25th September 2021
Life During a Coronavirus Pandemic: Week 78 Lazy Days
A quiet week for me enjoying an Indian summer in Dorset as I look forward to leading a last-minute walking holiday on the Jurassic Coast.
The weather is the best we have had all summer during week 78 of the coronavirus pandemic. I spend a lovely day on Brownsea Island volunteering for a late shift at the Outdoor Centre and taking a long walk, the length of the island, before starting my duties. At the end of the week I head for a hotel in Bournemouth which will be my base for a walking holiday on the Jurassic Coast I will be leading. As the end of travel restrictions for those who are double jabbed is promised by the government I wonder if I dare anticipate going abroad soon.
Monday 13 September 2021
A very quiet day today but I have a lot to do. After every trip working as a tour manager I have to report on the trip and update the tour plan – a document that will go to the next tour manager on that trip. I work until late afternoon and then go out for a walk. I had hoped to walk through the Phillimore Recreation Ground which is celebrating one hundred years’ existence. However, the gate is locked so I walk around the outside and find the guiding hut. This funny little building looks as though it has also been around for a century. The First Radlett Scout Troop was formed on 16 May 1919 but a group of Scouts had met prior to the 1st World War. The headquarters, Kent Lodge, were opened in 1967 after the original building had to be demolished when a neighbouring wall fell on it. When I get back to the flat I top up my exercise for the day with twenty minutes on my exercise and then have a very quiet evening watching television programmes on my laptop. I said watching television on a laptop would never catch on but it seems I was wrong!
PM insists he is 'dead set' against further lockdowns and this week he will rip up the old system of Covid rules and adopt a new approach for winter. He is arguing that the UK must learn to live with coronavirus now all adults have been offered a vaccine.
Just 1% of deaths involving Covid-19 in England were fully vaccinated people according to a new analysis. Figures show the risk of death involving Covid-19 is consistently lower for people who receive two vaccinations compared to one or no vaccination.
UK cancels Covid vaccine deal with French firm Valneva The UK government is to pull out of a deal with French pharmaceutical company Valneva to buy its Covid-19 vaccination, the company has said. The move will come as a blow to the vaccine manufacturing site in Livingston, west Scotland.
Tuesday 14 September 2021
A wet, miserable morning today but brightened up for me by getting my flu jab. I have been having the flu jab every year since I started working as a tour manager twenty-five years ago and was very pleased I am able to attend a clinic between trips. As my next trip is a three-day walking holiday on the Jurassic Coast I drove down there today. It was also a good excuse to catch up with friends down there. A close friend had been to a local cheese fair and purchased a good selection of West Country cheeses, including the excellent Renegade Monk. My favourite indulgence – a cheese platter with fresh figs, celery, grapes, apples and crispy savoury biscuits. Not to mention a very nice red wine from Italy – Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.
End of PCR tests in sight for fully vaccinated travellers as the Health Secretary tells MPs they could expect the next Government’s global travel review to replace the expensive PCR tests with cheaper lateral flow tests. The Prime Minister confirmed that the traffic light system will be simplified.
Jab rollout for 12 to 15-year-olds and all children in England of this age will, from next week, receive invitations to get a coronavirus vaccine via their school. Eligible pupils will be offered one Pfizer-BioNTech Covid jab as this age group is deemed to be at very low risk from the disease.
Wednesday 15 September 2021
A very frustrating morning as I cannot get online to do some work. I had noticed a BT van parked outside yesterday and can only assume whatever they were doing has affected the WiFi signal in the area. As I am pacing in frustration I notice a man sitting on the bench by the bus stop across the road. He is still there four hours later and does not appear to have moved. It is a hot day and thinking he might want some water I approach with caution. He does not respond to me so I decide to call the emergency services. A very helpful young man on the phone takes all the details I can give him and then asks me to stay on the line until help arrives. I do that and twenty minutes’ later an ambulance arrives and I can leave him in their care and join my friend who is waiting for us to go out to lunch. We walk along the sea front skirting the Bournemouth beaches. Although is a lovely, sunny day it is not crowded as the schools and colleges have gone back. We take the cliff path up to Canford Cliffs and have a very nice lunch at The Cliff sitting outside in the shade. After a leisurely meal and a catch up on all our news we stroll back along the sea front.
Booster jabs announcement expected as the NHS has been preparing for a coronavirus vaccine booster programme since July. Ministers are expected to announce an additional single dose of the Pfizer vaccine for over-50s, at least six months after their second jab.
Thursday 16 September 2021
My shift at the Outdoor Centre on Brownsea island does not start until 11 am today but I still get an early staff boat so I can have a long walk first. Today I follow the blue path from the pier to the Outdoor Centre. The red squirrels are very active and I see several scurrying across the path ahead of me and I can hear them in the trees above me. I pause for a while and sit on a tree trunk. There are red squirrels all around me. Occasionally there is a dull thud as a nut drops to the ground. I can hear the cackle of geese flying overhead and birdsong in the trees that surround me. After a while I move on. When the blue path emerges from the trees it crosses a large area of heathland. The heather is in bloom and the colours, lit up by an early morning sun, are stunning.
