Traditions

Tuesday at the Races

Schoolgirls get ready for the pancake race

If there are lots of children with frying pans, it just has to be Olney pancake race day; Shrove Tuesday. This year it was on the 1st of March.

So what we have here are young boys and girls taking part in an event that dates back to 1445; this is a live tradition.

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Hiroshima Day

Social Distancing Project 255I saw much social distancing and some masks outside the temple. There are about twenty adult faces visible in this photo, and six of them are wearing masks. You might not be able to see all of them in this relatively small online image.

 

The Distance Project 35

Two and a half weeks after lockdown pretty much ended, I went to the Hiroshima Day Ceremony at the Buddhist temple. It was the 6th of August.

Around one in five adults still wore facemasks, both inside and out. But those who stayed outdoors were quite well spread out, most still keeping their distance. Indoors, they sat all next to each other, masked or not.

Most of the people who chose to stay outside could have squeezed into the shrine room, but it seems they preferred not to.

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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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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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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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The Peace Pagoda's Lockdown Ceremony,

Social Distancing Project 127If the ceremony had gone ahead as planned, this scene would have been packed with hundreds of people. The low platform, recently rebuilt for the ceremony, would have been filled with Buddhist monks and nuns, some from Japan or other countries with peace pagodas.
The man beyond the platform wearing dark trousers and a white shirt is from the Parks Trust; it’s their land. Like me, he was there to observe, but not participate. Anyone else you can see here is just a passer by.

The Distance Project 15

It’s been forty years since the Peace Pagoda in Milton Keynes was finished. This year’s ceremony, the 40th at Willen, was planned to be an important milestone event. Hundreds of people from all over the world would attend and I was looking forward to it.

But the lockdown put paid to that idea. Officially, there was to be no ceremony at all this year. But I turned up to take photographs anyway, to see if anything would happen.

I thought I would perhaps see a monk or a nun chanting for a few minutes, or I would be sat there all afternoon on my own. Either way, I would take photos, if only to record an absence.

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