Herefordshire Week 093: Tuesday 05 – Monday 11 October 2021

Weekend visitors. Hot sunny days. Gin and Jam.

Hazel, Cat and me at Dore Abbey
Hazel, Cat and me at Dore Abbey

After Monday’s excitement, Tuesday morning brought a headache, most likely a mixture of stress (week away + car + flooring) plus paint and glue fumes.

Confounding the forecast, it was a lovely sunny day so weeknotes done, and having got a second batch of Blackberry Gin underway, I headed out on the Cockyard loop, which included a chat with Carl on Stone Street and a pick up from dad and Phil just above Quarrells Green. Dad had come over for coffee and to talk through his LPA.

Started off Wednesday with Damson Gin, stage 2 – aka add the gin (I’m using The Allotment Garden’s Damson Gin recipe). Stage 3 – strain and drink – is due on Christmas Eve. Perfect timing. And another headache, so no VWW for me.

Damson Gin - stage 2
Damson Gin – stage 2

Thursday we had  our visit from the Welsh Water Engineer / Plumber checking for leaks (based on the temperature of the water at our connection to the mains). None found, he agreed it was most likely the pipe to our house. We still got the water usage reducing shower head and garden hose spray kit.

Admin Friday morning, primarily sorting out things to do with the Walton flat plus trying to open a new ISA Share Dealing Account. T-e-r-r-i-b-l-e form, but a really really helpful guy on their helpline who actually filled out the form in parallel with me and worked out the precise format required for the mobile phone number field: XXXXX XXXXXX in case you come up against the same “mandatory field with no guidance” barrier.

Nipped into Hereford late morning to do the weekend food shop and for Phil to buy some new wellies. I also reluctantly returned Great Circle to the library, unfinished. It’s been reserved so I only get 2 x 2 day renewal and it’ll take me longer than that to complete. I’m really enjoying it, so I’ve reserved it again. That is one of the downsides of being a library (as opposed to buying) reader, given it’s 13 miles to the library….

Cat arrived mid-afternoon for the start of a lovely weekend, and later that night we drove into Hereford to pick Hazel up at the station.

Cue a weekend with lots of catching up, eating and drinking, walking and reminiscing about our “how we met” trip on the Wayward Bus from Adelaide to Alice Springs and meeting up again in Thailand. Happy times.

After a leisurely start on Saturday we walked to Ewyas Harold to buy papers. Our route took us down to Abbey Dore, up onto the Common via the Deer Field (and no cows in the other fields) and down into Ewyas Harold via the access road. We returned along the lanes to Dulas, the footpath through The Park to The Old Trout, up Mill Lane and footpaths across the fields to Cwm Hill Road. Lovely.

Late lunch then a relaxing afternoon in the conservatory, Mexican feast prep aided by a bottle of fizz and nachos (classy!) and an evening with the photo album.

Sunday brought beautiful blue skies, sunshine and real warmth, so after a little ‘something to put us on’ we strolled down to the Abbey and back for brunch. Phil delivered a fry up feast, which we ate sitting out on the patio. It felt more like August than October.

Sunday brunch, al fresco
Sunday brunch, al fresco

Waved Cat off, then pottered with Hazel until it was time to drop her back off at Hereford Station. Getting more used to driving the Panda. Vroom!!

I spent the rest of the afternoon outside, clearing cuttings and mowing the orchard – it’s not had a trim since before the apple tree fell down, and that fallen tree means mowing needs the Honda Mower. The grass was decidedly lush, but the Honda coped and the compost heap got a healthy top up of grass cuttings. I prepped all the edges and tricky bits too, in anticipation of a full mow tomorrow.

Monday was another glorious sunny day.

Frustratingly I had to spend the morning sorting out various insurances but I got outside for the rest of the day, picking the tomatoes from the growbag behind the greenhouse, collecting the last of the wild plums, blackerrying along the lane and in Thistly Field with Phil and planting the ‘compost bin’ daffodil bulbs in the verges at our junction (still with Phil) and finally mowing, the repaired grass collector working like A Dream.

Last of the plums
Last of the plums

The colander full of plums came in at 1.8kg, and I turned 600g of them into 3 ½ pots of Damson Jam, following the recipe in my photocopied pages of One Pot of Jam from Your Microwave – which include the much loved recipes for Anglo-Indian Apple Chutney and Apple Mincemeat (Vegan, Brandy). And – at last – I’ve managed to track down the book they come from: One Pot of Jam from Your Microwave by Sonia Allison.

Damson Jam - made in the microwave: 3½ pots
Damson Jam – made in the microwave: 3½ pots

Even if October temperatures haven’t arrived, the Autumn colours have – red berries garlanding the hedgerows, hollies and hawthorns; green leaves turning red, orange and gold. Beautiful against blue skies.

Autumn Leaves
Autumn Leaves

And it looks like I may have a second batch of strawberries… incredible.

October Strawberries
October Strawberries

TV: Grand Designs, Maid.

Podcasts / audiobooks: History Extra.

Photos: Herefordshire week 93 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2021-10-10.