27th November 2021
Life During a Coronavirus Pandemic: Week 87, Days Out
Three wonderful days out in delightful Dorset as the sun continues to shine this week.
This week I am privileged to visit three of Dorset’s finest attractions. And, although it is now winter the sun comes out for me as I join a working party on Brownsea Island and explore the nature reserve at Arne and the house and grounds at Kingston Lacey. It is easy to forget we are still in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic but I am reminded when I do my weekly session as a volunteer as a COVID-19 vaccination marshal.
Monday 15 November 2021
I indulge in some retail therapy today. As I am on duty as a COVID marshal at a small pharmacy in Bournemouth, I take advantage of its position opposite the large Castlepoint shopping centre. In particular to browse the large Marks & Spencer there and do some shopping in Sainsbury’s. I am on duty outside the pharmacy today and, fortunately, the weather is still mild and dry. We have a steady flow of patients – all for booster jabs and all very glad to be getting them. We manage to fit in some walk-ins who are past six months since their second jab. On my way home I stop in Westbourne to walk through the historic Victorian arcade lined on both sides with independent shops. The windows are decorated for Christmas and these lovely displays feature some delightful gifts.
PM Boris Johnson and scientists urge booster vaccinations to prevent Christmas lockdown and avoid Covid “storm clouds” forming in Europe can only be avoided by those eligible getting their booster vaccinations, the country has been warned.
In the News Today
Thousands of police staff not properly vetted according to a BBC investigation following the murder of Sarah Everard at the hands of Met PC Wayne Couzens. It found more than 2,500 officers in the UK are working without the appropriate level of checks.
How Covid conspiracists are shifting to climate denial Anti-lockdown and anti-vaccine Telegram groups, which once focused exclusively on coronavirus, are now injecting the climate change debate with the same conspiratorial narratives they use to explain the pandemic.
Tuesday 16 November 2021
It is Tuesday and the Tuesday Club working party on Brownsea Island. Crossing to the island on the staff boat I watch the sun rising behind the chain ferry chugging across the sea from Sandbanks to Studland. Our first task is to move a large heavy desk from the old shop on the quay to the outdoor centre. I supervise while the men lift it on to a trailer behind a tractor. The four of us then follow the tractor to the Outdoor Centre where the desk is unloaded and carried/dragged into the new shop there. It is a lovely walk as the sun is shining and the trees are still clad in their autumn colours.
First task completed it is time for a coffee – sitting in the sunshine. Our next task was to clear some furniture from the South Shore Lodge as the maximum number of guests here, post-COVID, has now been reduced. The short cut between the Outdoor Centre and South Shore Lodge is very pretty so I am happy to make my way there on foot. By the time the excess furniture has been loaded up and sent off to put in store it is time for lunch. We gather together on the decking outside the Education Centre to enjoy another break soaking up the sun.
Our final task of the day is folding up the bell tents. As these tents were only introduced this summer they are quickly checked for any problems and then folded up and crammed into their bags. It requires four people to fold them – one at each corner following a sequence of folds until it is small enough to go in the bag. After that it is time to walk back to the pier to get the staff boat back to Sandbanks. A lovely day enjoying the warmth of a winter sun and mellowed by the sense of a job well done.
Qatar puts UK on its red travel list due to concerns over coronavirus cases. This means even fully vaccinated tourists must spend two nights in quarantine at a hotel on arrival in the Middle Eastern country. Seven-day hotel stays are required for visitors who are not fully vaccinated.
Boris Johnson says definition of 'fully vaccinated' will change and people will only be considered fully vaccinated if they have the COVID-19 booster jab. This third jab could be added to the NHS COVID Pass and may be needed to travel abroad without restrictions.
In the News Today
Bravo Tesco, the anti-vax boycott means I can shop with greater confidence as the anti-vaxxers are boycotting Tesco because of its pro-jab Christmas advert message.
