Tuesday 19th (19 June 1917)

Last evening, three of us went off for a stroll.  First we rowed a skiff about a small artificial lake near the camp in the grounds of what was once a country house but is now used as a Golf House.  We then walked a mile or so to “The Brown Cow Inn” where we had some beer and proceeded on through country lanes to another hamlet, thence round and back via the “Rose Inn” which being dry we did not patronise, to the Cow again; another beer or two and back to camp.  It was enjoyable but it is sad to see all the trees and fences blackened with smoke and fumes and many of the trees and hedges dying from the effects of it.  We had a yarn at the pub with half a dozen hayseeds who were enjoying their pints – one of them was an intelligent man of about 45 who had travelled about the country and gave us some interesting information.  Even in this smoky old place the country girls have the pink and white English complexions and most are very fair-haired.  The men on leave came back full of their impressions of London, though most of them have misused their time and opportunities.  One of them displayed a chest covered with weals where he had been bitten by a sadist inamorata. The number of trains that pass is astonishing, some of them being about ¼ mile long.  Plenty of crows (or rooks) about – ugly tattered fellows and skylarks sing in spite of the smoke.  The blades of grass by the wayside are dotted with little dollops of white froth called “Cuckoo Spit”.  The slate roofing on the old buildings is quite an inch thick and the roofs have sagged with the weight.  Most of the buildings are of brick, but some, the most picturesque, are of stone or slate slabs.

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