20th October 1943

Fine morning.  No alarm during the night.  Had meant to go to Lawford for breakfast, but was not early enough.  Got in by 9.  Busy, but rushed out to call at Trinity St.  Molly Blomfield looked dreadfully ill, and I am sure she will have a breakdown.  Her mother was in the back kitchen but I did not speak to her.  

Mother’s birthday - called at home.  Ella [Rudsdale's cousin] was there.  Had a cup of tea, and back to the office.  Early lunch, and then went off with Dyer to Lt. Oakley Hall to see some horses.  Lovely afternoon, most enjoyable ride through Tendring Hundred, by Horsley Cross and Wix.  Can't remember that I have ever been to Oakley before.  Several bomb damaged houses about.  Lt. Oakley Hall in a bad state.  The buildings here have been partly repaired, but nothing done to the house and the new tenant has to lodge in the village.  He is a Scotsman called Strachan.  Fancy leaving Scotland for the east coast.  Three Essex War Agricultural Committee tractors working, ploughing and driving for Strachan, driven by Women's Land Army girls.  Ploughing done very badly, less than 3” deep.

Saw the so-called Suffolk horses – one Shire mare, one Clydesdale (lame to both front feet), a rough chestnut, broken winded, and an old Belgian.  They were a very poor lot, but we chose the best of a bad bunch – the grey shire mare, Duchess, and the Belgian Bill.

Lovely view from the farm, the sea glistening in the distance, Harwich balloons lying limp in the blue sky, the yellow shore by Landgard, the Naze, with old Trinity House Tower, the Backwater, Horsey Island.

Coming bank, we intended to call at Hooks’ place to arrange transport of the horses but just as we got to the crossroads in the village, the car failed, and nothing we could do would make it start.  It resisted every attempt with that dull immovable air peculiar to cars which have broken down for no good reason.  I fetched a mechanic from Hooks’ garage, and he proceeded to dismantle the engine piece by piece.  The car is a German “Opel” and appeared to me to be made chiefly of thin sheets of tin.  We were stuck for 2 hours, during which I waited, bored as I always am at mechanical failures.  The local parson came up the street, talking loudly in a Lancashire accent to an old man about raids.  Then he met some women and repeated his remarks, ending up by shouting “Eh, but there’s nowhere safe now.”  Began to wonder if we should spend the night there.  At last, without warning, the car started up again, and we got to Colchester by 5.15.

Saw Ida.  She told me Blair Hughes-Stanton is definitely coming home [he had been a Prisoner of War in Germany], and is expected Saturday.  She said that nearly 2 years ago she went to a sooth sayer in London and among other things asked when Blair would be home.  The answer was “October 23”.  When Oct. 23rd last year came there was no Blair, but Saturday is Oct. 23rd.

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