Wednesday 17 November 2021
It is the weekly shop day today and also a special day as I am cooking a meal for my friend. The first time I have cooked a meal for anyone else for many years. After over 25 years’ of travelling the world and eating hotel food I have forgotten how to cook a proper meal. If I want to eat with friends we go to a restaurant. I get off the bus and walk through Poole Park to the shops. It is another lovely, crisp day. When I walk by the lake in the park a flotilla of swans approaches, gliding elegantly through the water, hoping I might have some food for them. When they realize I am not going to feed them they turn away and race towards the next possible source of food. This time they are lucky but are soon surrounding by flocks of terns and seagulls all clamouring to grab some scraps.
The gardens in Poole Park are always lovely and regularly re-planted to reflect the season. As I stroll through one of them I am enchanted by the sight of an artist at her easel framed by colourful foliage on the trees that surround the grassy space where she sits. But I don’t have much time to linger and hasten to the shops. I keep the meal simple this evening – fillet steak, baked potato and mushrooms with a variety of vegetables. I am thrilled to discover I have not forgotten how to grill a good steak and bake a potato.
In the News Today
Queen carries out first engagement since missing Cenotaph service due to a sprained back. The 95-year-old monarch welcomed General Sir Nick Carter, chief of the defence staff, to Windsor Castle on Wednesday, as he prepares to step down from his role.
Amazon to stop accepting Visa credit cards issued in UK blaming the decision on high fees charged by Visa to process transactions. The changes will be effective as early as 19 January 2022.
Thursday 18 November 2021
Today is my first visit to Arne, a wooded peninsula managed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Although I can see it from the far side of Poole Harbour it is quite a long journey inland via Wareham. But well worth it. After parking the car, we stroll along a lane to the nature reserve. We pass the pretty little Church of Saint Nicholas. This church dates back to the thirteenth century and we step inside to admire the simple interior.
Arne is a very special place with lots of paths to explore. We choose the one that goes up to a view point where we sit and have a hot drink and a snack. We watch a Cornish Shrimper in the bay below us as it gets ready to set sail and finally floats serenely away across the water. We spend some time drinking in the scenery around us - an extensive wooded area fringes the beach below us.
When we make a move we stroll slowly along the beach before taking a path inland through a lovely wood and back to the car park. A passer-by tells us he saw a stag with five does in this area an hour earlier. We are not so lucky. But we do spend some time in a hide watching a group of spoonbills busy feeding at the water’s edge. Another delightful day in Dorset.
Warning over new Covid offshoot of the Delta variant that is spreading in England that appears to be less likely to cause symptoms than the dominant form, researchers have said and advise people waiting for test results to “identify that they are infected... should cutback their contacts.”
In the News Today
HS2 set to be scaled back in £96bn rail improvement plan It’s all change for the rail network once again as the government sets out a new project which it claims will bring faster journeys and upgrades to services sooner than plans set out in HS2.
Cost of living crisis looms and workers will need a pay rise of more than 7% next year just to stand still as surging inflation and looming tax rises erode their spending power, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).
Friday 19 November 2021
Our regular coffee group is reduced to three today for various reasons so we decide to meet at Compton Acres. Easy parking and great coffee. The café is also in a sheltered, sunny spot but today it is too chilly to sit outside. I am the first to arrive and find a table surrounded by four armchairs. After enjoying a coffee and a chat we are reduced to two. I am alarmed when two strangers decide to sit at our table. As my companion also feels uncomfortable regarding this non-social distancing intrusion we move outside. When we part company I go for a walk in the gardens. This time I follow the woodland path to enjoy the autumn colours of the few leaves still clinging to the trees despite the cold November weather.
Wearing a mask is effective at preventing infection, study finds according to a global study. The research, first published in the British Medical Journal, found that face coverings can reduce incidences of infection by up to 53 per cent.
Thousands of new COVID infections as variant makes up one in 10 Delta cases The Delta Plus variant of coronavirus is establishing a foothold in the UK and now makes up more than 1 in 10 of all new infections.
Bavaria gets tough on Covid with cancellation of all Christmas markets and limiting household mixing despite having one of the lowest vaccination rates in Germany.
