26th June 2021
Life During a Coronavirus Pandemic: Week 65 Glamping in Somerset
Close to nature, in the heart of Somerset countryside I go glamping for the first time ever and it is a very enjoyable experience.
Naturally, I am bitterly disappointed that we are not going to see the end of lockdown next week but I would rather do another four weeks of this semi-lockdown than go back into another full lockdown if the Delta variant is not brought under control. And, I have a new experience to look forward to – glamping. Despite some initial doubts it exceeds my expectations as my luxurious tent includes en suite facilities – one of my necessities.
Monday 14 June 2021
This morning I am meeting some of my colleagues from the vaccination hub in Parkstone. I am delighted that they have chosen Compton Acres as our venue. I cycle there, up the hill, which takes care of my daily exercise. We manage to find a table outside in the shade, as it is a very hot day and the four of us settle down for a good catch up. As I had been away leading a walking weekend and missed some clinics at the vaccination hub there was a lot to talk about. Wetalked through a round of coffees and a snack lunch. After lunch I went for a walk in the gardens and was delighted to find the water lilies on the water feature in the Italian garden were in full bloom.
PM delays end of Covid restrictions by up to four weeks over Delta variant fears Boris Johnson has been forced to delay the end of England’s coronavirus restrictions by up to four weeks after being warned the move could lead to thousands of deaths and unbearable pressure on the NHS.
Scientists warn of 40,000 summer wave deaths as Boris Johnson confirms four-week delay to lifting restrictions More than 40,000 people could die this summer as the Delta variant of coronavirus sweeps through the UK, even after Boris Johnson’s decision to delay the lifting of lockdown restrictions by four weeks to 19 July, scientists have warned.
Hospitals overwhelmed as Delta variant fuels increase in Covid around the world A string of countries are warning hospitals are now full of Covid-19 admissions as new variants, particularly the Delta strain first found in India, threaten to swamp wards. As the highly infectious strain spreads round the world, several countries have pleaded with citizens to abide by safety restrictions over fears their health systems buckle as they did in India.
In the News Today
UK traffic exceeds pre-Covid levels Traffic on British roads is now heavier than before the Covid pandemic due to a reluctance to use public transport and a sharp rise in internet shopping. Transport Technology Forum said that vans and trucks account for a greater proportion of journeys than before the pandemic, reflecting the rise in the delivery of shopping.
China's 'Bat Woman,' at the Centre of a Pandemic Storm, Speaks Out U.S. politicians and scientists are pointing to Shi Zhengli as the key to whether the world will ever learn if the virus behind the COVID-19 pandemic escaped from a Chinese lab. To the Chinese government and public, she is a hero of the country’s success in curbing the epidemic. The idea that the virus may have escaped from a lab had been dismissed by scientists as implausible and shunned by others for its connection with former President Donald Trump. But fresh scrutiny from the Biden administration and calls for greater candour from prominent scientists have brought the theory back to the fore.
Tuesday 15 June 2021
The sun is already shining when I wake early this morning. The window has been open all night and I am grateful for the fresh breeze. I can hear the seagulls and terns chattering outside. I get up and do some stretches before having breakfast and then getting down to work. I need to write the next chapter of my diary as I am away for two days and then I am doing a shift on Brownsea Pier on Friday which is usually ‘deadline day’. I work all day in the flat with occasional forays onto the balcony to get some fresh air and see what is going on outside. The homecoming yachts late this afternoon appeared to be becalmed as the collection of coloured sails remains stationary for a long time. It is completely still in the harbour – not a breath of wind not a twitch of a twig which is very unusual.
UK now has highest rate of new COVID cases in Europe and infections are also climbing at the fastest pace in the UK compared with the rest of the continent. The news comes after Boris Johnson was forced to delay lifting the final coronavirus restrictions by four weeks as the Delta variant, which was first identified in India, continues to spread at pace.
Easing of coronavirus restrictions in Scotland is likely to be delayed by three weeks, Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon told Scottish parliament. Scotland had been due to move down to the lowest level of its five-tier system of coronavirus measures from 28 June, but on 15 June Sturgeon said that this was likely to be postponed to allow more people to be vaccinated against covid-19.
