Herefordshire Week 169: Tuesday 21 – Monday 27 March 2023

7.30pm and it’s still light!! Summer’s on its way!

First mow of the year – both mowers started and I’ve done a “full mow”.

Cowslips emerging, primroses too and first grape hyacinths are out by the old railway track route.

AND – tadpoles!

Tuesday morning, I read another chunk of The Ink Black Heart then headed over to A’s for tea and bara brith. Back in the sunshine between the showers. Big news at the small pond – tadpoles have emerged from one batch of frogspawn!

If you squint at this photo, you should see some small black squiggles – those are the tadpoles….


Finished work ‘early’ on Tuesday – 5.30pm – so that we had time to drive down to Ross on Wye to meet dad and Jean, N&T for dad’s birthday dinner at No. 3. A real treat. Dad has been telling us how good No. 3 is for a while now, and it more than lived up to the hype.

Usual work week, although noticeably not as hectic as some. VWW but no Family Zoom. Instead, and with Phil’s help, I got my new iPad up and running.

Headed over to dad and Jean’s on Friday morning for Part 1 of the Rucksack Storage Box project. AKA dad and I are making a box to put at the end of the spare bed in my office and in which I’ll keep my rucksacks and on which visitors can put suitcases / bags when they stay.

Rucksack storage box - dad's plan
Rucksack storage box – dad’s plan

Once I finish work I won’t need two desks / two computer set ups, and I’m planning to reorganise the room to put a desk and computer in the alcove and moving the beds to be where the computer desks are now. The wardrobe will go, which means we’ll need to have replaced our bedroom furniture first, which has been on The List for a long time. But comes with Replace the Carpet upstairs… so not a small undertaking. is a boon.

Anyway, I had a lovely time with dad – first stop, B&Q for the MDF, which was cut to size instore by a very nice man, plus strengthening battens and a piano hinge. And compost, seeing as I was there.

Back at dad’s, we got the power tools out and glued and screwed the sides together, and prepped the base, by which time it was time for lunch and dad took Jean and I out to Radway Bridge. V tasty. Another 30mins more back in the garage workshop and the base was in. Part 2 will be attaching the hinge and the lid, and adding castors. Paint to be applied back here.

Rucksack storage box - all the sides are "done"
Rucksack storage box – all the sides are “done”

Caught up with L in the late afternoon / early evening. It’s been a long time.

A day in the garden, Saturday.

Cleared the ivy by the vastly reduced evergreen bush by the tree house (can you tell I don’t know what it is?), raked the bare earth to loosen it and spread grass seed there, raked up camellia flowers and picked up wind blown twigs. Then to The Forge to get fresh petrol for the ride on mower.

After a late lunch, I took the Honda mower for a tour of the edges and tricky spots, and to use up some of last year’s petrol. The mower coped with that, however the “power” bit is erratic, so there was a lot of manual pushing and hauling. Quite a work out….

A quick tea and Kit Kat at 4 o’clock watching the birds on the bird feeders, then time to see if the ride on mower would start…. It did after more tries at turning the key than I’d previously given it. Not sure I’d set up the trickle charger correctly, but hopefully a couple of hours mowing recharged the battery. Lots of shuttle trips to / from Mower Turn – 7 loads of grass cuttings there, 1 in the orchard, 1 ½ from the solarium including a lot of leaves and some brown stripy feathers – signs of a battle between birds of prey?

It was lovely being outside, if a little chilly by the end. Touring The Estate meant I had time to see spring flowers transitioning from “white ones” to the “yellow and blues”, and leaves starting to appear on the trees, hedges and bushes. Cowslips are coming through below the big pond, primroses are on the willow tree stump and the corner verges, grape hyacinths blooming by the old railway route; there are leaves on the clematis, and leaf buds on the crab apple, pear, apple and cherry trees, and on the hazelnut trees too.


Pizza by Phil for tea as we watched all three episodes of Waco on Netflix. Not as good as the longer Storyville documentary series – Waco: Madman or Messiah – we’d watched a while ago. I really didn’t like the tone of the Netflix series – too much revelling in the drama in the opening sequence, and too much macho self justification / self glorification from most of the FBI and ATF men (and it was, tellingly, all men). They seem to have lost sight of the fact that the seige resutled in the deaths of over 80 people.

The clocks sprang forward overnight. I’d not slept well even after all Saturday’s exertion so it was a sluggish start to Sunday.

