Information from CDC on feeding birds

We do not want to panic people but apart from Covid-19, there have always been some risks associated with feeding wild birds. We love birds and animals and the risks are very low, but…..

The below article is copied in its entirety by kind permission from Bird-X.com and lists the transmissable diseases that may put humans at risk when feeding wild birds. Just as with Covid-19, simple precautions like social distancing and ALWAYS washing hands will help avoid illness. The information comes from CDC (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention).

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HUMANS CAN CATCH DISEASE AND PARASITES FROM INFECTED PEST ANIMALS

Zoonotic Disease is a disease that may be passed between animals and humans. This most commonly occurs between birds, rodents, and other pest animals. Below is a partial list of such zoonotic diseases, illustrating part of the reason it’s so important to keep pest animals away from humans.

Birds and Their Droppings Can Carry Over 60 Transmissible Diseases

Bird infestations can prove more of a hazard than most people realize, as many carry more than 60 transmissible diseases* – this list continues to grow and is not exhaustive of all possible risks posed by pest animals.

Allergic Alveolitus occurs when humans inhale particles of bird dander in the air. Also known as “Pigeon Lung Disease,” this affects the alveoli if the lungs, decreasing the lungs’ ability to function & making it difficult to breathe.

Avian Influenza, also known as “The Bird Flu” is the H5N1 virus which is transmitted through the fecal matter of infected birds. This serious disease is able to live in objects such as bird feeders, baths, and houses, as well as in birds themselves. This disease is well-known for being deadly in humans, causing more severe symptoms than typical flu viruses including high fever, cough, respiratory difficulties, and muscle aches.

Avian Tuberculosis is caused by inhaling microscopic organisms found in the feces of birds. Potentially fatal, this disease is difficult to treat and symptoms include weight loss, swollen stomach, diarrhea, and impaired breathing.

Campylobacteriosis causes gastrointestial distress, usually transmitted through food and water that’s been contaminated by bird fecal matter. Symptoms include diarrhea, weight loss, and lethargy.

Candidiasis is a yeast or fungus infection spread by pigeons. The disease affects the intestines, mouth, skin, urogenital tract, and the respiratory system.

Cryptococcosis is caused by yeast found in the intestinal tract of pigeons and starlings, usually passed by ingestion of infected fecal matter. This illness begins as a pulmonary disease & can advance to affect the central nervous system.

E.coli is generally spread via fecal contamination of food. Birds frequently peck on cow manure, which is one place where E.coli 0157:H7 originates. Infected birds are unaffected but spread the bacteria into food and water supplies.

Erysipeloid is passed by direct contact between humans and birds. Broken skin is affected, which changes from red to blue-red, and the infection can spread to joints.

Giardiasis is caused by an intestinal parasite Giardia found in contaminated food, causing diarrhea, weight loss, bloating, nausea, vomiting, and dehydration.

Histoplasmosis or “Ohio River Valley Fever” is transmitted when humans inhale the Histoplasma capsulatum fungus that grows in dried bird and bat droppings. It is an extremely serious respiratory disease that can prove fatal, especially in those with compromised immune systems, including children.

Newcastle Disease (or “Avian Pneumoencephalitis“) is passed orally through food contaminated by infected bird fecal matter. The Newcastle disease virus causes flu-like symptoms, neurological dysfunction, seizures, conjunctivitis, and respiratory problems.

Pasteurellosis usually occurs when humans are bitten or scratched by birds infected by Pasteurella multocida organisms, though in some cases caused by inhalation via respiratory droplets. Scratches may become red and infected, while respiratory infection can result in bronchitis, pneumonia, or septicemia.

Psittacosis also known as “Parrot Fever,” “Ornithosis,” or “Chlamydiosis” occurs when the C.psittaci bacterium passes to humans via inhalation, contact, or ingestion. This potentially lethal disease causes flu-like symptoms in humans and can quickly escalate to pneumonia.

