Life During a Coronavirus Pandemic: Week 101 A Trip to London

Life During a Coronavirus Pandemic: Week 101 A Trip to London

Off to London this weekend and a long-awaited re-union with sister and nieces.

Since I last saw my family one of my three nieces has got engaged and then married four weeks later and a second one is also engaged. So, I am looking forward to catching up on all their news and hearing the plans for a COVID free wedding in June. Our Prime Minister has now lifted all restrictions as he follows his ‘living with coronavirus’ plan. The news is dominated by the threat of a Russian invasion of the Ukraine which becomes a reality at the end of this week.

A Canal in London

Monday 21 February 2022

I can hear the wind still raging outside when I wake up this morning – this promises and exhilarating walk around Poole Harbour. There are still white horses in the harbour and the wind is still very strong. There is a dry channel across the beach where the sea raced on to the road. A flock of Canada geese on the water struggle against the current and the terns flying above them are also stationary as they also battle against the wind.

Canada Geese Battling Against the Current in Poole Harbour, Dorset

It is such a beautiful day I go out again in the afternoon. This time, I walk by the harbour to the old Sea Pavilion and then go down on to Sandbanks Beach. I watch the sea crashing onto the sand. It is still blowing a gale, whipping grains of sand into the air. I wish I had bought a face mask with me to protect my face from this assault. I retreat and walk back along the road. I was hoping to find somewhere for a cup of tea but all the cafés were already closed.

Wild Seas and Sandstorms on Sandbanks Beach in Dorset

COVID-19 Update

PM's living with Covid plan will end last restrictions Lifting the last remaining restrictions in England was trailed by the prime minister earlier this month, now that looks set to come to fruition as he’s expected to announce plans to scrap the legal duty to self-isolate, returning people's freedoms.

'Stealth Omicron': Is sub-variant BA.2 a more transmissible strain of COVID? Just as governments across the world have voiced their intentions to ease COVID-19-related restrictions, the spectre of another wave of the virus is sparking concern among the scientific community.

Tuesday 22 February 2022

Working party at the Outdoor Centre on Brownsea Island today. It is still very windy so I check to see if the boat is running today and it is. Once we get to the island I volunteer to drive the Gator (a small buggy) to the Outdoor Centre. I take one passenger and the rest of the group walk there. Once we are all assembled we have a coffee and tasks are allocated. I help take the trolleys to the fire extinguisher points and then start clearing the debris that is scattered on the paths following the storms over the weekend. We have a break for lunch and then clear some more debris until it is time to walk back to the quay to catch the boat back to the mainland.

Brownsea Island in Dorset

COVID-19 Update

Government plans to make some coronavirus laws permanent Remaining restrictions on travel could be reviewed before Easter but some laws introduced during the pandemic will be made permanent, according to the Government’s plan for living with coronavirus.

Boots to sell lateral flow kits for £5.99 each as Boris Johnson plans to scrap free tests Major pharmacy, Boots is to sell lateral flow tests for £2.50 in store and £5.99 per test for delivery, as Boris Johnson announces the end of free Covid testing from 1 April.

Wednesday 23 February 2022

Some domestic chores this morning and then I load the car and head for Hertfordshire – a weekend catching up with friends and family. I have a good run all the way until I join the M25 and then, as usual, I crawl along. It takes me nearly as long to do the last 25 miles as it did to travel the first 100 miles. But it does mean I can enjoy the blossom on the trees that fringe the roads and enjoy the calm after the storm. The traffic around London is one thing I will not miss if I settle in Dorset permanently.

Spring Blossom in Hertfordshire

In the News Today

Vladimir Putin launches full-scale invasion of Ukraine - explosions heard near Kyiv He has launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, ordering troops across the border and targeting major cities with ballistic missiles. The Russian president authorised the "special military operation" in a surprise televised speech early this morning after amassing about 190,000 soldiers on the border.

Ukrainian forces ordered to inflict 'maximum losses' to repel a Russian invasion by inflicting "maximum losses" on the enemy, the country’s top military leader says.

