28th January 2022
Life During a Coronavirus Pandemic: Week 96 Time to Make a Move?
Back in the UK this week it is time to consider where I really want to live permanently
After a brief sojourn at my ‘permanent’ residence in Hertfordshire I return to Dorset where I have been living for nearly two years now, displaced by the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown restrictions – not to mention building works on the road where I lived. Those building works are now completed but work is about to start on another new block of flats. Maybe it is time to start looking for a new home in South West England. This week is a good time to start as I am not going away again for a few days.
Monday 17 January 2022
This morning I have an appointment with my favourite hygienist, Caren. She is so good it is worth making the journey to Radlett to see her. I arrived in Radlett last night after spending a week working in Italy as a tour manager on a skiing holiday in Folgaria. I moved here because it was quiet. But, for the past two years it became very noisy due to the construction of several blocks of flats across the road. The situation has dramatically improved with the completion of three of these blocks of flats. Tempted to return? Not really as they are about to start building yet another new block of flats and I envisage another twelve months of noise, dust and lorries holding traffic up. Not an attractive proposition.
As my appointment is not until this afternoon I do some work and then walk down to the town and head for the Teatro Bar in the Radlett Centre. This little café always has a good selection of home-made cakes so I going to have coffee and cake for lunch. I choose the pear and almond tart and it is delicious. A quick swish of mouth wash and next stop, the dental surgery. An hour later, after a brisk walk back up the hill to collect my car and I am heading south-west again. This evening my friend comes round and brings a lovely supper for us to share – a goulash casserole with mash and broccoli accompanied by a bottle of Primitivo wine from Puglia in Italy.
In the News Today
Novak Djokovic's French Open in doubt after sports minister U-turns on vaccine passes Novak Djokovic’s prospects of landing a 21st major title suffered another blow on Sunday night, when the French sports minister announced that vaccine passes would be required for visiting athletes at upcoming events. If this position remains in force until May’s French Open, then Djokovic could find himself missing a second major because of his refusal to be vaccinated.
Tuesday 18 January 2022
Some alarming news this morning. I receive an email from a member of last week’s ski group in Folgaria, Italy. We all had to take a 2-day rapid lateral flow test on our return to England. I did mine first thing this morning and it was negative. But, as two people in my group tested positive I have been contacted by NHS test and trace and informed that as I am fully vaccinated I do not need to isolate but I do have to take a rapid lateral flow test for the next 7 days. As my next trip, to Switzerland tour managing a ski group, is less than two weeks away I am concerned in case I also test positive. The weather is grey and cold today so we decide to go for a drive to explore some of the local areas I do not know at all. I have been living ‘temporarily’ in Dorset for nearly two years now thanks to the coronavirus pandemic and I am now considering the possibility of making it my permanent home. We do a tour of Christchurch, Mudeford, Highcliffe and Friars Cliff and find some nice areas as far off the beaten track as you can get on this very popular coastline. After a Toby Inn carvery lunch, we return to my flat and start sifting through property websites.
‘Light at the end of the tunnel’ in fight against Covid in UK, says World Health Organisation The Covid pandemic may be coming to an end in the UK, a leading expert has suggested, despite the government’s scientific advisers warning that claims the virus is now endemic are premature.
Pandemic is 'nowhere near over', World Health Organization warns adding that new variants are likely to continue emerging after Omicron. "This pandemic is nowhere near over and with the incredible growth of Omicron globally, new variants are likely to emerge, which is why tracking and assessment remain critical,"
Scotland Omicron restrictions to end on Monday, says Nicola Sturgeon The First minister has announced that all Covid restrictions brought in to deal with the Omicron wave in Scotland will be lifted from next Monday – including curbs on the hospitality sector.
Wednesday 19 January 2022
During the 21 months I have been living temporarily on Dorset I have never had any need to consult a doctor but, following a telephone consultation with my Radlett surgery I now need a face to face consultation with a local doctor as commitments in Dorset mean will not be returning to Hertfordshire for ten days. I have heard and read horror stories regarding the impossibility of getting face to face consultations. I start with a local medical centre where I have been volunteering as a COVID-19 marshal. There website is encouraging as it says it welcomes new patients. I make the call, confirm I will be in the area for the next three months and I am invited to go to the surgery to register immediately in order to get an appointment at the afternoon clinic. I don’t waste any time getting there and once I am registered I am given an appointment in less than an hour’s time. I move the car as I am limited to one hour in the road where I am parked and then walk to Skerryvore, the site of the house where Robert Louis Stevenson once lived. A watery sun illuminates the model of the lighthouse from which the house took its name. Back at the surgery the doctor advises me to have a chest X-ray. Later, when I phone for an appointment I am pleasantly surprised to find I only have to wait three weeks for an appointment for a chest X-ray. Hooray for the NHS.
Free universal lateral flow tests to come to an end in the UK, government confirms but an exact date for the end of the free tests has not been confirmed, though some reports say it could happen by the end of June.
