Herefordshire Week 070: Tuesday 27 April – Monday 03 May 2021

Work work work.

Cuckoo! Bald headed robin. The first squirrel finds the bird feeders…..

This week and next week I’m working a full working week as we migrate and test one of our existing systems onto a new version a new server.  A shock to the system in some ways, but it’s nice to have time …. usually my 20 hour / 2.5 day working week is spent manically Getting Things Done. This week I’ve had time to think.

We’ve a bald headed robin visiting the bird feeders.

Bald Headed Robin
Bald Headed Robin

Not a healthy looking feathered fella / fella-ette, I thought it was leucistic initially, with a white head and lower body, but once we got a better look the poor thing has a  bald head. Googling suggests feather mites. There is another robin that feeds it, so another possibility is that it’s a baby and the head feathers are just a little late to come in. I hope so.

On Saturday morning I heard the first cuckoo of the year.

Frosty nights are back, and although some mornings are beautiful –


… it’s still quite cold without the sun. On Tuesday – a cold day with cloud and rain – we even lit the stove. MORE rain on Monday. Lots.

A good Bank Holiday weekend, albeit shorter than my usual.

Dad and Jean came over for coffee on Saturday morning and on Sunday morning we did the Bacton Square, picking two large bags of wild garlic at Bacton Stud and finishing up with a very sociable section in and around Abbey Dore with chats in the Abbey porch, at the Old School House, the end garden in Dore Hamlet and the Old Magistrates Court.

Leisurely afternoon – finished The Buried Giant (OK, but not amazing) and started Shaman’s Crossing (Assassins-meets-Native American Peoples post colonialisation), planted out some more lettuces, sowed some pea seeds in pots.  I think I’ve decided where to put the Japanese Quince…

Monday was cold and wet. Good weather for a morning of admin and treating ourselves to telly in the afternoon catching up with Sunday night’s LoD finale before stumbling upon any spoilers, and turning the wild garlic haul into Wild Garlic Pesto and Wild Garlic Pesto and Feta Tarte, based on Tamal Ray’s foraging recipes.

Wild Garlic Pesto and Feta Tarte
Wild Garlic Pesto and Feta Tarte

In this week’s articles of interest:

TV: Ozark gripped from the start, started Call My Agent for some light relief, a bit of Bridgerton on Sunday and Line of Duty (and back again to Call My Agent) on Monday.

Podcasts: History Extra, The History of England, Out of the Ordinary and Bookclub.

Photos: Herefordshire week 70 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2021-05-03 (Bank Holiday Edition).

Herefordshire Week 069: Tuesday 20 – Monday 26 April 2021

Socialising and Florence Nightingale-ing (not my forte). More sunshine. Some walks.

Looking south east
Looking south east

Tuesday morning was spent catching up on admin and doing weeknotes, which put paid to getting out and about outside. Still, we met up with T&J after work and did the Riverdale circuit. Lots of chat, and at Canns Hill we coincided with the Vowchurch farmer who’s building a holiday rental on the field at the top of Camp Wood – he told us he’d got planning approval, and also that the sheep we’d seen in that field earlier in the year were Badger Faced Welsh Mountain Sheep. A very apt name as they’d had twin black stripes running down their faces, like overemphasized eyebrows.

Busy week at work as we start an upgrade fortnight next week (which means I’m flexing my days to work a 5 day week next week. Urk). Managed a brief VWW and a longer Family Zoom where the main theme was Herefordshire Council’s approach to Council Tax on unoccupied second properties.

After Family Zoom I went for a walk around the garden, during which time Phil managed to slam into the patio windows between the snug and the conservatory and to fall backwards onto not one but two hefty coffee tables, knocking himself about a bit in the process. A bag of frozen sweetcorn and Bridgerton came to the rescue. Now he knows what the birds that headbutt the conservatory feel like.

Gorgeous day on Friday, which made the run into Hereford for shopping, library and Dinedor delivery all the less appealing, and the traffic jams are back which made the morning all the more torturous.

Perked up by pottering around the garden. Flowers are starting to appear on the clematis and the first of the orchids have surfaced on the lawn …

Spring colours: Green, blue, yellow, pink & purple - Orchids
Spring colours: Green, blue, yellow, pink & purple – Orchids

… and the wild flowers are beautiful – blues, yellows, pinks and purples.

