Where Next: Back to Ladakh!

Being at a loose end on a Wednesday evening proved dangerous….. I booked the last place on Exodus’s Peaks of Ladakh.

Destination: Ladakh, Northern India

When: July 2022

What: A high altitude trek plus a couple of peaks, hopefully including Vatseri Peak (5,640m) and Dzo Jongo East (6,189m)

How: Exodus’s Peaks of Ladakh trip. (You’ll have to go look it up for yourselves – Exodus asked me to remove my links to their website.)

Why: Val Parkinson’s leading it and I’ve wanted to go back to Ladakh ever since our wonderful Autumn in Ladakh in 2016, organised by the other/usual-trek Val (Pitkethly) and Rimo Expeditions.

Day 7 of our Markha Valley Trek took us from Nimaling (4700m), over the Gongmaru La / Kongmaru La (5287m) and out via Chuskyumo (4089m) to Chokdo / Chogdo (3985m) [spelling and altitudes are from my blogpost for that trip] – and I’ve realised that some of my photos from the pass feature Dzo Jongo East (6,189m).

Dzo Jongo is the big lump, sort of in the just-left-of-centre / foreground; Kang Yatse on the right.

Pema arrives at the Gongmaru La
Pema arrives at the Gongmaru La


Out/back via Delhi, acclimatisation in Leh then ten-ish days trekking and climbing.

  1. Train to London / Overnight flight to Delhi
  2. Day in Delhi
  3. Fly to Leh (3500m) / Orientation tour of Leh
  4. Sightseeing in and around Leh (3500m) – Shey & Tikse
  5. Acclimatisation in and around Leh (3500m) – Optional Jeep Ride to Khardung La (5,602m) & Acclimatisation walk Leh Valley
  6. Drive to Stok; Trek to Mankarmo (4,350m)
  7. Cross the Matho La (4,960m) to Gangpoche (4,440m)
  8. Cross the Shang La (4,950m) to Shang Phu (4,373m)
  9. Cross the Gyuncho La (4,718m) & second col (4,693m) to Chokdo village (on Markha Valley Trek), Chuskurmo (4,150m)
  10. Cross the Gongmaru La (5,236m) to Nimaling (4,854m)
  11. Trek to Dzo Jongo Base Camp; Ascend Vatseri Peak (5,640m) – optional
  12. Rest & Acclimatisation Day
  13. Climb Dzo Jongo East (6,189m)
  14. Cross the Lalung La (5,320m) to Riyul Sumdo (4,500m)
  15. Trek to Lato; Drive to Leh
  16. Fly to Delhi.
  17. Fly to London

Very Excited.

But I have just mucked up my Tourist Visa Application. Let’s hope 4 months is enough time to sort it out.

The To Do List

  • Tourist Visa – see above….
  • COVID – Proof of vaccination for entry into India – NHS COVID Pass
  • Travel Insurance – I’ll probably go with the Campbell Irvine policy offered via Exodus as that will definitely cover this trip (winter sports / climbing + altitude) plus Picos and Nepal (hopefully) later in the year.
  • Travel money – I decide how much and in what form nearer the time.
  • Travel to/from London – keeping an eye out for Advance train fares….
  • Pay the trip balance – in the diary for May.
  • Maps?
  • Remind my self how to use an ice axe.

The Done! List

Herefordshire Week 118: Tuesday 29 March – Monday 04 April 2022

Birthday Celebrations (not mine or Phil’s) and I’ve booked a trek….

Thikse Gompa
Thikse Gompa

Very cold overnights. Payback for the past couple of weeks of “summer”.

Dad called round on Tuesday morning with the first batch of surplus bricks, now neatly stacked in the quarry. Phil and I then did a three stop dash to spend the last of the free (COVID recovery) money on our Herefordshire Shop Local card – drawing blanks at our two stops in Ewyas Harold we ended up returning to Lock’s Garage for more Rowlestone Ice Cream.

