30th April 2022
Life During a Coronavirus Pandemic: Week 109 Tenerife South
Very excited to be heading for sunny Tenerife this weekend and looking forward to seeing the island’s wildlife.
Local vaccination hubs are short of volunteers this week so I manage to fit in a shift around preparations for a trip to Tenerife departing at the end of the week. I also have the joy of trying a new camera around the local beaches. I am so pleased the camera arrived in time to take it to Tenerife where I am hoping to capture some good images of the wildlife. In fact, I spend more time taking pictures of the lovely food we are served and seascapes - but it is all good fun.
Monday 18 April 2022
Easter Monday and a glorious start to the day. The patio door is slightly open when I go into the sitting room as I forgot to close it last night. I can hear the seagulls, terns and crows wheeling above my roof. The moon is still out and surrounded by the pale pinks and blues of dawn breaking over Poole Harbour. I feel as free as the birds outside - whole day ahead of me to do just as I please. I set to work on my ever lengthening ‘to do’ list. It feels good to shorten it rather than adding to it all the time. In particular, I solve the problem of getting the faulty garden chair back to Mountain Warehouse. For once, my habit of hanging on to cardboard boxes pays off and I find big enough to take the chair. It takes a few minutes to book a collection by ParcelForce and that is one problem solved.
Nicola Sturgeon reported to police for face mask slip after video evidence apparently showed her break Scotland’s Covid laws onface masks. The footage showed the first minister not wearing a mask during a local election campaign visit to a barber’s in EastKilbride.
PM ‘instigated’ lockdown party Boris Johnson has been accused of having “instigated” a Downing Street party. The PM is facingclaims that an office gathering to mark the exit of Lee Cain, the former Number 10 director of communications, was not a party “untilhe arrived”.
Covid vaccinators stay in NHS More than 10,000 people who helped deliver Covid-19 vaccinations have now taken permanent roles with the NHS. After 71,000 people took paid roles and thousands more volunteered to help with the rollout, 11,483 have chosen to stay in the health service.
Tuesday 19 April 2022
Today I am responding to an SOS for volunteer marshals at the vaccine hubs that are still operating locally. On my way to the hub near Castlepoint in Bournemouth I stop in the centre to transact some business at a building society. This does not take long so I have time for a walk in the gardens. It is a sunny day and the gardens are full of colours that are reflected in the little River Bourne that bubbles through them. It is very quiet at the pharmacy where I am on duty this afternoon. We even have time for two tea breaks during my three-hour shift. Over 75’s have been offered a fourth jab and there is still a steady trickle of people having their first and second vaccinations.
Calls grow for free or low-cost Covid tests to keep staff safe After years of disruption, many firms are hoping for a return to normal. But it's not yet business as usual. The recent spike in Covid cases has caused havoc, with staff sickness impacting entire supply chains.
PM ‘to apologise’ for rule breaks Boris Johnson is expected to apologise to MPs today after being fined for breaking lockdown rules, his first statement to Parliament since receiving a fixed penalty notice for attending his own birthday bash.
In the News Today
The battle for Donbas President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned that “a significant part of the entire Russian army” is waging a new assault on Ukraine’s eastern front as a second phase of the war begins.
Wednesday 20 April 2022
I wake up in the early hours for no particular reason – I can’t even blame the roar of boy racers who often like to race around Poole Harbour during the night. I have some breakfast and start working. I am excited as I have told my new camera will be delivered this morning and I plan to take it for a walk this afternoon. But when I check the tracker I can see that my parcel is not going anywhere. I go online to chat with the suppliers who say it is not their fault and blame the Royal Mail. Whoever is at fault it is clear it will not be delivered and now I have the worry of it not turning up tomorrow before I start the first leg of my journey to Tenerife. I still go out for a walk this afternoon and stroll along Sandbanks Beach. I walk back around the harbour. The tide is going out and I watch some paddle boarders walking back through the shallow water dragging their equipment behind them – silhouetted against a silvery sun low in the sky.
PM to order MPs to block probe and will order Conservative MPs to block an investigation into claims that he misled parliament over lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street, said The Times.
