Wednesday 19 May

There has been a lot of press coverage about making rivers clean enough to swim in, “bathing water quality.” During lockdown when swimming pools have been closed, there has been a great deal of enthusiasm for wild swimming, in rivers, lakes and the sea. I am very much in favour of this, but my advice would always be, do not drink the water you are swimming in. I do agree that the treatment of sewage appears to be lamentably poor, with 406,000 “incidents” of sewage going into rivers last year. But choose your swimming spot wisely, a remote Scottish loch, a moorland pond, not a river near industry.

I have almost finished reading “The Salt Path” by Raynor Winn: she and her husband who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness, walked the 630 miles of the SW Coastal Path, wild camping all the way, with very little money, they were in effect homeless. Moth, her husband is still alive: he seems to have drawn strength from the walking and the glorious scenery of the south west. The descriptions of the wind and weather, the rattling tent, the soaking rain, the stunning beaches, the sudden sunshine, remind me so much of walking sections of the path myself.

Sunshine and showers all day here. This evening I Iooked out of the window at a rainbow over the Farthing Downs.

Our laburnum tree in the foreground, now looking very lovely.

I decided I would like something heroic this evening: so here is a Polonaise by Chopin. Vladimir Horowitz is the soloist. I am utterly stunned at how he keeps his fingers so straight, I was always told to curve my fingers nicely over the keys. It just goes to show that to be idiosyncratic pays off. And at 83, this is just fantastic.

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