6th September 2020
Life in a Coronavirus Pandemic: Storms Rage Across the UK
As I shelter from the very real storms in Dorset COVID-19 controversies rage across England.
This week, week 23 of lockdown, the UK government begins a campaign to persuade people to return to work. There are suggestions that those who do not return to work could make themselves more vulnerable to redundancy. It appears this is an attempt to persuade people to commute again and revive empty city centres. But the campaign is greeted with outrage and reminders that we are experiencing a pandemic and people should be free deal with the situation as it suits them best. Meanwhile, the government is also attempting to quell fears regarding the imminent re-opening of schools. This results in another government U-turn regarding the wearing of face masks as it tries to reassure parents that safeguards are in place to ensure the risk of infection is as low as possible. I feel very lucky that none of these issues affect me directly and I can continue to make my own choices regarding the way I deal with the coronavirus pandemic. I remain by the sea in Dorset.
Monday 24 August 2020
It is still dark when I go out on my bike at 6 this morning. When the fox crosses the road in front of me all I see is a shadow. By the time I meet up with Rosmarie on the beach, the sun has risen and it is a glorious morning. The tide is out and a shaft of light highlights a cruise ship parked on the horizon. I want to stay there all morning but I have an article to write about my recent "trip to Latvia":https://experiencedtraveller.com/journal/2020-08-26-daugavpils-in-latvia-a-river-a-fortress-a-lily. And then I must do a weekly shop.
The buses to Poole are still very empty and I am the only one on the top deck throughout the journey. In Sainsbury’s I am delighted to find there is one of my favourite Artisan loaves left. I love the juicy cranberries and the crunchy pistachios. Then, near disaster – boy and a girl speeding around the store on an electric scooter nearly crash into my trolley. A member of staff sees this happen but says nothing. I point out how dangerous it is and he just says “I know”. Safely back at the flat I am drawn outside again by the golden glow of a day at its end. I walk around the harbour then through the public gardens to the beach. The wind is getting up again and I stop to watch some young lads riding the waves on mini-surf boards. I fail to notice storm clouds gathering until it is too late. I make a dash for a doorway and shelter while I put my camera away and pull the waterproof cover over my rucksack. It is a very brisk. wet walk back to the flat and a bread and cheese supper.
Today the first case of a person being re-infected with COVID-19 is reported in Hong Kong. He is a healthy 33-year-old who had travelled to Spain and back. The next day a Belgian woman was reported as having a mild second infection after her first illness. An older person in the Netherlands with a weakened immune system has also caught the virus twice. This could have significant implications regarding vaccines and immunity from the virus.
Tuesday 25 August 2020
I am woken before my alarm goes off by Storm Francis battering my block of flats with wind and rain. This follows a similar period of unseasonable weather at the end of last week which coincided with the arrival of Storm Ellen. It is the first time since the naming of storms began that one has been named in August and now we have two. I have a short lie in listening to the storm raging outside and then get up. When I open the patio door the wind is so strong I struggle to close it again. The only way I can get fresh air into the flat is by opening a window at the back of the flat. Outside there are white horses on the water in the harbour and not a single kiteboarder out there. Just one little sailboat bobbing madly on the waves. My only exercise today is twenty minutes on my exercise bike.
Wednesday 26 August 2020
There is still a strong wind early this morning but it is not raining so I decide to go for a bike ride followed by a walk on the beach. The beach is remarkably clear of litter but the wind and a very high tide would have taken care of any that had been dropped on the sand. The sea is still pounding the sand. I watch as a man on a paddleboard surfs the waves – well almost. Paddleboarders were already arriving as I cycled through the gloom and were frantically pumping air into their little craft by the roadside.
Some new mini sand dunes have been created over the past two days by Storm Francis. Walking along the beach today is an exhilarating experience. When I get back to the flat I discover I have a film of sand on my face. A free, natural exfoliation. Back at the flat I receive an email to say the fridge I have ordered from Amazon will arrive today. I prepare for the delivery and keep a watch for the Hermes van. When they do arrive I don’t see them. They don’t ring the bell, they just leave the box in the main entrance. I am informed of the ‘successful’ delivery of my fridge by email. I am not impressed as I am not strong enough to carry it up four flights of stairs to the flat. I convey my bitter disappointment to both Amazon and Hermes. Amazon respond quickly and sympathetically and offer compensation. Hermes finally respond several days later and do nothing.
