Week Twelve of Lockdown and Goodbye to a New Friend

Week Twelve of Lockdown and Goodbye to a New Friend

Despite the relaxing of some restrictions of the lockdown I keep to my routine, one early morning bike ride and walk before returning to the flat for the rest of the day.

Unsettled, cold weather keeps the crowds at bay this week and once again we can walk on a litter-free beach. But I am walking alone this week as George is not well so Rosemary is at home with him. However, I am getting to know some local residents so I don’t feel as isolated as I did at the beginning of lockdown.

Monday 08 June 2020

It is sunny and calm when I set off on my bike early this morning. After doing my double circuit of the sand spit I chain the bike up and head for the beach. It is strange not seeing Rosemary and George in the distance as I cross the sand to the water’s edge. I hope George will be okay. As the weather has been cold recently we have not had many visitors and there is not much litter on the beach. I pick up a large, soggy towel and some wet shorts and walk back to the bin to throw them away. I regularly find towels and clothes, particularly socks, abandoned on the beach. I start filling up a plastic carrier bag I found on the beach. My letter to the CEO of Tesco has not resulted in a supply of plastic carrier bags which is very disappointing. As I stroll along the water line I find a few plastic and glass bottles but not much else. I also find a large dead, fish – a kind of ray I think – and two sea gulls ripping into it. The natural way of things. I see Roger and Gill, and the picker Gerry, with his wife Theresa and tell them about George. The tide is very low exposing several little rocky bays I have not seen before. I clamber over the rocks and sit by one of them. I have some articles to write today and some ideas have popped into my head so I make a note of them on my mobile phone. Finally, I wander back to my bike and cycle back to the flat – time to start writing.
Rocky Cove on Sandbanks Beach, Dorset

During the afternoon Rosemary sends a message to say George had a problem with his spine and is taking strong pain killers and restricted to short walks. It sounds as though he will recover. Today is the day quarantine starts for all arrivals in the UK. I hope it will have been abandoned by the time I go away to Italy. If not, I will just have to spend two weeks in self-isolation when I come back. According to the news the first day it all went smoothly. There are so many exemptions I doubt that any of the people who were interviewed actually need to self-isolate for 14 days. A second fire broke out in Wareham Forest today. This one was also caused by a portable barbecue. Every day I find several of used barbecues that have been left on the beach. These tin foil trays filled with charcoal and covered with wire mesh are a nightmare to clear away. If the wire mesh gets separated from the tin foil they could cause a curious dog a serious injury. I was happy to sign a petition to ban them.
Portable Barbecue Abandoned on the beach

Tuesday 09 June 2020

Walking along the beach early this morning I share the good news regarding George with the other regular dog walkers I meet. There is not much litter today as the colder weather is still keeping the crowds away. It feels strange walking on my own after so many weeks walking with Rosemary and George. I walk down to the Ferry Way car park and empty my bag of rubbish in the bin there. On my way back I stop to watch a fishing boat heading out to sea. It is surrounded by a cloud of seagulls – some are sitting on the roof and stern of the boat – hitching a ride. I also notice some little terns fishing in one of the small bays. They flutter above the water and then drop like a stone when they see a fish. As I am trying to capture it all on my iPhone Ardent Conservative passes by. He too has started carrying a plastic bag to pick up rubbish. When he saw me he pulled it out of his pocket and picked up a few bits and pieces between me and him. We have a brief conversation carefully avoiding any mention of politics having agreed to disagree about Dominic Cummings and his trip to Barnard Castle during lockdown. As usual, I spend the rest of the day in the flat, working by the open balcony door and enjoying some fresh air and the antics of people trying to master their paddle boards.
Seagulls Hitching a Ride on a Fishing Boat

Wednesday 10 June 2020

Another lovely morning and a delight to be on the beach enjoying the early morning sunshine and fresh air. I sit on the rocks for a while and watch two early-morning bathers as they mince down the groyne before jumping into the sea off the rocks at the end. A short swim back to the beach and they are on the sand again and trying to convince themselves it was a wonderful experience. A great way to start the day. They suggest I might join them tomorrow. I decline and tell them I don’t like getting wet. I am only tempted into the sea from a tropical beach where I can go snorkelling. They laugh and go on their way. On the next groyne I watch a fisherman reeling something in. I stop to see what he has caught. A bundle of seaweed. I need some milk so I got into Tesco on my way back to the flat. I don’t mind shopping there early, when it is empty, but later in the day it gets too crowded for my comfort. It is strange how quickly I have become used to expecting people to keep their distance. And jumping like a scalded cat when they come too close for my liking. I also spy a luscious carrot cake, half-price as it has reached its sell-by date. I buy it. It has to be eaten today but no problem, I do that in four large chunks spaced throughout the day. I do an extra session on my exercise bike to compensate.
Seaweed is Catch of the Day

The news this evening revolves around claims that our government could have halved the number of deaths from coronavirus had they introduced lockdown a week earlier than they did. The discontent regarding the failure to sack Dominic Cummings rumbles on.