Q Fever is caused by Coxiella burnetii, a gram-negative pleomorphic bacillus that is passed in the feces of infected birds as well as other animals and ticks. Symptoms in humans include fever, headache, pneumonitis, and photophobia.

Salmonellosis can be traced to the droppings of pigeons, starlings and sparrows. Most often dried waste bacteria is sucked through contaminated air conditioners or vents, contaminating the food and cooking surfaces of restaurants, food processing plants, and homes.

Sarcocystis is a parasytic infection transmitted by birds as well as contaminated water (though this is not yet certain), and is also carried by rats. Symptoms in infected humans include nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Usually only lasting 48 hours or less, this infection can be life-threatening, especially to the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.

St. Louis Encephalitis is spread by mosquitoes which have fed on pigeons, house sparrows and finches carrying the Group B virus. The nervous system becomes inflamed, usually causing fever, headache, & drowsiness. It can later result in coma, paralysis, or death. It is especially fatal to persons over age 60.

West Nile Virus (“West Nile Fever” or “West Nice Encephalitis“) is spread by mosquitos that have fed on infected wild birds. A potentially life-threatening infection that can cause weeks or months of illness.

Birds are Also Associated With Over 50 Kinds of Ectoparasites

Several bird ectoparasites** (a parasite that lives on the skin/exterior of a host) can easily transfer to humans, including:

Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are often found on pigeons, starlings, and house sparrows. Bed bugs draw blood from hosts including humans, and can consume up to 5 times their weight in blood. Infestations are common, especially in cities.

Chicken mites (Dermanyssus gallinae) are known carriers of encephalitis and may also cause fowl mite dermatitis & acariasis. Chicken mites primarily feed on the blood of birds, but will often bite humans. They are commonly found on pigeons, starlings, and house sparrows.

Fleas (Ceratophyllus gallinae & Dasypsyllus gallinulae; “the bird flea”) spend little time on bird hosts, but often infest nests and can easily transfer onto pets or humans. Bird fleas are a concen in hen houses and battery cages, and are known to rapidly reproduce in bird nests.

Fungi grows on decomposing skin (cellulose) & feathers (keratinophilic) of birds themselves, shielded in the plumage barrier. Fungi also grows on bird nests and in bird droppings, and are associated with many of the inhalation-contracted diseases noted above.

Ticks which bite/embed themselves onto humans, including larvae, nymphs and adults. Ticks can transfer onto surfaces via bird feeders or wherever birds land. Deer ticks notably carry and transmit Lyme Disease, as well as other diseases humans can contract.

Lice of all kinds enjoy the barrier feathers create, some feeding on the feathers themselves. A variety of such lice also enjoy human skin and hair.

Yellow mealworms are likely the most common beetle parasites of people in the United States, often infesting homes and biting humans in their larval form. These pests commonly live in pigeon nests and chicken coops, but their eggs may be passed on by carrier birds. These larvae often seek out human food sources, such as breakfast cereals, and if ingested may cause symptoms including intestinal canthariasis and hymenolespiasis.

Birds Nests Provide Homes to Insects

In addition to diseases and ectoparasites, nests provide ideal shelter for many insects, including but not limited to:

Booklice (or Psocids) are wingless and very tiny bugs that feed on fungi within bird nests. Booklice do not bite or transmit disease, but can be annoying in large numbers.

Carpet Beetles, also known as Skin BeetlesDermestidae BeetlesLarder Beetles, Hide Beetles, Leather Beetles, and Khapra Beetles, are often found inside homes.  There are around 500-700 species worldwide. These beetles commonly breed inside bird nests, feeding on dry animal matter, fungus, feathers, dried insects & natural fibers, including clothing.

Cloth Moths (Tineola bisselliella) also known as common cloth moths, webbing cloths moth, or clothing moth, these pests often breed inside bird nests. When infesting a home, they feed on clothing & natural fibers, especially wool and silk. Common closet pests, these moths are highly undesirable.

