Whenever we go out we find that there are other villages within reach. Every here and there are hop kilns, with tall conical attachments in which hops are or used to be dried; for the industry has, I understand, considerably subsided in Hants of recent years. On the way is a waterworks from which water is forced by steam pressure all over the district. It has a bottle-shaped chimney covered with ivy – that is a great feature in England, people and corporations are not afraid to let creepers climb over their houses and buildings. They have a love of beautifying their structures and threes are not commercially sacrificed.
One of the interesting types we have in camp is the “old soldier”. There is one in this hut – a R.N.Z.A. bombardier, the hardest faced chap imaginable, who has been in the game for about 20 years – no brains, no nothing – but up to all the tricks of the trade and what he doesn’t know about beer, women and barracks isn’t worth knowing. Since leaving N.Z. he hasn’t written a single letter, not even a P.C. – his troubles! His vocabulary is limited almost to monosyllables with a generous assortment of oaths.
I could rave about the trees hereabouts; like Watteau’s trees. The hawthorns are beginning to glow dull-red with berries and, where whole hedges of them have never been clipped, are fine trees 20 or 30 feet high. I have spoken of the mountain ashes with their brilliant berries. Every here and there one comes upon the imposing entrance to some “big gun’s” country seat, the lodge being often of quaint appearance, but the mansion itself usually hidden behind tall trees lining a long winding drive. One feels tempted to walk in and say “Please I’ve come”. Can you imagine cakes being made almost without sugar? That is the only kind procurable in England for many a day. If you think you are going to beat them by ordering “sweet” cakes you find yourself with something smaller, a little softer and almost as sweet as currant loaf. In one of your letters you mention the morning gargle – haven’t indulged in one since leaving N.Z., in fact have found that every camp and every Commander and doctor has its and his own peculiarities and foibles and am constantly undergoing changes of routine, discipline, sanitary precautions and what not; there is no uniformity in the British Armies.
10. p.m. Some geniuses next door are creating a rough-house and tipping one another out of bed. We are a fairly orderly mob despite the recent addition of a surprisingly foul-mouthed moustached Mackenzie Country squatter, who is always skiting about his fabulous wealth – probably mortgaged to his eyes. He told me he would get an aeroplane after the war. I said it would cost him a thousand – he didn’t care a blank if it cost him blank two blank thousand.