Although the lockdown measures have just been eased a little, Abingdon Museum has to remain closed for the time being, with staff and volunteers having to cope with a life outside their usual routines. What helps many people in this stressful time is an enjoyment of nature, and this time of year, when everything is bursting into bloom, gives us nature at its best. Here some of our staff write about how getting outside has benefitted them.
Museum Assistant Shirley Buckle has been rediscovering Abingdon during the lockdown. She writes:
I have lived in Abingdon for many years but until recently had not fully appreciated the beauty of our town. Having recently discovered so many different walks and cycle routes, places to explore, nooks and crannies, all on our doorstep – who needs a car!
So many places to visit locally including Radley Lakes, Abingdon Lock, Ock Valley Walk, Abbey Fishponds, the Marina, Boxhill Wood, Abbey Meadows and the Abbey grounds plus many more I am yet to explore! Yesterday I walked along the river towards Culham and discovered the original bridge built in 1416 – a beautiful spot to take in this lovely area, so peaceful. The river was very still with ducks and swans swimming along.
During my walk I could hear the sound of birdsong from so many different species of birds.
Back at home you can see wildlife in back gardens – a squirrel came to visit the other day, and I have also heard that a muntjac deer came into a friend’s garden!
It’s so refreshing not to hear noise from traffic on the main roads – and less pollution!
During my walk people pass by and say hello – making sure they keep a safe distance and thanking me when I move over.
The feelgood factor of clapping every Thursday night at 8.00pm for all the key workers in the NHS, with the bonus of chatting to neighbours (from a safe distance of course!) who you do not see very often!
When I get back to normal (whenever and whatever Normal is) I think I will definitely appreciate my surroundings more and all they have to offer.
Mousehole Café manager Emma Rose has also been looking at her environment with new eyes:
Before lockdown I would run the same route a few times a week, especially around the earlier months in the year to train for the OX5. This year, I have to admit, I have not run as much as I usually would, nevertheless the same route was still preferable as it was close to home and a pleasant circular route which I knew well.
I have personally found that since the UK went into lockdown and our exercise became limited in the sense that we could only go out for a certain time and the gyms were closed, I have preferred a walk to a run. It gives me more time to take in the surroundings and just enjoy a bit of head space rather than being confined to my home with the same views. I still began travelling along the same route, but at a slower pace, and after a few days I seemed to notice a few cut-throughs in hedges that had been there before, but I was in such a rush that they were unnoticed by me. In my small window of freedom in the outside world I allowed my inner explorer to take over. I have now found two beautiful additions to my normal route which are not only prettier but also less populated.
This is the first little haven that I have found which is normally full of rabbits, and you can sometimes spot a deer or two if you’re very lucky. This track leads to a small woodland area near the rugby club and I have always been amazed at how many different varieties of birds can be heard.
Following this, I would normally run down the straight path adjacent to the rugby club below…
But if you just take a few steps to the right there is a small pathway next to this which is covered by trees and winds a lot more than a boring straight route.
The best part about this discovery is that not only is it beautiful to look at, but that I also end up at the exact same place as if I would if I ran my original path. I am very happy to have found this, I know it will definitely make training for next years’ OX5 a more pleasant experience.
Museum Assistant Stuart Twinn appreciates his garden even more than usual:
Sitting in my garden the other day, I was thinking, what a transformation going back 5 years to when we first moved into our house. It was a completely blank canvas with some very tired looking fencing and a shed, also a third of the lawn looking more like an unloved football pitch. No shrubs, not a bird, not even pigeons. I was thinking: this needs some colour. My first job was to paint the fence and shed. The fence is now blue, yellow and purple, the shed blue, yellow and stone, with artificial grass on the roof, gothic mirrors screwed onto the fence, two pergolas and garden ornaments on the shed and pergolas, and there is now coloured gravel on the dug-up, previously unloved part of the lawn.
My wife loves roses of all shapes and sizes, and at this time of year they are all in flower, some more successful than others. On the gravel part we have standard patio roses, climbing ones over the pergolas, one I put in with a Red Robin shrub. I have done what you are not meant to do: I have never pruned it with the result that it has overtaken the Red Robin, and it looks great! Another large standard rose which was old and in a pot, verging on dying, is now in the earth and doing well. The rest of the borders have various annuals and perennials planted.
One of my favourites are Sweet Peas which are growing up the trellis on one of the pergolas. I haven’t always had success with them, but this year they seem alright, I am cutting a bunch each day for the house.
But this is not just about me and the garden, it is about being grateful that we have a garden. That we enjoy 10 different types of birds, not forgetting the squirrels, and a tiny mouse which has made its home in my new feature (a pile of logs), and of course the frog which appears sometimes. With the Coronavirus around us it has made us appreciate our garden even more.