21st October 1943

Slept in the chair.  Up at 7.  Fine morning, birds singing.  Rushed down the valley, through thin mist, the sun lying on the top of the hills beyond Dedham.  Went over to Lawford to take Joy some oatmeal.  Had breakfast there, her cousin there.  Like old times.  Cycled on to Parson’s Heath to Nott’s house, and collected Robin.  He had been there since Sunday, apparently living on grass, rubbish and a mixture of whole oats and wheat.  He went very well indeed, and was much better with traffic than I expected.  Went up to the office, saw Captain Folkard and then away, called at home for some food.  Beginning to rain, so went down to the stables to collect a rug.  Rain came on very heavy, but I went off through Old Heath and Fingringhoe.  By the time I got to Abberton, it was finer, and the sun came through.  Pete Tye Common ploughed up again.  Pony went extraordinarily well, stretching himself, head and tail up.  Got down to Copt Hall by 12.30, had lunch there.  Torrential rain, streaming across the marshes.  Buildings and yards running with water.

Much joking and laughing, Frank Warren, Hugh Percival and Nott etc talking about a raid round there at 1 o’clock am.  I heard nothing at Higham.  After dinner, the others went off to Abbot's Wick to sort bullocks, and I went with foreman Cutting to drive heifers to Abbot's Hall, across the fields.  I rode Frank Warren’s horse, a 4 yr old, rather clumsy, but enjoying myself immensely.  We took 40, with 6 men and 6 land girls.  I rode in front, and the heifers followed gently.

At Abbot's Hall much complaining about the bad condition of the buildings.  There is not a building which is water tight.  We have 300 sacks of barley for the Ministry of Food, with water pouring through the roof.  The bomb ruined part of the farm looks picturesquely ancient. 

The others came round in cars, and I went back to Colchester with Nott.  The afternoon was lovely, but rain clouds coming up again.  Decided to go by Dedham, and called at Sissons’.  Stayed to supper.  A lot of pleasant talk about houses and people.  Flatford Mill is a hostel for naturalists.  Excellent.  Suggested I might help.

Heavy rain again, a few planes went out after 7, but no alarm.  Left at 10.30.  They wanted me to stop the night, as I had a very bad cough, but I had to go and feed the cat.  Got very wet going back, and had to go slowly, owing to darkness.  Could see nothing except the white marks in the middle of the road.  Bed before midnight, reasonably sure of a quiet night.

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