15th November 2020
Diary of Life During a Coronavirus Pandemic: England Enters Lockdown 2
I will remember Bonfire Night 2020 but for all the wrong reasons. It was the day England went into a second national lockdown in an attempt to control the coronavirus.
My hopes of getting back to work are dashed as England enters Lockdown 2 in week 33 of lockdown. I was due to lead a city break in St Albans but that had to be cancelled. I have some appointments in Hertfordshire which I re-arrange to get back to Dorset before England goes into lockdown again. It develops into a race against time.
Monday 02 November 2020
This morning I have arranged to meet Rosmarie for a walk on the beach. Our last opportunity before she starts preparing for open-heart surgery on 5 November. Despite the howling gale I get dressed and head for the beach, on foot. I jog around the harbour, through the large car park and emerge on Sandbanks Beach. It is still dark. There is no-one around apart from one couple walking in the opposite direction towards Bournemouth. I have the entire beach to myself. The wind is whipping the sand up into miniature sand dunes. It starts to rain. I think I have made a mistake coming out as the slanting slivers of water prickle my face. But I carry on. It is wild and exhilarating. The rain does not last long. There is no sign of Rosmarie. I send her an image of the empty beach. I manage to avoid a soaking as I dodge the waves lapping the garden walls at the far end of the beach.
When I regain the safety of my flat I discover I have a thin film of sand covering my face. I turn on the news and discover I have just battled my way through the tail end of Hurricane Rita that has blown in across the Atlantic. I re-commence my battle to renew my car insurance. One thing the coronavirus has taught me is that I should not expect to achieve anything in one day. And to find something to occupy myself during the long waits to get through to anyone. My car insurance had run out and I need to use the car but my attempts to re-insure the car today came to nothing. I was so distracted that I used the wrong setting to heat up a pizza for dinner. Result, one pizza burnt to cinders and a screaming smoke alarm.
Tuesday 03 November 2020
This morning I set off for Hertfordshire. The motorways were busier than they have been for a while but not as busy as pre-COVID-19 days. I have arranged a visit to the de Havilland Aircraft Museum in London Colney, a small village in Hertfordshire. This museum is based in the grounds of Salisbury Hall. It was here de Havilland built the prototypes of his famous wooden-framed Mosquito. It was the most successful fighter plane during World War II. In those days the hall was a remote, countryside location. Now it has the M25 on its doorstep. But that does make it very accessible to visitors.
Alistair, the curator, related the history of the museum and then took me into the first hangar to see their proudest exhibit, the first Mosquito prototype. It is one of several planes designed and built by de Havilland. They include the only surviving fuselage of Comet 1. It has been restored with seating on one side of the cabin and a small museum on the other. This futuristic passenger plane was not a great success but it did pave the way for passenger planes of the future.
The temperature plummets while I am walking around the two modern hangers in which the museum is now based. But I braved the cold to venture outside to look at the planes there. These represent the final years of de Havilland as a major aircraft manufacturer before it became a very small part of British Aerospace, a conglomerate of small aircraft manufacturers.
Wednesday 04 November 2020
British Gas has confirmed an appointment to undertake a safety check of the boiler at the Hertfordshire flat this morning between 8 am and 1 pm. That would give me plenty of time to do a big food shop and get back to Dorset before ten o’clock this evening as I am guesting on an American webinar about my work as a tour manager with TravelEyes. They organise trips for groups of visually impaired and sighted travellers. I have to do it from Dorset as I have to be in residence by midnight if I want to spend Lockdown 2 there. I try to get into my British Gas account to track my engineer. The website is down. Attempts to call them are foiled by an automatic answer service that constantly repeats it cannot understand the post code I am giving them. I try online chat – 21st in the queue. It takes me 4 hours to establish that computer glitch means an engineer has not been booked. They offer to send one out this afternoon but can’t confirm a time. I tell them I am I have to be away by 6 pm. The engineer arrives at 4.45 pm.
I leave at 5.45 pm and plunge into the biggest traffic jam I have ever encountered. It takes my 35 minutes to reach the main road (normally a five-minute journey). It is very slow on the A41. Now it looks as though I will have to abandon any thoughts of filling up with petrol and doing a shop. But, I can see there is no queue at the petrol station so I pull in and fill up. Sainsbury’s is also very quiet. I do a very quick shop but leave some fruit behind at the self-service check out in my rush to get going again. The traffic is crawling along the M25. It seems everyone is trying to escape London before Lockdown 2 starts. I make up some time on the M3. I am just in time to log-on for the webinar.