Spider Beetles (Mezium americanum, Ptinus fur, & Gibbium aequinoctiale) are small beetles that resemble spiders or ticks, commonly found in bird nests. Spider beetles feed off bird droppings and are most commonly found in homes when feeding on grain in pantries or sources in attics. In large numbers they can become very difficult to get rid of; the most successful management method is to get rid of the food source – sometimes unseen, such as a bird or rodent nest located on/inside the building structure.

Rodents & Bats Carry A Variety of Transmissible Diseases

Campylobacter causes gastrointestial distress, usually transmitted through food and water that’s been contaminated by bird fecal matter. Symptoms include diarrhea, weight loss, and lethargy.

Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) is a serious respiratory disease, caught by humans from infected rodents. If left unchecked, the pulmonary illness can rapidly prove fatal. Rodent infestation inside and outside a home is the most common cause of hantavirus exposure. Healthy humans as well as those with compromised immune systems are at risk. It is not normally transmitted person to person, but rather rodent to person. Common carriers of the hantavirus include the deer mouse, white-footed mouse, rice rat, and cotton rat.

Leptospirosis can be easily transmitted through inhalation or contact with infect animals’ tissue or urine via broken skin and mucous membranes. The disease mimics flu-like symptoms but can also lead to kidney failure, pulminary problems, and encephalitis.

Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus infects humans via wild mice, by inhalation or direct contact with tissues or fluids from infected animals. Symptoms include fever, headache, myalgia, and malaise, and can escalate to meninoencephalitis, lymphadeopathy, and affect the neurological system.

Rabies are commonly carried by bats and other warm-blooded mammals such as raccoons, skunks, and foxes. Rabies is a viral disease that causes inflammation in the brain and can prove fatal – it is an extremely serious and contageous disease that requires immediate medical attention.

Rat-Bite Fever is generally spread to humans through rodent bites, symptoms include flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, headache, and muscle pain, as well as a rash, abscesses, pneumonia, painful joints, and more serious conditions.

Rodentolepsis occurs when the tapeworm Rodentolepsis nana is ingested as eggs by humans, generally due to exposure with rodent waste. Symptoms include abdominal pain, enteritis, headache, and decreased appetite. Carriers of the tapeworm can also include cockroaches, beetles, and fleas.

Salmonellosis can be traced to the droppings of pigeons, starlings and sparrows. Most often dried waste bacteria is sucked through contaminated air conditioners or vents, contaminating the food & cooking surfaces of restaurants, food processing plants, and homes.

Tuberculosis (TB) is a lung disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis which typically attacks the lungs, but can attack any part of the body including the spine, kidneys, and brain. TB can prove fatal if not treated, and was one of the leading causes of death in the United States.

*  “Birds And Their Droppings Can Carry Over 60 Diseases.” Medical News Today. January 25, 2007. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/61646.php

**  Clayton, Dale H. et al. “How Birds Combat Ectoparasites” The Open Ornithology Journal, 2010, 3, 41-71. http://darwin.biology.utah.edu/pubshtml/PDF-Files/Bush24.pdf

Disease information has been collected via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website: http://www.cdc.gov/

Once again, many thanks to Bird-X.com for permitting this copy of their web page to be shown here. We hope people can continue to enjoy bird feeding but be better informed and carry on in safety. Always wash your hands and take extra precautions during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Essential outings only.

Covid-19 Lock Down – end of week 1

A weekly blog which we hope might include some useful information

Everyone has heating turned off to try to save money during he Covid-19 lock down and, guess what, we get freezing cold winds blowing for days on end. We filmed this through windows – No way we are risking infection and spreading to others by going outside. At least the crows are loving it. Bags of food and flying fun, for them at least.

