Herefordshire Week 034: Tuesday 18 – Monday 24 August 2020

Chutney. My foray into Hereford town centre. Many wet and windy days – the Weather Gods must have read last week’s griping and sent autumn early.

The apples are flying off the trees – literally.

Windfalls
Windfalls

My photos from Herefordshire week 34 are on Flickr. You might like reading Phil’s weeknotes too, so I’ll start including links to those too.


Busy week at work, getting projects into positions where it’s OK to leave them for a couple of weeks while I’m on holiday. Can’t wait.

I do love seeing the sheep out of my office window. No desire to return to The Office, although that’s an option for attorneys from 01 September, on alternate weeks following the Team 1 / Team 2 model.

Strange realisation that September is only a week or so off, and it feels like the summer has flown by. Not helped by this week’s awful weather. I’m British, so I have to obsess about the weather.


Friday was sociable, with Zooms and FaceTimes with London friends, plus a phone call with Val. Lots of mutual catching up.

In between, CHUTNEY made from Forty Acres Windfalls. Of which there are many.

I doubled the recipe for Frugal Feeding Apple & Cinnamon Chutney AKA Frugal Feeding Chilli Apple Chutney, producing 13 small / medium jars made using Golden Delicious blown from their tree in the Orchard by Friday’s high winds.

Frugal Feeding Chilli Apple Chutney: Montage
Frugal Feeding Chilli Apple Chutney: Montage

Janet’s Jam Pan makes even double quantities look meagre.


Chutney-ing continued on Saturday with 10 small jars of Anglo-Indian Apple Chutney made from a photocopied recipe for a microwave version, but done on the stove. The small jars are usually the size I give away as gifts or thank-yous, so I might have to make another batch as it’s one of my favourites.

Anglo-Indian Apple Chutney: Montage
Anglo-Indian Apple Chutney: Montage

I also made lettuce soup for lunch. Tastier than you might imagine. Lettuce and mint from the garden, onions and peas from the supermarket. A good way to use up bolted lettuce top leaves.

Lettuce Soup for Lunch
Lettuce Soup for Lunch

Phil and I did the Bacton Square on Sunday morning, followed by a speedy mow (around 2 hours, which is a new record for me). Then a drive to Dinedor for a late afternoon/early evening BBQ with dad and Jean. We returned with armfuls of rainbow chard.


Monday morning’s gloom-busting walk saw a retread of the Kerrys Gate – Cockyard – Duffryn Farm – Camp Crossroads – Thistly Field route. Lots of butterflies pottering around the hedgerows and verges. Managed to get a snap of a Small Tortoiseshell. My old iPhone never does them justice.

Butterfly
Butterfly

And in the afternoon I drove into Hereford for my first trip into the town centre since March, spurred by the introduction of a click and collect service at the library. As well as replenishing the bookshelves, I sorted out change of address at Lloyds, whizzed around Waitrose, and bought a new bird seed feeder.

Busy in places (still school hols), but people kept their distance and wore masks. I’ll be happy to go back again for a longer mooch, and perhaps for a coffee or lunch outside. And to return my batch of library books.


Telly: Polished off The New Pope (still meh), watched most of Watchmen (OK, but you probably need to be a comic nerd to get the most pleasure from watching it) and started Harlots (fun).

Podcasts: Slow Burn, The Anthropocene Reviewed, BBC Radio 4’s Books and Authors  and World Book Club, plus History Extra.

Phil also showed me some of these Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 screencasts of people trying to land at/take off from Lukla. The jumbo jet ones are the funniest. The videos don’t quite capture the heart stopping 90 deg turn required between the landing strip and the Dudh Kosi river valley. Haven’t checked to see if there’s a $500+ helicopter option…..


Chucking it down here today (Tuesday). Good job Phil cleared the back gutters….

Chutney-time.

