It was a great relief to get away from my 300 pickers and ride the eighteen miles to Worcester on my bicycle, through the lovely river scenery of the Vale of Evesham, the hedges drooping beneath the weight of brilliant berries, the orchards loaded with apples, the clean bright stubbles, and the cattle in the lush aftermath; then, after a visit to the busy hop-market and a stroll among the curio shops in New Street, to return by a different road as the shadows were lengthening beside the copses and the hedgerow timber trees.
In former times the October fair at Weyhill, near Andover, was the market for the Hampshire and Farnham hops; it was the custom for the growers to send them by road, and load back with cheese brought to the fair by the Wiltshire farmers. I heard of a Hampshire grower, who in a year of great scarcity had spent some time trying to sell several pockets to an anxious but reluctant buyer, unwilling to give the price asked—L20 a hundredweight. They continued the deal in the evening at the inn at Andover, where both were staying, and said “Good-night” without having concluded the bargain. The grower was in bed and almost asleep when he heard a knock at his door, and a voice, “Give you L18,” which he refused. Next morning trade was dull and the buyer would not repeat his offer, and at the end of the week the grower sent his hops home again. Prices continued to fall, until two years later he sold the same lot at 5s. a hundredweight to a cunning speculator, who took them out to sea, after claiming a return of the duty (about L1 a hundredweight originally paid by the grower), which the Excise refunded on exported hops. The hops went overboard of course, and the buyer netted the difference between the price he paid and the amount received for the refunded duty.
At these old fairs the showmen and gipsies take large sums in the “pleasure” departments for admission to their exhibitions—swings, roundabouts, shooting-galleries, and coco-nut shies. In Evesham Post-Office a gipsy woman once asked me to write a letter; she handed me an order for L10, and instructed me to send it to a London firm for L5 worth of best coco-nuts and L5 worth of seconds. They were for use on the shies; it struck me as a large supply, and the economical division of the qualities as ingenious.
METEOROLOGY—ETON AND HARROW AT LORD’S—“RUS IN URBE.”
“But if I praised the busy
He loved to rail against it still,
For ’ground in yonder social mill
We rub each other’s angles down,
he said, ’in form and gloss
The picturesque of man and man.’”
During the terribly wet summer of 1879 the following lines were written—it was said by the then Bishop of Wakefield—in the visitors’ book at the White Lion Hotel at Bala, in Wales:
“The weather depends on
the moon, as a rule,
And I’ve found that the saying is true;
For at Bala it rains when the moon’s at the full,
And it rains when the moon’s at the new.