The Distance Project 13


Social Distancing Project 113Approaching the Centre:MK shopping centre, a woman and child already have their masks on.

Keeping Covered

I had a book to collect, so I drove up to Central Milton Keynes, with my mask and some book tokens.  New rules about wearing a face covering or mask had come in on the 24th of July, four days earlier. Shop workers are not required to cover their faces, but sometimes they do.

Like the majority of people there, I wore my mask all the time I was in the shopping centre. We are required to do so under the rules.

By the way, some bookshops will accept book tokens on their websites; I ordered another book online and it arrived today, paid for by book tokens. Also, Waterstones will accept their own gift cards as payment online.

It's thirteen weeks, three whole months I've been on this project. I’m just numbering the photos I show you here as I go along, and the last photo here is number 120. But I have many more photos that I’m not showing you.

Sometimes photos won’t come across well on the blog because the relevant detail can’t be shown here clearly enough; the blogging software compresses photos and they lose fine detail.

Other photos may repeat something I’ve already shown you, but they need to be kept, to preserve as complete a record as possible. All the previous posts on the Distance Project can be found here. The project is to photograph what people are doing differently under lockdown.

Social Distancing Project 114This family group in the Centre:MK wore a variety of face coverings. Children under 11 like this girl do not have to wear a mask.

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the Distance Project 8

Social Distancing Project 67A woman takes a child to school, past posters in a Church Street window.

Wolverton, mostly

I’ve been having a look around the railway town of Wolverton for the project. There’s a cluster of houses on Church Street where most of the houses have lockdown posters in the windows, and nearby a shop has a big painted design, though it’s closed under the rules. The town is quiet, and just a few shops are allowed to be open.

I’ve also got three shots from other places in Milton Keynes to show you.

This week’s photos were taken a little over two weeks ago, but I’ve held them over to cover two events, or rather the absence of those events, in Stony Stratford. That is, Stony Live, and Folk on the Green.

In the project I'm photographing what people are doing differently under lockdown. You can see all the other Distance Project photos I’ve put on the North Bucks Wanderer here, but there’s many more from this project that I haven’t published. 

Some would not come over well on the NBW because the photos are rather compressed here; they lose fine detail. Some are too similar to pictures already published on this blog, but I took them to make as complete a record as possible.

The project continues.

Social Distancing Project 66On what would normally be a school day, the car park at the Radcliffe School is almost empty.

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Letters Clean

Brass letterbox  Winslow
As a schoolboy, I often went to the post office in Winslow High Street with my Mum. It’s been closed for years now, and instead there’s a post office in the One Stop supermarket, opposite the Square. But the brass letter box in the wall of the old post office is nice and shiny. What’s going on?

Despite appearances, the box is still in use. I visited Winslow High Street recently, and when I came out of the shop, I noticed a woman polishing the box. She told me that her name is Brenda, and she said that she has lived in the town for many years. She told me that because the post office looks deserted, she regularly polishes the letter box so that people realise it is still in use; she does it at her own expense.

I looked at the 1911 building. The windows were dusty, and the vending machine in the window last sold stamps at 5p each. It doesn’t look as though the building is in use, but it’s the local Royal Mail delivery office.

If you are not in when your parcel arrives, this office, at 61 High Street, is where you can collect it. For opening times and information click here. It’s opposite the Co-op.

Polishing a letterbox

Last Day for Castle’s Surplus Store

Castle's display window  on the shop's last dayCastle’s side display window.

The Castles Surplus Store in Stony Stratford has opened for the last time. I’ve been a customer of the shop since about 1985, buying workwear, boots and camping equipment, but they’ve had a shop in the High Street since 1968. I wrote more about the shop when they announced their closure, in November.

On Saturday the 19th, I arrived in Stony Stratford before the shop opened at 9am ready to see Gary Castle open up the shop. I wanted to photograph Gary closing the shop up in the afternoon, and he told me that it wouldn’t be before 3pm.

I came back in the afternoon before 3pm but the shop stayed open. I bought a few items; it was my last chance. I took some photos of Ron Castle, Gary’s father and founder of the shop and waited a little longer, but I found that Gary had decided to close up at 4.

I went out into the High Street and pottered around, then came back to take the last photos. Gary locked the door, and flipped the door sign to Closed.

Castle's last dayCastle’s Surplus Store, 8:50am, Saturday 19th January.

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Tea and Motorcycles on New Years Day.

Red classic car

On New Year’s Day  I woke up mid morning, and hurriedly ate breakfast, and got washed and dressed. It was a fair day for this time of year, and I wanted to get out on the bike.

My first stop was at Stony Stratford for the 10th Vintage Car and Motorcycle Show; free to enter, but donations welcome to Willen Hospice. Last year the show raised £4,850 for the Hospice. I’m mostly there for the bikes, though I found one or two other vehicles I liked.

Hand change Royal Enfield

When I left, I followed up the High Street what was possibly the oldest vehicle there, an 1896 Leon Bollée tricar. This two wheels at the front and one at the back tricycle was piloted by Jacqueline Bickerstaff, who I’ve recognised before at the Stony Stratford shows from my British Motorcyclist Federation days. The tricar is not a quick vehicle, but that's no surprise as it was first on the road when Queen Victoria was on the throne. I soon overtook her and left the town.

Stoke Goldington allotment

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Castle’s To Go

Castle’s Surplus Store, who have been in Stony Stratford for fifty years, are to close in January.

The shop opened on April 1st 1968 when it was the last shop you came to going North in the High Street, the 84 year old owner Ron Castle told me.

In 1976 Castle’s moved to 68 High Street, (opposite church Street and next to The Bull Hotel) when they bought it from the W.D. & H.O. Wills company; it had been an International Grocery Store. They’ve been there ever since.

Castle's closing down Stony StratfordCastle's inStony Stratford will close in January.

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