When I arrive at the Outdoor Centre I agree to look after reception while the centre staff go down to the campsite to do some work there. As the Snack Van at the centre is not open today we are selling ice creams in reception. It is a lovely day today so we have a steady stream of visitors at the centre and a brisk trade in ice creams. I see some sand lizards for the first time on the island. These little creatures are basking on the fence at front of the centre. I meet some nice people and had some interesting conversations – in particular a family from Nottingham where I lived for nineteen years.
Gatwick Airport to cut Covid test cost as price ‘puts people off flying’ Travel Weekly reported the price of PCR tests is being cut by £10 to £59 and lateral flow tests will go down by £2 to £33. The airport is also subsidising the cost of its on-site Covid screening centre.
In the News Today
Tube accidents soar as passengers too afraid to hold escalator handrails over fears they could catch Covid. A London Underground chief has warned falls caused by people not holding handrails “due to a perception they are not clean” is currently one of the biggest safety risks facing the network.
Friday 17 September 2021
My Coffee Group is meeting today but we are having Indian food, not coffee. This takes place at a sports centre in Lower Parkstone and I cycle there on my new bike. I am still having problems changing gear but I manage to conquer all the hills between me and my destination. We have two vegetarian Indian curries, kidney bean and aubergine with rice and a chapatti. They are home-cooked and delicious.
After lunch I cycle to Halfords to have my bike checked. I follow a long road notorious for its ups and downs but, again, my new bike behaves well and I manage the ascents and descents without incident. When I get to Halfords and explain the problems I have been having the bike is checked, a few adjustments are made, some advice is given and I am soon heading back to the flat. But, as I am still without a WiFi signal and my mobile data is fast running out I make a detour to the public library in Canford Cliffs. I sit in the garden at the back the library and use their internet connection so I can check my emails and do some research.
Red list bookings surge as holidaymakers await major overhaul of travel rules and a “bonfire” of the hated traffic light travel system. Mexico, Sri Lanka and the Maldives are among exotic getaways to see a spike in bookings amid hopes they could soon be downgraded by the government.
Amber list scrapped as Shapps eases international travel rules and the number of countries from which returning travellers will be required to quarantine in a hotel is to be cut,
Non-vaccinated to self-isolate for ten days even if returning from low-risk country under new Covid travel rules People who are not vaccinated will have to self-isolate for 10 days, even if returning from a low-risk county, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced new changes on international travel as the government prepares to scrap protocols introduced during the pandemic.
Saturday 18 September 2021
The bins at the flat where I am staying in Dorset have not been emptied for two months now. They are starting to smell and attract flies that are finding their way inside. As phone calls and emails to the local authority have not resolved the situation I tried a more direct approach. I shouted from the balcony and managed to attract the attention of the bin men when they were emptying the bins on the road in front of the flats. They called their boss and then emptied both the overflowing bins. The distinction between general rubbish and re-cycle rubbish had been abandoned some time ago. I worked at the flat all day and then got the bus into Canford Cliffs to sit in the library garden and use their WiFi. The new bus timetables had been posted but the winter service does not start until tomorrow so I spent half an hour waiting for a bus that was never going to come.
UK warned of 'full COVID lockdown' if vaccine-busting variant emerges a senior minister has warned. Environment minister George Eustice admitted that the government has considered the option as a last resort, despite Boris Johnson insisting it is not what he wants to do this winter.
Government to introduce charges for tests, as bookings surge after rules eased and end the free provision of lateral flow tests within months in a move that has been criticised as “reckless” by public health chiefs.
Sunday 19 September 2021
I am tour managing a three-day walking holiday on the Jurassic Coast and based in Bournemouth starting today. It is a group of individual travellers who will be arriving at different times from all over the UK. I get there early and wait in reception to greet them. As the hotel has free WiFi it is a good opportunity to catch up with the work I have not been able to do as I have had no WiFi connection for a week now. My attempts to get some sort of assistance from BT have been a waste of time. Once everyone has checked in I go to my room and have a shower and wash my hair.
As I emerge from the shower I realise I have forgotten to pack a brush or a comb. I ring reception. They can’t help me but suggest I try the shop at the garage over the road. I hastily dress, run my fingers through my hair and race through the large hotel car park and over the road to the garage. They don’t have any combs or hairbrushes. It is too late to extend my search further as it is time for the Welcome Drink followed by dinner. After dinner I walk to a local Tesco – they have run out as have two late night mini-supermarkets I find on my way back to the hotel. On my way back through the car park I see a car with WOKE free zone on it. The word WOKE is being used to express an alertness to injustice in society, especially racism but many would claim it is being over used and inhibiting our freedom of speech.
The new green list countries which are actually open to Britons - Eight countries taken off the red list, opening up Turkey, the Maldives, Pakistan and more and will be removed from the hotel quarantine list joining former green and amber destinations on the new 'rest of the world' list. Fully vaccinated Britons can then return from these destinations without facing 10 days of hotel quarantine.
Some Government Statistics
By 5 pm on Monday 13 September, a total of 7,256,559 (total that day 30,825) positive COVID-19 tests have been recorded and the cumulative total of deaths within 28 days of a positive test is 134,261 including a daily total of 61. By the end of the week on Sunday 19 September, the total of positive cases had risen to 7,429,726 (total that day 29,612) positive tests, and the cumulative total of deaths within 28 days of a positive test is 135,203 including a daily total of 56. Total deaths with COVID-19 on the death certificate is now 157,669, an increase this week of 781. (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.