Herefordshire Week 123: Tuesday 03 – Monday 09 May 2022

Glorious garden and lush green lanes. A day out in Malvern. Ladakh visa progress. Restored hooks.

Purples and Blues: A montage of Orchids and Dead Nettle
Purples and Blues: A montage of Orchids and Dead Nettle

Up early with girded loins on Tuesday, all set to sort out my Indian Tourist Visa application. COVID-complicated, not the process’s fault, but all the online info is inconsistent / potentially out of date – as is Exodus’ guidance. Not reassuring.

The e-visa option isn’t available to UK citizens at present and the standard Tourist Visa application involves attending an appointment at the VFS centre in London. Handy when you live in Hereford. So I’m biting the bullet and paying an agency to do  it for me.

After spending far too long looking at Exodus’s two recommended visa agencies (in two different places – deliberate or oversight?), I opted for Travcour. Partly because I’ve used them in the past and partly because their website was less pushy/polished than the alternative and their online chat / email contact were both responsive.

Anyway, filled out the forms and posted everything off from Pontrilas Post Office, which entailed taking the MX-5 for a spin. It does need a wash….

Then work. Not long to our two day KM Consulting Meeting. I am looking forward to that, and all the other London plans.

Before starting work on Thursday morning (we’re now waking up  / getting up nice and early), I heard my first cuckoo of the year and watched a hot air balloon floating towards us from Hatterall Ridge.

Blackbird on the font
Blackbird on the font (not a cuckoo or an air balloon)

I spent most of Friday at the RHS Malvern Spring Festival with Jean. We had a fab day out and returned with lots of goodies including a seed bird feeder, bean cane ring thing, seeds, darning mushroom, Worcestershire honey. We saw Princess Anne, although only recognising her on the second occasion.

One highlight was coming upon a small stall where a lady – The Wheat Weaver – was patiently making corn dollies. Amongst the examples she had on display were a trio of what I now know are Hereford Lanterns. We have one hanging on our landing.

In the evening, pizza à la Phil – the new dough + pizza stone is a crispy winner! – paired with Ozark. Just right.

(In the background: did a COVID test first thing; all clear.)

Busy day on Sunny Saturday. First up, washing the cars then a bit of Malvern-inspired pottering in the Orchard staking out the broad beans, which are going Jack and the Beanstalk bananas.

Broad beans staked
Broad beans staked

A late lunch, sat outside, then down to Abbey Dore Village Hall for the plant sale. It was bustling, inside and out. I splurged £3 on a variegated hosta, a baby lavender and two pots of geraniums – one large, one small. Relaxing with coffee and cake on an outside bench, Peter R spotted us and did various intros so I’ve more faces to go with names.

Down the lane for tapas al fresco at TJs that evening. Our contribution – apple crumble – meant we were a little late; chopping up two dishes of apples from the apple racks took longer than expected. Doesn’t it always? Still, it means that we have dish no. 2 providing pudding every night this week.

Lateish start on Sunday and a bit of admin triggered by an email and invoice from Travcour plus news of an appointment date. A relief to know that Tuesday’s post reached them – even if it felt weirdly scammy to get an email from the / a Director on a Sunday morning….

A gorgeous day – hot and sunny – so after doing the Cockyard circuit, another late lunch was followed by a lovely afternoon sat on the lawn reading the LRB, listening to podcasts and – yes – snoozing.

The hedgerows and verges are in their beautiful green and white stage – cow parsley, greater stitchwort, may flowers and dandelion puffs.

Green and white: A montage of mayflower, pheasant's eye daffodil, dandelion puff, cow parsley.
Green and white: A montage of mayflower, pheasant’s eye daffodil, dandelion puff, cow parsley.

Dad and Jean called in en route to Compline at the Abbey to see the orchids and clematis in their short-lived glory.

Climbing Clematis
Climbing Clematis

Lots of buttercups glowing yellow on lawn, overpowering the cowslips which are fattening with seed.

Cloudier and cooler Monday. Just right for a trio of chats. In the morning, as I walked to Cockyard, a lovely catch up phone call with Blast from the Chester Past. Tea and cake with A in Cockyard then home for lunch. Admin in the afternoon with a break for stroll up to Kerrys Gate with T.

