Life During a Coronavirus Pandemic: Week 106 Brownsea Island

Life During a Coronavirus Pandemic: Week 106 Brownsea Island

Brownsea Island is open again and I spend three days volunteering there this week.

It is week 106 of the coronavirus pandemic and April blows in this week with a dash of snow and a peppering of hail. I live through four seasons in one day while volunteering on Brownsea Island. But this does not put me off, I just shrug on one of the waterproof jackets available for volunteers to borrow and get on with the job. Whatever the weather it is always a pleasure to be on the island and to share the joy of being there with our many visitors. COVID-19 and a rapidly increasing cost of living due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine seem far away.

Magnolia About to Bloom on Brownsea Island in Dorset

Monday 28 March 2022

As I am doing a shift on the pier at Brownsea Island today with my friend so it is an early start for us. Really early, as my first task is to cycle to the National Trust shed to collect a parking permit After doing that I juggle showering, making breakfast and preparing a packed lunch in time to leave at 8:30 am to get the staff boat at 9 am. We have to find a parking space as well and then walk back to the National Trust jetty. Arriving on the island in good time to start our shift on the pier at 9 am means we have time for a hot drink before checking all the equipment on the pier and clearing the beach of a few bits of litter. As there is no-one on duty welcoming visitors in the Courtyard today we do that as well so the day goes very quickly. As always, we enjoy watching the shipping toing and froing from Poole Harbour including a flotilla of canoeists

A Flotilla of Canoes Passing Brownsea Island in Dorset

By early afternoon most of our visitors have left the island so we offer to lock up the Visitor Centre and the church. The churchyard is a hive of activity as a juvenile peacock is displaying his young tail feathers to a gaggle of disinterested females.

First Love, Juvenile Peacock in Hot Pursuit on Brownsea Island in Dorset

COVID-19 Update

‘Partygate’ fines to be issued as a result of lockdown breaches on Downing Street. Scotland Yard has concluded that laws were broken at the heart of government and it is understood the Metropolitan Police will issue around 20 fines related to the most straightforward cases.

In the News Today

Rishi Sunak plays down energy hopes saying he will offer people more support with their energy bills only “if necessary”, citing the “volatility” of energy prices. The energy price cap will rise from about £1,300 per year to nearly £2,000 on Friday.

Tuesday 29 March 2022

Today I am back on Brownsea Island but this time at the Outdoor Centre getting involved in campsite maintenance. It is cloudy and cold today so I am relieved when the team leader can only find me one little job – finding keyholes to match a bunch of keys he has given me. This does not take long so I have a leisurely coffee break when everyone else has a break. The main job today is putting down the wooden bases for the Bell Tents that will be permanently based on the campsite this year. I admire their handiwork but I am not invited to assist so I hang around to join them for lunch before going for a stroll. This year is the first time I have seen the daffodils in bloom. Usually, the Sika deer on the island nip the heads off the plants as soon as they appear. So, it is very unusual to see a sea of yellow waving gently in a stiff breeze around the trunks of the trees that encircle the old daffodil fields that once produced these blooms to be picked overnight and transported to London early the next morning.

Daffodils Blooming on Brownsea Island in Dorset

COVID-19 Update

Partygate police fines: will anyone resign? The identities of those issued with fines will not be revealed by the police, in line with rules surrounding the issuing of other fixed-penalty notices and fines. Neither will the police confirm how many people have been referred for fines.

In the News Today

Has Kyiv fought off Russia’s invasion? Vladimir Putin’s soldiers have been met with fierce resistance, incurring huge losses as Ukraine’s military – outgunned but determined – pushed back against the invading force. Defending the capital, which is the heart of Ukraine’s government.

Wednesday 30 March 2022

This morning I am up early as I am expecting delivery of a Canon camera and lens I going to test with a view to investing in some more professional equipment. I am disappointed that the weather is dull and grey today as I know I will not get good results with any camera in this poor light. The camera arrives this morning and I do have a window of opportunity when the light improves very briefly. I am testing the Canon 90D camera and a large telephoto lens – 100 to 400 mm. The lens is so heavy I only get as far as the edge of Poole Harbour to try it out on any subject I can find, including an action shot of a woman jogging.

Early Morning Jog

I am impressed with the clarity of the images I take across the harbour to Brownsea Island. It is very cold and windy again today so I do not spend too long outside. I download the photos I have taken and compare them with the images I have taken with my own camera to see if they are better. The detail is so much clearer I am tempted to invest a lot of money in a new camera and telephoto lens. I will have another go tomorrow.

Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour, Dorset

COVID-19 Update

Fines put PM under pressure and he “faces a renewed threat to his position” over the partygate scandal after the police fined 20 people for lockdown breaches. The move by the Metropolitan police appeared to undermine the PM’s previous claim that Covid rules were followed in Downing Street.

PPE passes expiry date The public spending watchdog has revealed that some 1.5bn items of personal protective equipment in storage have passed their expiry date. Health officials are urging the government to “get a grip”

How have some people avoided getting Covid-19? While many people have been re-infected multiple times, others appear to have avoided catching the coronavirus despite having come into close contact with cases. Could be genetic resistance, common cold theory or blood group.

Thursday 31 March 2022

This morning I devote my time to the tedious business of changing my address now I have decided to remain in Dorset for the foreseeable future. Most of my accounts are easily updated as I can do it online but some require personal visits or phone calls. And one building society insists on sending information to my old address even though I have made it clear I no longer live there and the fourteen-day period I have to make changes once I have received the code I need to make the change will have run out. As the day develops into a bright, sunny afternoon I go out for a walk to test the Canon camera and lens. I start with some flowers in our garden.

