30th October 2021
Life During a Coronavirus Pandemic: Week 82 Wintry Weather
Icy blasts of wind and torrential rain mean my last shifts on Brownsea Island pier this summer are a challenge.
The end of October is rapidly approaching and that is when Brownsea Island will close to visitors until next March. There will be the opportunity to join working parties on the island so it is not closed completely to volunteers like myself and I have already expressed an interest in joining the working parties at the outdoor centre. The changeable weather this week brings showers, sunshine and incredible sunsets streaking the sky with colours that vary from dark grey to brilliant red.
Monday 18 October 2021
It is dark and overcast when I wake this morning. I am on duty on Brownsea Island as a pier warden but I decide to get the 9 am boat as there is no point going early for a walk in this weather. I get to the island in time to make a coffee and grab a slice of lemon cake (donated by a volunteer) before the daily briefing in Villano garden. The numbers booked on the ferry only total 115 and, as there is only one ferry every hour now, it does not look as though the two of us on duty will be very busy today. A dog arrives on one ferry and its owners are told it is not allowed on the island so they have to stay on the boat and return to Poole quay. As the last visitors on the island leave on the 4 pm ferry I am free to take the 4.20 pm staff boat back to Sandbanks. This coincides with the heaviest downpour of the day and I get a thorough soaking cycling back to the flat. Nevertheless, it was a good day on the island – it always is, whatever the weather.
Countries putting an expiry date on traveller vaccinations Croatia and Austria announced that they would be admitting foreign tourists - but that vaccine status would have an expiry date. Some vaccine validity periods of as little as nine months mean that UK travellers who had a second dose of the vaccine in early 2021 might have out of date vaccine certificates by November/December.
Tuesday 19 October 2021
Busy day today as I have two weeks’ worth of washing to do and the report to write for my two-week tour of Albania. This will be used by the next tour manager to lead this trip. It is another wet and windy day today but it does not deter the kite surfers who are out on the harbour until darkness falls. I get my exercise today by pedalling for twenty minutes on the exercise bike in my flat.
Government keeping 'very close eye' on new mutation of Delta variant thought to be up to 10% more transmissible amid a rise in UK cases. AY.4.2 was discovered by scientists tracking the evolution of the Delta variant, which is now dominant after reaching Britain from India earlier this year.
Fears booster Covid vaccines rollout 'going too slow' to protect the most vulnerable, experts warned as figures show that fewer than half of those eligible have received the jab.
Oxford scientists working on new Covid vaccine to target Delta variant to target the Delta coronavirus variant - this new vaccine is being designed with the aim of “having something on the shelf ready to scale up – if it’s needed”.
In the News Today
Vaccines, masks? Japan puzzling over sudden virus success - almost overnight, Japan has become a stunning, and somewhat mysterious, coronavirus success story as daily new cases have plummeted. Japan, unlike other places in Europe and Asia, has never had anything close to a lockdown, just a series of relatively toothless states of emergency.
Wednesday 20 October 2021
I am on duty on the pier at Brownsea island today but the weather is dreadful – heavy rain and strong winds. I check my emails in case the island is closed but it is not so I set off on my bike for the National Trust jetty on Sandbanks. The wind is really strong and I battle against it – at times I am almost at a standstill. It is a rough crossing today. Soon after I get to the island rain stops and although it is windy all day the sun comes out and it is a pleasant day after all.
There are not many booking for the ferry today but the numbers are doubled by walk-ons. The tide is very high today which makes disembarking from nearly perpendicular gangways very interesting. Especially as physical assistance is discouraged due to COVID issues. The captain and crew on the ferries are very patient and all the passengers disembark safely. As they leave they all assure me they have had a wonderful day on the island. It is a very special place.
Thursday 21 October 2021
After an early lunch I meet the only survivor of our lockdown walking group to go for a walk. We walk around Poole Harbour to her beach hut facing Sandbanks beach. We sit outside the hut in the sun enjoying coffee and biscuits. Although there is still as strong wind today it is very hot in the sheltered spot outside this beach hut. We watch some crazy jet skiers jumping the huge waves crashing onto the beach – they are so close to the shore they scare some children paddling at the water’s edge.
We walk back by Poole Harbour where lots of birds are feeding. Several Oyster Catchers are waddling around feeding in the shallow pools left behind by a receding tide. We try to get some photos but they are very sensitive and scuttle off as soon as they sense us raising our mobile phones to capture their image.
