12th March 2022
Life During a Coronavirus Pandemic: Week 102 Back to Italy
My joy at returning to Italy this week is dulled by the dreadful suffering of the people in the Ukraine as Russia continues its invasion.
The news in England is no longer dominated by the coronavirus pandemic. England will be affected by the fall out from Russia's invasion of Ukraine as will the rest of the world. Prices of petrol and diesel are increasing daily and gas and electricity will cost at least half as much again from April 2022. I spend most of this week dodging wind and rain while volunteering on Brownsea Island and exploring the gardens at Compton Acres. But I escape all this at the end of the week when I set off for Folgaria in the Italian Dolomites to lead a skiing holiday there.
Monday 28 February 2022
I get the bus to Compton Acres this morning in order to renew my annual membership. A discounted price is on offer but it ends today. I will ‘lose’ a month of my existing membership but I will still make a saving so it is worth doing. It is such a lovely day that I spend some time wandering around the gardens enjoying the colours in the Japanese Garden. The borders of the path leading into this garden are full of spring flowers – snowdrops, daffodils and primroses. This afternoon I finally get around to clearing out my garage in Dorset ready to receive the overflow from the flat in Hertfordshire although that sale is currently on hold due to continuing problems regarding my buyer’s buyer.
Hundreds apply for jab compensation claiming to have been left severely disabled by the Covid jab. Some 920 applications have been lodged with a government scheme, established in 1979, that offers payments of £120,000 to anyone who suffers significant harm as the result of a vaccination.
In the News Today
Russia and Ukraine to hold talks Delegations from Russia and Ukraine have agreed to hold talks “without preconditions” at an unspecified time near the Ukrainian-Belarusian border, but hopes are not high for a peaceful resolution.
Energy bills rise ‘by £700’ About 26 million households are on variable energy tariffs or prepayment meters governed by regulator Ofgem’s price cap. A new cap from April means that a typical domestic energy bill will rise by about £700 a year, to around £2,000.
Ukrainians can join UK relatives - Boris Johnson said that people who are settled in the UK will be able to bring their Ukrainian immediate family members to join them. He also announced a further £40m of humanitarian aid, insisted the UK would not “turn our backs in Ukraine’s hour of need”.
Tuesday 01 March 2022
I have a training session on Brownsea Island today for the out of hours’ warden – a new role that means spending the night on the island in Rose Cottage. A similar role has existed for many years now but has been revised to include a designated patrol route. Before and after this two-hour training session I join the Tuesday Club helping them prepare the campsite for the opening later this month. I meet the others on the training course at Rose Cottage. We are shown around the cottage before we set off along the route we will patrol as out of hours’ warden.
When patrolling the South Shore we are looking for any unauthorised activity, such as barbecues or dog walking, must be reported to the duty manager. Our route takes us along the cliff top and then down on to the beach. It is a lovely walk and the island’s senior ranger imparts interesting information as we stroll along.We finish at the Outdoor Centre. By then it has been raining for a while. Wet and cold we are glad to retreat to the shelter of the Outdoor Centre for some lunch. Despite the rain we do some more work after eating and then I get the boat back to the mainland – and onward for a welcome cup of tea and a hot cross bun.
In the News Today
Three members of Russia's parliament speak out against Putin's invasion of Ukraine, marking a rare moment of dissent. The three are all members of the country's Communist Party. They're part of the State Duma, the lower house of the Federal Assembly. Politicians and public figures alike have spoken out against Putin's aggression. Western nations including the US have levied sanctions and other restrictive financial measures against Russia, including barring some banks from the SWIFT global banking system.
Wednesday 02 March 2022
I oversleep this morning as I forgot to set my alarm. It is another grey, clouding day with bouts of rainfall. Not much going on around the harbour. Some workmen arrive and repair the new bus shelter that was damaged by the winds of Storm Eunice. The bus stop is flooded again, a regular occurrence but this does not deter them. Today is the perfect day for some domestic chores. I dismantle my old exercise bike which finally gave up the ghost yesterday. I had purchased a new one two days earlier so that was good timing. Now, I just have to build it. This is relatively successful with just one hitch when I attach one of the pedals to the wrong side. Inspired by this success I move on to my new television, delivered this morning. A second success so now I can watch television as I do my twenty minutes’ on my exercise bike. This evening the tide in Poole Harbour goes out so far it looks as though it is possible to walk around the spit.
In the News Today
Kharkiv attacks are ‘war crimes’ Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Vladimir Putin of war crimes after Russia launched an air strike on Kharkiv in an attempt to capture the besieged city. At least ten people were killed and 35 injured.
Oil prices soar Oil prices have surged despite the International Energy Agency (IEA)’s members agreeing to release 60m barrels of oil from emergency stockpiles. Brent crude, the international benchmark for prices, has hit $110 a barrel, the highest level seen in more than seven years.
GPs to see patients on Saturdays GP practices in England will be “forced” to open Saturdays. NHS England has announced the change in a letter sent out to every GP practice in the country, with aim of improving access to services for patients and ending regional variations.
Thursday 03 March 2022
It is another miserable day – misty and wet. The perfect day to do some writing. While taking a break I watch a windsurfer having a lesson in Poole Harbour but there is not enough wind and he is barely moving despite encouragement from his teacher who is standing in the water near him. Finally, they give up and drag with wind surfer back to the beach. Back at my desk I work on an article about Port Erin on the Isle of Man – this brings back happy memories of two visits to this lovely island.