In the News Today
Energy chiefs warn of ‘horrific winter’ and called for more government support for vulnerable households facing a “truly horrific” winter, warning that up to four in ten people in Britain could fall into fuel poverty when the price cap rises again this autumn.
Union threatens ‘biggest rail strike in modern UK history’ More than 40,000 railway workers are to be balloted in a dispute over jobs and pay that a union says could result in Britain’s biggest rail strike in modern history.
Thursday 21 April 2022
While I am eating at the breakfast bar I see the Brittany ferry going out – beautifully lit up by the early morning sun. It is the first time I have seen it since the service stopped during lockdown. I have a busy day today as I am flying to Tenerife tomorrow. I still have to sort out some suitable clothes that fit me. And then drive to Hertfordshire from where I am getting the train to Gatwick in the morning. Due to current shortages of staff at the airports we have been advised to get there at least 3 hours before our flight. When I check the progress of my new camera I discover it arrived in Dorset during the night. I am optimistic it will arrive this morning. And it does, just before midday. A few minutes’ after it arrives the supplier, Next Day Deal, calls to check it has been delivered. I am impressed. I unpack the camera, charge the battery and have time to take a few photos before I have to leave for Hertfordshire. I am impressed, the Canon EOS 90D is definitely better than the Canon EOS 250D I am currently using.
Woman catches Covid twice in 20 days - a healthcare worker caught Covid twice within 20 days in the shortest-known gap between reported infections. The 31-year-old woman was infected with two different variants; Delta in late December and Omicron in January.
First person to have Covid infection for more than a year identified in UK and doctors in the UK have called for urgent new treatments to clear persistent Covid infections after identifying the first person in the world known to have harboured the virus for more than a year.
In the News Today
Queen marks 96th birthday at Sandringham She travelled by helicopter to her Norfolk estate, where she will be joined by family and friends. The monarch is expected to stay in a cottage on the estate particularly favoured by her late husband, Prince Philip.
Friday 22 April 2022
I sleep well until 4.30 am but resist the temptation to get up. I doze and get up just before 6 am. Due to long queues at airport check-in desks we have been advised to be at Gatwick at least 3 hours before our flight is due to depart. I am away by 7 am and catch the first train departing from Radlett station. At Gatwick I join a long queue at check-in as we could not check in online and shuffle along for an hour before finally checking in. But I still have time for a leisurely lunch with a good friend travelling with the same group – the British Guild of Travel Writers. Our afternoon flight to Tenerife is on time and I get to my room at the Hotel Sheraton La Caleta just as the sun is setting.
Our evening meal is a fantastic buffet on a large terrace in our hotel which can easily accommodate our group of over one hundred members. It includes a dessert buffet and bowls of marshmallows to dip in a chocolate fountain. Some Covid restrictions were lifted in Tenerife earlier this week and we no longer have to wear face masks in the public areas of the hotel but they are still mandatory on public transport – including the coaches and minibuses that will be transporting us around the island.
UK patient suffers Covid for 505 days in longest case ever recorded and doctors call for new treatments against the virus. The patient had a weakened immune system and tested positive for the virus in 2020, before dying 505 days later.
PM told ‘the gig’s up’ Boris Johnson has been told by one of his own MP’s that “the gig’s up” after the Commons backed a formal investigation to look at whether he lied to parliament. The PM will be investigated by a Commons committee over claims he misled MPs about lockdown parties.
In the News Today
Consumer confidence lower than 2008 UK consumer confidence is even lower than when banks were on the brink of collapse during the 2008 financial crisis, according to a study. A perfect storm of rocketing energy prices, higher taxes and high inflation meant the headline consumer confidence index dropped by seven points to -38 in April.
