Herefordshire Week 094: Tuesday 12 – Monday 18 October 2021

The last of the preserves production. Good garden jobs. Utility Room revamp & Loft prep.

Empty Loft
Empty Loft

We were woken before sunrise on Tuesday morning by loud screeches coming from two birds. No idea what – one was possibly a Jay, or perhaps it was Buzzard vs Owl?

Task No. 1 for the morning was to film my piece to camera for the ELR KM Database relaunch video. The things I do to get projects over the line. Thank heavens for Philip Gyford and both his acting experience and filming kit. The first time I’ve worn mascara since I don’t know when.

Me - the work version
Me – the work version

Job done, we strolled down to the Abbey and back over the field, chatting with Chris about Gigaclear / Fastershire fiasco en route.

Just enough time to tackle Task No. 2: Turning the last pick of the wild plums Allotment Garden Damson Jam. Both this recipe, using 1.2kg damsons, and the One Pot of Jam from Your Microwave recipe, using 550g fruit, produced 3½ pots. How does that work?

Damson Jam: rolling boil
Damson Jam: rolling boil

Early afternoon, as I was getting stuck into work, dad arrived and he and Phil took the two boxes of surplus flooring back to Simply Stunning for a refund. Smashing service from start to finish from Simply Stunning.

Work done for the week, I had a busy day in the garden on Friday – the lovely weather continues. Tidied up the tomato plants behind the greenhouse, picked up the worthwhile windfall apples from the fallen apple tree (what do you do with 4 bucketloads of small apples?) and lopped off the smaller branches, wheelbarrowing them to the bonfire and getting that going in the afternoon.

Apples from the fallen tree
Damson Jam: rolling boil

Further lopping down on the lower path, tidying up wild plum bushes and blackberry runners. We also relocated the apple racks and washing machine in the Utility Room ahead of Handyman Sam coming tomorrow.

It was a cool afternoon and evening so we lit the wood stove and luxuriated in our lounge admiring the new flooring – the downstairs space is transformed – as Thea and Joe were coming up in the evening for a Mexican feast. Lots of chat and a late night. Smashing.

I had signed up for Saturday’s GVWC Challenge Walk (17 miles around Peterchurch) but after all of Friday’s excitements I was shattered and sent my regrets late on Friday. Sod’s law meant Saturday was a glorious day, and after a leisurely start my energy levels were back to normal.

Still, a good day to be in as Handyman Sam was with us for part 1 of the Utility Room Revamp. Aka removing the remains of the boiler cupboard and all the boxing around the pipe work. He returns next Saturday to finish off, and he’s also going to extend the washing machine plumbing so that we can relocate it into the alcove. Score!

Utility Room cupboard removal - at the half way point
Utility Room cupboard removal – at the half way point

I spent the day doing computer things and jobs in the garden. More tomato tidying, cleared the herb bed and dug over the earth, planted out the Hergest Croft Herefordshire Russet apple tree.

Tidying up the herb bed in the Orchard
Tidying up the herb bed in the Orchard
Herefordshire Russet - Apple tree label
Herefordshire Russet – Apple tree label

More pruning on the lower path and lots of raking up of leaves from the swing slope. The bonfire was still smouldering, so, with the help of some of the dry leaves I revived that to burn more of the damp hedge trimmings that lingered around the edge.

Despite all Saturday’s activity, I didn’t sleep well, which is my excuse for sleeping in until 10am. Unheard of. And it was another lovely day of blue skies and sunshine. So rather than the Hereford Screwfix shop we’d planned (rat trap high on the list) we opted to walk the Bacton Square, chatting with Thea on the return stretch and picking a large bag of blackberries.

Orchard Shed Blackberries
Orchard Shed Blackberries

Dad and Jean had been due to come for Sunday lunch today, but nasty colds have postponed that plan. But an organic chicken won’t last forever, so we set to work on making Sunday lunch for two. A dry run for Christmas Dinner, but without the sprouts or bread sauce (sniff – two of my favourite items), and with the mutual grumps. A plateful each was followed by seconds, demolished in the sun warmed conservatory.

Washing up done, I opted to spend the rest of the afternoon lounging on the sofa watching telly. Sometimes you just have to, even on an unseasonably warm mid-October day. Eventually I found room for the apple and blackberry crumble…

Busy day, Monday! We emptied the loft (unearthing lots of lost treasures as well as dead flies and mouse traps), went to the tip (waving goodbye to the loft’s carpet and cardboard collection) and made another batch of Apple Chutney (Penny’s Recipes Apple Chutney with Dates, Sultanas, Mustard & Coriander Seeds. Double quantity, reduced sugar. 14 jars, various sizes – from large to small). The cupboards are FULL.

Penny's Recipes Apple Chutney
Penny’s Recipes Apple Chutney

Also strained the 4 jars of Apple Cider (Scraps) Vinegar. One jar is clear but the other three are cloudy, and they are the ones where there was a layer of mould on the chopped apples… Let’s see what happens over the next stage. (Yes, it does look a bit like wee.)

Apple Cider Vinegar - Stage 2: Strained
Apple Cider Vinegar – Stage 2: Strained

In less good news, I found the dead mouse in the garage that was the cause of the nasty niffs we’d noticed on Saturday. And Phil found second corpse in the mouse trap that had mysteriously moved overnight…

Started season 2 of The Get Down while polishing off Sunday Lunch Leftovers, and then packed for MN. My first trip back to the (an) office since Feb 2020.

TV: Grand DesignsThe North WaterThe CeltsWho Do You Think You AreThe Get Down.

Podcasts: History Extra, The History of England Podcast – Guest episodes, The History of English Podcast, Bookclub.

Photos: Herefordshire week 94 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2021-10-17.