Covid-19 Lock down – End of week 3

UK Government and NHS are hopeful we may be seeing the flattening of the curves for infection.

Some good news

At the end of week 3 of Covid-19 Lock Down, we are all hoping for some good news on the horizon. Last night’s briefing from 10 Downing Street appeared to offer a small ray of hope. It appears possible the rate of infections, intensive care occupancy and deaths might be starting to plateau. Of course, nobody can be certain yet but it is something to hope for. (Sadly, UK deaths rose by nearly 2,000 in the 48 hours since this draft).

Weymouth Harbour in the Spring sunshine, eerily quiet

We can still enjoy the Beach and Harbour here in Weymouth, mostly from behind windows. The fishing fleet and fish market are still operating for essential food supplies. We hope everyone will stay safe and soon be able to move freely again and get out in the fresh air, to enjoy the sights first hand. Meanwhile, at the end of week 3, we are minimizing shopping, staying home and trying to keep our friends safe and cheerful. (Not sure my tricky quizzes are really helping!) We noticed fewer over-70’s outside and most folk are being much more sensible over non-essential outings.

Hope on the horizon – end of week 3

  1. The Government small business grants are starting to be paid
  2. Councils, banks and utilities are starting to help
  3. University of Pittsburgh is one of many groups working on possible vaccines. They claim initial success although safety trials may take many months.
  4. There is some evidence that increased testing coupled with contact tracking can improve the effectiveness of lock down measures (see data for South Korea, China and Germany in latest UK GOV briefings)

Some less good news

At the end of week 3 of the Covid-19 lock down, we are still worried in some areas. Scientific reports give some cause for concern while trolls and conspiracy theorists are having a field day. We are trying to weed out the real news from the fake.

  1. Dorset Echo reports 10,000 elderly people in Dorset are at increased risk from Covid-19
  2. It is also reported there is anger at people travelling to second homes in Dorset maybe bringing the virus with them from London and other major infection centres.
  3. There are still up to 30% over-70’s walking around against NHS advice to self-isolate
  4. Everyone is touching every hard surface outside with carefree abandon, despite clear advice the virus can live up to 4 days on hard surfaces
  5. There has been an unwelcome crop of conspiracy nuts, vandals, online trolls and plain criminals, “rejoicing” in the emergency
  6. Insurance companies are mostly refusing to pay out on business interruption policies, despite allegedly being paid themselves via reinsurance policies they hold.
  7. Some scientific research suggests the virus has actually transferred from hard surfaces, people who show no symptoms and animals and possibly insects they have been in contact with.
  8. A possibly unscientific source (Surfer Magazine) claims coastal breezes may carry the Covid-19 virus far further than 6 feet. The article quotes a “Virus expert” likening airborne range of virus particles to that of cigarette smoke particles. (Note: NOT validated by UK Gov, NHS or CDC (etc) as yet).
Stay home, protect NHS, save lives
Stay home, protect NHS, save lives

Covid-19 Lock Down – end of week 2

During this Covid-19 lock down, end of week 2, we thought we might show something to hope for next year.

Westhill Donkeys rides on the beach in 2018. We hope we shall see this again next year after Covid-19 emergency is over
Westhill Donkey rides on the Beach, in happier times

At a time when the death toll is rising, especially for older people, we are seeing more people out and about, including many older people

Week 2 – staying in Covid-19 lock down

We are now in week 2 of our Covid-19 total lock down. As previously, we are staying indoors, getting minimum shopping delivered minimum times and between 3 households, to minimise delivery drivers’ exposure. Our elderly in-laws have been self-isolating completely for three weeks. We are also keeping spirits up by exchanging quiz questions among ourselves, to keep our brains active.

At Aaran House, we expect to make a 100 yard walk to bottlebanks to remove bottles and cans, next week. Otherwise, the build-up of waste would start to block our fire escape. Food waste collection was on friday but we do not know how long these kerbside collections will continue. We do not go outside our door at all otherwise, ever.

Social Distancing

We are seeing quite a few more elderly people walking around and along the Beach and Esplanade than normal at this time of year. Surely, this is risky behaviour. We have seen individuals outside more than once per day as well as making non-essential trips, to feed “the fattest crows in England” and to go Paddle-Boarding, for example. We understand Police have spoken to one individual feeding crows every day, several times over a decade and there have been a number of more recent 101 complaints made against him by tormented and frustrated residents.

