The COUCH family from Port Isaac

It’s taken me months and months to write the story of my Port Isaac family because I’ve been sidetracked by so many deviations. It has been a lot of fun and has kept me occupied through Covid but I was determined to complete the story in 2020. The family connections are quite complicated but I’ve loved discovering and documenting so much information about the COUCH family. There is much more that I have not included here. I could have written a whole book, I reckon but I’ve focussed on the occupations of this intrepid family of seafarers. I hope you find it interesting!

So here it is:

“The Things We Cannot Say”

I’ve been very lax with my blogging lately but I’ve just read this great novel by Kelly Rimmer, an Australian author & I want to spread the word about what a great read it was. The story begins with childhood sweethearts, Alina & Tomasz, in rural Poland just before WWII. We then meet Alice, in America in 2019. Alice & her husband have two children, Pascale, a brilliant 10 year old, & Eddie who is on the Autism Spectrum.. Alice loves her grandmother, Hanna, a great deal but Hannah is not expected to live long.

This is a mystery, a love story, a family history story……. it was just a great read. I didn’t want to put it down and I won’t tell you anymore as I don’t want to spoil it for you.

Another book I’ve really enjoyed lately was “Foreign Correspondence” by Geraldine Brooks, another Australian author. This is a memoir and begins with Geraldine sharing the joy she received from having international pen friends when she was young. I know just what she means as I corresponded with teenagers in England, Brazil, South Africa and Vietnam & I loved receiving those letters. Geraldine then went on to become a foreign correspondent and the memoir lets us see what life was like. It was a very enjoyable read.

I’ve been busy for some time now researching my Couch ancestors from Port Isaac in Cornwall so I can write their stories. My GG Grandparents, Elizabeth Couch & her husband, Isaac Hawker migrated to Melbourne Australia in 1862. It’s an interesting journey I’m on. I think I’m related to nearly every one of the original families from Port Isaac, at least by marriage. I’ve read a couple of books as part of my research & they include photos of and stories about my relatives. Both of these books are by Geoff Provis (I’m even related to Geoff by marriage). The books are “The Fishermen of Port Isaac” and “The Seafarers of Port Isaac”.

It’s a very strange world at the moment. I’m very lucky that I can fill my days with reading wonderful stories, researching the story of my family and playing bridge online. It was very difficult when we couldn’t see the grandkids but the easing of restrictions has made life more pleasant.

What’s happening here?

You’ll be pleased to know that our NBN has been working well thankfully especially in this time when we are self-isolating at home. We are never bored. I’m busy with my research and we both love playing Funbridge on our iPads. We had a mad dash to our lovely local council library before we were shut in but once we’ve finished all the books we have, I guess we’ll be using Borrowbox to access eBooks from our library. The cupboards have all been cleaned out and we have decluttered. (Don’t mention the filing cabinet though!)

Our only remaining problem with our NBN is that they could not get our landline to work so we have just given up on that. We just have our mobiles but that works well anyway.

Picture us now! We are listening to the soundtrack of Chicago on ITunes through our Apple TV while our favourite photos are moving across the screen. David has been reading but now, both he and Snoopy, our very cute new dog are having a nap.

Snoopy

We are counting our blessings at this stressful time. There’s a lot to worry about but then you just have to look around and you realise that we have a lot to be thankful for.

My grandfather and his brother

It has been a long time since I’ve published a post but I’ve been working very hard researching and writing the story of my grandfather, Seymour John Harrison, and his big brother, Edward. At times I’ve stalled and had to take a break but being isolated at home has meant I’ve had no excuse so here is their story. I really wrote it for me as I needed to understand more about my family but I hope you enjoy reading it too. If you do, that will be a bonus for me.

Enjoy!

Telstra: Three months on: still no home phone

Our NBN internet is working beautifully but we have no home phone. We are, at the moment, still with Telstra but I have spent countless hours on the phone speaking with numerous people at their call centres in India over the last couple of months and I am sick of it. They ask us to do the same tests over and over again and then explain that it is a problem in our local area. Then I receive another call, do the tests again & again am told that it’s a problem in the area. Every day, I receive at least one call, if not two .

Today I missed a call from them but they left a message to say if I didn’t call back in 24 hours, they would close the issue. I called and was speaking to a woman when we were cut off. I rang the number provided again and my call went to billing and this woman told me that the call centre was having problems and calls were being directed to the wrong area. They can’t even get their own phones to work properly. Why do I think they can fix ours?

Come on Telstra! Surely you can do better!

