Herefordshire Week 087: Tuesday 24 – Monday 30 August 2021

Sunny Bank Holiday weekend with visitors = walking, eating and catching up.

Twmpa Panorama
Twmpa Panorama

But the anticyclonic gloom continues and all hell breaks loose in Afghanistan.


After last week’s observation that hay baling was over a month later than last year’s, I’ve realised that many things are running a month or so later, but a few things are earlier. Apples are later – I was making chutney in mid-August last year and we’d got the apple racks by then too – but, as S spotted last week, leaves are turning yellow already. I had thought we were picking blackberries by now, but it turns out that was a September thing.

I’m still planning to make bigger batches of blackberry gin and whiskey for next year (eeking out this year’s batches of both) and LOTS of apple chutney for my fans in Pembs.

And on the bird front, Phil spotted the bald headed robin (it lives!) and for a couple of days, we had mistle thrushes perched on the power lines.

Mistle Thrushes on the power lines
Mistle Thrushes on the power lines

At the bird feeders, I spotted a coal tit amongst the greedy great tits and blue tits. I’ve not seen so much of the woodpeckers, but there are plenty of chaffinches, nuthatches, robins, sparrows, dunnocks and blackbirds feeding, and washing / drinking.

Great Tit Gets A Nut
Great Tit Gets A Nut
Female Chaffinch with a peanut
Female Chaffinch with a peanut
Nuthatch takes a drink
Nuthatch takes a drink

The blue tits in particular are excessively cute when they are having a bath in the font. There is a lot of splashing.

Blue tit taking a bath - a lot of splashing!
Blue tit taking a bath – a lot of splashing!
Bedraggled blue tit after taking a bath
Bedraggled blue tit after taking a bath

We had a few bonks on the conservatory this week too, including a coal tit, but thankfully, no casualties.

Coal tit, recovering from a close encounter with a conservatory window
Coal tit, recovering from a close encounter with a conservatory window

Tuesday morning brought more of the same cool overcast weather (“anticyclonic gloom” I learnt from the radio this morning), so after a late start I did the Cockyard – Duffryn – Camp Crossroads walk. The morning got brighter as I walked, and I found more ripe blackberries than we have in the hedgerows closer to home. A lot of traffic too (relatively).

LED Trustee call in the evening, and KMCA drinks – I always really enjoy catching up with my colleagues. Can’t wait until we can meet in person again.


Another relatively quiet week at work. The calm before September’s storm. VWW with Hazel, no Family Zoom as dad and Jean were on the Cathedrals Tour with The Friends of Hereford Cathedral.


I’ve been using Tuffmail as my email host for years, and a couple of months ago they announced they’d be closing. Thankfully Phil had already made the move to Fastmail, and on Thursday and Friday he, I and Tom coordinated the move of the Loosemore family’s email. So far, straightforward and seamless.


Friday: the morning’s promised sunshine failed to materialise, which in some ways was A Good Thing as, after finishing Zadie Smith’s Swing Time, I spent the morning in Hereford – library, opticians, charity shop drop off, supermarket shopping and a catch up call with Steffi while I sat in the car in Sainsbury’s car park.

Back home for a late lunch then took the Honda Mower for a tour of the edges and tricky bits in advance of the Denton family visit on Sunday, and “made” some Vanilla Snickers ice cream for then too. Watered, snipped a few brambles, tested a couple of the Victoria Plums and an Egremont Russet. Not far off…. Plenty of wild plums this year, or perhaps I’m noticing them more because we are here.

Wild plums
Wild plums

Friday night pizza and the last instalment of The Assassination of Gianni Versace, plus some TikTok. Getting dark around 8pm, feeling like autumn has arrived already.


Over the weekend, a university friend and family were staying near Hay-on-Wye, so we met up for a walk up Hay Bluff (along to Twmpa and back via the Gospel Pass) and a late pub lunch on Saturday and they came here for a BBQ on Sunday. Lovely.

Cloudy start - looking north west from the path up Hay Bluff
Cloudy start – looking north west from the path up Hay Bluff

Sunny both days, although low grey clouds were concealing Hay Bluff when I arrived at the Stone Circle Car Park. And it was too cold to eat outside on Sunday evening.

Phil and I spent some of Sunday morning rearranging the furniture in the conservatory and we’re agreed, the new lay out is The Winner.

Conservatory - Optimal Layout Achieved!
Conservatory – Optimal Layout Achieved!

I also checked the ride on mower for clogged up grass, in the hope that that would explain why the grass collector has stopped working. More expert inspection by our guests confirmed our suspicions that it’s the power belt. So, I shall be calling Ron Smith to find out about repairs and servicing…. Thankfully they do offer a pick up / return service.

Sunday’s other achievement was to set up Borrowbox on my devices so that I can read eBooks and, more importantly, listen to audio books borrowed from the Library. I’ve started with the audio book of Natalie Haynes The Children of Jocasta.


Monday was deemed a Dressing Gown Day. Well, it was a Bank Holiday, and it was back to the overcast skies and cool temperature. Intending to read the latest of Lindsey Davies’ Albia adventures I was sidetracked by The Idle Woman‘s blog, which kept me engrossed for almost the whole day and for most of the evening until just before midnight.

The Idle Woman mainly writes abut books she’s read and her tastes are similar to mine – Contemporary / Modern fiction, Historical novels and Science Fiction & Fantasy, although her SF&F reading ranges more broadly than mine and she doesn’t seem to be a fan of crime novels. But, most significantly, her two favourite ever characters / series are also mine: Francis Crawford in Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles and Fitz (and the Fool and Nighteyes) in Robin Hobb’s Farseer and Tawny Man Trilogies. Lymond surfaced relatively early on in my afternoon’s reading but Fitz, the Fool and Nighteyes took longer to get a mention and I’d been wondering for a good few hours if she had read any Robin Hobb as Hobb’s work seemed right up The Idle Woman‘s street, so I was delighted when I found out that she’s a Fitz and Fool fan too.


TV: The Assassination of Gianni Versace, Sex Education (series 1), The Witcher (series 1 – inspired by This Idle Woman)

Podcasts / audiobooks: History Extra, The History of England and The Children of Jocasta


Photos: Herefordshire week 87 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2021-08-29.