17th May 2020
Life in a Coronavirus Pandemic: The UK Slides into Week Six of Lockdown
It is the start of Week 6 of Lockdown and my bins are still being emptied and my post is still being delivered for which I am very grateful.
Glorious weather in Dorset and life is good despite the coronavirus pandemic enjoyable. I continue with my early morning exercise as cycle mania here is now at a peak with large, family groups taking to the roads. Nearly-empty buses, already going slowly to avoid timing stops, are hindered by gaggles of cyclists who simply will not give way whoever happens to be behind them. Bus journeys have become a spectator sport and very enjoyable – after all, what else is there to do?
Monday 27 April 2020
Dull, grey skies when I wake at 5.30 am but I decide to go out on the bike anyway. I have not gone far when I encounter a jogger pounding down the cycle track. The path next to her is completely empty. The road on the other side of the cycle track is also empty but I know, from past experience, that the motorists seem to assume that lockdown means speed limits have been abandoned and they race down this stretch. I don’t want to swing out into the middle of the road so I ring my bell. Jogger keeps jogging. I ring it again and this time she takes to the path and I get by her. A bit further along the road, I am puffing up a hill when the jogger overtakes me (embarrassing) and then comes back onto the cycle track in front of me again. I give up and slow down. After a lovely walk on the beach, I set off on my bike heading back to the flat. I catch up with another jogger who has taken over the cycle track. He ignores my ringing bell. By this time there are quite a few cars around so I go on to the wide path around the harbour. A pedestrian takes the trouble to inform at me that there is a cycle track. I agree with her and keep going.
Tuesday 28 April 2020
This morning I am woken by heavy rain pounding on the roof above my bedroom. I decide an early morning bike ride is out of the question. I don’t like getting wet. I get up and start working on my next blog post for TravelRadar about Tallin in Estonia. But, when I start to upload it I am not able to get into the system. I sometimes have problems with the internet connection here during bad weather. I know my editor does not believe me. However, he offers to help and I send him the text and images by email and he uploads them so my article is published by the deadline. As my television signal has also gone crazy I amuse myself by taking photos of the cars splashing through the lake that is forming on the road near the flat. The sun finally comes out late this afternoon so I go for a walk and take some photographs of the reflections of a bus stop marooned in a large lake of rainwater.
Wednesday 29 April 2020
Today I am celebrating seven years since the total replacement of both knees in the same operation. It is the best thing I have ever done and ten weeks later I was able to return to work – leading a walking holiday in the Italian Dolomites. One of the benefits of the lockdown for me has been the opportunity to try jogging. This is not something I ever contemplated before I had my knees replaced but wanted to see if I could do it. And I discover I can. My knees feel better than ever. This evening I enjoy a solitary celebration, just me, a pizza and a bottle of Prosecco.
Thursday 30 April 2020
When I wake up at 5.20 am it is cloudy but the sun is trying to come out so I decide to go out on the bike. After doing my usual double circuit of the sand spit I chain the bike up and head for the beach. It is very windy on the beach and there are not many people are around. Rosmarie and I don’t spend long chatting today as the wind is getting stronger and particles of sand pepper our faces. After we part company I continue along the beach for a while. As soon as I turn back it starts to rain. I am really struggling against the wind. The rain is now really heavy and then it turns to hail and stings my face. There is no shelter so I put on my helmet to keep my hair out of my face and hope it will give me some protection. The weather continues to deteriorate as I struggle along the beach. I was wearing the Maier outdoor summer clothes I had been sent to review so this is a good test for them. When I get back to my bike although there are places I could shelter it really does not seem worth it as I am so wet. The wind is so strong it brings me to a standstill so I have to walk part of the way. As soon as I get inside the flat I strip off and I am amazed to find that only my socks and shoes are wet. Water is dripping off the jacket but everything under the jacket is dry (including my pants despite sitting on a wet saddle on the bike). When I write my review I can confirm that the clothes are weatherproof, as claimed.