On the plus side, it was raining, which provided a good excuse to read and potter.  I spent a happy hour or so translating Val’s outline itinerary for this autumn’s Nepal trek into a spreadsheet and looking up the route on my map. It turns out that my Kanchenjunga paper map doesn’t go far enough west, so there was some online map searching too. Hopefully we’ll be trekking all the way over to the Makalu-Barun National Park, into the valleys the other side of Sherpani Col, which I saw from the west while we were trekking north through the Hongu Valley towards Amphu Lapsta in 2019. Which means I really should be calling the trek “Kangchenjunga to Makalu”. Cor!

Took advantage of lulls in the rain to get outside and to redistribute the piles of mown grass. Too lazy to bother with the windblown wood on the paths, but did have the energy to suggest bubble & squeak with a fried egg for lunch. Yum Yum. And finished off The Ink Black Heart.

Mid afternoon P drove us to Hereford to pick up his latest bike exercise machine, then back home to read on the sofa – starting the next in my Library Hardback Haul, Barbara Kingsolver’s Demon Copperhead.

It was light until gone 7.30pm. Summer’s on its way!

On Monday, I drove down the Wye Valley to rendezvous with Sonia, Sara and Grace for another lovely day walking together. This time we made good use of having 2 cars and did a section of the Offa’s Dyke Path, from Monmouth to Brockweir.

Offa's Dyke: Monmouth to Brockweir
Offa’s Dyke: Monmouth to Brockweir

A beautiful day. It felt like the clocks having changed brought summer with it.

Late lunch in Brockweir’s Community Shop & Cafe – where I bumped into one of guys I’d walked and talked with during the CWF earlier on in the month.

Strava Map & Graph: Offa's Dyke: Monmouth to Brockweir
Strava Map & Graph: Offa’s Dyke: Monmouth to Brockweir
  • Distance: 10.68 miles
  • Time: 3h 50m
  • Elevation Gain: 1,527 ft

Spent a happy hour outside collecting the windblown twigs and branches between the paths to/from Mower Turn.

In the evening it was time to indulge in the long awaited return of Succession. We warmed up for season 4 by watching the last episode of season 3 as a refresher, and then watched the first episode of season 4.

Retirement Days Tracker: 21 ½ days to go

TV: The GoldThe Gold: The Inside StoryWaco: American Apocalypse, Succession.  We gave up on The Flight Attendant.

Podcasts: History Extra, The AllusionistSheDunnit, In Our Time.

Photos: Herefordshire week 169 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2023-03-26.

The Ink Black Heart – Robert Galbraith

The Ink Black Heart - Robert Galbraith
The Ink Black Heart – Robert Galbraith

Another investigation with Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott and the gang, in which Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling) portrays social media trolling and abuse, online gaming and fandom, and misogyny.

In the background, the will-they-won’t-they plotline continues.

Plus, I’m loving Pat!

Author page: The Ink Black Heart – Robert Galbraith

Herefordshire Week 168: Tuesday 14 – Monday 20 March 2023

March Birthdays Bonanza = weekend trip to London for a party and a hangover, Guys & Dolls and good food. Dad’s birthday back in Hereford.

London Party Time
London Party Time

Up early Tuesday to run Phil into Hereford for the 06.40 train to London. Home to continue with the catch up, including week 167 weeknotes and flickring in the weekend’s CWF walks.

Usual work days on Wednesday and Thursday. Topped up the bird feeders on Wednesday morning. Caught up with Tom on Weds evening and Val on Thursday.

Busy couple of hours first thing Friday getting things done: bit of cleaning, collecting things for the Charity Shop Drop, feeding the birds (topping up both peanut feeders AND the seed feeder). Packed, turned the heating down and drove into Hereford for the Charity Shop Drop, Dunelm, library book pick up, washing up liquid refill, a mooch in Mountain Warehouse and daffs and hot cross buns from Waitrose. Jobs done, on to dad and Jean’s for tea and buns, and to leave the car.

Dad ran me to the station and I was on the 13:18 to Paddington. Elizabeth Line to TCR and a short walk up to Torrington Place to rendezvous with Phil for his birthday weekend back in the Smoke.

We stayed in the Premier Inn Hub London Goodge Street Hotel – very reminiscent of some of the hotels Rosa and I stayed in in Japan, right down to the touch screen controls and the artful room layout that manages to fit everything you need into a very small space without feeling crowded.

