Welcome

Hello to all you fellow motorhomers and welcome.
I hope you get as much fun reading this as I do writing it.







Tuesday, 11 August 2020

Read of the Month (August 2020)

 Apologies for the delay in blog post.
Sorting a replacement laptop took longer than expected.

These are strange times in which we are now living.
Much as one would like to remain in a secure known bubble and avoid disagreements and confrontation this is not always possible. 
Recently events have prodded and poked at the bubble (at least mine).
I feel compelled to comment.
My suggested read of the month is very likely going to be contentious.

It is only by learning about the complexities of events that there is a greater understanding and acceptance things must change rather than a wholesale airbrushing.
Hopefully lessons can be learnt and so the same mistakes avoided.

It is for these reasons August's Read of the Month is 


Empire
by
Jeremy Paxman



It examines the rise of the British Empire; how and why
mainly greed and power and influence.
It also looks at its gradual demise and legacy.

It is an easy read and all the complexities are systematically scrutinized.
Are there parallels today?
Maybe 





 

Friday, 31 July 2020

Photo of the Month (July 2020)

I anticipated the Photo of the Month post being in the middle of the month.

This failed to happen in July due to preparations for going away and the excitement of at last managing to take a motorhome trip.
Also on returning home I needed time to rectify a few minor faults in the van before my next outing.

Here Pearl is waiting for me to catch her up whilst climbing the Sugar Loaf in the Brecon Beacons.

It may be in Wales but like the countryside throughout the UK
it is beautiful.


This is the path to the top of "Sugar Loaf" in Wales just outside of Abergavenny.  
This is one of the walks in my book 
"Wonderful Walks from Dog-friendly Campsites throughout the UK". 
The campsite I stayed at was Pyscodlyn Farm Caravan and Camping Park.  

This was one of the best campsites
Pearl remarked in her "Pearls of Wisdom"

Whatever the weather the countryside can still be appreciated.
During these unusual times it has proved to be essential.
We must not take it for granted.

What is your favourite place

Sunday, 26 July 2020

My First 2020 Motorhome Outing.

I was unable to do my usual Thursday post because
  • I was on a campsite
  • There appeared to be wifi but unusually I did not have a laptop with me. (That is another saga).
Because of so much uncertainty I only booked 5 nights
This was just as well as the weather was awful on the last day.  
The forecast for the following week was not much better.


For 4 days the weather was glorious and 

Lydford Campsite was wonderful


They had an ingenious way of limiting numbers in the facilities block.
On the outside of both the ladies and the gents there were 3 numbered tiles on hooks.
If you wanted to use the facilities you took a numbered tile;
and entered the block
On exiting you hung it back on the hook.
If there were no tiles you waited outside until one was available..

Pearl also enjoyed the campsite.
Just a few minutes walk away was a large playing field.



Here there was plenty of space 
to chase her frisbee






The walking was not so good as several of the footpaths and bridleways led to a busy road or a barrier like a gate. 

Finding suitable routes was time consuming and challenging. 
We found one up over the moors that was just amazing.
It also allowed me to check out the competition 
(The campsite behind the pub).
This was better that either the website or reviews indicated. 
I need to return to finalized details for the book and take more photographs.

My new camera is good but I have not yet mastered its quirks and so silly errors often occur in the photos.  
I did however manage to take a panoramic shot. 
It is not too bad.
What do you think?







Thursday, 16 July 2020

At last a Motorhome Outing

I have taken the plunge and decided to go away in my motohome for a few days. 
This will be my first outing since last September.

The reasons are very simple

  • I toured Southern Africa in a hired motohome for October and part of November (A wonderful trip).
  • I sustained a severe muscle bruise in November which took a long time to heel.  (Driving was tiring)
  • Then the weather became very wet. (I was worried about getting stuck in the mud).
  • Finally just as I made plans Lockdown happened. 


Campsites have now been allowed to open.

They have to be Covid secure so I a going to see how this is achieved.



As I have a contract for a second walking book I need to continue the research as soon as possible.
The second walk book also looks for routes directly from campsites.
This time I am looking for campsites near pubs.

