IN a candid conversation with the Forest Journal, parents Kate and John reveal how their family are the target of hate crimes almost daily, enduring abuse, racism and prejudice.

Forest born John, Kate and two children were born into a Romany Gypsy life, as their parents and grandparents before them.

They have been selling the eggs from their chickens, along with wooden flower garlands from the side of the A338, just north of Fordingbridge, where their much-loved cob, Albert, who pulls the bow top wagon, was able to graze.

It may look romantic, but life on the road is hard, made harder by prejudice.

Kate said: "I would like to say that we have a mixed reaction, but the truth is we mostly have negative comments hurled at us. We have taught our children to cope with abuse, it is mostly only words.

"Although last week, a lady from Verwood stopped and asked me if we needed anything. I said that we were fine, but the children, well you know what kids are like, said they would like some fruit. The lady returned with six bags of shopping. There are some good hearts out there."

John said: "Just recently we reported a hate crime. We were parked up and we had fireworks and bird scarer's thrown at us and our animals. It is sickening. Our animals are our pride and joy."

The family follow their hearts and travel slow and steady, always mindful of their animals, to places where they can rest a while or find work. In December the family head to Dorset to sell Holly wreaths. The children are home educated.

"Our children have been taught to respect the land on which we rest and they are very well educated by us. We always clear up where we have stopped and take all the litter with us, even if its not ours.

"In today's world so many children are cooped indoors playing video games or staring at a television. They do not learn important skills.

"My family from hundreds of years ago were born to the New Forest, living off the land in horse drawn wagons. We can no longer get into the National Park really because of he cattle grids. And while there are gates for the horses, we cannot get our wagon through them."

Romany Gypsies originated from India and were first documented in Hampshire in 1638.

Until 1938, Gypsies in small family groups were able to camp anywhere in the New Forest.

At the start of the twentieth century Gypsy Travellers were not allowed in remain on the same land for longer than two days.

The majority of Gypsy Travellers would abide by the law and move on every forty eight hours travelling a regular route which took them around six weeks to complete.

In 1926 the compound system forced Gypsies to camp in seven areas, including Thorny Hill and Latchmoor and Shave Wood but they were no longer to be allowed to roam

In 1947, after a report from the New Forest Committee, the Ringwood and Fordingbridge Rural Council started a policy of resettlement, moving the families from the compounds into council accommodation.