No time to go out for my planned Bacton Square walk to check on the wild garlic, so planted sunflower seeds instead. So far, no sign of any seedlings.

Usual working week. No VWW – IPWWs began this week. We are alternating 🙂

Being at a loose end on a Wednesday evening proved dangerous…..

I booked the last place on Exodus’s Peaks of Ladakh Trek.

(You’ll have to go look it up for yourselves – Exodus asked me to remove my links to their website.)

Val Parkinson’s leading it and I’ve wanted to go back to Ladakh ever since our wonderful Autumn in Ladakh back in 2016, organised by the other/usual-trek Val (Pitkethly) and Rimo Expeditions.

Very excited.

Busy day Friday. The highlight was hosting the Kerrys Gate Ladies for an evening of Prosecco and nibbles to celebrate A Birthday. A lot of fun.

We’d been up early to take the Panda in for an official 8 year service, and for a less official “we bought this from a trader and we didn’t really know what to look for” health check.

Phil and I drove in convoy to Ponthir, deposited the car and log book with the very efficient front of house team, then headed in to Hereford in the MX5 for a whizz around M&S (party purchases) and to return a book to the library.

K came over mid morning with party supplies, narrowly missing dad and the second delivery from Dinedor – “concrete sets”.

After lunch I did the Bacton Square, then put up banners, blew up balloons and generally got into the party spirit.

Six bottled of prosecco / cava between 8 (including 2 non-drinkers) made for a quiet start to Saturday. Not a hangover – just that tiredness that comes from missing out on a deep sleep.

The Cockyard Circuit with K&K followed by a late lunchtime fry up from Phil sorted that out.

Sometimes you just need a fry up.....
Sometimes you just need a fry up…..

Phil and I did a new route for a Sunday morning walk: Abbey Dore – Deer Field – Ewyas Harold Common – Cott Farm – Dulas Court – Old Trout Inn – Mill Lane – Cwm Hill – Abbey Dore.

Plenty of blackthorn blossom out:

Blackthorn in bloom
Blackthorn in bloom

Lunch, then an afternoon of Ladakh Trek Prep. I spent a happy few hours sorting out kit hire from Expedition Kit Hire (who were the highly recommended source of hired kit for my Mera Peak – Amphu Lapsta Pass – Island Peak trip in 2019) and prepping my Trek Prep Spreadsheet – and a less happy few hours getting to grips with my application for an Indian Visa. The e-Tourist Visa we’d got last time isn’t available.

Monday, unusually, was a work day. New joiner onboarding. But we did get the ride on mower back, bearings repaired under warranty. Top job, Ron Smith!

TV: My Brilliant Friend (finished season 3), Friday Night Lights (started season 5), The Levelling (film) Mysteries of the Bayeux Tapestry (minus headache) and The Normans.

Podcasts: History Extra, The Essay, The History of England.

Photos: Herefordshire week 118 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2022-04-03.

Herefordshire Week 117: Tuesday 22 – Monday 28 March 2022

Glorious weather. Mower woes.

8pm and it’s (just about) still light…. lovely.

Tree trunks, Tremorithic
Tree trunks, Tremorithic

Beautiful morning Tuesday, so I headed out with secateurs to walk Tremorithic footpaths version, pruning brambles and hawthorn at the stiles as I went: Kerrys Gate – Bacton Stud – Footpaths to Tremorithic – Tremorithic Road – Footpaths to Middle Cefn – Footpaths to Cwm Hill – Abbey Dore – Home. Chatty start and end – P and Alf en route to Kerrys Gate, J and their dog on the final hill home.

Lambs down by the Dore
Lambs down by the Dore

Not quite so hectic at work this week, which is a relief. KMCA catch up drinks meant I wrapped up Tuesday work at 6pm, and I made 6.30pm VWW and Family Zooms on Wednesday and Thursday.

Woke on Friday morning to another glorious day but with a muzzy head, not feeling fit to do anything least of all a long walk which had been my plan. So after some very early morning telly, I washed down the small picnic table instead, waiting for the dew to dry off the grass. Then it was time to fire up the Honda mower for the first bit of mowing for the year – around the edges and trees, the greenhouse and the ponds, the daffodils and the wisteria.

