Saturday 2 January

Caitlin Moran in today’s Times writes that lockdown has been a liberating experience: no work events, no parties, no commitments. She has been able to spend time with her family, her dog, and work in her garden. I know she is giving a journalistic gloss to something which most people have found hard: she ends, keep your calendar ecstatically empty. But I am tired of crossing things out. I have a ticket next week for the Artemisia exhibition at the National Gallery, which of course won’t happen. Another crossing out. No aquafit on Monday, only online Pilates. Little expeditions which give structure to the week, and social contact.

I am very determined to get out for a walk every day, or do something in the garden. The latter option is not too attractive at the moment as it is very cold and wet, so a walk it is. I returned to Riddlesdown. This is an extremely popular open space, and on Saturday very busy. I was surprised to find that at this time when people are urged to stay local for their outdoor activities, that the car park is half full of construction paraphernalia. It seems to be related to Network Rail so I imagine they must be doing something to the tunnel which runs underneath.

There was of course no parking space so I ended up on the grass at the side. Lots of walkers, children and uncontrolled dogs. I do hope people realise that the lockdown puppy is going to be with them for the next 15 years.

Yes, the ground really does slope like that, I had not been hitting the Christmas spirit. I did a 3 mile circuit, and once more than 15 minutes from the car park, saw fewer people. It is a magnificent open space and a great asset to the locality. Walking alone I inevitably heard snippets of other people’s conversations. “….and of course she ended up in 10 days isolation.” (As a result of what??) “Well they stayed in a hotel, and the others in a house, and it actually felt quite normal.” Is this what we are all striving for, a semblance of normality?

I heard the Brideshead Revisited theme on the radio today: I so enjoyed that series. The music seems to encapsulate the grandness of Castle Howard, where it was filmed, and the tragedy of the central themes. We visited Castle Howard not so long ago and it has been dining out on the success of Brideshead ever since. This year their income will have been greatly diminished, as it is a popular wedding venue, and also is a stopping point for many international coach tours.

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