29th November 2020
Life in a Coronavirus Pandemic: Christmas Creeps in During Week 35
Normally the early arrival of Christmas in the shops and on the streets does not excite me. This year I am finding it comforting.
Christmas hangs in the balance as COVID-19 cases continue to increase. It is becoming clear that this will not be a normal Christmas. Decorations are already adorning the streets, shops and houses. But most of the shops are closed and the streets are quiet. Many people will be doing their Christmas shopping online and delivery vans are everywhere – apparently online shopping has seen a 400% increase since the coronavirus pandemic began. Colourful Christmas lights begin to brighten the short, dark days of winter.
Monday 16 November 2020
After a sleepless night I am wondering if I should stand down as assistant editor for the aviation website I have been writing for. The requirement of three articles every week about topics with which I am not familiar is proving too much. And editing the articles of other writers is taking up much more time than anticipated. It has kept me going through 8 months’ the coronavirus lockdowns but it has also meant I have not started on the list of things I intended to do, like my annual tax return. However, my first priority today is an early morning walk along the beach. It is another glorious morning and as dawn breaks I watch the first chain ferry, ablaze with lights, set off from Sandbanks to Studland. When I get back to the flat I call Trailfinders to confirm my trip to Dubai at the beginning of December. But it is bad news – I will not be covered by their flexible rebook, refund policy as it is too close to the departure date. There is so much uncertainty regarding lockdown2 – will it end as promised on 2 December? Will new restrictions apply when it does end? I decide it is too risky to book the trip.
Tuesday 17 November 2020
More disappointment today. I receive a message from the Hotel Lorenzetti to say their region, Trentino, is now suffering badly from COVID-19 and it would be safer for me to postpone my trip to next year. This is sound advice (particularly as Italy is on the UK red list) but still very disappointing. Now, I have to decide what to do about the flights I have booked. I check British Airways policy and I can cancel/rebook without charge up to 3 weeks before I am due to fly. Of course, if BA cancel them before that I am entitled to a refund. I have a few days to think about it. Today is shopping day so I go out in the wind and rain to get the bus to Poole. Christmas decorations are already in place in the Dolphin Shopping centre. They make me feel a lot more cheerful. And so does the acquisition of a new shower head. This means I won’t have to rely on a hand-held shower any more.
The number of new COVID-19 cases does not seem to be going down. But this is not unexpected as it will be two weeks before new infections due to large pre-lockdown parties are detected. The government is still insisting we will come out of lockdown on 2 December but it is likely we will face a stricter tier system. A full post-lockdown plan will be revealed next week.
Wednesday 18 November 2020
I start writing early this morning but I am soon distracted by a pink glow outside. I look up to see an amazing sunrise so I grab my camera and rush outside to take some photos. The pink is then replaced by a golden glow – an amazing and uplifting start to the day. I am looking forward to the Wendy Wu Virtual Launch Part this afternoon. Wendy Wu is a tour operator that specialises in Asia but is now moving into other countries. I was tempted to attend as I want to discover more about their new destinations. The provision of a Cornish cream tea was an added attraction. So, by 3 pm I was settled in front of my laptop, scones, jam, cream and a mug of tea laid out in front of me. Wendy Wu herself introduced the webinar –she is a very enthusiastic Chinese lady. They have added some new trips including Georgia, which I really want to do. But they charge a high single supplement. However, they are offering free flights on all departures to those attending this launch party which sort of balances it out. I make initial enquiries for May 2021.
Thursday 19 November 2020
I am woken by strong winds during the night but it is dry and sunny this morning so the walk I have arranged with a friend can still go ahead. We meet in Sandbanks and set off to walk around the harbour. We then go down to the beach and head for the Haven Hotel. It is quite crowded on the beach so we decide to take the path to the chain ferry and then walk along the road. We take a detour down Old Coastguard Road to admire the coastguards’ cottages. These Grade II listed buildings date back to 1876. Some still have the original brick exterior while the others have been covered with white plaster. One-hundred-year-old roses still bloom in the gardens.