Herefordshire Week 033: Tuesday 11 – Monday 17 August 2020

“Staying” continued. Horrible humidity followed by torrential rain. APPLES!

Apple washing, drying, and stewing (panorama)
Apple washing, drying, and stewing (panorama)

Over the course of the week we both started telling folks that we’re staying and embarked on the admin associated with relocation, redecoration and rental of our London flat. I also lined  up an energy efficiency/insulation survey for here.

It makes it seem more real somehow.

Phil wrote a lovely piece about it in his weeknotes.


Moving on to more mundane matters, most of the week was horribly humid. Just too hot – I was literally melting every afternoon until the weather broke on Wednesday evening. It’s been monsoon-like since then. Sporadic torrential rain, accompanied by thunder and sheet lightning. Saves me watering the garden at least. It feels like we’ve gone from watering the lettuces etc morning / evening to letting nature soak them for hours on end, almost overnight.

AT LAST!
AT LAST! 8 seconds of rain (video)

Thursday sported two highlights: my first chillies have sprouted, and we had the KM Summer Party via Zoom.

My first chillies!
My first chillies!

With the rain helpfully holding off for most of Friday, I drove down to Mere to spend the afternoon with Rachel and Carl, where we indulged in some totally terrible daytime TV. Navigating there and back was fine, except for the first/last 10 miles. Must do better next time.

Back at base, Phil took delivery of our apple storage rack flat pack.


Took things easy on Saturday, with a walk in the morning and reading / snoozing in the afternoon. Reserved some books to collect from Hereford Library, prompted by finishing the last of the three Flavia Albia novels I’d bought. Dad and Jean came for dinner in the evening.

On Sunday Phil and I assembled the apple rack and set it up in the utility room (aka the downstairs loo – it’s a relatively spacious room!).

From flat pack….

From flat pack to apple rack: the flat pack
From flat pack to apple rack: the flat pack

… to apple rack:

From flat pack to apple rack: All assembled!
From flat pack to apple rack: the apple rack

In the afternoon I cut back the evergreen bush and the lilac between the patio and the small pond. I hope I’ve not been too brutal…. It was very satisfying, and the rain held off (unlike Saturday).

"Pruning" in progress
“Pruning” in progress

Monday was APPLE DAY! Picking, washing, drying, racking apples from four of Forty Acres many apple trees: Discovery in the Orchard, Discovery down by the train (small pond end), Laxton’s Superb (by train, large pond end) and Bramley on the lower path.

Apples: Discovery (left), Laxton's Superb (right)
Apples: Discovery (left), Laxton’s Superb (right)

Most were stored. The manky ones and windfalls were chopped and frozen or stewed-then-frozen. Good job we have a second freezer….


In the meantime, the birds are still busy on the bird feeders, and Phil and I periodically chase off the greedy male pheasant and pesky squirrels.

Birds busy on the bird feeders
Birds busy on the bird feeders

Telly: Polished off Perry Mason (good) and started The New Pope (meh, even with John Malkovich).

Podcasts: You Must Remember This: Polly Platt and lots of History Extra.


Photos from Herefordshire week 33.

Herefordshire Week 032: Tuesday 04 – Monday 10 August 2020

We’re staying.


Yes, Saturday was Decision Day. It turned out to be a really easy one to make, and only partly thanks to COVID.

Bought a 10 Drawer Wooden Apple Rack from Primrose to celebrate.


What else is there to say? It all seems rather mundane – but here you go:

Did a lot of Household Jobs:

  • Hoovered under the bed. So. Many. Moths.
  • Cleared cobwebs. Sorry spiders.
  • Defrosted indoor freezer.
  • Moved the dining table into the conservatory.

Did some gardening:

  • Propped up the tomatoes.
  • Picked oregano and thyme to dry.
  • Gave everything another good water with dad and Jean’s handy hose arrangement.
  • Pulled up the bolted lettuce and planted out the two trays of seedlings.
  • Collected windfalls and cut back some surprisingly long bramble shoots (technically “canes” wikipedia tells me).
  • Sawed off and cleared dead branches from the big tree down by the bluebell patch.

