21st October. It's been quite wet the last few days, l haven't been able to play my pipes in any towns for a few days as it's no good when it's raining, l don't mind having a break from it though. Tarateeno has been looking filthy, it's very difficult to keep him groomed when his coat is wet, happily this afternoon it came out sunny and l spent a pleasurable hour brushing him. This part of Essex has some lovely old buildings, many of them are thatched. The traffic is getting busier on the lanes as l get nearer to London. I'm about 25 miles north of it now. I didn't pass any shops today, but purchased some eggs and honey from a couple of peasants, they were friendly. There are quite a few walnut trees in this part of the country and I've got quite a lot of walnuts drying in the wagon. Delicious to eat. Tonight I'm stopped at Stebbing Green, the locals I've met have been friendly. It's not far from Braintree . You can hear the traffic from the A120 which is a mile south and the aeroplanes are quite noisy from Stanstead airport, 10 miles away. I'm glad I'm only stopping the night and don't live here.
Nice quiet lane, Essex
22nd Oct. Had a lovely journey through narrow country lanes, very little traffic to Matching Green about 15 miles. There's acres of good grass here. I went in the pub, the other people in there appeared to be successful gangsters who had managed to escape from London's east end. On the way l went by an old Rolls Royce rusting away in a front garden, so l took a photo.
Rolls Royce quietly rusting away
23rd Oct. A violent squall woke me at 4.30am, the wagon shook violently and the wind whipped through the willow trees next to me, after the squall had passed it was very still and quiet. I looked out the window, Tarateeno was fine.I read my book for a bit then fell back to sleep. Set off at 9am and got to Theydon Bois at mid-day, 11 miles. I stopped on the green next to the duck pond, handy for getting water for the horse. People are surprised to see the wagon and horse, but are pleased and friendly.
Locals friendly, Theydon Bois, London
I've had a lot of visitors this afternoon, apart from one young woman, who angrily demanded that l leave straight-away and told me l had no right to be here, people have brought me gifts of chocolate, cans of beer and water and have turned my visit into a positive experience.To have a break, as it's quite tiring being polite and friendly and talking, l went and sat on a bench a 100 yards away and read a book. I watched a man come and knock on the wagon door and then write a note for me. After a while l went and read the note, it was from Epping District Council, politely enquiring, could l ring them and let them know how long l intended to stay? l rang back and left a message. A bit later on two jobsworths, wardens for Epping Forest came along and demanded l leave, l suggested that they contact the Police Gypsy and Traveller Liaison Officer if they had a problem, as it's important to follow the correct protocol when dealing with unauthorized encampments like mine, they went away after they told me that they'd called the police. About 10 pm two police officers turned up, they were very courteous and after asking my name and how long l intended to stop for they wished me good night. Whilst chatting they asked if l got lonely , l told them that l got a lot of visitors, they joked, probably a lot of police, but l told them that it was really a rare occurrence. This year l think they've only been to me twice. I expect l will get more visits going through London.
Almost all my stopping places are categorized as unauthorized encampments, however the police and other public bodies must still as public servants, show common humanity to those they meet and be careful to follow the correct protocols. They must determine if interference is justified and proportionate and welfare enquiries should be carried out. As I'm on my own, Section 61-62 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 can not be used against me.
This extract from the By-laws of Hampstead Heath is a disgrace, imagine substituting the word Gypsies, for Jews or Asians , there would be outrage.
People like to take photos and l often take one for them while they sit on the wagon.
I'm a bit anxious about going through the east end of London as there is such a lot of traffic, l shall try and take the quietist route and hope for the best, I've no idea what reaction I shall get.