Ditch Covid tests for vaccinated travellers entering UK, Theresa May urges Boris Johnson to scrap the current lateral flow tests required for all arrivals entering the UK as part of his pledge to allow people to “learn to live with Covid.”
All Covid Plan B restrictions to end, Boris Johnson announces - Boris Johnson has confirmed that Plan B measures to control the spread of coronavirus in England will be allowed to expire. Working from home guidance, a requirement to wear face masks and the use of Covid passports in some settings would be dropped.
Emmanuel Macron calls on the EU to be 'tough' on the UK and force it to stick to its Brexit commitments on the Northern Ireland protocol and fishing, in a speech to the European Parliament.
Thursday 20 January 2022
I get up early as today is a work day. But just after I start writing I am distracted by the sight of the moon above Poole Harbour as the sun rises – competing with the rising sun and creating stunning colours in the sky. I listen to the radio as I work and the news is all about the lifting COVID restrictions in England. Face masks will no longer be compulsory in any settings from next week and COVID passes will no longer be required to enter venues although this will be a matter of chose for the venues concerned. The work from home guidance has been scrapped. Personally, I think it is too soon and agree with critics who say Boris Johnson is doing it to curry favour with public following more revelations of parties at Downing Street during full lockdown. I will continue to wear my face mask on public transport and in crowded spaces.
Travel testing: What are the new rules after latest government update? Test requirements have been eased for fully vaccinated arrivals to the UK – reverting to the situation that prevailed for five weeks in late 2021. The removal of the pre-departure test requirement reduces cost and complexity for international arrivals, and has increased confidence among prospective travellers.
Government scientists monitoring new BA.2 variant of Omicron amid fears it could be more transmissible – but experts say very little is currently known about it. Most cases of Omicron are the BA.1 variant, but recently a new sister variant known as BA.2 has been detected in many countries.
Friday 21 January 2022
I work all morning on an article about Dover for a new website, LovetoVisit, that is going live next month. After that I have a snack lunch, do some tidying up, hoover a bit and then dash to Tesco to buy a few things I need for supper tonight. No time to go out for a good walk so I cycle for twenty minutes on my exercise bike before having a shower and washing my hair. Time just seems to be going faster than usual as I start the preparations for a meal I am going to cook for my friend. Unaccustomed as I am to cooking for anyone I am concerned about my tuna bake being edible. At the last minute I realise the recipe is for four people so I do a haphazard halving of all the ingredients. When it is finished my dish does not look anything like the picture on the recipe but it tastes okay and that is the main thing.
In the News Today
Over 100 head teachers say pupils must stay masked despite the easing of Covid restrictions. Head teachers are defying the Government by insisting children continue to wear face coverings despite official guidance being changed.
Saturday 22 January 2022
Today I start looking at properties on the Dorset coast with a view to maybe making my permanent home here. I start with two properties in the Christchurch area of Dorset. First, a lovely house in Mudeford but not for me. Next stop, a flat in Highcliffe that did interest me. So much so that, after the viewing, we had a walk around the area. We walked along the nearby coastal path and then turned inland to explore the village of Highcliffe. A bustling place with lots of shops and two supermarkets and a good fish and chip place where we treated ourselves to lunch
In the News Today
UK residents stranded abroad for months due to ‘misleading messaging’ from Home Office -many non-EU nationals who have travelled abroad in the belief that their EU settled status – a form of immigration status granted to EU citizens and their family members in the UK after Brexit – is enough to prove their immigration status, but have been blocked from coming back into the country.
Sunday 23 January 2022
Today we go back to the Highcliffe area to have another look around. We walk along the footpath by the beach and climb up the path to Highcliffe Castle. This Grade 1 listed mansion was built between 1831 and 1835 by Charles Stuart, 1st Baron Stuart de Rothesay in the Romantic and Picturesque style of architecture. It is set in gardens originally laid out by Capability Brown. We had contemplated stopping there for a coffee but it is clearly a very popular venue at the end of a Sunday morning walk so we set off to find somewhere for lunch. We soon discovered that it is not easy to find somewhere for Sunday lunch without making a reservation but finally got a table at the Horns Inn and had a very nice lunch.
When does work from home guidance end in the UK? Boris Johnson has announced that his government’s “Plan B” social restrictions for dealing with the Omicron variant of the coronavirus in England are to end and, from Thursday 27, January, guidance on mask-wearing in public places and presenting Covid passes to enter crowded venues will be scrapped.
Some Government Statistics
By 5 pm on Monday 17 January, a total of 15,305,410 (total that day 84,429) positive COVID-19 tests have been recorded and the cumulative total of deaths within 28 days of a positive test is 152,075 including a daily total of 85. By the end of the week on Sunday 23 January, the total of positive cases had risen to 15,859,288 (total that day 74,799) positive tests, and the cumulative total of deaths within 28 days of a positive test is 153,862, including a daily total of 75. Total deaths with COVID-19 on the death certificate is now 175,256 an increase this week of 1,023. (This statistic lags behind the daily statistics as it is updated on a weekly basis. Monday figures are usually unrealistically low due to difficulty collecting statistics over the weekend).
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.