In the News Today
Explosions rock Ukraine as devastation from blasts remains unclear Russia’s attacks on key cities in the north, east and south of Ukraine are relentless. The capital Kyiv and other cities are being rocked by explosions. There have been four major blasts in Kyiv alone.
Further sanctions against Russia to be discussed As a growing number of companies halt their business activities in Russia - with Netflix being the latest to announce it is pausing all future projects and acquisitions - further sanctions will be discussed later.
NHS axes free flu jabs for over-50s and secondary students Ten million people aged 50 and over will no longer receive free flu jabs after the NHS reversed its policies in the wake of the pandemic. The vaccine rollout this year will also exclude secondary school children.
Friday 04 March 2022
The weather looks promising this morning and I am looking forward to meeting my friends for coffee at Compton Acres. The news is still full of distressing images of refugees fleeing Russia’s bombardment of Ukraine. It is so sad to see young children in a state of shock and their despairing parents. I follow the example of our Queen by donating some money to the charities looking after the refugees crossing the borders of neighbouring countries – now at least one million. This morning I treat myself to a slice of the scrumptious homemade Victoria sponge with my first coffee. I have a melt-in-your-mouth cheese and chive scone with a second hot drink. As I am going away on Sunday my fridge is nearly empty – a good excuse for these excesses. When my friends leave I go for a walk in the gardens. Spring flowers are still flourishing and look lovely against a background of tall bamboo waving gently in a gentle breeze.
IMAGE Compton Acres
Russian troops seize nuclear plant Russian troops have seized control of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, Ukrainian authorities are reporting. Shelling from Russian forces caused a fire to break out in a training building near the Zaporizhzhia plant on Thursday night, leading Ukraine’s president to accuse Moscow of “nuclear terrorism”.
Saturday 05 March 2022
At last, a fine, calm day so I decide to walk along the beach to the Sandbanks Beach Café and have some lunch there. It is not so calm on Sandbanks Beach which is nearly empty. When I get to the café it is full of people sheltering from the wind. So, I walk back to the flat around the harbour, de-frost two pitta breads and make cheese and tomato sandwiches with them. My fridge is now empty apart from some milk and small cans of tonic. I spend the rest of the day getting ready for my trip to Italy, leaving tomorrow. This time I have a group of twenty people so I need to be well prepared and I have a very early start in the morning.
Sage steps down as Covid cases soar The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) has been stood down in what is seen as a “clear sign” that the government believes the Covid crisis is over. Although Sage “stands ready if required”, it will no longer meet regularly.
In the News Today
Abandoning neutrality, Switzerland backs anti-Russia sanctions-but it comes with a price Switzerland's newly adopted tough stance on Russia has forced the Swiss economy to readjust to sanctions, blowing a wind of panic through the raw materials market in particular.
Sunday 06 March 2022
I have a restless night as I am afraid I might oversleep but I wake up just before my alarm goes off at 4 am. I get dressed and then I carry my ski boots downstairs and do a second trip with my big case as the block of flats does not have a lift. I am as quiet as possible to avoid waking dogs in the other flats. I re-pack my case in the porch and then wait for my taxi which whisks me to the coach station in Poole. I have half an hour to wait for my bus to Heathrow so I eat my packed breakfast - a banana and a hot cross bun and some water. It is a bit weird waiting on my own in the dark. Two more passengers arrive just before the coach pulls in and I am soon on my way to Heathrow, Terminal 5 and my flight to Verona. The airport is very busy but I find a quiet spot by one of the boarding gates where there is a small Prêt a Manger and a good view of planes coming in.
Our flight to Verona is delayed so we will not get to Folgaria in time to hire ski equipment this evening. I am still hopeful we will arrive before 7 pm so we can get our ski passes. After leaving our cases at the hotel we hurry down the road to the ski pass office and get there two minutes before fit is due to close. We are in luck, the lovely lady on the desk stays there until she has processed twenty ski passes for my group. Back at the hotel everyone is checked in and then I make my way to the charming little bed and breakfast where I will be staying this week – La Molinela.
Advisers ‘misled’ over lockdown A government adviser has claimed that scientists abandoned their objectivity, “misled” with alarming models and failed to consider the harm lockdown would cause.
In the News Today
Second attempt to evacuate Mariupol to begin as temporary ceasefire announced A temporary ceasefire as people are allowed to flee the city along a humanitarian "green" corridor, the city council has said. Yesterday, the attempt to set up a humanitarian corridor was abandoned with Ukraine accusing Russia of continuing to shell the area.
Some Government Statistics
The government has changed the way it reports COVID-19 statistics and no longer gives daily totals but from Monday to Friday it gives a 7-day total with no statistics reported on Saturday and Sunday. On Monday 07 March 2022 it was reported that in the last 7 days the number of people who tested positive is 300,017 bringing the cumulative total to 19,245,301. The number of deaths within 28 days of a positive test is 711 in the last 7 days bringing the cumulative total of deaths to 162,147. Total deaths with COVID-19 on the death certificate is now 183,579 an increase this week of 969
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.