11th September 2021
Life During a Coronavirus Pandemic: Week 76 Red Arrows
Red arrows and a plane crash at the forefront this week.
Crowds gather in Bournemouth this week for the annual Bournemouth Air Show which takes place over the sea in front of the town. We are treated to a display by the Red Arrows every afternoon during the four days of the show. During those four days I do two shifts as a volunteer on Brownsea Island and they fly over the island twice during their display. From my vantage point I can watch the large flotilla of boats leaving Poole Harbour and heading for Bournemouth to watch the display. One of these boats is well-placed to rescue the pilot and passenger in a bi-plane that ditches in the sea while performing for the air show.
Monday 30 August 2021
I leap out of bed sometime between 5 and 6 am this morning as I have an idea regarding my first article about my recent visit to the Isle of Man. It is simple – start with a diary of my four days on the island. I get to work straightaway and just take breaks for breakfast and lunch. I enjoy going through my images and re-living my experiences on the island. Occasionally I walk to the open patio door to see what is going on outside. The Sandbanks spit is served by no less than four hop on hop off sightseeing buses which pass every hour – often passing each other.
It is very noisy as sea gull and tern fledglings are leaving the nest and are teetering on the edge of the roof above me as adult birds flap and chatter around them. Tiny feathers float into flat and coat the lawn at the front of the block. It is getting dark by the time I finish working but the article is ready to publish tomorrow. I pull my exercise bike in front of the open patio door and pedal frantically for twenty minutes as I have not been out today.
South Africa detects new coronavirus variant with multiple mutations but scientists are yet to establish whether it is more contagious or able to overcome the immunity provided by vaccines or prior infection. The new variant, known as C.1.2, was first detected in May and is spreading.
In the News Today
Taliban a ‘long way’ from diplomatic recognition, says minister as the UK is continuing efforts to secure the safe passage of people out of Afghanistan. Taliban will be judged on its actions as an intensive round of diplomacy began in Washington and at the United Nations.
Tuesday 31 August 2021
Weekly shop day – I still keep to a routine established over a year ago in the first lockdown and I enjoy the trip to Poole. It is interesting to see that although the number of people wearing face masks is decreasing generally – very few in my local Tesco – but the majority of passengers on bus still wear them. I get off the bus before it reaches the city centre and continue my journey on foot, through Poole Park. The gardens are a riot of colour and I find some new sculptures in one of them.
EasyJet passengers from Montenegro face hotel quarantine after red list flight fiasco due to failed departure of airline’s planned “pre-red list” evacuation flight. Travellers affected face hotel quarantine or 10 full days in a different country, such as neighbouring Albania.
In the News Today
Last US military flight departs Afghanistan, ending America's longest war as US Secretary of State declares the military mission is over and a new diplomatic mission has begun. The UN Security Council is urging the Taliban to allow people to leave the country.
Wednesday 01 September 2021
A new experience today, I am spending the night on Brownsea Island as I am doing the night shift as campsite warden. It is a busy morning as, after completing an article about my recent trip to the Isle of Man I cycle to Compton Acres for coffee with some other volunteers I met while on duty as a marshal at a vaccination hub. This time my coffee break does not extend into an early lunch as I have to pack for a night in a cottage on the island and this includes bed linen and food. The cottage is self-catering and the only café on the island closes at 4 pm and does not open until 10 am the next morning.
I get the staff boat to Brownsea Island at 3.30 and then walk to the cottage. I take my time as I do not have to do the hand over until 6 pm. Once the hand-over has been done I go for a walk. There are not many tents on the campsite as the holiday season is drawing to a close. Once I have walked through the campsite I go down to the beach on the South Shore and walk back to the cottage, have some dinner and then go to bed. I had taken a photo of the bedroom a few days earlier in order to ensure I had the correct bed linen. Unfortunately, when packing for tonight I looked at the wrong photo – one I had taken of my bedroom in a hotel in Bristol. I was soon to discover that shoving two single duvets into a double cover does not work and they just bunch up in the corners. So it was not a good night’s sleep.
Boris Johnson to press ahead with Covid vaccine passports in nightclubs from the end of September, despite concerns from MPs and leaders in the hospitality industry. The scheme will see members of the public required to show proof of their vaccine status to gain entry into domestic venues and events.