Friday 01 May 2020
It is a lovely morning so I am out on my bike very early and meet up with Rosmarie and George – who I now know is a Flat Coat Retriever. Rosmarie is very short and George is a big dog. I am amused by the contrast with a giant of a man striding towards us with five Chihuahuas trotting along by his feet. He has a holdall slung over his shoulder. I wonder aloud if he carries the dogs around in his bag and Rosmarie tells me that he does. I also discover that under the current restrictions it is not allowed to drive a dog somewhere to walk it. The walk has to start from home. So, that explains the number of cars arriving here around six in the morning with dogs on board.
Saturday 02 May 2020
I have some breakfast before going out this morning as I am going to do some Nordic Walking this morning. I started doing this as part of my rehabilitation after having my knees replaced and really enjoyed it. It exercises both arms and legs. I start by walking along the promenade towards Bournemouth. Then I take the path that goes to the top of the cliff and emerges in Canford Cliffs village. The village is like a ghost town. Only two of the shops are opening but as yet, there are no queues outside them as it is too early. It is sad to see my favourite restaurant, Loch Fyne, closed and boarded up.
In the village, I join a path that goes through Pinecliff Gardens. These gardens perched on the clifftop are a lovely mixture of formal gardens and woodland. In the woods, I came across a lovely old tree whose crooked branch arches over the footpath. The path descends to Branksome Beach and I walked back along the promenade to Sandbanks. It is very crowded by then with cyclists slaloming between the walkers. It becomes more and more difficult to maintain social distancing as no-one seems to care anymore. A big sign flashes up a warning – if it is busy don’t take the risk. But no-one takes any notice – except me – as I leapt out of the way if anyone comes too close. I am very relieved when I reach the path back up to Canford Cliffs village. I get there just as the bus to Sandbanks comes trundling along and I am soon back in the safety of my flat. When I check the news on the internet I see that Judy Finnigan, an English television presenter, is reported as saying TV news is 'wallowing in tragedy' in coronavirus in relation to their reporting deaths from coronavirus. I am angry enough to comment that I totally disagree and that those of us who are distanced from the reality of the coronavirus pandemic need to be constantly reminded that people are suffering and dying every day.
Sunday 03 May 2020
As soon as I get up at 6 am this morning I start work as I have a deadline at 3 pm UK time and the next instalment of my diary of life in a coronavirus pandemic is also due to go live today. I work through the day and finish everything by early evening. I go out on the balcony to get some fresh air and see some movement on the road below. It is a fox heading for the beach to do a bit of scavenging. But, probably for the first time ever, there is nothing for him to eat. This seems to confuse him and while he stands there wondering what to do people gather around to take photos. He poses for them and gratefully accepts some food that is thrown his way. Then he slinks off again. By then it is time for Killing Eve on the television. I watched the box set of the first series and did not think much of it. The second series got such poor reviews I did not bother. But, the third series is gripping me. I had to watch the box set of the second series to understand what was happening. And then I had to watch the first series again to make sense of the second series.
Some Government Statistics
By 27 April there had been 719,910 tests for coronavirus in the UK and 157,149 people tested positive. Sadly, of those hospitalised with the virus, 21,092 have now died, an increase of 360 in the past 24 hours. Seven days later, on 3 May, there had been 1,206,405 tests of which 186,599 were positive. Of those who tested positive 28,446 have died an increase of 315 in the past 24 hours. To date, only deaths in hospitals were being reported but this new figure included deaths in all settings not just in hospitals.
More next week.
Valery Collins is the Experienced Traveller
An excellent raconteur, Valery has been writing about her experiences on the road since she started travelling 25 years ago. After publishing 4 books she turned to online travel writing and photography. Today she is editor, features’ writer and reviewer for ExperiencedTraveller.com and regularly contributes guided city walks to GPSmyCity.com