Spring colours: Green, blue, yellow, pink & purple - Cowslips, Forget-Me-Nots & Lady's Smock
Spring colours: Green, blue, yellow, pink & purple – Cowslips, Forget-Me-Nots & Lady’s Smock

And Phil was well enough to make Friday Night Pizza. A Good Sign.

After a restless night cursing Herefordshire Council, I stomped off the grump with a long walk on Saturday morning and did the Bacton Footpaths route. Nettles not (yet) as prolific as I’d feared. Chilly breeze + strong sun = pink arms and face. But my hip held up, and it’s a long walk. I spotted the year’s first swallows at Bacton (which reminded me that I’ve not heard a cuckoo yet), butterflies were in busy along the hedgerows of Cwm Hill Road and I bumped into our Abbey Dore Pod hostess too.

Later on in the afternoon we had the Kerrys Gate neighbours over for drinks – quite a lot of drinks! Fab. Socialising to the Max (Six).

On Sunday the cool wind continued as did Phil’s recuperation, so I spent the morning pottering in the garden and inside, getting jobs done before next week’s work marathon. Did Duffryn backwards late afternoon, then read with a pot of tea and a hot cross bun.

Strawberry plants repotted
Strawberry plants repotted

Monday saw the start of my upgrade fortnight at work….. Keep your fingers crossed on that!

I like this quote from Joanna Lumley:

You can’t be happy all the time, but you should always try to make other people happy.

TV: More instalments in The People vs OJ Simpson; indulged in the first two episodes of Bridgerton on Friday following Phil’s close encounter with the double glazing, Line of Duty on Sunday. Gave up on Uncut Gems on Friday and m anaged 20 minutes of Scarface on Saturday before deciding it would be too gruesome, and switched to The People…. instead.

Podcasts: History Extra, In Our Time, The Life Scientific, Books and Authors, SheDunnit and The Essay.

Photos: Herefordshire week 69 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2021-04-25.

Herefordshire Week 068: Tuesday 13 – Monday 19 April 2021

Fab week. Magic weather + We went to Wales (Twice) + Staycation = Lovely Lockdown Birthday No. 2.

Briefnotes this week as the weather is still amazing and I don’t want to be inside any longer than necessary. One of those days (weeks) where I wonder why I’m still working.

Last Tuesday seems a long, long time ago now. Weeknotes are good for reminding me how much we actually do here. Dale and Marley (Morgan & Cuss) were here until early afternoon putting finishing touches to the bathrooms, which are now both looking LOVELY.

Bathroom Revamp: Day 6 - and we are DONE!
Bathroom Revamp: Day 6 – and we are DONE!

22 April – PS: Totally forgot that I walked to Ewyas Harold on Tuesday morning to post Nicola’s LED Challenge prize to her. A lovely, lovely walk over the Common, and encounters with Bob-the-post, Jack who gave me a tour of his garden in Abbey Dore, and HOLIDAYMAKERS!

Usual routine for the rest of Tuesday – Thursday, aka work plus VWW on Weds although I didn’t make it to Family Zoom on Thursday due to a last minute go live, which left me a bit frazzled.

Still, from Friday onwards it was a lovely, lovely long weekend.

We drove ACROSS THE BORDER INTO WALES on Friday morning, heading for Abergavenny for a spot of shopping plus takeaway coffees from Bean & Bread – drunk out in the park as in Wales outdoor hospitality, ie cafes etc, doesn’t reopen until 26 April. We rounded off a good morning with a visit to their giant WAITROSE, to purchase a few tasty treats for my birthday weekend.

Back at base, gave the grass another mow – making up to the Solarium for the first time – and planted out lettuce and radish seedlings, including some lettuce in the old herb bed (where the chives still live), with one of the old double glazed windows resting on top as a cold frame.

Tacos for tea!

Dad and Jean came over on Saturday and we had a lovely lunch sat outside on the patio. They brought an array of presents including a gooseberry bush, which Jean mentioned was an excellent Albutt suggestion. And her last jar of 2020 Blackcurrant Jam….

Birthday lunch out on the patio
Birthday lunch out on the patio

Dad brought us a mealy worm bird feeder too, and that’s now on the pear tree. The robins have yet to discover it…. We are still receiving daily visits from a pair of pheasants and a pair of partridges (possibly two pairs…). Greenfinches appear to be regular visitors, but I realised this week that we’ve not seen those feisty long-tailed tits for ages….