Covid-19 Lock down – week one

It goes against human nature to avoid people, meet their pets and perhaps feed the birds, go for walks and enjoy the great outdoors. So this first week has gone down very hard for all of us. We try to imagine the Covid-19 emergency lock down as something like the nuclear holocaust films we have all seen and behave accordingly, for our and everybody else’s safety –

  1. Every second spent outside is a risk
  2. Every thing you touch might be contaminated
  3. Every creature you approach might be contaminated
  4. You must wash down and wipe everything that comes into your house, including your hands!

Shopping and social distancing

We have some really lovely neighbours and we have been able to minimise shopping trips during the Covid-19 lock down, by clubbing together for MINIMUM shopping orders, delivered by SAFE delivery options. We are eating some unfamiliar stuff, as well as stock meant for guests, to avoid wasting it if it goes out of date – eg. milk, eggs, bacon, sausage, cereals, cheese etc. People on diets may find they have to compromise in these circumstances. Not everything is available and collective group shopping means you may have to sacrifice some items so others can have a turn, especially vulnerable groups.

Taken from NHS website today, 29th March 2020

Useful Links and References

  1. https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/novel-coronavirus/facts
  2. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public
  3. https://www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/detail/who-health-alert-brings-covid-19-facts-to-billions-via-whatsapp
  4. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
  5. https://www.hse.gov.uk/news/coronavirus.htm
  6. https://scholar.google.co.uk/scholar?q=covid-19+epidemiology&hl=en&as_sdt=0&as_vis=1&oi=scholart
  7. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/animals.html
  8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coronavirus
  9. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/bird-flu/ (yes, I know it’s bird flu not Covid-19 – it’s just for comparison)
  10. https://www.bbc.co.uk/safety/resources/safetynews/whatsnew/Coronavirus (useful, clear posters for your premises available free from BBC)

(Many sources of information out there – we shall try to look out for them. We shall also try to correct anything in these blogs that turns out to be wrong)

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Covid-19 outbreak – Status

(Updated 22nd March 2020, 29th March 2020))

The Covid-19 disease outbreak has taken the World essentially by surprise. We applaud the UK Government response but note that changes to restrictions and advice are coming thick and fast. We shall try to update this post with the basic details as changes emerge.

Covid-19 Emergency Measures

As of 22nd March we have decided to close our guesthouse for all new bookings until the end of June and will be reviewing the situation as it develops. As you know, UK Government ordered accommodation businesses to close, except for special exemptions as of 23rd March.

Up till 21st March, hotels, guesthouses and bed and breakfast providers (etc) were not required to close. However, pubs, clubs, restaurants, Theatres, gymnasia and various similar establishments were ordered closed, subject to monthly review. This situation made it very unlikely that guests would make reservations for the foreseeable future.

Cleansing and hygiene

We are following all the Government and NHS advice as far as reasonable. We understand many properties are finding difficulty obtaining the necessary supplies. The low number of bookings where guests actually arrive was so low in our case, the room quarantine suggested period of 72 hours was exceeded. We clean and then spray + wipe all touchable surfaces anyway. We also spray and wash anything that comes into the house.

Social distancing

To aid social distancing, we already suspended breakfast service until the crisis is over. We were also finding difficulties in obtaining many of the supplies and did not wish to add to the risk of social contact merely by touring around shops failing to find produce on the shelves. We hear some prices have increased – especially hygiene products. When the emergency is over and we are allowed to reopen, we are not at all sure if we could afford to restart breakfast service again, at least for some time.

Existing bookings

Where a deposit or prepayment has been taken, we are honouring those bookings but encouraging guests to rearrange arrival at later dates when, hopefully, the outbreak is over. So far, many of our guests have been OK with this arrangement. In cases of hardship, we can refund.

Refunds

Booking.com, in common with other online travel agents (OTA’s – eg Expedia, AirBnB, Google, etc) have generally invoked “Force Majeure” provisions in their terms and conditions (T+C’s). However, we note that with booking.com, their “Forced Circumstances” actions do not match their statements. We already have one voluntary free cancellation AND one forced cancellation, neither of which booking.com are honouring – still requiring payments despite their own terms and conditions and FM clauses

We feel very strongly that the OTA’s are simply seeking to ensure their own cash flow and future trading security at the expense of we smaller “business partners”. They are claiming to be “the good guys” but are doing it by throwing small hotels and b&B’s under the bus. They are claiming their T+C’s overrule ours and that situation is, according to them, fair and reasonable in general and especially during the current crisis.