Thursday 24 February 2022

After a morning of packing up and discarding unwanted items I walk into Radlett to meet my friend for lunch. I have missed our regular catch ups since I got locked down in Dorset and stayed to volunteer at vaccine hubs there. We had a lovely lunch at the Teatro Café in the Radlett Centre – there is always a nice atmosphere there and the staff are very friendly. On my way back to the flat I call in at the estate agents. The agent is very pleased with himself and says we are on track to exchange by the beginning of next week. This is good news. As I walk back to the flat I can see that Radlett was also struck by Storm Eunice and fallen branches litter the side of the road.

Fallen Branches by the Roadside in Hertfordshire

COVID-19 Update

England’s Covid rules lifted All remaining legal Covid restrictions lifted from today. Scientists reported that no infections from the Delta variant were sequenced in the UK yesterday for the first time since last April, with the milder Omicron variant dominating.

In the News Today

Russia invades Ukraine Vladimir Putin the Russian president urged Ukrainian soldiers to put down arms and go home”. He claimed that Russia did not plan to occupy Ukraine, but warned that Moscow’s response would be “instant” if anyone interfered.

Friday 25 February 2022

After cancellations and postponements due to COVID-19 I am off to visit my sister in Wandsworth today. I get the mainline train to West Hampstead and from there two red London double decker buses. I like to travel on the top deck of these buses which gives me a good view of the London streets below. Traffic is heavy today so the first bus makes its way, slowly, towards Westbourne Park station. Despite London Transport requesting passengers to wear face masks on their services only half the passengers comply. I do. It is the first time I have used London transport for a long time and I am relieved to find the buses are not uncomfortable full and I can concentrate on the scenery around me.

Fruit and Vegetable Stall in London

The second bus is on diversion due to road works and it does a tour of Fulham en route to Wandsworth. This bus takes me across Wandsworth bridge so I have a good view of the River Thames as it flows through England’s capital city. It is a lovely sunny day and, after alighting at Wandsworth Town Hall, I enjoy strolling along the long road on which my sister’s house is situated. It is a lovely re-union with my sister and her three daughters who call in while I am there.

The River Thames in London

COVID-19 Vaccinations

Moderna CEO says new Omicron-specific boosters may be needed - Stéphane Bancel has said that the pandemic will be over by 2022, but those most vulnerable to COVID-19 might need a new type of booster in the fall. A final decision would be made when clinical data became available.

In the News Today

Sanctions and visas... the UK's response The UK has joined the US and Europe in imposing sanctions on Moscow, excluding major Russian banks from the financial system, freezing the assets of 100 new individuals and businesses and banning exports of high-tech items and oil refinery equipment to Russia.

Fuel could cost £3,000 a year Experts have warned that households could face energy bills of more than £3,000 per year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine caused wholesale gas prices to rocket to the highest levels for two months.

Saturday 26 February 2022

I have a rude awakening this morning at 5.30 am when a driver in Switzerland calls to inform me he is outside my hotel. I mumble that I am not going anywhere today. He asks me if I am the tour manager in Adelboden. I tell him I fulfilled that role three weeks ago, end the call and go back to sleep. Fortunately, the Big Ben chimes of my iPhone did not wake my sister – I checked when we chatted over breakfast a two hours later. Walking back down the road to catch my bus I stopped at the unusual church I had noticed yesterday. After the Napoleonic Wars new churches were built both to give thanks and to serve an expanding population. Built in 1822 St Anne’s Wandsworth was one of the first Waterloo churches. It’s Greek Revival style features a portico and a circular tower. The tower is higher than was considered ‘normal’ at the time but enables the church to be seen for miles around and has earnt it the nickname ‘the pepperpot’.

