25th May 2020
Life in a Coronavirus Pandemic: Full Lockdown Ends in Week Seven
At the start of the seventh week of lockdown in the UK there are rumours of a relaxation of the restrictions designed to keep people at home as much as possible. Dare I hope that it will not be too long now before I can start travelling again?
The number of deaths from the coronavirus induced COVID-19 are announced daily but then a dreadful truth begins to emerge. There have been thousands of deaths in care homes and homes that have not been included in the official statistics announced every day. This is going to change and we will have a truer picture of the situation by the end of the week.
Monday 04 May 2020
The weather is dull and grey when I wake up at 5.30 am but I decide I will go out on the bike anyway. I do a double circuit of the spit and then lock the bike up and walk along the beach. I meet Rosmarie and her dog George. We chat while George digs holes and eats cuttlebones. Rosmarie reported the next day that he was sick when they got home – not surprising really as it must have been like eating a huge lump of chalk. I spend some time sitting on the rocks making notes on my mobile phone for my next article for the TravelRadar website. The sun has managed to struggle through the clouds and it is too nice to rush back to the flat where I will spend the rest of the day. While I am working movement outside catches my eye and I look up to see the extraordinary sight of a man cycling down the road with a dog draped around his shoulders. I had a dog once. She was called Cotton and she used to ride in the basket on the front of my bike. This worked really well until the day she spied a cat. Cotton jumped out of the basket and raced off in pursuit of the cat and I fell off the bike.
Tuesday 05 May 2020
There is a strange light outside when I wake this morning so I get up to have a look. There is a rainbow arching over Poole Harbour. I grab my camera and go out on the balcony to take a photo.
I can hear the sea pounding on Sandbanks Beach and I feel the wind tugging at my hair. I wonder if I should go out. I decide that as it is not actually raining I will give it a go. I cycle to the ferry terminal, park my bike, and head for the beach. The sea is crashing on the rocks below the Haven Hotel. When I get to the step ladder and climb down on to the walkway I can feel the spray as the waves swell and break onto the concrete below me. This is going to be tricky as the water sometimes rushes right up to the wall. I wait for the water to recede and then make a dash for it staying as high as I can on the sloping bank. I make it to the beach. The wind is whipping the sand into my face and I am really struggling to walk against it. I meet Rosmarie who is coming in the opposite direction. It is difficult to have a conversation two metres apart as the wind whips our words away as soon as they are spoken. George is in his element bouncing around the beach and barking at the waves. It is not possible to walk to the end of the groynes as the waves are engulfing them at regular intervals.
When Rosmarie and I part company I struggle along the beach for a while but It is very unpleasant walking through a sandstorm so I decide to take the cut through up to the road and walk back to my bike along the road. I pass one of the three swimmers on my way and suggest a dip in the sea may not be a good idea today. She carries on. Cycling back to the flat around the harbour the wind is so strong it blows me to a standstill and I have to get off and walk for a while until the gusts die down and I can cycle again. It is still a struggle and now it starts to hail. Finally, I make it. It is not going to be a hardship to spend the rest of this day on my own in the flat. I am cheered up by the news I have been selected for a press trip to Latvia departing 30 June. The first date in my diary and something to look forward to.
Wednesday 06 May 2020
The wind has dropped and the sun is already shining when I get the bike out this morning. As the sea is still frisky it is fabulous on the beach. I can see Rosmarie and George in the distance and start walking towards them. I find thee cuttlebones on the sand. I throw the first one over a wall into an empty garden and bury the other two so that George will not be tempted to eat them. Rosmarie and I meet up and have a chat before going our separate ways. I am ready for my breakfast when I get back to the flat. Even though I have the same every morning – muesli and banana – I still look forward to it. I watch another episode of the second series of Killing Eve. It was not very well reviewed but I think it is better than the first series and Villanelle is very amusing at times. Once I have eaten I get down to work. I do my outline for my next post on TravelRadar. Then I get down to work. It takes a while to find the images I want on the four portable hard drives where they have been randomly stored. My project for lockdown had been setting up a system so I can find images quickly but there has not been time to do it – yet. My iPhone pings incessantly all afternoon. The chairman of the Sandbanks Community Group has set up a WhatsApp group for the exchange of useful information. But it is rapidly descending into a chat room which is exactly contrary to what was intended. I don’t usually subscribe to WhatsApp groups as this is what happens whatever the original purpose. I have had too many disturbed nights through messages from people who can’t sleep and think everyone in the group should be informed of this situation. After a few hours of this, the chairman throws the towel in. I don’t blame him. I leave the group. A new group is later set up that allows the chairman to post and no-one else – perfect.
