Herefordshire Week 232: Tuesday 4 – Monday 10 June 2024

Beacons Way Day 5. Annual Birthdays Party BBQ. Golden Valley Vintage and Country Fair.

Beacons Way Day 5: Libanus to Craig y Nos - Craig Cerrig Gleisiad Panorama
Beacons Way Day 5: Libanus to Craig y Nos – Craig Cerrig Gleisiad Panorama

Tuesday was Beacons Way Day 5: Libanus to Craig y Nos, with Sonia and Sara. A very wet and windy day.

Easy to return to the official route from the Brecon Beacons YHA at Libanus – cross the A470, follow the path from the layby up towards Craig Cerrig Gleisiad, turning left onto a clear footpath that takes you up onto the top of the cliffs.

Up on the open moorland of the Western Beacons we mislaid the trail a few times, and walked in the clouds which brought wind and rain. And so we got wet. Sopping Wet.

Beacons Way Day 5: Libanus to Craig y Nos
Beacons Way Day 5: Libanus to Craig y Nos

Rounded off a very wet day’s walking with pots of tea at the nice cafe in Craig y Nos Country Park then caught the T6 back to Brecon.

Back at home, a deer settled down by the flagpole, enjoying the summer evening calm.

Resting deer
Resting deer

Aerobics and callisthenics were hard going at the gym on Wednesday – no juice. Home for party prep, getting the tables and chairs out of the shed and washing them down, corralling all the necessary cutlery, plates, glasses etc. Dad came over to drop off more stuff. TJB arrived 11pm-ish.

The deer strolled across the end of the front lawn as Phil and I were enjoying coffee in the conservatory on Thursday morning – calm before the party chaos. A lovely day though – so good to have so many familiar faces here, and enjoying another sunny day together complete with a mammoth BBQ and plenty of puddings.

Waved off the last of the revellers around 7.30pm, then relaxed in the conservatory. Just enough room for a cheese and biscuit for supper, bats flying around outside.

Slow start on Friday. Our Breakfast at Gwatkins plan was foiled by the restaurant being closed ahead of Saturday’s Vintage and Country Fair, so we introduced Tom and Jo to the delights of Timothy & Birch. Home to find J from Morgan & Cuss arriving to take a look at why the pump is making a whirring noise, and to fix the drip.

Waved off T&J, then spent a cool and cloudy afternoon catching up on admin, and trying to work out how to do the final three days of The Beacons Way given the dearth of accommodation, food and transport serving the places at the ends of days 6 (Craig y Nos to Llanddeusant) and 7 (Llandeusant to Carreg Cennen Castle).

Slow start to Saturday, sat out on the patio in my PJs reading the LRB. Grey marshmallow clouds covering up the early blue skies. Picked the greenhouse strawberries and inspected the apples, cucumbers and walnuts in progress.

Lunchtime we drove over to Gwatkins to join the throngs at the Golden Valley Vintage and Country Fair.

Tug of War
Tug of War

Hauled some weed out of the big pond when I got home.

Breakfast out on the patio started off Sunday but as the sun gave way to cloud it was time to crack on with some “jobs”: washed the cars (both of them), planted up two of my tomato plants into big containers in the greenhouse, planted out the rest of Jean’s beetroot seedlings, added more twine to the extra long canes I’d set up over the mange touts last week. And a lazy second half of the afternoon on the sofa, under the duvet, watching telly.

Pizza for dinner!

Friday Night Pizzaaaaaaa….
Friday Night Pizzaaaaaaa….

Phil and I did the Bacton Square on Monday morning, getting home just before the heavens opened. Sporadic showers all afternoon but I managed to weed around the rhododendron slope, excavating the baby yews and a baby holly. Then settled in the lounge reading before tea and telly, watching the last three episodes of Snowfall – sooooo good.


Apples and walnuts forming on the trees around the garden. The occasional hornet.


TV: Snowfall, Black Ops, Doctor Who, Champion.

Podcasts: Gone Mediaeval, The Today Podcast, Americast, When It Hits the Fan, History Extra

Audiobook: The Angel’s Mark – S. W. Perry


Photos: Herefordshire week 232 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2024-06-09.

Herefordshire Week 231: Tuesday 28 May – Monday 3 June 2024

Bristol. Bagwyllydiart. Bob. Brecon. Beacons Way Day 4.

Phil’s home. And I’ve been retired for a year.

