Today marks exactly one year to the day that the United Kingdom entered lockdown with restrictions on movement placed on the entire country.

We were permitted to leave our houses only for essential reasons; shopping for foodstuffs, medical appointments, or to work (If not feasible to work from home).

We were also allowed one form of exercise per-day for up-to an hour. And that’s where my own personal Covid story began. On the morning of Monday 23rd March 2020, I hauled myself up & out at the crack of dawn & headed for the Queen’s Walk on the southern embankment of the river Thames; a spot I knew was both popular with joggers, and one that afforded me a fantastic & iconic ‘London’ backdrop. As the sun rose from beyond Canary Wharf in the east, light streaked through the 100+ year-old landmark of Tower Bridge & I got my shots.

We were told this ‘lockdown’ would last three weeks. That quickly became months. I was out on the streets of the capital often, documenting what I saw. In the first months, the Londoners I stumbled upon were in awe of their deserted city;

Often it was simply the site of an usually bustling patch almost entirely deserted that drew me to drop a frame.

I was particularly drawn to London’s railway hubs. This is Waterloo Station; the busiest rail terminal in the country at rush-hour;

Cannon Street is the city’s most central railway hub;

And Liverpool Street is the main terminus serving the county of Essex;

Long cues at supermarket entrances became the new normal;

As did masks. A change to daily life that still remains today;

Signage began appearing everywhere:

As well as a conveyor-belt of graphics & slogans;

The Queen had her message of support wrapped around Piccadilly Circus

There were plenty of unofficial graphics too…

Our appreciation for the NHS & the work they were doing grew into a weekly clap;

With landmarks illuminated blue

Lockdown easing eventually began on 1st June. There were moments of normality, then as we stepped into winter, lockdown was invoked once again (For the entire month of November).

It was at this point that I began noticing lots of empty & boarded-up retail units across the city;

We’ve lost a raft of businesses in the past year. I think it’ll be a long time before the high street will truly return. With Christmas approaching, lockdown eased again, then inevitably, infection rates spiked. I was one of many to catch the virus in this window. Thankfully mine was a mild case, although Christmas dinner was a bit disappointing without any tastebuds;

On 27th December, The UK’s third national lockdown began & that’s where we remain. This time round feels much more optimistic, though. With various vaccines approved & a successful nationwide rollout, it does genuinely feel that we’re finally over this, but what kind of world are we returning to?

I was back on Queen’s Walk bright & early today to document what I saw. Once again, joggers passed frequently;

I’ll be perfectly honest, other than some additional signage dotted around the pavement, things appear much as they did a year ago;

The roads are certainly busier. My journey into town was twice as busy, as was my journey home. I’d estimate London’s roads have almost returned to pre-pandemic levels;

The most noticeable difference was the rubbish. Debris was strewn all across Potter’s Field;

As is clear to see, it’s almost entirely takeaway containers & alcohol;

I’m not entirely sure whether that means there are less street cleaners in the area, or that pretty, seated outdoor spots like this are so popular in the evenings that the rubbish simply can’t be cleared away quick enough.

I guess only time will tell. April is a heartbeat away when pubs, bars & restaurants can once again throw their doors open & welcome us back…

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