We cannot stress strongly enough, booking.com and others appear to be exploiting the Covid-19 outbreak as an excuse to shift all the risks and costs onto small businesses – including forced refunds, even when the guest does not want a refund. Shameful! CMA Gov UK isstill investigating unfair terms and conditions by Booking.com and may be adding extra facets to their investigation as observed during this crisis.

Future bookings

We are saying potential guests should wait till the crisis is over before making bookings in the present climate. We are deferring existing bookings up till end March 2021 (unless we are forced to do otherwise) and this may impact on future room availability. We are not changing room prices yet although we will probably need to lower prices according to future circumstances. We have always strongly advised travellers to take out adequate and suitable travel insurance. This has never been more important than during the present emergency.We have closed room availability until January 2021 although we can review that position, if the emergency is declared over.

Government assistance

The UK Government has taken extraordinary steps to try to protect employees, businesses and others during the emergency. Accommodation providers are waiting for specific aid and advice in our case, especially relevant to self-employed owners of these businesses. We are very grateful for the aid reported but have not actually received any yet. As of 29th March, we still have not received any financial assistance but know some elements may be delayed until June.

Locally, it is possible up to half our guesthouses may have to close permanently before the aid may be distributed. Insurance assistance also is dependent on forced closure – meanwhile such forced closures may allow booking.com and others to demand immediate refunds on all bookings, from monies that have not existed for many weeks, already. Other hospitality businesses and suppliers are all suffering equally severely and one has to question whether the holiday landscape may ever fully recover.

We understand booking holding shares recovered about 12% on stockmarkets, during the first week of UK emergency lock down. Why?

Further information

Anyone may contact us via phone or email or even facebook message, with questions on anything to do with Covid-19 and bookings. To repeat, we will honour all existing bookings and rearranged deferred bookings as far as we ae allowed to under Government restrictions or other external applied conditions. We hope everyone stays healthy and the crisis ends soon

01305 766669 denise.groves@aaranhouse.co.uk /AaranHouse

Links to useful advice and information: From B and B Association website —

The official NHS Coronavirus advice page
The National Health Service’s latest advice on Coronavirus.

The NHS Scotland Coronavirus advice page
The Scottish NHS’s latest advice on Coronavirus.

The NHS Wales Coronavirus advice page
The Welsh NHS’s latest advice on Coronavirus.

How to wash your hands properly – NHS advice and video
The National Health Service’s guidance on thorough hand washing (including video).

VisitBritain’s Coronavirus advice page
The official tourist authority VisitBritain has this page of information for hospitality businesses about the Coronavirus, with advice and latest information.

VisitScotland’s Coronavirus advice page
The official tourist authority for Scotland has this page of information for hospitality businesses in Scotland.

UK Hospitality’s Coronavirus advice page
UK Hospitality, the trade association for the hotel, restaurant and bar sectors, has a useful and informative page of information for hospitality businesses on Coronavirus matters.

Official Gov.UK COVID-19 Advice
This page has official Government advice on what do do if you have symptoms, the risk level, diagnosis and analysis, and further links.

Official Gov.UK COVID-19 Case Tracker
Public Health England has launched this COVID-19 data dashboard to track cases. The dashboard shows reported cases of coronavirus in the UK, including new cases confirmed each day, cases by upper tier local authority in England and number of deaths.

Official Gov.UK advice for those with confirmed or possible COVID-19 infection
From Friday 13 March 2020, if you have symptoms that are indicative of having coronavirus you should stay at home and self-isolate for a period of seven days. Public Health England have published guidance – click the above link.