It may sound straight forward but it is not.

  • The site I would like to go has not updated the information on its website for a considerable time so I do not know if it open for business.
  • The reviews of the site are off putting.   

I am going to another campsite close by.
Unusually I have booked my visit. 
(I don't generally do this until the day before departure.
Campsites are getting fully booked very quickly).

This alternative campsite is only 10 minutes/ half a mile from a pub.  
Its information is up to date.
I will check out both campsites whilst away and see which to include in my book.

Where am I going? Dartmoor. 
I can't wait. 


Thursday, 9 July 2020

Confusion


So here we are.
Restrictions easing
BUT 
is it safe?
especially for us older folk.
Being fit and active in no protection


By comparison "lockdown" was easy.  
We stayed in 
Ordered groceries online
Walked the dog across the nearby fields
I was so lucky as there were lots of fields near by.


Now we are being encouraged to go out and spend to support the local community.
BUT (another one)
so many decisions  to make
  • masks or no masks
  • 2 metres or 1 metre
  • inside or outside
  • local or further afield
  • quick visit or can we stay
  • safe or not safe
Evidence against
  • the situation in Leicester, which is still in full lockdown because of an increase in cases.
  • the 3 pubs where some customers developed Covid-19.


There is no doubt that the situation is improving BUT (again) the virus is still about and according to the figures it is still prevalent in the community. 

What to do?

Sunday, 5 July 2020

Read of the Month (July 2020)

Rather than being serious it is the intention of this blog to be informative;
hence the "Read of the Month" books are all non-fiction.

This world is incredible;
huge
diverse
spectacular.

Few have the resources to experience all the world has to offer.
Books help to illuminate various aspects of the complexities of this awesome place.

However events at this time demand an honesty and thoughtfulness
and also a genuine appreciation of what we have.

Here books, especially non-fiction and sometimes biographies and auto-biographies can help.

This months selection is a life story of three generations of Chinese women.


Wild Swans

by

Jung Chang




The oldest (grandmother) experienced life under the Chinese Emperor
The mother's life experiences were in the era of Chairman Mao.
The youngest is no longer living in China.

I am reluctant to say too much about this book as how it affect a reader very much depends upon what the reader brings to it.

I have also selected this book because of the current world situation
as well as events in Hong Kong.
China has long been a mysterious country and remains so today.
This book lets one peep through the curtain to see a tiny segment.




Friday, 26 June 2020

Puppies

Pearl on left, Toby on right
Pearl has really enjoyed her son, Toby's company.

So much so I have thought of having another litter with her and keeping one of the puppies.

What an amazing coincidence!

No sooner did that thought occur to me than I had not one but several messages enquiring about puppies.


I had enquires from:-
  • People who had wanted a puppy from a previous litter. They sensibly changed their minds as their circumstances altered.
  • A friend made inquires on behalf of someone she knew who had not long lost a Labrador.
  • A member of staff at the vet's also inquired after the possibility of puppies
  • Another friend again asked on behalf of someone she knew.
Is this a "Lockdown" phenomenon.

As far as I am concerned NO.
I have had litters before and many enquiries for puppies
Pearl has already had two litters.

Whatever the reason people were looking for puppies I needed to think very carefully if and when I would have a final litter with Pearl, especially as I have just discovered she has come into season


I need to take into consideration

  • Pearl's age. She will be 6 this year
  • The time of year to have a litter (May and June are difficult as the puppies are ready to go to their new homes during the summer).
  • Most importantly the contract for a second "Walking" book.
The deadline for the completed manuscript is August 2021.

Having a litter now would prevent me doing research during September and October this year as Pearl and I will be fully occupied looking after the puppies
Again when I resume my research in March. April etc next year I will have a 6 month puppy.  Not a good time to go on long walks. 

The sensible thing is to have the litter as soon as possible after August 2021 

I have decided to be sensible.
Now I can concentrate on my second book.