Sunday was lovely – leisurely breakfast, card and presents then spent the rest of the morning planting things in the garden including a conifer and lilac from the bungalow plus the gooseberry bush which is now planted next to the blackcurrant.

Phil has bought me a Japanese Quince, which I admire every time we walk past Wellfield. I’m still deciding where to plant it… You would have thought that with all the space here it would be an easy decision!

Lunch then time for the Bacton Square before we headed down to Abbey Dore for a bit of a joint birthday staycation. We’d booked a night at Abbey Dore Pod which we’ve watched being built on the farm next to the Abbey, where there used to be a tumbledown garage.

The Pod is FAB – perfect snug space for two inside….

Inside Abbey Dore Pod
Inside Abbey Dore Pod

… and a sunny patio perfect for a glass of wine while watching the sheep and lambs in the field on its doorstep.

Relaxing on the patio at Abbey Dore Pod
Relaxing on the patio at Abbey Dore Pod

Did I mention how cute the neighbours are?

Abbey Dore Pod - Our Neighbours
Abbey Dore Pod – The Cute Neighbours

Another lovely day on Monday: breakfast on the patio at the pod with the lambs looking on, then back into Wales and up Skirrid for lunch looking out across the Brecon Beacons.

Me at the top of Skirrid
Me at the top of Skirrid

Back home for an afternoon pottering in the garden and greenhouse. I’ve repotted my tomato seedlings – turns out I’ve got 11! – and had a go at putting bean poles up as my broad beans are on a real growth spurt. Peas are lagging a little, and squirrels seem to have discovered them – lots of digging holes along the row of unsurfaced seeds. Used last year’s apple tree prunings as poles, and could have done with a few more.

Veg patch and herb bed - now with added poles
Veg patch and herb bed – now with added poles

A sociable week ahead – it is so good to be able to meet people again. We’ve drinks with some of the neighbours on Saturday and are meeting up for a stroll with others after work this evening, making the most of this amazing weather!

TV: Loving Better Call Saul. Adult Life Skills film night on Saturday plus Line of Duty down at the pod. Started The People vs OJ Simpson on Monday. Think I enjoyed the BBC Four Storyville documentary more.

Podcasts: Mainly History Extra and on Monday The Essay proved a perfect accompaniment to pottering in the Orchard.

Photos: Herefordshire week 68 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2021-04-18.

Herefordshire Week 067: Tuesday 06 – Monday 12 April 2021

Bathroom revamping in progress!

Tuesday morning saw the start of Project Bathroom Revamps, with Morgan & Cuss working in the en suite to get the old sink out and to plumb in at new sink spot. Great work throughout the week, and by Friday the en suite was pretty much all done bar the repainting and finishing touches, and the main bathroom ready for work the following week.

Bathroom Refurb In Progress - End of Day 1
Bathroom Refurb In Progress – End of Day 1
Bathroom Revamp: Day 4
Bathroom Revamp: Day 4
Bathroom Revamp: Day 4
Bathroom Revamp: Day 4

On Monday, the heated mirror went into the en suite and the first coat of paint was applied, with the panelling and relocated en suite mirror going up in the main bathroom.

As Phil says, it feels like we’re at a swanky hotel, when we use the en suite at least….

Morgan & Cuss are excellent. Highly recommended if you’re in the Herefordshire area and need someone to handle plumbing or heating.

Walked over to Ewyas Harold to post of my old camera batteries that I’d sold on eBay (much easier than I’d expected) on Tuesday. A lovely morning so having gone Direct (Dore Abbey – Footpaths up and over EH Common – Recreation Ground – Village Shop & Post Office), I took the scenic route back: School Lane footpath back up onto the Common, down via the Deer Farm, into Abbey Dore, left onto the Dore River footpath to Riverdale and back via Kerrys Gate, meeting K&K en route.

Ate lunch in the conservatory as it snowed outside. A week of weird weather – cold when cloudy and lots of snow / hail showers, warm/hot when the sun is out. Classic April Showers really, just featuring snow and hail rather than rain.

Productive week at work. Next week is full of meetings, ie less productive but more informative.