Malakal Harbor visits Weymouth Harbour

Malakal Harbor is a floating work platform, typically used for repair tasks. Today, it was in Weymouth Harbour to dredge some concrente spillage from the recent Harbour wall repairs. Her marking is YD206, but we were not able to find her details anywhere in Lloyds Register, UK Marine Register or World Registers (over 500,000 vessels listed).

Assisting operations was a diver, attempting to identify and attach haulage straps to underwater obstacles. The operations took around 3 hours or so. We are not sure if these works will resume tomorrow. Among the debris were a large “slab” of hard concrete and some rebar, plus what appears to be discarded piping.

(Malakal Harbour is in Pilau, part of the Caroline Islands, Micronesia. We imagine the vessel reflects the name of this beauty spot in the Pacific).

Weymouth Harbour Wall Repairs – final stage

Anyone who read our previous blogs on the Weymouth Harbour wall repairs will assume the works finished on 23rd December last year. However, unforeseen problems in the pile driving phase caused delays. These prevented some overlapping tasks, which may now stretch until mid February. It is helpful to compare pile driving to archeology – one never really know what’s down there!

Infilling waling beam trench and gap-filling between the piles

We started writing these particular blogs because we feel repair and strengthening of areas of the Harbour are essential works. The aim is to maintain the beauty and functions of our working Harbour, for years to come. Knights Brown Construction and Dorset Council have been informing affected local businesses but sometimes have been overtaken by events. In any event, the contractors and local authority have been MUCH more informative and responsive than during the ill-fated repairs to the old Condor Ferries Berth 3 back in 2012/3.

Shuttering for the concrete capping (8th January)

At the time of writing (11th January), remaining works included the last capping beam concrete pour and replacing the Ferry Steps. Then there are – levelling, making good, reinstating safety railings, resurfacing and clearing the site. We hope to add a few photos in later updates to this post during these concluding works, as they arise. We may be able to add a short video clip of the finished result. Then we shall be back to blogs about visiting luxury superyachts, Naval vessels, Tall Ships and Harbourside events, such as the Seafood Festival.

Updates (after 11th January)

Update on 15th January: Yesterday’s storm (Brendan) slowed work on the site but more backfilling and welder-cutting for pipe egress was attempted. The wind was swaying the crane alarmingly and work had to be halted in the afternoon. (No pictures – far too wet and windy!)

31st January 2020 – The large crane (Old Squeaky) was dismantled (using another box-crane) and disappeared from site around 11:30 a.m. It transpires, the crane may not have been causing TV interference after all. At least we can now investigate other possible causes, having eliminated the most obvious suspect.

Storm Ciara rattling and tipping over barriers around the site – courtesy of Roundhouse Hotel, Weymouth
One of 15 double-passes by streetsweeper 13th February – road still a mud bath when Storm Dennis hit us – courtesy of Roundhouse Hotel, Weymouth

Storm Ciara caused quite a stir last weekend (8th/9th/10th February,. There were gusts of wind up to 60mph and lots of rain. Some site barriers toppled in places and crashed against Roundhouse walls. The worst of the weather was not filmed due to even worse wind and rain later, naturally. (Film clips courtesy of Roundhouse Hotel Weymouth).

Week ending 14th February

Removing barriers and re-opening the road to traffic – 14th February

There remain a few more finishing jobs and complete site clearance is not expected for another week. Safety railings will be added later (etc). However, the repairs are essentially complete and are looking quite tidy.

Christmas Day Swim – Weymouth Harbour 2019

Or – The great Walls of Weymouth

The Christmas Day Swim in Weymouth Harbour took place this year in brilliant sunshine. In fact, the sun was so bright, it made photography very difficult from the South side (finish line). We are indebted to Oakes Insure for some excellent photos from the starting jetty.