An Experiment in Photography

I then decide to walk along Kite Beach. A flock of black-headed gulls are swooping low over the sand and I get some good photos. I swap cameras and lenses to test both birds and flowers and I am very pleased with the results. Definitely time to upgrade.

A Black Headed Gull on Kite Beach in Dorset

COVID-19 Update

Pupils with Covid should stay at home for three days, not five, says guidance amid fears of missing time in the classroom. Adults have been advised to isolate for five days if they test positive, but new guidance published by the Department for Education said under-18s should isolate for three in order to "balance the risk of transmission with continued disruption to education".

People with a cold urged to ‘stay home and avoid contact’ under new guidance People in England who have a cough or cold are to be urged to “stay home and avoid contact with other people” under new Government guidance on Covid-19. Those who have a symptoms of a respiratory illness such as a high temperature or “who feel unwell” are being encouraged to stay home until well.

COVID-19 Vaccinations

Jonathan Van-Tam having ‘sleepless nights’ over spring Covid booster take-up worrying about over-75s coming forward for their spring booster jabs on his final appearance as England's Deputy Chief Medical Officer.

Friday 01 April 2022

I could not make any plans for today as the camera and lens I have been testing are due to be collected sometime today. It is a cold, frosty morning and the roofs around me are white with rime – including the bus shelter over the road. I do have plenty of work to do so this is not a problem but I do need to do a food shop today. During the day I receive an email from the vaccination hub I have been volunteering to say they are adding more shifts as children between the ages of 5 and 11 are being invited for a vaccination. They are also about to start offering fourth jabs to the vulnerable. Currently my diary is devoted to shifts on Brownsea Island but I will make time for some more marshalling when I can. Fortunately, the parcel has gone by late morning so I get the bus to Poole and do a big food shop in Sainsbury’s. I still wear a face mask on the bus and in shops but I am very much in the minority now despite the fact new cases of COVD-19 are rapidly increasing again.

Frost Covered Bus Shelter Roof

In the News Today

Energy bills rise for millions a 54% increase in the energy price cap - amounting to nearly £700 - sends the typical duel-fuel energy bill soaring to £1,971 a year. Council tax, water bills and car tax are also up for some. There may be a further increase in October.

Climate activists plan daily protests after blocking 10 UK oil terminals Hundreds of climate change protesters blocked oil terminals across Britain on Friday as part of their campaign to force the government to end its reliance on fossil fuels.

Russia regroups to attack eastern Ukraine according to NATO’s secretary general. But Jens Stoltenberg says cities including the capital, Kyiv, remain under pressure, with continued shelling "bringing even more suffering". Moscow had said it would reduce military activity in northern Ukraine and focus on "liberating" the Donbas region in the south-east.

Saturday 02 April 2022

The sun is just rising when I roll out of bed this morning. The colours across the harbour – pale blue and pink – are stunning. I rush outside to watch the ritual of dawn unfolding.

Colours of Dawn over Poole Harbour in Dorset

As the sun gets higher in the sky the white buildings on the far side of the water are beautifully reflected in the still waters that front them. It is another crisp cold morning so I put the heating on for a while before the sun warms the flat up. I am now having to watch my use of gas and electricity with the massive increase that came into effect yesterday. I put on an extra jumper rather than turn the heating up.

Reflections of Dawn in Poole Harbour, Dorset

Around 6 pm it starts raining, then it snows before turning to hail. This delays my bike ride to the National Trust shed to get a parking permit for tomorrow. I am on duty on Brownsea Island Pier again with my friend. I waited until the sleet stops and then get my bike out and cycle to the National Trust shed. It is extremely cold and still trying to rain so I pedal fast. The sky is ominously dark and I can see it is raining over Brownsea Island. I pedal furiously to get back to the flat before the rain catches up with me.

Storm Clouds Gather over Poole Harbour in Dorset

COVID-19 Update

Covid at all-time high in UK with almost five million people – one in 13 of the population – estimated to have the virus. The data was released as the government ended free rapid tests for most people in England.

In the News Today

Now ministers go cool on fracking plan - with more onshore wind likely to be included in Government's energy security strategy Boris Johnson is under pressure to use fracking to bring down energy prices. But last night sources said the process is unlikely to feature in energy security strategy More onshore wind could be included.

Russia ‘pulling out of north’ Ukraine’s president said a withdrawal of Russian troops is “slow but noticeable” in the north of the country. However, added Volodymyr Zelensky, “hard battles lie ahead” in the east of the country around Donbas and Kharkiv.

Sunday 03 April 2022

Very happy to be heading for Brownsea Island again today and another shift on the pier there with my friend. We get to the island in time for a walk before our shift starts. We do a circuit along the wooden walkway. There is still snow in the sheltered areas and on the wooden planks. We climb up the bank behind the church and walk through the woods. We see two red squirrels scampering around. It is too cold for anyone to stand still for long today. The sun does come out and we find a sheltered spot on the pier to eat our packed lunch and enjoy the warmth on our faces. When the sun goes in it gets bitterly cold and I am glad to retreat to the warmth of my flat and a lovely roast pork dinner this evening.

Snow on Brownsea Island in Dorset

In the News Today

Tories revolt against Sunak Rishi Sunak is facing a growing Tory revolt over the cost of living crisis. Senior Tories have warned that high taxes will fatally undermine their party’s appeal to voters at the next general election.

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. In the last 7 days, by Friday 01 April, the number of people who tested positive is 527,550 bringing the cumulative total to 21,216,874. The number of deaths within 28 days of positive test is 1,116 in the last 7 days bringing the cumulative total of deaths to 165,570. Total deaths with COVID-19 on the death certificate this week 186,921 an increase this week of 826.

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.