Herefordshire Week 221: Tuesday 19 – Monday 25 March 2024

London. Weekend visit and walking with JL.

Cat's Back, Hay Bluff & Olchon Valley: Starting down the Olchon Valley
Cat’s Back, Hay Bluff & Olchon Valley: Starting down the Olchon Valley

Tuesday took us from Pontrilas’  Golden Valley gym in the morning to The Lucky Pig Cocktail Bar in London’s Fitzrovia in the evening, via GWR HFD-PAD. 148th Birthdays celebrated, Phil and I headed back to our London base: Hub by Premier Inn just off TCR, handily only 10 mins walk each way.

Fizz-rovia 24 Cocktail
Fizz-rovia 24 Cocktail

After an al fresco breakfast at Lantana we spent Wednesday morning pottering around Fitzrovia, Oxford Street, Piccadilly, Covent Garden and Soho, with stops at St James’s Church for a nice coffee and pastry and Tonkotsu on Dean St for lunch before spending the afternoon sat in two of Curzon Soho’s large  comfy chairs watching Dune: Part Two on the big screen with the big surround sound.

Coffee, St James, Piccadilly
Coffee, St James, Piccadilly

Back to the Premier Inn for a speedy turnaround then back out for me, and the number 8 bus to Cheapside for Wine Wednesday with H, R&J. Sadly we are no longer welcomed with open arms at the revamped and renamed BLWV, so we settled into a booth at The Saint sort of next door. Somewhat souless but at least they were happy to let us buy a bottle of wine. Then on to Zizzi in One New Change to make the most of Hazel’s 25% off offer. Surprisingly quiet. Central Line back to the Hub.

Not a great night’s sleep so it was nice to emerge from the hotel to a bright sunny morning. Breakfast at Riding House Cafe. Even with a booking, we initially got sat at a cramped fire exit bistro table where one of us would have sat with the sun in their eyes and the till at their shoulder. We managed to get moved to a much quieter, larger shady table,with excellent street watching. Handy as we did wait quite a while for breakfast to arrive, and only after the server had tried to deliver a surplus granola and then offered the mismatched pair of breakfast orders to all the other tables around us.

Down to Oxford St M&S for a rather disspiriting “jeans or other trousers that fit” shopping experience, before walking west to Paddington and catching our train home to Hereford. With an unwanted change of trains at Great Malvern. GWR maintains its stellar performance on cancelling the final three stops on the PAD-HFD direct service. Delay Repay on the January Sale tickets hardly compensates.

Gym on Friday, catch up with VP then home for admin, lunch in the toasty conservatory, apple chopping in readiness for a weekend crumble. Sunny outside but still squelchy underfoot. So no mow March continues.

Into Hereford on Saturday morning for bird peanuts and speedy spin around Lidl before collecting JL from the station. Back to base for lunch, then out around the roads to Tremorithic, with stops at St Faith’s church in Bacton and Dore Abbey in Abbey Dore en route. Ewes and lambs being moved into new fields opposite Abbey Dore Court. Boing! Sleet when we left, sunshine by the time we got home. Nice weather for a G&T in the conservatory before curry dinner.

Sunday was a lovely sunny day. Just right for the Cat’s Back, Hay Bluff & Olchon Valley with JL. The metal pillar at Hay Bluff remains A Mystery. Two pots of tea back home, then wine and crisps with the log stove on followed by Mexican wraps for dinner.

Cat's Back, Hay Bluff & Olchon Valley: Mysterious metal pillar at Hay Bluff
Cat’s Back, Hay Bluff & Olchon Valley: Mysterious metal pillar at Hay Bluff

Rain resumed on Monday morning. Into Hereford to show JL the sights and to visit the Cathedral and the Mappa Mundi and Chained Library. Always magical to be transported back to the Mediaval Marches. Waved off JL on the train to Newport, then over to dad and Jean’s, then B&Q to buy 18mm hardwood plywood for my DIY desk, cut to size. Tea and cake back at Winchester, then home – without plywood as it’s too big to fit into the Panda. Dad will deliver.


Buds and blossom. Birds darting into hedges. Tiny lambs out in the field at Dorelands. Boing!!

It’s the time of year when, in future years, I’ll be enjoying Simon Armitage’s lovely poem, Folk Song:

By Monday, bluebells and violets are flowering thick and fast, the first cowslips have appeared and there are more tulips and daffodils outside on the verge. Leaf buds are unfurling into bright green leaves on the hawthorns and the crabapple tree. Lots of blossom on the wild plums.


TV:  Shōgun, What We Do In The Shadows, 3 Body Problem

Podcasts: Gone Mediaeval, The Today Podcast, Americast, Anglo-Saxon England

Audiobook: The Last Devil to Die – Richard Osman (read by Fiona Shaw)


Photos: Herefordshire week 221 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2024-03-24.