Herefordshire Week 023: Tuesday 02 – Monday 08 June 2020

Squirrel Wars. Bird watching. Herb Bed Extension.

A sort-of Socially Distanced BBQ.


We continued our adventures in ice cream on Tuesday morning, with versatile vanilla. Jean’s old mixer is proving indispensable. Not only does it whizz up the egg yolks and sugar, but also the surplus-to-requirements egg whites, which this time got whipped up into amaretti biscuits. With hindsight, should have turned some of them into coconut macarooooooons. Next time.

Amaretti biscuits
Amaretti biscuits

Wednesday was historic occasion for bailing out of VWW due to patchy night’s sleep on Tuesday/Weds, but Family Zoom on Thursday was a good way to end the working week. And I haven’t spent all weekend turning work over in my mind, unlike last week.

Friday morning, Phil and I headed out on the Bacton square and in the afternoon, Squirrel Wars. As dad predicted, one of the at-least-five resident squirrels has discovered our peanut bird feeder. It’s not as though these are the ONLY nuts around – there are tree-fulls of them! Battle commenced with my shouting RAAAARRR through the windows ……I know…. completely ineffective, so on Saturday I “upgraded” to throwing pebbles in its general direction. My aim is useless, so I know it’s not in any real danger, but so far it’s not tested me out: it materialises under the bird feeder every now and again, but once I appear on the driveway it runs off.

Just after our return my dad turned up, and supervised while I created The Extension to the herb bed. Good timing as that’s chocabloc with green goodies, and there’s no room to plant out the next batch of little lettuces that are thriving in repurposed yoghurt pots, tonic bottles and an M&S Shortbread tray.

Herb Bed Extension - Stage 1
Herb Bed Extension – Stage 1

I am still loving watching the birds, and I’ve realised that I can get really quite close to the blue tits when they’re engrossed with feeding. They seem really quite chilled, hanging there on the wire container. We have a pair of lesser spotted / red woodpeckers visit too. When they turn up the smaller birds wait it out in the hedge or on the ground. Nuthatches, are generally next on the peanuts, together with coal tits and great tits, with robins and chaffinches feeding on spillage below and blackbirds and thrushes finding insects and worms in the grass.

A Pair of Greedy Blue Tits
A Pair of Greedy Blue Tits

One of the woodpeckers went BONK into the conservatory doors on Friday, so I got a close up through the lounge window:

Dazed woodpecker
Dazed woodpecker

I spent most of Saturday working through the final week of photos from last November’s Epic Trek-with-Ascents in Nepal, and finished writing it all up: Mera Peak – Amphu Lapsta Pass – Island Peak: Photos & Notes.

Me, Mera Peak ascent
Me, Mera Peak ascent

I am now desperate to get back to the mountains. Kanchenjunga N&S Base Camps is next on my list. Who knows when….

But first – I have to whittle down those 705 photos that are in my Nepal, November 2019 – Mera Peak, Amphu Lapsta, Island Peak album to a Blurb photo book.  I made a start on Saturday afternoon only to discover that BookSmart 4 has been replaced by BookWright. Whilst it’s fundamentally the same interface, with the invaluable connection into Flickr, it’s different enough to produce a painful learning curve. Particularly annoying that nothing created in BookSmart will open in BookWright, including My Layouts and previous projects. At least I can see preview previous photobooks to remember how I’d set them out, in terms of title page, chapters, and photo layouts.

Sunday afternoon we headed over to Dad and Jean’s for a Socially Distanced BBQ, which was lovely, if not entirely al fresco. We returned with spare old net curtains that we put over the cherry tree on Monday, plus rhubarb, radish and rocket seeds and two old patchwork cushions I made in my late teens.

No tomato plant compost at Lock’s though – disaster!

Sunday morning’s highlight was Phil putting up the Forty Acres sign he’d made. Looking very smart 🙂

Forty Acres - IT'S A SIGN!
Forty Acres – IT’S A SIGN!

As is the “Herb Bed Extension”. Sadly with my weedy arms, I had failed to dig up the grass after dad headed home on Friday and decided it would need to wait until after next weekend and the promised week+ of rain. Except driving back on Sunday evening we could see signs of heavy rain showers – puddles on the road and curtains of rain falling over Hay Bluff – which reached us an hour or so later and proceeded to deliver a deluge overnight.

So Monday was spent pottering around the garden, digging over The Extension and forking compost into it then planting out those little lettuces and upgrading the M&S tray’s seedlings to the yoghurt pots, and netting the cherry tree.

Herb Bed Extension - Stage 2
Herb Bed Extension – Stage 2
Herb Bed Extension - Stage 3
Herb Bed Extension – Stage 3

After lunch (featuring Mary’s Organic, Zero Air Miles Lettuce!) and a sunny hour’s snooze on the patio, I hauled out some of the weed from the big pond, discovered just how hard it was going to be to dig out the yellow flag iris from the small pond (needs someone with stronger arms than I have) and lopped off the damaged branches from the apple trees by the train set. Phil had worked his way round the burgeoning apple harvest reducing each batch to two.

Mary's Organic, Zero Air Miles Lettuce!
Mary’s Organic, Zero Air Miles Lettuce!

Telly: We started on The Trip to Greece, and The Tunnel. Both excellent, The Tunnel especially as it turns out 7 years is enough for me to have forgotten pretty much all of the plot from the Scandi-Noir original (except for the twist at the end). The fact that for the whole of the first episode, in my head I was watching Clémence Poésy play the Pas-de-Calais version of Sarah Lund might have helped my happy ignorance.

I listen to podcasts a lot. Monday’s gardening was accompanied by History Extra and The Boring Talks. Recent (re-)discoveries include Slate’s Hit Parade with Chris Molanphy plus Out of the Ordinary, and The History of English podcast continues its excellent in depth exploration of the history of the English Language. 130 hour-ish-long episodes in, and we’ve just got to Chaucer.

Update 14 June 2020

Here are the photos from week 23.