Herefordshire Week 077: Tuesday 15 – Monday 21 June 2021

Restacking the log shed. Conservatory windows replaced. Happy Summer Solstice!

I’d taken Tuesday afternoon off, and Phil and I spent the day restacking the log shed. Felt like a day-long work out, but very satisfying.

Restacking the log shed: Before
Restacking the log shed: half way through
Half Way Through
Restacking the log shed: Stacked!

Celebrated with our first crop of strawberries. Two each.

My first crop of strawberries
My first crop of strawberries

Short week at work, mainly tidying up projects before next week’s holiday at home.

Very enjoyable 3Kites 15th Birthday Party over Zoom on Wednesday segued nicely into VWW with just me and Hazel. No Family Zoom on Thursday as we’d be seeing dad and Jean for a Father’s Day lunch on Sunday. Earlier in the day Colin from Birches came to replace the blown double glazing in the conservatory, and fixed the leaks too (hopefully). Did a fantastic job. Highly recommended.

Look at those lovely clear conservatory windows!
Look at those lovely clear conservatory windows!

We did have a woodpecker slam into the conservatory window on Wednesday evening mind you, so we now have one less Greater Spotted Woodpecker bombing around the grounds. A blue tit was our first casualty on the new windows, on Monday morning.

In other bird news – we’ve a jay now visiting the pear tree to scavenge fallen peanuts…


… which are largely generated by a lively family of great tits feasting on the said peanuts and at least (other) three great spotted woodpeckers.

Great Tit Family Feeding on the Peanuts
Great Tit Family Feeding on the Peanuts

Plenty of easy pickings for the mice….

Cloudy and cool Friday featured admin first thing, including kicking off the process to move from Three to 1pMobile PAYG based on MoneySavingExpert’s PAYG Guide, then into Hereford for a trip to the library and some City Centre shopping followed by a visit to General Dogsbody to reup on the peanuts for the bird (and squirrel and mouse) feeder, and a very uninspiring tour of Morrisons. Lazy afternoon lounging on the sofa watching feelgood films, then the less feelgood, COVID-19 themed Together with red wine and pizza.

The cool and cloudy theme continued on Saturday, as did general laziness first thing. Coffee and Waitrose croissants in the conservatory kickstarted the chores – washing, hoovering, mowing / grass collecting, which took up most of the day.

Sunday started off badly, with me breaking the long serving Brown Betty teapot, source of many a mug of good strong tea, and soaking / staining the carpet in my office /spare bedroom. After a spot of self-indulgent grumpiness, Phil and I walked down to the Abbey, which sorted that out, and we then got lunch ready for dad and Jean – on the menu, the first Loosemore Lettuce of the year!

First crop of Loosemore Lettuce this year!
First crop of Loosemore Lettuce this year!

After all that excitement, a late afternoon nap then telly.

Monday was another cloudy day, and inspired by The Guardian article Midsummer mystery on a walk in Herefordshire’s Twin Valleys, I set off with the Yellow Map to try out the footpaths beyond Fair Oak Farm. Things started off well, with directions from the Farm’s helpful hostess and I navigated my through the woods and meadows and over Dulas Brook and tributaries until two overly friendly (frightening) horses below Lower Maes-Coed put paid to my plan to follow the footpaths all the way to The Old Trout Inn. Instead, I backtracked to one of the many footbridges and took a footpath up through the woods and hay meadows to Tremorithic Road. A bit disappointing but I was very pleased with my “old washing up gloves and secateurs” approach to nettles and brambles during the early stages of the walk.

Back at base late lunch, a bit of reading and a nap – with a rain shower scuppering plans to recycle some of the garden railway planks into greenhouse grass smotherers. BUT I did spot pea pods and broad bean pods in the veg patch and herb bed. VERY exciting!

Pea pods!!!!

TV:  Mystery Road (started & finished season 2), Motherland (more of series 3) and reviews of Land Rover Freelander 2s on YouTube, plus an indulgent Friday afternoon watching Three Summers and Kinky Boots back to back followed by Together with Friday night pizza. Over the weekend we got stuck in to season 4 of Better Call Saul.

Podcasts: History ExtraThe Essay, The Allusionist, Great Lives, Books and Authors, The History of England (we’re in the throes of the Wars of the Roses) and You Must Remember This(Louella Parsons & Hedda Hopper).

Photos: Herefordshire week 77 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2021-06-20.

Herefordshire Week 076: Tuesday 09 – Monday 14 June 2021

Guests! Glorious weather. Strimmer lesson and a close encounter with a buzzard. Backed out of the Lakes trip.

