| INDEX HOME |Story Part 1 - June 3, 2003--From Los Angeles to Moor End Farm. |
| Story Part 2-Walk to the CHURCH. | Moor End Farm Photos|Broxted Church Photos |
| Story Pt.2 continues to Great Easton.| Great Dunmow and The BELL
|The BARKERS.| TILTY | The Maltings.|CHICKNEY CHURCH | THE GALLERY | Colchester| Old Photos|
|Fat lady's version-Pt. 1|
|Fat Lady's version - Pt. 2| Fat Lady's version - Pt. 3| Fat Lady's version - Pt. 4|
| Fat lady's version Pt. 5| Fat Lady's version - Pt. 6| Version 7| Version 8|
|Fat Lady's - Part 9|Part 10 by Fat Lady|

Susie's (fat lady's) version.
Part 11- RAIN!

The ladies arrived back at their room in the farm just in time to meet new relatives, Barry & Linda, Lisa & Simon. As they chatted and looked at old photos, attempting to solve geneaological mysteries, the fat lady realized she had probably never met anyone as sweet as these two couples. And they had never been out of the area, even to Colchester! It gave her hope for the human condition.
The guests stayed for a couple of hours and left. It still wasn't dark out, as they waved goodbye. The ladies took care to speak normally when with anyone, but by now they were even thinking with an English accent, and when no one was around they let loose.
"Blimey! Do you knaow what time it is?!!"
"Aven't the foggiest! I just knaow I'm right knackered."
"Tis nearly midnight, it 'tis!"
"I say.. It's still light!"
So they put on their jimjams and went to sleep. At least the fat lady did. She was snoring as her head hit the pillow, as always. Also, as always, the old lady couldn't sleep. But not long after, a strange noise woke the fat lady up. It was coming from the other side of the wall, in the old lady's room. It was her mother's voice, quietly moaning, "Ohhhhhh my...Oh myyy...Ohhhh my." On and on it went.
The fat lady's eyes opened wide. Then she remembered that her dad wasn't there, so it couldn't be that. What could it be? She listened some more, but no new clues emerged. Was the old lady having a heart attack? Would she get to be buried in the picturesque Broxted churchyard, lucky ducky? The fat lady lay quietly in bed until a new thought occured to her, and she whimpered aloud, "WHO will pay the bills?" THAT got the fat lady up.
Gingerly she tip-toed to her mother's closed bedroom door. The moaning continued. Quietly she turned the knob and opened the door.
"Are you alright, Madam?" she asked anxiously.
"Oooohhh my. I have a leg cramp, darn it!"
The fat lady would have doubled over laughing, had she not been too fat to double over. She heaved a sigh of relief. Her bank account was safe.
"Yeah, that's real funny, Mom! Ohhhhh my," moaned the old lady.
Still laughing in relief, the fat lady went to her bag to get the homeopathic leg cramp tablets she carried everywhere she went in terror of having a debilitating leg cramp.
"Is that all? You are such a wuss!" she laughed, conveniently forgetting the way she herself had rolled around and screamed when she had a cramp the week before.
The tablets took effect. The ladies fell asleep.
Next morning the fat lady was awakened by the sound of her mother messing about in the kitchen. Over breakfast and coffee they planned their day.
"Today we walk to Tilty," the old lady announced.
"T i l t y" said the fat lady slowly, enjoying the sound and feel and oddity of the word. "Who thinks up these place names?" she wondered to herself. "They're so...fairy-tale. Molehill Green. Even Ugley Green! That's a hoot!"
The old lady pulled back the curtain. "It looks like rain," she warned.
"It won't rain our entire trip. Accuweather dot com said it wouldn't. So there," insisted the fat lady, who had returned her umbrella and raincoat to the store after checking accuweather on the net.
Together they walked down the long drive, turned right, looked about in alarm, then scrambled across the 8 foot wide road/cowpath/motorway. They took the footpath shortcut through the planted fields of the farm, bickering the whole way.
"I tell you, it will rain."
"Will not."
"Will so."
"Do you think Mother walked here?"
"Did not!"
"Did so!"
"Look over there! Isn't that cute black cat following us in the bush just a little large?"
"Is not!"
