Freedom? Week 9, September 13th to 19th 2021 inclusive

Monday, September 13th

The UK’s Chief Medical Officers have recommended that all kids aged between 12 and 15 be offered one dose of the Pfizer vaccine.  Bring it on!   Several of my elder nephew (12, nearly 13)’s friends have tested positive, and they only went back to school last week.  Kids cannot keep having to miss school.  And, in the cases of those kids too young to be left home alone all day, parents cannot keep having to miss work.  And there’s all the general worry in case a kid tests positive just before a holiday, a family celebration or anything else important.

The deal between the UK and the Valneva vaccine company has apparently been scrapped, but no-one seems very bothered about it.

In other news, CADW, the Welsh equivalent of English Heritage, release tickets every Monday.  So the tickets for next week should have been released today.  But they weren’t,  Because they’re “implementing a new system”, I was told, and it’d gone wrong.  Try again tomorrow.  OK.  Later, I looked on their Facebook page, and it said – presumably news to their own staff – that the reason you couldn’t book online tickets was that they were upgrading systems at their sites and would be closing certain sites on certain dates.  I don’t believe this.  If it said which sites were closed when, I could perhaps try to rejig my plans, but it doesn’t.  It just says that the list will follow.  Well, when?  It’s now only 4 working days until next week.  How on earth could they have left it till now to say something?   I’m really, really annoyed.   You can’t just do this with no notice.

And OMG, what happened last night?   Well done Daniil Medvedev.  Did the pressure get to Nole, like it keeps gettiing to Serena?  Whatever, congratulations to Daniil.

 

Tuesday, September 14th

Lots of announcements today:

`1.  Booster jabs for everyone in the top 9 groups – i.e. frontline health and care workers, clinically vulnerable people and anyone else over 50 – and also for anyone else who lives with a clinically vulnerable person.   One Pfizer dose or half a Moderna dose.  Some talk of flu jabs being given at the same time, to reduce pressure on NHS resources, but I can’t see that happening.

2.  Lots of graphs showing how unvaccinated people are far more likely to end up in hospital, or worse, than vaccinated people.  Sadly, I doubt that anti-vaxxers will have been watching the press conference.

3. There’s been some talk about a “bonfire of Covid regulations” and also changes to travel regulations, but nothing’s been said about any of that yet.  What we were told was that, if things get worse, we’ll move to “Plan B”, which will initially involve a return to compulsory mask-wearing, the introduction of vaccine passports, and the reintroduction of the home working directive.

4.  Some moaning about the lack of clarity about exactly what would be considered bad enough to trigger a move to Plan B … but how long’s a piece of string?

5.  We’re being told that the number of people in the workforce is now back to pre-pandemic levels.  There are now over 1 million job vacancies, and we need to try to sort things so that unemployed people are matched to vacancies.

6. The Premier League’s said that people will need vaccine passports for matches, even though the vaccine passport plan’s been scrapped.  This is silly now.   Too many sets of rules.  And what about Cup matches involving PL clubs?!

In other news:

  1.  CADW’s website still doesn’t say which places will be closed next week.  I rang up, and was told that the people in the office didn’t know either.  This is just ridiculous.  However, I then tried Facebook Messenger, which seems to go through to a different department, and was assured that only Conwy would be closed.  So I should hopefully be OK – but loads of people on holiday in Llandudno, Colwyn Bay, Rhyl, Rhos-on-Sea etc will be affected.
  2. To add to my million and one other stresses – and nothing stresses me out like techno-stress – I’ve had an e-mail from BT, informing me that they will be disconnecting everyone’s landlines and that, to get your phone access back, you will have to connect your phone to your broadband hub.  I can see the hole, so hopefully it will be OK, but it might not be.  And thankfully my equipment’s up to date, due to the Great Lightning Disaster last year, but other people will have to get theirs replaced.  Medical pendants, panic alarms, security systems connected to phones, etc, will all be affected, and you’ll have to sort them out yourself.  And, once the digital thing’s set up, if there’s a power cut or a broadband outage then you won’t even be able to dial 999 on your landline.  Just like that.  When analogue TV was disconnected, we were warned months in advance, given helpline numbers, and given an exact date.  This was just an e-mail out of the blue, and all it says is “soon”.  Hopefully *not* whilst I’m away … but surely not as soon as next week, because they must realise that people may need time to get new stuff etc.  I am not happy at all.
  3. With all due respect to Young Boys, they were meant to be the weakest team in the group … but we (not helped by Wan-Bissaka getting himself off) managed to lose 2-1 in Bern, conceding a second goal in injury time, so the Champions League is already looking like a struggle.  That’ll teach me to say that we’d got a decent draw 😦 .