Thursday 11 June 2020

Why is the weather always bad the day after I have washed my hair? This has become a bit of an ordeal as I have not seen the inside of a hairdresser’s since December last year. My hair is longer than it has been for many years, and my fringe has completely disappeared. I do not have a hair dryer at the flat so I have to rely on a warm sun creeping through the balcony door. I am already on the road battling against a buffeting wind under an ominous grey sky before realising I might get another soaking today. Nevertheless, I continue and complete two circuits of the spit despite nearly being blown off my bike several times. I am wind-assisted as I walk across the car park to the beach. The beach is empty and totally free of litter – it has probably all been blown away. It is wild and exhilarating.
Dawn Skies Over Sandbanks Beach

I see the early morning swimmers creep around the corner on the path under the Haven Hotel and then retreat. I sit in the shelter of the wall around the hotel for a while. I can’t help thinking of George – I miss him as he is such a lovely dog. I see the early morning swimmers creep around the corner on the path under the Haven Hotel and then retreat. I sit in the shelter of the wall around the hotel for a while. I can’t help thinking of George – I miss him as he is such a lovely dog. I see the early morning swimmers creep around the corner on the path under the Haven Hotel and then retreat. I sit in the shelter of the wall around the hotel for a while. I can’t help thinking of George – he is a great character and loves to fish amongst the rocks helping me collect litter.
George Finds Something in the Rocks

I am listening to a webinar on SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) this evening, a subject I will never really understand, when I get a message from Rosemary. She had to say goodbye to George today as his back legs failed this morning. She wants to go for a walk on the beach tomorrow so I agree to meet her. We both like to walk very early when there are not many people around. I spend the rest of the evening thinking about George and the fun we had on our walks.
George Fishing

Friday 12 June 2020

I meet Rosemary at 6 this morning. I want to give her a big hug but with social distancing still being a requirement I can’t do that. As we walk on to the beach we are distracted by the sight of a cruise ship on the horizon. I had heard that mooring fees are so expensive that some ships are cutting costs by mooring out to sea.
Cruise Ship on the Horizon

When we get to the beach we meet Sandbanks Sue. She already knows about George and stops to sympathise with Rosemary. While they are talking Gill and Roger arrive so I update them. They have three dogs and as the dogs have just noticed a swan strolling casually along the shoreline they set off in the opposite direction before their dogs can give chase. Rosemary and I walk towards the Haven Hotel. When we get to the place that George and I would usually set off down the path to the Ferry Way car park she tells me how it all ended. George had lost the use of his back legs and Rosemary did not want him to go through the agony of diagnosis and surgery so the vet came to her house. It was very quick and peaceful. We both agreed it was the right decision. George had had nearly nine very happy years. By this time the tears were streaming down both our faces. It was a relief to talk about it and share some happy memories of our walks on the beach with George. We walked back to our respective conveyances and I cycled home to spend the rest of the day on breaking news duty for the Travel Radar website. The news is full of airlines going bust, airlines getting government bail outs and airlines laying off thousands of employees.
Swan Taking a Walk on Sandbanks Beach

Saturday 13 June 2020

Despite not setting my alarm I am still awake very early this morning so I decide to go for a ride on my bike. I open the balcony door to let some fresh air into the flat and smells of bacon cooking float in. I go out on the balcony and I can see three young people on the lawn in the small public garden nearby cooking their breakfast on a portable barbecue conveniently placed on the only path through the garden. This garden is a popular route for early walkers and joggers who will now find themselves presented with an obstacle course as well. It is a lovely morning and as I cycle along the spit I stop to admire the newly planted flower beds of the public gardens that fringe the large public car park by the sea pavilion. The sunlight dances off the deep red of the blooms. A beautiful sight first thing in the morning.
Public Garden in Sandbanks

Today I have a time slot for a COVID-19 test. I only have minor symptoms but I do have a very red and itchy rash on one side of my neck and some very painful chilblains. Both have been reported as present in a number of people testing positive since the introduction of the test and trace app. I did go into Boots (twice) to see if they could tell me what the problem was – from a social distance. An allergy was dismissed as it was so localised and I was advised to get it checked. It was very easy to book an appointment online so I booked one as early as I could and was at the Creekmoor test centre just before it opened at 8 am. I had to stay in my car and communication was by mobile phone or printed notices. I requested assistance with the test as I knew a swab had to be taken from the back of my throat and anything in my mouth makes me want to throw up. A very nice young lady called Christina did the test and I managed not to gag when she swabbed the back of my throat. It was all very friendly and well organised and I was soon on my way back into town. I had decided to do my weekly shop at Sainsbury’s on my way home. I got lost trying to find the store’s car park but, as an NHS volunteer, I did have a permit for all public car parks and I found one nearby. I walked along a deserted High Street to Sainsbury’s. Shopping done I was soon back at the flat where I would be for the rest of the day.
Poole High Street During Lockdown

Sunday 14 June 2020

Sunday is Diary Day. The day when I write the next instalment of my personal account of life during a coronavirus pandemic. I always start very early in the morning as it takes me most of the day – reading my diary, going through my photos and re-living the events of that week. It is overcast and cold this morning so I am surprised to see paddle boarders on the waters of Poole Harbour by 7.30. I go out on my balcony to take a photo and capture an extra-ordinary image on paddle boarders on in Poole harbour and yachts sailing off the beaches on the other side of the spit. I receive a text this evening to say my COVID-19 test was negative. This is a great relief although it does not stop my rash from itching.
Paddle Boards in the Foreground and Yachts in the Background

Two raves in Manchester attended by thousands of people were broken up by the police today. It seems people have forgotten about the coronavirus pandemic – but they will remember if attendees at these raves have spread the infection.

Some Statistics

Statistics show as of 7 June 287,399 people have tested positive for COVID-19 and 40,597 of them have died, an increase of 55 over the past 24 hours. By 14 June 295,889 people have tested positive and 41,698 have died, an increase of 36 in the past 24 hours. But the increases are weekend figures which are generally lower due to delayed reported.

More next week