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Travel agent working from home

Keeping life varied is the key to getting through the Lockdown and night time walks add a difference to the routine.  I am fortunate to live in a typical English village with a high street and local shops. During Lockdown the traffic flow has decreased although the cars do travel through at speed.

Knowle High Street at Night
Knowle High Street at Night
Car lights in the High Street
Car lights in the High Street
Waiting for someone
Waiting for someone
Bus with a few passengers
Bus with a few passengers

Many of the village shop lights are on and there are a few people moving around.  The busiest places are the chemist, the 24 hour convenience store and Tesco.  All the restaurants are offering takeaways.  A click and collect meal may make a difference to breaking the monotonous existence of lockdown.  However, it is an expensive one, compared to making your own meals at home.  A feature of the weather is the amount of rain that we have been having. The rain has been intensive leading to major puddles in the street.  My new camera has a tilting screen making it easier to take photographs with when bending down.  The iPhone does a great job but with absence of a flip screen you have to get quite low to see the screen.  These days I find one of the problems is getting back to a vertical standing position after crouching down. 

Picking up a takeaway
Picking up a takeaway

The shop windows are pretty, and some still have the Christmas decorations in them as people are not inclined to do much during the pandemic.  The lights at night are fun to photograph and some of the shop windows like the travel agent remind you of times gone by.  I also walk towards the level crossing at Bentley Health and the footbridge is a perfect place to take pictures of the trains going into Birmingham.  I tend to go out walking with the dog and he does not always appreciate the waiting around for the trains to go by. The picture I took was of a train into Birmingham.  The term “Night Train” came to mind and I saw that Steve Winwood had a song by that name on one of his albums. 

Footbridge over the railway
Footbridge over the railway
The night train to Birmingham
The night train to Birmingham
Train approaching the level crossing
Train approaching the level crossing

There was a picture that I saw on Instagram from one of my contacts taking pictures of petrol stations and wondered why would they being doing that?  Here I am taking pictures of the Shell petrol station at night. 

Esso Petrol station at night
Esso Petrol station at night

I have to say it does have an interesting almost timeless atmosphere about doing such photographs.  The bright lights against the black sky give it importance.  A staging post of interplanetary travel maybe?  I found the change of time for my lockdown photography made the difference.  It was a different challenge taking the pictures at night. No light trails in this set of photographs but I will look to do some later in the month.

Photographic tipThere were two or three pleasing photographs.  The reflected puddle one was interesting as the woman came out of nowhere and made the story.  I am not sure if she did have the takeaway with her.  The night train picture was after a lot of hanging around waiting for the trains to appear.  The petrol station was an idea that I copied from someone else.


An angel wings mural

With this Lockdown, I am planning more varied walks.  Openmap is a clever tool as you can draw a radius on the map .  I am exploring what I can within 5 to 6 miles of where I live.  This is a distance that I can manage walking.  The weather has been cold and damp for most of the week and I planned an early morning walk into Solihull.  Having my camera with me, the aim was to capture the centre of Solihull and then compare this to the previous Lockdowns. 

Post box on Widney Manner Road
Post box on Widney Manner Road

My planned route took me via Widney Manor Rd into the town centre.  At the back of Touchwood shopping centre, I took a picture of the derelict building that used to be Rosie’s nightclub.  A delivery driver passing by wanted to know why I would be taking a picture of it.   Interesting conversation on why I was taking pictures of buildings in Solihull. 

Rosie's nightclub has seen better days
Rosie’s nightclub has seen better days

I moved through the main shopping streets Into Mell Square.  Here I found that there were many people just sitting around.  Some were chatting over cups of coffee, whilst others were just sat around starring into space.  Surely the present lockdown guidelines are not to linger and to treat the time you leave your house as exercise.  The place looked drab and people were listless.  The Angel murals lightened my mood although there was no one around to photograph by the mural. I will come back to take one when life is normalised.