Did some walks:

  • Bacton Backwards (solo) on Friday.
  • Bacton Normal (with Phil) on Sunday.

Did some computing:

  • Caught up with weeknotes on Monday’s cooler morning.
  • Avoided the too-hot-heat by Flickring photos from Pembrokeshire, Walton and here on Saturday.
  • Chased COVID-19 train refunds: Great Anglia, Avanti, GWR. HOW TEDIOUS.

Did some reading:

  • In The Shadow of the Sword – Tom Holland
  • Deadly Election (Flavia Albia 3) – Lindsey Davis

Made some chutney. First of the year.

Watched Chernobyl (superb). Listened to lots of History Extra podcasts.


In wildlife news I found a tiny frog in the downstairs loo on Saturday, which I liberated down by the pond, and we also had our first bird casualty in months later that morning. This time it was a warbler that went head first into the kitchen window. Thankfully the blinds were down.

But best of all…

The Sheep Are BACK!
The Sheep Are BACK!

Here’s the link for the full set of photos from Herefordshire week 32. Some favourites below:

Clouds across the moon
Clouds across the moon
Bacton Backwards: Butterfly (or moth?)
Bacton Backwards: Butterfly (or moth?)
Bacton Backwards: Dore Abbey - Now Open and COVID-compliant
Bacton Backwards: Dore Abbey – Now Open and COVID-compliant
I've missed Friday Night Pizza!
I’ve missed Friday Night Pizza!
Tomatoes in progress
Tomatoes in progress
Lettuces old(er) and new
Lettuces old(er) and new

This week’s Weeknotes were embargoed until all close family had been informed.

Herefordshire Week 031: Tuesday 28 July – Monday 03 August 2020

A return to the Sunshine Coast, which lived up to its name.

A week’s holiday – my first of the COVID-19 Year – in sunny Walton on the Naze.

Hipkins Beach
Hipkins Beach

(And yes, I know this one is a week late.)


After Monday’s mega drive from the Herefordshire Hinterlands to the Essex Coast, we took things easy on Tuesday. The LED Trustees Meeting in the early evening (mainly to decide what to do about the Fundraising Weekend in Sept) was preceded by an impromptu glass of wine with Margaret and Richard on their roof terrace. The start of what would prove to be a sociable week.

Wednesday took us to Witham and Wivenhoe – seeing Phil’s folks for take away afternoon tea from a local tea room in their front garden in the former, followed by a lovely evening on the waterfront with my brother in the latter, and featuring my first pub pint since February courtesy of The Black Buoy‘s takeaway service and a takeaway curry from a local Indian restaurant.

Beers
Beers

A scorcher on Thursday, so we set off for the beach hut and Hipkins Beach. I spent most of the day on a sun lounger out on the Prom, reading and starting to relax more fully. The only fly in the ointment was the discovery that Hipkins cafe isn’t opening this year. I don’t blame them – but it does mean no mega ice creams. On the plus side, it meant our bit of the beach was noticeably quieter.

No 20, Hipkins Beach
No 20, Hipkins Beach

Friday was another scorcher, so back to the beach hut for the day.

August arrived on Saturday, as did Catherine! We all headed up to the beach hut and Catherine and I settled into sun loungers on the Prom for a sunbathe and catch up. Lunch in the hut, a walk up around the Naze and along the beach / estuary opposite Felixstowe, back towards town for ice creams all round from the Colonnade Kiosk. YUM.

Sunday – you guessed it, back at Hipkins and the Hut.  Not so busy today. I celebrated with two sea swims on the morning. High tide was at midday, so you are swimming over sand rather than the slippery clay that’s underfoot at low tide. I would have swum (well, “dipped and floated” is more accurate) earlier in the week except I thought I’d taken my swimming costume back to London… But when I dug deeper into the bag of towels we’d brought back from the hut last autumn, there it was.