Thursday, 18 June 2020

Photo of the Month (June 2020)


During these unusual times the countryside and green spaces have proved to be essential.
And YET
they are under constant threat from

  • the government
  • builders
  • developers




Places like those in the photograph need to be protected.
Why? 
  • For future generations to enjoy
  • Places like this are an essential component in achieving carbon neutral status. 
  • By safeguarding our environment and wildlife we can then justifiably encourage the conserving of other world habitats such as the Amazon rain forests. 
How do we support the green spaces and countryside?

By joining the CPRE; the Countryside Charity 

For the price of less than a cup of coffee (or pint of beer) per month you can make a difference. 





Thursday, 11 June 2020

Assessing the Risk

This post popped up on my FB
I decided to post it on my blog for several reasons:-
  • It has been written by a bona fide doctor from a university in the States (We looked him up and he has written several papers)
  • It is well organized, well written and has no spelling mistakes
  • I wanted a record of this that was easy to find and refer to in the forthcoming weeks and months even years,
  • It is a realistic assessment of the situation
  • Most importantly it is reassuring 

This is from a cardiologist at UW, Dr James Stein.
COVID-19 update as we start to leave our cocoons. 
The purpose of this post is to provide a perspective on the intense but expected anxiety so many people are experiencing as they prepare to leave the shelter of their homes. My opinions are not those of my employers and are not meant to invalidate anyone else’s – they simply are my perspective on managing risk.
In March, we did not know much about COVID-19 other than the incredibly scary news reports from overrun hospitals in China, Italy, and other parts of Europe. The media was filled with scary pictures of chest CT scans, personal stories of people who decompensated quickly with shortness of breath, overwhelmed health care systems, and deaths. We heard confusing and widely varying estimates for risk of getting infected and of dying – some estimates were quite high.
Key point #1: The COVID-19 we are facing now is the same disease it was 2 months ago. The “shelter at home” orders were the right step from a public health standpoint to make sure we flattened the curve and didn’t overrun the health care system which would have led to excess preventable deaths. It also bought us time to learn about the disease’s dynamics, preventive measures, and best treatment strategies – and we did. For hospitalized patients, we have learned to avoid early intubation, to use prone ventilation, and that remdesivir probably reduces time to recovery. We have learned how to best use and preserve PPE. We also know that several therapies suggested early on probably don’t do much and may even cause harm (ie, azithromycin, chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir). 
Take home: But all of our social distancing did not change the disease. We flattened the curve and with it our economy and psyches, but the disease itself is still here.
Key point #2: COVID-19 is more deadly than seasonal influenza (about 5-10x so), but not nearly as deadly as Ebola, Rabies, or Marburg Hemorrhagic Fever where 25-90% of people who get infected die. COVID-19’s case fatality rate is about 0.8-1.5% overall, but much higher if you are 60-69 years old (3-4%), 70-79 years old (7-9%), and especially so if you are over 80 years old (CFR 13-17%). It is much lower if you are under 50 years old (<0.6%). The infection fatality rate is about half of these numbers. 
Take home: COVID-19 is dangerous, but the vast majority of people who get it, survive it.
About 15% of people get very ill and could stay ill for a long time. We are going to be dealing with it for a long time.
Key point #3: SARS-CoV-2 is very contagious, but not as contagious as Measles, Mumps, or even certain strains of pandemic Influenza. It is spread by respiratory droplets and aerosols, not food and incidental contact. 
Take home: social distancing, not touching our faces, and good hand hygiene are the key weapons to stop the spread. Masks could make a difference, too, especially in public places where people congregate.
Incidental contact is not really an issue, nor is food.
What does this all mean as we return to work and public life? COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon. It may not go away for a year or two and may not be eradicated for many years, so we have to learn to live with it and do what we can to mitigate (reduce) risk. That means being willing to accept *some* level of risk to live our lives as we desire. I can’t decide that level of risk for you – only you can make that decision. There are few certainties in pandemic risk management other than that fact that some people will die, some people in low risk groups will die, and some people in high risk groups will survive. It’s about probability.
Here is some guidance – my point of view, not judging yours:
