well what a surprise weather wise the free spirits camp was!
it was warm when we drove away from the forest.
we followed the motorway for a short while and skirted the sea port i was born in and where branches of my ancestor tree go way, way back to the time of Henry Vlll and beyond.
we crossed the great chalk hill that looks down over portsmouth and passed a little place called Butser where they have the most amazing ancient farm then onwards, skirting a place called Buriton where generations of my portsmouth ancestors and more recent family, my nan would take my mum, uncle and aunt each year and many residents of their road would go to pick hops each year
in fact my mum was talking fondly of their yearly 'holiday' last week.
they lived in a street of two up, two down terraced houses in an area developed right near the docks in 1796.
the whole street was made up of a true extended family-everyone living there was related.
this was part of the poorest part of the city and getting away each year, even if it was to work, really was a holiday...
Hop-picking usually took about three weeks around September. Local children were all expected to help and were given time off school. Casual labour, mostly from Portsmouth, was employed as well as local pickers. Many of the Portsmouth families came back year after year.
In the early years they used to be fetched in wagons from Petersfield Station: a wonderful sight as they all arrived. Some would camp opposite the Maple Inn (now the Master Robert) in Heather & Bakers field, lighting campfires at night. There were many tales of how the local gamekeepers were kept busy ! There were also reports of drunk and disorderly behaviour suggesting that much of the money that the pickers earnt was probably spent in the pub !
you can find more from this source here
finally we reached the field behind a pub that was the home for the dolmen gathering of free spirits...