THE RIVERBANK

Already isolating with a strange and noisy cough, I missed out on the sudden silence at the start of the lockdown. Whenever I did venture into my small garden, the peace felt glorious. Free of the sounds of traffic, both on the roads and overhead, it was as if nature was breathing a sigh of relief and the birds were singing in celebration.

By the time I emerged from isolation eight weeks later, the lockdown was already easing. A noisy construction project had started nearby and road traffic was increasing. If I wanted to savour the silence of nature in these strange and difficult times, I would have to walk to find it.

How lucky then to live 10 minutes from the Thames riverbank – a great place for a daily dose of green and blue. By mid May it’s usually busy with river traffic. This Spring, apart from the distant chatter of families on the opposite bank and the gentle swish of a passing rower, there’s little to disturb the peace. While joyful swifts swoop over yellow irises, a red-hatted swimmer swims a stylish crawl across an unusually empty river. All is quiet – for now.

As lockdown lifts, how best to hold on to a sense of spaciousness and peace? Perhaps avoid overfilling the diary and travel less. Leave more time to stop and admire – to protect the beauty that’s to be found right here. It’s worth a try.