Wednesday 2 December

Sunrise. Unbelievable mauve and pink. So beautiful. And today was a walk day, in sunny Kent. We started in Weald Village, just south of Sevenoaks, and did a circuit which included Ide Hill. At St George’s church in the village, there was a rather sweet relief of George and the dragon.

We walked over undulating fields and farm land, admiring sheep and cattle chomping away merrily, unaware of lockdown and tiers. Something to be said for being a dumb animal? It was pretty muddy and my boots felt incredibly heavy as I seemed to be schlepping half a field with every step. But to be out in the open air all day, to picnic, to hear the birds, to admire the tremendous Kent landscape, is just fantastic.

This is Wickhurst Manor, some of it very old, most of it nineteenth century. At Ide Hill we sat on a bench to eat our lunch, and looked out over Bough Beech reservoir. A couple of other walkers stopped to have a natter, it was all very convivial.

I think winter walking has its own attractions. Long shadows, bare trees enabling you to see beyond, oak trees still retaining some golden leaves. Almost 8 miles today, a good leg stretcher.

I have been thinking about the high street stores which are about to go into liquidation. But then, when did I last buy something in Debenham’s? Not for years. Or Topshop, or Dorothy Perkins. Mind you, I am not an avid shopper at the best of times. My last instore purchases were in Marks and Spencer and very occasionally I go to Monsoon for a party frock, but I think they are also going under. It’s not that I do a great deal of shopping on Amazon either: I am simply not animated by shopping, I have mostly got what I need: I venture to Trespass for walking boots or walking trousers when they wear out and that’s about it. But I suppose the total demise of the high street is a sad thing and will grieve many people. The worst thing is the number of jobs which will be lost, but perhaps that’s as ever was: closure of coal mines, reduction of railways. The NHS needs new recruits? A lot of rethinking needed.

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