15th November (1917)

Today is sunny and we have been riding bare-back exercising our animals, which usually entails a certain amount of fun.  Yesterday a huge hairy and hideous ‘donk’ (the redoubtable Irish Hunter of whom more anon) broke away and in the throes of temporary freedom gave us an exhibition of riderless or spontaneous buck-jumping.  A quaint type of farm waggon is often seen here, 3 wheels only (the small one in front on a turntable) the horse being hooked on to a swingletree and driven with one long thin rein.  He is apparently guided by voice.  Other waggons have one lone rough beam fixed underneath and protruding in front, and in no case are they backable (to invent a word); not very convenient, but very picturesque, with curved sides.  I went and got mine and W’s washing this evening.  The farm folk who do it appear to be Flemish and don’t understand French any better than English, but one of them, a bright and rather handsome girl of about twenty, has learned not only to speak but to read English very passably during the war.  She is a great sport and knows all the boys by name.  It is the custom now for every farm to keep a sort of open house where soldiers congregate in the evenings and are provided with beer or coffee.  Tonight père who is evidently a bootmaker (inter alia) was mending boots, mère was darning soldiers’ socks.  The kiddies were delighted when I learnt a little chanson of theirs and sang it back to them.

“Allons mes amis, Il est midi”.

Got a P.C. from R today; he is at the base camp in France and expects to move up shortly.  J. is with him and they seem to be having a royal time with some French friends they have acquired.

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