30th August 2020
Life in a Coronavirus Pandemic: A Stormy Week in Dorset
As the weather swings from one extreme to another I make my way back to Dorset to enjoy some invigorating walks through wind and rain.
This week, the twenty-second in lockdown, the coast of Dorset is battered for several days by a storm. Not just any storm but Storm Ellen. It is the first time since naming storms began that a named storm has swept across the UK. The strong winds and frequent showers kept the crowds away and the residents enjoyed windswept, litter-free beaches. As empty double-decker buses made their way to and fro around the harbour.
Monday 17 August 2020
This morning is my first visit to the dentist and hygienist for six months. We have finally found a mutually convenient date. And, I had an appointment with the lovely Caren who has been keeping my teeth sparkling clean for many years now. We discussed the problems COVID-19 had caused for dentists and hygienists and in particular the need for PPE and new ventilation systems. Andrew, my dentist was slightly perturbed that I had just returned from Latvia. He pointed to his notice saying patients should not attend if they have been to an COVID-19 affected area. Latvia is not currently deemed to be affected and started emerging from lockdown early in May. While I was in Latvia mandatory quarantine was introduced for arrivals from the UK so that meant that in theory I had just arrived in an affected area – the UK. I re-assured Andrew that even though they are not wearing masks or practising social distancing I continued to do so throughout my trip. While I was there I discovered Andrew doing regular blood tests on his staff and asked if he would do one for me. I paid the fee, had the test and fifteen minutes later I got the result – negative. This evening I return to Dorset.
Tuesday 18 August 2020
Today I have two articles to write so I forego my early morning walk to start working. The weather is uncertain anyway. I had to battle with the wind yesterday while unloading the car. I finish my first article about my short haul new normal flight to Riga, by lunchtime. My second article is more complicated as I am reviewing some Maier outdoor summer clothes – a jacket, a skirt and some tights. I wore all three during my trip to Latvia and they fitted perfectly and were very comfortable. But, I need some images to illustrate my review. I am lucky, the sun has just come out so I set off for the beach with the clothes and my camera. I set the self-timer on my camera and then pose in the different items of clothing. I get a few strange looks from passers-by but I achieve my objective and rather enjoy the challenge.
In the News Today
The Government does a U-turn on A-level results and reverts to teacher recommendations rather than software which had downgraded many results. This results in chaos regarding University places which have already been accepted, in particular, medical schools. All other exam results are to be calculated using the same process.
Wednesday 19 August 2020
When I wake at 5 am it is still dark and difficult to tell what the weather is doing. But a loud drumming on the roof a few minutes later leaves me in no doubt. It is raining heavily. I sent Rosmarie a message to say I am not walking this morning. I spend the morning putting my notes from the Latvia trip in order. I kept notes on my iPhone and then I would send them to myself every evening. This worked really well until the day I inadvertently deleted all my notes for that day. I have since discovered there is software that will retrieve deleted notes but my efforts to get them back myself had ensured they had disappeared completely. I receive an email from Solos Holidays offering me work as the Tour Leader for a Jurassic Coast Walking Weekend in September. I am delighted that I am still being considered for work but disappointed that I could not accept. I had already accepted an invitation to go back to Madonna di Campiglio in the Italian Dolomites and all the arrangements had been made. I am hoping there will be more opportunities later this year. It is good to see they are putting trips together now and I am excited at the prospect of working for them again. It rains most of the day so I resort to my exercise bike to keep fit. While I am pedalling away I can see windsurfers skimming across the harbour – it turned out fine for them.
Thursday 20 August 2020
As it is fine this morning I go out on the bike. It is dark when I set off but I have found a High Vis tabard to wear. I bought it in Poland and something is written across the back in Polish. I hope it is not rude. On my first circuit of the spit I meet a group of teenagers strolling down the middle of the road. I wonder where they are going so early in the morning. On my second circuit there is no doubt where they have been as there is a trail of empty cardboard cups. There is also a brand new toothbrush. I meet up with them again on the beach. They are at the end of one of the groynes and the squeals indicate that some of them are contemplating a swim. I stroll along the beach to the Haven Hotel. It is remarkably clear of litter – probably all blown away by the wind. I stop to watch Condor leaving Poole Harbour en route to the Channel Islands. I see the pilot come racing back into the harbour. It reminds me of the time I was taken out on a pilot boat in Klaipėda harbour during a visit to Lithuania. It was a thrilling experience – especially when we tried to beat another pilot back to the harbour.
Friday 21 August 2020
When I open the patio door to check the weather at 5 am this morning a strong wind resists my efforts. Even the tall, well established trees behind my block of flats are bowing to its fury. I send Rosmarie a message to say I am not biking and walking this morning. She responds that she is still going to walk on the beach. I hope she does not get blown away, being of very slight build. I have some breakfast and start writing. The wind is still raging outside and all the bushes in the little public garden close to the flat look as though they are involved in a frantic dance. Will I see Rosmarie floating by the flat sometime soon? I try to capture the violence of the wind on my camera by taking photos of the tall trees behind the flats swaying to the wind. I am not getting on very well with my Olympus mirrorless camera and I have been in touch with the company. I have been promised a call to discuss the problems I am having. When David calls me he is able to point out some basic errors I am making. I have not appreciated that the mirrorless camera requires a different approach from the SLR camera I had been using. After our chat I am fired up with enthusiasm and go out to take some photographs. It is still very windy but I manage to capture some interesting images of the wind ruffling the water on a small pond and a dramatic sky over Poole Harbour.
Saturday 22 August 2020
I wake at 5.30 when my alarm goes off. Opening the patio door fierce wind grabs my hair and rain spatters my face. I struggle to shut the door again. I doubt I could stand up against its strength and it would be impossible to cycle. I settle down to work. The rain stops but the wind is relentless. When the sun comes out so do the visitors and the road below the flat is soon jammed with traffic. When I hear the shrieking of sirens I go to the window to see what is happening. Seven fire engines, an Aerial Ladder Platform and a Command Support Unit thread their way slowly through the traffic, one after the other. I wonder if there is a major incident near Swanage and they are taking a short cut on the chain ferry. Just twenty minutes later I see some of them coming back. I learn later that a toaster had ignited in the kitchen of a flat in a large block. It took half an hour to douse the flames. I resort to my exercise bike for my daily exercise. The kite boarders are still out on the water in Poole Harbour and performing some amazing tricks – not all of them intentional.
Sunday 23 August 2020
As the wind has dropped a bit this morning I decide to go out on my bike. Just after I set off three Porsches roar past me. When I see some Lotus Elans later this morning I wonder if there is a fast car convention taking place somewhere nearby. On the beach the tide is a long way out and I stroll along a firm, pristine beach. The beach is empty when I first arrive. Then the regulars start arriving. I pass David. He walks every morning while his wife swims. I comment on the lack of litter and he tells me the tides are very high right now and any litter on the sand is being washed out to sea. I am wind assisted all the way back to the flat. As it has increased in strength it is really strong again and has me wondering if I might take off and fly over the steady stream of traffic already making its way down the spit. That would be easier than having to time my dash across the road so I can keep up enough speed to cycle up the drive. Exhilarated by my early morning exercise I am happy to get down to work after a very welcome breakfast of muesli and banana with two large mugs of coffee.
Some Government Statistics
As of 5pm on 17 August, of the 319197 who tested positive for coronavirus in the UK, a total of 41,380 have died across all settings within 28 days of that test including a daily total of 11. By Sunday 23 August of the 326,614 positive tests a total of 41,429 people have died within 28 days of the test including a daily total of 6. Note: The parameters have been changed recently resulting in a decrease in the cumulative total of deaths.
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