Thursday 07 May 2020
It is busier than usual when I walk along the beach early this morning. Prime Minister Boris has suggested that a relaxation of lockdown restrictions will be announced on Sunday. But, of course, a lot of people have taken that as having already happened and there is real break-out here. Fishermen on the quay, paddleboards on the water. All that against a background of us now having the highest number of deaths from the virus in Europe and the second highest in the world. When I had to leave Italy in early March I was appalled at the lack of interest at Stanstead Airport. Arriving in Italy we all had our temperatures taken - here in the UK nothing. Now they are saying the influx of passengers from Italy, France, and Spain in early March is what has accounted for the large number of cases here. Typical English slowness to react as personified by Boris. I learned today that it is against the rules to drive your dog to the beach to walk it. Yet most of the dog walkers I see early in the morning are doing that. It explains the early morning rush to the beach. I spoke to a disgruntled fisherman on the quay at the ferry terminal. He was bemoaning the absence of the chain ferry. He claims there are more fish around when it is operating. This evening there was a boxing class being held on the beach. How do you keep a social distance while punching someone in the face? They were still there when we clapped for the NHS at 8 this evening.
Friday 08 May 2020
Another glorious morning today. It is Friday and shopping day so I was all set to get the bus into Poole. While I was standing at the bus stop a man appeared from a house across the road and started draping his front garden with bunting and Union Jacks – while wearing a Union Jack hat. I knew it was VE day (Victory in Europe 75 years ago) but I had not realised it was also a Bank Holiday. I must have missed that announcement. So, I was waiting for a bus that was never going to come. I had very little food in the flat but at least I had bought some cherry tomatoes from Tesco yesterday so I could make a pasta with tomato sauce.
Saturday 09 May 2020
After a leisurely breakfast I caught the first bus to Poole at 9.14 am. The bus was empty when it arrived at my stop and only picked up two more passengers on the way into Poole. I had plenty of time to go for a walk in the old town of Poole and do a shop in Sainsbury’s. I had read about a Cockle Shell Trail through the old town so I set off to find it. It did not take me long and I did some of the trail before heading for Sainsbury’s. There were only two people waiting and I got straight inside. I did my shop and then walked back to the bus station to catch the bus back to Sandbanks. I worked at the flat all day. I am very impressed by the number of people who have taken up jogging since the start of lockdown. Some barely break out of a walk but they must be given credit for trying. Very few of them seem to be wearing the right shoes for jogging and I wonder if this is good for their joints. Will we see a significant increase in the number of joint replacements post Coronavirus? This leads me to ponder the possibility of wearing out my metal knee joints. I have never really seen the point of jogging and now I have proved I can do it I have gone back to using my bike for my daily exercise.
Sunday 10 May 2020
I am up early, as usual, and set off at 6 am for a ride on my bike. This morning I am heading for Parkstone Golf Course. This involves two hills and I managed to cycle to the top of both of them without having to dismount and walk. The public are allowed to walk on the course during the coronavirus lockdown but a notice on the gate requests not to walk on the greens or go in the bunkers. There is also a sign forbidding cycling on the golf course so I push my bike inside the gate and chain it to a tree. There are very few people about at this early hour but those who are on the course took the trouble to get into my photos. As a golfer myself, it did feel a bit as though I was trespassing and I winced when I saw a man tramp across a green. The heathland views were lovely and enhanced by bursts of rhododendron blooms. It was very peaceful, for a while, and then the dog walking brigade began to arrive so I collected my bike and set off back to the flat. It was a lot easier going back than it had been coming up here and I whizzed downhill all the way. After catching up with this diary I settled down to watch the next episode of the third series of Killing Eve. I have watched the boxed sets of series 1 and 2 but I am still not sure who is on which side – M16 or the KGB. The characters i thought had been killed off keep re-appearing. Back to the boxed sets.
Some Government Statistics
By 27 April 2020, there had been 719,910 tests for coronavirus in the UK and 157,149 people had tested positive. Of those hospitalised with the virus, a total of 21,092 have now died. There was 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. However, the method of reporting has now changed and this new figure does not represent a massive increase in the number of deaths but the inclusion of 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