Friday 21 August

The garden at the back of our Airbnb is so productive, it is a delight to wander around. It has been underplanted with zinnias, which make it so colourful. We picked runner beans and spinach for dinner tonight.

The weather was not so brilliant today, so we decided to have a look at Ludlow. It has a very fine Norman castle. Mostly in ruins but picturesque nevertheless.

I had a chat with the lady in the gift shop: there is a castle house used normally for weddings. But she said their greatest loss of revenue is that there are no coach parties and no school visits. As an average citizen, I am glad that these places are re-openng, but the wider ramifications are very significant. It’s conversations like this which make me realise that lockdown is far from over.

Ludlow is a very pretty market town. And there was even a market today. It has quite a few black and white timbered buildings and reminded me of some of the places I have visited in Germany.

The fact that there are no overseas visitors, and perhaps fewer local visitors means that there is no problem finding a parking place. Another positive spin off is that the public toilets I have visited over the past few days have been immaculate. Very clean, lots of soap, toilet paper, and no queue.

There is a very large church, St Laurence, in the centre of Ludlow. It is known as the cathedral of the Marches. As I went in, I had to give my name and post code for track and trace purposes. The lady recognised the postcode as Croydon: turned out she used to teach at Old Palace school prep department, lived in Kenley, was a pupil at Sydenham High School and was only too happy to reminisce. She moved to Ludlow in 2001 and is clearly a pillar of the community. She is a member of the church choir, and said she finds it so sad that there is no singing at present. They have a little organ music at the beginning and end of the services, but no hymn singing by the congregation and no choir. I find this unutterably sad.

There are some absolutely amazing medieval misericords here. For the benefit of my overseas readers, these are little seats where members of the choir could rest their bottoms while appearing to stand and sing at great length. The wood carving is stunning in its intricate detail. I particularly liked this one: he seems to be preparing a couple of pigs to put on the fire for his dinner.

Some of you will know that I have an interest in harps and lyres. A hobby is to spot the harp player in a stained glass window in a church. Usually of course St David. Here there were two, but this was a lovely one. The stained glass in this church is famous. both medieval and Victorian.

The weather deteriorated, so we returned to base, had a cup of tea and a snooze. Well a holiday is for relaxing.

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