This week I move permanently to Dorset – new beginnings and the last chapter of my coronavirus diary which I kept for the first 115 weeks of the coronavirus pandemic.
It is more than two years since I got locked down in Dorset as COVID-19 ravaged the UK. This week I make the move permanent following the sale of my home in Hertfordshire. One last visit to clear the flat, a final check up with my dentist of over twenty years and bid my friends a fond farewell over lunch at our ‘local’. And then it is back to Dorset and a few days of intensive unpacking and throwing out. But I do take time out to do a shift as a pier warden on Brownsea Island. Lockdown has changed my life as it has for many other people.
Monday 16 May 2022
When the removal men arrive just before 9 am this morning there is a large pile in the middle of the sitting room waiting to be boxed up. I grossly underestimated the number of boxes I needed to pack up my belongings and I need twice as many as the original estimate. As the removal men start taking furniture out to the van my friend and I cram the loose items into boxes. Everything is packed up by the time I leave for my last dentist appointment in Hertfordshire. It is sad saying goodbye but no time to dwell as the next task is the removal of the water softener. I arrive back at the flat at the same time as the technician and that job is soon crossed off my list. It is time for brunch and my friend and I head for Café Radlett where we both indulge in a full English breakfast – and then relax in the public garden across the road enjoying some sunshine.
Back at the empty flat we pack the last few items into my car – do a final check and then head for Dorset. It is sad leaving this flat where I lived for fifteen happy years until the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
In the News Today
Petrol retailers ‘profiteering’ Britain’s petrol retailers have failed to pass on nearly half of Rishi Sunak’s 5p fuel duty cut. The RACsaid that retailers are taking 2p more on average in profit per litre of fuel sold than they did before the chancellor reduced duty in March.
Fighters leave Mariupol plant Hundreds of Ukrainian fighters, trapped for more than two months in Mariupol’s Azovstal steelworkshave now been evacuated. The evacuation is likely to mark the end of the “longest and bloodiest battle of the Ukraine war” and is “asignificant defeat for Ukraine”.
Tuesday 17 May 2022
My furniture and belongings from the Hertfordshire flat arrive in Dorset this morning. I was up early clearing as much space as possible. It takes most of the morning to get everything inside and the double bed and the dining room table assembled. The pile of cardboard boxes in the corner just keeps growing. I am not looking forward to emptying them. My friend discourages me from using the garage as a storage area as he knows any boxes ending up here will never be opened.
Once everything has been unloaded and carried up two flights of stairs to my flat we flop on to the sofa and have a break and a coffee. My friend then leaves as he is working tomorrow and I stay on the sofa dozing all afternoon. When I wake I am re-energised and empty six boxes and find homes for all the contents. During the evening there is a sudden heavy shower of rain followed by a stunning rainbow. I take some time off to enjoy this wonderful sight.
COVID isn’t over. Omicron sub-variants still spreading, some of particular concern Two years since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve heard of the Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Omicron variants, but a new one named after a Greek letter hasn’t emerged so far this year. Instead, a string of “sub-lineages” - or sub-variants - of Omicron popped up. They basically feature different mutations in the spike protein that allows the virus to infect cells.
In the News Today
Ministers ‘warm to windfall tax’ on oil and gas companies after discovering the move would be “wildly popular” with the public. Voter research conducted in Whitehall has found that as many as eight in ten people back the tax raid on energy companies with increased profits.
Wednesday 18 May 2022
I empty two boxes before breakfast. And spend the rest of the day sorting out more boxes and moving furniture around. I advertise the four dining chairs that were here when I moved into the flat on FreeCycle – and they are collected this evening. I also advertise the two spare bed drawers and these are to be collected tomorrow. My solicitor calls to finalise the details for completion on the Hertfordshire flat tomorrow. I spend the whole day unpacking and only have time for a short walk to get some fresh air. This evening I sign up for a shift on the pier at Brownsea Island tomorrow – I need a break from the relentless unpacking.
In the News Today
Government ‘failed NHS workers’ The government failed in its duty to protect NHS staff during the Covid pandemic, a major health union has claimed. The British Medical Association (BMA) said medics came to avoidable harm and suffering, and that the government “failed in its duty of care”.
Ukraine tries to save Mariupol troops and is doing “everything possible and impossible” to save the remaining fighters trapped inMariupol’s Azovstal steel plant. Ukraine wants its troops to be exchanged for captured Russian soldiers as part of an evacuation dealconfirmed by Moscow.
Thursday 19 May 2022
I have booked a shift on the pier at Brownsea Island today so I get an early boat so I can have a walk before going on duty. As soon as I get to the island I set off for the nature reserve. I sit for a while in the Tern Island hide watching the terns. It is very noisy as they go through the various stages of breeding – courtship, nest building, egg hatching. I can see some small fluffy chicks amongst the busy adults – common terns and sandwich terns. Some swoop in with food for their babies and some are carrying nest building materials.
