Fictional Account 7
Tom and Ed spotted each other simultaneously. With whooping shouts the two boys ran towards each other and immediately started a mock fight. It had been nearly a year since they had last met and they had both been looking forward to renewing their friendship over another hopping ‘holiday’. Tom’s family had been coming to Badsell Manor at hop picking time, for many years. They lived in the east end of London and for them the trip down on the ‘Hopper Train’ every September was very much a working holiday.
When they were at the farm the whole family would spend the days stripping the hops from the vines, trying to ensure that they were as clean as possible from leaves. If they were lucky and the weather was fine, it could be very pleasant working outside in the sunshine and fresh air. Many of the other pickers, such as Ed’s parents, used to also come to Badsell each year and there would be plenty of opportunity to catch up with old friends. The children also helped picking, but especially in the afternoons they were usually allowed time to go off and play. The best time though was in the evenings, when everyone would gather around the open fires, cooking their evening meal and enjoying a refreshing mug of ale.
In the past they had had to sleep in roughly constructed tents but nowadays they lived in tin huts. Although these were a big improvement on the tents, they were still wet and cold if the weather was bad – but that was all part of the fun of the annual hopping trip.