Saturday, 16 May 2020

Snapshots of Lockdown from a small east coast town.

The last few days have felt simultaneously strangely familiar and yet disconcerting and worrying. With the relaxation for now of the lockdown restrictions there has been a increase in traffic and people around Hunstanton and the surrounding coast and countryside, still not at the levels we would normally expect but much busier than it has been. With this increase in people out and about, there has also been an increase in rumour, opinion and worry; does the holiday cottage at the end of someones road now have people in it, will we be inundated with folk 
this weekend and with them an increased risk of the virus

This shift back towards a more normal number of people and cars is a bit of a jolt we have been lucky living in a relatively sparsely population corner of England. Whilst the Virus is present in the local population we have been able to isolate ourselves and enjoy quiet walks and bike rides, that sense of peace and tranquility and accompanying feeling of relative safety now seems to be fading away and will for a while at least be missed. 

Today we went for a walk in our local woods and you could see those small personal judgements made in households, about maybe relaxing social distancing rules just a little bit starting to multiply when applied to the population at large. Groups of four or five teenagers on mountain bikes, inter-generational family groups walking together, workmen standing close together discussing a job. All small personal decisions but when multiplied it makes you wonder whether we will soon see another rise in infections. 

We have two good local walks which we have been able to lengthen and shorten according to need. One takes us down Lovers Lane along the oak lined track that is Downs Road and then towards Ringstead Downs. The other walk goes along Old Hunstanton Beach towards Holme and then back along the edge of the River Hun past the Golf Course. Since Lockdown began on 23 March I have managed to see or hear 101 species on walks from home mainly on these two routes. 

As spring has progressed I have watched as the fields either side of Lovers Lane turned a vibrant shade of yellow as the Oil Seed Rape bloomed and now as the Rape sets seed these fields have faded to green. I have learnt the best fields to search for Wheatear's in Spring and which hedgerows to pause by to listen for the songs of Lesser Whitethroats. On the coast path we have enjoyed watching dueling Green Hairstreaks and basking Wall Brown Butterflies. 

It has been these walks on my own and with the family that have helped to keep me fit and sane over the last couple of months, indeed more than that I have enjoyed getting to know the small east coast town that I call home and its surrounding countryside better and watching a season unfold in my local area. 

Soon Spring will give way to Summer, already the swaying hazy white blooms of Cow Parsley have taken over from Alexanders in the hedgerows and soon the Cuckoos will fall silent. Whilst lockdown is being lifted a little for now I will be focused on my home ground and on the walks that I can do from home for some time to come.

I have been trying to post regular pictures and accompanying words on my Instagram account here