GVWC: Kilpeck - Garway Circular
GVWC: Kilpeck – Garway Circular

Tuesday – PT then down to Bristol to see Sonia to take advantage of her hip expertise, enjoy  a tasty lunch in Clifton and to plan for Beacons Way Days 4 & 5. Returned very relieved and with some bespoke exercises. Traffic on the M4 meant I missed the KMCA Social Zoom though 🙁

Busy day on Wednesday: gym first thing then home with enough time to take the ride on mower out for a spin on the “usual locations” – all done in 90 mins, and only 5 grass collector-loads!

Orchard mow
Orchard mow

Into Hereford for a routine mammogram then home to take the Honda mower round the “edges” etc. No prizes for guessing what clutz-a-tron managed to do about half way through…. Anyway, there’s still some “power” pull but not nearly as much as there was at the start. Idiot.

The birds love the freshly cut grass and the grass cuttings – there must be plenty of insects to feast on. I feasted on a pot of tea and a toasted hot cross bun.

Tea and hot cross bun
Tea and hot cross bun

Another busy day on Thursday, to the gym for hip exercises followed by Legs, Bums & Tums, then over to Kilpeck to recce Sunday’s route. Lovely D-Day 80th Anniversary crochet “hat” on the post box at Bagwyllydiart and fab views from Garway Hill.

GVWC Recce: Kilpeck - Garway Circular
GVWC Recce: Kilpeck – Garway Circular

The 8 miles I’d plotted on my OS route turned out to be closer to 10 but I survived …. the extra miles and an encounter with overly inquisitive cattle on the return leg which meant I hopped a barbed wire fence and clambered down to, along / through and back up from a brook…… so I’ve adjusted the route for Sunday. Hip was OK – tired by the end though. Mind you it’d dealt with a triple whammy.

Treated myself to a beer and two bowls of crisps to celebrate.

Medical Rehydration
Medical Rehydration

Tuned in to Radio 4 to listen to The World Tonight’s reporting on the Trump Trial verdict. May’s turned out to be a busy month in politics.

Gym classes Friday morning then home to pick some of the weeds out of the (old) drive, to trim the hedge by the bins and to collect in the orchid marker sticks. Also did a stock take of the supplies in the chutney and jam cupboard. A& A came for tea and biscuits.

Leisurely start Saturday as I’ve got a run of early mornings ahead. Sat out on the patio for a breakfast of coffee and toast and marmalade, and reading the LRB while the birds were singing.

Morning!
Morning!

Hip exercises then down to see T&L en route to Ewyas Harold Memorial Hall for the plant sale; I returned with two tomato plants and a small stripey succulent. Prepped my contributions to tomorrow’s plant sale in Abbey Dore and dropped them off en route to Abergavenny to meet Phil off the Newport train. It’s been four weeks. A lovely evening with pizza and telly.

Over to Kilpeck on Sunday to lead the GVWC on the revised, cattle free Kilpeck – Bagwyllydiart – Garway – Bagwyllydiart – Kilpeck route. Glorious Garway delivered again.

GVWC: Kilpeck - Garway Circular
GVWC: Kilpeck – Garway Circular

A speedy lime and soda from the Kilpeck Inn, then back home to walk down to Abbey Dore for Postman Bob’s Retirement Party. Lovely.

Up early on Monday to drive to Brecon. Parked the Panda in The Watton car park, caught the 43 to Tal y Bont to rendezvous with Sonia and Sara to do days 4 and 5 of the Beacons Way. Officially Day 4 is Llangynidr to Storey Arms but there’s no accommodation at Storey Arms so we walked the couple of extra miles to the Brecon Beacons YHA at Libanus. We only veered off the route once (too much chatting and the Cambrian Way was offering too obvious a track) and returning to the Beacons Way (one of the Taff Trail sections) involved hillside yomping and fence hopping.

Lunch at the Upper Blaen y glyn car park then up onto Craig y Fan Ddu, a new route over the tops and down to the Gap Road. The route skips Fan y Big and Cribyn, and we ascended to Pen y Fan in the cloud, descended out of it and ascended back up into it to get to Corn Ddu.

Beacons Way Day 4: Llangynidr to Libanus via Storey Arms
Beacons Way Day 4: Llangynidr to Libanus via Storey Arms

One lost child rescue later we were on the motorway path down the National Trust car park on the A470, and walking the overlooked additional couple of miles to the Brecon Beacons YHA at Libanus, which involved one final fence hop and a not particularly nice stint on the busy A470 due to the footpaths shown on the map not existing in reality.

Beacons Way Day 4: Llangynidr to Libanus via Storey Arms - Brecon Beacons YHA, Libanus
Beacons Way Day 4: Llangynidr to Libanus via Storey Arms – Brecon Beacons YHA, Libanus

Overnight in a Large Camping Pod at the YHA – nice “shepherds hut” type cabin. Great showers, OK food, and a Brecon Beer each.