 

Wednesday, September 15th

I have had it up to here with CADW.  Having assured me that only Conwy would be closed, and then, when I asked if they could confirm that Chepstow and Caerphilly definitely wouldn’t be closed, assured me that Chepstow and Caerphilly definitely wouldn’t be closed, they have now said that Caerphilly will be closed.   FFS, I only asked yesterday!   It should be open again by Thursday, but they can’t guarantee it because their computer upgrades might go wrong.  So, rather than stress all week, I’ve decided to go to Caerphilly on Sunday, before the closures start.  But I had booked Dolaucothi for Sunday, so will now need to contact the National Trust and apologise profusely for cancelling at short notice, and explain that I’ve rebooked it for Thursday.   And I’ve now got a long drive on Sunday, after a long drive on Saturday and with a late start because hotel breakfast is late on Sunday.  I am not impressed.  Nor are several other people who’ve posted comments on CADW’s Facebook page.  4 1/2 days is not exactly a great deal of notice.

There’s been a Cabinet reshuffle.

And there’s a lot of talk going on about WFH.  Bring it on!!

 

Thursday, September 16th

Wa-hey!!!  The council have said that the Christmas markets can go ahead.  Details to follow.  Yay!!

The first booster jabs were given today.  That was quick!   Frontline health and care workers first.  Also, care home workers will be required to be fully vaccinated from 8 weeks from today, so today’s the last day for them to get their first jab.   This rule’s already in force in France and some other countries, and some anti-vaxxer staff have been suspended from their jobs.

Cases are actually falling a bit, with deaths and hospitalisations pretty much stable.

And Italy’s making it compulsory for all workers (well, all legal workers) to carry Covid passes.   I have to say that I think that’s a bit OTT.

 

Friday, September 17th

Hooray!!!   For fully-vaccinated people, pre-departure tests on returning from abroad will be abolished at some point in October.   Tests will still be needed on day 2 after returning, although it’ll be a lateral flow test, not a PCR test, but you’re home by then.  It’s all too late for me to arrange anything for this year, but fingers crossed for next year.  Of course, foreign countries have their own requirements, but we can’t do much about those.  And the “traffic light” system’s being scrapped – it’ll be red list and everywhere else.  Rules for non-vaccinated people are stricter, but you make your choice.

Covid passes are being brought in in Wales.  For big events, but I think the exact rules are different from those in Scotland.  So we’ve now got 3 sets of rules.  I do understand about the devolved administrations, but I also understand that, for many people living in Wales, their nearest big city or town is in England, and that all these different rules are very confusing.

Some financial news from Old Trafford – in the 12 months to 30 June, United made £254.8m from broadcasters, 81.7% up on the previous year’s £140.2m, whereas matchday revenues fell from £89.8m to £7.1m.

Well, fingers crossed, off to Wales tomorrow.

 

Saturday, September 18th

Day 1 of my “staycation” in Wales!   I drove to Powis Castle, then to Llandovery, then to Aberglasney Gardens, and then to my base at St Clears, near Carmarthen.

Powis Castle:

As much as I get the whole thing with the devolved administrations, it really is confusing having different sets of rules in different parts of the UK.   But anyway.  And your room doesn’t get made up during your stay, “because of Covid”.  I hate to be cynical, but *is* that because of Covid or is it to reduce the hotel’s workload?!   But anyway.  It’s a really nice place.  And, apart from one trip to a garage in Aberystwyth when I was a kid (long story to do with my dad’s car!), and a visit to the Millennium Stadium for the League Cup final whilst Wembley was being redeveloped, I’ve never been to South Wales before!

Some issues with gas supplies now.  It’s partly just bad luck – there’s been a fire at a pipeline, and also Russia’s being awkward.  But it’s also because of maintenance on North Sea platforms, which was delayed due to lockdown.  Obviously it’s easy to be wise after the event, but maintenance on gas platforms and tests for HGV drivers should really have been classed as essential, and carried on.

 

Sunday, September 19th

United 2-1 West Ham!    But very sad to hear of the deaths of Jimmy Greaves and of John “Boycie” Challis.

I went to Caerphilly Castle today.  Lovely looking castle!   It’s a ruin, but it’s the second biggest castle in the UK: only Windsor’s bigger.

Then to Laugharne, where Dylan Thomas lived.  This is another ruined castle, not his house!   Then to Pendine beach.

“Staycations” are still very much a thing – there are lots of people about.  I’ve heard accents from various parts of England, and also Scotland, as well as Wales.   And a gold star for the weather!

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