Me on the Cat's Back
Me on the Cat’s Back

Up early on Tuesday for the drive home from Solihull, taking the Worcester South / Malvern / Hereford route so that I could stop off in Hereford to do a big shop in Aldi and Sainsbury’s. Home in time for a mug or two of tea and the Cockyard Direct route before lunch. The bridge by Blackmoor Farm has been repaired.

Usual schedule for the rest of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (work, VWW and Family Zoom).

C and SL arrived for their long weekend at the Abbey Dore Pod on Thursday. Did a chunk of admin first thing Friday morning before heading down to meet them at the Pod. Explored the Abbey then took the footpath round the back of Abbey Dore Court, and along the River Dore to Riverdale and back home via Kerrys Gate. Tour of the grounds then lunch and chat for the rest of the afternoon.

Steffi arrived early on Saturday morning and we drove over to Skirrid. Surprisingly easy parking and fantastic views from the summit. On the drive home we stopped off at Rowlestone Court Farm Ice Cream Parlour – YUM – and later in the evening indulged in a feast of BBQ curated by Phil.

Skirrd panorama
Skirrd panorama

We did the Cat’s Back on Sunday – more superb views out over Herefordshire to the east and the beautiful Olchon Valley and majestic Hatterall Ridge to the west. After tea and brownies on the lawn we headed down to the Pod for dinner on the patio and farewells.

Olchon Valley and Hatterrall's Ridge from The Cat's Back, panoramic views - and Steffi
Olchon Valley and Hatterrall’s Ridge from The Cat’s Back, panoramic views – and Steffi

So good having friends to visit. As well as good company, they provide a reminder that we really do now live in a gorgeous part of the world.

Monday was a mixed day. Trying to book train tickets up to the Lakes next week failed at the mandatory seat reservation stage, and I wasn’t keen on driving the now rattling/creaking car there, around and back in the first place. The earliest I could book the car in at the garage was next Wednesday. After a lot of soul searching, to-ing and fro-ing and telephone calls (with my phone finally running out of credit midway through), I decided not to go. I’ve realised I need a bit of time off here to get on top of things and to have a bit of a break.

On the plus side, dad came over late morning and I had my first lesson with the big hand-held strimmer before mowing the “lawn” below the large pond and up on the solarium. As I was doing the area by Barney’s tree a big buzzard landed in the cut grass on the Solarium and we looked at one another for a while. Amazing.

After lunch, drove to Powells and dropped off the strimmer mower and picked up C’s chain saw (Bosch Electric). Got details of a guy who can do a 1 day chainsaw maintenance and basics lesson too…. Back at base, netted the cherry tree, cleared all the grass from inside the greenhouse and transplanted my tomato seedlings into growbags.

Tomato seedlings planted out - Batch 2
Tomato seedlings planted out – Batch 2

We also decided to postpone the garage revamp – too much uncertainty with the price and timescales largely due to scarcity of building materials. So I won’t be getting my Mazda MX-5 just yet….

In bird news, we’ve noticed a lot of juvenile birds out and about by the bird feeders – in particular a young blackbird which is a bit gormless but seems to survive. Still following dad for food!

Juvenile Blackbird
Juvenile Blackbird

Taking down the seed feeder has deterred the squirrels, but Phil’s seen at least three mice munching on the peanuts….

TV:  Ozark (finished off season 2), Hip Hop Evolution and Bo Burnham: Inside.

Podcasts: The History of England, History ExtraThe Essay and You Must Remember This.

Photos: Herefordshire week 76 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2021-06-13.

Herefordshire Week 075: Tuesday 01 – Monday 08 June 2021

Socialising. Mega Mow. Ledbury. Eating out, twice! Solihull and Temple Fields.

Forty Acres and the front lawn
Forty Acres and the front lawn

Before I get stuck in (catching up – it’s Friday of week 076 now):

  • It’s been 2 weeks + since Phil and I had our second jabs, so our COVID-19 vaccinations are fully  effective.
  • In Bird Feeder News, not only has not one but two squirrels discovered the seed feeder, but a MOUSE has become very adept at climbing the trunk of the Pear Tree, scurrying along a branch and dangling down to snaffle peanuts from the peanut feeder!! It has to be seen to be believed.

I spent Tuesday morning catching up on admin after my sojourn in Pembs: Flickred the photos (is it possible to have too many of puffins?), wrote weeknotes for Herefordshire Week 74 and settled up various IOUs.

