The happiest of all memories we had of our visits to Transylvania were the five lovely little horses from the pick of the stud which we bought from my uncle one year. We sent the coachman over to Hungary (we were still living in Thanet then) to fetch them and bring them over to England. They arrived quite safe and sound, but they had been very sea-sick in the North Sea (so much for those wiseacres who will have it that sea-sickness is the result of imagination, and therefore easily controlled by will-power). They were a real joy to us and to our friends. We had the greatest fun in breaking them in. They had, as a matter of fact, been broken in for harness and saddle but they had never seen a motor-car in all their young lives and the scampering that went on when first they met that unbelievable horror was as exciting to the driver as it was to them. Thanet, as a matter of fact was a perfect country for this breaking-in. I am talking of forty and more years ago. There were no hedges to break the even carpet of huge fields which lay under deep snow during the winter and were just rough pasture and grazing ground the rest of the year. We went warily and gradually to work. The coachman--a Thanet man--was immensely interested in the work and was wonderfully efficient and patient. I had of course to bide my time patiently until it was decided by the powers that ruled lovingly over me that it would be safe for me to hold the reins.

We used to get up at five o'clock in the morning that first autumn, when, harnessed to a light wagonette which we had brought for the purpose, we first took those dear timorous things out on the roads between Acol and Minster, and many a scamper we had over fields at the first approach of a motor and its ominous honking. Well! I was not called upon to wait very long for the happy day when first I was allowed to hold the reins. I drove the two beautiful greys first in a light phaeton and lovely they looked. But the great joy was when first we harnessed the five in the light wagonette, Hungarian fashion, three leaders and Goldie--lovely Goldie with the burnt sienna satin coat and the golden mane and tail, the loose one between the other two leaders.

To say that we created a sensation in the sleepy backwater of Minster-in-Thanet would be to put it mildly: but the team was a delight to the schoolboys of Mr. Hawtry's school whenever they caught sight of it. Only Mr. Hawtry didn't like it. When we drove the team of four he was angry and jumped off his bicycle muttering some rather rude words: but when he met us presently with our team of five he was outraged and shouted after us: "How many more of these abominable beasts are you going to drive about the place?"

Well! the fun and delight of those dear little Hungarian horses did not last more than a very few years. So very many things happened. Events followed events in quick succession. For one thing our lease of Cleave Court, the old Manor House in Thanet, was up. The house was really rather inconvenient and we didn't care to renew it. The lease was subsequently bought by Sir Edward Carson, who greatly improved the house and made it his week-end quarters for several years.


©Blakeney Manor, 2001