EasyJet moves planes from the UK to Germany in response to travel curbs and differing approaches to coronavirus travel restrictions. A number of planes due to take holidaymakers from the UK to Palma on the Spanish island of Mallorca are departing from Berlin instead.
International travel unlocks as Morocco, Mauritius and Phuket announce borders will open -while the UK continues to adhere to prohibitive travel restrictions, various countries outside of Europe have announced they will reopen their borders to tourists in June and July. Morocco and Phuket in Thailand – all popular destinations with holidaymakers – have revealed unlocking dates for international visitors within the next month.
COVID booster jabs in the autumn 'may not be needed', says vaccine expert Autumn booster jabs for coronavirus may not be required, a leading vaccine expert has said. Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said clinical trials showed no evidence of any loss of protection over time.
Vaccine passports will show ‘natural immunity’ for people who have had Covid for six months after contracting the virus without the need for an antibody test under a new trial. The scheme will see 180-day natural immunity certificates issued to people taking part in the Government's latest large event trials who have tested positive for Covid this year, even if they have not had an antibody test.
Wednesday 16 June 2021
Tonight I am having my first experience of glamping at a campsite in Somerset. As it is not far from Stourhead House and Gardens, a National Trust property near Warminster in Wiltshire I am going to spend the morning there. Stourhead was created during the eighteenth century the Hoares, a banking family. Eight generations of this family lived here until 1946 when Henry Hoare gave the house and landscaped gardens to the National Trust. His only son and heir, Harry had died during the First World War. I arrived in plenty of time for my timed entry which I had booked for 09:30. The house does not open until 11:00 so I have to some to explore the gardens close to the house first. These gardens are glorious with rhododendrons, for which the place is famous, and acacia trees.
I have to re-trace my steps to get back to the house by 11:00. I am creeping along the path, in the wrong direction, when a voice hails me from the depths of the ticket office. A volunteer on duty points out I am going the wrong way around COVID-19 safe one-way system. I apologise but keep going. As numbers inside the house are limited I want to make sure I get inside as soon as possible after it opens. I am one of the first to enter. Only the ground floor rooms are open to the public and they are not the original rooms due to the centre of the house being destroyed by a fire in 1901. Nevertheless, they do give a flavour of the era when the house was built. The two wings that were added later, the Library and the Art Gallery did survive the fire. The latter could be accessed directly via a spiral staircase from outside rather than walking through the other ground floor rooms that are connected to it. The stained glass window in the library cannot be seen from outside as there is an outer layer making it look like an ordinary window. It does not take long to walk through the rooms that are open – entrance hall, music room, library, Italian room and Art Gallery - and I am outside again by 11:30. I set off to do the walk around the lake.
This is a lovely walk and passes by several attractions including The Pantheon, two temples, a boat house, a grotto, a gothic cottage and a Palladian Bridge. I walked through a grotto to join the path that leads up to the Temple of Apollo perched on a hilltop. There are two grottos in the gardens. They were popular in Italian Renaissance gardens offering shade from the heat of the sun. The views from this temple across the lake are stunning.
My circular walk ends at the Bristol Cross which, as the name suggests, was originally on display in Bristol. In 1765 Henry Hoare brought the restored medieval monument to Stourhead. It was transported by six wagons pulled by oxen. Figures carved into the stone of this spire-shaped monument represent medieval kings and queens of England. I just have time for some lunch in the National Trust café at Stourhead before driving to the Pop Up Somerset campsite where I am spending the night.
The campsite is buried so deep in the Somerset countryside it takes me a while to find it. I pass a young lady riding her horse three times as I drive up and down the lane from which the site is accessed. The site is a temporary site and does not officially open until tomorrow so there are no signs on the lane. Nevertheless, I am there by the appointed time and I am soon on my way to a pre-arranged visit to Feltham’s Farm, famous for its cheese-making, with my host. The farm is run by Marcus and Penny and after a quick introduction, sitting on bales of hay in a large barn, we have a tour of the farm. We watch three pregnant pigs gulping down the whey, a by-product of the cheese-making process. They love it and fight over it. Some teenage pigs snuffling for feed on the ground occasionally throw envious glances in their direction.