First mow - Honda style
First mow – Honda style

After lunch out on the patio I nipped down to The Forge to get petrol for the ride on mower to do the rest. BUT the mower produced a puff of white smoke and a terrible grinding noise when I started the mowing function. 🙁 It’s the first time I’d run the mower since we got it serviced, which in some ways was a relief as it couldn’t really be anything I’d done.

Anyway, Ron Smith were great – one of the mechanics came to see us early Saturday morning, removed the skirting and had a look, ran the motor and the mowing function far harder than I had, and decided it would need to go back to the workshop to be fixed. He knew exactly what the problem was – water in the bearings. Apparently not uncommon with our make/model of mower.

But it did mean that I had to do the lushest grass parts of the garden – grounds? – on Friday afternoon with the Honda mower. Hard Work. Phil saved the day by making scones, and we sat out on the patio with a cup of tea and a scone each, marvelling that We Live Here.

A bonfire, then a bit of R&R before dinner of champions – the mezze treats and Mousetrap Cheese we’d bought in anticipation of T being here this weekend.

On Saturday, having waved off the mower back to Ron Smith’s, I got stuck into painting the small picnic table. Another lovely sunny day. Pottered around the veg beds – the broad beans have finally materialised – planting some marigolds along the edges and repotting the rosemary (although I think it’s a goner), and tidied up the kindling in the garage.

Lunch, then a bit more pottering before dad and Jean arrived – with the trailer carrying the wood store they’ve decided they’ve no room for, and a terracotta charcoal brazier. Having unloaded those dad drove us to Dulas to see the wild daffodils – still beautiful – then back for a tour of the garden followed by tea and scones in the late afternoon sun.

Wild Daffs, Dulas Church
Wild Daffs, Dulas Church

More mezze and cheese for dinner, accompanied by Phil’s first loaf using his birthday baking kit. Yum Yum.

Clocks sprang forward overnight and a slow start on Sunday meant we’d barely finished breakfast before driving into Hereford for various shopping needs and on to The New Barn for Mother’s Day Sunday lunch with dad and Jean, and K & W and Co.

Home via Allensmore for veg and to spend half the Shop Local card on Rowlestone Ice Cream. What treats! A stroll over Thistly Field, then internetting before tea. Guess what… bread, cheese and mezze again. Just tidying up!

Monday was dedicated to getting the Log Store installed in the garage, which entailed unstacking the current stack of logs, taking up the base they were stacked on – an old wooden door resting 0n bricks – moving the log store into position and restacking the logs into the store.

The original log stack
The original log stack

All went swimmingly…

… until we tried to close the garage door. The wood store was too high for the up-and-over door to clear on open/close. We both felt a bit silly for not having checked that.

So, after lunch, we unstacked the logs from the log store, removed the vertical wooden door separating the old stack from the cannibalised chest of drawers and shelves beyond it. Removing the chest of drawers and old shelves provided an opportunity to secure the internal drain pipe (we have a leaky roof) more securely. That done, we moved the log store into the space where the chest of drawers had been. And tested we could shut the garage door. Tick.

Phil then had the brainwave to see if we could relocate the apple racks next to the store, and still shut the garage door. Having plotted out the dimensions with a broom and a cardboard box, we decided we could. So, we took all the 10 drawers out of the apple racks and moved the frame over to stand next to the log store, and tested we could shut the garage door. Tick.

The log store and apple racks in their new location
The log store and apple racks in their new location

The final step: putting the apple drawers back into the frame, and the logs back into the log store.

All that took up most of the afternoon, but the garage now feels much more spacious, and we did have a bit of a clear out as we went. I wrapped up the chores by washing my car and tidying up the soil bags.

