Monday 9 November

My daughter’s birthday and to that end we met at Knole Park, one of the National Trust parks which has remained open during lockdown. It is a massive estate, with beautiful trees, many now turning golden, and a delightful herd of deer (sufficiently far from my back garden). At this time of year they are rutting, though we neither heard nor saw any evidence of this. The deer are fairly tame, so they come quite close.

Knole House is currently closed, but I have visited it before. It is one of these amazing places which allegedly has 365 windows, 52 rooms, 12 chimney stacks or some such.

It was incredibly warm for November, 16C, and we sat in the sunshine without coats on, and ate our birthday picnic and drank Bucks Fizz. There were many other families there, it all seemed remarkably relaxed. The stag was pretty relaxed too, with his lady friends.

The ninth of November is also hugely significant, being the day when the Berlin Wall began to come down in 1989. I remember we sat glued to the TV. It was a day I never thought I would see. Having visited East Berlin as a student in the late Sixties, and again later on various occasions, feeling very scared at the Friedrichstrasse checkpoint when my passport was taken off to a back room, and I thought, this is it. And at another time when I went by train from Hamburg to Berlin, and as we crossed into the DDR and went through the checkpoint, I made the mistake of speaking fluent German to the officials, so everyone else was sent out of the carriage, and I was grilled by 2 officials. I think I was followed when I got off. I was so frightened, that after visiting my friends for a few days, I flew back to Hamburg, where I was living at the time. A reunited Germany, what a landmark 31 years ago.

Today’s CD is the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. They are a very talented bunch and hugely amusing. I have been to a live performance, and they are even better than on the recording. This is just a taster, you will find many other tunes on YouTube. They always make me smile.

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