13th November 2021
Life During a Coronavirus Pandemic: Week 85 Fireworks
A Second Bonfire Night during the coronavirus pandemic – where has the time gone?
When the first lockdown in England started way back in March 2020 we thought it would all be over in two or three months. Nineteen months later we are celebrating a second Bonfire Night in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic. Christmas shopping is in full swing despite warnings of shortages. Life is improving all the time and international travel is much easier for the double vaccinated. A booster programme is well under way and I got mine as soon as I was eligible. And, I am still volunteering at vaccine hubs. Life will probably never be the same as it was pre-pandemic but it is getting better. I am still finding plenty to enjoy in Dorset where I have stayed since I was locked down here all those months ago.
Monday 01 November 2021
The clocks went back last night but I still wake up at my usual time which is now 5 am. I have just started working when an SOS email drops into my inbox. CAN100, the organisation responsible for volunteers at vaccine hubs is asking for volunteers to fill vacant slots. I decide to fill one of them this afternoon at a pharmacy near Castlepoint on the far side of Bournemouth. I have never been to Castlepoint, a large shopping centre, so it is a good opportunity to explore another area of the town. And to visit Marks & Spencer as our local branch in Poole closed down a month ago. This huge store is already decorated for Christmas and packed with Christmas ware. My three-hour session at the pharmacy passes very peacefully. It is a small shop but very well organised as the appointments are well spaced out to allow everyone to sit for fifteen minutes after receiving the Pfizer vaccine. My task is to look after the patients before and after their vaccination and to keep all the chairs sanitized. It is good to be involved again.
British woman refused entry to Spain due to Brexit passport stamp rule and she could not show a particular passport stamp that is now required post-Brexit. She had taken a recent trip to Spain this summer - and Spanish officials had not given her an “exit stamp” when she left the country.
Tuesday 02 November 2021
It is very dark when my alarm goes off at 6 am this morning. The sun starts breaking through as I am having breakfast. It is so beautiful I go outside to take some photos of Poole Harbour lit up by the golden rays. I spend the rest of the day working – writing reviews of the fabulous Highcliffe House in Lynton, Devon where I stayed last week. Everything at this establishment was excellent so no writing between the lines.
Sir Jeremy Farrar quits SAGE the government’s pandemic advisory group warning the COVID crisis is "a long way from over" and that the situation in the UK is "concerning".
France frees seized British scallop dredger seized last week in French waters. The French President also postponed his decision to impose trade sanctions on Britain over the fishing row.
Wednesday 03 November 2021
For the first time I can remember I oversleep this morning and it is a rush to get dressed and have breakfast prior to going out. get ready to go out. I have arranged to meet a friend for coffee at Haskins. As Christmas shopping has now started in earnest we meet en route and just take one car. We are on a mission – scones with cream and jam. The scones in the café at Haskins are large and lovely. After enjoying our scones and chatting for a while we have a wander around the store which is full of Christmas decorations and gift ideas. I am tempted to do some shopping but hold back as I am going away for Christmas this year. I have already bought my Christmas cards and have put them somewhere ‘safe’ which means I will probably find them again sometime next year.
NHS staff face mandatory vaccines from April as Van-Tam predicts ‘calmer waters’ by spring Health Secretary Sajid Javid said last week he was “leaning towards” making the jabs compulsory for staff in England, with around 100,000 NHS workers not fully vaccinated.
Christmas may be ‘problematic’ Van-Tam warns as Christmas, and all of the darker winter months, are potentially going to be problematic.” He urged people to get their Covid vaccine, booster jab and flu vaccines as he insisted people should exercise caution in the run up to the winter months.
Delta sub-variant expected to be dominant by January An offshoot of the highly transmissible Delta Covid-19 variant, thought to be at least 10 per cent more transmissible than its predecessor is expected to be dominant within a matter of months.
Thursday 04 November 2021
It is a lovely sunny morning so my friend and I get the bus to Studland Village on the Isle of Purbeck. It is not an island but a peninsula separated from Sandbanks by a narrow stretch of water. Our bus goes across on the chain ferry. We walk through the village and take the path to Ballard Down. As it is a week day there are not many people around. Cows munch contentedly on the grass that carpets the cliff top.
I am surprised to see some new-born lambs in the fields. They are strong and healthy – seeing them makes it feel more like spring than the beginning of winter. Vivid red berries weighing down the branches of some of the trees suggest it will be a hard winter.
We sit for a while on Ballard Down enjoying the view – hedged fields slope away to the sea front of Swanage. A group of walkers stop and ask if we can recommend somewhere for fish and chips in the town. We suggest the Fish Plaice on the sea front. This reminds us we are hungry and we walk down to Swanage and get some fish and chips at the Fish Plaice. As it is a take-away we sit on the promenade. Sheltered from the wind that nearly blew us off the cliff top it is very pleasant there. A few sea gulls squawk pleadingly at us but they are wasting their time. Our meal is too good to throw to the birds. The light is already fading when we get the bus home – winter has definitely arrived.