This is what happens when you train crows every day for 15 years. Nobody deserves to wake up to this every day of their lives for years on end, despite what misguided online trolls say

We note a number of drivers bringing children, dogs etc to the Beach. We have seen a family-meet between a driver with small children and another adult for an outing on the Beach. An ambulance worker has been trying to tell people to go back indoors but not with any great success. Don’t get us wrong: It is lovely to see people out in the sunshine BUT we are worried for everyone’s health – and our own.

Non-essential journeys

The Police have been trying to reduce numbers of non-essential outings by people but have come in for a deal of “Police-bashing”. This includes from one of Britain’s largest landowners, a Dorset MP. In a local press statement, he appears to accuse people of acting like “Communist Stasi Informers” or “Nazi sympathisers” for trying to help Police control non-essential journeys. He would know, living close to another large landowner estate where they actually had Nazi Sympathisers up to the Second World War.

Meanwhile, living on a private estate of about 13,000 acres is a bit different from living in a street, with people walking past the front door, all day and night. Similarly, people trying to pass on advice from UK Gov, NHS, PHE, CDC, WHO, among others, are NOT “hysterical, judgemental, random and uneducated” as some online trolls are asserting. Not helping, guys!

More people going out during Covid-19 in Dorset - while the death toll is still rising.
More people may be going out during Covid-19
Data from Google
Screenshot 4th April, data up to 29th March

For orientation, The MP mentioned has voted against – climate change, equality, human rights, same sex marriage, proportional representation, smoking ban, higher taxes for rich, tax on bankers bonuses – BUT – voted for lower welfare benefits, ending financial educational support for teenagers and the “bedroom tax” Maybe we should avoid “Non-essential Politicians”?

Staying indoors

Just when you thought things could not get worse, you read a couple of articles from some years back. These assert wind-borne dust and sandstorms, can spread diseases, including some forms of Coronavirus and the viruses can survive for different “lifetimes” on different surfaces and in aerosols. We note there are significant deposits of beach sand on our INSIDE windowsills. This is despite the windows being firmly closed, right up to the top floor, about 60 feet high. We spray and wipe everything, everywhere as often as we can. (Probably not a hazard but it keeps us active).

Guardian graphic combining data from WHO, CDC, John Hopkins University and others - showing Covid-19 is still spreading and getting worse
Number of cases rising everywhere and spreading
Data from The Guardian and other Cited sources

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…..

Information from CDC on diseases from birds

The below article is copied in its entirety by kind permission from Bird-X.com . It lists the transmissable diseases that may put humans at risk when feeding wild birds. The USAID/PREDICT programme suggested there may up to 600,000 unidentified animal-to-human epidemic risks and disease types from viruses.

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 information from CDC including 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.

Further information from CDC

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 information from CDC in 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 the Covid-19 lock down . Guess what, we get freezing cold winds blowing for days on end. We filmed this through windowsNo 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. Maybe go for walks and enjoy the great outdoors. As a result, 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 a nuclear holocaust film and behave accordingly, for everybody’s safety.

  1. Every second spent outside is a risk
  2. Any thing you touch might be contaminated
  3. Wild creatures you approach might be contaminated
  4. You must wash down and wipe everything that comes into your house, including your hands!
We hope Covid-19 is over by Christmas
We hope Covid-19 is over by Christmas
Something more hopeful to look forward to

Shopping and social distancing

Thanks to having some really lovely neighbours, we have been able to minimise shopping trips during the Covid-19 lock down. Clubbing together for MINIMUM shopping orders helps, delivered by SAFE delivery options. There has been 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.

UK Government advice warning everybody to stay indoors as much as possible to protect NHS and save lives
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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Read More

Covid-19 outbreak – Status

(Covid-19 Outbreak Status – Updated 22nd March, 29th March, 5th April, 12th April, 19th April, 26th April)

The Covid-19 outbreak status: the disease 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. Below is an image of what we are all missing –

Breakfast - not till next year for guests
Breakfast – not till next year for guests

Existing bookings

Our current Covid-19 outbreak status is: 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

OTA’s bullying tactics

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. Our Covid-19 outbreak status is “critical” and we need understanding and assistance.

Shifting risk to small businesses

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.

UPDATE: April 4th. Booking.com appear to be moderating and temporarily relaxing their “Force Majeure” policy. Corrections to apparent overcharges have been made.