The air temperature for the Charity Swim was about 10 degC, also the water temperature (according to google – Alexa). There was very little breeze but the shock of hitting cold water exposed several swimmers to cramps, “brain-freeze” and some muscle injuries (including Mark – Wobbly Fish). There were 471 competitors in 9 heats and upwards of 20,000 spectators watched till the end. The Christmas Day Swim raised £1000’s for Charity (plus not a few goosebumps). (See our YouTube Channel for other videos).

There was due to be a fourth member of the Wall family undetaking the swim but an unfortunate “illness” overtook Karl the night before (early “brain freeze”). We are hoping to get Claire to have a go next year…..

Santa Christmas Run on Weymouth Beach 2019

Hundreds of Santas, Fairies and Elves chase Pudding along the Beach – (Archive photos)

This year, the annual Chase the Pudding event (Santa Christmas Run) took place on the 15th of December. It followed the usual route from the Pavilion to the Bandstand Pier and back, along the Beach. However, in a novel departure, there was a Mrs Pudding to run alongside Mr Pudding, as the Santa hordes gave chase.

The Santa Christmas Run Charity this year was the Will Mackanness Trust, in aid of watersports provision for local youngsters. We believe there was a record entry this year, with over 300 Santas, Elves, Reindeer and Fairies chasing the Puddings. As usual, the winner becomes next year’s pudding> We are now looking forward to the annual Christmas Day Swim in Weymouth Harbour. Further ahead, there is the Beach Volleyball Classic in somewhat warmer weather, among other events almost every week.

Salisbury Cathedral

Britain’s tallest Cathedral Spire

Salisbury Cathedral in Winter afternnon sunshine from the South lawns

Salisbury Cathedral has the tallest spire in England (404 feet, according to Wikipedia). The Cathedral Close is also the largest in England: it has one of the oldest working medieval clock in the World (1536) and it houses the best-preserved copy of the Magna Carta, the foundation of Laws in Britain.

Our friends (BA in History) tell us that Lincoln Cathedral spire was taller at 524 feet, until destroyed by a storm in 1548. The Fire of London (1666) destroyed the Old Saint Paul’s Cathedral (at 493 feet). Taller Cathedral spires remain in Europe (e.g. Ulm and Cologne).

The Cloisters and Chapter House

Salisbury Cathedal is also said to have the largest cloisters in Europe (unclear whether in floorplan or volume) and these offer a gentle walk with splendid views framed in every archway. Numerous historical figures are buried under the stone floor and there are two sets of stocks (presumably to punish anyone else who tries to steal the Magna Carta!)

The Magna Carta

In the Chapter House, South of the main Cathedral building and East of the Garth Cloisters, there are cassocks of previous Bishops and other notables of History, as well as a small tent where the best of four copies of the Magna Carta is housed. “Guarding” this treasure on our visit was a delightful elderly Cleric gentleman, who explained it all in detail and with great enthusiasm. (Strictly no cameras – plenty online if you want)

In the Refectory and shop, it is possible to purchase both drinks, snacks, curios and mementoes for your visit. Guided tours of the main building sare £7:50pp at the time of our visit (small discount for OAP’s and education).

Salisbury – The City

Outside the Cathedral Close and grounds, the City itself is quite compact but we did not have time to explore shops on the day we travelled (29th November). We did spot a Stag atop The White Hart Hotel, more or less opposite an ancient pub, describing itself as “The New Inn – refurbished in the 15th century”.

Salisbury Cathedral is just an hour’s drive from Weymouth, along the A354 past Blandford Forum. If you have time, we have heard Blandford Camp is worth a visit, too, with interactive exhibits re signals intelligence and wartime coding (we are told). Winchester Cathedral is just another 30 minutes further.

Winchester Cathedral – Christmas Market

Winchester Cathedral – the longest Nave among European Gothic Cathedrals

Winchester is a pretty city, about 12 miles North of Southampton and about 1.5 hours drive from Weymouth. We chose to visit Winchester Cathedral on the first day of the Christmas Market (26th November). According to Wikipedia, Winchester has a history dating back to the Iron Age, later Roman (Fort Venta), then laying foundations for the first Cathedral around 660 ad (Wintan-Ceastre).