Saturday 23 April 2022
When I wake at 6 am it is still very dark which comes as a shock as I had hoped I would have time for an early morning walk before our morning excursion. By the time it is light enough to take photos it is time to get ready for my morning excursion – bird watching. Before we set off we are shown how to use binoculars properly which is very useful. However, we are unlikely to see much through them in the steady rain that has just started. Our minibus takes our small group to Teno Park, one of several protected areas on Tenerife. We get out of the minibus and walk for a while. As it is still raining Jean, our guide, tells us we are unlikely to see many birds as there will not be any insects around for them to feed on. We do see a few of the indigenous canaries. These pretty song birds have been domesticated and feature in an annual competition to find the bird with the best plumage and song. We are given the option to go back to the minibus and drive to another area where we are almost guaranteed to see some birds – we are quick to accept.
Our next stop is a pine forest (Piner di Chio) the habitat of the endemic Tenerife Blue Chaffinch. We walk through the pine trees treading on soft needles that were once a popular filling for mattresses. Jean can hear its call and we head in that direction. Finally, we spot one, high in the trees and we all manage to get a good sighting of a female. She does not have the stunning bright blue plumage of the male but is a very pretty bird. It has stopped raining and the sun is coming out – a lovely ending to our morning excursion. But now it is time to return to our hotel. And then set off again for lunch at a banana plantation.
Tenerife is one of the two major producers of Canarian bananas and lunch today is at one of the plantations in the southern area of the island – Finca La Calabacera. On arrival we drove through a massive greenhouse sheltering the banana plants in our large coach. Before sitting down at one of a long line of tables seating over one hundred people we were introduced to the banana plant and several other exotic fruits grown there – most of them I had never heard of before, for example, the sapote whose juice I had tried when we got here. It was a lovely lunch outside but shaded from the hot sun that has finally shown its face.
This evening we have dinner and a Burlesque experience at Scandal in La Caleta. We drive the short distance to the venue and walk down a red carpet into the building. There is an opportunity to have one’s photo taken with members of the cast - in particular male members in black leathers. I decline. It is certainly an experience, athletic dancers scantily clad on a main stage and three small stages amongst around forty circular tables. Once the meal is over I decide to walk back to our hotel to get some fresh air. Several other people join me and we enjoy a stroll through the posh shopping centre and along the promenade back to our hotel.
Long Covid plagues 70% of hospitalised are suffering complications from the virus a year later, a study has found. The most common long-term symptoms include fatigue, muscle pain, physically slowing down, poor sleep and breathlessness.
‘Moon shot’ Covid jab in the works Trial results of this new Covid-19 vaccine – could be released within days. The preliminary results of the single-dose jab, which is said to protect people against any variant of Covid, have been hailed as “impressive”.
Sunday 24 April 2022
I am excited about our whale and dolphin watching boat trip this morning as we are told we are more than likely to see whales as they live off the coast here. After a short drive to the port we board a catamaran and head for the open sea. Throughout our trip we are plied with fresh fruit, soft drinks, sandwiches and finally some sparkling wine. We see bottle nose dolphins, Atlantic spotted dolphins and pilot whales also known as tropical whales. As they are all feeding we just see their fins apart from one dolphin who decides to show off and dance on his tail – but I am not quick enough to get a photo. I pass a very enjoyable morning and then spend a lazy afternoon exploring our hotel before a burst of energy on an exercise bike in the hotel gym.
Dinner at Siam Park this evening, a water park sprinkled with buildings typical of Thailand. The park is closed but we have a short tour featuring the most interesting buildings and ending on a beach of Portuguese sand by a wave pool where people are surfing. The setting is impressive – dinner under the stars. After we have eaten a meal of barbecued steak, salted potatoes and salad we are entertained with a laser light show and fireworks followed by music and dancing. I am happy to board the early bus back to the hotel and get back to the hotel just before midnight.
COVID shots still work but researchers hunt new improvements COVID-19 vaccinations are at a critical juncture as companies test whether new approaches like combination shots or nasal drops can keep up with a mutating coronavirus — although it’s not clear if changes are needed. Already there’s public confusion about who should get a second booster now and who can wait.
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 22 April (no statistics on bank holidays or weekends), the number of people who tested positive is 185,625 bringing the cumulative total to 21,933,206. The number of deaths within 28 days of positive test is 1,956 in the last 7 days bringing the cumulative total of deaths to 173,352. Total deaths with COVID-19 on the death certificate this week 190,124 an increase this week of 1,131.
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.