4th September 2021
Life During a Coronavirus Pandemic: Week 75 Sunny Days
Back from the Isle of Man and re-living the lovely time I had there as I start writing a series of articles about my experiences.
Finally, after weeks of dull, wet weather the sun has come out and we enjoy some lovely sunny days. I look forward to my days volunteering on Brownsea Island as the good weather will ensure ferries filled to capacity and happy visitors. It feels as though life is back to normal but daily statistics of new COVID-19 cases and deaths from the virus remind us that the threat is still there and not diminishing. I still choose to wear my face maks on public transport and in shops.
Monday 23 August 2021
I am leaving the Isle of Man very early this morning so I set three different times on my iPhone alarm but wake when the first one goes off. The bus stop for buses to the airport are very close to my hotel. It is a lovely morning and I have time to enjoy the sunrise over Douglas beach. I am joined by an islander making his way to the ferry terminal and we are deep in conversation by the time our bus arrives.
On the journey I smile for a last time at the announcement to all passengers on public buses: “Please observe an Isle of Man tradition and say hello to the fairy as we cross the Fairy Bridge.” And I even say “Hello Fairy” this time. According to the woman on the Information Desk the only place I can get a coffee is airside. She calls Security to see if they are open yet and then gives me the go-ahead. It is a while before my flight to Gatwick with Easyjet is due to depart so I get a cappuccino and then settle down to do some work. I wear a face mask all the time but I am in the minority. When we board we sit on the plane for ages as they have to refuel. Gone are the days when this would be done before passengers boarded. As rules relaxed passengers were allowed to board while re-fuelling was in progress but warned this was happening and not to fasten their seat belts. Nowadays, they don’t mention the fact the plane is linked to a tanker carrying hundreds of gallons of flammable liquid. My journey is very straightforward no queues and no formalities at Gatwick and I am soon at the railway station boarding my train to Radlett. Once home I check mail and emails and then pack up the car and head back to Sandbanks to enjoy the last of the summer by the sea.
Almost 5,000 Covid cases linked to Cornish surf festival and the organisers, Boardmasters say they are working with public health officials after a number of revellers tested positive for the virus when they returned home.
‘Pfizer booster shot significantly lowers risk,’ according to an Israeli study which shows it improves protection from infection and serious illness among people aged 60 and older. It comes as antibody tests will be available to the public in the UK for the first time, from Tuesday. Those getting a PCR test will be able to have the option of checking for antibodies.
Government buys 35million extra Pfizer jabs in a bid to "future-proof" the vaccine rollout and, according to the Health Secretary is part of “robust preparations” to ensure the country’s safety against Covid-19 “for years to come”.
In the News Today
Changing of the Guard returns to delight tourists at Buckingham Palace. The ceremony was halted about 18 months ago to avoid attracting huge crowds of tourists during lockdown.
Tuesday 24 August 2021
I wake early this morning and the lovely light associated with proximity to the sea is pouring through the windows of the flat. I spend the morning sorting out the photographs I took on the Isle of Man – over one thousand but, as the weather was not always in my favour, I have two sets of images for some of the places I visited. This evening my friend treats me to an early fish and chip supper at the excellent Chez Fred in Westbourne. As they don’t take bookings it is best to go early as it is not long before the waiting area is full and a queue builds up outside.
The sight of anxious faces peering at us through the window discourages us from lingering too long after we have finished eating. So we drive to Sandbanks and watch the sunset over Whitley Lake in Poole Harbour.
Schools warning as Covid deaths rise as experts say Covid infection rates will surge when millions of pupils return to schools next week. Deaths from Covid-19 are now averaging 100 a day across the UK - a significant rise from late May and early June, when they were consistently in single figures.
‘Moral blackmail’ on jabs at care homes as six in ten care homes say they will be forced to sack members of staff who are refusing to get vaccinated. The government has ordered all care home staff to receive their first dose of a Covid jab by 16 September.
In the News Today
Afghanistan: G7 meeting could be stormy after US allies have expressed their disapproval over the tumultuous American withdrawal and Washington is faces calls to allow more time for evacuation from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
Wednesday 25 August 2021
As I am volunteering on Brownsea Island today it is an early start and I set off soon after 7 am to cycle to the National Trust jetty at the end of the Sandbanks spit. When I get to the island I set off for a walk. I take the boardwalk and then climb up the slope to the woods at the back of the church. There is a man sitting there with a huge lens on his Canon camera. He is hoping a red squirrel will appear and sit on the tree stump in front of him. I sit near him and we wait. After a while he gives up and heads back to his tent. I decide to stay a bit longer and soon after he leaves a squirrel appears and pauses for a while on the tree stump in the sun. I take a few photos and then move on to the Lily Pond. It’s huge green water lily pads and are dappled by the sun. I sit for a while until it is time to make my way back to the pier.
On my way I pass the heath. The heather is blooming so the colours, splashed by sunlight, are stunning. I am back in the Sail Loft in time to make a coffee before the first ferry arrives at 09.20. As I am on my own on the pier today and most of the ferries are full I anticipate a busy day. Time flies and we have so many visitors that extra ferries are required to get them all off the island. But, as always, it is a lovely day in this very special place.