We move on through the newly planted orchard where different varieties of apples have been planted around before entering the little cheese-making factory. Cleanliness is high priority in this area and we done protective clothing from head to feet before entering. Marcus talks us through the initial processes and then shows us the cheeses maturing in the cool store rooms. The most famous of his three soft cheeses, Renegade Monk, is regularly washed with beer and we have a go at this. It is a reminder of the labour intensiveness of artisan cheeses. After our tour of the factory we return to the barn to taste two of the cheeses, La Fresca Margarita and Renegade Monk – both developed by Marcus. I like both of them but favour the stronger Renegade Monk. I could have stayed there for the rest of the evening eating the cheeses with crackers and drinking the organic wine that accompanied them. But, it was time to move on and meet the creators of Pop Up Somerset back at the campsite.
Jay and Jonnie are responsible for Pop Up Somerset, a temporary campsite that features the full range of tents from pitch your own to the luxurious Safari Suite. Jay took me on a tour of the two separate sites as there is a separate area for groups featuring a Tent House. Jay is also an established tent-maker and the interiors are beautiful featuring lovely Indian prints created by his partner, Fay. After our tour we all gather together in the circus tent, an area for dining and socialising and my day ends enjoying a barbecue with congenial company.
UK plans to make vaccines mandatory for care home staff which will affect the majority of the approximately 1.5 million people who work in social care in England, despite employer and staff organisations warning that it could backfire if staff who don’t wish to get vaccinated decide to quit.
The European Union has added the US to its safe travel list but not the UK due to “serious concerns” about the delta variant. Individual EU countries can still choose to demand a negative COVID-19 test or quarantine upon arrival.
In the News Today
Japan could allow up to 10,000 fans to attend Olympic events in Tokyo in July and August, after health advisers in the country approved plans to increase the number of spectators allowed to attend sports events. Anti-infection measures will be maintained. A covid-19 state of emergency in Tokyo and other parts of Japan is due to end on 20 June.
Thursday 17 June 2021
The very brief heat wave ended last night and by the time I retired to my luxurious tent it was bitterly cold and spitting with rain. Nevertheless, I have a good night’s sleep in my cosy double bed. I am awake early and after a hot, rain forest, shower I am ready for an early morning walk. Fortunately, the rain has stopped but it is still very cloudy. However, this does not stop me appreciating my surroundings – a huge wildflower meadow surrounded by trees. My host arrives with a takeaway breakfast and I leave soon after eating. For a first glamping experience it has been a great success.
Thanks to Waze, the sat nav on my iPhone, I have an easy run back to Poole and stop at Asda to buy a few essentials I have managed without for the past fifteen months while locked down in Dorset including an iron and an ironing board. As I am loading them into the car I notice a strange sculpture on the shore of Holes Bay. I have yet to find out what it represents – watch this space.
The two symptoms most closely linked to the Delta variant of COVID - especially in young people – have been described as feeling "more like a bad cold", with two symptoms in particular to look out for: a headache and a runny nose.
U.K. Considers Plan to Open Foreign Travel for Vaccinated Passengers allowing a resumption of tourism to more than 150 countries and territories including the vital U.S. market and some of the most popular European destinations. But Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office said that “absolutely no decisions” have been made.
Risk of Covid plummets 21 days after first vaccine dose, analysis suggests and people who become infected post-vaccination are also less likely to have symptoms than those who test positive for the virus but who have not been jabbed. Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that everyone over the age of 18 in England would be able to book a Covid-19 vaccine from Friday.
Friday 18 June 2021
I am on duty as a volunteer on the Brownsea Island pier all day today. Although there is rain in the air I decide I will still get the 7.30 ferry to the island. It is raining when I set off on my bike but it is not heavy and it looks as though it might clear up. A few minutes later it starts to rain heavily but I carry on and catch the ferry at 7.30. By the time I disembark on the island it is raining so heavily a walk is out of the question so I head for the Sail Loft where I make a cup of coffee and read the letter about my forthcoming court case. It includes an invitation to plead my case online. This is good news and I start making notes on my iPhone until it is time for our daily briefing. By then it is clear the rain is set in for the day. It is wet and windy on the pier and very view people brave the weather to visit us today – in total just 32 all day. During the day I go through 3 waterproof jackets. Sheltering under the porch of Reception I watch one of the harbour cruise boats go by with just 5 passengers huddled in waterproofs. In these days of pre-booking and pre-paying some people decide to carry on despite the weather. There are two of us on duty today and I am really grateful when my colleague suggests I leave early. By the time I have cycled back to the flat the water is running off me and every item of clothing I am wearing is soaking wet.
