20th May 1944

Warm, misty morning, many ‘planes going out.  Called at home, and found Father very queer and shaky.  He had a bad pain last night about eleven o’clock, and it upset him a good deal.  Miss Payne very alarmed.  Went in for 2 hours this afternoon, and found him better and more cheerful.

After tea cycled to Layer.  Went by way of the Cemetery, to see Mother’s grave and then by Berechurch.  The roads full of soldiers going into town from the various camps.  Big tank park near St Michael’s Church.  What a tragedy if the Germans should attack it and destroy the Audley Chapel.

All the land around here looks terribly parched and burnt.  Some of Barbour’s fields appear to be quite bare.  The orchards look dusty and desolate.  Went to Kingsford, the Park looking the colour of a desert – no feed at all.  Saw Mr Russell’s Morant, and compared the Stonhouse drawings.  They are very similar but not quite the same, and I should think that his are probably copied form those in the Royal Institution volume.

Went on to Birch, met Col. Round in the lane near the Rectory, driving his cob.  Went to the Hall, saw Mrs. Round, and spent an hour in the library there.  Then back to Colchester, by way of Birchwood and Bay Mill Cottages.  Lovely cool evening, planes coming over low on their way back from operations.  Crops look very well, all the corn wonderfully forward.  Young cattle grazing on the low meadows, but even there very little feed.

Went through the woods to Olivers’ and across the fields to Brickwall.  Saw 2 Canadians riding on the Committee’s potato field, on Rodd’s horses, so when I got to Brickwall I called there and spoke to him about it.  He was very civil, and said he tried hard to prevent people from riding off the tracks, but they are so stupid that it is difficult to make them understand.  I believe he does his best, but Dyer is very much against him and I am afraid there will be serious trouble one day.

Called at Hilda Smith’s in Maldon Rd, and she asked me to go to tea on Monday, then called at Dr. Rowland’s, and spoke about Father.  He says that there is nothing to be done except prevent the old man from doing energetic work.  He went on to speak of the Museum, and hinted that he might come back on the Committee one day.
Looked in at Holly Trees just before 10, to collect some papers.  Poulter told me that Hull says Harwich has been evacuated, but this is unlikely to be true as Hull says so.

Fine starry night, yet few planes about.  Going up Mile End Hill met three pony carts coming down full gallop, no lights, men and girls singing and shouting.  They all disappeared towards the town.

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