Walking slowly back to the pier I come across two adult swans with some very small cygnets.
I feel some eyes on me and when I turn around I see a Sika deer on the path ahead of me watching my every move.
I am back on the pier in time for the morning briefing and spend the rest of the day on the pier greeting visitors arriving on the island and saying goodbye to visitors departing from the island. I volunteer to lock up the church as the day draws to a close. As I cross Church Field I meet up with a family of Canada geese – adults and goslings. The perfect end to another wonderful day on Brownsea Island.
Covid booster campaign could be launched this autumn for over 65s, frontline workers and at risk groups encouraged to get the jab. The UK Health Security Agency said the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation had advised the government to go ahead with the campaign.
In the News Today
No. 10 ‘blocking windfall tax’ Plans for a windfall tax on energy companies are being blocked by No. 10, said The Times. Although treasury officials believe that the levy is “politically unavoidable”, the PM’s advisers feel introducing such a tax would be “ideologicallyun-Conservative”.
Friday 20 May 2022
Back to unpacking boxes today. But I do take occasional breaks to watch the marine traffic on Poole Harbour and get some fresh air. Barfleur, the ferry to Cherbourg, goes out this morning through a misty, cold wet morning. Later, after the sun comes out, one of the Condor ferries comes into the harbour from the Channel Islands. It would appear international travel is finally back on track in the UK. Is the pandemic really over as far as the UK is concerned?
Fears over North Korea Covid Spread World Health Organisation (WHO) officials fear that an unchecked spread of Covid-19 in North Korea could lead to deadlier new variants spreading across the planet. The regime reported 263,370 new “fever cases” and two deaths.
In the News Today
Partygate report to ‘name and shame’ Sue Gray has written to senior civil servants to warn them that she plans to identify them in her report. The report, which is likely to be published next week, is expected to include “scathing criticism of senior political and civil service figures.”
Saturday 21 May 2022
Today I have an interlude from the unpacking sacking to go shopping in Poole. As it is a lovely day I take time out to have a walk through Poole Park and spend some time enjoying the peace and flowers in the new Rose and Flower Garden. It is a lovely interlude in the monotony of packing that still seems to stretch endlessly ahead of me.
North Korea claims progress despite thousands more with fever symptoms North Korea said it found nearly 220,000 more people with fever symptoms, despite leader Kim Jong Un claiming progress in slowing a largely undiagnosed spread of COVID-19 across his unvaccinated populace. After maintaining a dubious claim for two and a half years that it had perfectly blocked the virus from entering its territory, the North admitted to Omicron infections last week.
Sunday 22 May 2022
Soon after I get up my attention is drawn outside by the sound of a long stream of motorbikes going down the road. I run back to the flat and grab my camera. The road is a river of motor cycles and scooters of all ages. I ask a photographer standing on a traffic island what is going on. He tells me it is the Distinguished Gentleman’s Bike Ride in aid of charity. Similar events are taking place in towns all over the country today.
As Sandbanks is a spit the bikes have to turn around at the end and then come back again so there is traffic chaos for nearly an hour. But it is fun watching them all go back and returning their cheery waves.
It is such a lovely sunny day my friend – who came over to help me unpack the boxes that still litter my living room – suggests we go and take advantage of such nice weather. I don’t need much persuading and we are soon on the bus heading for Swanage. By the time we get there we are ready for some lunch so we walk to the Fish Plaice on the sea front and each have a generous helping of fish and chips. When we finish we set off for Peveril Point. We pass the Prince Albert Memorial Obelisk on our way.
Peveril Point overlooks the Jurassic Coast and we sit there, on a wooden bench, for a long time enjoying the views and watching some small yachts circling the bay. We are joined by a cheeky robin who cheeps at us as if demanding titbits.
We walk back to the bus station through the town and stop at a patisserie, Studio South, for some tea and a salted caramel tart that is delicate and luscious. A fresh, sparkling gin and tonic is the ideal way to wind down when we get back to the flat after our lovely day out.
In the News Today
PM ‘to scapegoat’ the head of the civil service in a “desperate effort to save his own job,” reported The Observer. Sue Gray’sreport will, according to several sources, lay particular blame on Simon Case, the UK’s most senior civil servant, for allowing a drinking culture to develop.
Monkey pox numbers ‘unprecedented’ Scientists have warned that they expect monkeypox cases to continue to rise this week after more than 90 cases were reported in Europe, the US and Australia, including 20 in Britain. The global figure is unprecedented for a disease that is normally confined to central and west Africa. But it was extremely unlikely monkeypox would become a pandemic.
No Government Statistics
No statistics this, the last week of my coronavirus diary (I hope), as the government is no longer quoting daily statistics.
It would seem for those of us living in the UK the worst is over and we are getting back to some sort of normality. Like many people, life for me has changed and, following a permanent move to Dorset I am now looking forward to new horizons.
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.