Friday, June 20, 2008

Saturday 1st July and Sunday 2nd July 1939

All night ramble – “North of the Crouch” according to the programme. Gilliver, Lois and I took bus to Rayleigh and walked through the dusk, into the night, to Hullbridge. Told ‘em the story of Count Zaroff, the sinister hunter and his hounds, to beguile the way. The moon, at the full, rose. I let Lois walk in front of me, for she made a beautiful picture, swing free-limbed along the road.

Hullbridge 10:50p.m. Joan Yeaxlee and Ella Dorken waiting for us at the café. Damn good hot supper followed by coffee. We were supposed to catch the eleven o’clock ferry but could not rush through such an enjoyable meal. So we missed the last ferry and could not cross to the Crouch! The only way to get to the North side was to make a five mile detour to Battlesbridge… But we had to be in Maldon for breakfast.
What about my car?

Unspeakable ramblers; we left Hullbridge at 11:45 and walked back to Oakdene. A delightful walk, through moonlit fields and dark woods. I saw Lois walking through breast high corn and led the way along devious paths I know in Hockley Woods. At Oakdene, we stealthily withdrew Slinky and got aboard – the three girls in the back, Gilliver beside me. Moonlit roads and the sky lightening to the East. Crossed the river at Battlesbridge and the ramblers were “north of the Crouch” at last!

Left the car in a dead end lane somewhere beyond Purleigh. Up through a dewy field facing eastwards, to see the sun rise and the last stars fade. Sat on my spare mackintosh. Had coffee and sandwiches. Cold up there. Presently we moved to the car, squeezed in and did questionnaires and puzzles from a book of entertainments which I’d brought. Our intellect, at such an hour, was amazing! We gradually got warm, whilst heavy condensation obscured the windows. We used that for games of noughts and crosses!

Drove to Woodham Mortimer at about 7 o’clock and left the car in a lane there. Walked the two miles into Maldon and breakfast. After breakfast, Joan took the lead, whilst Angel and I hiked back to the car. Drove (what ramblers!) to The Mill, where the others, who had walked along the river, presently joined us.

Warm sunshine. We all lay and basked, heads on ruckers. Lois and I both fell asleep but hearing Ella speak, awoke to find a cold wind blowing and the obscured sky no longer blue. Left the Chelmer and returned to Slinky, parked just off the road.
I felt hellish stiff and swore I’d walk no more. Warm in the car. I settled down in the driving seat, Gilliver beside me, Lois in the back. We read the paper and ate sandwiches. The other two were outside in the sun. Very quiet in the car. A marvellous, soporific silence.

Joan and Ella, undaunted, left us to walk to Danbury, where we’d meet them for tea.
We dozed and read and dozed again. A stream of cars engaged in a treasure hunt aroused us. I read a story from my book.

We drove to Danbury. I glanced occasionally into the driving mirror and saw Lois’ face, brow-eyed, wide-eyed, looking solemnly from side to side as we crawled along the road.

After tea, I delivered all to their respective homes. Now to bed – 9:30 p.m.
Half an hours reading and then, sleep.

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