To add to the excitement, Dŵr Cymru / Welsh Water arrived to start work on fixing our mains supply too – ie the fault the local water engineer had reported back in February. Sadly, this meant that the exciting “road closed for 3 days from 02 June” signs were theirs, rather than Balfour Beatty’s Herefordshire Highways Road Resurfacing Crew … so, we still live in the land of potholed roads.

LED Trustee Meeting in the evening followed by KMCA June Drinks over Zoom.

No VWW or Family Zoom this week as Phil and I headed over to Dinedor for a tasty BBQ on Weds evening and on Thursday, work done, Thea and Joe came for dinner, which lasted well into the night.

Feels like we’re getting back to a semblance of normal.

After a busy week at work, Friday was spent in the garden. The front lawn looked like a hay meadow after all that lovely sun and so plans for a big walk were set aside in favour of making the most of the dry weather for a big mow.

A good half day job to mow the orchard, front lawn and side lawn, using all the mowers (ride on, strimmer and Honda). It took all of Saturday afternoon on the ride on mower to collect all the cut grass and take it to the various composting locations. The slope down from the big pond, the solarium and the path around the trees remain untouched.

Pre-mow, the lawns were full of buttercups and clover, daisies and dandelions, carpet bugle and more. The early purple orchids were almost done.

Side lawn, filled with daisies
Side lawn before the chop, filled with daisies
Front lawn, before the chop
Front lawn, before the chop
Front lawn, after the chop
Front lawn, after the chop

Mushrooms had materialised by the conservatory and down by D&G’s rhododendron, which has revealed gorgeous deep red / magenta flowers. We foraged the mushrooms – St George’s Mushrooms we think, but we weren’t brave enough to eat them.

Mushrooms foraged from the front lawn
Mushrooms foraged from the front lawn

We did scoff a few of the super fruit scones Phil made though.

Waiting for the grass to dry off a bit first thing, I’d also tidied away the wooden planks from the garden railway and had a small bonfire for the worst bits of that and various tree trimmings.

Garden Railway removal
Garden Railway removal

And on Friday afternoon I excavated the four oak tree seedlings that have sprouted from acorns abandoned on the lawn by squirrels – not even buried!

Four Oak Trees-to-be, extracted from the front lawn and chive bed
Four Oak Trees-to-be, extracted from the front lawn and chive bed

We drove to Ledbury on Saturday morning, to see if the Repair Cafe could work any magic on Jean’s Kenwood Chef – I’d blown the motor trying to mix cake mix with the whisk. A picturesque town to potter around, and we felt brave enough to eat out for the first time in … over a year? The Malthouse provided a tasty brunch in a quiet courtyard surrounded by flowers. A good choice. And when I returned to collect Jean’s mixer from the Repair Cafe, it was good-ish news – it’s repairable, I just have to get a motor and they can do the rest. Back to eBay….

Dad and Jean popped over on Saturday afternoon, and their arrival provided a handy pause in the grass gathering and an opportunity for tea and more scones. They’d come to see the wisteria and for a tour of the other garden delights:

Jean’s wisteria is in full bloom and smells lovely.

Jean's wisteria in full bloom
Jean’s wisteria in full bloom

Down at the large pond, the irises and lilies are coming out – and I’d spotted some dragonfly larval shells, a lot more than last year.

Dragonfly larval shell
Dragonfly larval shell

Over in herb bed and veg patch the broad beans, sage, marjoram and thyme going strong, the peas are doing OK (but put to shame by the size of the broad bean plants and their flowers) and the lettuces look to be recovering from their nibbling.

Broad bean flowers and lettuces
Broad bean flowers

There are plenty of fruit on the cherry tree, apples and pears too, and taking a closer look at the four strawberry plants Jean gave me I realised they’re now sporting actual strawberries! I thought they were the flowers once the petals had dropped off….


Spent 4 hours on the computer Sunday morning and feeling a bit grumpy / frazzled all afternoon. Even a good book – Kathleen Jamie’s Surfacing – didn’t perk me up. With hindsight I’m pretty sure it was an emotional pre-reaction to Monday’s trip to Solihull to inter R’s ashes.

So, Monday. I got stuck on the M5 for 40 mins by Droitwich but had plenty of time to get to A&M’s for a lovely lunch and chat beforehand. Really good to see them both.

The interment went fine – Temple Fields is a beautiful place with hay meadows all around and a river along one side. There are birds and butterflies galore and otters and badgers too.

Dinner and chat with C, J&I and mums J and M, and then a night at the Premier Inn – another first and another meal out. Drove back early Tuesday morning.

TV:  Ozark (more of season 2) and Moneyball.

Podcasts: The History of England, History ExtraThe Essay and You Must Remember This.

Photos: Herefordshire week 75 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2021-06-06.