Tuesday 24 November 2015

A Shepherd's Tale

Well, after two days of what for me, were perfect winter weather - frost, blue skies, sunshine and dry underfoot, we're back to rain, gloom and mud today. However, if nothing else, it will help with our attempts to get the Flood Field on the reserve to live up to it's name and provide perfect conditions to attract more and more wildfowl and roosting waders. Aiding the rain, we now have the large distributor pump alongside the field repaired and can begin pumping water onto the field from neighbouring ditches as well, in a few weeks time it should look pretty good.
For this morning, or until the rain ceases and I can find the enthusiasm to to revert to walking the reserve under dark skies, a chilly wind and lots of mud churned up by the cattle, it's back to writing. I guess that'll please Midge, the older dog, after two days of double daily visits, her old legs are looking a bit stiff this morning, as are my arthritic feet.

So writing. Over the last year or so, my girlfriend Diane and I have been researching and writing up the history of a distant relative of our joint families. Edwin Williams was born here on Sheppey in 1853 and spent all of his life here as a farm worker and lately as a shepherd. From 1885 until his retirement, aged 74, he and his family lived on Elmley and our subsequent research has thrown up a lot of interesting facts and old photographs of life there. With the help of Diane's brother, who has written four books, we recently had our efforts printed up as an A4 booklet (just ten copies for interested relatives), containing both colour and black and white photographs and our lengthy research narrative. For the booklet's front cover and immediately inside, we adapted both the frontpiece of the original old family bible and it's second page.

Above you can see Edwin and his wife Martha.

This morning, as it's still raining, I'm now working on researching a brief history of one of my uncles, who was born in Eastchurch, Sheppey in 1895 - Fred Southfield. He died in 1960 when I was 13 but I have some memories of time spent with him as a child and look forward to finding out about his early life.


  1. Well done, Derek! To adapt the family bible to use as the cover and frontispiece was a stroke of genius.

  2. Sounds interesting Derek. I don't think it matters what we do when we retire as long as it is fulfilling and keeps our brains working. I admire your efforts.

  3. Wilma,
    Thanks very much, it's been a pleasant labour of love this last year or so.

    I agree and I love writing about local history and compiling masses of stuff about my own family history, as well of course, being involved with the nature reserve.

  4. Re your comment on my blog about starlings and fat balls Derek - we rarely see a starling here in our garden, although there are always plenty on the wires chattering.