Future bookings

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 the situation changes again) and this may impact on future room availability. Room prices ane not changing 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 is no room availability until January 2021 although we can review that position, if the emergency is over.

Hopefully next year in Weymouth?
Hopefully next year in Weymouth?

Covid-19 Government measures

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 reports but have not actually received any yet. As of 29th March, we still await any financial assistance but know some elements may be later in June.

Local business outlook

Locally, it is possible up to half our guesthouses along The Esplanade 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.

The Weymouth fishing fleet continues to operate, bringing fresh food into the town. We undersand the Weyfish market will stay open, via delivery options.

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 —

NHS Links

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.

Hygiene advice

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.

If you might have the disease

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 local businesses but sometimes late. 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 crane swayed alarmingly in the wind and work stopped in the afternoon. (No pictures – far too wet and windy!)

31st January 2020 – The large crane (Old Squeaky) left (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 too rough for filming 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 takes place next week. Safety railings will come later (etc). However, the repairs are essentially complete and are looking quite tidy. (Footnote, in September 2020, these railings were damaged by vandals!)

Update – 31st May 2020

General view of the repaired area
General view of the repaired area

We promised a few photos of the finished Harbour Wall repair area. We had to wait for the Covid-19 restrictions to permit the works. But here it is and very good it looks too. The final effect is very smart and makes for an attractive feature for residents and visitors alike.

The new Ferry Steps
The new Ferry Steps
The seating area is part of the new amenity
The seating area is part of the new amenity
View from the benches towards Weymouth Inner Harbour
View from the benches towards Weymouth Inner Harbour

And now – the not so good bit –

Way back in October 2018, Council announced these works and promised to compensate affected guesthouses for loss of income. Several more meetings took place during 2019 and negotiators were appointed, BOTH BY COUNCIL (?) for both sides. Council to pay BOTH negotiators.

Estate agent as negotiator – really?

It turned out, the Council negotiator against the hoteliers was actually an estate agent, from Symonds and Sampson. (Why not the very long-established property services or assets and infrastructure teams already working at Council, for decades? Why not solicitors? What would estate agents have to offer, really? The assets and property section of Dorset Council had a total expenditure budget over £13million, so why spend another £4,848 externally? It’s not like they were short-staffed or under-funded – projected nett budget over £5million!)

Unreasonable delays and argument

The estate agent appeared to be most tenacious in dragging out proceedings beyond all concept of reasonableness, but he was probably just following Council instructions. On the other hand, the hoteliers’ negotiator (a2a Consulting Ltd) appeared no speedier. Typically questions were not asked till weeks after submission and not answered, usually with deflection, several more weeks later still. It is likely both negotiator teams earned many £1000’s in time spent on arriving at a final offer which satisfies nobody and angers most of us. Their fees come from the Public Purse, of course. (£4,848 for Symonds and Sampson alone).

Shortage of facts

As of 9th September, enquiries have remain unanswered, regarding the financial arrangements or selection process for these negotiators, nor any actual benefit derived (if any).

From the little we know emerging from behind the strict veil of secrecy (public works affecting numerous businesses owned by Council !) it seems the individual guesthouses will receive very different sums in compensation, some may receive nothing and in the worst cases, their business costs will be DEDUCTED from their compensation – in effect, they are paying twice over for running costs.

Seemingly unfair payouts still awaited

A couple of guesthouses received interim payments in February, but in the form of rent refunds (maybe there is a legal reason for that obfuscation). And the final compensation has STILL not been paid (as of 9th September 2020). For orientation, compensation was promised October 2018, works started 29th September 2019, finished late on 13th February 2020 – so there seems little if any excuse for a further 7 months of fruitless wrangling over minute details, which were in the end largely discarded by Council anyway.

Council’s leaden hand strikes again!

In typical fashion, Council has taken a brave and high quality project and turned it into argument and poison, a nightmare to everyone concerned. A quick payout back in, say, March, even at reduced amounts, could have avoided all this negativity but Council thrives on negativity, doesn’t it!

Sorry there is no happy ending to this post.

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.

Christmas Day Swim conditions

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…..

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

Weymouth Harbour wall repairs

Brief notes at 6-week stage (16th November 2019)

After 6 weeks and despite many signs stating the road is closed, we still get up to 1000’s of pedestrians and drivers who refuse to believe the road is actually closed!