In the garden, the past couple of weeks of sunshine has brought out the flowers – as the first daffodils start to fade, violets, bluebells, primroses, cowslips and camellias are coming out. There’s buds on the wisteria and on the fruit trees, and my broad beans have finally emerged. With a cold snap forecast, let’s hope the new growth hasn’t arrived too soon.

Caroline's Red Camellia in bloom
Caroline’s Red Camellia in bloom

Down the lane, the Japanese Quince that inspired last year’s birthday present from Phil is in full bloom.

Japanese Quince flowers
Japanese Quince flowers

TV: Friday Night Lights (season 4), My Brilliant Friend (season 3), This Farming Life, The Story of Film  – plus Top of the Pops 1992 and Mysteries of the Bayeux Tapestry early Friday morning trying to obscure that headache.

Podcasts: History Extra, Books and Authors, Bookclub, World Book Club, The Essay, and a lot of Lingthusiasm.

Photos: Herefordshire week 117 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2022-03-27.

Herefordshire Week 116: Tuesday 15 – Monday 21 March 2022

Birthdays! Sunshine!

Birthday pint
Birthday pint

On Tuesday morning I finally found the time to put my photos from our CWF 2022 walks up onto Flickr. Then a busy few days at work. It’s becoming The Norm. Didn’t make VWW but managed a brief Family Zoom on Thursday.

Friday and Saturday featured two lovely lunches out at posh pubs. Glorious sunshine, more early summer than the start of Spring.

On Friday, after presents, Phil and I walked to Kilpeck for a very fine lunch and a pint at The Kilpeck Inn, to celebrate Phil’s birthday. The first non-lockdown one since we moved.

Lunch at The Kilpeck Inn - Montage
Lunch at The Kilpeck Inn – Montage

We returned home, at a slightly slower pace, via Kilpeck’s 12th century church and muddy footpaths from Wormbridge to Duffryn and lanes to Cockyard and home.

Walk to The Kilpeck Inn and back
Walk to The Kilpeck Inn and back

Early evening a large stag materialised in the front garden, and stood there for ages before wandering down to the pond and up swing slope. Not sure where he got in or how he got out. Bigger than previous visitors. Quite amazing.

Stag in the garden
Stag in the garden

J&T came for a cheese and wine supper to round off the day – and it was a smashing end to a lovely day.

Saturday saw us drive Dad and Jean to Skenfrith for another March birthday lunch, this time at The Bell. Another delicious meal – very colourful – and a very happy day.

Lunch at The Bell, Skenfrith - Montage
Lunch at The Bell, Skenfrith – Montage

On the way home we popped into Hereford to stock up on peanuts and a new bird feeder from General Dogsbody, and our onwards route just happened to take us past the new Wren Kitchen showroom that opened on Friday…. so we headed in for a browse. Plenty of ideas; no purchases. Asda food shop was the third and final stop, then home.

Bacton Square on Sunday morning, then cleared the gutters and hung up the new bird feeder before lunching out on the patio.

Then a couple of hours doing jobs in the garden: repotted the sweet peas, weedkillered a bit of the drive and the drainage ditch on the west side of the house (pressure spray didn’t work, so it wasn’t much of a success) and hacked back a bit more of the green shrub, focusing on the areas where the leaves had gone brown.

Another beautiful day to be outside – loads of small fish in the pond, daffodils are out, primroses too and lots and lots of birdsong.

Spring flowers and greens
Spring flowers and greens

Between tea and scone and dinner, I reorganised my office. Both desks are now lined up along the west-facing wall. I’m aiming for better lighting, and it makes the room feel bigger too.

Pizza for dinner, courtesy of Phil’s birthday stone and taking-out-of-oven paddle.

Bit low on Monday, but got some good jobs done in the morning including booking the Panda in for a service, and in the afternoon I took a meandering walk to Ewyas Harold to visit the post office.

Ewyas Harold via Cott Farm and Dulas, and back - Strava Map
Ewyas Harold via Cott Farm and Dulas, and back – Strava Map

Canns Hill Footpaths, cute lambs down by the Dore, Deer Field, EH Common, west to Cott Farm and down to Dulas to see the wild daffodils in the old Church, a bit of lane then footpaths through sheep (and lamb) fields and into the village via the Rec; a more direct route back over the Common and Dore Abbey with a very sociable section from Dore Abbey to Abbey Dore Court.

