In London for a moment to see my agent, do some godmotherly duties and generally remind myself that I am occasionally capable of taking the straw out of my hair. The dogs have only ever been in London once before but they have embraced Hyde Park as if it were their very own. Of particular delight is the number of squirrels. In Scotland, our little red squirrels are so tiny and timid that we only see them about once every three months; in London, the grey squirrels swagger about in the open like mafiosi on a job. The dogs stare, narrow-eyed, in some disbelief, before setting off at a nought to thirty gallop, stomachs low to the ground, in fierce pursuit. The squirrels disappear nonchalantly up into the trees, leaving the dogs barking hopelessly into the high branches. I am told this is not at all park etiquette, but hell, we are all three country bumpkins, and the whole thing reduces me to helpless laughter.
This morning, we had a lovely outing to the Serpentine, where I used to go rowing with unsuitable boys in my lawless teenage years. There was a patient man putting out rows and rows of deckchairs, which I found rather touchingly optimistic in October.
Post squirrel-hunting, the dogs had a little rest by the water -
Then we admired the geese, crossing the road -
And said good morning politely to an extremely smart horse and carriage equipage -
And admired the sweetest house in London, and wondered who lived there, right in the middle of the park, like something out of Hansel and Gretel -
And then we sat on a bench for a while and watched the old gentlemen walk by, and contemplated the general loveliness of London's open spaces. I felt very happy and very lucky. I have caught up with old friends and relations, spent time of high quality with my adorable goddaughter, had the most civilised and delightful dinner in the Cafe Anglais, drank slightly too much Chateauneuf du Pape, and set the fear of god into the urban squirrel population. I think my work here is done.
Tomorrow I go to Cheltenham to appear in the literary festival, and then it is back to the hills, and you shall get your proper blogs again when I am once more established at my desk.