The Hat in the Track Lane Part 3


imageHalf way down the Lane was a big granite barn on the edge of , for Guernsey, a big field. Dad rented the barn and the field as his Dad had done before him.

The barn had been used for a multitude of purposes during the time of the Camps. Storing Hay, stabling horses, stabling cows, keeping pigs, storing equipment and even accommodated a big barn dance when such things were popular.

Sometimes it was in good condition and at other times it was pretty abandoned. Sometimes it was a very smelly place and at other times its walls gleamed with a coat of fresh whitewash. Mostly it was a smelly place.

Across the fields to the East of the barn is the The Chateaux De Marais, or The Ivy Castle. A very neglected ancient fortification that was a wonderful playground for us as children. It has the remains of an old moat and on its western side a douit.

The douit bordered another field that dad rented which we called Robin’s Field. In Guernsey we pronounce that “Robe in” not “robin”. I have no idea who Mr Robin was but his field had a stream that the tenant had to clean every year.

While dad was hacking away at the weeds I would try and catch sticklebacks with a little net. On one occasion while running up and down the stream in my bare feet I tripped over a piece of metal sticking out of the bottom. It looked interesting so I dug it out with my hands and became the proud owner of a short sword. Though to me it didn’t seem that short.

I loved that sword. I played with it for years. Sadly, it was my favourite summer pastime to play outside cutting down weeds with it and emulating the exploits of Douglas Fairbanks or other lesser know heroes I watched at the Odeon on Saturday mornings.

Quite a few years after I found it Mum wondered if it was worth anything and took it to the Museum together with several other “treasures” we had accumulated over the years. Including a flintlock pistol that was also one of my treasured “toys”. I’ve no idea where that came from.

She dropped them off and waited and waited for a call to tell her we were rich. The call never came. After many months she went to the Museum and asked if the items had been investigated and appraised. Imagine her horror to be told that the old gentleman she had spoken to had died and whether she had a receipt for the items. There was no receipt and the items were never found.

Somewhere in the bottom of a trunk in an unvisited storeroom housing the unwanted artefacts of the Guernsey Museum service is my beloved sword. I shed real tears for that sword.

Anyway, at one time Grandad kept several of the horses he had for sale in the field and their harness in the barn. Dad would collect some in the morning to be used on the farm and deliver them back late at night. When the nights were drawing in he was a little nervous going to the barn even though he was thirteen.

This was down to the tale of the ghostly grey stallion of the Ivy Castle that he had been told when he was a boy. It was a fine charger which had belonged to a brave knight who had been treacherously murdered by the Keeper of the Castle and the horse would often be seen roaming around on the night of a full moon seeking out his master’s murderers.

On one such night, where all around was illuminated by a full moon, Dad brought a pair of horses back to the field, slipped off their harness and let them loose. Then he hung the harness up in the barn. As he came out and was closing the barn door he looked behind him. There galloping across the field towards him was the grey stallion. Its eyes were glowing bright red and its nostrils were spewing out flame.

Discretion being the better part of valour Dad ran to the gate, leapt over it and ran at full pelt to the farm as though the Devil was on his heels. Which he was. Running through the back door he was totally out of breath and sat at the kitchen table to recover.

Grandad was there and while he was waiting for dad to be able to speak he asked.

“Did you see the new grey stallion in the field? He’s a bit wild.”

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