1. People over 60 years old are at higher risk of severe disease – people over 70 years old, even more so. They should be willing to tolerate less risk than people under 50 years old and should be extra careful. Some chronic diseases like heart disease and COPD increase risk, but it is not clear if other diseases like obesity, asthma, immune disorders, etc. increase risk appreciably. It looks like asthma and inflammatory bowel disease might not be as high risk as we thought, but we are not sure - their risks might be too small to pick up, or they might be associated with things that put them at higher risk.
People over 60-70 years old probably should continue to be very vigilant about limiting exposures if they can. However, not seeing family – especially children and grandchildren – can take a serious emotional toll, so I encourage people to be creative and flexible. For example, in-person visits are not crazy – consider one, especially if you have been isolated and have no symptoms. They are especially safe in the early days after restrictions are lifted in places like Madison or parts of major cities where there is very little community transmission. Families can decide how much mingling they are comfortable with - if they want to hug and eat together, distance together with masks, or just stay apart and continue using video-conferencing and the telephone to stay in contact.
If you choose to intermingle, remember to practice good hand hygiene, don’t share plates/forks/spoons/cups, don’t share towels, and don’t sleep together.
2. Social distancing, not touching your face, and washing/sanitizing your hands are the key prevention interventions. They are vastly more important than anything else you do. Wearing a fabric mask is a good idea in crowded public place like a grocery store or public transportation, but you absolutely must distance, practice good hand hygiene, and don’t touch your face. Wearing gloves is not helpful (the virus does not get in through the skin) and may increase your risk because you likely won’t washing or sanitize your hands when they are on, you will drop things, and touch your face.
3. Be a good citizen. If you think you might be sick, stay home. If you are going to cough or sneeze, turn away from people, block it, and sanitize your hands immediately after.
4. Use common sense. Dial down the anxiety. If you are out taking a walk and someone walks past you, that brief (near) contact is so low risk that it doesn’t make sense to get scared. Smile at them as they approach, turn your head away as they pass, move on. The smile will be more therapeutic than the passing is dangerous. Similarly, if someone bumps into you at the grocery store or reaches past you for a loaf of bread, don’t stress - it is a very low risk encounter, also - as long as they didn’t cough or sneeze in your face (one reason we wear cloth masks in public!).
5. Use common sense, part II. Dial down the obsessiveness. There really is no reason to go crazy sanitizing items that come into your house from outside, like groceries and packages. For it to be a risk, the delivery person would need to be infectious, cough or sneeze some droplets on your package, you touch the droplet, then touch your face, and then it invades your respiratory epithelium. There would need to be enough viral load and the virions would need to survive long enough for you to get infected. It could happen, but it’s pretty unlikely. If you want to have a staging station for 1-2 days before you put things away, sure, no problem. You also can simply wipe things off before they come in to your house - that is fine is fine too. For an isolated family, it makes no sense to obsessively wipe down every surface every day (or several times a day). Door knobs, toilet handles, commonly trafficked light switches could get a wipe off each day, but it takes a lot of time and emotional energy to do all those things and they have marginal benefits. We don’t need to create a sterile operating room-like living space. Compared to keeping your hands out of your mouth, good hand hygiene, and cleaning food before serving it, these behaviours might be more maladaptive than protective.
6. There are few absolutes, so please get comfortable accepting some calculated risks, otherwise you might be isolating yourself for a really, really long time. Figure out how you can be in public and interact with people without fear.
We are social creatures. We need each other.
We will survive with and because of each other
.
Social distancing just means that we connect differently.
Being afraid makes us contract and shut each other out. I hope we can fill that space created by fear and contraction with meaningful connections and learn to be less afraid of each of other.

Thursday, 4 June 2020

Read of the Month (June 2020)

Some books you read make a huge impact.

So it is with Read of the Month (June 2020)

It is especially apposite NOW
during this COVID-19 pandemic.
when everyone is having difficulty coping.

My eldest daughter recommended this book.
As she is a scientist my expectation was that it would be science based.
And so it is;
considering why some people cope better than others.



Thinking Fast and Slow
by 
Daniel Kahnemann



The book is an analysis of thinking;


Taking on board his findings results in a re-appraisal and re-evaluation

Though it is not an particularly easy read (I started it twice)
It is well worth the effort.