Herefordshire Week 038: Tuesday 15 – Monday 21 September 2020

Back home, and preparing for all our stuff to arrive from London next week….

A beautiful sunny week, gorgeous sunrises and a lush green landscape scattered with bright berry reds and purples. Definitely autumn though.

Montage: Autumn Berries
Montage: Autumn Berries Plus

We’re also preparing to rent out Walton, so Tuesday morning I adapted the Government’s handy model shorthold assured tenancy agreement to reflect our needs. Main gripe is that the model document doesn’t use automatic cross referencing or an inbuilt table of contents. Makes me appreciate the KM team work product all the more.

Found time to do the Riverdale walk though. In the orchard there the apples are, almost literally, being hoovered up from between the rows of trees, and the sheep are grazing in the fields closer to Abbey Dore.

VWW and Family Zoom resumed, as did work. All fine. Almost caught up with the To Dos that had accumulated in my inbox over 2 and a bit weeks off.

The mornings are starting later, which means that I was treated to a couple of stunning sunrises over Grey Valley wreathed in mist.

Sunrise over Grey Valley
Sunrise over Grey Valley

Friday morning was admin – LED Fundraising Weekend updates, with Facebook thankfully playing ball, getting insurance quotes and putting post it notes on the things we want to give to charity so as to have house room for Barbican + Walton belongings.

I foresee an autumn of winnowing and charity shop donations.

Frustratingly the British Heart Foundation shop in Hereford looked like it was doing furniture etc collections, only for them to phone just at the end of the promised 3 working days to say “Oh, no, as you can imagine, our warehouse is full”. That I could easily imagine, and had assumed that as their website said they were able to collect from our postcode, they were one of the few places that did have more space.

So it was fingers crossed for St Michael’s Hospice, which came up trumps – they’re collecting 2 big bits of furniture next weekend, and on Monday we took a car load of crockery, kitchenware and bedding to their Donation Station warehouse on one of Ross-on-Wye’s industrial estates.

Our local Facebook buy/sell group has proved a winner too, with the double bed finding a new home over the weekend, and friends and extended family are also taking “stuff”.

I spent Friday afternoon and Saturday visiting Rachel and Carl. A lovely day and a half, and I’m getting better at the route too. Although still room for improvement: I realised half way there that I’d left the “Avoid Motorways” option on on the satnav and my return drive took the scenic route through the centre of Monmouth and back via the country lanes by way of Rockfield and Garway.

One day I’ll stop at Tintern to visit the abbey ruins and for a stroll through the village.

Sunday saw a cool morning turn into another late September scorcher. Phil and I did the Bacton square, hedgerows now glowing with berries (my photos don’t really do them justice), and got back just in time for Dad and Jean’s arrival for lunch followed by a tour of the Post Its so that they could take any things they would like to keep.

The sheep is settling in to her new home outdoors:

Home "Sheep" Home

(This is probably as close as we’ll get to This Farming Life)

We also selected the spot in the orchard where the greenhouse will go – my birthday present from dad and Jean. Luckily the apple tree that’s in the perfect spot turns out to have a rotten trunk and roots. So that’s getting chopped down sometime before the greenhouse’s arrival.

And there was still enough time in the late afternoon / early evening for a lovely walk up to Kerry Gate and back along the river / Riverdale to Abbey Dore Court, picking blackberries.

Monday morning was spent packing “stuff” into boxes and then into the car.

After lunch, we took the first car load to the Hospice Donation Centre in Ross –  all very straightforward and efficient.

On to Hereford for an hour of admin, including a visit to the library to return my Walton reads and to pick up the next set of books I’d requested, including the last in Toby Clements’ Kingmaker/ Wars of the Roses quartet – very pleased to have got that at last.

Hereford was lovely in the hot September sun. The roads and the Old Town were quiet, and there was plenty of al fresco seating. Strange to think that the last time we were there together was pre-pandemic, and in the dark, cold and wet days of February and March. Ditto Ross on Wye.

