I was talking to my daughter about my dad. He was one of those people who even from being quite a young lad, could talk to and was accepted by adults as well as friends of his own age. He was an outdoor sort of a lad and liked doing all the things that country people did. Although Cambridge has been a city for centuries (despite not having a cathedral) it was essentially a market town with a University.
My dad would go out with his dad’s friends, fishing, shooting, snaring… he would go and shoot pigeons for farmers who were plagued by them damaging crops, he would trap moles with an old fellow who was paid by the colleges to stop the little velvet gentlemen ruining the ancient and pristine lawns, he would go out catching rabbits, or acting as a beater on shoots… all sorts of things which not many young boys would do these days.
I think he had the gift of being quiet and only speaking when spoken to, but when he did speak he would be sensible and confident. He once went out with some men employed by a local landowner with a big house, to help clear the ornamental lake which had been swamped with weed. First they had to catch all the fish and put them in a holding tank, then they had to row backwards and forwards across the lake, dragging chains across the bottom to break up the weed.
Another old gent he went out with was a funny old man who gathered water cress, fresh from local streams when it was in season. He also caught frogs and toads, which he kept in specially dug pits lined with cool moss and then would sell them to the University… I can only guess what for!