Standing with Giants

I have been to several art installations which reflect on the Covid19 pandemic.  I have covered “In Memoriam” Luke Jerram’s flag creation that visited Aston Hall. The flags were blue and white and made from hospital bed sheets.  They were stunningly arranged in a medical symbol. “This is Gratitude” is an Art installation of 51 sculptures championed by Dame Zandra Rhodes. The figures visited Chamberlain square in central Birmingham and were painted by several artists.  These two installations were colourful, moving and told stories about different aspects of the Pandemic. 

Standing with Giants
The front and ….
Standing with Giants
The grounds of Coombe Abbey make a superb setting for the installation
Standing with Giants
The backs of the figures with the messages of thanks and hope.

Would I go and visit a third installation by the “Standing with Giants” organisation?  This post tells the story of my visit to the installation. I nearly missed it and only picked up on the tour via a photographer I follow on social media.  The beautiful grounds of Coombe Abbey were the setting for the visit.  Standing with Giants consists of 300 figures cut out of industrial recyclable materials. On one side, there are colourful paintings of key NHS workers.  When you first encounter the figures, you are struck by how many of them there are.  Already there are emotional touches to the installation as bouquets of flowers have been left at the feet of some of the figures. 

Standing with Giants
Playing hide and seek amongst the figures
Standing with Giants
Having fun
Standing with Giants
Sandy writing her message

Chloë, my grand daughter, started playing hide and seek amongst the figures and I followed her deep into the art display.  As I turned around, there was a surprised waiting for me.  The backs of all the figures were black and there were messages written in white.  The sight of all the black figures wearing white face masks is extraordinary. It was different to the colourful front facing view. The messages were a mixture of thanks, hope and remembrance. The were both moving and a joy to read.  Clive, one of the volunteers, came over to us and handed us one of the white writing pens. Sandy is an ex nurse and she penned a message on back of one of the figures.  We spent a good 15 to 20 minutes taking in the messages and the sights.  It was a different approach and I am fortunate to have seen three different installations that make you think, challenge and also help in reflection about many of the individual tragedies that happened during the pandemic.

Standing with Giants
More of Coombe Abbey

Finally…..We just want to say thank you to Clive who was one of the volunteers on the day we visited ‘Standing with Giants’. Clive explained what to do with writing the messages and showed us where the white marker pens were kept. A friendly face to the installation. Thank you.

Standing with Giants
Clive an enthusiastic volunteer assisting at the Installation.

Stay Safe from a canal boat window

This is the first post of the first day of Lockdown £3. For Lockdown #1, it was new and we all stayed at home. We came out of that Lockdown and summer drove the virus underground but it was still around. Lockdown #3 was called when the devastating extent of the virus re-emergence became known. During Lockdown #2, I was working so I stopped off in the city to do some daily exercise before moving onto Pebble Mill. This time I am not at work for the main part of the week and only do one day. Almost all of my work can be done from home. So in a similar way to Lockdown #1, it is a stay at home except for the one exercise a day.

Black Boy Marina
Black Boy Marina
A picturesque but empty Kings Arms Pub
A picturesque but empty Kings Arms Pub

With this Lockdown #3, I am looking for more imaginative walks from home. This time I walked along the canal down past Knowle locks with several of the boats displaying “stay safe” signs onto two of the canal side pubs, the Kings Arms and the Black Boy. (The latter pub name comes from the appearance of King Charles II who had a dark complexion). Both the pubs were closed and had a very empty look about them. Even in January the car parks would be full and people would be visiting. Nothing was happening.

Empty Black Boy pub
Empty Black Boy pub
Empty seats
Empty seats

There is a canal Marina between both pubs which was also very quiet. I did have a heron as company which is another story in itself. A strange day with a heavy presence around the canal. A solemn quietness hung in the air as the place seemed to know that this was the start of another Lockdown.

A colourful scene at Knowle Locks
A dramatic scene at Knowle Locks

The tow path was very muddy and difficult to negotiate but the canal boats had their log fires burning. The smell of the wood burning was pleasant to breath in as I returned the way I came and made my way home. When I got to the top lock at Knowle, there was a bright end to the day which lifted the spirits. There are going to be a lot more walks to do before this current Lockdown is over.

Changeable weather
Changeable weather with clouds, sunshine and reflections
The smell of wood burners as you pass the long boats
The smell of wood burners as you pass the long boats

Photo tip – Story telling always helps with your photography. This is about the lockdown and it has pictures of the rainbow and stay safe symbol in the window of one of the boats. We move onto the pubs which should have full carparks and people moving around but there is little happening. Therefore the story concentrates on the weather and the muddy journey with lovely skies.

This was the first day of Lockdown #3, here are my other first days of the previous lockdowns.
Lockdown #1 – Lockdown begins
Lockdown #2 – Birmingham Lockdown #2 – a photographic journey of the first morning

Follow my encounter with a Heron during this Lockdown #3 walk

During the lockdown for the Corona Virus, the government allow one exercise a day. In my case this is a one hour walk which I take early in the morning. Since the clocks went forward, I have been getting up at 6am and leaving the house in time for the sunrise. As the sun rises earlier each day, there will be a time that I just go for a lie in! I have several walks around Knowle and Dorridge and the trick is to keep making them interesting. This is one I took on Good Friday morning. I walked down to Knowle Park and then onto the village, past the Scout Hut to the Church. I made my way to Kixley lane as at the end I am able to reach a bridge over the canal which gives good views of the waterway.

Kixley Lane sunrise
Two plane trails in tandem

I was rather pleased to see a canal boat there but it does make me wander if these boats are under lockdown as I don’t remember the boat being there 2 weeks ago. It still gives a great focus point for taking pictures of the canal. The park was also misty and with the sunrise, there was the opportunity for some lovely colours.

Canal boat in isolation
I am not going on the towpath as it will be difficult to self isolate

It will be a shame if the government choose to stop the one hours exercise in the future and so I will be doing my best to keep walking until that day comes.

My trusty walking companion

With the lockdown now on for 2 weeks many people are finding it difficult to keep motivated. I have been taking my camera or using my iPhone camera to take pictures on my early morning walks. I initially ventured on the canals but realised that was not such a good idea as it is difficult to stay 2 metres apart if you meet someone on the towpath. I am now staying to the roads or in open spaces. Here are a few pictures to help lift the spirits.

On the canal
In the park
The Duck Pond
On the canal
Dorridge Wood

There is a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.  It is the feel good factor that thousands of children across the country have drawn a rainbow and put in their front windows.  Other children have drawn the rainbows in chalk and they brighten up the pathways outside houses.  These are a few examples from our village of Knowle near Solihull.  Chasing the rainbow brings much hope to people and is a way of connecting everyone through this terrible crisis.

The Corona Virus has rapidly engulfed us. Pubs, bars, restaurants and Gyms were closed on Friday (20th March) with full lockdown announced by the Prime Minister on Sunday (22nd March). We can go out for one form of exercise, food shopping and essential medication. I have got into a routine of going for a walk just before the sun rises and I have put down a selection of pictures from Knowle village and the places I walk around in the morning. These are very strange days as you will see.


The main High Street in Knowle Village is deserted on a Saturday Morning


Restaurants, Bars and Shops are closed except for the convenience store

Loch Fyne is boarded up


If you go shopping then you must keep your distance and this is done by yellow crosses on the floor.

It is so reassuring to see the supermarket deliveries being made.
Eric Lyons the butchers are doing home deliveries which is a much safer option.


By far the most sensible and safest activity that you should practice is Stay at home. Here Sandy shows how it is done.