Herefordshire Week 172: Tuesday 11 – Monday 17 April 2023

Sunshine & showers. Swallows. Birthday lunch. Damson jam and Damson chutney.

Pear Tree Blossom, in the orchard
Pear Tree Blossom, in the orchard

I’d hoped to fit in a bit of mowing on Tuesday morning, but the rain showers arrived earlier than forecast, so it was a morning catching up on photos, weeknotes and admin.

Usual work week – cold and wet on Wednesday but glorious sunshine on Thursday, so I finished up early (4.30pm) to fit in A Mow.

Phil helped out doing the edges with the Honda mower while I drove the ride on mower around the orchard, front lawn and always-the-most-lush grass that runs from the west side of the house, down past the small pond, along the line of the old garden railway and round to the quarry. I really need to find a shorter description for this bit of The Grounds.

I left the slope below the big pond as that’s covered in cowslips, as is the far end of the front lawn. I did my best to avoid cutting those, not 100% successful.

Doing the mowing allows me time to take in what’s happening in nature – the bluebells are coming out, no sign of the orchids yet, the fruit trees and bushes are coming into leaf and blossom. The snowdrops have gone and the daffodils are starting to fade. The orchard clematis has flowers. The sticks I used to mark the yew seedlings by the tree house have sprouted leaves….

The sticks I used to mark the yew seedlings have sprouted leaves….
The sticks I used to mark the yew seedlings have sprouted leaves….

Making the most of the warm, dry weather I dug up two of the self seeded holly seedlings from the slope down to Mower Turn and transplanted them into a pot. Once they’re a bit bigger, I’m planning to plant them in one of the gaps in the hedges.

Walking to/from the greenhouse takes me past the bird feeders. It must have been dinner time – the hustle and bustle, the flurry of wings, lots of cheeping and twittering, the braver blue tits and great tits eyeing me up as I approach deciding whether it’s safe to stay hanging off the peanut feeder.

Earlier in the week Phil had pointed out a robin that has managed to work out how to get into the seed feeder, and which takes some seeds to feed another robin that’s usually sat in the hedge.

Dad and Jean made a fleeting visit on Wednesday afternoon, to deliver my birthday presents: 1 x large water butt, 1 x pack of 7ft garden canes. Well done J Mart!

Rain returned on Friday. Pottered in the morning – I’d planned to read a bit as my library books are due back, but I was too restless so I leather conditioned my walking boots, sorted out clothes etc for next week’s trip to London, started these weeknotes.

Into Hereford in the afternoon for Phil to pick up his new bike, post servicing, and for me to do a sprint around the shops and library. We rendezvoused at Dough for coffee and cake. Why is it they the nice coffee shops / cafes close at 4pm?

Saturday was a lovely day. Birthday lunch in Ross on Wye with dad and Jean, back for coffee and a potter around the garden admiring the bluebells, cowslips and clematis. All under sunny skies.

Purple and green
Purple and green

Jean brought me a bunch of beautiful tulips and the deluxe After Eight Easter Egg – yum yum.

Sunday was cloudy all day, so a good time to make Damson jam. I did the BBC Good Food Damson Jam recipe, 2 1/2-ish all the quantities except for sugar where I tend to use a lot less. That used up two large bags of Forty Acres frozen damsons picked a couple of years back.

Damson Jam
Damson Jam

After wild garlic soup lunch, and still in the jam pan zone, I made Delia’s Spiced Damson Chutney doubling the quantities to use up the nine tubs of frozen damsons in the garage freezer, and two large tubs of chopped Forty Acres apples.

Only one bag and two large tubs of damsons and one large tub of apples left in the freezer.

Pizza for dinner. Chutney still simmering…. Eventually ready to spoon into jars around 9.30pm: 4 large, 2 medium, 9 small.

Montage: Delia's Spiced Damson Chutney
Montage: Delia’s Spiced Damson Chutney

Completed the Cockyard Circuit on Monday morning before the drizzle wafted in, listening to In Our Time and taking photos of flowers along the lane. I added on a couple of extensions once I’d got home: back down the hill to collect some horse manure and then a walk around the orchard to distribute the poo and the garden to photograph the flowers.

Distance: 6.08 miles
Time:1h 42m
Elevation Gain: 565 ft

Cockyard Circuit Flowers
Cockyard Circuit Flowers
Cockyard Circuit Flowers
Cockyard Circuit Flowers
Cockyard Circuit: Crop spraying, Stone Street
Cockyard Circuit: Crop spraying, Stone Street

I spent most of the afternoon lounging on the sofa, reading Shrines of Gaiety. Then packed for a week in London.

I thought I glimpsed a swallow or similar on Saturday but wasn’t entirely sure, then on Sunday morning doing my stretches at the bedroom window I saw two swooping over the electricity wires, zooming along the lane and then looping back high over the yew tree.

Perhaps they balanced out the female chaffinch and blue tit that came to grief on the conservatory windows.

Looking out of the kitchen window on Saturday morning, Phil identified a yellowhammer. Thrushes and blackbirds busy on the front lawn. Goldfinches in the yew trees.

With a lot of standing still and looking hard, I’ve seen 1 tadpole, still surprisingly small, in the small pond.

Retirement Days Tracker: 14 days to go

Phil asked me on Monday if I’m still planning to publish my weeknotes on a Tuesday morning. Hmm. Not really thought about that. Hmmmm.

TV: Shetland, Looking, Succession.

Podcasts: The History of England, History Extra, The Last Soviet (I gave up with a couple of episodes left to go – the story was being stretched out far too thinly to be worth the far too many and far to frequent adverts), In Our Time.

Photos: Herefordshire week 172 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2023-04-16.