Herefordshire Week 169: Tuesday 21 – Monday 27 March 2023

7.30pm and it’s still light!! Summer’s on its way!

First mow of the year – both mowers started and I’ve done a “full mow”.

Cowslips emerging, primroses too and first grape hyacinths are out by the old railway track route.

AND – tadpoles!

Tuesday morning, I read another chunk of The Ink Black Heart then headed over to A’s for tea and bara brith. Back in the sunshine between the showers. Big news at the small pond – tadpoles have emerged from one batch of frogspawn!

If you squint at this photo, you should see some small black squiggles – those are the tadpoles….


Finished work ‘early’ on Tuesday – 5.30pm – so that we had time to drive down to Ross on Wye to meet dad and Jean, N&T for dad’s birthday dinner at No. 3. A real treat. Dad has been telling us how good No. 3 is for a while now, and it more than lived up to the hype.

Usual work week, although noticeably not as hectic as some. VWW but no Family Zoom. Instead, and with Phil’s help, I got my new iPad up and running.

Headed over to dad and Jean’s on Friday morning for Part 1 of the Rucksack Storage Box project. AKA dad and I are making a box to put at the end of the spare bed in my office and in which I’ll keep my rucksacks and on which visitors can put suitcases / bags when they stay.

Rucksack storage box - dad's plan
Rucksack storage box – dad’s plan

Once I finish work I won’t need two desks / two computer set ups, and I’m planning to reorganise the room to put a desk and computer in the alcove and moving the beds to be where the computer desks are now. The wardrobe will go, which means we’ll need to have replaced our bedroom furniture first, which has been on The List for a long time. But comes with Replace the Carpet upstairs… so not a small undertaking. is a boon.

Anyway, I had a lovely time with dad – first stop, B&Q for the MDF, which was cut to size instore by a very nice man, plus strengthening battens and a piano hinge. And compost, seeing as I was there.

Back at dad’s, we got the power tools out and glued and screwed the sides together, and prepped the base, by which time it was time for lunch and dad took Jean and I out to Radway Bridge. V tasty. Another 30mins more back in the garage workshop and the base was in. Part 2 will be attaching the hinge and the lid, and adding castors. Paint to be applied back here.

Rucksack storage box - all the sides are "done"
Rucksack storage box – all the sides are “done”

Caught up with L in the late afternoon / early evening. It’s been a long time.

A day in the garden, Saturday.

Cleared the ivy by the vastly reduced evergreen bush by the tree house (can you tell I don’t know what it is?), raked the bare earth to loosen it and spread grass seed there, raked up camellia flowers and picked up wind blown twigs. Then to The Forge to get fresh petrol for the ride on mower.

After a late lunch, I took the Honda mower for a tour of the edges and tricky spots, and to use up some of last year’s petrol. The mower coped with that, however the “power” bit is erratic, so there was a lot of manual pushing and hauling. Quite a work out….

A quick tea and Kit Kat at 4 o’clock watching the birds on the bird feeders, then time to see if the ride on mower would start…. It did after more tries at turning the key than I’d previously given it. Not sure I’d set up the trickle charger correctly, but hopefully a couple of hours mowing recharged the battery. Lots of shuttle trips to / from Mower Turn – 7 loads of grass cuttings there, 1 in the orchard, 1 ½ from the solarium including a lot of leaves and some brown stripy feathers – signs of a battle between birds of prey?

It was lovely being outside, if a little chilly by the end. Touring The Estate meant I had time to see spring flowers transitioning from “white ones” to the “yellow and blues”, and leaves starting to appear on the trees, hedges and bushes. Cowslips are coming through below the big pond, primroses are on the willow tree stump and the corner verges, grape hyacinths blooming by the old railway route; there are leaves on the clematis, and leaf buds on the crab apple, pear, apple and cherry trees, and on the hazelnut trees too.


Pizza by Phil for tea as we watched all three episodes of Waco on Netflix. Not as good as the longer Storyville documentary series – Waco: Madman or Messiah – we’d watched a while ago. I really didn’t like the tone of the Netflix series – too much revelling in the drama in the opening sequence, and too much macho self justification / self glorification from most of the FBI and ATF men (and it was, tellingly, all men). They seem to have lost sight of the fact that the seige resulted in the deaths of over 80 people.

The clocks sprang forward overnight. I’d not slept well even after all Saturday’s exertion so it was a sluggish start to Sunday.

On the plus side, it was raining, which provided a good excuse to read and potter.  I spent a happy hour or so translating Val’s outline itinerary for this autumn’s Nepal trek into a spreadsheet and looking up the route on my map. It turns out that my Kanchenjunga paper map doesn’t go far enough west, so there was some online map searching too. Hopefully we’ll be trekking all the way over to the Makalu-Barun National Park, into the valleys the other side of Sherpani Col, which I saw from the west while we were trekking north through the Hongu Valley towards Amphu Lapsta in 2019. Which means I really should be calling the trek “Kangchenjunga to Makalu”. Cor!

Took advantage of lulls in the rain to get outside and to redistribute the piles of mown grass. Too lazy to bother with the windblown wood on the paths, but did have the energy to suggest bubble & squeak with a fried egg for lunch. Yum Yum. And finished off The Ink Black Heart.

Mid afternoon P drove us to Hereford to pick up his latest bike exercise machine, then back home to read on the sofa – starting the next in my Library Hardback Haul, Barbara Kingsolver’s Demon Copperhead.

It was light until gone 7.30pm. Summer’s on its way!

On Monday, I drove down the Wye Valley to rendezvous with Sonia, Sara and Grace for another lovely day walking together. This time we made good use of having 2 cars and did a section of the Offa’s Dyke Path, from Monmouth to Brockweir.

Offa's Dyke: Monmouth to Brockweir
Offa’s Dyke: Monmouth to Brockweir

A beautiful day. It felt like the clocks having changed brought summer with it.

Late lunch in Brockweir’s Community Shop & Cafe – where I bumped into one of guys I’d walked and talked with during the CWF earlier on in the month.

Strava Map & Graph: Offa's Dyke: Monmouth to Brockweir
Strava Map & Graph: Offa’s Dyke: Monmouth to Brockweir
  • Distance: 10.68 miles
  • Time: 3h 50m
  • Elevation Gain: 1,527 ft

Spent a happy hour outside collecting the windblown twigs and branches between the paths to/from Mower Turn.

In the evening it was time to indulge in the long awaited return of Succession. We warmed up for season 4 by watching the last episode of season 3 as a refresher, and then watched the first episode of season 4.

Retirement Days Tracker: 21 ½ days to go

TV: The GoldThe Gold: The Inside StoryWaco: American Apocalypse, Succession.  We gave up on The Flight Attendant.

Podcasts: History Extra, The AllusionistSheDunnit, In Our Time.

Photos: Herefordshire week 169 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2023-03-26.