Picked the first of the greenhouse strawberries ….

Strawberries from the Greenhouse
Strawberries from the Greenhouse

The last of the waterfall clematis flowers fell.

Spotted the first nuts on the hazelnut bush

Hazel nuts
Hazel nuts

And a dragonfly cast skin on a flag iris in the big pond

Dragonfly cast skin (exuvia), on a flag iris in the Big Pond
Dragonfly cast skin (exuvia), on a flag iris in the Big Pond

And yes, 02 June was my retirement-iversary; I’ve been officially retired for 12 months. It’s flown. No regrets, not in the slightest.

Other than by reading (and writing) these weeknotes, I couldn’t really tell you how I spend my days but every day feels busy! With a bit of thinking, I’d say I now get to go to the gym more often (aka I go. I didn’t while I was working) and I have the time to do things at a more leisurely pace rather than cramming the Must Dos into the non-working time.


TV: Doctor Who, The Ice Cream Wars, Black Ops, Snowfall (started series 6).

Podcasts: Gone Mediaeval, The Today Podcast, AmericastThe Rest is Entertainment.


Photos: Herefordshire week 231 on Flickr.

Phil: still paused.

Herefordshire Week 230: Tuesday 21 – Monday 27 May 2024

Catching up back home. Office Panelling Project.

Oh, and A General Election Is Announced.

The "40": Pre-prune (right) and Post-partial prune (left)
The “40”: Pre-prune (right) and Post-partial prune (left)

Started slowly settling back into the Forty Acres Life on Tuesday: gym for PT (and update on All The Changes), back home to check in on Project Panelling and to do some garden jobs – tying up the everlasting sweet pea by the wild plum tree, moving the houseplants back outdoors for easier spraying, tying up the wild rose by the yew by the big pond. Spotted that the sweet peas I planted out in the hedge in the orchard last year are thriving.

Mange Touts loving the rain!
Mange Touts loving the rain!

Drove to Ewyas for Gym Ladies May Birthdays Lunch at The Temple – lovely. Back home to rake up the last of the mown grass and to collect sticky burr string, and snipped some brambles and took them to the quarry for drying out and bonfiring at some future date.

Back to the gym on Wednesday for Aerobics and Calisthenics, whiling away the (new) hour and a quarter in between doing admin in the cafe. Speedy turn around back at base then into Hereford to collect replacement specs for the pair I left on Skomer (but which have since been posted back to me….) and to try to return library books…. Back home I pottered in the orchard weeding the veg patch, planted up the cucumbers, semi-tidied in the greenhouse.

Cucumbers planted into pots
Cucumbers planted into pots

Early evening, Jack T came to collect the Honda mower, strimmer mower and chainsaw to see if he could get them working again.

And Rishi Sunak announced the date of the General Election.

Drove the Panda to EH on Thursday morning for RW to take a look at the worrying rhythmic rattle. Helpful MH picked me up – for which I was v thankful as the top muscles in my right leg are really not happy after all the recent sitting and driving on top of the oh-so-stupid Skomer swivel. Spent the rest of the morning in the garden, picking All The Leeks and planting beetroot and onions in their place, and doing more tidying in the greenhouse.

Veg Patch and Herb Bed - Clear of All The Leeks
Veg Patch and Herb Bed – Clear of All The Leeks

Waved off MH early afternoon then did some more indoor tidying and washed and chopped up All The Leeks.

Leeks!
Leeks!

Walked to EH to pick up the Panda – and oh joy, the rattle is gone! Turns out it was the front anti roll bar links, don’t you know. Short stop off at Ivy Cottage then back home to meet up with Jack T who’d managed to mend all three things. A good day’s work!

Mega clean on Friday morning ahead of guests on Sunday, including putting my office back together and sorting out the main bathroom and spare bedroom. Lunch, then walked to Kerrys Gate for afternoon prosecco. Lovely.

Hatterrall Ridge from Kerrys Gate
Hatterrall Ridge from Kerrys Gate

Did more house sorting / tidying on Saturday and made a start on pruning the “40”.

Gorgeous sunny day. My post-lunch snooze turned into a two hour sleep on the conservatory sofa. Lovely stroll down to TJL’s, less lovely to discover the kitchen freezer defrosting on my return….

Sunshine and (heavy) showers on Sunday made it a good day to catch up on Computer Admin: finished flickring photos from Essex and Scotland, finalised weeknotes 228 and 229 and prepped (these) weeknotes 230.

