There is a lake and bathing hut on the Norfolk Broads that belongs to an old friend. The whole place is ravishing; slightly haunted, full of birdsong, dragonflies, all sorts of other insects. Lines of Douglas fir flank the path to the hut from the house which is low-slung among lawns like an Edwardian ocean liner. As you walk away from the house, past a clump of cherry trees next to an emerald green grass tennis court of such perfection it is incongruous amongst the encroaching scrub, the Broad stretches out vast and dark below you to an avenue of poplars way over on the other side. Above the path, beyond the woods and the bracken, a cricket pitch opens up the the light behind the branches.
It is a treat to drive out of London to a house full of guests, both grownups and children who have congregated for a weekend of delicious food served on tables with a cramped seating plan interspersed with 'round the table' ping pong, groups playing snooker, everyone joining in volley ball and late night party sessions of 'Up Jenkins’ and 'Oh Hell’ and complicated games involving dice and a lot of excited shouting. Over the long summers I usually play cricket in my friends team with a creaking aching body numb from hitting the hard ground as I try to field on the boundary. My partner, a Danish fish at the best of times, swims, day and night and dips in and out of the festivities as much as she dips in and out of the water. And here I have painted her under the stars on her way down to that water, as if she has come out of A Midsummer Night's Dream.