In the evening we joined a special screening online of a restored cut of I Know Where I’m Going. A different experience from other shared viewings, which tend more towards the Eurovision end of the spectrum. Also, WhatsApp has replaced Twitter as the backchannel. And I am still loathe to use WhatsApp.

In other news, the Utility Room repaint is 95% complete and Phil’s painstakingly restored the hooks to their original (ish) glory. They look fab.

Utility Room redecoration - hooks restored to their original glory
Utility Room redecoration – hooks restored to their original glory

Please note those horizontally-aligned screws!

My daily routine currently includes a morning stroll to the greenhouse to put out the baby plants, repeated in reverse every evening to put them back into bed.

They’re coming along very nicely. The first set of lettuce seeds I planted are looking more like lettuce, and most of the tomato seedlings are looking very healthy. The runt of the February sowing gets to stay inside the greenhouse 🙂

Montage: Greenhouse plants, and our visiting pheasant
Montage: Greenhouse plants, and our visiting pheasant

The second planting comprised more lettuce plus sunflowers, and they’re all going great guns. Last year’s strawberry plants (four, small) produced runners which are now in four small pots. Flowers and fruit already showing in all eight. Along the west side of the greenhouse the sage and gooseberry cuttings and oak tree saplings are various shades of green. Closer to the house the wild garlic is in flower. I think it likes its new home.

And we have a resident pheasant. Noisy chap, struts across the end of the lawn, around the orchard and visits the bird feeders for seed and nut droppings.

TV:  Severance (Apple TV – double meh), Ozark (final season, part 2….), Better Call Saul (real time weekly viewing!), I Know Where I’m Going, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

Podcasts: History Extra, Great Lives, Lingthusiasm, Books and Authors, Bookclub.

Photos: Herefordshire week 123 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2022-05-08.

Herefordshire Week 122: Tuesday 26 April – Monday 02 May 2022

Still catching up. So these are pithy.

Bacton Square on Tuesday morning – down to Abbey Dore with Phil then on to Bacton for wild garlic, Kerrys Gate and home. It’s potato planting time.

Bacton Square: Planting potatoes
Bacton Square: Planting potatoes

No VWW or Family Zoom.

The Utility Room Repainting Project continues.

Friday morning – finished Flickring Pembs pics and writing last week’s weeknotes, then took old log shed roofing to the tip and called in at Dinedor for coffee and plants.

Returning home after a stroll up the lane with Phil in the late afternoon, we spotted a couple of swifts on the electricity lines. We’ve since seen them bombing around, hoovering up insects.

Spent Saturday in the garden.

Strava Map: A Morning’s Gardening
A Morning’s Gardening

I planted out some of Jean’s Dinedor plants (the rhubarb was looking a bit peaky), dug up thistles and snipped wild plum shoots out of the lawns and fixed the waterbutt downpipe, retrieving the two bits of pipe that had previously fallen into the butt. April has been so dry that I’ve used up that whole 100l, and I’ve not even done that much watering.

After lunch, mowing. Note to self – don’t try to push the Honda mower up the Quarry-Solarium slope. It rolled back and bashed me on my lower left leg. Owww. In other news, I’ve got the knack of starting the mower now.

Pizza for tea.

Rain arrived overnight, so I happily spent most of Sunday morning on admin – mainly reading through Waxwing Energy’s report and doing a blogpost and Facebook post for the LED Fundraising Weekend in May.

After lunch we headed to Dinedor / Bungalow for Phil to help dad with moving stuff and I did a food shop. We reconvened at the bungalow for tea and cake.

Bedraggled Robin
Bedraggled Robin

Monday was the Spring Bank Holiday, cloudy and cool (indoors at least), so I opted for a duvet day and sat in the lounge with the log stove on and finished reading Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith. Smashing all round.

TV:  Russian Doll (season 2 – meh), The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Severance (Apple TV – double meh).

Podcasts: History Extra, You Must Remember This.

Photos: Herefordshire week 122 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2022-05-01. <– comes with a Chuffles warning

Troubled Blood – Robert Galbraith

Troubled Blood - Robert Galbraith
Troubled Blood – Robert Galbraith

More detective-ing by Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott, this time in and around Clerkenwell with occasional trips to Cornwall and elsewhere.

References to Robin using her “iPod” and “Oyster card” threw me for quite some time, until I twigged that it’s set in 2014. Even so, those still don’t sound right to me.

