26th February 2022
Life During a Coronavirus Pandemic: Week 100 Storms
This week I watch in amazement as strong winds create havoc along the Sandbanks spit.
Three storms batter Dorset this week, roads are closed due to flooding and fallen trees but at least we have power during a period when thousands of homes are without power. The winds are so strong it is almost impossible to walk on the beach as my face is peppered with grains of sand. I also endure several soakings during a week of heavy showers as Storm Dudley, Storm Eunice and Storm Franklin hit the county in quick succession. We hear very little about COVID and the coronavirus pandemic this week and England is now restriction-free and the wearing of face masks and keeping a social distance is a matter of personal choice. It is still my choice.
Monday 14 February 2022
I am woken in the early hours by a bright moon shining across my pillow but rather that than sleeping in complete darkness which I have not done for many years now. It is Valentine’s Day today and I have invited my friend to join me for a meal this evening. But, rather than actually cook a meal I decided to cheat a bit – and bought a boxed set of Tastes of China and a platter of French cheeses for dessert. I set the table but it needs some colour. I creep downstairs to the garden that surrounds the block of flats and gather some miniature daffodil blooms. All set for a lovely evening – which it is.
NZ Covid outbreak ‘like nothing we’ve experienced’, Ardern says, as cases skyrocket New Zealand’s prime minister has warned that the country is entering a new phase of its pandemic response and expects Omicron to reach every part of the country.
Tuesday 15 February 2022
Storms have been forecast for this week and it seems one of them has arrived early as rain lashes the windows and a strong wind whips the sea into a frenzy. It is not the weather for a long walk – nor is it good for kite surfers. I watch one struggling to get control of his kite as he battles in vain to stay upright and finally gives up. My new television arrives today and it takes a while to set it up as, however hard I try, the stand and the set refuse to co-operate and it develops a forward lean. Once it is set up I settle down to binge on the Winter Olympics but I have to slouch on the sofa to get the best view. This television will have to go back to John Lewis.
In the News Today
PM ‘to deny wrongdoing’ Boris Johnson is expected to deny allegations that he broke lockdown laws and tell the Met police that his presence at Downing Street gatherings was simply part of the working day, said The Guardian. The PM has until Friday to respond to a questionnaire sent by the Met that may lead the force to issue him with a fixed penalty notice.
Fuel Prices at Record Highs as the cost-of-living crisis worsens - the average cost of petrol rose to 148.02p per litre on Sunday, above the previous high of 147.72p last November. The AA said that diesel also hit a new high, at 151.57p per litre. Analysts believe that prices will continue to rise.
Wednesday 16 February 2022
As the weather is mild and sunny today I am looking forward to my shift outside the vaccination hub at the hospital in Boscombe. I arrive in Boscombe in time to do a food shop before I start my shift. It is a busy suburb of Bournemouth and a good area for shops. However, it does not have one of the main ingredients I require for the curry I am making for dinner tomorrow evening – an aubergine. I am the only marshal on duty outside today. Fortunately, it is very quiet so I don’t have much to do which makes it a long afternoon. Very few patients are booked for today but we do get some walk ins After two hours one of the managers takes over so I can have a break. When I go back outside the wind has got up and it is very cold. Could this be the edge of Storm Dudley although it is mainly affecting the north of England. As the remaining two hours go slowly by I amuse myself by watching the local wildlife- one grey squirrel and two very noisy magpies. When I get back to my flat I discover weather warnings are in place for two storms. An amber warning is in place for Storm Dudley from 2 pm on Wednesday to 12 am on Thursday, while a second amber warning is in place as Storm Eunice is expected to affect all of Wales and large parts of England from 3 am until 9 pm on Friday.
In the News Today
Storm Dudley ‘a danger to life’ Forecasters have warned that winds of up to 90mph today could pose a danger to life. The Met Office has issued an amber warning for “very strong and disruptive” winds in regions north of Hull in the East Riding of Yorkshire and south of Perthshire in Scotland.
What next for Prince Andrew? After settling the civil sex abuse case brought against him in the US. he is due to appear in public on 29 March, at a Westminster Abbey service commemorating the Duke of Edinburgh’s death. But after that, he has no public appearances planned.
Will public money fund Andrew’s deal? A Labour MP has demanded “assurances” that public money will not be used to fund Prince Andrew’s out-of-court settlement with Jeffrey Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre. The deal means Prince Andrew will avoid a public trial.
Thursday 17 February 2022
I wake up to strong winds rattling the windows and trying to uproot the fence that surrounds the property next door. And this is just the start of Storm Eunice – there is a lot more to come. Another new adventure for me today – the preparation of a vegetarian curry. I finally found the vital ingredient, one aubergine, in the local Marks & Spencer food hall. I have never cooked with these shiny, deep purple vegetables before so I am not sure how it is supposed to work. I follow the recipe to the letter although I am not sure about the size of my aubergine – but the recipe just says ‘one aubergine’ yet, as I discovered they vary from the size of baking potato to a small marrow. The mushroom and potato curry is a success and washed down with a very nice bottle of red wine.
Jabs rolled out to five to 11-year-olds as ministers announce they will be offered a low-dose Covid vaccine. The rollout, described by health secretary Sajid Javid as “non-urgent”, will begin in April.