J, M & F arrived early evening bringing good conversation and company – a lovely evening catching up over a leisurely meal in the conservatory.

Similarly lovely morning Monday, waving them off northwards around 11am. Checked the kitchen freezer – still not freezing, so I squeezed the remaining contents into the outside freezer.

After a couple of hours reading, lunching and snoozing, the “I should be doing something” feeling got the better of me and I embarked upon Damson Jam making to use up the two frozen tubs of damsons retrieved from the outside freezer. Not my most successful jam making ever – a badly burned bottom of the big aluminium pan mean that I’ve labelled the 7 ½ jars “Burned Damson Jam – May 2024”.

Damson Jam - I burned the bottom of the pan…..
Damson Jam – I burned the bottom of the pan…..

Baby cucumbers in the greenhouse.

Baby Cucumbers

My birthday rhododendron is going great guns in its new location, producing beautiful magenta flowers.

Birthday rhododendron in bloom
Birthday rhododendron in bloom

The grass has grown an inch every time I look at it…


TV: Shardlake (finished series 1), Doctor Who, About Time, Secrets of the Neanderthals, The Murder of Jill Dando.

Podcasts: Gone Mediaeval, The Essay, The Today Podcast, Americast, When It Hits the Fan.


Photos: Herefordshire week 230 on Flickr.

Phil: Pause continued.

Herefordshire Week 229: Tuesday 14 – Monday 20 May 2024

Super Sunny Scotland. Essex. Home.

Hazel, Catherine and me, Loch Morlich Circular
Hazel, Catherine and me, Loch Morlich Circular

Tuesday – To the East Coast for beach walks at Findhorn and Lossiemouth, an excellent lunch (plus pints) at The Captain’s Table, Findhorn Marina, and fab ice cream from Miele’s of Lossie.

Me, Hazel and Catherine, Findhorn Estuary
Me, Hazel and Catherine, Findhorn Estuary
Catherine and Hazel, East Beach, Lossiemouth
Catherine and Hazel, East Beach, Lossiemouth

Wednesday – Into the Cairngorms via The Watchers at Corgarff Viewpoint and the Snow Roads Route towards Aviemore. Into Glenmore Forest to do the Loch Morlich Circular in the morning and An Lochan Uaine / Green Loch Return in the afternoon.

The Watchers at Corgarff Viewpoint
The Watchers at Corgarff Viewpoint
Loch Morlich panorama
Loch Morlich panorama
An Lochan Uaine / The Green Loch
An Lochan Uaine / The Green Loch

Thursday – Another gorgeous sunny day. Morning in the Spa (swam 50 lengths) then out with daypacks and sandwiches to walk the Cambus o’May circular. Hip gyp meant I got the bus back from the CoM visitor centre but we reunited for pints at The Alexandra Hotel followed by ice creams from Shorty’s. And celebrated the end of our five fab days with prosecco and crisps al fresco.

Well, it’s not raining here today!
Well, it’s not raining here today!
Cambus o'May Circular: Bridge and the River Dee
Cambus o’May Circular: Bridge and the River Dee
Celebrating our Craigendarroch Minibreak
Celebrating our Craigendarroch Minibreak

Friday – Au revoir Craigendarroch and to Newcastle via Bamburgh. LNER train to London, making it from Kings Cross to Liverpool Street station in record speed to catch the train out to Wivenhoe by the skin of my teeth. Witham-ites are in COVID quarantine….

HGV at Craigendarroch, Ballater
HGV at Craigendarroch, Ballater
Bamburgh Beach Selfie
Bamburgh Beach Selfie

Up early on Saturday for the long drive home, with a stop off in WTM for a bit of a sit on the porch steps with P, at Rugby Moto services which was full of Bolton Wanderers fans – yes, I did need to look that up 🙂 – and in  Ross for supplies. Back home to find the grass lush and green and long, and loads of buttercups and daisies. Thankfully no dead birds.

Forty Acres front lawn panorama
Forty Acres front lawn panorama

Unpacked then took it easy…aka binged on the first half of Bridgerton season 3.

Caught up with a bit of admin on Sunday morning and moved things out of my office ahead of Project Panelling, which starts on Tuesday. Lunched out on the patio then fired up the ride on mower for the mega mow…. Started easily and I set off over the new drive and towards the orchard, and there it stalled and I couldn’t get it to start. Checked the petrol – all fine – so I put it on to charge and hauled the Honda Mower around The Edges etc ….And, you guessed it, when I returned to the ride on mower a couple of hours later I looked at the petrol tank again – AND IT WAS EMPTY! Idiot. Or “Bufflehead!!” as we say in these parts. Had to drive to The Forge for more petrol, then mowed (No 6 setting). Got round everywhere except The Solarium.

