Where next: Herefordshire

2020 is going to be a rather different year as Phil and I are moving to Herefordshire in January to try out the country life (but not Country Life). I’m still aiming to get a few trips in, but living in Herefordshire opens up a whole new world of walking opportunities, and travelling further afield means getting to grips with regional flights or factoring in a 3 hour plus train journey to/from London.

So….

Trip No. 1 of 2020: Relocating to Herefordshire

Destination: Abbey Dore, a hamlet half way between Hereford and Abergavenny.

When: January – June 2020, possibly long term. We’ll see how it goes.

What: Living in rural Herefordshire, with Phil. Working remotely for LW (I got the official approval this week).

How: With the cooperation of family, friends and work.

Why: I’ve spent a lot of my life in Herefordshire, whilst growing up in Solihull, studying at St Andrews and Chester, and working in London. We’ve had a holiday home there since I was tiny, which is where Phil and I will be based, and dad and Jean live half an hour’s drive away.

Forty Acres
Forty Acres

I did my first walking in the Black Mountains, up Skirrid and along Offa’s Dyke. I love the history of the Welsh Marches, and the fact that we have a Cistercian Abbey and a Saxon Motte and Bailey castle (remains of) within walking distance, and stone castles scattered across the landscape. Not to forget Bacton, Kilpeck, Craswall and Cwmyoy.

Skirrid sunset, from Forty Acres
Skirrid sunset, from Forty Acres

I’m ready to spend some time living in a green world rather than a grey one, with space to grow things and to make and store things. The preserving pan and sewing machine will be coming with us.

“But why leave London?” I hear you ask –

“Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”
— Samuel Johnson

Well, I am somewhat tired of London.

I love the fact that everything is on the doorstep, from shops to cinemas to museums, that I have family and friends within easy reach, that every Wednesday I can meet friends for wine and pizza, and that trains and flights offer a boundless choice of destinations near and far.

But I don’t love the noise, the early morning dustbin lorries and delivery vans announcing to all and sundry that they are reversing or turning left, the late night drunken revellers shouting and singing as they try to navigate the residential back streets of the Barbican, the police helicopters hovering over possible crime scenes in the middle of the night or monitoring protests and public gatherings during the day. The construction sites, providing relentless background noise of jackhammers and power tools at play, for new luxury developments in place of buildings with civic and social worth, signifying the Corporation of London’s distain for its residential communities and neighbours.

So. Watch this space.

Forty Acres sign post, Kerry's Gate
Forty Acres sign post, Kerry’s Gate

 

Erebus: The Story of a Ship – Michael Palin

Erebus: The Story of a Ship - Michael Palin
Erebus: The Story of a Ship – Michael Palin

HMS Erebus is the British bomb ship that, alongside sister ship HMS Terror, took James Clark Ross and his crew on their three Antarctic Expeditions between 1839-1843, reaching further south than any other ship before, and the ill-fated Franklin Expedition in search of the North West Passage, which set sail for Greenland and the Arctic in 1845, never to be seen again.

The second part is inevitably more gripping than the first.

The wreck of the Erebus was found in 2014, that of Terror in 2016, and Michael Palin’s account starts with the discovery of the Erebus in  the shallow waters of Wilmot and Crampton Bay. Erebus is a leading character in this book alongside the Navy men, Establishment politicians and Empire men who led the scientific and commercial explorations, and expropriations, during the 19th Century.

(Although personally I could have done with out the regular refrain of “When I visited XYZ…”)

Author’s page: Erebus: The Story of a Ship – Michael Palin

Everest Trek Get Together No 15

Another fab weekend in Pembrokeshire, with Steffi and Maurice, Hazel, Charles and Dave.

Summary: A gig in Tenby on Friday courtesy of Maurice and his band, and a wet walk along the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path on Saturday doing a figure of eight from West Angle Bay. Sunday stroll around the Southwood Estate with blue sky views out over Newgale Beach, then another of Maurice’s Marvellous Sunday Lunches, with crumble by Carmen. Painful train journey home.

For photos, take a look at my Flickr Album: Everest Trek Get Together No 15. Read on for the detail.

Friday followed its usual pattern – train from Paddington, rendezvous with Dave at Newport, generous G&Ts on arrival at Mayhem followed by one of Steffi’s curry feasts. Then the evening diverged from the norm, as we headed over to Tenby to watch Maurice and his band in a gig at The Lifeboat Tavern. Brilliant!

A late night drive got us to Newgale, Steffi’s caravan, and bed.

No photos… I always fail to get any of the array of curries. Must be the aperitif.

Saturday‘s weather forecast offered 50% chance of light rain and moderate winds for our stroll around the headland from Angle to Freshwater West and cutting across the peninsula to East Angle Bay and back through the long, narrow village to West Angle Bay.

The 50% was not in our favour. We got a morning of very wet Welsh rain, and grey views out to sea as we walked this section of the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path.

Wet Walk from West Angle Bay
Wet Walk from West Angle Bay

The rain eased off as we headed back towards Angle through, looking across to Milford Haven with views of the refinery, tankers and Irish Ferries arriving into port. Walking along Angle’s medieval main street, the nineteenth-century Estate-built hotels and houses standing out somewhat, we were passed by a vintage car rally. A fine parade, although we became rather concerned when we realised they were also heading to the Wavecrest Cafe, down at West Angle Bay.

Fortune smiled on us, and we managed to get a corner table for five, and the ladies who run the cafe were super efficient. We were tucking into Welsh Cheddar and Leek Tart (me), Bacon & Brie Baguettes (H & S) and bowls of steaming Cawl (D&C) within 10 mins. Five stars for the Wavecrest Cafe, team and food. Highly recommended!

As blue skies put in a determined appearance above us, we headed out to do the other half of the Angle peninsula, 3.7 miles along the coast path and back via the Pele Tower House with its spiral staircase, arrow slit windows and views of the stone dove cote. Angle has an ancient history.

Information Board: East Angle Bay
Information Board: East Angle Bay

We made it back to the Wavecrest Cafe with 15 mins to spare for pots of tea, tasty cakes and a warm welcome back, even though they were shutting up at 4pm. A really impressive bunch of women run that place.

Home and dry by 5pm, we had time for more tea and the papers as the rain pelted down outside.

Wine, soup and Cardigan bread lasted until 9pm when sleep called.

Sunday dawned with clear skies and a colder breeze. A light breakfast then out to the beach and then up on the footpaths to and through Southwood Estate, as discovered by Gwyneth and Dave this summer. A smashing stroll from Pinch Hill to Maidenhall Car Park, then back along the coastal path above Newgale Beach. Great views out to Grassholm and Skomer.

Newgale Beach Panorama
Newgale Beach Panorama

A speedy drive back to Mayhem via Aldi, for another Marvellous Maurice Sunday Lunch, with Carmen’s Blackberry and Apple Crumble for afters.

Sunday lunch
Sunday lunch

Full rabbit to Newport, where our scheduled return to London was scuppered by GWR. Our train broke down at Cardiff, the weekend engineering works were overrunning, there were rolling stock chaos and staffing shortages. AKA loads of cancelled trains. We took the station staff’s advice and jumped on a train to Bristol Temple Meads, only to find the next London train was cancelled, so we had an hour to wait. We got into Paddington at 20.44. Delay Repay submitted this morning. Now we just need to give GWR twenty working days to process it….. I think they’ll be busy.