Tuesday 6 October

I drove to Mereworth in Kent to do a walk with Barbara. On the way there, I listened to a very interesting talk on Radio 4, about the significance of touch. There is also a long article in the Times today. A survey of 40,000 people was begun in February and continued almost to the end of lockdown. Various pundits were interviewed and it was absolutely fascinating. The Touch Test: it’s here if you want to listen.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000n5xx

In essence it said that it is the most under-rated of the five senses, but is the one sense which is never switched off. You can close your eyes, block your ears, hold your nose, lose your sense of taste if you have a cold: touch is always there. The theory is that it grounds us, gives us a sense of reality, and all the distancing and no hugging or kissing during lockdown is probably doing us no good at all. It referred to the tragic case of Romanian orphans abandoned in their cots with total sensory deprivation, and what a dire consequence it had. Of course the Me Too movement has highlighted unwanted touching, and that does undeniably exist, but a conservative estimate says 80% of touching is desirable. During lockdown many people have acquired a pet, and stroking a cat or dog is very relaxing. Holding a baby, hugging a tree, it’s all good. I am going to pay much more attention to my sense of touch.

Mereworth has a most unusual church. Built in the 1740’s in the Palladian style, with a fancy kind of steeple.

Unfortunately it was closed but the outside is pretty interesting. This picture gives some sense of scale. The clock appears to be permanently stuck at 4.05: we were there at about 10 am.

This amused me: the model of the peregrine falcon keeping an eye on the house of prayer.

The Kent countryside at present is beautiful and bountiful, and we could not resist a bit of scrumping. There were still a lot of strawberries, ripening, and also in flower, though even under polytunnels, I’m not sure how long they will last. We tasted a few, just to check. Also raspberries: delicious.

We came across chestnut trees and walnut trees, and pocketed a few nuts for later. There are vineyards too, and grape picking is in full swing. I believe English wine is forecast to have a good year. We had our picnic on the green at West Peckham and resisted going in to The Swan, a very fine pub. We clocked up 6.3 miles before the rain started when we were heading for home. All in all, a lovely autumn day.

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