A few weeks ago the Henley Standard asked me to describe how I spent time during lockdown. This is what I wrote.
It is my good fortune to live in the heart of the Chilterns with a multitude of public paths on my doorstep. Rising behind my cottage is Cobstone Hill where one can roam freely, thanks to the Ramblers and Open Spaces Society who won a right of access there 15 years ago.
The local Ramblers aim to check all the paths in their area at least once a year, and I have taken on my local parishes of Turville and neighbouring Ibstone. Last year I walked all the paths and reported 14 problems to Buckinghamshire Council: mostly poor stiles, and missing signposts and waymarks. It’s good to combine my professional interest in keeping paths open with walking and bird watching, my personal pleasures. In lockdown I have been staying close to home, and have listened to the dawn chorus in the nearby woods.
The downside of lockdown for me is the constant online meetings. These are a chore and distinctly hairy when the internet fails. It’s disconcerting to be chairing a meeting, or giving a talk, when suddenly everyone freezes then disappears.
The Open Spaces Society has never been busier as people turn to their local paths and open spaces. Unlike many charities, our membership has increased in the last year as people come to us for help. Developers have not let up and the countryside is under unprecedented threat. It’s difficult working remotely, with only occasional, solo visits to our Henley office. I have been able to continue producing our magazine Open Space, thanks to Higgs’s Pete Webb who, maintains his firm’s standards though compelled to work inconveniently from his Henley home.
In other words we soldier on.