A lot of evening Zooms – LED Trustees meeting on Tuesday evening. VWW on Wednesday, Family Zoom Thursday, postponed catch up with Pete & Ruth on Saturday.

On Saturday morning I did the Bacton Square again, primarily to dig up some wild garlic shoots to plant here. Met K&K again en route to Kerrys Gate and down by Bacton Stud the gate was open into the field with the old barn, so I took the chance to take some photos before it does finally collapse.

Old Barn, Bacton Stud
Old Barn, Bacton Stud

And on the “busy” stretch of road between Bacton and Abbey Dore, there were lots of lambs in the fields, and tractors out in the fields ploughing and planting.

Sheep and Lambs, Bacton
Sheep and Lambs, Bacton
Planting Potatoes: Red Tractor + Red Soil = Herefordshire Field
Planting Potatoes: Red Tractor + Red Soil = Herefordshire Field

From Abbey Dore I took a detour up into the deer field and listened to Dore Abbey’s Bell tolling for Prince Phillip who died on Friday. Opted for the footpath to Canns Hill for the final stretch.

Deer Field: Deer
Deer Field: Deer
Flag at Half Mast, and Bell Tollings for Prince Philip
Flag at Half Mast, and Bell Tollings for Prince Philip

On Sunday Phil and I headed out to find some of the footpaths between Kerrys Gate and Cockyard, but without success. Still, a nice walk and we chatted with D&D – working on their garden room’s new roof – before the final hill up from Quarrels Green.

Did various bits of gardening on Friday – hampered a bit by my still-sprained hand – getting particularly excited as the bean and pea shoots start to make an appearance. And I now have NINE tomato seedlings. I realised Jean’s chard still had the roots attached, so I transplanted these into the veg patch.

Veg Patch & Herb Bed, Orchard
Veg Patch & Herb Bed, Orchard

Everything is growing. It’s green and lovely. The primroses, cowslips and dandelions, and plenty of daffodils still, are blooming in various shades of yellow, and blossom is appearing on the trees.

Apple Blossom, Canns Hill
Apple Blossom, Canns Hill

I’ve repurposed some of the old ensuite – the sink basin is now home to Helen’s Mint (hopefully a more solid container than the plastic pots its broken through) and the pedestal is earmarked as a trough. The shower glass may reemerge as a cold frame, and we are planning to use the panels as shelves in the log shed.

A Greenfinch is visiting the bird feeders, and we’ve seen Yellowhammers hurtling along the hedgerows. Our pairs of pheasants and partridges haven’t become roadkill.

Good reading this week – finished of Barbara Kingsolver’s Unsheltered (I always enjoy her novels, even when the theme doesn’t initially appeal) and Andrew Greig’s Summit Fever (which has rekindled my smouldering desire to return to the mountains of Pakistan and to trek to K2 Base Camp, and to spend more time in beautiful Baltistan).

View of Karimabad, the Karakorams and the Hunza valley, from Duikar viewpoint
View of Karimabad, the Karakorams and the Hunza valley, from Duikar viewpoint

My reading rate has dropped off since moving to Herefordshire. Two factors I think: (1) No long weekends at Walton on the Naze, where I did a lot of reading (no competing activities / jobs to do, and no internet); and (2) Lots of outside jobs to do here, especially in the garden. And possibly (3) general weariness and disinclination to read longer things, finding listening to podcasts less taxing (aka Pandemic Fatigue) and (4) a series of OK reads rather than page turners (Unsheltered and Summit Fever fall squarely in the latter).

Monday saw me drive to Mere for a day with Carl, and to collect two chain saws. Dark clouds and sleety rain on the drive there, glorious sunshine on the drive home. Road much, much busier. Caravans and motorhomes are back out. 12 April saw England start Step 2 of the Roadmap out of Lockdown.

Delighted to find another walker who’s an excel plan fan: Ridgeline — 115 — April, 12, 2021.

TV: Started Better Call Saul (so far, so good – we completed series 1 and started on series 2), more Glow and Line of Duty season 6 (and sorrow at the death of Sarah Hughes who wrote The Guardian Episode Recaps and much more).

Podcasts: Mainly Books and Authors for nighttime listens and The History of England on the drive to/from Mere, plus History ExtraThe Infinite Monkey Cage and The Essay.

Photos: Herefordshire week 67 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2021-04-11.