Wild daffodils, Dulas church
Wild daffodils, Dulas church

Spotted the first cowslip on our verge, and wild sweet pea shoots along the lane too.

FaceTime with DF, then weeknotes.

The Forty Acres Footpaths Map is up in the kitchen. Perfect for pondering while the kettle boils….

The Forty Acres Footpaths Map is up
The Forty Acres Footpaths Map is up

TV:  Friday Night Lights (season 4).

Podcasts: The Allusionist, History Extra.

Photos: Herefordshire week 116 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2022-03-20.

Herefordshire Week 115: Tuesday 08 – Monday 14 March 2022

Second of my pithy posts.

Manchester with work + CP visit = A bit hectic, but good.

Daffs are out. Camellia too.

Up early on Tuesday to catch the 8.30am Abergavenny-Manchester train, masked all the way, to spend a couple of days with the MN KM team. Highlight of the trip was Wednesday’s team lunch in Dishoom when CC threw a 6 on the “throw a 6 and get your meal for free” dice game.

Train back on Wednesday, WFH (catching up) on Thursday – still working when CP arrived for a long weekend stay which we started off in style with fish & chips from The Old Stables Fish & Chip Shop, Ewyas Harold.

Into Hereford on Friday to return my library books, a bit of culture courtesy of Hereford Cathedral, a wet walk along the Wye to Breinton and back courtesy of C’s pre-visit planning and lunch in the Café @ All Saints / AKA Bill’s Kitchen, then a spot of shopping – coats, cards and croissants – before returning home.

Back at base it was too wet to do much with the rest of the afternoon so once the sun was over the 5pm yard arm we started the Prosecco and nibbles, tucking into burgers for dinner later on.

Cheers – the spare glass is Hazel’s

Leisurely start to Saturday. A bright and breezy day, just perfect for walking to Ewyas Harold via Bacton, Tremorithic and Dulas. A long way round (8½ miles), but lanes all the way, and we bumped into K&K plus dogs on the hill down to Camp Wood and walked with them as far as Kerrys Gate.

Ewyas Harold, the long way round - Strava Map
Ewyas Harold, the long way round – Strava Map

Once in Ewyas Harold our pub lunch plan was foiled by the village having a planned power cut, but the team at The Temple Bar Inn had rigged up their electric car to supply power for the bar, TV and wifi, so at least we were able to console ourselves with a couple of pints and a packet of crisps having called Phil-the-taxi for the planned pick up, albeit a bit earlier than planned.

Two pints and a packet of crisps
Two pints and a packet of crisps

Late lunch then relaxing with the log fire until pizza and telly time, introducing CP to the delights of Friday Night Lights.

Sunday started with a spell of heavy rain, which meant the road was in fast flowing stream mode. So, after breakfast, I joined CP as far as Wormbridge making sure she got through all the “puddles”. Walked back, and then on again with P doing Cockyard backwards.

Potted up the lemongrass and tomato seedlings in the greenhouse before a late lunch and an afternoon catching up on admin – and two weeks worth of weeknotes! No photos yet from the CWF….

Monday was a beautiful sunny day. Lots of birds singing. We spent the morning with Gervase / Waxwing Energy, fact finding for his report on our options for making the house more energy efficient / comfortable and to reduce our carbon use.  After lunch I did a few jobs in the garden (planted out last year’s Bacton wild garlic and repotted the tulip / allium bulbs from the non-draining pot) then had K over for tea/coffee and chat.

In other news…. Phil spotted this.

TV:  Friday Night Lights (seasons 2 & 3).

Podcasts:  Books and Authors, History Extra.

Audiobook: The Man Who Died Twice – Richard Osman / Lesley Manville.

Photos: Herefordshire week 115 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2022-03-13.