Younger people are driving the rise in Delta cases across UK and hospital cases have almost doubled, though most of those needing treatment have not had a vaccine.
Just 26 fully vaccinated people have died with Indian COVID variant Cases of the Delta variant of coronavirus have almost doubled in a week with 73 people now confirmed to have died after testing positive for the variant, 26 of whom had had both vaccine doses.
In the News Today
Fans who had AstraZeneca vaccine won’t be allowed into Bruce Springsteen’s New York concerts as the list of permitted attendees will be limited only to jabs approved by the US Food and Drug Administration - Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson.
Saturday 19 June 2021
I am up at 5:30 and, on reading through my information regarding my court case discover I only have 7 days to object to the use of the police constable’s statement. I quickly write and post a letter to say I do object because it contains some inaccuracies. It is a rush to get ready for my shift as a volunteer at the vaccination hub in Parkstone. But I am there in plenty of time to cope with the early morning rush. I have discovered the phrase “I am a bit early” covers a range from ten minutes to two hours. As we are short of volunteers today I am at the front on my own, checking patients in, offering the hand sanitiser and supplying forms to be filled in. A steady flow of patients and sanitised clipboards means there are no holdups and they day passes quickly. When I finish I cycle to Halfords having been invited back for further checks on my bike which is still misbehaving. This time Josh has a look at the gears and makes some adjustments. He is much more thorough than his predecessor. But when he shows me an image he has taken with his mobile phone I can see how badly worn some of the parts are. Maybe it is time to consider a new bike?
Thousands queue outside football stadiums for COVID vaccines for COVID vaccines on as football grounds in London were turned into giant jab clinics. But the crowds were also met by anti-vaxxers holding demonstrations outside. Venues like Olympic Stadium, Stamford Bridge, Tottenham Hotspur FC, Charlton Athletic FC, Selhurst Park and Crystal Palace Athletics Centre were transformed into vaccine hubs during what has been dubbed 'Super Saturday'.
Sunday 20 June 2021
I am up just after my alarm goes off at 6 am. It is misty and damp outside (image). And missing the usual parade of walkers, joggers and cyclists out for early morning exercise, just one man and his dog walking on Kite Beach. I have some reviews to write today and I also have to complete my online not guilty plea and reasons why regarding the mobile phone incident. So, I am glad I am not going to be tempted outside
During the day there was a full on war today on the roof above my flat – crows versus gulls – I could see the crows lurking on the surrounding rooves waiting for an opportune moment to attack presumably to steal eggs from the nests. The gulls were on guard and there were a few noisy, mid-air encounters.
The open top Breezers on their way between Bournemouth and Swanage go by at regular intervals most of them empty. It is definitely not the weather for a trip to the seaside and very unseasonable for the month of June.
Pilots issue mayday as data suggests UK aviation ‘hardest hit in Europe by travel rules’ and the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) are calling for urgent action to help aviation because of the “devastating” impact of the pandemic on UK airlines and airports.
More than 350 Indonesian healthcare workers vaccinated with China's Sinovac vaccine caught COVID-19 and while the majority of those who tested positive for the coronavirus were asymptomatic, dozens needed hospital care, raising questions about the vaccine's efficacy on variants.
Some Government Statistics
By 5 pm on 14 June, a total of 4,573,419 (total that day 7,742) positive COVID-19 tests have been recorded and the cumulative total of deaths within 28 days of a positive test is 127,907 including a daily total of 3. By the end of the week on 20 June, the total of positive cases had risen to 4,630,040 (total that day 9,284) positive tests, and the cumulative total of deaths within 28 days of a positive test is 127,976 including a daily total of 6. Total deaths with COVID-19 on the death certificate is now 152,397, an increase this week of 108 (this statistic lags behind the daily statistics as it is updated on a weekly basis).
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