Thousands of fully vaccinated over 70s have died in the last 4 weeks according to new date more than 2,000 fully vaccinated over 70s in England have died from COVID-19 in the past month. But, proportionally, the death rate amongst the unvaccinated is still higher. The figures come amid concern the booster rollout is not being implemented fast enough.
Friday 05 November 2021
When I finish work this afternoon I go for a short walk along Sandbanks Beach. The light is already fading but the weather surprisingly mild after a cold start. There are not many people around so I can enjoy the beach at its best – waves crashing on the hard sand at the water’s edge and gulls and terns swooping low around me. When I leave the beach I walk through the small public gardens to walk along the path around Poole Harbour. There is no activity on the calm waters and the few boats that remain at their moorings rock gently as the incoming tide ripples around them.
It is Bonfire Night and fireworks start going off around me from early evening. Last year the celebration of Guy Fawkes failure to blow up Parliament went on for several days and often well into the night. But this year it is a muted affair as the resident population has decreased dramatically following a return to work after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted. We have also seen the return of public events including firework displays.
Fourth wave 'in full force' in Germany as WHO warns Europe is 'back at epicentre' after a 55% rise in cases over the past month. It is the only place in the world where COVID is "still increasing". Infection rates across the region have risen by 6% in the past week alone.
Nasal Covid vaccine could end pandemic The University of Oxford is developing a nasal Covid vaccine which could be more effective than the traditional jabs. The new method administers a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine using an intranasal spray device.
In the News Today
Flu vaccinations cancelled as ‘national shortage’ leaves pharmacies out of stock in many areas. Pharmacists said delays in the delivery of vaccines, combined with the highest uptake of jabs on record, meant some had been out of stock and that appointments had to be cancelled for weeks.
Saturday 06 November 2021
I am woken very early when the security lights go on next door. Curious, I get up and I look out. A fox with a paper bag in its mouth is creeping along the side of the house. I am wide awake so I get up, have some breakfast and then start working. Despite the fireworks last night, it is a clear morning and the sunrise this morning is amazing. It draws me outside to enjoy the vivid colours above the trees. Yesterday Abba released their first album for forty years. I have all their other albums so buy the download of this one, Voyager. I am not impressed at first but it gets better each time I play it. As the sun starts to go down the luminous light across Poole Harbour lures me outside to watch the last kite surfers – finally defeated by a very low tide.
In the News Today
Johnson is told to ‘clear out No10’s top team of Yes Men’ after sleaze debacle as backbenchers warned his authority has been ‘truly shattered’. ‘There’s no escaping the fact that the No 10 operation is a shambles, worst for decades,’ said the Tory peer.
Prime Minister faces sleaze probe over luxury holiday at Marbella villa “Boris Johnson has been reported to the House of Commons standards watchdog after refusing to declare the cost of his holiday at a villa in Marbella and faces the prospect of new sleaze probes
Sunday 07 November 2021
This morning my friend and I drive to Southbourne in Bournemouth, park the car and walk to the end of Hengistbury Head. As it is Sunday the place is teeming with people out for a walk around this popular tourist attraction. It is also an archaeological site and the many different habitats here support a wide variety of wildlife and rare plants. We walk along the headland to its tip and then stroll back along the beach. Sheltered by the cliff face towering above us it is delightfully warm and we take our time. Our plan was to stop for a late Sunday roast on our way home. But it seems everyone else has had the same idea. So, lunch is a meal deal in Sainsbury’s car park to stave off some serious hunger pangs. Unfortunately, a large lump of grit has been incorporated in my humus dip and crunching it results in a very sore mouth. The matter is reported to Sainsbury’s the next morning but is not allowed to spoil the rest of a beautiful day.
Vaccinated patients are dying of Covid-19 due to waning immunity, says Dr Susan Hopkins due to the efficacy of the vaccine waning, a senior adviser has said. The effects of coronavirus vaccines are known to wane some five or six months after the second dose, as discovered in multiple studies during the pandemic. The virus is circulating at very high levels in our community, unless people get vaccinated it will be a difficult winter.
Some Government Statistics
By 5 pm on Monday 01 November, a total of 9,097,311 (total that day 40,077) positive COVID-19 tests have been recorded and the cumulative total of deaths within 28 days of a positive test is 140,672 including a daily total of 40. By the end of the week on Sunday 07 November, the total of positive cases had risen to 9,301,909 (total that day 30,305) positive tests, and the cumulative total of deaths within 28 days of a positive test is 141,805 including a daily total of 62. Total deaths with COVID-19 on the death certificate is now 164,491, an increase this week of 974. (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.