diamond geezer

 Wednesday, May 13, 2020

The UK has now completed 50 days in lockdown...
...and during that time I haven't ventured more than two miles from home.

What's the maximum distance you've been from home?

Here's a special comments box for your answer. comments
» Just the distance, thanks (with one short supporting sentence if you feel the need)
» Be approximate if you need to (nobody cares how precise you are)
» You could measure the distance online (in miles or km)
This is the furthest place I've been to...



...a maple tree on the edge of Hackney Marshes. It's located at the northern tip of the East Marsh, behind the last of eleven football pitches, bordering lush undergrowth on the banks of the River Lea. It's also relatively busy at the moment, frequented by all those who've chosen to do their daily exercise by walking/jogging around the perimeter of the East Marsh rather than sticking to the centre. I don't usually get as far as the maple, I linger closer to the goalposts, but once or twice I've spotted a clear gap between the athletes and dogwalkers and ambled over. The tree's canopy is already thick with leaves, and the ground beneath scattered with prematurely-fallen seeds. From this shadowy spot the skyscrapers of Stratford City look tiny on the horizon, which may help explain why this is the furthest I've been from home.

But I've been two miles from home in only one direction, and in other directions it's been a lot less than that.

The UK has now completed 50 days in lockdown...
...and during that time I haven't ventured outside this box.



This box is tiny, covering a thin strip of the Lower Lea Valley and nothing else.
This box is two and a half miles long and one mile wide.
This box covers only 0.4% of the area of Greater London.
My existence has never been so constrained.

Initially it wasn't deliberate. I spent the first month of lockdown staying home, going to the supermarket occasionally and walking to the top of the Olympic Park a lot. Then I decided to check the furthest north I'd been, the furthest east, and south, and west, and marked them on a map. Then I drew a box around them and noticed I'd been living my life within an area of two and a half square miles. I've kept within that box ever since.

What size box have you been living in since lockdown started?

Here's a special comments box for your answer. comments
» Just the length and width, thanks (with one short supporting sentence if you feel the need)
» Be approximate if you need to (nobody cares how precise you are)
» If you want to tilt your box, go ahead
» I'm not expecting so many responses to this question
The furthest north I've been is that maple tree on the East Marsh.

The furthest east I've been is the towpath of the Three Mills Wall River overlooking Sugar House Island. The towpath's a bit narrow in places so I've only risked it once. The view looks like this.



This towpath is a teensy bit further out than the point where the Greenway crosses Stratford High Street, which would otherwise be my furthest east. I haven't been as far as Stratford station during lockdown, where I'd normally be several times a week.

The furthest south I've been is the Widow's Son pub on Devons Road, or at least the pavement outside, where I briefly nipped on Good Friday.

The furthest west I've been is a three-way tie. One spot is Shetland Road, which I wrote about last week, another is the St Mark's Gate entrance to Victoria Park and the third is the former Public Baths on Eastway in Hackney Wick. Somehow I haven't made it as far as the western end of Bow Road in seven weeks - my choice, but still incredible.

I've checked back to the equivalent days last year, when it turns out the boundaries of my UK box were Walsall, Norwich, Great Yarmouth and Brighton. That defines an area of twenty thousand square miles. But I also went to Paris last April, so the actual bounding box has an area of fifty thousand square miles instead. My horizons were twenty thousand times larger in 2019 than they have been in 2020. That's the scale of the travel restrictions this lockdown has imposed.



But I can be more accurate than that. This red line marks the actual outer boundary of everywhere I've been over the last 50 days. It doesn't go right up to the edge of the box, because I haven't been obsessively trawling the perimeter, but it does shrink my personal space down even further. Rather than the 2½ square miles of the bounding box, the area inside the red line is only 1½.

I may step outside these limits one day soon, but I'm fortunate that the one and a half square miles in which I've been living have offered everything I need. A large supermarket, a convenient river valley, a maze of quiet sidestreets and an Olympic Park that just happens to align perfectly north-south. It may be a tiny area but it's still packed with interest, and thankfully I've by no means finished exploring it yet.


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