Around Winchester Cathedral is a large “close” district, mainly lawned, with a few benches and a couple of statues, plus a refectory and shop. Outside the refectory is a memorial to William Walker (born William Robert Bellenie, 1869) who performed enormous labours as a diver, to emplace cement and stone underpinnings via hundreds of pits in total darkness, to support the Cathedral against subsidence in the peaty subsoil.

Around the East and South sides of Winchester Cathedral on the day of our visit, was a Christmas Market, said to be one of the largest in Europe (although we think Salzburg is bigger and more interesting!) There were about 300 stalls, selling all manner of goods, with a very welcoming Mulled Wine and Doughnuts stand at the entrance. There was a large skating rink and a large crafts area. The town itself is compact but houses a number of fine eateries and many independent shops to tickle the wallet. Driving is not much further than Swanage or Purbeck.

Weymouth Harbour Wall repairs – Update at mid-stage

Without recapping all the data in the previous post, we would like to update further work on the Weymouth Harbour Wall repairs at the midway stage (last week of pile-driving?) During 19th November, the contractors swiftly moved the piling jig another 10 metres or so along the Harbour Wall repairs site to the final position (Western end, 74m).

Very quickly, the piling rig was then fitted with piling guides and another 6 piles were lowered into position. Ancillary work onvolved spot-welding and cutting where the “ears” of the “staples” were deformed and manually “knocking” the piles into alignment, against the wind and crane movements till they could slide smoothly into place. Below is a “sequence” (actually compiled from 2 adjacent pile emplacements).

You can easily see from the above why the Council and the Contractors advised us to close for the duration of the works! (See here for a contemporary update from Weymouth Harbour website). We are also being kept informed regularly by Dorset Council, in turn advised by Knights Brown Construction, the contractors. Also, note the dust and grime adhered to the outside of the windows. Together with extra internal dust generated by pile driving vibrations, this is another reason for closing our business during the works. Latterly, we have discovered TV interference effects.

Self-explanatory, really. Aligning the piles and hammer before “tapping” then into stable locations. Then the sustained piling begins. Expected to take a few days. Note how much construction dust and dirt has been accreted onto the outside of the windows!

Note the occasional transient excursion in vibration records below. In this example, the peak-to-peak transient was approximately + 50 to – 80 mGal, or about MMI 4 (possible damage). Peak-to-peak the gap was about 130 mGal – or MMI 5 (persons may lose balance, significant building damage) – BUT – it was only a transient, not continuous, not repeated many times and not resonant – so no observable damage likely.

A couple of small items were vibrated off shelves

Also note, our measurements are NOT accurate, NOT ground displacement figures and NOT directly relatable to MMI values. MMI itself is a scale more usually associated with earthquake events (running from 1 – no effects, to 12 – total destruction). We only use these results as rough indicators.

Transient excusrion captured 19th November, ca 5pm, around + 50 milliGal and – 80 milliGal

Pile driving vibrations and resulting damage to nearby structures is a long investigated subject and surprisingly complex (Some accessible texts are – http://onlinepubs.trb.org/Onlinepubs/hrr/1967/155/155-002.pdf https://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:610771/FULLTEXT02.pdf https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pile_driver )

Update: 22nd November

We shall not bore you with another series of vibration graphs – just some typical data as the crew near completion of the piling stage (about 12 metres distant).

About +40 and -30 mGals.
Note the sound spectrum is very wide, reflections and reverberations spreading the spectrum

As with the vibration graphs, the sound level graphs are NOT accurate and depend significantly on factors such as microphone quality, sampling rate and software rendering. As a very rough guideline, the sound and vibrations are disturbingly loud indoors and sufficient to dislodge some items from shelves, rattle toilet seats, windows, doors, floorboards and plumbing against fixings. However, we see no significant damage yet.

Room scenter damaged shaken off table