While ‘the man of action’ perhaps more accurately describes Churchill in time of battle, demanding action from others and of himself, he was always a restless man, fearful of inaction. In his quieter years, he was always determined to keep himself busy (perhaps to keep the ‘black dog’ of depression at bay). Although his favourite pastime was painting, he continued to travel, ride and swim, as well as write books during his ‘wilderness years’ – he only gave up playing polo when he was fifty-two – and was riding into his sixties and seventies. Even when elderly, after the WWII, he continued to travel (to the US, to give lectures and speeches, to Europe for holidays). Despite having suffered heart attacks, strokes and pneumonia, he was far more active – and physically resilient – than most his age.
‘I am writing in one of the Keepers’ Lodges to wh I have returned after stalking & where I am waiting for the Prince of Wales. Quite the best day’s sport I have had in this country – 4 good stags & home early!’
Churchill in a letter to Clementine, from Balmoral Castle, 20 September 1913, from Soames, Speaking for Themselves