St Anne's Church in Wandsworth, London

I had assumed there would be a stop for the bus I needed opposite the stop where I got off yesterday. I had not noticed that it was on a one-way section of the South Circular. So, I walk along the road and take the first turning on the left assuming there will be a parallel road going in the right direction. I am right and my bus arrives a few minutes later. The traffic is very heavy and it is slow going due to a Six Nations rugby match, Football League matches and demonstrations against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. My bus gives up the struggle outside Kilburn Market so we all have to get off and wait for the next bus which comes along in five minutes and I am soon on my way again – back to Hertfordshire.

Kilburn Market in London

In the News Today

Palace scales back 'frail' Queen's attendance at Windsor Castle event The Queen, who tested positive for Covid-19 last Sunday, is still hoping to attend. But Buckingham Palace sources conceded that plans were being considered that would reduce her duties in light of her illness.

Disturbing prediction for Putin's next move: 'Horrific consequences' There are "grim" fears Russia's attack on Ukraine is set to escalate to another terrifying level as Vladimir Putin faces strong resistance from a defiant Ukrainian population. Frustrated by the resistance, Mr Putin could resort to using a grave new weapon against civilians, Western powers fear.

‘We don’t know who to shoot, they all look like us’ Russian forces are reportedly becoming demoralised, disoriented and hungry on the third day of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. A senior United States official told ABC News that Russian soldiers had been overheard complaining that Ukrainian resistance was much stiffer than they had anticipated.

Sunday 27 February 2022

At 6 o’clock this morning I am scuttling around a freezing cold underground car park loading as much as I could into my car in a futile attempt to empty the Hertfordshire flat of all my possessions. I will have to make at least one more journey to achieve my objective. I break my journey back to Dorset to do a small food shop and forget the most important item – milk for a cup of tea. Luckily, my flat in Dorset is within walking distance of a Tesco. After carrying a car load of possessions up two flights of stairs I am ready for that cup of tea. I catch up on the news on my laptop – it shows distressing scenes of Kiev during the Russian invasion which started last Thursday. I see sights familiar from a trip to Kiev for New Year 2019/20 it brings back good memories and makes it even sadder to see this totally unnecessary devastation.

Church of Saint Andrew in Kiev, Ukraine

COVID-19 Update

Covid in Scotland: Vaccine passports and classroom masks rules end More coronavirus restrictions in Scotland have been dropped, almost two years since its first case of Covid-19 was confirmed. All remaining legal coronavirus restrictions in Scotland, including the wearing of face masks, are expected to be lifted on 21 March.

In the News Today

Has Vladimir Putin lost touch with reality? Once widely viewed as a cunning, if ruthless, but ultimately rational actor, the Russian president is now isolated and increasingly paranoid, having launched a war in Ukraine that has alarmed even some of his closest advisers.

Panic in Russia as economy in freefall and the rouble plunges to record lows with people concerned about their savings. Russians waited in long queues outside ATMs on Sunday, worried that the new Western sanctions over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine will trigger cash shortages.

Vladimir Putin puts Russia's nuclear deterrence forces on high alert over Nato's 'unfriendly' sanctions amid warnings the president could be willing to use the weapons to avoid defeat in Ukraine. Putin’s announcement to his defence chiefs during a meeting at the Kremlin marks a new escalation after four days of war and soaring tensions between Moscow and the West.

Some Government Statistics

By 5 pm on Monday 21 February, a total of 18,654,572 (total that day 38,409) positive COVID-19 tests have been recorded and the cumulative total of deaths within 28 days of a positive test is 160,610 including a daily total of 15. On Saturday 20 February, the total of positive cases had risen to 18,894,765 (total that day 31,933) positive tests, and the cumulative total of deaths within 28 days of a positive test is 161,224, including a daily total of 120. Total deaths with COVID-19 on the death certificate is now 182,609 an increase this week of 1,185. This was the last daily statistic issued by the government and henceforth the UK Health Security Agency will stop publishing dashboard updates at weekends. The dashboard will be updated as usual from Monday to Friday. Daily cases and deaths by report date published on Mondays will include figures from the weekend. These will not be separated out to show daily figures for Saturday and Sunday.

More next week

Valery Collins is the Experienced Traveller
Valery Collins 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.