Mowing part II: view from the ride on mower
Mowing part II: view from the ride on mower

Richard came to strim on Monday morning. It was overcast so I decided to give the grass longer to dry out and to see how easily the wallpaper would come off in my office instead – very easily it turned out with a sponging of water.

Panelling Prep
Panelling Prep

The sun arrived in the early afternoon so I took the ride on mower for a spin to collect the dryer grass – 15 grass collector loads in all.

Mowing part II: the second 5 piles.... and more to come
Mowing part II: the second 5 piles…. and more to come

Then to Winchester to lend a hand moving the old conservatory sofa from the kitchen to the garden room and for some party planning followed by a delicious BBQ al fresco. A lovely evening.


I almost managed a paddle a day during our Scotland (and Northumberland) jaunt:

River Dee, Balmoral

A paddle in the River Dee, Balmoral Castle
A paddle in the River Dee, Balmoral Castle

North Sea, Findhorn

Findhorn Paddle
Findhorn Paddle

North Sea, Lossiemouth

Paddling, East Beach, Lossiemouth
Paddling, East Beach, Lossiemouth

Loch Morlich

Loch Morlich Paddle
Loch Morlich Paddle

An Lochan Uaine

Seated paddle in An Lochan Uaine / The Green Loch
Seated paddle in An Lochan Uaine / The Green Loch

North Sea, Bamburgh

Not really a proper paddle .... but close!
Not really a proper paddle …. but close!

Swallows zooming, a blackbird with no tail feathers, goldfinches nipping in and out of the hedges, a robin perched atop the tall pine / fir singing loudly every morning – the dawn chorus has woken me up every morning around 4.30am since I got back (I have managed to get back to sleep mind you).

Think I might had chopped the hind leg of a toad while Honda-mowing by the small pond, which is full of tiny water boatmen / beetles, a newt or two. And gunk. The large pond is lined with yellow flag irises, and cow parsley.

Big Pond
Big Pond

In better news, we have a resident rabbit – for the first time in years.

We have a resident rabbit
We have a resident rabbit

TV: Stacey Solomon Renovation Rescue, Digging for Britain, The One Show, Location Location LocationBridgerton (season 3, part 1), Doctor Who (Gotta love Ncuti Gatwa!!!)

Podcasts: Americast, When It Hits the Fan, History Extra, Shedunnit, The Rest is Entertainment, Gone Mediaeval, Empire.


Photos: Herefordshire week 229 on Flickr.

Phil: Pause continued.

Herefordshire Week 228: Tuesday 7 – Monday 13 May 2024

Essex hiatus. Up to Scotland.

Catherine, me and Hazel at Balmoral Castle
Catherine, me and Hazel at Balmoral Castle

Spent super sunny Tuesday to Saturday in Essex, catching the train into London on Saturday evening and heading down to H’s.

Morning coffee, Wivenhoe Riverside
Morning coffee, Wivenhoe Riverside

To LHR on Sunday morning to catch BA1308 to Aberdeen. CP met us at the airport and drove us to Ballater via a big Tescos for “essential supplies”. Settled into our luxury suite at the Craigendarroch then went down into Ballater for a stroll around the village before returning to our suite – suite! – and celebrating the start of our mini break with a large G&T. Dinner courtesy of the Keiller Brasserie.

Bridge over the River Dee, Ballater
Bridge over the River Dee, Ballater

Monday – Braemar, Balmoral & Ballater, and a swim in the pool to ease my hip / thigh muscles while C&H walked the seven bridges. Thai takeaway for tea – yum!

Balmoral Castle
Balmoral Castle

Lovely hearing curlews and cuckoos in WIV, and waking up to oyster catcher calls.

But this is the closest we got to red squirrels in Scotland….

Balmoral Castle: Beware Squirrels Crossing
Balmoral Castle: Beware Squirrels Crossing
The Specialty Shop, Braemar
The Specialty Shop, Braemar
The closest we came to a red squirrel .....
The closest we came to a red squirrel …..

Just don’t mention the Corgis…..

Felt animals taken to a whole new level ....
Felt animals taken to a whole new level ….

TV: Eurovision, Rob and Rylan’s Grand Tour, Digging for Britain.

Podcasts: Americast, When It Hits the Fan, History Extra, Shedunnit, The Rest is Entertainment, Gone Mediaeval, The Today Podcast.


Photos: Herefordshire week 228 on Flickr.

Phil: Pause continued.