AM 991 – Walking Journals (1931-1932)
Simply titled ‘Rambles’, these 2 walking journals were deposited at the Record Office in 2016. They were written by Miss Lillian Ash who worked as a clerk at the Portsmouth Dockyard in the 1930s and handed to me as one of the many items the staff are given to catalogue. I simply fell in love with them, and they remain one of my most favourite documents in the Record Office collections.
The walking journals are hardback volumes, beautifully handwritten and include the most charming black and white photographs to accompany the text. Miss Ash writes of her walks that she takes, mostly with her friend Ve, and Ve’s dog Baron, often after finishing work at the dockyard in Portsmouth. Her ‘rambles’ take her all over East Hampshire, West Sussex and the Isle of Wight, and lists of the villages she mentions can be found in the catalogue entry. Some occasions they would take half a day from work and jump on the next bus or train, sometimes not arriving back home until nearly midnight. Other times they take the whole day off, or even in one example, made a holiday of it and took a few days, staying in Arundel and visiting Amberley, Chichester and other nearby places.
There are many reasons why I adore these two journals, from the fact they were written by a woman during the brief peace of the interwar period enjoying her independence with her friends and making the most of her free time (one photograph shows a lovely group of them enjoying their day together), the layout of the journals and the care Miss Ash took to record her walks (which I expect meant a great deal to her, to preserve them in such detail) and the way she writes, describing each beautiful scene she saw. With each page I felt as though I was walking right beside her and her friends, enjoying the scenery and sharing conversation with them. It has certainly inspired me to get out on the Downs and enjoy some ‘rambles’ of my own!