At last the welcome beginning of freedom from lockdown. There were two things I most looked forward to, an early morning walk by the sea at Southwold and a walk at Dunwich Heath. The walk by the sea was free and it lived up to all expectations. The walk at Dunwich Heath, which is owned by the National trust, had to be booked in advance – that was a new experience. We were met by a welcoming couple who checked our credentials and explained the rules of social distancing. My friend and I anticipated a strict allocation of our car parking space and marked out paths and a time limit on our visit. That wasn’t the case at all. We could choose our car parking space, walk anywhere we wanted to and were reminded that the gates would shut at 4.00pm, six hours hence, as it was 10.00am.
We chose a good parking space where we could enjoy the sea, the dunes, the heathland, forest and overlook the RSPB Minsmere reserve. We brought our own flasks, so we wound down the windows and chatted as we enjoyed the wonderful scenery. To our surprise there was a variety of birds and their fledglings in the bushes in front of the car. I’m a regular visitor to Minsmere and the Heath. Seeing so many birds was a real treat. While we’ve all been locked up in our homes, shops have been empty, factories at a standstill and all entertainment venues, parks, heathlands and reserves shut there has been an opportunity for the natural things of life to continue without the noise and bustle of people, their presence, chatter and work. Instead of the wildlife retreating deeper into the forests and reed beds, they have claimed their territory back. Very soon they will be on the retreat as we go and enjoy what is theirs by nature. The awareness of what I’d seen at Dunwich has challenged me to take the things that I’ve benefited from into life again as lockdown recedes. It would be all too easy to forget the importance of time and quiet, together with the value of people and their needs.