Blog post by Ian White

The first 100 days of lockdown                                                                         

On the morning of 25 March 2020, I walked from my house in the village of Eynsham to Swinford Toll Bridge. 

At 07.46, I stood in the middle of the road about 30 yards back from the bridge and took a photo, then moved onto the bridge itself to about half way over, and paused. It all felt rather odd and rather eerie; by this time in the morning, the bridge should have been very noisy and bulging with cars and buses taking their occupants to work in Oxford and beyond. But now it was empty … completely empty. Everybody, it seemed, following the new Covid-19 rules by staying at home.

Five minutes later, a lone cyclist made his way over the bridge from the Botley direction followed by a near empty double decker bus ten minutes or so later on its way to Carterton. This was day 2 of lockdown.

I had decided on day 1 of lockdown to respond to it in one way or another. Two days prior to day 1 was Mothering Sunday and many visits by loved ones clutching a bunch of flowers did not take place due to the pandemic, so, using my Facebook page, I got everything off to a bright start by sending a bunch of daffodils (virtually of course) to all Mothers.

Increasingly over the years, my main hobby became photography and I used my Facebook page to display photos of my travels. Its popularity grew and reached a healthy number of followers. So my thoughts were to publish a new photo for each day of lockdown and as we were only allowed a short walk to begin with (permitted exercise),it would have to be local. As lockdown continued, permitted exercise became longer and a car journey allowed, so local became local-ish. To be included, in my case, one of my favourite haunts for wildlife photography, Blenheim Palace.  

I had other reasons for doing this. From the start, it was obvious that lockdown was never going to be short term, therefore mental health issues could increase dramatically. If I could show people images of things happening in and around Eynsham at a time they were seeing and hearing blanket coverage of Covid-19 on TV, the radio and in the newspapers, then this would be a positive move.

I also did it for myself – not only increasing my exercise by seeking out photos to snap while walking the local footpaths, but also increasing my knowledge of photography – non more so than the deep mysteries of the digital camera. Being very much an amateur, it did help me in snapping more varied images for the series of 100 photos.

The response to the photos was very encouraging, with many people saying they looked forward to about 7am to 7.30am each day to see what my next posting would be. On several occasions on my travels around Eynsham with camera in hand, I often heard, ‘Excuse me, are you that man who puts photos of Eynsham up each day?’ A pleasant chat would take place – I had made a new friend and it put a spring in my step as I hunted for my next photo. 

My favourite photos taken during lockdown include: 

1. I was lucky to follow a family of Great Crested Grebes during lockdown, at The Creek on the Blenheim Estate, from the mating/courting dance routine, to the first show of the eggs and the hatching of the eggs. The photo shows Mrs Grebe bringing breakfast to her newly hatched. Mr Grebe is sitting on the nest, although a couple of hours earlier, Mrs Grebe had been sitting on the nest since the eggs were layed. As soon as they know the eggs are about to hatch, they swap places.

2. Lockdown also gave me the chance to concentrate more on trying to improve my macro photography. A very pleasing result occurred with this Banded Demoiselle Damselfly, taken at the footbridge on the Wharf Stream Way Walk. Eynsham. 

3. A reflection pic of Swinford Toll Bridge. Probably my favourite photogaphic subject is reflections. You never know when you are going to spot one and this one I spotted late on day 99 of lockdown. It worked out very well and I used it as the photo on my Facebook page for day 100 of lockdown – the completion of my series of lockdown photos.

4. Swinford Toll Bridge – taken at 07.46 on 25 March 2020, Day 2 of lockdown. A stark reminder of the effect of the coronavirus.

I remember:

– Glorious sunny days spent in the garden during lockdown, but always feeling very lucky to be living in Eynsham not affected so much by Covid-19 as in other places in the country.

– How enjoyably quiet it was to sit in the garden without the noise of traffic on the A40.

– My daily walk to the shop to collect our daily newspapers, only to interrupt my walk and return home as, once again, I had forgotten my face mask.

– VE Day Celebrations (Lockdown Day 49), A lovely day early on, but it did rain hard later on. Most enjoyable to sit outside with friends and neighbours and celebrate the occasion. Everybody brought food and drink. The conversation flowed well as we had been in lockdown for some time. Getting into the spirit of the celebrations, I managed to get hold of a few bottles of Spitfire Amber Ale, and my wife Nicky made a Swiss roll from a recipe by Winstone Churchills chef. It all went down rather well.

Author: Eynsham Lockdown Editor