Lockdown in Manningtree and Dedham Vale – Sunday 25th April

Pictures and story contributed by Phil D.

Greetings everyone and trust you are all staying sane and well in these strange times. It has been interesting to read all the diary entries so thought I would give a Manningtree perspective!

My lockdown has consisted of two totally different ways of life. For the first and last fortnight I have been wrestling with the demands of creating a ’virtual’ Science Department for my school. This has resulted in endless coordination via Zooms and Teams video-conferencing and loads of phone calls as well as creating work for students and finding suitable formats for students to submit work and get feedback. Luckily the school was very organized, planning well ahead, and the response from my team has been incredible.

For the Easter holiday it was a complete change of pace and joining swathes of the country in lockdown activities such as sorting out garages, sheds and piles of junk plus gardening and cleaning the house! I have been enjoying some of the theatre downloads, catching up on books, taking on the computer at Scrabble, practicing the clarinet and trying to avoid the temptation of eating and drinking too much. I have even indulged in the entertaining pastime of trying to cut my hair myself with two mirrors, scissors and a comb! Doing the back is a nightmare but no-one to criticize!

Manningtree has turned out to be a good place for lockdown: big enough to have key facilities but small enough to avoid endless queues and dodging people all the time. I am incredibly lucky as within a couple of minutes of leaving my front door I can enter Dedham Vale and there is also a myriad of paths in the woods and fields above Manningtree and Mistley to the south. I have updated my OS maps and try to invent new rounds most times I get out!

11a. Lawford Church on the hill above Manningtree
11b. Woods near Lawford Church
11c. Spring blossom
11d. Gorgeous bit of river between Stratford St Mary and Dedham

Last Sunday in the beautiful weather I was determined to get some exercise as I had been cooped up all the first week of term getting things going, so I left the house early and walked up to Stratford St Mary mainly following the Essex Way (with a few picturesque diversions I have discovered) and returning along the river. It was a glorious day with blue skies and lovely shades of new green all around. Birdsong could be heard everywhere and I only met about 20 people in total over the whole walk. I enclose some photos as Marie-Louise requested in her original set-up of the diary to remind people what is waiting for us all out there in the future.

11e. Even the cows were feeling hot at Dedham Bridge
11f. Dedham Meadows on the way to Flatford Mill
11g. Flatford Mill
11h. River Stour on way back to Manningtree

Back home in the garden for a well-earned cup of tea while the dinner goes on in the oven! Again I am very lucky to have a green space to retreat to and enjoy the sunshine. Living on my own in these uncertain times, family, friends and colleagues have played a crucial role in supporting me and it has been lovely to see the increased support from neighbours and community organisations such as the IOG.

11i.

Even if what people are posting or sharing only affects a few of us it still helps and gives us something to relate to. I look forward to one day enjoying our community again on walks and trips – still look back to our Norfolk trip just before lockdown with fond memories. I finish with a poem I read the other day which seems very apt at the moment. Take care.