Rooftops of Fitzrovia & Bloomsbury, and City Skyscrapers
Rooftops of Fitzrovia & Bloomsbury, and City Skyscrapers

At 6pm we wandered over to Simmons Fitzrovia and put up the 145 Birthday Party decorations. Six hours later after lots of chat and maybe one too many glasses of red wine, we were back in our compact and bijou room at the Premier Inn Hub.

A rainy, hungover, start to Saturday. One Veggie Bubble & Squeak Breakfast from Lantana later and I was starting to feel a bit less ropey and the rain was easing off.

Veggie Bubble & Squeak Breakfast, Lantana
Veggie Bubble & Squeak Breakfast, Lantana

We wandered down to Oxford Street and ticked off the Muji shopping list then on to Stanfords – no maps / guides dedicated to the Golondrinas or Carros de Foc – then back to base. Hot cross buns from M&S and two cups of tea from the Hub Lounge, then out again to walk to the Bridge Theatre. I’d forgotten how crowded the touristy bits of London can get….

Strava Map: Fitzrovia to Tower Bridge
Strava Map: Fitzrovia to Tower Bridge

Fantastic matinee at Guys & Dolls, immersive/ standing tickets were a win.

Guys & Dolls wristband
Guys & Dolls wristband

Jubilee Line to Green Park and Phil’s navigation got us to Andrew Edmunds for our 6pm booking and a really lovely birthday dinner.

Back to the Hub for an early night.

It was 8am (again) before we surfaced on Sunday and we headed back to Lantana for breakfast No. 2 – partly because it was good, partly because it was close and partly because it was open at 9am and not many places are.

Lantana Breakfast No. 2
Lantana Breakfast No. 2

Strolled around the quiet Sunday streets back to the hotel, packed, and walked west to Paddington. A nicer walk than I’d expected, and really not far. West London will always be a bit of a mystery to me.

Strava Map: Torrington Place to Paddington Station
Strava Map: Torrington Place to Paddington Station

11.48 train to Hereford, with a hen party enjoying a Magic Mike Night debrief.

Dad met us at the station and drove us back to the bungalow to collect the car. A quick COVID-cautious Hi ‘n’ Bye then we drive home for unpacking and relaxing. Phil’s first task was to top up the bird feeders…

Monday was dad’s 85th birthday, so I went over for birthday coffee and cake together with the Dinedor Neighbours and their 8 month old puppy (a teen in dog years).

Back via Lidl and Lock’s Garage (petrol) for a late lunch, then admin for a couple of hours until the lure of Robert Galbraith and the lounge sofa got the better of me…

The days are getting longer – dad’s birthday saw the days getting longer than the nights, the birdsong is getting richer and louder and in the garden as the snowdrops fade the daffodils are coming into their prime. The camellia survived the snow and is in full bloom. There are buds on the bird feeder pear tree.

The grass is going bananas. Just as the rain arrives thus complicating mowing opportunities….

Retirement Days Tracker: 24 days to go

TV: Wild Isles (David Attenborough at 96), Inside Our Autistic Minds, An Irish Goodbye, Bobby Fingers’ Dioramas (YouTube), The Making of The Last of Us.

Podcasts: History Extra, Lingthusiasm, The Last Soviet.

Photos: Herefordshire week 168 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2023-03-19.

Herefordshire Week 167: Tuesday 07 – Monday 13 March 2023

Quite a week!!

Snow AND three more Crickhowell Walking Festival walks – this time with S, R & J for company.

Crickhowell Walking Festival 2023: Bryn and Carn Pica
Crickhowell Walking Festival 2023: Bryn and Carn Pica

It took all of Tuesday morning to flickr my CWF photos and to do last week’s weeknotes. The most recent OS upgrade has killed my 2017 iMac.

KMCA drinks and LED Trustees Meeting – both over Zoom – in the evening.

Snow arrived on Wednesday, slowly but surely turning the countryside into a gorgeous Winter Wonderland.


We had to pick up our car from the garage in Ewyas Harold mid-afternoon, so we did the fast route via Dick’s Pitch. Definitely didn’t want just one of us walking up over the Common with the visibility as low as it was.

Phil on the footpath down to Ewyas Harold
Phil on the footpath down to Ewyas Harold
Forty Acres at dusk, at the end of a snowy day
Forty Acres at dusk, at the end of a snowy day

S, R & J were due to arrive on Thursday afternoon / evening for a long weekend’s walking with the Crickhowell Walking Festival, however Wednesday’s snow continued overnight into Thursday, turning to heavy rain as the day progressed. Phil and I had gone out into the garden first thing to take photos (and to clear the snow from the car).