The Prom, Hipkins Beach
The Prom, Hipkins Beach

Tom, Jo and Rosa came over in the afternoon. Really nice to see them all in person. Tea at the beach hut first then a stroll up to the Naze as far as the John Weston Nature Reserve. Lots of large caterpillars, green with black stripes and a horn, munching on the thistles, which subsequent Googling revealed were those of the Privet Hawk Moth.

Privet Hawk-moth, The Naze
Privet Hawk-moth, The Naze

Back at the beach hut, a hawk hovered overhead.


Our Walton week was accompanied by the first season of Elena Ferrante‘s My Brilliant Friend. The hype had rather put me off reading the books and if NOW TV hadn’t had the TV adaptation I wouldn’t have sought it out.

But it is as amazing as everyone says.


We drove back on Monday, assisted by Apple Maps, taking the more leisurely cross country route avoiding all the motorways and major A Roads (looking at you M25 and A12). Although it was longer in hours (6) and miles (270-ish), it was much easier driving and featured several Shires:

  • Essex
  • Suffolk
  • Cambridgeshire
  • Hertfordshire
  • Buckinghamshire
  • Northamptonshire
  • Oxfordshire
  • Gloucestershire
  • Herefordshire

We stopped half way for a lunch break at Ampthill Great Park, a good find (easy parking, cafe and loos), and again in Ross on Wye for a speedy shop, dropping off supplies for the Dinedor Quarantiners before finally making it back to base.

A lovely sunny evening. Sat out on the patio with tea and one of the Walton Bakery cakes…. The bird feeders* refilled and the garden rewalked.

Dad and Jean had visited on Friday, thankfully. Dad mowed and Jean watered and resuscitated the chillis I’d left in the conservatory. A good soaking revived the tomatoes and plumped up the pumpkins.

* The woodpeckers had destroyed one side of the seed feeder trying to get at the bird seed that loiters below the feed hole. We effected a gaffer tape repair and the feeder is back in action, albeit as a one-sided affair.


All in all, a lovely week in WON. Could quite happily have spent another week there.

All the socialising left me feeling a bit out of practice 🙂 – but lovely to see so many people In Person. Zoom’s great, but it’s not the same as a one-to-one, face-to-face (socially distanced faces, of course) chat.

Being “On Holiday” seems to make it harder to remember that we’re still meant to be keeping 2m apart. There are plenty of signs up, but families still walk three or four abreast on the pavements.

PAVEMENTS! Not seen so many of those since February! —

At least Walton on the Naze isn’t getting the crowds that have been invading Bournemouth and Margate.


Photos from Herefordshire week 31. A bit of a misnomer really as they’re all taken in Essex….

El Anillo de Picos: Postponed

We have abandoned our plan to go walking in the Picos mountains in Northern Spain at the end of August / start of September.

It was already looking complicated (trains / flights / hotels / masks etc and a day/night in Bilbao.. and that’s before we got to the relative safety of the mountains) and when the UK Government reintroduced quarantine on return from Spain overnight at the weekend, that was the final nail in the coffin.

Even if the Government were to lift quarantine by the time we were due go (which is unlikely), the risk of it being re-reintroduced while we were there felt greater.

Alfonso has been amazing, and gracious as always.

Our current thinking is to do the trip next year. Hasta el Año Que Viene.

Picos postponed: GOV.UK email
Picos postponed: GOV.UK email

Steffi’s now working through requesting all the refunds etc. EasyJet’s cancellation email for our return from Bilbao on 08 Sept arrived today. Now we are just waiting for BA to cancel the outbound flight. I hope they don’t continue to play hardball – at present they are only offering a voucher if you don’t want to take their flights to Spain.

On my To Do List: seeing if I can get a refund for my train tickets. Unlikely.

Oh well.