Also the paperback clocks in at over 1000 pages. Not easy wrangling a book that big in bed. So I’m glad I got to spend Spring Bank Holiday Monday reading it in the lounge. Thankfully it is a real page turner.

Author page: Troubled Blood – Robert Galbraith

Herefordshire Week 121: Tuesday 19 – Monday 25 April 2022

Belated Birthday celebrations. Hereford for fun. Dore Abbey to Hay on Wye. Bluebells and orchids.

Dore Abbey to Hay on Wye: Cusop Hill Panorama
Dore Abbey to Hay on Wye: Cusop Hill Panorama

Drove back from Pembs on Tuesday morning, dropping Hazel off at Carmarthen en route. (That seems like a long time ago now.)

It was straight to work once I got back, so I opened cards and presents in the evening, and admired the repainted porch and utility room – all Phil’s hard work.

We were both a bit shattered after our respective weekends.

Dad and Jean came over on Thursday evening for belated birthday fish & chips (battered mushrooms in my case) and it was warm enough to sit in the conservatory until it got dark. Cake and candles rounded off a lovely evening.

Spent Friday catching up on admin and Flickring Pembrokeshire photos, with a late afternoon break for a speedy walk to Hill Farm and back with Phil, chatting with the ewes and lambs in the field en route. Yes, we do that.

On Saturday, Phil and I went into Hereford for fun. Yes – FUN! The first time since March 2020, or so it feels like. There were a few “jobs” – library (good haul of novels – much needed), bits and bobs to get, train tickets to collect, charity shop drop off to do, but the main event was lunch and coffee at Sensory & Rye. It was busy, which was good to see.

Tremorithic Footpaths on Sunday morning with Phil, then an afternoon in the greenhouse and orchard, planting out lettuce and sunflower seeds, potting up the tomato and lettuce seedlings, and planting out the sweet peas in the Coffin. I sowed a strip of rocket in the herb bed too. Keep your fingers crossed!

Tremorithic footpaths with Phil: Bluebell woods
Tremorithic footpaths with Phil: Bluebell woods

Marathon walk on Monday, recce-ing a Herefordshire Walking Festival / GVWC route with Dave who had pieced together 18 miles of Herefordshire Trail, Three Rivers Ride and Cusop footpaths to get us from Dore Abbey to Hay on Wye: Abbey Dore – Bacton – St Margarets – Turnastone – Peterchurch – Hinton – Snodhill – Twyn Coed – Bonny Lands & Vagar Hill – Mynydd Brith – New House Wood – Cusop Hill – Cusop Dingle – Hay on Wye.

Strava Map: Dore Abbey to Hay on Wye
Strava Map: Dore Abbey to Hay on Wye

Fabulous day and fantastic walk, going through lush green fields full of lambs, bluebell woods and farmed forests, up over hills and sheep moorland on the border with Wales. Amazing views from Bonny Lands / Vagar Hill and Cusop Hill – seeing Hay Bluff from a completely new perspective.

Dore Abbey to Hay on Wye: St Margarets Church
Dore Abbey to Hay on Wye: St Margarets Church

All rounded off with tea and top notch cake from The Cosy Cafe in Hay on Wye – highly recommended for super customer service, as well as super cake!

Home for pizza by Phil – new dough recipe. Thumbs UP.

Spring has definitely arrived here in Herefordshire with bluebells and cowslips galore. The orchids have materialised on the front lawn and there’s blossom on the fruit trees. It’s lovely.

Orchid on the front lawn
Orchid on the front lawn
Cherry Tree Blossom
Cherry Tree Blossom

Plus the cows have arrived in Thistly Field. Mooooooo.


TV:  Peaky Blinders (finished off series 6 – what a finale!), Russian Doll, This Farming Life

Podcasts: The History of English, Lingthusiam, Books and Authors.

Photos: Herefordshire week 121 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2022-04-24.

Hot Milk – Deborah Levy

Hot Milk - Deborah Levy
Hot Milk – Deborah Levy

I’ve been slogging my way through this for a good few weeks now. Podcasts and more recently Jessie Burton’s The Confession on audiobook took precedence over bedtime reading.

And today I picked up a bunch of new books from the library all of which I actually want to read rather than feel I ought to. So I’m putting Hot Milk to one side, probably never to return.

Publisher page: Hot Milk – Deborah Levy