Enjoying your local area during the second lockdown

Frozen plant-life, Worth Park, Crawley

With Covid infection rates rising, the UK has been forced into lockdown once again. Travel has been restricted and, what is worse is that the UK has become the sick entity of Europe. I mean, hell, we even bred our own strain.

That being said, the last lockdown provided many of us the opportunity to expand our knowledge of our local areas. This lockdown should be no different! In fact, having explored our local areas during the spring time, we can now look at our local areas afresh in the cold grasps of winter.

My partner and I are situated in Crawley, West Sussex. It is an industry-heavy area but that has made the finding and exploring of green spaces all that more valuable. For instance, our local walk is around Ifield Mill Pond (more a lake than a pond) which is surrounded by houses on three sides and a railway on the remaining side. Despite being so close to human habitation we get a wide variety of bird species (Herons and Cormorants have been frequenting the place) and it’s a great place to take kids and dogs.

Yesterday, we went to Worth Park, Crawley. It is a lovely set of gardens with a fountain and a very picturesque pond. They have recently put a coffee hut at the entrance which is nice if people continue to bin their cups. I think that we can all agree that human trash ruins a good nature walk!

Anyway, that being said, yesterday’s walk was lovely. Our dog (recently neutered) enjoyed the slow pace and my partner and I couldn’t help but stop every few seconds to take photos of something or another. It is when forced to explore your local area that you really start to appreciate just what you find and you really start to appreciate the community in which you live.

If, like me, you are a photographer or budding photographer, these places can become playgrounds as you start looking at the from different angles. The two photos included in this piece were taken just by turning round every now and then and trying to find a new angle on those things which I looked at every day.

Exploring your local area can be fun. It can be exciting and most importantly during this awful time, it gets you out of your home and into the local area. That doesn’t mean that you have to break Covid rules. You don’t have to rub shoulders with people. You can talk across space. You can grab a coffee. Take out a book. Sit in the sun or simply enjoy the stroll for what it is.

Homage to Ozack Van-Damme

I loved my car. A Renault Clio Tourer Dynamique with a 1.1 engine, though the engine size didn’t stop Renault selling it as a; “sport edition.” Every time I renewed my insurance I had to convince the person on the other end of the phone that it didn’t have spoilers and nitrous but it did have a large boot for shopping and it shook when it hit 71 mph.

When Ozack Van-Damme shuddered to a stop on a busy dual carriageway I had no idea he was going to be a write-off. The recovery guy told me it didn’t look good before he winched it onto the back of his van and drove Ozack and myself to my local garage.

A couple of days later I got the call. He was as dead as dead can be. A piston shot through thrle cylinder and there was nothing I could do without materialising a couple grand. The next day I found myself emptying Ozack of all those things a car holds. Receipts. Emergency kit. Log book. Ice-scraper. No matter how hard I jammed my fingers down into the gap between driver’s chair and handbrake I couldn’t reach that two-pound coin.When it was emptied, I watched it get hauled onto the back of yet another recovery vehicle. Why didn’t it have scrapyard or car funeral service written on the side instead of “recovery vehicle” as if it was going to give Ozack another chance at life?

Ozack took us around Europe, large boot crammed with camping gear and three weeks-worth of clothes for three of us. He had taken us across the flat expanse of the Netherlands, along the no-such-thing-as-a-speed-limit autobahn and up the steep mountain roads of Switzerland.

It is because of Ozack that we accidentally discovered a dogging spot and caught sight of two people going at it in the back of an old faded red Vauxhall something-or-other, pale naked figures illuminated by our headlights as we swung out of the car park. Men and women stood around the Vauxhall looking like rabbits caught in headlights, others refused to look up and instead kept their heads down. I made out furrowed brows as if they were pondering the universe and not whacking off as they watched two strangers going at it. Though we didn’t see any spectator flesh so maybe it was too cold.

My partner and I had spent many a night huddled under duvets in the back of Ozack, the car perched on top of the cliffs of Cornwall. We were rocked to sleep by harsh coastal winds and awoken by morning light draining in through the windows.

It saddens me to think that he is being put through the works at the local breakers yard. But I guess like so many dead bodies he is being plucked of organs so other machines can last that little bit longer.