Voters ‘didn’t understand Brexit’ In a report on the Article 50 process, MEPs said UK voters “had scant knowledge about the European Union” and “were not adequately informed about the far-reaching consequences of the decision to leave the union”.
In the News Today
Disruption caused by Storm Dudley continues - thousands of people are without power, railway cables and power lines are down, as are a number of trees.
Friday 18 February 2022
Throughout the early hours I could hear the wind howling outside, Storm Eunice has arrived as predicted. The sea is lashing the beach and path around the harbour. The wind is blowing it inland and it finally overflows on to the road which soon resembles a river. The water laps at the end of the drive up to the flats and the traffic island in the middle of the road is totally submerged. Cars continue to plough through the water some go so fast they cannot be seen for the spray they create. Others crawl along, in danger of getting the engine so wet they will come to a halt and have to wait for someone to rescue them.
I have an appointment to view a property in Christchurch early afternoon but it is impossible to go anywhere until the water goes down. So I postpone it for two hours by which time the water has abated, courtesy of a gang of council workers, and I head for Christchurch. I had to make a diversion due to a fallen tree being removed from the road. It is a nice house but just beyond my budget. My route back to the flat takes me past Chez Fred in Westbourne and the temptation of an early fish and chip supper is too hard to resist. So I don’t.
Office occupancy still low Staff are returning to offices in the highest numbers since the start of the pandemic, but office use still remains far below pre-Covid levels. Guidance to work from home was lifted in late January in England, Scotland and Wales.
In the News Today
Whitehall convinced Russia will invade Senior UK government officials believe that Vladimir Putin has decided to invade Ukraine after weeks of massing troops on the neighbouring country’s border, insiders have warned.
Saturday 19 February 2022
After a sunny start early this morning it clouds over, the wind gets up and it starts raining again. It is raining too heavily to consider going out – I had intended to return my new television, on the bus. The rain stops at 14:30 so I pack up the television and set off. The wind nearly blows me back up the drive as I head for the bus stop. I persevere and finally make it to John Lewis at Home in Branksome. Customer Services are sympathetic and agree the set is faulty and give me a refund. This is soon spent on a replacement – a different model this time. As I make my way back to the flat I notice an interesting sculpture and make a detour to investigate. The Propeller Head Garden was established in 2009. This public art piece commemorates the crucial role played by the aviation and shipping industries in the industrial development of Poole. The organic form of the sculpture softens the hard, industrial material used to sculpt propeller heads on long stalks. It is a very striking monument.
Second Covid booster jab expected to be offered to UK’s most vulnerable in the coming weeks. A decision has already been reached by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), but the full details of its recommendation have yet to be passed to ministers.
In the News Today
Hundreds of thousands without power after Storm Eunice and widespread disruption to travel services continues into Saturday. A clean-up is set to begin after the storm brought damage, disruption and record-breaking gusts of wind to the UK and Ireland, and at least four deaths.
Sunday 20 February 2022
Strong gusts of wind make the glass in my balcony doors shudder this morning heralding the arrival of the third storm this week, Storm Franklin. Even the leaves of a flower arrangement on my table are trembling. As the day progresses the wind gets stronger and stronger and it heavy rain starts falling. There is no question of any outdoor exercise today so I have to make do with twenty minutes on my exercise bike while watching an old episode of Midsomer Murders. Early this evening the need for milk drives me to venture outside. The bag I am carrying flaps uncontrollably in the wind – both empty and when it is full on the way back to the flat. Particles of sand dance around me and I am not surprised to see almost as much sand on the pavement as there is on the nearby beach.
In the News Today
Queen has Covid: Monarch, 95, has tested positive for virus and is experiencing “mild cold-like symptoms” but expects to carry out “light duties” this week. The Queen has fallen ill after being in direct contact with her eldest son and heir, the Prince of Wales, the week he had the disease.
Storm Franklin to hit UK as Met Office issues amber weather warning for wind - to run from midnight until 7am on Monday. There will be heavy rain on Sunday and Monday, the Met Office said, adding that "flying debris" could put people's lives in danger.
Some Government Statistics
By 5 pm on Monday 14 February, a total of 18,348,029 (total that day 41,648) positive COVID-19 tests have been recorded and the cumulative total of deaths within 28 days of a positive test is 159,605 including a daily total of 35. By the end of the week on Sunday 20 February, the total of positive cases had risen to 18,605,752 (total that day 25,696) positive tests, and the cumulative total of deaths within 28 days of a positive test is 160,581, including a daily total of 74. Total deaths with COVID-19 on the death certificate is now 181,424 an increase this week of 1,390. (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.
Hi Valery, you seem to have had a horror week for weather, and it’s much the same here, with deadly flooding in coastal areas of Queensland and NSW. While we don’t name our storms (only cyclones) we talk of rain ‘bombs’. Now, of course the real bombs are pouring down over poor Ukraine. We went to a dinner at the National Gallery to mark the centenary of Australian artist Jeffrey Smart and I ran into an old diplomatic contact who believed Putin was setting himself up as a Tsar. We are off to Tasmania next week, my wife’s family are there and her twin bothers are celebrating their 70th birthdays. We have visited many times in the past, but have booked a tour of a cave system near Hastings in the very south of the island, where we have not been before – also thermal pools (memories of Iceland!). Our first outing in more than two years. Take care.