Well that title does sound a bit dramatic. Or at least more dramatic than I might have intended.
However - today is the last day for three ‘projects’.
It’s the last day of 30 Days Wild
This has been a regular fixture in my photographic diary each June since 2015. Each year the Wildlife Trusts encourage engagement in the wild things around us, and the sharing of things wild things online too. In practical terms, it means that I try and ensure that my daily picture has a wild theme. This year has been a bit strange (poetic understatement) in that all the pictures have been taken within three miles of the Oxford house. This has meant limited scope this year for spotting whales or puffins, but still left me with lots of birds, insects and wild flowers from the garden or from the various local nature reserves.
It’s the last day of my #FromTheArchive Project
On first of July last year I set myself the target of posting a picture from my digital photo archive each day for a year, with the proviso that the picture had to have been taken on the corresponding day. Sometimes that was a challenge, but on other days I was spoilt for choice - so yes, I have shared at least one picture from the archive each day for a year.
At the start, I found I was giving priority to polar trips, then to other ‘exotic’ places then to images taken in Scotland. More recently, during LockDown it’s felt more important to share Shetland pictures (as a reminder to myself that I will get back there eventually).
Thank you to everyone who has shared or liked an image over the last 366 days, or generally just encouraged me to keep posting.
It’s the last day of my contract at Oxford Brookes
Today is also the last day of my contract at Oxford Brookes University. It’s been an interesting couple of years albeit a slightly surreal last four months. And I certainly know more about Enterprise Data Warehouses and Workload Planning Systems than I did two years ago.
It’s a bit ironic that one of the attractions of the OBU role was that it meant my commute was a 15 minute stroll from home, rather than an hour (or more) on the M40 or A421 - and that I finished the contract by working from home.
Funny word, ultimate.
Everyone seems to understand that penultimate means the ‘one before last’, but ultimate does have a variety of common usages. It is often used to mean ‘the best’, but here I’m mostly using it to mean ‘the last’.
Back in November, I reduced my working week to four days, and said that I would log (or blog) what I did each Friday when I was planning to spend time outside, travelling, photographing, reading - and generally not being at my desk.
For the first few months that all went well - I spent time on Shetland, in Austria, walking the Thames path, buying new cameras, buying new maps. Then came Covid-19, and the Great LockDown of 2020 - which has rather restricted the travelling options but I have still generally managed to be away from the desk most Fridays.
I’ve attempted, recently, to use my Fridays to have a rather longer - but still local - walk than on other days - and to explore some of the ‘green spaces’ close to home that I’ve managed to previously neglect.
Today is the last Friday of my contract at Oxford Brookes University, so it seems like a good point to draw a line under the Friday blog routine - this is (I think) Friday Blog #35.
So what have I done with my ultimate Friday?
I’ve explored Brasenose Wood, I’ve made soup, I’ve eaten said soup, I’ve had a snooze in the shady corner at the end of the garden.
And I’ve composed this blog post - sitting at the table at the end of garden.
|Posting in the Shade (yes, the grass probably does need cut)|
Perhaps the ultimate Friday would have included a wander on Scat Ness - or a walk up to the lighthouse at Sumburgh Head - on Shetland, or a hike up a snow-filled Alpine valley.
So, not the ultimate Friday. But a pretty good Friday..
Blog will continue, but there won’t be a post every Friday. Probably.
|Puffin at Sumburgh Head (12th June 2018)|
|Scat Ness (12th June 2018)|
|Deep in the Wood (12th June 2020)|
|Woodland Tracks (12th June 2020)|
|Old Wood (12th June 2020)|
|Magdalen Wood Dragon (12th June 2020)|
I've got out for a walk into a local green space almost everyday. I've got to spend work time at a comfortable well-connected home desk, and I've had a decent-sized garden to retreat to between Zoom meetings and the weather has been good. I've had good company too.
|Out in the Garden|
Aside from a few supply panics back in March, we've been able to get a lot of food and other essentials within walking distance - and we've kept a small fleet of delivery vehicles (and local businesses) busy delivering other stuff to the house.
But - and maybe there's always a but - the LockDown has got to me this week.
It's not the undoubted, and on-going, governmental incompetence and deceitfulness. It's not really any uncertainty about what happens to me next.
I have been worried for a while about how various friends will come out of this - some have health issues which are sure to be made worse, others have been furloughed (and aren't clear when or if their jobs will come back), others have already had contracts ended or have been made redundant. This worry is there all the time, but isn't new.
What has got to me this week - and I think it's the unexpectedness of it - was a news update from BBOWT - my local wildlife trust. Go and read the news update.
I had naively assumed that folks during LockDown were spending most of their time in or around their homes - and when they did briefly go out they were appreciating (and valuing) their time outside. I had also, very naively, thought that the LockDown might give the local nature reserves the chance of a relatively undisturbed few months. I had this idea that if folks stayed away the flora and fauna would have a chance to do their own thing.
|C S Lewis Nature Reserve- some litter and broken trees (but I suspect someone has been collecting litter too, thank you)|
But no - it seems like, for some people at least, the LockDown has been an opportunity to cut down trees, rip up fences, destroy nesting sites and shit in the woods. What is wrong with people? I really did think that people were better than that.
Is this a generic lack of awareness about what they are doing or is it just a belief that if there isn't someone to police what they're doing they can just do anything they like?
I'd like to think that the offenders lie awake at night regretting what they've been doing, but I'm pretty sure they aren't giving it a second thought. I, however, am lying awake at night worrying about what can be done to mend the damage that has been done and how to educate people to recognise their responsibilities. Surely we don't need to extend the surveillance culture to include cameras on every nature reserve?
Do people really need to be told what they should and shouldn't be doing - or is this just part of the 'getting away with it culture'. Locally, there are many examples of trashing the landscape around nature reserves or of fly-tipping just because there's no one watching. Further afield there are stories every weekend of beaches and national parks being covered with litter (and worse) - all at a time when responsible people are staying local. It goes further up the 'food chain' - there are reports of raptors being trapped and poisoned on grouse moors on the assumption - or hope - that no one is watching. Local councils apparently relishing the opportunity to mow down wild flower meadows. HS2 are reportedly merrily trashing ancient woodlands across central England - there can be no justification of the work being 'essential' - simply because they can do it without witnesses. And our politicians are trying to get away with it too - the seemingly irresistible urge to 'sneak' out new legislation when most people just aren't watching.
Rant almost over.
There is a sign in a local house window near where I live "The Recovery Must Be Green". There is rhetoric about needing "A New Normal". We will probably never have a better opportunity to look at how we start to do things in a more sustainable way. My biggest fear is that the corporate lobbying will result in a New Normal, but that new normal won't be about a new more sustainable way - it'll just be part of a process to try and ensure that a few people will Get Richer Quick.
OK - rant over now. Will try and return to a more measured tone of voice next Friday.
|Seeking Calm in Mesopotamia|
|Lye Valley Orchids|