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Summer warmth, autumn winds. August days tinged with October.  I walk the towpath on the north side of the river. Twickenham to Richmond. Dipping down from the broad, bustling, characterless main road through the ancient churchyard. Dark sarcophagi. Mossy gravestones bent over from years. Soulful.   The river.  Early morning. Still. Quiet. The road winds behind The Stables where local government officials are tethered to flickering machines. Past the White Swan. Droplets of last night’s downpour glisten on umbrellas above empty tables. A lone glass holds dregs of beer diluted with rain. Last night’s laughter echoes softly in the canopy of trees. Passing under...

As the little book says, there’s a duck pond at the start (and end) of a circular walk on the edge of Braemar. It’s here, after completing the walk, that I sit on a bench to write. In case anyone should be in any doubt, there are several ducks here. Two of them are foraging for food in the depths, tail feathers pointing straight up in the air, back feet lightly paddling the surface of the water. I suppose this keeps them balanced in that ungainly vertical position that looks so comical.  Another pair are cleaning and preening, nuzzling their beaks...

I couldn’t find a single leek. Had to buy a pack of three. She’ll never use the other two. She no longer cooks. Nor eats much. The single onion was easier. You can still buy them loose in the supermarket. The carrot, too. A nice, chunky firm one that I pared slightly and chopped into small even squares. Lovingly executed.  I was in no hurry. The day stretched out in front of us as all days must do for her now. Housebound. Individual days stretching out but collectively rushing by with hardly a mark to distinguish one from another. Diced the onion, sliced...

He looks lonely. I say ‘he’ though, when it comes to swans, who knows? Something about the solitariness makes me think it’s a male. An assumption that I maybe need to question, but for now let’s call him ‘he’. He was busy while we watched. Preening himself, sinking his beak into the thick feathers on his plump haunches, pecking away, bothering out the dirt or scratching at a tiny insect that maybe nestles in there. I sympathised. I had the odd scratchy moment myself on this gentle walk along the Grand Union Canal on a warm July Sunday. Minute insects fleeing...