Thursday 27 August 2020
No wind when I get up early this morning and it is not raining (although it is forecast). So, I go out on my bike and then walk along the beach. It is such a lovely morning I spend some time on the first groyne just enjoying the peace and the scenery. I then walk along the beach by the water. I walk as far as the Haven Hotel and then turn back. I stop to talk to Paul and his dog Archie. He has found a large fishing net abandoned on the beach. Archie thinks it would make a good toy and is trying to play with it. I take it from him and walk up to the bins on the Midway Path to throw it away. As I then head back to the flat I pass several more people parked by the harbour and inflating their paddleboards. This afternoon I have a Zoom tutorial on my Olympus camera. Apart from my computer crashing during another very heavy storm this tutorial goes well. I am inspired and ready to practise while in Italy next week.
Today England records the highest number of new COVID-19 infections since 18 June, with the number of new cases rising to 1,522 in 24 hours - up from 1,048 on Wednesday. However, this is much lower than the 5,000 new cases a day in April, at the peak of the epidemic, and the Office for National Statistics said that rates are on the whole “levelling off”. Parts of the north of England are subject to local lockdowns, and areas including Birmingham and Slough were last week added to the government lockdown “watch list” after reporting rises in numbers of coronavirus infections. Museums, bowling alleys and soft play centres have all reopened to the public, but with strict social distancing measures in place to try and prevent further rises in infection.
Friday 28 August 2020
It is still dark when I get up at 5.30 am and hard to work out what the weather is going to do. There was a terrible storm during the night leaving large puddles on the road. I decide I will walk down to the beach by the Jazz Café and then along the beach to the Haven Hotel. It is calm today and fresh after the storm. No littler either. I jog to the beach and walk briskly along the firm sand by the water. All the sand is firm today, flattened by the heavy rain. I stop to watch a glorious sunrise – banked clouds and pink reflections in the sea. By the time I get back to the flat, I feel refreshed and inspired to do some writing.
Saturday 29 August 2020
As I set off on my bike this morning I notice a real chill in the air and a jack-up platform coming out of Poole Harbour. I race around the spit on my bike hoping to get to the Ferry Bay car park as the drilling platform is guided through the narrow channel by a pilot at the front and tug at the back. It is a magnificent sight. Dawn is breaking and it is lit up – it looks like a fairground ride. This self-elevating platform was built in 2009 and is registered in the Bahamas. Onboard it has a crane with a capacity of 300 tons, living quarters and a helicopter landing pad.
I lock up my bike and climb down the iron ladder on to the path that leads to the beach. It is cold, overcast and the beach is deserted. It livens up when an enthusiastic Alsatian puppy tries to persuade Noah and Basil, both mature dogs, to play with him. Blade then joins the fray. He has a new toy and is running around showing it to everyone. Soon after peace has been restored a couple walk by with a Dogue de Bordeaux puppy. His paws are huge. The wife entertains us with stories of this recent acquisition. They bought a dog so they could take it for walks but this particular dog does not like walking. He will soon be too big and heavy to carry. I take these lovely memories back to Hertfordshire with me when I leave Dorset later today.
Sunday 30 August 2020
Today I meet my friends for lunch in a local pub. It is the first time I have been to a pub since lockdown began in March. We eat at the Round Bush which looks just the same as it did the last time I was there. So much so we don’t realise that when we leave we go out of the in which we should not have done. Fortunately, the tables in the restaurant area are well-spaced and some are in separate cubicles. I ask to be seated at one of these rather than the table in the middle of the room. I order the fish and chips. It is a huge portion and really good. I don’t have room for anything else. When I get home I feel obliged to spend twenty minutes on my exercise bike. The rest of the day is spent packing, ready for an early departure to Italy in the morning.
Some Government Statistics
As of 5 pm on Monday 24 August, of the 325,642 who tested positive for coronavirus in the UK, a total of 41,433 have died across all settings within 28 days of that test including a daily total of 4. By Sunday 30 August 332,752 positive tests have been recorded. A cumulative total of 41,498 people have died within 28 days of a positive test including a daily total of 12. The parameters were changed a few weeks ago resulting in a lower 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