Herefordshire Week 180: Tuesday 06 – Monday 12 June 2023

Blues. Bonfiring. Bristol. BBQ Party Prep.

Evil monster raven sparrow swiper.

A day out on the South Circular, Llanthony version.

Llanthony Circular via The Queen's Head: Bâl Bach descent into The Vale of Ewyas
Llanthony Circular via The Queen’s Head: Bâl Bach descent into The Vale of Ewyas

Still a bit down in the dumps Tuesday morning. Handily a cool and cloudy day so I flickred Pembrokeshire photos, did weeknotes, email and various To Dos.

After lunch I decided I’d opt out of any activity for the day, and ditto for any further LRB catch up, and settled on the conservatory sofa with Amongst Our Weapons. A bit of time with Peter Grant and the Falcon team shifted my low spirits.

Last month, R cut back the bushes and small trees on the south side of the lower path in anticipation of redoing the fence above the road. He stacked the wood neatly by the lower path and on Wednesday I hauled 2 of the 3 piles up to the quarry, ready to bonfire.

Cut wood moved from the lower path to the quarry, ready for bonfiring
Cut wood moved from the lower path to the quarry, ready for bonfiring

And on Thursday morning I bonfired ….


… and brought the remainder of the brash up to the quarry.

Bonfiring: last load
Bonfiring: last load

Drove to Abergavenny in the afternoon to drop Phil off at the station for the start of what turned out to be a lovely long weekend in Bristol, then toured the aisles of Aldi and the wonders of Waitrose. Home to finish off Ben Aaronovitch’s Amongst Our Weapons (thank you Hazel!) sitting out on the patio, during which Tilly came for a visit:

Hello Tilly! (Video, 14s)
Hello Tilly! (Video, 14s)

Also firmed up two days walking along the Beacons Way with S&S. We’re doing Abergavenny to Llanthony (starting from Skirrid car park) on day 1, staying at Llanthony Treats B&B and eating at the Cellar Bar of  the Llanthony Priory Hotel, then Llanthony to Crickhowell on day 2, hoping to catch the X43 bus back from Crickhowell to Abergavenny.

In the pre-COVID days, every March my dad and Jean hosted an Annual Birthdays Party here, continuing the tradition established by my mum and dad and celebrating the 4 March birthdays with the Birmingham crowd.

After a 3 year hiatus, the Annual Party has been revived and reconfigured as a mid year BBQ, and on Friday morning dad came over to finalise the party prep. You might be surprised to hear that there were no spreadsheets involved…..

We then headed into Hereford to pick up Jean and and to go for lunch at the Castle House Hotel. Definitely a place to return to – a lovely waterfront garden, good food and not as expensive as I would have guessed. A potter around town sorting out BBQ goodies then back to Winchester to take some photos of Jean’s beautiful garden flowers.


Then a long slow drive home through hot rush hour traffic.

After a reviving pot of tea (and some of Phil’s cake) I spent a lovely couple of early evening hours pottering around the garden, watering mainly. Two of the oak saplings had got dry enough for their leaves to turn yellow. Ooops. I hope I’ve rescued them with a lot of water. In other news, the rhododendron is doing really well in its new location.

Finished up around 8.30pm and watched 2 episodes of Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story. Not Phil’s cup of telly tea…

Not a good night’s sleep. Made worse by accidentally moving the clock forward 20 mins when I set the alarm last night, which meant BBC Radio 4 came on at 6.10am.

Ate breakfast watching the birds: house martins bombing around, worryingly close to the eaves / windows / gutters – take your pick. Two lady pheasants and a male pottered around the bird feeders, one lady hopped up to drink out of the bird bath.

And then one of the v large black birds that have started visiting the front lawn and the yew trees flew down towards the pear tree, swiped a small fluffy sparrow in its beak and flew off again. MONSTER!!!!!!!

I was up early to get to Llanthony Priory car park for 9am for what turned out to be a fab walk with Hereford Excalibur. We did a new version of the Llanthony South Circular, via The Queen’s Head (rather than Cwmyoy) where we had half way point medical rehydration – aka an early lunchtime bitter shandy and salt & vinegar crisps in my case. Perfect!

Strava Map: Llanthony Circular
Strava Map: Llanthony Circular

Route: Llanthony Priory – Beacons Way up onto Hatterrall Ridge – South to Hatterrall Hill trig Point (531m) – South and down to the road and The Queen’s Head pub – West up on a side road through woods to the Gaer and the parallel ridge – north to Garn Wen beehive cairn – Bâl Bach – side valley descent back to Llanthony Priory.

Distance: 12 miles
Time: 7 hours / 4h 38m
Elev Gain: 2,374 ft

Humid, but the misty cloud cover was welcome as it kept the sun off.

Drove to Bristol (new route: A40 – A449 – M4 – M32) on Sunday morning to rendezvous with Phil and to go for brunch with some of the Art college crowd. Lovely. Pottered around Cabot Circus shops then drove back out on the M32 to IKEA to peruse bathroom cabinets, wardrobes, shoe racks and cushion covers.

Heavy rain showers overnight.

Monday = Mac Mini Purchase Day! Plus an Anker 10 port USB A hub for all those peripherals. Hopefully once that’s all here and set up I’ll be able to get through computer-based admin a fair bit faster. Gawd I hope so.

Got through a lot of To Dos and admin. The arrival (at last1!) of very heavy rain late afternoon put paid to our B&Q plans, and we drove into Hereford early evening to see The Eight Mountains at The Courtyard…. only for that to be scuppered by technical difficulties. That’s the second time that’s happened – out of the last two times we’ve been there to see a film. What makes it all the more irritating is that getting there for a 7pm film involves schlepping into Hereford through rush hour traffic, paying for their “we’re a charity so it’s expensive” parking and eating there so that we have dinner at a reasonable time.

Home – still raining occasional big splodgy drops from big storm clouds still sitting overhead. Emptied out the 4 buckets of tap water that had been sitting outside releasing their chlorine for a few days… not really that necessary after today’s deluge. But the two newts I spotted looked happy and the small pond is nice and full.

TV: The Gallows PoleQueen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story, Annika, Beef.

Podcasts:  History Extra, The Essay, Books and Authors, In Our Time, The History of England where episode 363 – Laud Unleashed contained this mention of Abbey Dore:

“Even smaller developments, like Scudamore’s Abbey Dore in Herefordshire saw a grand marble altar, cloths, painted walls, screens and stained glass.”

Photos: Herefordshire week 180 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2023-06-11.