Herefordshire Week 042: Tuesday 13 – Monday 19 October 2020

Blackberry gin, more boxes and a bonfire.

(I’m using my 2012 iPad to publish this week’s post, so you’ll have to wait a few days for the photos and links to materialise)


Felt a bit down on Tuesday morning – too much to do and all unpacking / flat renting related.

Never helps when it’s a sunny day and it felt like it’s been forever since I got out for a long walk and off the roads. So I took the morning off and went for a walk along the lanes to Cockyard and back. Beautiful morning, and felt a bit better by the time I got back, and even more so after ticking off a few jobs – including “making” blackberry gin stage 1: 300g blackberries, 100g caster sugar and 500ml gin. Stage 2 onwards is: Shake daily until the sugar has dissolved. Leave for 1 month In total. Strain / decant and drink! I think we can manage that….

(Gin Photo)


A longer working week this week as I was running two half day team meetings over Zoom on Thursday and Friday. They went really well, but I was shattered by the end of Friday afternoon. That said, I did manage to stay for 2 hours at the Zoom social later that evening, and I’d only meant to stay an hour!

Glad I’ve got next week off, even if it is for more flat moving.


Thursday’s post brought an unexpected delivery – a belated Birthday parcel from Emma, with a whole host of lovely treats.


On Saturday we did the final bits of sorting out in the lounge, and went through the To Do Lists for WON, BJH and here. But most of the day was spent sorting out the boxes that have been taking up most of the room in my “office”, unearthing old photo albums from leaving school to turning 30. Some gems in there…. Three boxes-worth are now taking up a shelf in the TV room.

As well as photos, the boxes also held cards from key birthdays and other events, and postcards from dad and Jean’s holiday travels. Plus the souvenir pen “stolen” from the Lil al’eInn on the Extraterrestrial Hwy, Nevada.

(Pen Photo)

I still have a couple of boxes of old papers to go through and to shred (it was so much easier when I could dump it all in the confidential recycling bins at work) and mouse proof plastic boxes of memories to go in the roof, once it’s had the insulation topped up and been boarded out.

We both celebrated getting through a bit more unpacking with Phil’s Pizza, the tail end of a bottle of red wine, and a film.


We decided to take the day off on Sunday, and this week’s Bacton Square was even more sociable than last week’s. We met lots of people we’d seen before, but had longer chats, which meant we found out more about the cider apple orchards and where the apples go, and how, and Ryeland sheep. We also fixed up an evening to catch up with the couple down the road.

(Sheep Photo)


When I mentioned the sheep to dad he told me that the Cistercian monks at Dore Abbey sent their wool via the Cistercian’s Monastery network all the way to Florence to be sold, where it was highly sought after because the wool is so fine. One of the ladies at Tan House a Farm had also mentioned that there’s an old document in France that recommends shearing sheep the Dore way.

After a late lunch spent the afternoon bonfiring branches that the power people had chopped down to keep the overhead cables clear. Very satisfying. Still loads left…. we may get the wood chipper chomper out….

In between leaf flare ups I dug a bag load of shredded paper and some cardboard into the grass cutting heap at Mower Turn and picked apples from Egremont and its neighbour before arming myself with the step ladder, and Phil plus bucket, to pick some of the ripe apples on the upper branches of the tree over the herb bed in the orchard. We should have armed ourselves with hard hats as I got bonked on the head when one apple gave in to gravity, and Phil’s had to dodge lots more fallers. Lesson learned, we only put the picked apples, and not the fallers, into the apple rack.


Thankfully the new COVID tier regime hadn’t ended up putting the kybosh on our plan to travel to Walton to clear the flat there, even though Brum, London and Essex are subject to tighter lockdown than Herefordshire.

We spent most of Monday on various trains making our way to Walton via Birmingham, Euston and the Barbican where we popped in to check on how things were going with the BJH redecoration: it’s looking great. We saw the lettings agent too, and got that ball rolling …. and we even had time for coffee and cake sat outside Fix before heading over to Liverpool St.

Now we just have to hope that COVID doesn’t kill the City lettings market completely. I keep telling myself: normal people who rent in London move from time to time and they might fancy renting in the Barbican. It’s not only people who work in the City who want to live there. We’ll see.

(BJH photo)

A windy evening in Walton. Having prepared our plan of attack for Tuesday’s packing, Facebooking and hut relocating tasks, we settled in with books, beer and crisps.


