Pandemic diary 81: Lockdown walks lead to a new map

Just before lockdown, three of us launched Walkspace as a Midlands collective based on the strange and often academic arts of creative walking. We ran a few events, mostly night walks, before the global pandemic smothered all our plans. 

Restricted to solo walking our suburb of Stirchley we started noticing… everything. And then we started mapping all these things, inviting others to help, and creating a local taxonomy of the weird and usually ignored.

From these lockdown observations, new walks shall be created! And maybe we shall even walk them together.

Today was the day we hit 100 pins on the map. A landmark in its own right. And we've barely scratched the surface.

The survey has highlighted peculiarities including:

  • temporary landmarks, such as the Rubble Hills, Secret Garden or the location of a song thrush at sunset
  • bizarre curiosities, such as the stone-carved moustachioed cat lintel and the (occasionally) ticking house
  • alluring infrastructure, from alleyways and tunnels, to a hall of mirrors doorway, to a concrete cricket pitch
  • digital notes, such as Google's centre of Stirchley
  • amusing or creative markers, such as the world's most uncomfortable hammock to 'the world's smallest post office' or favourite tree trunks.

It is the antithesis of the 'Viva Stirchley' slogan/hashtag which celebrates everything new and shiny and independent, and all those things that have swept Stirchley to being featured in Conde Nast Traveller.

No, this survey is driven more by a 'Keep Stirchley Weird' stance, celebrating the oddities, curios, marvels and wonders of our neighbourhood; the beloved markers of those who frequently tread its streets; a freak show of small and large landmarks for other local walkers and the visiting tourist hoards (no doubt) of the future.

Details of the Stirchley Mapping Project and how to add your own lockdown walk observations/photos are on Walkspace.

Or you can go direct to the Survey of Stirchley map and peruse the strange landmarks at your leisure.

Thanks

To Doctors. Not only doctors in general but the BBC TV show Doctors, which is based in a fictional Birmingham called Letherbridge. Today was the day that lockdown hit – both in their filming schedule and in the wrap-up content. 'Can You Hear Me?' was an extended show with the characters all dealing with lockdown from week one to week five or six.

And it was all there, everything we've all been through: the awkward technophobic Zoom calls; the working from home online meeting; the online exercise classes; the anxiety, panic, tiredness, insomnia and depression; the assumption that every symptom is the virus; helping vulnerable friends and family; the experiences of doctors and nurses on the frontline; the frustration on not being with loved ones in maternity wards or indeed at the end of their life; and, of course, one of the key characters, a nurse working 13 hours shifts, contracting Covid-19, and the will she/won't she make it storyline.

It was awkward in places but also so well done. It made me laugh and cry. I'm a longtime Doctors fans and I loved it. It's on iPlayer here if you want to give it a go.

Well done Doctors. Even acting Doctors!


Commission/hire me: fiona [at] fionacullinan.com


2 thoughts on “Pandemic diary 81: Lockdown walks lead to a new map”

  1. that's a terrific project and some great pics. i'm loving the 'ghost of cobblestone' as well as 'the entrance to hell'.
    i was toying with doing an alternative version, but on balance decided it would prolly be too depressing – for example: pub on the corner of my street became a shop a few years back, and now the street (corner) is paved with chewing gum. gross. but interesting visually. the pavement is often paved with cast-off losing scratch cards.
    meanwhile, down the street at a busy, awkward junction, overlooked by a railway bridge is a piece of pavement that's hard to avoid. this five-metre stretch is usually knee-deep in pigeon shite and just howls disease! fair play the council have tried. repeatedly. but they failed.

  2. I love the map! I have often thought of creating some kind of overlay to our running routes, as we have alternative descriptions – where Tracie gets her waxing done, that bus stop Bernice cried in, etc.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.