Initial survey

Before commencing the Harbour Wall repairs, it was necessary to establish the existing condition – of the wall and nearbyconstructions and busines premises. There was a preliminary survey in several phases. This was carried out prior to work commencing (30th September) with a main aim of checking external condition of nearby buildings. This would enable any damage caused by pile-driving and related operations to be determined

There was then an internal survey using old-fashioned methods (camera and clipboard). (peter.christie@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk).

Demolishimg the old kiosk building @ Ferry Steps

The next phase of Harbour Wall repairs was to demolish the old storage and sales kiosk, built above the waling beam next to the Ferry Steps. Initially, the building was shrouded in temporary sheeting, checking for and removing any potentially hazardous materials. Then the “JCB” moved in a flattened the site in short order.

Further work includes replacing parts of the existing waling beam (anchoring structure for the tie-rods holding existing and new sheet piles in place – the tie rods are alleged to extend some 23 metres underneath the adjacent buildings).

Pile Driving operations

The main work involved pile-driving new sheet piles about 0.5m from the existing wall surface profile, about 18m into the subsoil. Originally, it was suggested a 4.5 Tonne hammer would be used to start the piles into position, followed by a more substantial (45 tonne?) ship-mounted hammer to drive the piles fully home. We have no specific information (as public) but we think the current hammer is a half-tonne hydraulic type – the noise is quite substantial and vibrations presently lie around 20 – 50 milliGals.

The piles will be cut as needed for drainage and tie-rod fixings. The gap will be back-filled with reinforced concrete, with ancillary works to fix in new sections of waling beam. The whole project is being (part?) funded from a £1.9 million Coastal Regeneration Scheme opening the way for the Harbourside Redevelopment Scheme(ca £3.3million?). When the repairs are completed, there are plans for new Harbourmaster and fishing buildings plus a scenic walkway around the Peninsula perimeter. Any flood defences would be funded from a different scheme.

Vibrations

Discussions of vibrations arising from pile driving and consequent effects on nearby structures tend to get a bit complex. In very general terms, ground displacements of 2mm/sec or more poses some risk of minor damage to older buildings (such as Listed Grade 2 Aaran House), while displacements above about 5mm/sec may cause significant damage. Hammer weights about 0.5 Tonne and frequencies about 1/sec tend to fall into the range of MMI (Modified Mercalli Index) 3 (noticeable but very little damage) while “heavier” impacts and higher frequencies can push perceived effects up to MMI 4 (minor damage) or even MMI 5 (significant damage, difficulty maintaining balance). The Council advised us to close for the duration and we took their advice.

Above, we see a few graphs of accelerometer readings vs time, during the early weeks of pile driving. Note the acceleraometer was not too accurate or sensitive and the sampling rate was low – which may cause some peaks to be “missed”. Using the archaic non-SI unit, the Gal, we can see background levels around 2 milliGal, rising to around 50 milliGal, as the operations got nearer. There is no easy relationship between Gals and mm/sec ground displacements but the MMI scale would suggest 30 to 50 milliGal = MMI 3, roughly. We have observed only slight plaster cracking and a little dust fall.

Closure of Esplanade to Custom House Quay road and pavement junction

Meantime, up to 2,000 pedestrians per day and 100’s of motorists are “visiting” the site, at least as far as the road closure next to The Roundhouse b&b. It is quite amusing to see all those stern faces crumple into astonishment when they find out a half-dozen “road closed” and “diversion” signs were not just dumped for fun and the road into Custom House Quay really is closed (6 weeks till now: another 6 weeks to go approximately).

The Council (DCC, formerly WPBC) have advised the nearest properties to close during the period of works, for safety, noise and disruption reasons. Hence, we are closed (since 1st October) till the Christmas period (scheduled completion 23rd December). We are hoping for compensation due to business interruption.

Reopening in 2020 – early in January

We apologise for any inconvenience to guests who would have wished to book our guesthouse this autumn, but the works were essential and closure was unavoidable. It was only a few years ago a section next to Condor Ferry Berth collapsed. Allegedly that was in relatively sound condition compared to the current repair section. Of course, public safety is paramount and works have continued as rapidly as feasible. We thank all our guests for visiting us in the past and we hope to see you all again next year. Happy Holidays!

(See mid-stage update)