Events

Late to the Party

Clown costume

 

The Barrel Bikers, a local motorcycle club, usually have a Christmas party every year. It’s always held after Christmas, on a Saturday near the beginning of February. This doesn’t stop them giving out raffle prizes wrapped in Christmas paper!

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No Armistice in Sight For Covid

Social Distancing Project 180On the last day before the second lockdown, I found some of Bucks County Council’s signs in Buckingham. It’s difficult to keep your distance in some parts of this town, where the pavements are extremely narrow and the roads are often too busy to step into. This is West Street.

 

Distance Project 22

After a hopeful Summer, we headed back towards a stricter regime. Bucks County Council were concerned enough to take action in October, sending out letters to householders and erecting signs warning about the increasing number of infections.

They were right to be concerned, as the number of cases in the UK had taken off in mid September, followed not long after by the number of deaths. The Government had to do something, and the second lockdown began on the 5th of November, to run for four weeks.

This meant that the Armistice Day ceremonies, planned to be held in a limited fashion, could not go ahead as usual on the 11th November. But I took a walk via the local war memorial on the day.

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Personal Interactions

Social Distancing Project 168In the warmer months when we were allowed to meet in each other’s back gardens, my brother and his family would visit me once a week. But now the evenings are darker and colder that’s not so practical or pleasant.

The Autumn weather is probably one reason the rules were changed, so that we could meet up in each other’s homes. Now the two boys are back at university there’s just the three of us, but now I go to my brother’s house; my place isn’t quite right for remaining socially distanced. Before Covid-19, we would happily sit close together on these two settees.

The Distance Project 20

There’s no sign of the lockdown going away; in fact it’s been tightened in some areas, though here in Milton Keynes and Buckinghamshire we are still at the lowest level of restrictions. Let’s hope it stays that way.

For a long time, for months and months, I did not go into anybody else’s home. I was slow to change, and it was some time after we were officially permitted to visit other people inside their homes that I started doing so.

So far I’ve been into three other people’s houses. I’m due to visit a couple more this week, but that will probably be it, for now.

I’ve been to the pub a couple of times, The Barley Mow at Cosgrove. Though I got some good shots for the project, the pub is in Northamptonshire so I can’t show you them here.

But how do I feel about the lockdown?

Social Distancing Project 169At the Buddhist temple in Milton Keynes, Sister Maruta wears a face mask in the kitchen. I photographed the temple’s very much changed and reduced Pagoda ceremony and Hiroshima Day ceremony for the project. The temple is not open to casual visitors during lockdown.

 

Well, I’ve spoken to two people who have had Covid-19. Both spent five or six weeks in hospital, both suffered from hallucinations and delirium, and both took weeks to get back to their previous level of fitness after they left hospital.

I had a similar experience in 2011, but that was with septiceamea. It’s harder to catch than Covid-19, but half of all those who get it do not survive. I was pretty lucky that time; I nearly lost an eye, but that was nine years ago and now I’m 61; not so able to fight off serious illness as I used to be.

So you’ll understand that I don’t want to repeat the experience and that I take social distancing seriously.

Social Distancing Project 170This is Clifton Reynes church. QR codes at venues and other places are now common. The idea is that you download an app onto your phone which means you can be automatically contacted, if you have been present at the same time as somebody who has been found to have the virus.

Photographing the QR code, a different one at every location, allows your phone to log where you’ve been, and phone detect each other at the location via Bluetooth. This cat didn’t seem to care and just waltzed right in. But as was soon established at the start of the pandemic, cats and other animals cannot catch Covid-19.

 

So how does this square with going out photographing people out during lockdown? Firstly, going out with the camera was my allowed bit of exercise.

And before I even took one photo for this project I did some calculations to work out how far away I could be from my subject.

The plan was to have two metres between the subject and the edge of the frame, on each side.

I also wanted to take my photos from a low angle and I’d go down on one knee.

And with my face closer to the ground I wanted to be far more than two metres from my subject, as the virus drifts downwards over distance.

With the lens I chose to use, I found I would be about four and a half metres away from my subject if it was just one officially sanctioned exerciser, or around five metres away if there were two of them from the same household, stood together.

Fair enough. I would be happy with that distance, and so would my subjects; I didn’t want to make them nervous by being too close, and the chances of infection either way would be very, very slight.

