We did the weekly shop today...rather I did the shopping and Himself went round to the chemist to collect my meds. The shop was lovely and cool so it wasn't as grim as I'd expected. For some reason I'd thought it would be hot inside as well as out...

Didn't buy anything exciting, apart from the last big jar of special offer Nescafe...and four enormous nectarines which had better be sweet and ripe otherwise I'll be very cross...the rest was the usual boring stuff like washing up liquid and cat food...it's awful difficult to get excited over a dozen tins of Whiskas. Though now I have to pick out the meaty ones and not the fishy 'cos both the brothers have decided they don't like the cod and sardine...they sniff it and look at me reproachfully as if the smell alone makes them heave. I do tell them they ought to be grateful, but the smaller brother just bites my ankle.

It was far too hot to move this afternoon so I did some more cross-stitch and then explored a nasty site of photographs of China taken in the late 1880's early 1900's by a photographer named James Ricalton. He'd been in the country during some of the Boxer Rebellion which sounded and looked incredibly foul and degrading to all the people concerned...much like warfare everywhere I suppose. And if you're wondering whyever I was looking at the site in the first place, it was because I've been trying to establish how many Westerners visited China in days past. I'd had the thought that the borders were closed to 'outsiders' altogether but it doesn't appear to be the case...still looking for Mary you see.

The photographs of the women with their tiny bound feet make me feel slightly sick...sometimes the skin would simply slough off when the bandaging wasn't changed regularly. Odd how it was invariably the womenfolk who suffered for the sake of beauty or to ensure their virginity...as with genital mutilation, still practised today. I can't think of any physically or mentally damaging practice which boys or men have undergone to make themselves more attractive to their mates...

The tiny womens feet were not simply for show...they were also used for anal intercourse with their husbands...hence one of the reasons the tinier the foot,

the more attractive the girl.

And I found out that the Plymouth Brethren...those who travelled to America on the ship the Mayflower...and those who followed them...used to brand adulterers with the letter A on their chest...the chest for men and the breast for a woman.

But on a lighter note I was amused to read about Teresa's nineth gt Grandfather who was something of a tell-tale within the new community...he reported one man for selling liquor without a licence and then another man for letting his cattle onto a field which belonged to someone else...to give him his due though, he was thought of as one of the founding members of that particular town so I suppose he had some authority.

When I finally made it onto Ancestry this afternoon I found Teresa's fifteenth Gt Grandparents...they were born and died in England because they lived prior to the new emigrants to the Americas. They are recorded because it was two generations later that their people began the long sea journey to their new lives....it is fitting that T's fifteenth Gt Grandmother had the surname of Parker...that's T's married surname.

The stories about those first settlers are amazing...three brothers and their friends spent a year living in holes they'd tunnelled out of a riverbank while they built cabins and workshops and established a town for the others to move into...they bought the land from an' Indian Prince and an Indian Princess for twenty red coats'...it was worth many thousands of course...

Most of the available records are heavily detailed...I suppose there were not many settlers in the early days and it was so much easier to keep track of who married who and what land was acquired by legal and illegal means. There was one fascinating death record which I came across listing not only the place and day of burial but also the cause of death when it was known. There were many young men who drowned...presumably trying to swim across rivers...children died from 'fit's and Scarlet Fever and whole families from Consumption or TB. When the Irish people began to arrive, their cause of death was frequently listed as 'Heat' or 'Sunscald'...one can only think that working out in the heat of the summer was simply too much for people already weakened by 'ship fever' and poor nutrition.

I've never been particularly interested in the first settlers to America...the Plymouth Brethren may well have been escaping from persecution in England but they were heavy-handed in their approach to their beliefs and went on to persecute the people who followed them onto American soil. So I never had much time for them...but finding the direct line from our Teresa right back to some of the first people to make the New World their home is certainly interesting.

And I've been meaning to tell you for ages...you can avail of two weeks searching on Ancestry for free...and you can pay for a month at a time if you wish. That's how I can afford it...it works out at about €20 each month for me which is a fiver a week and it's surprising how much you can find out in a week if you only spend an hour each day on the site.