Forty Acres in the snow: Looking west from the front lawn
Forty Acres in the snow: Looking west from the front lawn
Forty Acres in the snow: The house from the large pond
Forty Acres in the snow: The house from the large pond

The weather meant that the CWF schedule was up in the air until 3pm, and complicated all our best laid travel plans with S’s trains running late and R&J on a 3 hour drive from home.

I finished work early, drove to Abergavenny in heavy rain, only for S’s delayed connection from Cardiff to be cancelled and for her to be on a later train that turned out to not be stopping at Abergavenny to make up time. A speedy shop and a speedy drive to Hereford later, we finally managed to rendezvous at 6.20pm, almost 2 hours later than scheduled.

We arrived home with a few minutes in hand before R&J rocked up and we could at last relax into our long weekend, catching up over a glass of wine sat in the lounge with the log fire Phil had got going in my absence.

Phil made Angela Hartnett’s tagliatelle with pine nuts, capers and kale for dinner, having already produced two loaves of bread and a batch of scones during the day – I’m a very lucky lady.

Up early on Friday for breakfast, packed lunch prep and to clear another inch of overnight snow off the car before the drive to Tal-y-bont and the 9.30am rendezvous in the cafe there. We’d been checking the Met Office Brecon Beacons weather forecast and the blue skies arrived but the winds – and wind chill – did not, and we had a magical walk in the snow.

  • Walk: Bryn and Carn Pica
  • Time: 6 ½ hours
  • Distance: 11 ½ miles
  • Ascent: 2,610 ft
Crickhowell Walking Festival 2023: Bryn and Carn Pica
Crickhowell Walking Festival 2023: Bryn and Carn Pica
Crickhowell Walking Festival 2023: Bryn and Carn Pica
Crickhowell Walking Festival 2023: Bryn and Carn Pica

Home for J’s chilli, and cheese and biscuits.

Saturday’s walk, Abergavenny Twin Peaks – aka a circular walk taking in both Skirrid and Sugar Loaf, turned out to be Skirrid and a partial ascent of Sugar Loaf. We didn’t go all the way to the top because the cloud was right down making it cold and wet, snowy and icy.

Crickhowell Walking Festival 2023: Abergavenny Twin Peaks - 10 seconds of tinkling trees as the ice melts (video)
Crickhowell Walking Festival 2023: Abergavenny Twin Peaks – 10 seconds of tinkling trees as the ice melts (video)

A long day. Skirrid was smashing, but from the Llanvihangel Court lunch stop onwards it was a soggy slog, particularly the route from the slopes of Sugar Loaf back to the car park.

  • Walk: Abergavenny Twin Peaks
  • Time: 7 ¾ hours
  • Distance: 13.8 miles
  • Ascent: 2780 ft

Home for showers, warmth, tea and scones, then fish and chips from The Old Stables. Yum yum.

Sunday was dry but there was a lot of snow melt making for wet feet for almost all of our final walk, Astride the Grwyne Fawr Valley.

It’s a good walk from Grwyne Fawr, but it was very windy on the first ridge north from Bal Bach so having dropped back down into the valley we stayed low and returned via the banks of the Grwyne Fawr (literally, for a stretch) rather than heading up to the second ridge, Pen y Gadair Fawr, Pen Twyn Mawr and Disgwlfa.

  • Walk: Astride the Grwyne Fawr Valley
  • Time: 5 hours 20 mins
  • Distance: 8.9 miles
  • Ascent: 1650 ft
Crickhowell Walking Festival 2023: Astride the Grwyne Fawr Valley
Crickhowell Walking Festival 2023: Astride the Grwyne Fawr Valley

Then home for showers, tea and scones, G&Ts and dinner. A lovely evening, and a lovely end to having friends to stay.

Leisurely start to Monday, breakfast then farewells to R and J. S and I whiled away the rest of the morning chatting and Pyrenees planning. An early lunch then Phil, S and I drove into Hereford to drop off S at the station and for Phil and I to go to The Courtyard for the last of this year’s Borderlines films – only for One Fine Morning to be cancelled. A bit annoying, but nice to have the afternoon free to Get Things Done.

P.S. Frogspawn

Frogspawn in the small pond
Frogspawn in the small pond

P.P.S. More daffodils and tulips coming through on the corner verges. Very exciting and satisfying.

Retirement Days Tracker: 26 ½ days to go

TV: The Last of Us (end of season 1), Mystery Road: Origin, The Flight Attendant.

Podcasts: History Extra.

Photos: Herefordshire week 167 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2023-03-12.