Rocking Down the Line

Duckhams can guitarYes, that guitar is made out of a Duckhams oil can.

I was recently collared by musician Duncan Babbage (I’ve known him for years) on my way into The Old George in Stony Stratford.

He asked me to take a few stills and if possible video a couple of his numbers; his Duncan Disorderly Banned (band) was playing. Here’s the two videos I made that night. It’s the first time I’ve filmed a band in four years, and I'm quite pleased at the result.

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Social Distancing Project 248

The Distance Project 34

On Monday the 19th of June the lockdown pretty much ended. Freedom at last.

On Friday the 23rd of June I went to see my first live band in a pub for over 16 months. I’d missed my regular Friday night gig and found this to be a great release, and not just for me.

The band was Wait For Jude, the pub the Fox and Hounds, Stony Stratford.

People danced and sang and didn’t seem to care if they were near anybody else or not. Actually, there was a lot of deliberate close contact going on; mates rubbing shoulders, women hugging, men and women dancing in lines.

It was like we had never been away.

I’d been planning how to photograph this event for months, and this is what I saw.

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Talking to Strangers

Social Distancing Project 230


The Distance Project 31

I went to my regular pub on Monday, the Fox and Hounds in Stony Stratford. I haven’t been in this pub for over a year. It’s been closed; I think you know why.

Not sure what to expect, I turned up, ordered a pint and the barman brought it to my table, along with the card payment machine.

I didn’t have to wear a mask while drinking, but the barman and landlord both wore masks.

It’s been so long since I’ve been in the Fox that I couldn’t remember what I used to drink, but the off duty barmaid sitting at a table in one of these photos recognised me instantly, remembered what I drank (pint of Tribute) and which night I usually came in (Friday).

I was impressed.

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What Did I Do This Year?

Quite a bit, really. I managed to get around to quite a few places in North Bucks when we were allowed to, and got all the way to Hillesden before the lockdown. But this post is a Covid free zone; I’ll say no more about that today.

Now here are some of the highlights of the year from the North Bucks Wanderer.

Great Linford station

On a grey February day I explored The Railway That Nearly Was, a line that might have gone all the way from Wolverton to Wellingborough, but only made it as far as Newport Pagnell. If you know what to look for, you can still see where the line was meant to run.

This was the old station at Great Linford.


Musket ball hole  Hillesden

Hillesden Church is often called The Cathedral in the Fields, for its huge Perpendicular windows. Because of the windows, Inside All is Bright, but here is the outside of the porch door, in the shade. That’s a musket ball hole.


Olney pancakes

In Pancakes for Everyone, some of the Olney Pancake Race competitors wait to run. As well as the town race, there’s an international match against another pancake race in Liberal, Texas.

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Gin O’clock at Little Horwood

Social Distancing Project 84Gin in the garden at Little Horwood.

The Distance Project 10

It’s 5 pm, and the sun is shining. Chrissie Beckett, who doesn’t like to be photographed, (see last week) has put out chairs; it’s Saturday afternoon and it’s gin o’clock.

Women from the village walk into Chrissie’s front garden and sit down. They’ve brought their own drinks, but sometimes they can be tempted to try a different gin. Chrissie is out of shot to the right, in the first two photos.

Later on that day at the Shoulder of Mutton pub, the landlord Lewis Huntington is delivering meals that customers ordered earlier.

He’s been doing this for some weeks, and delivers beer too. The beer deliveries started when he was caught with lots of beer in the pub, at the start of lockdown.

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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.

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