Thursday 05 November 2020
Today is the first day of Lockdown 2 which is expected to last 4 weeks. We have already been warned it could last longer than that. I exchange news with the occupants of Flat 3, from my balcony. Their daughter is expecting her second child so they are here to undertake childcare duties. The baby was due two weeks ago so they have been in residence for a while. It is comforting to have other occupants in the building after being mostly on my own since March. After a cold start it develops into a glorious day. The sun is shining and the air is crisp. I am tempted outside by the sight of lots of colourful kites spread on the beach by the harbour. Today is the first day of lockdown 2 and the kites are spread on the sand to dry before the kite boarding school closes down for Lockdown 2. There are no kite surfers on the harbour today just the occasional paddle boarder. I walk around the harbour and back along Sandbanks Beach. It is Bonfire Night and fireworks start going off around the harbour as soon as it gets dark – but it is very subdued compared to previous years.
Lockdown 2 starts today in England. We have to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives. We must work at home if possible and only go out for exercise or essentials. All but essential shops will close but schools and colleges will stay open and football will continue behind closed doors. Restaurants, pubs and cafés can only sell take-away food and drink. Hotels can only accept bookings from people travelling for business. And all but essential foreign travel is prohibited.
Friday 06 November 2020
It is cold and dark when I get up at 6 am. Flat 3’s car is not outside so I assume the baby must have arrived during the night. It develops into another sunny day and I go out in the afternoon. I head for the nearest beach where I discover a wild sea and some kite surfers trying to conquer it. It is very exhilarating, walking along the beach towards the Haven Hotel.
The beach is very busy. An army of people advances towards me. It reminds me of post-Christmas dinner walks I have taken in the past. When everyone emerges from their cosy residences at the same time.
Elsewhere: A pilot scheme started in Liverpool today whereby anyone wanting to be tested for COVID-19 can have a free test. The army are doing the testing and the results are known in 20 minutes. It is not 100% accurate but anyone who tests positive will be referred for a proper lab test.
Saturday 07 November 2020
My hot water bottle had started leaking during the night and I had thrown it on the floor. So, now I have to deal with a wet carpet. I spread one my Tesalate towels on top of it. I could almost hear it drinking up the water. It was brilliant. And the towel soon dried out after being spread out on the balcony. Next task – get a new hot water bottle. I finish my article by early afternoon. I change and go out for a walk. I walk up to Canford Cliffs intending to buy a new hot water bottle. I had intended to walk along the promenade then take the steps up to the cliff top. It is very crowded and impossible to keep a social distance from the groups of people walking towards me. I turn back and walk along the main road. The chemist closed at 1 pm and I am too late. On my way back I see a sign to Walking back, I follow the signs to the Church of the Transfiguration. This proves to be a lovely walk. The church is set in some woods. There is a garden of remembrance and a woodland walk. I enjoy some lovely views of the coast below me.
Elsewhere: The second lockdown is already under threat with protests in London and university students tearing down fencing in Manchester. The protests started on Thursday evening and 190 arrests were made.
Sunday 08 November 2020
It is too dark to go out on my bike when I get up at 6 am. I don’t have any lights on my bike, just a small reflector on the back wheel. Maybe it is time to consider lights or even a new bike? I am about to set off when it starts spitting with rain. I decide to carry on. I do my two circuits of the spit. On the second circuit I stop at the Panorama Bay Motor Company to look at the lovely veteran cars in the showroom. One in particular has caught my eye. It is one I have seen on the road and it has a plate on the front saying Police. It is a rare example of the Police Version of the Riley RMB. It was built during the 1940s for the West Sussex Constabulary based at Chichester. Dubbed the Goodwood Police Car is was used as a high speed patrol car. Its top speed of 90 mph meant it was one of the fastest saloon cars in the UK at the time. It was retired in the 1950s and has had a succession of private owners since then. Still roadworthy, it recently successfully completed a 200-mile Rally in France. This evening I enjoyed the welcome return of His Dark Materials on television. At last, a new series after months of replays and best bits.
Some Government Statistics
By 5 pm on November 02, a total of 1,053,864 ((today 18,950) positive COVID-19 tests have been recorded and the cumulative total of deaths within 28 days of a positive test is 46,853 including a daily total of 136. Deaths with COVID-19 on the certificate 58,925 (a weekly statistic). A week later on November 08 , the total of positive cases had risen to 1,192,013 (today 20,572) positive tests, and the cumulative total of deaths within 28 days of a positive test is 49,044 including a daily total of 156. Deaths with COVID-19 on the certificate 60,051 (weekly increase of 1,132).
More next week