Tony sent me this picture and asked What is going on here?
Tiger Moth, a longboat covered in camouflage rigging, is a familiar sight in Abingdon, but what is it doing moored at 90 degrees to the flow of the river, at the end of the island near the lock? Is it a case of shipwreck? Or extreme social distance measures?
I did hear from the owner that he had let his boat for a while and was living on dry land.
At Abingdon Lock, a public notice say that the lock keeper is avoiding social contact (more so than usual) but still carrying out all essential duties.
There was no sign of him but near the lock there was a digger and some work people doing something to the banks.
Government-allowed-exercise, during the Covid-19 pandemic, is a chance for us landlubbers to walk and cycle and revisit out of the way places near Abingdon. I now realise this could conflict with the interests of boat owners who are seeing a bigger footfall than usual. One BBC Report says ‘canal boat residents say they might as well be living “in the middle of Tesco” because towpaths remain open making social-distancing impossible.’
The EA are advising little boat movement currently. They cannot yet identify and deal with buoys, that have moved during the strong stream conditions, or deal with fallen trees.
The short waterways season will be late starting. When the restrictions are lifted there may not be as many boats about because a lot of people (including those from overseas) have cancelled their holidays.
The EA have also suspended fishing at lock and weir sites until further notice.
Our walk took us away from the Thames towards Swift Ditch Lock, the first pound lock on the Thames. For 50 years up to 1790 it was the main navigation channel. The overgrown lock walls can be seen beside a footpath that goes to Clifton Hampden – a ten mile circular walk.
There is a sign outside The White Horse pub saying Thank you NHS.
There is a Healthy Abingdon web page with information about the NHS and other services to help people at this time… http://www.healthyabingdon.org.uk/coronavirus.htm.
Lucy asked me to let people know of a new scheme she is setting up to help some of the independent shops through this time. …https://www.facebook.com/pg/ox14independents.
Most independents are closed and probably still need to pay rent.
Most supermarkets have introduced queuing as they limit the number of customers in shops at any one time.
Tesco Extra prioritise the elderly and most vulnerable for one hour between 9am and 10am every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and NHS staff between 9am and 10am every Tuesday and Thursday.
Waitrose dedicate the first hour to elderly and vulnerable shoppers, as well as those who look after them.
Both shops now have new flow signs, and dedicated marshals to help manage queues, and remind customers of the two-metre social distancing rule.
Hopefully the days of panic buying toilet rolls are over.
Who would have predicted the two-metre social distancing rule: certainly not Abingdon-on-Thames Town Council with their Happy to Chat benches.
Martin Buckland took this picture of the A34 at 15.30 on Friday 27th March 2020 when in normal times both lanes would be full going north, either with slow-moving or stationary traffic. It was taken from the Sunningwell bridleway bridge and Martin had to wait till there was traffic to photograph. Most of it was lorries.
On our exercise walk today we first crossed the Market Place to post a letter in the outside box rather than going into the Co-op. That was about midday.
We headed down Bridge Street for a walk along the Thames Path and back by the Causeway.
A rope cordon had been put round one boat with the notice ‘Due to Corona – Please Respect Boaters Space.”
All except one deckchair had been collapsed as it was much colder than the previous few days and nobody was sitting outside.
The path towards Culham was a little busier than usual with people out for a walk. Most people maintained a safe distance on passing..
From the causeway we could see a tractor going back and forth across a wide field, preparing the ground for next summer’s crop. We are reminded how important food production is after the experience of wide scale empty supermarket shelves.
I was also sent a list of national job opportunities showing there is a lot of work available in the NHS, supermarkets, warehouses, delivery services, and care homes. Some jobs are temporary during the current pandemic, and some permanent. I expect the farmers will soon also need a hand to help pick crops.