Covid-19 Diaries Second lockdown and vaccine announcement

10 November 20

Posted at 4:25

Beamish and MasksBeamish Living Museum

The image captures two realities of late summer 2020 in the UK. Wearing masks is compulsory as is social distancing (resulting in queues for everything). Both are intended to limit the tramsmission of the virus.

This photograph was taken in early September when along with some friends we took a weeks break on the Northumberland coast. We still had to break some rules to do that (six of us lived in one cottage for the week, strictly speaking that was not allowed at the time). We had to journey there in three separate cars. Eating out or visiting a pub or café was something of a chore and impersonal. We probably felt more comfortable in our cottage self catering and isolating in our, albeit illegal, bubble. Bizarre when you consider it. We did though enjoy the wide open spaces, the wild beaches and national parks. We had fun together as friends, something that had been all but impossible since February.


That limited freedom now seems like a distant memory as we are now six days into a further months lockdown. Different from the first lockdown in that schools and universities have remained open. It also doesn’t feel as serious as the first lockdown but all forms of hospitality and all non-essential shops are closed. Hospitalisations and deaths are rising again although deaths are not yet at the level seen in the Spring. It is Autumn now though, the days are shorter, the weather damp and chilly so it feels tougher.


Over the last few days there has been reason for hope and optimism. First of all in the USA elections Donald Trump has lost the presidency, to the joy of the vast majority globally. At this point Donald is not about to go quietly, he refutes the outcome and is using the legal system to query the result. The same legal system of judges that he has packed with his own cronies over the last couple of years. So the world looks on in anticipation. It is unlikely he will be successful but over recent months we have become used to the unlikely actually happening.


Yesterday we received the second good news, a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer has exited phase three of its testing with positive results. As ever the media has reacted disproportionately implying that it may even be rolled out by Christmas (it won’t be). I suppose it is nice to have some good news but we really do have a long way to go before we get out of this pandemic. Just last week it was discovered in Denmark that Covid had first of all spread into their vast mink population but now had mutated into a form transmitted back from mink to humans. The mink are now being exterminated (as happened in Spain earlier in the year), travel from Denmark to other countries, well at least the UK, is banned. Mink are bred in three or four EU countries for export to China for the fur trade, banned for instance in the UK years ago. So animals, or animal products, from a species that has been infected with Coronavirus and has mutated a strain back to humans is being exported to a country where a mutated form of Coronavirus jumped from animals to humans kicking off this whole global pandemic. There is an irony there!


Of course the vaccine developed is unlikely to have an impact on a mutated version spread to humans from mink or any other animal.


Farewell Grazalema

19 July 14

Posted at 3:31

We left Grazalema on Friday to head for the Costa de Luz. On the evening before when the sun was going down we took a hike up to the dam that overlooks the town. And indeed ensures its' water supply.

The Dam

It took about 30 minutes to reach the base of the dam then just a case of climbing the steps.

Dam from Above

Lokking down not a good idea if you suffer from vertigo.

Behind the Dam

Behind the dam it was more tranquil and a fair few degrees cooler than down in the town - still pretty hot though even at 8 in the evening.

Grazalema from the base of the Dam 

Looking back from the base of the dam to Grazalema. I will come back here again - probably earlier in the year so it will be possible to walk some of the treks in the surrounding mountains.Although I'm still miffed that we won't be here on Monday for the annual bull run (for someone who spends their life at the moment doing research I dropped off regarding this trip!) On Thursday evening (well the early hours of Friday) the fiesta leading up to the bull run commenced with the opening of the funfair. I had a little play using long exposure and rear curtain flash to record the movement. Might have done better had I not been consuming Rioja for most of the evening!



Bumper Cars

Bumper cars


All the fun of the fair.



16 July 14

Posted at 3:41

Arrived in Grazalema 24 hours ago. A very nice town situated in the centre of the Sierra de Grazalema nature park.


Grazalema - this is a view I took last night on the way up a tricky path to a deserted ruin of a Hermitage overlooking the town. More or less in the centre of the photo is the main municipal building and police station (three arches).

Town Square

And above is my view of that same building as I sampled the local breakfast this morning. A few things have struck me since arriving and spending time wandering the streets and sampling everything that is on offer here. What strikes straight away is how clean and orderly the town is. Although something of a tourist destinantion this time of year the tourists are relatively few and predominantly Spanish. The town has its industries, wool and leather goods, honey and a few factories. There is little evidence of Spain's infamous unemployment here but there again a complete absence of employess anywhere who are not Spanish (unlike many of our towns). Another thing is the total absence of global/American chains - not a Starbucks, McDonalds or KFC in sight - how refreshing!! There are though a wealth of traditional local foods and beverages on offer - and if you don't like that you had best go 50 or so miles East to Marbella et al where you can savour Little England, Holland and Germany serving their own favourites under in the Spanish sunshine. Personally I'd prefer to hang around here.

Sweeping The step

An old lady sweeping her step earlier today - everyone here seems to have a pride in their town.


There are plenty of pet dogs around but no evidence of them left behind on the spotless streets (again refreshing).

Pueblos Blancos

The town is a striking example of many white housed towns perched in the mountains in the region. They are known as Pueblos Blancos.

Bull Run

Grazalema is famed for a number of ancient festivals. This bronze depicts one the Fiesta Del Carmen Y Lunes Del Toro De Cuerda. Which I believe translates loosely as Bull Running Monday and is held on the third Monday in July - which happens to be in five days time. The town is preparing for it now with steel gates ready to mark off the routes for three bull runs that will be held throughout that day. I am thinking of coming back here to witness it - will have to see. Well I'm off for a siesta now before venturing up the mountains to Zahara de la Sierra where I hope to find a large colony of Griffon Vultures to get some snaps of.