The Hat in the Track Lane Part 1


hatlane

To the current generation of Guernsey people the Track Lane will mean little. To the older generation it will be remembered fondly as a route from Pitronnerie Road to The Track football pitch which thousands would take each May to watch the Muratti Vase Final.

To me it is a memory of Home. Camps Farm was bounded on the west by the Track Lane which was a rough unmade farm road. It was a way to some of our fields and it also led to The Hump. A granite outcrop which was half quarried and had in ancient times been a rabbit warren. In the late 1950s it was a wonderful playground for a young boy.

Younger readers will need to understand that in the 50s and 60s children had something called freedom. During school summer holidays we would try and stay out of adult view from dawn until dusk. Especially true for me because if I happened to be seen around the farm I would be given a series of jobs to do.

Mooching around the Hump was great fun. It was very overgrown with gorse and other weeds but the plentiful rabbits kept a lot of tracks and open areas clear. The Germans had heavily fortified the area and their slit trenches and strong points were still very visible.

One of the machine-gun posts was right on the edge of the quarry where it had an excellent field of fire. At the edge of the pit was a deep drop but there was also a little ledge. Someone noticed that there were some cartridge cases down there and it was a common pursuit to dangle over the edge of the precipice trying to reach them.

I never managed it but I did find a few by digging. Luckily I never found  any live munitions here as I did a little further down the lane.

Our pet monkey who we named, Chimpy, was given complete freedom and often would swing through the trees along the top of the lane. People regularily came down to see him and would try to coax him out of the tree with sweets.

They would hold a big bag of sweets in one hand and tentatively stretch up their other hand with the sweet as bait. Many times I watched Chimpy swing down, ignore the proffered sweet, grab the bag and then climb up to the tree top and scoff the lot.

If the sweets were in wrappers it was even funnier to watch Chimpy unwrap the sweets and then deliberately try to drop the sweet papers on the heads of the people below.

One midsummer night when the hay had been carted in all the kids from the Bouet who had been “helping” decided to play a game of hide and seek. The playing area was the Track Lane which one way or another stretched from Pitronnerie Road to the Coutanchez.

hidenseek

In the illustration above I have highlighted the Track, marked The Hump and need to explain that the industrial estate with Guernsey Selfstore marked was the site of my boyhood home. Sadly now long gone.

As you can see the playing area was vast, wild and full of potential pitfalls for a group of young children to be playing around at about 11pm on a warm midsummer night.

But it was so much fun.

No children were lost in this last mass game of hide and seek, totally without adult supervision.

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This entry was posted in Camps, German, Guernsey, Memories, Monkey. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Hat in the Track Lane Part 1

  1. ozcloggie says:

    It’s early Sunday morning in Sydney. The last thing I watched last night was: Midsummer Murder (A repeat that luckily I could not remember. Was the wine?) Just like yesterday your description takes ME back to childhood and the tunnel under a main road between Rotterdam/The Hague and Utrecht, which was the furthest from Gouda that my friends and I dared to explore. Running up the sloping wall. Trying to sit under the road, at the top – is as ‘daring’ as I ever get to be. 🙂 Young children out at 11 pm sounds extra extreme from here, as, since migrating here in 1956, I am not used to dusk any more. The sun simply leaves us like a light switch being turned of around 7 pm.

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