It was away to the supermarket this morning...but all the odd folk were keeping their heads down or have already been taken away by those nice young men in their clean white coats so I didn't have to dodge round the ends of the aisles or stick my head in the freezer full of fish fingers to avoid anyone. But I did have one of those stupid trolleys with a mind of its own, so I had to drag it behind me to keep the wheels straight after almost squashing a small child who had sulky face syndrome down to a fine art...the fact her mother yanked her out of my way with an iron grip on her upper arm probably didn't help.

Off to the chemist next to get my meds....it's a very distracting shop actually...full of cough sweets and strawberry flavoured condoms and shampoo of course, but also those lovely itty-bitty things that you honestly don't need but lust after...small Buddha incense holders and tiny coin purses embroidered with sequins and furry hot water bottles in shapes of animals and packets of handmade writing paper...all manner of goodies in other words...so I wander about poking and prodding and picking stuff up while the pharmacist counts out my happy pills and sticks labels on the various inhalers and then he suddenly appears at my shoulder and makes me jump as he hands over the life savers for another month...

Himself hunted all over town for a long length of a special sort of narrow rope which goes around the top of the range where the hot plates sit...he found some in the end in the builders yard which was a quarter of the price of much the same stuff in the ironmongers...the builders yard rope just comes off a reel and they measure how much you need...the ironmongers was all neatly wrapped up in one of those stupid plastic bubble wrap things that take a degree in engineering and an extremely sharp pair of scissors to open.

The builders yard office has an open fire where all the old boys congregate on cold days...they sit round it on three legged stools with their faces getting more and more rosy by the minute as they put the world to rights...again.

It's been a typical April day for the weather..one minute brilliant sunshine the next as black as night and the rain hammering down...but I did plant one window box with some cheap pansies that were on offer...two trays of six for five euro which I didn't think was too expensive considering...and they seed themselves and pop up in unexpected places for years afterwards which I like.

Back indoors to have half an hour family searching...I volunteered to find our Gracie's Great Grandparents thinking it would be a piece of cake to scroll through a few passenger lists...needles in giant haystacks springs to mind. Did you know...bet you didn't...that between 1820 and 1900 three -quarters of the arrivals in New York port and Eilis Island were Italian? There was a smattering of Russian and other nationalities but over 95% were from Southern Italy. They don't count the Irish coming over during the Great Famine years in those statistics because it was considered to be an exceptional event so they are counted separately.

I don't think I'll ever be complacent about those people who emigrated...the thought of leaving your homeland and travelling long distances to a foreign country to take a chance on making a better life for yourself and your family fills me with admiration. And some were only in their teens and travelling on their own when they embarked on the journey...imagine the awful panicky feeling when you were disembarking and looking frantically for the friendly face of an Uncle or an older brother who'd arranged to meet you off the boat.

The later Eilis island records...those which were taken in the early 1900's...record not just your name and age and the obvious...but they also detail whether or not you had distinguishing scars and your height and colour of your hair...the very early records, which I began to look at yesterday, have nothing but your name and profession. There's no record of where you came from or where you were travelling to...so they are literally...John Smith...Merchant. and nothing else at all. Later records ask how much money you had in US dollars...who paid for your passage...and the question I like the best...Are you a known anarchist?...wonder if anyone ever filled in that space with a 'yes'...and they asked if you were a polygamist...haven't seen anyone answer yes to that either, though there must have been those who did.

As with any record I begin to trawl through, I find myself easily distracted by people I have no intention of searching for further...and one useful record will lead to another and before I know where I am I'm as far away from where I intended to be as is possible...

There such a pleasure to be had when someone slots neatly into their space...and huge frustration when people simply disappear and pop up years later as right as ninepence...it's then I begin to mutter and ask just where they've been for the last twenty years if they don't mind my asking...

Better think about supper I suppose...Himself has ready made horse meat pie with stout and I think I'll make myself cauliflower cheese as I didn't have any during the week...and broccoli...we like broccoli.