On any other late May Bank Holiday Monday the sunny weather could not have been more perfect.
We went out fairly early for a walk – before the bank holiday crowds arrived in Abingdon-on-Thames.
In any normal year the Open Air Pool would have been open by this bank holiday weekend and people queuing to get in.
At the weir and elsewhere coloured origami boats had been hung.
A message said Covid-19 has changed our lives. What would people like to carry forward into their lives post lockdown? Write it on a boat!
There were some cannoists at the weir but not a lot of surf. On a normal bank holiday people could have stood on the path over the weir to watch them. This year I took a quick picture and hurried across because people might be waiting to come across from the far side.
We saw swans with cygnets like other years.
At Swift Ditch there were balloons.
The lockdown was recently eased by the government. Now we can drive to take our walks and even relax in the sun. Rye Farm car park was filling up as people headed for the sunny wide open spaces near the river banks in Abingdon.
Bank Holiday Motorbikes roared through town, and people watched with their takeaway coffees.
And here is a video of Abingdon late in the evening with a walking talking commentary about night life during the shutdown.
Here is my own virtual tour of St Ethelwolds House in East St Helen Street.
There were five other people there: a mother and child playing on the lawn; two ladies talking at a table, and somebody working on some repairs. Nobody was making much noise and the birds were singing.
Many people are affected emotionally and psychologically by the everyday challenges and worries that the pandemic brings, whether the illness itself, financial worries, living in lockdown, or being asked to go back to work. The Citizen’s Advice at Coronavirus – what it means for you/ includes advice for people worried about going back to work.
Mark’s wildflower meadow at St Ethelwold’s is named after a young man with Mental Health problems who died tragically after having his benefits cut. Mark loved nature and the garden.
Some of us have found during the lockdown that being in nature can boost our mental wellbeing and ease stress.
St Ethelwold’s House is a welcoming spiritual centre offering a place of sanctuary and quiet to all.
There is also a sanctuary room used by a variety of groups. In this virtual tour you could imagine going in there and being still.
Yesterday – a month after we started – the AbiMeds team delivered their 1000th package of medications. We are also delighted to announce that Tesco Pharmacy have agreed to join the scheme, so we are now covering all the Abingdon pharmacies.
Many people don’t realise that this service is available to anyone, not just those shielding or self-isolating: the aim is to reduce the risk, not just to those queuing, but also to pharmacy staff. So 1000 less people queuing will have made a real difference.
Feedback from people using the service has been excellent, they are amazed by the speed and delighted by the professional but friendly manner of our volunteers. We hope that they will spread the word so that we can help even more people in the next month.
The number to ring to book a delivery is 01865 818351 (open Monday-Saturday 09.00-16.00). For more information see https://abimeds.org/
On today’s exercise walk, we set off through the Brewery Development in Abingdon where there is a sculpture called Barrel – seen here darkened against the clouds.
We walked up Conduit Road – where the Plane trees are growing back after being pruned last year.
The pavements have been decorated like a school playground in one place.
In Albert Park there are many trees.
Prince Albert stands above them all.
He must have noticed a difference in recent weeks. There has been blue sky and clouds but no jet trails.
There have also been fewer cars and no school students. People are not going to church. There are no weddings.
No bells. Everything has slowed down. The economy has gone into recession.
Today was the day when the government started to ease the lockdown rules to restart the economy. People are using the phrase ‘the New Normal‘ and wondering what the New Normal will be. New Normal was a term that referred to the financial conditions following the 2008 banking crisis.
We went on an early morning walk – heading in the direction of Culham along the Thames Path. On the gates were notices to warn dog walkers that dogs need to be kept under control because birds and waterfowl are nesting.
We saw some swans that looked quite juvenile and too young to be nesting.
By the edge of the Thames were Yellow Flag Irises. There was a mix of sunshine and cloud. Temperatures have dropped from last week.
There were lots of other plants growing in the margin between the path and the river. Beyond the margin and river is Abingdon School Boathouse.
The Prime Minister has announced a relaxation of the lockdown rules. We are now allowed to ‘use outdoor sports courts or facilities, such as a tennis or basketball court, or golf course – with members of your household’. I would guess that could also allow some forms of boating, even if that is just two people in an boat intended for eight.
Our walk took us out beyond Abingdon via Sutton Courtenay and back. People are using the Sustrans Cycle Path, even though work has not been completed at the far end. So be aware, it could be barricaded again. We too might have to go back to lockdown if R (the rate of Covid-19 transmission) increases too much.
Near home we saw an alert looking squirrel in St Helen’s Churchyard. The government’s slogan has changed from Stay Home to Stay Alert.
I then drove to Didcot Civic Centre to have a Covid-19 test. I have no symptoms but, at work, we are being encouraged to get tested to minimise the risk of unknowingly passing on the virus to the people we support – some of whom are at high risk.
The test was run by soldiers. I was given a test kit and instructions through the open car window. I had watched the video (above) and knew what to do – touching the swap to the tonsil area for 10 seconds made me gag a bit, but otherwise it was OK. I’ll get the results in 2 days. What did surprise me was the soldiers wore less PPE than we wear at work, and they were talking to people, who had symptoms, through open car windows.
The Office of National Statistics has a website that allows us to check the number of Covid-19 deaths in our areas. Janet has already quoted this in comments. The statistics include Covid-19 deaths registered before the 18th April:
Abingdon Town & West – 12 confirmed deaths (this area includes most of the care homes and the Community Hospital).
Abingdon South – 5 confirmed deaths
Abingdon North – 2 confirmed deaths
Abingdon seems hit harder than most places around. I cannot see any deaths in Didcot.
It is Saturday night. No pubs or restaurants are open, apart from takeaways. I noticed Sami’s Kebab Van on Abingdon Market Place for the first time in the lockdown.
Our short health walk today took us near the Abingdon Wellbeing Centre where I saw this Bee Happy rainbow.
Wallingford School have hundreds of face shields which their DT department have made and they would like to distribute to Key workers. They have worked in Wallingford and are wondering if any care homes etc in Abingdon would like some.