Talking, racing and dogs

Thanks goodness for some sunshine. It makes such a difference. The past fortnight has been busy with literary festival talks, at Keswick, which was wonderful, lovely audience and a chance to soak in the lakes (do I mean soak up? Somehow that sounds worse). The authors were all staying in the same hotel and entering the library for drinks took on a slightly surreal note, but the novelists there were all very famous, and other people writing about such bold and exciting subjects, it was very enjoyable. I even had a chat with Jeremy Hardy at breakfast about why no-one is called Jeremy any more.

I also visited Lowther Castle outside Penrith, to hear about all the plans to consolidate the ruins and open it to the public. A wonderful gaunt, dramatic pieces of scenery somehow straight from an opera, but once the great seat of the Earls of Lonsdale, until de-roofed after the Second World War. I am moved by the ancient landscape and the enthusiasm of the young Mr Lowther who has to make a go of it all.

Managed a day at the races on Friday, and what a day, the Cheltenham Gold Cup – hopeless betting, but every race an absolute corker, and the roar of the crowd as potent as what I recall from attending the meeting in 1984. Stayed the night with relations in Hailey, and went to visit the ruins of Minster Lovell Hall in a delectable riverside setting, children playing hide and seek, everything damp and splendid, the dovecote like an ancient temple.

I was speaking at the Oxford Literary Festival on Saturday, which was in lovely Christ Church, and I was introduced by the delightful Alison Boulton, which such enthusiasm and positivity that I couldn’t wait to hear myself. Then a mad drive across country to attend a family celebration, held in the Great Hall at Loseley Park, near where my father and his wife live. It is a handsome room, 16th century, but filled with later portraits, as a family home for 500 years of the More-Molyneux family, Mike MM made a very funny speech. It looked wonderful by night, with an open fire and a room of people in back tie and dresses. I hope my father and his wife were pleased with the evening, celebrating their 30 years of marriage.

This week I have been meeting pressing deadlines as ever, but was obliged to slip out at lunchtime today to take our Jack Russell to a charity dog show at my daughter Miranda’s school, raising money for a Lourdes charity. Black Labradors and King Charles’s spaniels were in great supply, so our game and curiously blue eyed terrier, didn’t win the ‘beauty’ category on which Miranda had pinned her hopes . . still the cake stall was good. And the sun shone.

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