Smells of Yesteryear


By John Wallbank (New Zealand)

The February edition of Rye’s Own was opened in early March, and the contents eagerly perused. Just perhaps a little later than all the Ryers that take the time to digest the monthly quota of memories and facts from both the distant and not too distant past.

As I have remarked before one only has to see contributions from the many parts of the far flung globe in various editions, to realise the distance some born within the sound of the proverbial bells now reside with just their memories to last them.

February’s publication being one of the many that has for month’s had me itching to once again put digit on the keyboard.

As said before, one of the possible worst sides of living out side of the British Isles is the distance that grows even wider when either happiness or more so sadness, hits ones family. True to the nature of time passing, things do happen that one can’t really partake in, either the pleasure or sadness, in a personal way. Even though the heart felt sadness or gladness is still there.

Alright, eventually when one undertakes a far too infrequent trip to Britain, one is able to catch up in paying their respects no matter which way events have gone. But its still not the same as being there at the time.

Rye Church Clock
Rye Church Clock

When last home I spent a short while with my cousin Tony Cager, his wife Pat and family, on the Isle of Wight where they were living at the time. Such happy memories can’t be taken away, you never know what is around the next corner in life.

Where the “Smells of Yesteryear” comes in, is that Alec Murrel, who was mentioned in “Hops” by Arthur Woodgate, was married to Florence (Flo) who was my god-mother. Being the only daughter of Bess and Fred Bull of Catsfield, in turn Bess was the sister to my Grandmother Dorothy Hobbs (loved wife of Dick Hobbs) so I would work that out as Flo was second cousin, but always known as “Aunty Flo” and “Uncle Alec ” to me.

As a youngster, I did spend many a time at Sharvels by way of stopping off at Flackley Ash and the lovely thatched roof house that Alec and Flo lived in. This house was so visibly attractive that I recall at one time a passing photographer took time to take a photo of it which later appeared on a chocolate box. “White House” will always remain with me for its winding path of rose borders, and the aroma that filled the air as you walked by.

Many was the time I went to the oast house, with Alec, and the pungent smell of hops was always there, along with the many other smells that one associates with a hop farm. I distinctly remember the apple orchard and the lumbering automatic hop picking machine which did in fact slowly come into to take over from human pickers.

From the June 2007 Issue of “Rye’s Own”