In the News Today
Tragedy as hero doctor who worked on the Covid frontline dies of disease – the “wonderful” doctor and father-of-four passed away at the Royal Brompton hospital in South Kensington on Sunday following a nine-week battle with the virus.
Saturday 20 November 2021
Another new adventure awaits me today – Kingston Lacey, a National Trust property in Wimborne. I am meeting my friend and her sister there so we can spend the day walking and lunching. We have arranged to meet in the car park. They arrive a few minutes before I do and stand at the entrance certain I will see them there. I don’t and drive straight past them. Once we are together we decide to start with a coffee and bacon rolls. On our way to the café we collect tickets for a timed entry to Kingston Lacey House. This house has a fascinating history and the impressive reception rooms on the ground floor are packed with amazing artefacts. The bedrooms on the first floor are currently closed to the public.
After visiting the house, we walk around the perimeter of the grounds. An easy, pretty walk through woods and past pastures where flocks of sheep munch contentedly on the green grass. We do the full circuit and arrive back at the house.
From the house we make our way through the formal gardens to the Kitchen Garden. Here we exit the grounds to find Pamphill Café that has been recommended to me for lunch and described as being just outside the kitchen gardens. It is not and we are not sure which way to go so I check it on the internet. I find a map but it says 1.6 miles away. At least it is open. So, we keep going and ask directions on the way. Once there we enjoy a lovely lunch including a Prosecco to celebrate the festive season. It is a brisk walk back to the car park as the grounds close at 4 pm. But we make it as dusk draws down on a third super day in Dorset this week.
UK must be ready to impose Covid restrictions this winter, expert warns as the situation is ‘on knife edge’. Much depends on speed of booster jab uptake and the UK must be prepared to introduce tougher measures to control the spread of Covid-19 this winter if necessary
In the News Today
Climate activists block Lambeth Bridge in London while protesting against the jailing of 9 Insulate Britain members earlier this week. Traffic was diverted away from the area and 30 arrests were made. So Far the High Court has issued 5 injunctions to prevent protesters from blocking roads.
Sunday 21 November 2021
I am woken very early this morning by a moonbeam across my pillow. I get up and take a photo. My resolve to spend the morning working is weakened by the sight of glorious sunshine outside. I decide the work can wait and set off to take advantage of some unseasonal warm weather. I walk around Poole Harbour to Evening Hill. I sit in the sun and watch the tail end of a yacht race before making my way, on foot, to Compton Acres where I am meeting my friend for lunch. We both have the special of the day – kedgeree – and it is delicious. After that we browse the shops but don’t buy anything just some ideas for Christmas presents.
Is the definition of 'fully vaccinated' about to change to 3 vaccine doses? Across Europe, the COVID-19 pandemic shows no signs of abating with several countries announcing further restrictions in recent days to contain a surge in new cases.
Some Government Statistics
By 5 pm on Monday 15 November, a total of 9,600,369 (total that day 39,705) positive COVID-19 tests have been recorded and the cumulative total of deaths within 28 days of a positive test is 142,945 including a daily total of 47. By the end of the week on Sunday 21 November, the total of positive cases had risen to 9,845,492 (total that day 40,004) positive tests, and the cumulative total of deaths within 28 days of a positive test is 143,927 including a daily total of 61. Total deaths with COVID-19 on the death certificate is now 166,730 an increase this week of 1194. (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, I loved this article on beautiful Dorset and wish I had seen more of the county when I lived next door in Devon all those years ago. The Christmas soldiers in the shop window are exactly the same as the ones we have just put out to complement our Christmas tree. It does look like the definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ is going to change as the pandemic drags on. We can’t get a booster until our six months are up in April – another example of just how far we are behind in administering the vaccine compared with Europe. I really enjoy your writing and hope you have a great Christmas.
Hi Graham – love the thought of you having the same Christmas soldiers in front of your tree – there are a lot in the shops here. Booster mania here as the time is cut down to 3 months and the age is down to 18+ – long queues at some vaccine hubs every day. Hopefully, it will save our Christmas this year but a lot of people are already cancelling their celebrtions. I hope you and yours have a great Christmas.