Day Out

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I never have a day out in the ordinary sense. My life is a satisfying mixture of work and enjoyment. I live in a rambling old cottage in the Chiltern hills. It's there that I have my study, where I do my writing and thinking, and it's there that my secretary comes three days a week. My day out ironically consists of going to work because I go to London a couple of times a week, to attend the House of Lords when it's sitting. I take one of the new trains on the Chiltern Line, which after years of neglect has suddenly blossomed into a clean, fast and reliable service. It's a lovely journey.

If I'm feeling lazy on arrival, I take a taxi, though that costs far too much. When I'm in London I occasionally get taken out for lunch. My favourite place is The Gay Hussar in Greek Street, W1 (071-437 0973), where I used to go with my husband when he was alive. Today I eat in the Peers' Dining Room, House of Lords, but I don't like it much because it's a bit public school. You sit on these long tables and you're supposed to take the next empty seat. I prefer the members' cafeteria in the House of Commons, where I get a jolly good plate of roast lamb and veg for pounds 1.95. It's nice to be able to entertain friends in the Peers' Guest Room. They serve a good tea, specialising in toasted teacakes and blackcurrant jam.

Back home, I enjoy going to the woods in Hampden with the dogs. There are usually three dogs in the house, including my little golden cocker. They have a lovely time on the river bank - it's a doggy paradise.

Barbara Castle's autobiography 'Fighting All the Way' is published 9 Sept by Macmillan