"Is so! It's like a cougar!"
"How would you know?"
"I've seen one!"
"Have not!"
"Have so!"
On and on they went until they reached their destination, the ancient church. It was very impressive.
"Used to be a monastery just there where the sheep are. Cromwell was here. The monks were massacred. I daresay William the Conqueror was here."
"Blows my mind."
The direction-blind old lady took it upon herself to lead the duo back home. They ended up at an old abandoned mill. Then at a private residence. At last they found themselves next to a thick, inpenetrable forest. The fat lady fancied herself a pyschic. She started to freak. " I am channeling the anxiety of a monk running from the knights here."
" Just get me home, it's going to rain, I'm ill and I want some tea, " snapped the old lady.
"Riight," replied the fat lady, disappointed that the old lady wasn't going to play along.
The fat lady led the way on the footpath. A man walking his dog appeared and disappeared just as quickly. The clouds were thick and heavy and the air was cool and damp. The breeze picked up suddenly. The path became uneven and harder to walk and much of it was muck. The vines grew thorns. Even the ancient trees began to look menacing, with evil faces easy to imagine in the gnarled bark. There was a sudden movement in the tall grasses to the right!
"Look Mom! Over there! Bambi! Something small and reddish with white spots on the rump." She took her camera but was afraid to approach too closely. She didn't want to frighten it. She was no longer the foolish girl who had walked right up to a herd of moose, and also a mother grizzly bear with a cub for the sake of a good photo. The photos hadn't been that good. The old lady had taken the opportunity to sit on a fence. (stile) "It has the face of a pig!" commented the fat lady, befuddled. Beautiful Bambi with a pig's face?
"Just get me home," the old lady wheezed.
They took what they thought was a shortcut. At any rate they lost the footpath. Even though she wasn't feeling well, and was tired, the old lady still filled her pockets with pounds of interesting rocks. So did the fat lady. They hunched past someone's farm. Then it rained, at first just a sprinkle, but soon it was pouring.
"So much for accuweather, ," the old lady teased. She wore a large, warm jacket. It had been in the way until now.
"Listen, I know about English weather... it won't last," the fat lady retorted as they reached a tree and stood beneath it. Having had 3 cups of coffee that morning, she couldn't stand still very long. The old lady produced a very unstylish thin plastic (think Saran-Wrap) raincoat for each of them. (She carried many magic things in her large canvas-type travel bag.) The fat lady grudgingly took it. It was almost useless. Still, they took off again, walking in the driving rain. They found the road and headed home, enticed by thoughts of hot tea, farm bread, farm butter and English cheese. For once they were silent.
Upon arrival, they took off their soaking shoes, which were more like wrap-around soaked-through sponges that squished out water with every step. This was a new experience for the ladies, who lived in the desert. Their trouser legs were just as soaked from the knee down. The tall wet grasses had done that. The ladies had to change into their other outfit. Taking advantage of her mother's momentary absence, the fat lady continued her ongoing search for the forbidden jelly babies, and found them hidden in a jar! She snorted in triumph and though she usually savored one at a time, now she greedily placed a handful in her mouth.
"Yum...Jelly babies...munch munch... Food of the Gods (the Beatles)!
The old lady was all tuckered out. They watched the telly. The fat lady was horrified by a program where organized people come to some poor slob's house, point out all the mess and muck (even under the microwave) right on public tv, and then educate the victims on how to clean and straighten it all up. To add to the great humiliation, the organizers then return unannounced sometime later, with their tv cameras again and see if the house is up to par.
Since the rain stopped and the old lady was certainly not going out again that day/night/whatever it was, the fat lady saw her chance, grabbed her camera, and headed down the drive, turning left. Again she felt the adrenaline rush that comes from the adventure of walking down the simple country road and surviving to tell. When she got to the Maltings, to her great pleasure, she was invited in again. This time she had enough film with her and took the photos for her mother that she had been unable to take the day before. David and Becky were very kind, and David searched for something old that the fat lady could take home with her. He had hoped to give her a pony's horseshoe that dated from the time her grandmother had lived there, but it was not to be found. Instead he gave her an old ink bottle, with an indentation to rest one's quill feather pen on. The fat lady was enchanted. She had never held something so old. David had found it by chance in London. The fat lady treasures it and keeps it in her kitchen.
