Monday night: Torquay (31st March 1919)

The “Sparrows” were very surprised to see me again, and got me a feed of eggs and bacon in about five minutes.  I hanker for the briny deep – even coming to the coast is something.  Between Exeter and Newton Abbot the train follows the coast past Dawlish, Teigmouth, etc. – ripping places for sketching – distant towns across estuaries, low blue hills, broken by spire and castle, old vessels on mudbanks, fishing craft, and the like.

Watched a seaplane at close quarters, starting off and dashing away like an angry swan.

29th March (1919)

Snowballing is the order of the day: no one exempt either by rank or sex; had even to eat our meals under a continuous bombardment.

Walk to Bulford village; where the thatched cottages along the riverside, with patches of snow on their brown roofs, formed many a pretty picture, and the fruit trees laden with feathery snow seemed to have anticipated their blossoming time.  Had to pass through a snowball barrage put up by youngsters behind a hedge.

I have put in for leave – till 7th April.

27th (March, 1919)

To Salisbury by motor bus.  Outstanding attraction the Cathedral, which is beautifully situated on a wide green enclosure, grit with trees and half-encircled by the curve of a river.  It has a tall graceful spire.  The interior is very spacious, and built with a handsome blending of white and dark columns of granite, of immense height.  Tombs, effigies, and entablatures of ancient date.  The exterior very handsome and imposing, rich in sculptured figures recessed into the stone walls, all tinted by the inimitable hand of time.  Quaint old gateways lead from different quarters of the city into the Cathedral Close.

My vis-a-vis on the bus was the “Female Hun”, in company with most of her dupes, and amusing it was to recognise the troupe, without their warpaint, off for an outing.

Tuesday (25th March, 1919)

The Female Hun was a wild and melodramatic affair.

In afternoon went for a good tramp with a hut-fellow, visiting the picturesque village of Figeldean, where the “Village Smithy” stands under its spreading chestnut tree, and across the road the little stone church, where the brawny smith heard his daughter’s voice.  I sharpened my jack-knife on the smith’s grindstone.  The smithy door is covered with the names of visitors.  The tree in its winter nudity looks very old.

Under the spreading Chestnut Tree

[Image: Postcard of Smithy at Figheldean, Salisbury Plain.  Sourced from ‘Living Histories’, University of New Castle, Australia.]