A lone person is welcomed back
A lone person is welcomed back
People sitting around in Mell Square
People sitting around in Mell Square
Another lone person reflected in the water
Another lone person reflected in the water
Masks are worn all the time
Masks are worn all the time
People sitting around drinking coffee
People sitting around drinking coffee
Shops offer sales with no customers
Shops offer sales with no customers
Solihull High Street is virtually empty
Solihull High Street is virtually empty
Buses everywhereMasks and buses
Lots of buses but not many passengers

I moved into Tudor Grange park where it was much brighter as the sun started to break through the clouds.  I took several pictures here including one of the duck pond.  The reflections of light made it look very attractive and the picture I took made the Midlands today weather bulletin.  The change of mood was palpable and there were more people moving around.

Walking into Tudor Grange Park
Walking into Tudor Grange Park
Happy walkers in the park
Happy walkers in the park
BBC Weather Watchers with Shafali Oza
BBC Weather Watchers with Shafali Oza
Tudor Grange Park
Skateboard Park, Tudor Grange Park

Feeling more cheerful, I made my way back home through the Monkspath housing estate and then onto footpath over the M42.  During this lockdown, I am being more adventurous with my walks and seeing more of the countryside.  It was an experience seeing the town centre and how people were coping with the lockdown.  With my camera, I hoped that I documented a day of Lockdown what I saw in Solihull was not pretty and was depressing.  However the parks and the countryside part of the walk cheered me up.

A couple of friends I met at the end of the walk
A couple of friends I met at the end of the walk

Photographic tip.  Documenting the lockdown is not easy.  You can get drawn into what is happening around you.  I took the pictures carefully and tried to ensure that people were not identifiable.  I did also want to convey the difficulties that people find trying to keep to the lockdown.

Sources

OpenMap for drawing radii from your location


Stay Safe from a canal boat window

This is the first post of the first day of Lockdown £3. For Lockdown #1, it was new and we all stayed at home. We came out of that Lockdown and summer drove the virus underground but it was still around. Lockdown #3 was called when the devastating extent of the virus re-emergence became known. During Lockdown #2, I was working so I stopped off in the city to do some daily exercise before moving onto Pebble Mill. This time I am not at work for the main part of the week and only do one day. Almost all of my work can be done from home. So in a similar way to Lockdown #1, it is a stay at home except for the one exercise a day.

Black Boy Marina
Black Boy Marina
A picturesque but empty Kings Arms Pub
A picturesque but empty Kings Arms Pub

With this Lockdown #3, I am looking for more imaginative walks from home. This time I walked along the canal down past Knowle locks with several of the boats displaying “stay safe” signs onto two of the canal side pubs, the Kings Arms and the Black Boy. (The latter pub name comes from the appearance of King Charles II who had a dark complexion). Both the pubs were closed and had a very empty look about them. Even in January the car parks would be full and people would be visiting. Nothing was happening.

Empty Black Boy pub
Empty Black Boy pub
Empty seats
Empty seats

There is a canal Marina between both pubs which was also very quiet. I did have a heron as company which is another story in itself. A strange day with a heavy presence around the canal. A solemn quietness hung in the air as the place seemed to know that this was the start of another Lockdown.

A colourful scene at Knowle Locks
A dramatic scene at Knowle Locks

The tow path was very muddy and difficult to negotiate but the canal boats had their log fires burning. The smell of the wood burning was pleasant to breath in as I returned the way I came and made my way home. When I got to the top lock at Knowle, there was a bright end to the day which lifted the spirits. There are going to be a lot more walks to do before this current Lockdown is over.

Changeable weather
Changeable weather with clouds, sunshine and reflections
The smell of wood burners as you pass the long boats
The smell of wood burners as you pass the long boats

Photo tip – Story telling always helps with your photography. This is about the lockdown and it has pictures of the rainbow and stay safe symbol in the window of one of the boats. We move onto the pubs which should have full carparks and people moving around but there is little happening. Therefore the story concentrates on the weather and the muddy journey with lovely skies.

This was the first day of Lockdown #3, here are my other first days of the previous lockdowns.
Lockdown #1 – Lockdown begins
Lockdown #2 – Birmingham Lockdown #2 – a photographic journey of the first morning

Follow my encounter with a Heron during this Lockdown #3 walk