Photos: Herefordshire week 42 on Flickr.

Phil: Phil’s weeknotes for w/e 2020-10-18

A Capitol Death – Lindsey Davis

A Capitol Death - Lindsey Davis
A Capitol Death – Lindsey Davis

Flavia Albia is called upon to investigate the mysterious death of Gabinus, a transport manager who turns out to be a decidedly unpopular man all round …. although possibly not quite as unpopular as paranoid Emperor Domitian, for whom all of Rome  – and plenty of Romans from outside the Imperial City – are preparing a Double Triumph.

Author page: A Capitol Death – Lindsey Davis

Herefordshire Week 041: Tuesday 06 – Monday 12 October 2020

More unpacking and sorting all our Barbican Belongings – the bookshelves are populated and the Telly Room feels more homely. Plus the photo album stage – cue nostalgia and “Didn’t we look young?”

A visit from Western Power Tree Team, a splendidly sociable sunny Sunday stroll, and two failed attempts to bonfire the brash.


The week started with a magical return visit by the three deer, last seen in May.

A Visit from the Deer
A Visit from the Deer

After nibbling at the sprouting willow tree stump, they headed back towards the quarry and mower turn.


Work focused on final preparations for the KM Ops Team Meeting next week – slides packaged, and printed and posted by LO Logistics, seven secret Boxes of Delights ordered from Betty’s, although sadly the Gentleman’s Hamper was out of stock.


I had to drive over to Dinedor on Thursday to work from dad’s desk, as Western Power had notified us that the power would be turned off so that they could cut back the trees that encroach on the electricity cables on the Solarium’s downhill slope and beyond.

Phil messaged me once they’d done – he’s been a bit surprised by quite how big the piles of brash (getting technical) were. Me too! It’ll take quite a few bonfires to work through it all, plus lots of lopping. I made a start on Saturday afternoon, and Phil and I did a couple of hours more on Sunday afternoon, in glorious sunshine, cliched shafts of sunlight slanting through the silver birch, cherry and hawthorn.

Only fly in the ointment was that I failed to get the bonfire going.

I’ve just looked up the details of the trees on that slope. Dad bought them with his Long Service award, and the original planting comprised:

Hornbeam
Lavelle Hawthorn
Pink Hawthorn
Acer Chappadocicum
London Plane
Horse Chestnut
Weeping Ash (3 types)
Copper Beech
Red Oak
Evergreen Oak
Handkerchief Tree

I’ve a horrible feeling I said it was OK to cut down one of the hawthorns.


Unpacking took up spare slots over the weekend – and having put the bookshelves up in the Telly Room we worked through our many, many boxes of books and other stuff that had sat on the shelves in the Barbican.

On Tuesday morning I tackled the upstairs bookshelf, which unearthed a few Family Treasures ….

Books: Treasures unearthed as I sort through the upstairs bookshelf at 40A
Books: Treasures unearthed as I sort through the upstairs bookshelf at 40A

I’d already decided to weed out my BJH book collection, which was fairly straightforward, although it’s hard to give away the ones with inscriptions from mum, so they’ve not all gone to St Michael’s Hospice.

On Saturday I fell into the old photo albums rabbit hole….

New Zealand 1996
New Zealand 1996

…. and it turns out that I went to 5300m back in 1994, visiting Tom when he was in Bolivia for 6 months.

Bolivia 1995
Bolivia 1995

Friday was rainy, so we treated ourselves to the first log fire of the year. Plus beer and crisps, seeing as it was 6 o’clock… which everyone knows is Beer & Crisp o’clock.

Beer, crisps and a log fire
Beer, crisps and a log fire

Two good walks – feels like it’s been a long time since I’ve done a big walk though -Riverdale and round via the footpath (soaking my trainers in the Orchard) on Saturday morning, and Sunday was a gorgeous sunny October day, so we did Bacton backwards, which turned out to be very sociable with chats at Kerrys Gate and en route to Canns Hill as we were picking blackberries.

The autumn colours are gorgeous.

Autumn colours, Longwood
Autumn colours, Longwood

In the garden, lettuce, tomatoes and chillies are still going strong, and I’ve picked my pumpkins. We’ve lots of wild mushrooms too. Now I just need to work out what they are and if they’re safe to eat….