(Edited, September 2021)
This is just one of many posts from The Distance Project, and the project is to photograph what people are doing differently under lockdown. The link will take you back to the very first posts, but if you want to see them in reverse order, just click on the link in the categories list that's on every page. The project ran from April 2020 to September 2021.

 

Social Distancing Project 171At the Udderly farm shop near Winslow the QR code is just inside the shop, with a bottle of antiseptic gel ready for customers to use. The shop has recently introduced a one way system for customers; we now leave by the room at the back where we buy the milk. I’ve been buying eggs and milk from here since the start of the lockdown, although it’s not the closest shop.

I eat a lot of eggs, and when the panic buying was going on eggs were very difficult to get hold of. Rather than go round two or three supermarkets every week trying to find enough eggs, I decided to drive a few more miles to the Udderly shop. That meant I would get all the eggs I needed, with the minimum of contact with other people. I buy the milk while I’m there because I like it.

 

Social Distancing Project 172This is Jan, one of the owners of the North Hill farm, home of the Udderly farm shop. She wears this face shield when working in the shop.

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Carrying on With the New Normal

Social Distancing Project 154In the church hall at Little Horwood, the sub-postmaster from Deanshanger provides a post office service for a few hours, one day a week. The table helps to ensure customers stay back, and provides a place for them to use the card reader while still keeping their distance.

The Distance Project 18

Here’s a few Distance Project photos from a month or two ago that I haven’t shown you before. The first two are from Little Horwood, and the others are from Winslow. I’ve shown you photos from both places before, but these were all taken on a later date.

As the lockdown rules change, behaviour has changed. As I wrote this, I heard on the radio that the government are considering stricter lockdown rules. They say they want to prevent a second wave.

Just when I thought I would soon be running out of things to photograph for this project, it looks like there will be more to come. I didn’t think the pandemic would last this long, and I’d rather photograph something else now. But I have to carry on.

(Edited, September 2021)
This is just one of many posts from The Distance Project and the project is to photograph what people are doing differently under lockdown. The link will take you back to the very first posts, but if you want to see them in reverse order, just click on the link in the categories list that's on every page. The project ran from April 2020 to September 2021.

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Distant Lights on the Water.

Social Distancing Project 145There’s a moment between the end of the first part of the ceremony and the procession down to the lake, where nothing seems to happen. They are just getting organised, but with only 18 lanterns instead of 200, they’ll soon be on their way.

The Distance Project 17

The Hiroshima Day ceremony at the Peace Pagoda, by Willen Lake in Milton Keynes was officially cancelled this year. I expected a small invite only ceremony of a similar scale to the Pagoda Ceremony, back in June; there had been just six there.

But I was wrong.

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The Day The Bomb Dropped

Social Distancing Project 137I followed some of the temple folk up to the pagoda. In any other year I would have expected at least a hundred people. Officially, there were just ten.

The Distance Project 16

The 6th of August is a day burned into memory. On that day in 1945, the first atomic bomb used in war was dropped on Hiroshima in Japan.

That’s why on the 6th of August every year there’s a ceremony at the Peace Pagoda in Milton Keynes, to commemorate the victims of that day. Volunteers at the Buddhist temple call it the Lantern Ceremony.

After prayers and chanting, peace lanterns are carried down to the lake and floated out across the water as the sun sets behind the pagoda. The light in each lantern is meant to, aided by prayer, guide the souls of victims in the right direction in order to ease their suffering.

Buddhism is a most compassionate religion.

Social Distancing Project 138Setting up was still going on. Chairs were well spread out. I think that’s a tai chi group in the background.

Six weeks earlier, I’d gone to Willen for the Distance Project, to see what would happen on the day of the long planned 40th Peace Pagoda Ceremony. I was surprised and pleased to find a very small, invite only ceremony, although the event had been officially cancelled because of the lockdown. It was all they could do.

Social Distancing Project 139At the top of the slope was a well spread out exercise class.

I expected a similar scene when I went to the Lantern Ceremony and that’s what I found, but a few more people had turned up to the pagoda on the off-chance, too.

Still, there were nowhere near as many there as usual. All around were other groups and small gatherings doing their own thing; exercising or picnicking in the public park.

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