18th (February 1918)

Out first thing this morning to get some mangy-looking horse clipped.  Whilst waiting our turn we went in and got coffee from the inhabitants.  There were a couple of bright young girls of about 15 or 16 who spoke Flemish, French and English, the last quite well.  They had learnt it from the soldiers during the war.  They used bad English swears with innocent faces, no knowing the meaning.  Madam was cheerfully chopping up leeks, not washed, on a very dirty table.  One of the horses I took was a Rocinante, even prior to his shave, but afterwards he was the limit.  He has a lop ear, flat clumping feet and is lame in one leg; add to this that you could hang your hat on any of his corners, wallowing along beside me like an unseaworthy ship.  The one I rode was a sturdy, determined-looking, half-draught, who just plugged along huge-hoofed and purposeful, loudly grinding his teeth.  Found later to my astonishment that “he” was a mare.  Got back and had an immense feed of spuds flavoured with a bit of skin someone had put among ‘em to look like meat.  Topped off with rum issue and now feel quite comfortable.  (There drat me if I haven’t singed my socks again).

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