Back home, a bit more sorting out, then time for a few more chapters of Where the Crawdads Sing sitting out on the front lawn. Early evening: lettuces watered, tomato plants trimmed, and blackberries picked from the hedges lining the sheep field opposite and speedily assembled into River Cottage Blackberry Whisky, as suggested by Sue. Now we just have to shake daily until the sugar dissolves, and wait 6 months…….

Blackberry Whisky
Blackberry Whisky

On the minus side, I think we’re both a bit stressed by this stage of “moving in” and all the COVID-19 uncertainty – no surprise with our shambling charlatan and his cowed-by-Cummings cronies “in charge”. Neither of us is sleeping well. The September influx of Daddy Long Legs doesn’t help either. Looking forward to this time next week, by when we should have Barbican stuff here and a long weekend of sorting out stuff behind us.

In the spaces between sorting out stuff, it is gorgeous being here.

TV: Undemanding crime – Prodigal Son (Mainly still watching because Michael Sheen is having so much fun. I’m sure there must have been a million outtakes where he succumbs to the Fffffff of Hannibal Lecter) and Strike: Lethal White. Plus Africa’s Great Civilisations, on Rachel’s recommendation. Frustrating that episodes 1 and 2 are no longer available for viewing.

Podcasts: Not so many – a few more History of England, the occasional Books and Authors.

And finally, for some further and other perspectives:

Herefordshire Week 037: Tuesday 08 – Monday 14 September 2020

A rather more relaxing week than Week 036.

Calm sea with sailboat, Hipkins Beach
Calm sea with sailboat, Hipkins Beach

We took Phil’s mum and dad to Dedham on Tuesday, as Janet fancied a swim in the river there. Turns out there is a super restaurant / cafe (The Boathouse) which also does boat hire, and we had a lovely stroll alongside the river to the Burnt Tree Swimming Spot. Large car park close by. Highly recommended. The village looked worth a potter around too, although we didn’t do that.

Not 100% R&R though – the Government’s guideline change introducing The Rule Of Six (Does Cummings’ clique include some Star Trek fans?) meant a series of email exchanges with Steffi working out options for our October Pembrokeshire Get Together. Plus lots of emailing and phoning sorting out things in London and Walton, ranging from booking EICRs for both flats to getting someone to fix the hut window.

But I did find time to make another batch of Apple Brandy Mincemeat.

Apple Brandy Mincemeat - Batch 2
Apple Brandy Mincemeat – Batch 2

Overall though, we did manage to spend a lot of time at the beach hut, relishing the peace and quiet, reading, snoozing, listening to podcasts.

We met Josh from AJ Property Maintenance there early on Wednesday, and by Friday the window was fixed and next year’s repaint was booked in.

We caught up with Margaret and Richard again on Thursday morning before heading down to the hut after lunch, and we spent the afternoon there on Friday having walked to Frinton in the morning for coffee and teacake courtesy of Bird & Bean, and another mooch around the St Helena Bookshop.

We spent all day Saturday at the beach hut.  A fab last day of our hols, and the end of an era as we’re going to be renting out the flat from early November. Moving everything out will entail a return visit in October to pack up and drive everything back to the cottage. We’re going to allow ourselves a few days for that. I’ve got plenty of unused holiday to take before the end of the year. We’re keeping the hut and planning to explore the myriad of Air B&B options now on offer in Walton.

Standley Road Sunset
Standley Road Sunset

Sunday started early for the Long Drive Back. We had three stops: Witham to drop off books and clothes at Phil’s parents, Ampthill Great Park (busy!) for an early lunch and Ross on Wye for food shopping. We were getting a 54 gun salute from the army camp as we pulled into the drive. Home.

After tea and biscuits sat out on the lawn (beautifully mown by dad, and looking lush), we took a Tour of The Estate before refilling the bird feeders, reestablishing the hose to water the veg patch / herb bed (the lettuce still going surprisingly strong), removing the rotten apples from the storage racks and unpacking. Chores done, we returned to sit out on the lawn with beer & crisps.