Telstra and the NBN

If you’re in Australia, you will probably understand my frustration at the moment. The government decided to install a wonderful new National Broadband Network which would give us the most wonderful fast internet across the country.

It has cost the country a fortune and has been nothing but a headache to anyone who has been forced to instal it.

Our telecommunications provider is Telstra. The NBN technician came on time on the 9th October as organised previously and he was very helpful. He stayed while we set up the new modem which Telstra had previously sent us and then we tried to connect. Surprise! Surprise! Nothing happened. We have no internet.

I rang the Telstra support number as I have done at least 7 times since, each time reaching a call centre in India. Each time I have been told that it would be fixed within 24 to 48 hours and that they would add data to my mobile phone so that I could access the internet that way. It certainly hasn’t been fixed (today is 18th October) and I haven’t had extra data put on my phone as they said. They have updated my monthly allowance considerably, at least. So we have been hotspotting our iPads and the laptop but I can’t seem to work out how to use my printer and the AppleTV.

I have been asking to speak to the supervisor but they are always busy. Today I was told that they would call me back in an hour but that hasn’t happened. I am told that we have a case manager and I have asked to speak to them but I’m told that they won’t talk to me. I’ve asked for an update and am told that the advice that it would be fixed in 24 or 48 hours is the update. When I ask why it takes so long I am told something has gone missing. What has gone missing? Can they replace the missing thing? Do we need a new modem? What is going on?

It is so annoying. We are long time customers of Telstra. We even have shares in Telstra!

Come on Telstra. Lift your game. This is not good enough. At least talk to us and tell us what the issues are.

Wow! My feelings are written on these pages

I have, over the last 24 hours read a book which has touched me and brought a few tears to my eyes. Dani Shapiro is the author of Inheritance – A memoir of genealogy, paternity, and love. It is one of several books she has written. Growing up in an orthodox Jewish family, she was often told she did not look Jewish and she never saw herself in the faces around her. When she was 52, she did an Ancestry DNA test which showed she was no relation to Susie, with whom she supposedly shared a father.

She wrote this book as she tried to come to terms with this traumatic shock and as she and her husband tried to solve the mysteries of the identity of her birth father, a sperm donor, and how it all came about.

Similarly, at 54, after the death of my parents, I discovered that they were not my parents at all but had adopted me.

My feelings, as I solved my mysteries and discovered who I really am, were very similar to Dani’s. My DNA test came as the last part of the solution to my puzzle, rather than the beginning, as it proved that the man I had come to believe was my birth father, really was.

I really enjoyed reading this book and will ponder upon it a fair bit over the next few days, I reckon.

This book also resonated with me because of the window into the Jewish religion and its customs as my husband’s heritage is Jewish although he was not brought up in the faith.

The book was easy to read and I recommend it.

The whales didn’t like the weather either!

We are enjoying a three day break on Fraser Island, staying at Kingfisher Bay Resort. Fraser is the largest sand island in the world and is world heritage listed. It is 300 km north of Brisbane. The resort is an ecotourism resort with minimum interference with the environment. As I write I’m relaxing beside the pool.

It’s quite breezy so not many people are brave enough to be swimming.

The island is 120km long by 20km wide. The original people here were the ‘Butchella’ people and their name for the island was gari which means paradise. One of the fresh water creeks, Eli Creek, flows over 80 million litres of fresh water into the Pacific Ocean every day.

Yesterday we went on a whale watching cruise from the island. It was very windy which meant it was quite rough. The catamaran took us up to the northern end of the island where there is a sheltered bay on the mainland side. It’s called Platypus Bay and the humpback whales like to stop there for a week or so to rest and to teach their calves some life skills. The lungs of a humpback are the size of a small vehicle and a calf can drink up to 500 litres of milk per day. They can hold their breath for up to 45 minutes and the tail of each is unique like our finger prints.

We saw several pods of whales and some were quite close to us but they weren’t doing any of their party tricks. No clapping or breaching so this was very disappointing.

The wind was very strong and the waves were quite big so our little cat was bouncing a lot. My arm and leg muscles all felt very tight last night as they’d worked very hard just hanging on. It was quite exhausting. Quite a few people were ill but not us, fortunately.

It wasn’t safe to unload us at the island because of the wind so we were taken to Urangan on the mainland and then bussed to the ferry and brought back to Kingfisher by ferry. We have a voucher to do the cruise again because of the weather so hopefully we will get that chance on a better day when the whales want to play.

But we have seen whales. I can’t say we enjoyed the day but we endured the day and we did see whales.