In the News Today
Peacocks and Jaeger have both gone into administration after their parent company failed to find a buyer for the two chains. This leaves more than 4,700 staff and almost 500 stores hanging in the balance, but no job losses have been announced yet.
Friday 20 November 2020
Today dawned grey and wet and stayed that way for most of the day. But curiosity about something I had noticed yesterday drew me outside. While walking with my friend I had seen a plaque on the wall of the Royal Motor Yacht Clubhouse indicating that sea planes had been based here. During World War II the Navy took over the club’s boat yard and the boat shed next door which was owned by Lord Lyle to set up a sea plane training school. As the war progressed the whole of Sandbanks came under military control and the Navy requisitioned the clubhouse and the staff cottage (one of the coastguard cottages). Royal Naval Air Squadron 765 was stationed on Sandbanks from 1940 to 1943. A variety of seaplanes flew out of this base. It was handed back to the club in 1945. Soon after that the club purchased the large shed that is now known as the Boatshed.
Eleven council areas in Scotland moved into tier 4, their highest tier, from 6 pm today. Tier 4 measures, similar to a full lockdown, will remain in place until 11 December.
Saturday 21 November 2020
I woke up feeling more positive about life in general. Lockdown has been getting me down a bit but no longer. I go out early and jog to the beach just beyond the Sandbanks sea pavilion. I am there early and the beach is empty. I start walking towards the Haven Hotel. It is not long before the regular swimmers and dog walkers appear and we exchange greetings. Casey, the young black Labrador is on his best behaviour. I have watched his owner training him on the beach so I asked how it was progressing. He told me that Casey behaves perfectly in his own back garden but does what he likes when out for a walk. A little later he let Casey off the lead and, as if to prove, the point he slipped straight into delinquent mode. Archie was having none of it and I last saw Casey racing along the sand with Archie nipping at his heels.
Sunday 22 November 2020
After a morning inside working I set off for a walk at midday. I thought it would be quiet and that everyone would have gone home for lunch. But, a lot of people have had the same idea and the more popular paths are crowded. I decide to explore some of the footpaths that link the roads around the spit. These paths are empty and it is very pleasant wandering along them. When I finally emerge on the beach the crowds are beginning to disperse. One thing I have really missed during lockdown has been fish and chips. I had been considering the idea of takeaway fish and chips for lunch but did not want to queue for a long time. I am delighted when I see there is not queue at The Caff. I treat myself to some fish and chips and take them down to the beach where I find an empty bench to sit on. The weather is dull but very mild today so I take my time – the fish and chips are very good. Suddenly it is 3 pm and I have to walk briskly back to the flat to get there in time for an editorial meeting via the internet. I had not expected to have much to do in this meeting but the Editor had lost his voice and the Assistant Editor would introduce a topic and then pass it on to me. So I find myself struggling to explain the mysteries of meta data and SEO. All in a day’s work.
England is to go back into the tier system when Lockdown 2 ends with stricter measures in place. The government is still trying to get agreement with the other three nations in the UK regarding the restrictions that will be in place over the Christmas period. It is not looking good as infections in Bristol are now out of control.
The government has announced a scheme to try and get people back to a normal life. Freedom passes will be issued to people who have two negative coronavirus tests a week. Regular tests will be needed to ensure they continue to qualify for these passes. It is still a work in progress and will not be rolled out until early next year. If such a scheme is to be successful it will require sufficient testing centres for people to have regular tests.
Some Government Statistics
By 5 pm on November 16, a total of 1,390,681 ((daily total 21,363) positive COVID-19 tests have been recorded and the cumulative total of deaths within 28 days of a positive test is 52,147 including a daily total of 213. Deaths with COVID-19 on the certificate 61,648 the weekly increase 1,597. A week later on November 22, the total of positive cases had risen to 1,512,045 (daily total 18,662) positive tests, and the cumulative total of deaths within 28 days of a positive test is 55,024 including a daily total of 398. Deaths with COVID-19 on the certificate 63,873 (updated once a week) the weekly increase 2,225.
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