Monday: some admin and flickring, but the morning’s highlight was depositing the third car load of stuff at the St Michael’s Hospice Donation Station in Ross on Wye. In the afternoon managed a quick trip into Hereford to pick up my next batch of Click & Collect library books, and then it was back down the sorting mines – we’re both at the mutually grumpy / fed up with it stage.

Almost there though.

Almost there....
Almost there….

Podcasts: Taking a break from The History of England, I listened to Slow Burn season 4, mainly whilst doing the first lot of lopping, with a History Extra chaser on Sunday afternoon.

TV: The end of The Tunnel, BBC Four’s Soul America, and Mid90s as our free film for the month.


Photos: Herefordshire week 41 on Flickr.

Phil: Phil’s weeknotes for w/e 2020-10-11. How could I forget the BAT!

Kingmaker – Toby Clements

Kingmaker - Toby Clements
Kingmaker – Toby Clements

Last in Toby Clements’ Kingdom Come Wars of the Roses quartet.

A bit of a let down. Perhaps too long had lapsed since I’d read the previous instalments.

Everything gets wrapped up, but in ways which felt disconnected the the rest of the story, even though the author’s note flags a key connection in a preceding book.

Publisher page: Kingmaker – Toby Clements

Herefordshire Week 040: Tuesday 29 September – Monday 05 October 2020

Unpacking and sorting, plus a wet and windy weekend in Pembrokeshire with walking worked around Storm Alex.

Sunset, from the caravan
Sunset, from the caravan

Tuesday morning was taken up with weeknotes, a walk in the sunshine down to Riverdale and back and a speedy mow as rain features heavily in the forecast for the next week or so. Unfortunately heavy dew made the mowing somewhat superficial in places. Better than nothing.

Weds = work with a lunchtime dash to the Hospice Warehouse in Ross. Thursday = work plus Elaine’s first day back which means my stint as caretaker team manager is coming to a close.


With Pembs still pencilled in for the weekend, albeit without Dave and Charles, Hazel arrived on the train from Paddington just after 10pm. I’d squeezed in a speedy ASDA shop en route, and we managed a bit of cheese and wine back at Forty Acres.

Friday was decidedly dark and rainy when we got up, but we managed to cram everything for Steffi into the car without needing to put Hazel on the roof rack. And to absorb the news that Trump has COVID 19. How fortuitous for a timely taking back of complete control of the press narrative in the run up to the election.

A good drive West, taking the A roads skirting the north of the Brecon Beacons again, and dry for most of the way. The rain caught up with us shortly after we’d arrived (but after we’d unloaded) and we spent the rest of the day inside. Val and Nicola materialised during the afternoon, and we feasted on the customary array of splendid curries before heading off to the van.

Sat was surprisingly dry, albeit windy, which allowed for a lovely walk along the coastal path from at Martin’s Haven to Dale and back. Seals and pups in lots of the more sheltered stony coves and even down at the beach where the boats leave for Skomer in normal times.

Seal, Mouse's Haven / Deadman's Bay
Seal, from the Pembrokeshire Coast Path

Boozy evening back in the van and the rain arrived together with a superb sunset.

Storm Alex settled in overnight so Sunday was spent chilling out in the van. Leisurely breakfast, then chatting, reading, looking at Steffi’s photobook of last year’s trip to Nepal, Ten Thousand. Hazel headed off just before midday making the journey back to London with Mikes.

Getting Blown Away, Steffi's Van, Newgale
Getting Blown Away, Steffi’s Van, Newgale

An early night and another early start on Monday – Nicola and Val driving north, and I headed east getting home in time for lunch, finding Phil hard at work cutting the bookshelves down to size.

A good weekend – if only everyone could have come.


Spent Monday afternoon catching up on admin and watching the birds on the bird feeders. The woodpecker is back – just one, perhaps the juvenile, and there are flocks of fieldfares feasting on the berries in the yew trees. And contemplating sorting out of more removals stuff – clothes or office boxes??

Neither, as it turned out – we assembled the bookshelves instead.


TV:  The Tunnel, season 2 (excellent). The Tunnel, season 3 (ep1 – so far, so good!!!)

Podcasts: More of the History of England.


Photos: Herefordshire week 40 on Flickr.

Phil: Phil’s weeknotes for w/e 2020-10-04.