Hay-field Teas and Other Things

Do you remember
the smell of new mown hay
and the sound of the hay-cutter
as our meadows were cut? The farmers allowed

children to play in the hay on condition
that they dismantled their castles before they left,
and kept away when the work of rowing-up and carrying
was in progress.

The large wooden rakes were hand made
and a supply could usually be seen in summer
outside Jesse Johnson’s shop. Mrs King of Fryfern
used to invite the whole school

to a tea-party
when the field at the end of Back Lane was cut.
Mr Faithful and Mr Joyes also arranged
hay-field teas.

The sound of horse’s hooves
is one that has gradually faded during this century.
We used to watch the sparks fly
as the horse-shoes struck the flints

on a newly mended road at night.
Boys could get the same result 
when kicking their steel-tipped boots
against the pavements.

Do you remember
the smell of Mr Joyes’s corn-mill,
and the sound of water rushing over
the clanking mill-wheel? Did you ever

incur the wrath of Mr French the miller,
when you pulled up the floodgate, lowering
the depth of the pond so there was insufficient force
to work the mill?

Do you remember
the smell of newly baked meal at the bakeries,
and the sound of crickets in the bake house?
Do you remember Mr Reeves, the carrier

blowing his horn as he went through the village
on his way from Cootham to Worthing? And the flocks
of sheep passing on their way to Findon Fair?
Did you ever hear,

on Christmas morning
the strains of ‘ The Mistletoe Bough’ being played
by two local musicians?
They used to start from School Hill

about six o’clock
and play their way
through the village, receiving
liquid encouragement en route.

Do you remember the Muffin Man
who used to come on winter afternoons,
balancing a large tray on his head,
and ringing a bell to herald his approach?

SOURCE: an extract from ‘Round About old Storrington’ by Florence M Greenfield. published in 1972


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