Herefordshire Week 066: Tuesday 30 March – Monday 05 April 2021

Socialising – plenty of it. Our first patio-side conservatory casualty. Happy Easter! Sunshine highs of > 20C, overnight lows of -1C, and hail (again).

Monday 29 March 2021: Part 2 in Step 1 of the Roadmap Out Of Lockdown, including the end of the ‘stay at home’ rule, and Return of Legit Socialising, Outside in Groups of up to 6.

And later in the week, Mark Drakeford confirmed that the border should reopen on 12 April. Welcome to Wales!

On Tuesday we welcomed our First Visitors for months… Jess, Mike and Flora. A gorgeous afternoon (I’d swopped my LW PM for AM), perfect for sitting on the patio chatting, a stroll to the Abbey and back followed by tea and fruit loaf. We’d taken the footpath route across Tan House Farm fields to the Abbey, encountering a loudly mooing cow and spotting people up on the tower roof – turned out to be the team that clears the gutters.

Dore Abbey
Dore Abbey

MORE Outside Socialising on Thursday evening: patio beers and crisps with Thea and Joe to celebrate the start of the long weekend. No Family Zoom due to competing social engagements all round.

A cold start to Good Friday, but the chill wind gave way to glorious sunshine albeit with a nip in the air when the breezes blew. Chatted with Carl, then bonfired all morning, until almost 2pm. The Brash is All Gone. Reading and pottering ensued, and in the soft sunshine of late afternoon, a deer in Thistly Field.

Project Garage got into gear in the week too – on Friday I got a quote for a concrete garage revamp (aka reroof and new door) and on Saturday morning we met with a local builder to discuss garage rebuild.

It’s funny how I veer from preferring one to the other, depending on how easy the engagement is. After round 1, I’m favouring the local builder (and Getting It done Properly) option. But we’ve not had that quote yet 🙂

Preparing for Project Garage

Dug some of the brash ash into the veg bed on Saturday morning, and mid-afternoon after walking the Bacton loop plus Thistly Field, I headed over to Dinedor for tea and cake with dad and Jean before driving into Hereford for a Tour of the Bungalow. The building work and fit out are almost all done, and it looks great. I have (Wren) kitchen envy. How did I become this person?

Then to Aldi and Sainsbury’s for a Big Shop. Both were relatively empty – not surprising given it was a sunny Easter Saturday evening.

A bit down in the dumps on Sunday and Monday. Sometimes the blues simply descend and my sprained hand hadn’t enjoyed shopping and driving. So, I turfed all the To Dos into the long grass and took things easy.

Phil and I headed out for a walk on Sunday morning, coinciding with K&K just past Canns Hill, so we got to chat all the way back to Kerrys Gate. Down to Bacton Stud, then rewalking the footpaths up to Fair Oak with the occasional close encounter with sheep and some lambs en route. Kites above.

Three Sheep sizing us up.....
Three Sheep sizing us up…..

A short stretch along Tremorithic Road to just past the farm, then onto footpaths again to skirt behind the Cefn Farms. (Hmmm – Cefn is Welsh for various things including back / rear and ridge.  Ridge feels more likely, given the location.) Footpaths across the fields to Cwm Hill, then roads all the way home.

Gate and Stile, on the footpaths to Tremorithic
Gate and Stile, on the footpaths to Tremorithic

Al fresco lunch out on the patio. Leisurely afternoon.

Monday’s highlight was a lazy afternoon TV marathon, prescribed by Phil, watching telly of my choice – so I went for The Irishman. All 3 hours 29 minutes of it.

We also cleared out the en suite ahead of Dale and team’s arrival tomorrow to start the Bathroom Revamps. And I made my first sale on eBay – finding a new home for my old camera batteries.

In flower news, the May Blossom is out, as are the bluebells and there seem to be loads more violets this year than I remember there being last year.

May Blossom
May Blossom

And I have FOUR tomato seedlings (out of 6).

FOUR tomato seedlings....
FOUR tomato seedlings….

TV: Finished off season 4 of The Crown, more Glow, The Irishman and Line of Duty season 6 (and thank heavens for The Guardian Episode Recaps).

Podcasts: History ExtraThe History of EnglandThe Infinite Monkey Cage and The Essay.

Photos: Herefordshire week 66 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2021-04-04.