Kent (Lock) Downs

The easing of the lockdown in England has been happening at a slightly different rate to the rest of the United Kingdom, leaving some conflicted. We are told to remain home unless strictly speaking necessary, while simultaneously being told we can have as much exercise and recreation as we like, even sunbathing in a park, if we socially distance. When this was first announced I was initially very angry – to me, clarity in guidelines, and indeed the law, is what keeps democracy from descending into anarchy. However, after a couple of days, I decided that two months cooped up alone was too much. I needed a view, animals and maybe photography.

I know of a location not so far from me, on the North Downs, where I can be in a very large field with an excellent view towards the coast, almost certainly without other people nearby. In fact I found that my morning out involved less social contact than walking around the estate I live on.

The corner of the field I found myself in had what seemed to be a fresh badger sett. While admiring it I noticed movement to my right and realised that I was also next to a fresh fox den!

Two cubs came out to play, one of which was camera shy, but the other allowed me close once I crawled myself over there on my stomach.

It was just the tonic I needed. Having returned home I edited the photographs a little bit, sending a few to people I knew would appreciate them, but not putting them on social media until I felt right about it.

At the time of writing this, England is the only country in the UK to have even remotely encouraged people to go outside again. I didn’t post my photos online initially, because I knew that me being outside might be a bone of contention for some.

To me this is far less risky than travelling as a family to the seaside, where all the public conveniences and cafés and restaurants are shut. It is also less risky than dozens of people I have seen this week walk straight past elderly folk on the footpaths around town. It is also less risky than the shoppers, predominantly men I am ashamed to admit, who are perfectly fine standing 2m away outside the supermarket, but inside will walk straight past me. This whole thing is as much about social distancing as it is about staying indoors.

I have spent two whole months inside on my own so far. At no point have I travelled hours to see family and friends, many of whom I’ve missed so much during this period.

If you can be on your own for flipping ages somewhere and it gets you fresh air, how can that be bad?

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