Back home
Back home

Dinner with telly, plus two new videos from Olive & Mabel – Intermission and Looking for Love 🙂

Monday was another gorgeous day, a beautiful misty morning followed by a long hot day. Perfect walking weather, but with removals arriving a week on Wednesday, the day had to be spent On Admin. Still, we cleared stuff out of the shed and made room for the nice outside table and chairs.  And I saw a yellow wagtail!

Morning Mist. Sheep. Shadows
Morning Mist. Sheep. Shadows

TV:  I Hate Suzie, interspersed with Strike: Lethal White and This Farming Life , plus Silicon Valley season 6. Not that wowed by the first – whilst I do really enjoy watching Billie Piper act, I just wasn’t that engaged with the Suzie Story. I have become a bit obsessed with Border Collies though …. Sorry Mabel. Sorry Olive.

Podcasts: More of David Crowther’s  The History of England. A lovely few listens to birdsong through the seasons, courtesy of Geoff Sample’s A Birdsong Garden on BBC Radio 3’s The Essay.

For other perspectives:

Herefordshire Week 036: Tuesday 01 – Monday 07 September 2020

September already!!

We are in Walton on the Naze for a couple of weeks, enjoying a holiday on the Sunshine Coast with intermittent interruptions for admin.

Major event: Haircut!

So, yes, Tuesday morning featured a haircut. Not just any haircut… my first haircut since 19 August 2019.

Yep, over a year ago.

I am calling this one my COVID-Chop.

Haricut: Before & After
Haircut: Before & After

Locks chopped we headed down to the beach hut. Spent the afternoon reading and enjoying the soft evening light. Quieter now that the summer holiday season has come to an end. Always a lovely time of year to be in Walton.

Evening light, Hipkins Beach
Evening light, Hipkins Beach

Wednesday we walked along the prom to Frinton for coffee and cake, sat outside the Bird & Bean. Took some books to St Helena’s Charity Bookshop. Good to see both of them open.

Back home, Phil and I transferred our individual To Do Lists out of our heads and onto paper. Digital paper. We both felt better for it, for different reasons.

Thursday/Friday saw us make our flying visit back to London to meet with the removals man and two potential redecorators, and to do various other bits of house move admin. Thankfully train commuters were much more compliant with the mask wearing mandate.

We booked the removals and they’re going to do all the packing too. All being well, our stuff should be coming over to Herefordshire at the end of the month. We just have to find house room for it.

Once we have quotes from the decorators we’ll book that in for as soon after as they can manage.

Admin involved a walk over to Cheapside, where Wonder Of Wonders, Bow Lane Wine Vaults was open!! Sadly, too rainy to venture back for an early evening drink, plus we both needed to spend the time packing up a few fragile things.

But we did have wine, crisps and Waitrose pizza for dinner.

Almost Wine Wednesday #2
Almost Wine Wednesday #2

And whilst in Waitrose I bumped into one of my super Silver Surfers, which was really, really lovely. I do miss them, and that volunteering element of my life. Now I know we’re in Herefordshire for the long run, I’m going to find a replacement.

Saturday, Sunday and Monday continued the London socialising theme, with Hazel coming to stay and Catherine driving over for the day on Sunday.

Phil, Hazel and I had the long awaited fish & chips from the Tollgate Fisheries on Saturday evening, with a G&T aperitif featuring ice, gin and tonic from BJH.

Catherine arrived early on Sunday, and the three of us walked to Frinton along the beach, moving on to footpaths to Great Holland and almost into Kirby Cross (in search of a pub, I do confess) before heading back across the fields to Frinton

In Frinton we sat outside The Lock & Barrel enjoying a Sunday lunchtime pint. Not sure I’ll ever be allowed back into Frinton after such a display of wantonness.

