More memories of Nora Cannell

As our thoughts move away from log fires to warmer times, this month’s extract from Nora Cannell’s memories about her Haslingfield childhood looks at the summer holidays of long ago.

Like most of the children in the village, Nora helped out at harvest-time. After the corn had been cut and the sheaves of corn ‘stooked’ in long rows, the harvest was collected in wagons and put into haystacks, often by lantern-light. After the harvest came gleaning, when the women and children of the village collected ears of wheat and barley to thresh into flour for their winter store. Gleaning started only when a church bell was rung at 8 in the morning, and stopped when it was rung again in the afternoon. The women, who had collected the ears in their aprons, hoisted the pile onto their heads and walked home.

Nora was rewarded for her help with a trip to Cambridge market with her father to spend her earnings. She went by rail, but sometimes walked. Her favourite buys were boiled sweets, some of which contained opium extract! There was also the Hawky Supper for everyone who had helped during the harvest.

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