Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Sunday 28th February 1937

Wintry and defiant death of February.

We went rambling. It was snowing hard when I left home and crossed Ealing Common but all was still – and white! – when John, Margaret and I reached Hayes (Kent). Did not enjoy the morning tramping along snowy roads near houses.

We ate our sandwiches and had hot tea in a large wooden hut, crowded by Scouts and dubious looking cyclists or hikers. However, we enjoyed our lunch and got warm by indulging in a form of hand wrestling. John and I chatted to the GSM of the Scouts – a very “Scouty” type and a Wood badger – and shook hands (left, not right, in the Scout way).

Then we plunged into the out-of-doors as a diver plunges into cold water. We were climbing steadily towards Westerham and soon began to feel the wind. Somewhere near Biggin Hill we first noticed thick clouds of snow driving from the fields and across the road. We turned to the right along a country lane and now the wind was three quarters ahead. Exhilaration! The wind driven snow stung our eyes and piled in drifts on the road. Desolation. White virgin lanes, black trees, clouds of snow. Humming telegraph wires, wailing towards a crescendo.

We left the ridge, going through fields to the bottom of a valley. Gradually, as we went down, the wind decreased. We wandered through two villages, searching for somewhere to have tea. At dusk we came to The Grasshopper Inn and sat in a snug little room behind the Bar. Hospitable house. Cyclists at another table were talking about Snowdon – the Pyg Track and Llanberis. I joined in and we exchanged stories of Snowdonia and the YHA.

A short walk from here to Westerham station. Our tickets were for Hayes, but John never pays excess fare. We got through the barrier just before the clerk arrived, and sat down in the train. Presently, to my horror, a porter came on and walked towards us. We were lost! But no! John was equal to the occasion. With complete sang froid he asked the man if this train was right for Waterloo, at the same time handing him our tickets. The man assured us it was, and told us where to change. He clipped the tickets without a glance. I told John I should record this incident, as a tribute to his nonchalance.

The rest of the evening was uneventful. I felt much fitter after my day in the winter land.

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