Household mixing may be banned under Covid Plan C - the Telegraph understands that Cabinet Office officials are already discussing proposals which could form part of a potential "Plan C", which would see mixing between households banned rather than implementing Plan B.
In the News Today
Anti-vaxxers serve ‘legal documents’ citing ‘Nuremberg Code’ to NHS hospital staff and were filmed handing these bogus legal papers to staff at an Essex hospital, accusing them of “crimes against humanity” for their work tackling Covid-19.
Friday 22 October 2021
Our coffee morning group is meeting at Compton Acres this morning but we are down to three this week. It is good to catch up as I have missed the last three meetings. As soon as I step outside I realise I need another layer even though I am already wearing a coat so I run back inside and grab a pashmina. Winter is definitely on the horizon now. I am getting the bus today as I will be going to Poole later to do some shopping. I treat myself to a fruit scone with jam and cream – delicious. When we leave the café I go for a walk in the Japanese garden – resplendent with autumn colours.
Boris Johnson 'absolutely' rules out full lockdown 'at the moment' as he sees "absolutely nothing to indicate” the need for another lockdown this winter. He said the government would "do whatever we have to do to protect the public" and that "all measures are under constant review".
Wait before booster ‘could be cut’ as part of effort to speed up jabs drive - it could be cut from six months to five under plans reportedly being discussed by ministers and experts as Boris Johnson stresses the need to “keep going as fast as possible” to deliver booster jabs.
Saturday 23 October 2021
When I wake around 5 am I get up as I want to catch the bin men this morning and I know they usually come early in the morning. They did not empty our bins yesterday, they have not been emptied for four weeks and they are full again. I cycled for twenty minutes by the patio door so I can watch for the bin men. They do not arrive until 8 am. I am not quick enough to catch them as they empty the bins by the entrance to my block of flats so I run down the road after them. They stop in response to my frantic waving. Although they only empty the public bins they agree to empty our bins. The drive back down the road and empty them straightaway.
This evening I cook supper for my friend – a very simple meal featuring a baked potato with chopped up courgettes, mushrooms and bacon. It is the first time I have cooked for anyone else since I started travelling twenty-six years ago. We open a bottle of red wine I was given in Albania. There is no label on this bottle, which is strange, but the wine tastes good. A lot of Albanian wine is produced locally with varying results. That evening we watch another extraordinary sunset over Poole Harbour. The colours are different every evening.
UK government paves way to bring in tough ‘plan B’ Covid rules according to new evidence that has emerged to combat the spread of Covid-19, amid warnings from health chiefs that a “vortex of pressures” is encircling the NHS.
Rishi Sunak says Britain will not go into another lockdown this winter because of the success of the vaccine rollout. He said there must not be a return to “significant economic restrictions” despite warnings from some health experts that the virus could overwhelm the NHS this winter.
Sunday 24 October 2021
At midday despite black clouds gathering over Poole Harbour my friend and I decide to walk around Poole Harbour and then up the road to the Harbour Heights Hotel for a pre-lunch drink. This hotel has a large terrace overlooking Poole Harbour. It is a super view from there but too chilly to sit out there today. I try a Pink Gin with my tonic – it is refreshing with a hint of rose. As we walk back it starts spitting with rain. The weather has really broken this weekend – but it does result in some amazing sunsets and we enjoy another one this evening.
PCR tests for travel switch to lateral flow tests as finally, on 14 October it was announced that cheaper antigen (or lateral flow) tests will be allowed for fully vaccinated travellers from 24 October onwards.
Government needs ‘very different’ Covid-19 message, warns vaccine adviser now that there is a “serious problem”, an expert advising on vaccines has said amid rising infection levels.
Vaccination programme ‘not enough to control spread of Covid-19’ says an expert advising on jabs as Prime Minister Boris Johnson insists that, despite the rising number of cases, vaccines will get the country through the winter and out of the pandemic.
Some Government Statistics
By 5 pm on Monday 18 October, a total of 8,497,868 (total that day 49,156) positive COVID-19 tests have been recorded and the cumulative total of deaths within 28 days of a positive test is 138,629 including a daily total of 45. By the end of the week on Sunday 24 October, the total of positive cases had risen to 8,773,674 (total that day 39,962) positive tests, and the cumulative total of deaths within 28 days of a positive test is 139,533 including a daily total of 72. Total deaths with COVID-19 on the death certificate is now 162,620, an increase this week of 820. (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.