failed to get some onion sets from Hereford Freecycle and I was happy to provide some from my surplus stock.

And today, I have acquired a projector screen from Freecycle, which will be useful for when I am giving talks.

Funnily enough, the lady I got it from is a Family History lecturer (when I got her email I realised had heard of her name), and when we got chatting (as you do) on the 'phone I mentioned that I had very little detail about my Mum's family, because when I was 10 she lost the ability to speak to me. This meant I never got to find out any details about my ancestors and as we could never find Mum's birth certificate, I have found it very hard to trace my family tree.

Well blow me down if she didn't come up with my Mum's first marriage details, the dates of birth of my half siblings ( who I never had any contact with so don't know where they now live to ask stuff...)

from her sources online, while we were chatting on the 'phone!

What a result! She did this from my Mum's maiden name and her first married name. She is hopeful she can find out a bit more for me as well. So, I may yet solve the mystery of exactly when during the First World War my Mum was born....and maybe even more!

Oooh I have tried and failed before, to trace any family history! My Mum divorced her first husband but met my Dad while it was all still going on. I was born before the divorce became final. In the 1960's, despite what they say about them being "swinging" ....well..having an illegitimate child and "living in sin" wasn't, apparently, the done thing!

I never really felt any fall out from all this, as my Mum changed her surname to match my Dad's before they finally got married and I had my Dad's surname from birth BUT it must have been hard for them....and I do know my Mum's parents disowned her and forbade any family contact with her, for the "shame" she had supposedly brought on the family name. (strict Irish Catholics, they were, very unkind.....!)

And so this bit of family history was (understandably, I suppose) kept a bit quiet....and must have been very painful for my parents. I knew about it, of course, but I also knew it wasn't a subject for very much discussion. And then when Mum had her first stroke and could no longer talk, any chance I had of finding out more, vanished.

So, I have not been able to trace my family tree. And I have always wondered, just how old my Mum really was...and where she was born...things like that.? These are, after all, the fabric of our lives. We all make small talk about where we were born, our surnames, our relatives, what our grandparents did, who died when...stuff like that. And I don't know any of it.

So maybe, just maybe, I am going to find out a bit more! Oooh exciting :-) Isn't it funny how things drop into place sometimes? A chance conversation and things just ........happen.

I won't hold my breath, but it IS nice to know my Mum DOES have a documented history out there, somewhere ;-)

And its another chapter for my book ;-)


  1. I too was born out of wedlock in the '60's but my parents never married. My mother point-blank refused to marry my father on the grounds that he'd not make a good husband nor father to her children (me and my elder half-siblings) and I have to agree. My father has researched his family but, to my knowledge, no-one has on my mother's side and it's something I'd really like to do. Good luck with finding out more about your own history.

  2. This is so tantalising and I feel very excited for you!

    Not something Freecycle advertises as part of what it does, I take it!

    Best wishes for your continued search. Do you have any thoughts of finding and being in touch with your half-siblings?


  3. Mary, I HAVE been in touch (in the long ago past) with Melve, Eddie, Maggie, Glenda and Peter (Paul, his twin, sadly died a long time ago..) BUT my Father managed to ailienate them all so much, such that I lost contact when I was a teenager, 30 years ago..


    So my chances of re- connecting with them are vanishingly small, as I have no contact details for them nearer than 30 years out of date, which don't work ( I have tried!)

    But I would be happy just to know when my Mum was born (finally!) and perhaps where?

    THAT MUCH would be so good!

    Sounds silly, probably, but I have felt so much that my Mum was a "non person" what with being in hospital, not having a DOB, not having her birth or death cert even...

    so ANYTHING would be great!

  4. What a great thing for her to do for you! Thats the nice thing about FreeCycle I think, the community as well as the free stuff!

    Oh - btw, I looked up the confetti link you posted and it looks great! I have ordered a box to sample :)) Thanks!

  5. Hiya, good luck you ! Family history stuff is so exciting to research - have been doing Himself's mothers family for the past four years, 2 marriages, a birth in between marriages, husband who dies on an army ship going out to a battle - really does bring everything to home. Its useful being able to research online, but much of what I have been looking at (war records) has been at the National Archives ) Being able to read and hold documents form 60 years old, many scribbled in pencil or typewriter written, really really does bring the past to life.

    Good luck with this, it will be wonderful if you can answer some of the millions of questions you must have. Have you tried searching for you half siblings on the net, there are lots of useful resources available?

    Big hugs, oooh you must be so excited ! Babs xx

  6. How exciting for you. I guess just getting divorced in the 60's was still a bit of a scandal? I hope you do manage to find out a bit more.

    My grampy, my mum's dad, has done a bit of his family tree, I should make a bigger effort to speak to him about it.

  7. Very nice, who can't use more tomato plants? :)

    Family history is so very interesting to me. I'm happy to hear you have a start you yours, caution though it is addicting....

    I have some of my family traced back to the original settlers here in New England.

    Have fun with your new adventure.


  8. I'm sure a book could be written about connections people have made with others via Freecycle.

    Good luck with the family history research. It's something that I keep dipping into but reading what you've written has made me realise that I really ought to document things whilst I still have the opportunity to talk to my parents and my in-laws.

  9. Mrs C, yes....we all need to talk to our loved ones NOW, while we have the chance...sorry if that sounds a bit morbid, but I have learnt the very hard way...

    we have to seize the moment NOW, to ask that question, to make that apology, to say " I love you" or whatever...as we really do only get the chance NOW...as we might not get the chance to do it tomorrow...

    Sad, but true, :-( I am afraid..

    I have found out more stuff about my family :-)))

    ...am saving it all up for a post next week...



Hello! Thank you for reading my blog and for commenting. I try to reply as quickly as I can and I really appreciate your interest in my life and doings here in The Compost Bin.