Unvaccinated people 29 times more likely to be hospitalised with Covid-19 and five times more likely to be infected according to a study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In the News Today
Biden insists on Afghanistan withdrawal deadline despite calls for an extension of the deadline to withdraw from Afghanistan to allow evacuations from the Taliban-controlled country to continue,
Thursday 26 August 2021
I spend all day working on some articles about the Isle of Man. The patio door is wide open and the shouts and laugher of people enjoying themselves on the little beach below my flat float inside on the gentle breeze. After weeks of miserable weather, it is a lovely sunny day and Whitley Lake is a polka dot of small boats on shimmering water.
Hospital declares 'critical incident' after surge in COVID patients as Derriford Hospital in Plymouth experiences its highest level of COVID occupancy during the third wave.
Seven more destinations turn green as Montenegro becomes first in Europe to go red. The Azores, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Lithuania have been upgraded from amber to green. Thailand joins Montenegro on the red list
Covid jab preparation for 12 to 15-year-olds so the UK could join the likes of the US, Canada, France and the Netherlands, which are vaccinating children aged 12 and over against Covid-19.
Israel’s grand vaccine experiment as the world and UK watches on - there’s a third “booster” dose for those over 30, who received their first two jabs at least five months ago. There’s also a push to vaccinate as many secondary pupils (over-12s) as possible before the new school year begins.
Friday 27 August 2021
I am up at 5 am both to take the chain off the drive in the hope the bin men will come today – the coronavirus pandemic and the pingdemic have messed with their schedules and they won’t come down our drive if the chain is up. The birds are very noisy outside, a large flock of Oyster Catchers forage and chat on the beach and the geese honk loudly as they fly past. I am meeting ‘the girls’ at Compton Acres for coffee this morning but I decide to go early and have a steaming cappuccino and slice of a scrumptious almond and blueberry cake.
After we have consumed vast amounts of coffee and put the world to rights I have a wander through the Compton Acre gardens – now starting to dress for autumn. The gardens are quite busy today but it is always possible to find a quiet corner to sit and enjoy them.
Vaccine complications dwarfed by virus risks The Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine does raise the risk of blood clots and another serious condition - but the likelihood of such problems is much lower than it would be after suffering Covid. That's according to a study of more than 29 million people who received a first dose and nearly 1.8 million infected with the virus.
Saturday 28 August 2021
Another lovely day and I celebrate by having a break from work to take one of my favourite walks – around Whitley Lake and along the promenade below Evening Hill. It is another lovely day and the path around the lake is quite busy – and littered with blow-up paddle boards and other water sports paraphernalia. However, the little promenade is always quiet with great views of Purbeck Island across Poole Harbour. It is also a good place for a burst of aerobic exercise running up the steps to the road above.
My friend arrives late afternoon with food (and full set of steamers) to cook me a tasty steak in mushroom sauce and lots of vegetables. After eating we watch the sun go down over Poole – a spectacle I never tire of as the colours are different every evening.
Italy drops quarantine rules for fully vaccinated Britons Italian officials and fully-vaccinated UK travellers with a negative coronavirus test will no longer have to quarantine.
How Europe is pulling ahead of Britain in the great Covid race and the Continent appears to be better prepared for winter after decisive action on jabs. Britain had a head start but as summer fades, it looks like Europe will enter the second winter of the pandemic ahead of us.
In the News Today
Britain out of Afghanistan and last troops depart after 20 years as Boris Johnson insisted the UK would do all it could to “preserve the gains” from the sacrifices of troops. The final RAF flight withdrawing British troops left Kabul after the personnel on board assisted in the departure of the final civilians who had managed to get into the airport before its gates were shut.
Sunday 29 August 2021
Although I am doing the late shift at the Outdoor Centre on Brownsea Island today which does not start until 11 am I still get an early boat and take my time walking there from the pier. As it is a Bank Holiday weekend most of the campers are staying tonight so there is only one departure this morning and two arrivals this afternoon. But there is a steady stream of visitors taking advantage of the Snack Van that is parked there. The peacocks are quick to exploit the situation and a peahen arrives with seven tiny chicks. I have to shoo her off the wooden decking before someone treads on one of her chicks. Fortunately, she goes quietly.
Rishi Sunak on collision course with NHS over extra funding to clear Covid backlog
as NHS chief executives claim that, without an urgent top-up from the Treasury, they will run out of money to tackle the coronavirus backlog without ditching or scaling back parts of the health service’s long-term plan to improve cancer treatment and mental health care.
In the News Today
Those left behind in Kabul by Britain include students, interpreters and a Glasgow cabbie They are names that may yet come back to haunt Britain after its last planes left Kabul airport. They include former British Army interpreters, the alumni of British universities, a Glasgow cabbie and even a former British bodyguard to our ambassadors in the country, as well as countless others abandoned in the scramble to leave.
Joe Biden's worst day: 'Clutch slipping' as president is repeatedly late in briefing the world on Afghan crisis, his Joe Biden's darkest day in office. 13 US troops were killed in a suicide bombing in Kabul, beset by chaos and indecision behind the scenes that led to him being hours late addressing the American people.
Some Government Statistics
By 5 pm on Monday 23 August, a total of 6,524,581 (total that day 31,914) positive COVID-19 tests have been recorded and the cumulative total of deaths within 28 days of a positive test is 131,680 including a daily total of 40. By the end of the week on Sunday 29 August, the total of positive cases had risen to 6,731,423 (total that day 33,196) positive tests, and the cumulative total of deaths within 28 days of a positive test is 132,437 including a daily total of 61. Total deaths with COVID-19 on the death certificate is now 155,465, an increase this week of 652. (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 four books she turned to online travel writing.