Location: Village Green, Woodcote, Oxfordshire, UK
Date: 1st June 2020
Time: 09:01 – 09:16
Weather: Sunny, clear skies and a gentle breeze
Average Sound Level: 43.1dBSPL (LAeq)
Passing the Jubilee commemoration, through the shaded, narrow passage on the edge of the cricket pitch, I notice the village hall doors are open on to the green. Escaping are the commanding, motherly voices of staff reinitiating the young attendees of Woodcote Preschool, back from the lockdown break. Strolling across the pitch, I line-up the sound level meter with the park bench and zip-wire frame and head to my customary quiet position under the line of beech trees by the school. Now, with distance, only the occasional scrape of furniture and excited squeal from the hall can make it past the continuous throng of cars, trucks and delivery vans and the, still occasional, thunderous passage of aircraft. Behind me in the primary school, the sound of a bucket handle being picked up and dropped, reverberates around the playground. The droning tone from some mechanical device seems to blend seamlessly with a lorry’s pulsing reverse tone. Other proximal sounds provide a comfortingly familiar natural blanket; fresh leaves animated by the breeze, pigeons with their insistent mellow cooing, the mew-like cry of red kites, the virtuosic song of blackbirds and the other cheeps and chirps, indistinguishable to the untrained ear. Then, as I am about to leave, an electric scooter flies past, its foley sound; the clicking of a lawn sprinkler mixed with the whine of a milk float. The young gentleman driver, topless and tanned, turns his head in my direction, nodding and smiling in relaxed and confident self-recognition.