Olga and I went on a long walk yesterday through Hampstead and the Heath. The weather was gray and there were (again) tons of people out, but we had a good time.
For Olga, of course, this meant chasing squirrels up trees and barking at them frantically. Here she's jumping down after doing her best to scale the trunk of that gnarled old oak. She has never absorbed the fact that she can't climb like the squirrels can.
When we first arrived on the Heath, I heard distant music. As we walked we came upon two people playing a saxophone and a trumpet.
I didn't want to get too close and intrude. They were both really good. I made an audio recording too. I deliberately did it from some distance away so you could hear the music blending with the ambient sounds of the Heath, just as I heard it while walking:
The sax at the beginning is very faint, but the trumpet comes in clearer. I apologize for the impatiently barking Olga.
Now that the leaves have mostly fallen, we had a pretty good view of Witanhurst and, beyond it, St. Michael's Church in Highgate. Witanhurst is a huge mansion -- the largest private home in London, second only to Buckingham Palace (which I suppose isn't really private). It was built about a hundred years ago by a wealthy industrialist whose family lived there until the mid 1960's. It then passed through a string of owners including Syria's ruling Assad family before being sold to a mysterious buyer in 2008. It has since been renovated and expanded -- because why be merely huge when you could be IMMENSE -- and was the subject of a fascinating article a few years ago in The New Yorker. (The secretive buyer, it turns out, is a Russian oligarch. No surprise there.)
Olga eventually reached a point when she preferred to lie on the grass and watch the squirrels rather than chase them -- but she still wasn't ready to go home by the end of our walk. So we made another short loop through the woods before I finally coaxed her home.