Thursday 02 September 2021
I go for an early morning walk as soon as it gets light this morning. The days are already drawing in and the weather is autumnal. I walk to the church intending to see if there are any red squirrels around in the woods there. A group of photographers staying in a lodge on the island are already there so I take the path to the Villa, the Dorset Wildlife visitor centre in the hope of seeing some red squirrels at the feeder there. There are no squirrels around but there is a young Sika deer who is happy to pose for me. I move on to Venetia Park, an arboretum of trees planted by previous owners of the island and find two more deer there. The deer are very rarely seen during the day as they are shy animals and keep out of the way in the wooded areas. All too soon it is time to make my way back to the Outdoor Centre to do the hand-over at 9 am.
Returning to the cottage I have some breakfast and then tidy up before walking back to the pier to get the staff boat back to Sandbanks. I take my time as the sun is out and the island is clothed in large patches of colourful heather. I treat myself to a scone with jam and cream at the Villano Café before finally departing the island. When I get back to the flat my afternoon siesta is rudely interrupted by the Red Arrows as their display for the Bournemouth Air Show takes them over my block of flats. The noise is deafening and added to by squawks of protest from the huge flock of birds roosting on the roof above my flat that is startled into flight.
Is the outdoors still safe? Concerns about Delta prompt new guidelines Since early on in the pandemic, public health officials have emphasized that the risk of getting COVID-19 is lower outdoors. In fact, outdoor transmission of COVID-19 has been rare with previous strains of the virus, according to a number of studies. But as the hyper-contagious Delta variant continues to drive up cases many have begun to wonder if this strain is also more transmissible outdoors.
Friday 03 September 2021
Today I am on the pier with a volunteer I know well but have not seen for nearly 2 years now due to the coronavirus pandemic. I get an early staff boat and go for a walk as soon as I arrive on the island. I start by walking along the boardwalk and then make my way to the woods at the back of the church. The group who were there yesterday are there again but only one of them is in the area I favour and I join her. She has put some seeds out and we are soon rewarded when a red squirrel appears. In total four red squirrels make an appearance and I manage to get a good, clear close-up of one of them. The best photo of a red squirrel I have taken to date.
It is sunny but hazy today and all the ferries are full. As they are arriving every half-hour we are busy on the pier. But everything stops between 3 pm and 3.20 pm to watch the Red Arrows doing their display for the Bournemouth Air Show. We can see some of the display in the distance and at the end of the display they fly over the island – once with a trail of red smoke and finally all nine of them when they finish their display. I don’t have to count the visitors on to the island but I do count them off in case we need to order some extra ferries at the end of the day. Today, as a lot of people get the 3 pm ferry which diverted to watch the Red Arrows, there is no need for any extra ferries.
Mu - the new coronavirus variant of interest The World Health Organization (WHO) has added another coronavirus variant to its list to monitor. It’s called the mu variant and has been designated a variant of interest (VOI). What this means is that mu has genetic differences to the other known variants and is causing infections in multiple countries.
In September COVID vaccination booster shots will start in Singapore for those 60 and over and the first batch of seniors aged 60 and above in Singapore who completed their COVID-19 vaccination in March, will be eligible for a third vaccine dose this month.The vaccination of children below the age of 12 is expected to start early next year in Singapore, after authorities have properly studied the safety and efficacy aspects.
Saturday 04 September 2021
Today I have some writing to do and I spend all day working at the flat. At 3 pm I go out on my balcony to watch the Red Arrows display – it is a daily event during the four days of the Bournemouth Air Show. They fly over my block of flats three times during the display but as it is hazy I do not see much of the display itself.
I have just settled down to work again when I hear another plan going over. I go outside and watch a small bi-plane flying over Whitley Lake. I can hear the engine spluttering and follow his rather erratic progress across the water until he disappears over the trees at the end of the Sandbanks spit. A few minutes later numerous emergency vehicles come screaming along the road below my flat – police cars, police motorbikes, ambulances, fire engines and coastguards. It is not long before people are posting on local websites that the biplane has splashed down into the sea in front of the Haven Hotel at the end of the sand spit. The pilot and passenger, a wing walker, are quickly rescued and only suffer minor injuries. Somehow the pilot managed to ditch the plane avoiding the chain ferry and and all the boats in the area.
Boris Johnson to extend ‘draconian’ lockdown laws for six months sparking fears of a winter lockdown. The government has confirmed plans to renew some temporary powers under the 2020 Coronavirus Act. But the plans will be opposed by Tory anti-lockdown MPs, 35 of whom rebelled last time the Act was extended. The legislation gives authorities and police powers to regulate public gatherings, close premises, and force people to self-isolate.