The fat lady told David about the strange animal she had seen. David was interested until he heard it wasn't black or catlike. The the fat lady asked if there were any ghosts in the house. She got the answer she would become accustomed to, "No...but" followed by a description of a ghostly incident. In this case, the field across the way was enchanted. The tractor would stop working for no reason, mechanics would find nothing wrong, and then it would start up again without repair. Also, there were footsteps upstairs every night at 9. Ho hum.
David left to go to the pub. Friday night seems to be man's night at the pub, and husbands are allowed out to attend. This was the impression the fat lady got from David and from the tv. The fat lady trekked on to the old church. She hoped to get some eerie photos of the graveyard at sunset. Trouble was, sunset never came. The night just seemed to be a long twilight. She revisited the refuse pile, but thought better of trying to take the possible art deco flower holder home and so she left it there. It belonged there. She had something better now anyway.
After spending a quiet hour alone in the churchyard, the fat lady started back home. As she walked down the pastoral pathway something suddenly fled out of the bushes and into her path! Fearing the giant black cat, she started to scream, but it was just a lovely male pheasant. "I'm always on the lookout for cougars at home," she thought. "How ironic it would be to come all this way just to be eaten by a black one here!" She made it back to her bed with no other adventures that night.
For more info on the Essex Panther, go to

The fat lady awoke to the sound of her mother tip-toeing past her bed. "It's mine!" the fat lady screamed. "Too late!" chortled the old lady as she tried to rush to the bathroom. The fat lady sprang out of bed, and ran/waddled towards her mother, who was ahead. She caught up at the doorway, which they both tried to squeeze through at the same time. The old lady was successful, and slammed the door in her daughter's face. "Hurry up, Mommy!" whined the fat lady as she danced her little gotta-go-now dance. She knew better than to call her mother Dirtbag right now.
A bit later the ladies showed up at the Moor End old red brick Victorian farmhouse for a cup of coffee before leaving Broxted. Kathy and Phillip graciously invited them in and showed them around. The ladies' mouths gaped open in astonishment as they were shown the parlor and the drawing room. "It is like a movie set." whispered the fat lady to mother, as she took in the architecture, the old portraits of ancestors hanging on the (to her) ancient walls.
They were led to the kitchen, and asked to sit down for coffee. The fat lady looked wide-eyed about the room. "Wow," she thought to herself, "a real Victorian English farmhouse kitchen, with a real farmhouse table, and look---of course---the pie'ce de resistance--a huge Aga stove! Perfect! A movie set designer would need to change nothing!
As everyone sipped their coffee and watched the little son being a little boy, the fat lady decided to come clean. She reached into her pocket, pulled out the heavy iron piece she had found that first day, and showed it to Phillip. "I found this out in your field. What do you suppose it is?" Good-humoredly, Phillip took the item, turned it over thoughtfully in his hand, examining it, and proclaimed that he didn't quite know for certain what it was, but that it was old. "Might have been made by Barltrop?" asked the old lady, refering to a relative. "Oh yes, quite possibly!" answered Phillip in his best sincere manner. "Would you mind if I took it with me?" inquired the fat lady, hoping Phillip would let it go. "Oh yes, by all means, take it with you." said Phillip kindly as he placed the treasure back in the fat lady's eager hand.
(Two months later, in the health food store parking lot, the fat lady would spy a similar piece and realize it was part of an automobile brake.)
Deciding to go for broke, the fat lady pulled out her other found treasure (besides about 50 pebbles). Phillip examined this other treaure closely too. The fat lady helpfully pointed out it's aspects. "See, it looks like it is a stone, but there is porcelain on the other side!" she announced hopefully. "Might it be Roman?" Sorry to disappoint, still Phillip couldn't lie. "I believe it may be a piece of an old farmhouse kitchen sink," was his verdict. The fat lady was happy anyway!
To be continued....

In Loving memory of my daughter, Susie Maye Carpenter Smith, who died from Cancer. 1953-2007. (Jokingly called "The fat lady" in this website.)
I'm so glad we took this wonderful trip together, Susie. I miss you so much!
"The Old Lady" Susie's Mom.