Frinton pint with Hazel and Catherine
Frinton pint with Hazel and Catherine

Lunch back at the flat, then ice creams and a short stroll before Catherine headed home. A great day. Wonderful weather and fab friends.

Phil escaped by heading back to London for the day to do a bit more preparation at the flat and to meet up with friends for lunch.

A leisurely morning on Monday, Hazel and I strolled up to the end of the Naze and back before she took the train back to London. Phil and I spent the afternoon at the hut.

Podcasts: I subscribed to some new “listens” earlier in the week, with The History of English podcast proving a particular favourite. I think it’s mainly because I am fascinated by the centuries between the departure of the Romans and the arrival of the Normans. The centuries of invasion (or, perhaps simply “immigration”?) by the Angles, Saxons, Jutes and others, and then the Vikings from various parts of Scandinavia that we don’t know much about.

TV: More of season 2 of My Brilliant Friend which covered the teenage years as Lenu and Lila’s lives really start to diverge and emotions and character emerge. Plus the next instalment in This Farming Life.

For other perspectives:

Herefordshire Week 035: Tuesday 25 – Monday 31 August 2020

Technically, half of this week was “Walton on the Naze Summer Holiday Week 01”.

More apples.

Busy morning Tuesday, picking more windfalls and making another batch of chutney, then my final “week” at work before heading off for our hols.

Today's Batch of Apple Chutney
Today’s Batch of Apple Chutney

It’s not a bad view out of my office window….

Morning, sheep!
Morning, sheep!

Work wasn’t too hectic – laying the groundwork last week definitely helped – and taking a half day’s holiday on Thursday meant we got to WON just before 9pm on Thursday night. Having arrived just after both the fish & chip shops had closed, we treated ourselves to a dirty pizza from the takeaway in town for tea. It made up for the 6+ hour drive in torrential rain. All. The. Way.

Friday was v windy, with big rain clouds moving out to sea, and producing very localised rainstorms. Avoided downpours for a scoot around the Aisles of Aldi and a walk out to the Coop at the Triangle to stock up on ingredients for Brandy Apple Mincemeat (and bargains).

I spent Saturday morning using up some of the Forty Acres windfalls (Golden Delicious edition) to make a double batch of Brandy Apple Mincemeat.

Brandy Apple Mincemeat
Brandy Apple Mincemeat

I have a really easy microwave vegan recipe, but it’s a photocopy and I can’t remember which book it came from, or who lent it to me. It uses 1kg tart apples, of which we have many, and a morning’s chopping, microwaving and stirring produced have 9 jars, which are now maturing in readiness for Christmas mince pies.

We went to WIV on Saturday evening for lovely dinner with Tom and Jo, which involved some very nice red wine and entailed our first train journey since… January for me, and sometime last year for Phil.

Good practice for Thursday / Friday next week when we are doing the longer journey in/out of London, and stopping off at Phil’s parents on the way back. Hoping it won’t be busy with commuters. I can’t see there being loads, but I imagine there will be more over the course of Sept.

The young people heading into Colchester for a Saturday night out were not wearing masks.

Whiled away the rest of weekend reading on the window seat, devouring more of the Flavia Albia series courtesy of Hereford Library’s ‘Click & Collect’ service, with a snooze on Sunday afternoon and a stroll up to the Naze before tea and cakes from Lilly’s.

Dinner was tasty Thai Takeaway from the excellent Pearl of Samui, with more of My Brilliant Friend – we started season 2.


Monday was a gorgeous sunny day, perfect Bank Holiday weather. Spent the morning reading and soaking up the sun on the window seat, before coffee with Margaret & Richard and an afternoon at the Beach Hut.

TV: Watched the end of Watchmen plus almost all of My Brilliant Friend, season 2. And a new Tuesday night real time TV treat …. series 4 of This Farming Life.

Podcasts: Various. I am running out….

My photos from Herefordshire week 35 on Flickr.

Phil’s weeknotes for W/E 2020-08-30.

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.


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.


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….