Here are just a few short stories from our members:-
OUR NEW JOURNALS CONTAIN MANY MORE - SO WHY NOT JOIN ROMANY ROAD?
On the Drom from Phil
One hot day in Cornwall, I had to do a short move to a fresh graze for the horses. After a couple of miles we came to a hill, so I gee'd up the wagon horse, but halfway up the gry started slipping, which was unusual for him, then he ground to a halt. I looked back and realised that some new tarmac on the road had gone soft in the heat, so the iron tyres had sunk in enough to hold the wagon to stop it going backwards, but it couldn't go forward. However, my luck was with me that day, in the car behind was four big rugby players on their way to a match, and they took great delight in giving us a push up!!
Cousin Rose and I used to visit Granny Light when she lived in a big yard with the rest of her family in Walthamstow, and that was where our grandfather had rows of caravans for all his family to live in. They were all into logs, chickens, rabbits and pegs, and they had a big vegetable patch at the back of the yard. Many things are written about Gypsies, but one myth you can disregard is that they were all thieves, because they were not and they had a strong affinity to God and his land. I remember we were all taught to be good, clean and honest and to use the gifts God gave us, and believe me - every one of us had a special talent .......
An Old Mawken (Scarecrow) from Ian Orchard
I was told that my Granny once chopped (swapped) dresses with an old mawken in a field because it had a better dress on than her!
Arabian Nights - from Jean Hope
Once I was employed at a hotel guesthouse and part of my job was to go in the evenings to turn-down the beds. Imagine my surprise the first time I entered all thirty-six rooms to find every bed covered with bedspreads made of blue and gold silk thread, with long tassels and Arabic scenes of Arabs sitting on camels, palm trees, etc., Immediately I knew where they'd come from! Besides selling bedspreads, my Dad also sold rugs and carpets of Persian design and when I was young I would go with him when he "called" in this very area. When I saw those bedspreads it was quite obvious to me that Dad had had a good touch there - bless him!
When Ethel Florence first "went indoors", she found she loved her new garden - but she was always moving the plants. One day her neighbour leaned over the fence and said to her "Ethel - you may have stopped travelling - but your plants haven't!"
Baked Potatoes - From Vanslow Smith
"....... Meanwhile, I would be finding the largest potatoes possible, and slipping through to the fire, would take out a few ashes and cover my potatoes knowing they would be cooked in about 30 minutes. I would then take them across to our vardos and share them out, fill them with dripping and salt and enjoy them. They were the best baked potatoes ever!"
A report in the Liverpool Mercury in 1913 states that a Bendigo Lee celebrated every addition to his family by crumbling a whole loaf around his wagon so that his child would never be short of bread!
Adders - From Ian Orchard
In about 1840, my family moved from Oxfordshire to Devon with pack donkeys and bender tents. One morning they were picking up the covers and loading them onto the donkeys' backs, when one of the animals fell down. They lifted it up and down it went again, so they took the cloths off and there was an adder wrapped up in them - it must have crawled in there for the warmth or the smells or something!
"Sometimes you'd see the man riding up on top of the wagon and the old Gypsy lady toddling alongside with the dog tied underneath and a box where they kept the hens and all that in. There'd be about twenty converging around the wagons, so you assumed they all belonged to the same caravan. I don't know if they did, but how they all slept in it was a marvel - must have been head to toe and side to side to get in!"
Pugging - by Dave Laws
Dave Williams taught the rest of us how to do proper pugging (ferreting) like - no smoking, no treading on berries and no aftershave! One cold Saturday morning we caught 132 rabbits using two pugs from one continuous warren and 150 nets, just by picking up the nets and moving them on. Because we had so many rabbits that day, we made sure the foxes couldn't get them by hanging them up in a tree. It was hard work, but once we'd killed them, paunched them and crossed their legs, it wasn't too hard to hang them up!
Snuff - from Alan Smith
When I was a boy, Granny Light sent me off to get her some snuff. I had to walk miles to get it in Staplehurst, going all through the troughs to get the blooming stuff - and when I got back, all I got was a crack round the earhole for taking so long!
Chickens - From Peter Nice
When Gypsies came to the area, they traded fair and to the nail. Village folk knew them to be "of the word" and scrupulously clean. However, if on the odd occasion a local's wandering chicken should mistake a couldron for a coop in starlight - well accidents will happen!
Poacher's Pockets - from Mary Horner
Whenever my Dad Johnny Hearn got a new jacket, the first thing he did was to sew a "Poacher's pocket" inside where he kept his money safe from robbers - and from prying eyes!
Wagons in Western Australia
In our 2nd journal, Romany Road member Kathi Suminer, who lives outside Perth, Western Australia, sent us a story and some photos of wagons she and her partner Royce have discovered on their travels. John Pockett, one of this country's finest wagon restorers and painter (who is also a member of Romany Road), has kindly given his opinion as to the authenticity of the wagons and what changes have been made to them over the years
Fairies - from Ethel Florence
One day I was sent to fetch water from the well, but I dawdled and played and took a long time to get back to our wagons. Now as a child I often told lies, and to avoid getting into trouble, I told everyone I'd seen fairies, a little woman and a little man, down at the well. Everybody was talking about it, and next day one of the other Traveller women went down to the well and came back saying ......... she'd seen the fairies too!!