Rapid Covid tests are more accurate than we think, epidemiologist says and argues that the tests are “erroneously citied as not sensitive enough” when in fact they are more effective than some people think. This is because they are often compared with PCR tests which still produce a positive result even after people are no longer infectious.
In the News Today
Aircraft crashes at Bournemouth Air Festival injuring two people Bournemouth Air Festival has suspended flying after two people were injured in a light aircraft crash. Police were called to reports a small aircraft had gone down in the water in Sandbanks, Poole Harbour, during a display. Both occupants were rescued and sustained minor injuries, authorities said.
Sunday 05 September 2021
I turn my alarm off at 6 when it goes off and then roll over and start dozing off. I don’t know how long I have been dozing and leap out of bed in a mild panic in case I have made myself late. It has only been ten minutes so I am okay. I have some breakfast and post a review regarding my recent bad experience with Halfords and my new bike on TrustPilot. I get ready to leave for Brownsea Island and I am away just after 7 am. I cycle to the National Trust jetty. After putting my bike in the National Trust shed I walk along the path by the sea to see if the plane that crashed there yesterday afternoon is still there. If it is still there it is not visible. When the National Trust staff boat, Enterprise, arrives the boat man says the salvage boat went out yesterday evening but came back empty. The car park by the chain ferry is still fenced off. When I get to the island I walk along the boardwalk and then up the slope into the woods behind the church. I sit there for a while as there are squirrels everywhere - in the trees and scampering around collecting beech nuts. I am enjoying the sounds of rustling in the undergrowth and scratching of claws on the bark of trees I move occasionally and for a while, under one tree, the chucking and tail swishing of a red squirrel in the tree makes me aware my presence is not welcome. Then he starts throwing husks of beech nuts down on me. His aim is pretty good so I move on.
I am back at the Sail Loft in time to have a coffee before starting my shift as Pier Warden. I am on my own today and there is no-one in the courtyard to give information to the visitors. But the number of visitors is only around 350 so it is not going to be too busy and there should not be any need for extra boats at the end of the day. It is a nice day but very hazy. The ferries are arriving every half hour so no time to get bored and the day goes very quickly. The steam boat Sheildhall goes out mid-morning heading for the Bournemouth Air Show and I do take time to watch the Red Arrows going over during their final display for the air show.
The show went ahead today despite the plane crashing yesterday. I also watch the Big Buffalo returning with the salvaged bi-plane on board. The cause of the crash remains unknown.
Government yet to decide on inoculating healthy 12-15-year-olds
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi insists the Government is yet to decide whether to vaccinate healthy 12 to 15-year-olds against coronavirus.
Some Government Statistics
By 5 pm on Monday 30 August, a total of 6,757,650 (total that day 26,476) positive COVID-19 tests have been recorded and the cumulative total of deaths within 28 days of a positive test is 132,485 including a daily total of 48. By the end of the week on Sunday 05 September, the total of positive cases had risen to 6,978,126 (total that day 37,011) positive tests, and the cumulative total of deaths within 28 days of a positive test is 133,229 including a daily total of 68. Total deaths with COVID-19 on the death certificate is now 156,119, an increase this week of 654. (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.
Hi Valery, thanks for your beautiful account of your stay on the Isle of Man. It makes me wish I had stayed longer and explored further when I was there all those years ago. More than little worried about your mention of a new COVID variant. We are having enough trouble with Delta. In the ACT we have been in lockdown for three weeks and it has just been extended by another four. Masks are mandatory outside the home. However, the time for exercise outside has been doubled from one hour to two, so we got out to see the grandchildren across town. I hope taking them out for treats at the supermarket. counts as exercise. If not it should! I am not sure if we will be able to get to Queensland for the other grandchildren this year as borders between the States are firmly closed. Once again, lack of vaccine is the problem, though my appointment for a second jab on 3 October still stands. You are so lucky to have a beautiful place like Brownsea Island to visit and volunteer in. Take care.
Hi Graham – so sorry to hear that the situation is not improving in Australia. It must be very frustrating as the rest of the world is opening up. I am so lucky I have been able to explore a bit more of the UK recently and particularly lucky I can escape to Brownsea Island as it really is like going to another world. I hope things improve soon and you get to see all your grandchildren.
All the best, Valery