Stony is Quiet Tonight

Simply Floyd front manMartin of Simply Floyd, at the Cock Hotel.

By today, I would usually expect to be very tired. I would have been out every night since Saturday to see live music, at Stony Stratford’s annual Stony Live event.

I miss it. I’ve been out to Stony Stratford in the evenings, to take photos of all the closed up pubs for my Distance Project, which covers the changes the lockdown has made to our lives. 

The town, usually busy with live music fans at this time of year, was strangely quiet. So here, just to help keep you going until next year, are some unpublished photos from 2019. There's also a couple of shots from the Folk on the Green event, also in Stony Stratford in June.

Stony Live will be back next year.

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Two Years of Wandering

The North Bucks Wanderer is two years old today! Instead of looking back at the previous twelve months, I’m just going to take another look at what was going on from late March ‘till mid June in 2019, the days that in this year we have been in lockdown.

Clicking on the title of each of these posts takes you to the whole article.

Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Aylesbury
Published 27th March 2019
Detail  Earthly Messenger statue 01Earthly Messenger.

Twelve months to the day before lockdown began, I took my camera to Aylesbury to see the first anniversary of the David Bowie statue, erected at the corner of the Market Square.

It’s called Earthly Messenger. The Friars music venue promoter David Stopps presided, and sculptor David Sinclair spoke about the making of the bronze statue.

Andrew Sinclair  Earthly Messenger sculptureDavid Sinclair, sculptor.

As I remember that day, it seems strange now how we all stood so close together. It was Sunday, 24th March.

If you want to see all the posts I made in order, during the dates of the lockdown but last year, this is the one to start on; you can scroll up from here.

The Flower of Saint George
Published 25th April 2019. Shenley wood bluebells by pathBy a path in Shenley Wood.

On Saint George’s Day, 23rd April, I travelled to three different woods in Milton Keynes, just to see the bluebells. Twelve months later this would not have been a necessary journey, and I would have not been be allowed to do it.

I also listed three other woods in the NBW’s area, and to suggest anyone visited any of these woods in April this year would have got me into some trouble. The flower of Saint George is of course, the bluebell.

Stony Goes Live
Published 13th June 2019 _IMG5309Simply Floyd, at the Cock Hotel, Stony Stratford.

This week last year, we would have been in the middle of Stony Stratford’s annual live music and entertainment event, Stony Live.

Last year, we had over a hundred different acts to choose from, spread over nine days from Saturday. I spent most of the week in the Fox and Hounds pub, but like all the other pubs there it’s closed now.

DSC05121Band Substance, in the Fox and Hounds.

I stopped to take photos in Stony High Street on Tuesday night this week. A few locals walked dogs. Only resident’s cars could be seen in the High Street; usually there’s hardly anywhere to place to park during Stony Live, and live music fans walk from pub to pub.

In the Fox, I could dimly see the empty bars through the front windows, lit by glowing beer taps. At the other end of the High Street, the Old George is undergoing building work, when usually it would be open, with plenty of live music.

On Saturday this week I’m going to post some photos from last year’s Stony Live that you haven’t seen before, to help tide you over until next year. I’m going to try to post a video too; this will be an experiment; the first video ever on the North Bucks Wanderer.

Next year will be different.

Portrait of the Artist

Photographer's self portrait

The Monday Photo

Here I am, at dusk, on my own doorstep. This photo was taken as part of my Distance Project. I’m affected by the lockdown just like anybody else, so like many of my Distance Project photos, there’s a good two metres either side of the subject, myself.

Quite a lot of my photos from that project were taken while down on one knee, so I’ve duplicated that by setting the tripod to the same sort of height.

The project is going well, and I have a list of subjects still to cover; the list keeps growing as I’m given leads by my subjects, and when lockdown restrictions are changed. In years to come, this is going to be a strange set of photos to look back on, but I’m hoping this project will be a useful historical resource.

I have little idea about how this project will end; that’s not really under my control and neither should it be. I will just keep taking photos until it’s all over.

This, by the way, is one of the few self portraits I’ve made in years. It’s a selfie, I suppose, and I used to make them quite often with my film camera and a nice wide lens, held at arm’s length. The lens and camera were not too heavy, and it was easy.

When I went to digital photography in 2009, this all stopped. I soon found that the camera and lens combination I’d bought was much too heavy to hold at arm’s length, for a self portrait. That’s when I stopped taking selfies, long before they were even called that.

I will be showing you new photos from the Distance Project on Thursdays, as long as the lockdown and its effects continues.

The Distance Project 6

Social Distancing Project 48My sister in law has been bringing “the boys”, my nephews, to see me nearly every week since they were babies; they are now 19 and 21. With the lockdown in place, this couldn’t happen. But with the changes to the restrictions, the whole family came to see me on Tuesday.
They brought camping chairs, biscuits and drinks, I sat at my garden table. It was great; nothing beats seeing the people you care about, face to face.

The Rules are Relaxed

Some restrictions were relaxed on Monday, so there’s been a few changes in behaviour. The more vulnerable are allowed to venture out, though there are still some curbs on what they can do. Visitors in the garden are now permitted. Meanwhile, I take my car to be fixed.

All the other photos from this project can be found here.

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An Old Swan Made New

East Claydon timber frame

The Monday Photo

I’ve been waiting to take this photo for over a year. Back in February 2019, I took another photo of this house. It had scaffolding all around it that rose even higher than the chimneys, and had a roof and sides to keep out the weather.

I guessed that the roof was to be stripped back and rebuilt, but much more was planned.  The timber framed first floor and attic we can see today was concealed behind rendering, and these windows are new. I expect that more work was carried out on the interior.

The work wasn’t quite finished when I took this photo; I think the lockdown has held up the final touches. Still, they’ve made a nice job of it, and I’m not surprised it took so long.

This early 17th Century house was once a coaching inn, called The Swan.

Distance Project 5

Social Distancing Project 36Charlotte Hall has come to the churchyard to tend a grave for her neighbour, who is unable to leave home during the lockdown.


The New Normal

This week’s photos are mostly from out in the countryside, and from the park by North Willen lake in Milton Keynes. While some businesses are able to carry on with restrictions, others remain closed. But it’s now okay to travel further to get exercise and fresh air.

All the other photos from this project can be found here.

Social Distancing Project 39Bessie Davis came from Steeple Claydon to walk along footpaths between Botolph Claydon and Granborough, but it was so windy she decided to stay in the car. It was a wise decision. Half an hour later she would have been caught in a short but heavy shower.


Social Distancing Project 37In J.C. Meat’s farm unit at Hogshaw, Charlie the butcher puts away meat on Saturday lunchtime after the shop has been open all morning. The shop has been opening as usual on a Saturday but they’ve now set up an ordering scheme. It takes just a couple of minutes to collect and pay for your order; cutting risk to a minimum. They’ve also started making Friday deliveries to help those who have to socially isolate.

Continue reading "Distance Project 5" »