Cold early, with high clouds, and a suspicion of rain. A very busy day, which gave me a feeling of satisfaction.
Went out with Joanna to examine various pieces of land about the Borough which must be recorded in the farm survey. We went down to the Moors at Hythe Hill and walked along the footpath, St. Leonard’s Church peeping up among the trees, just as it did when Col. Cockburn drew the scene 126 years ago. Then we went down Hythe Hill to see Bruce, about the ownership of the Moors. The old houses opposite the church, which Penrose tried to save are gone now, not a stick or stone remaining. Bruce could tell us nothing, so we went to Francis & Gilders’ office nearby into a room hung with photos of barges, and a smell of tarred rope about. Found what I wanted, and walked back to Brook Street.
Then we went up to Grange Farm, Old Heath, to see some little old fields belonging to the gas company. Met the dear old fat man who has worked there for 15 years. He thinks highly of his master, Mr Berriman of Greenstead Hall, and told us this delightful little story. He said “You know, Mr Berriman is forever a’doing of kindnesses to people, things what nobody don't know about. Some time ago, years ago now, the old man’s dead now, I shouldn’t wonder, a little old man what lived down the Greenstead Road was a’sitting in his little old chair, and that had the worm and let he down wholly sudden like. And what do you suppose Mr Berriman went and did? He took hirself down there, and he says ‘Good afternoon, Mr. So-and-so’ (I rightly forgets his name, but he’s been dead years I expect). ‘Good afternoon’ he says ‘Yes, that’s right, my little old chair been and let me down and bruised my behind something cruel.’ And what do you think he done then? Why, he went and took his car, and went off up the town and he bought an armchair for the old boy. Then he thought ‘If I do this, I reckon the old woman’ll be wholly jealous,’ so he went and bought another for her as well.”
From there we went to see old Dodson’s field in Land Lane. How lovely it is, looking across to the Roman Wall. The old man did not recognise me, and had a good deal to say about the injustice of not being allowed to ruin the view by building houses along in front of the Wall. He had no idea that I was largely responsible for preventing this outrage, four or five years ago.
However, he told us several good stories about horse dealing. In the stables in Land Lane he showed us a good looking grey cob belonging to Drake, the dealer. The whole place reeked of liniment, and the cob stood on three legs. It was a nice looking beast though, and I can well understand anybody buying it in the hope of curing it.
The former rubbish-dump, just beyond “Maydays”, is now growing potatoes. Everitt cultivates all these odd pieces of land in that neighbourhood.
Had tea at Jacklins, for the first time for a week or so, and then went to the stables. Hampshire put his pony to for me to cart hay down to Bourne Mill. I went off in the dark, under bright stars, keeping well to the middle of the road, where I could see the white line. The pony bounced along in a lively fashion, and as I tried to ease him up about 150 yards from the top of the hill in Bourne Road, the offside rein broke. He broke into a canter, and I was quite in a panic. I jerked the near rein, pulled it a bit, and turned him into Gilberd Road. He was going too fast to get round, tried to stop, got on the pavement, his hooves crashing, sparks flying, the cart hit the curb with a crash, the breeching straps broke, the shafts hit the wall of a house and he almost went down. Then he stood still. A man came out of the house and said “Whatever are you a’doing of?” It was a very near thing, and if we had gone down the hill I am sure I should have killed him. However, very little damage done really; I shall have to pay for two new straps. Got back without further mishap.
Clouds blew up, and a little rain fell, very cold. Supper in the little café, hot sausages and mash. Bed late.