Having booked flights way back when, and sorted out hotels and refugio bookings, we put everything on hold once COVID-19 hit. But we were (are) all keeping our fingers crossed.
So, it was not EasyJet’s finest moment when they emailed yesterday to let us know that they’d cancelled our outbound flight.
After a flurry of emails, we’re now booked on the BA flight on the Saturday – a much earlier departure, and a lot more expensive, but at least we should be able to get there….
… although obviously the trip is entirely dependent on the Travel Corridor between England and Spain remaining open, and the summer’s lockdown easing not generating a second / third / fourth / nth wave of infection in either country.
Still trying to work out the safest way to travel to/from London.
I’ve fine tuned this Grapefruit Marmalade recipe and use it periodically to top up supplies of the super zingy stuff. It’s very popular with certain family members.
Here’s my version:
3 medium-sized grapefruit, pink or yellow
1lb white sugar – you will need the same weight as the peeled weight of the grapefruits
Large microwave-proof bowl – 3 litres or bigger
Bowls / plates to put grapefruit on as you work through the recipe
Saucer / plate
Food processor, or chopping board and knife
Serving spoon / desert spoon – to stir the marmalade while it’s in the microwave and to spoon it into the jars. Check the spoon will go inside the jar, to minimise spillage!
3 jam jars – 300g / 350g ones, clean
Tea towel – to hold the jars while you’re filling them up
Damp kitchen cloth / sponge – to wipe the jars at the end
Put the saucer / plate into the fridge to cool.
Peel the zest from the grapefruits.
Snip the zest into thin strips (using the scissors).
Remove white pith from the grapefruits.
Weigh the three peeled grapefruits. Weigh out the same amount of white sugar.
Chop the grapefruits – I do this in a food processor, 1 grapefruit at a time – removing any seeds as you go.
Put chopped grapefruit, shredded zest and sugar into the microwave-proof bowl.
Microwave on high for 20-40 minutes, uncovered, stirring every few minutes. How long it takes depends on how powerful your microwave is. I stir every 5-10 mins.
While the marmalade is in microwave, sterilise the jars by pouring boiling water over them (lids too). I do this in the sink.
Test whether marmalade has reached setting point – smear some onto the cold plate and let it cool. The setting point depends on whether you like your marmalade runny or rubbery.
When marmalade is ready, spoon it into the jars, filling each one to about 1cm from the top. I use a tea towel to hold the jars as they will get hot.
Wipe spilt marmalade from the outside/lips of the jars, then put the lids on and turn upside down for 5 minutes to seal and sterilise the lids. Then turn upright and let cool. <- That said, I am a bit slap dash, so I usually let the marmalade cool (put some kitchen towel over the tops to keep flies off if they’re around) and put the lids on once cooled.
I made some today, taking photos as I went. Here’s a montage of them.
And a good walk, in good company, up the Cats Back and along Hatterall Ridge to Hay Bluff.
Tuesday morning had been designated Big Shop day, but we had enough supplies to keep us going until Friday, so Phil and I walked over to Ewyas Harold to top up at the Shop (the world’s most expensive bananas, bread flour, eggs) and Mailes’ (quiche, milk). On the approach to the till, a doughnut fell into my bag too. There are two varieties on offer – St Mary’s and A. N. Other (Hay? Peterchurch?). Should have bought one of each! Next time.
The big shop was on Friday morning, making use of Asda’s Click & Collect. Frustratingly several “not availables” surfaced during the week, so, spotting Tesco’s was also now open from 7am, I went there en route to do the fruit and veg shopping, and to get the items Asda didn’t have. Not a fan of Tesco’s fruit and veg offering – limited and expensive. No queues to get in at either supermarket, once the initial early birds were allowed in.
Anyway, All Done for another month.
Oh, and Tuesday’s other highlight was getting notification emails for two of my many February flood / March onwards COVID-19 train ticket refunds. And spotting a third had already hit my bank balance without mention. That leaves five to go…
Made it to VWW on Wednesday and Family Zoom with dad and Jean on Thursday.
The rest of Friday was dedicated to creating the Nepal 2019 photobook in Blurb. I was spurred into action by their offer of 30% off plus free shipping, which is about as cheap as they get, and the offer ended Monday.
In the absence of one of Charles’ schematic maps, I had been planning to create a map with Excel’s 3D Map tool but I gave up on that. It seems more designed for displaying sales/quantities-tied-to-place data rather than trekking routes.
So, given I had all the data nicely organised in excel, I created an elevation graph instead. Yes, I LOVE SPREADSHEETS!
Ordered five photobooks with delivery to their respective recipients. Another “job” ticked off the To Do List.
Dad and Jean came over on Saturday morning, and I had my first lesson on the chain saw. Dad cut branches off the hazelnut tree that’s developed more of a lean since the branches on the other side were removed by Western Power, and also a couple of branches from the wild plum that were shading the red hazelnut bush. I had my lesson cutting up the plum branches. Chainsawed chunks are now drying out in the log shed, and the remnants dragged to the quarry for bonfiring, which will have to wait until it’s less windy. Hopefully next weekend as the pile is growing.
A greenfingered Kerrys Gater has put out a table of surplus aubergine, courgette, pepper, tomato and lavender plants, with a donations jar. I walked up on Saturday morning to get 1 x courgette to for me and 1 x pepper for Jean, and added a lavender on impulse. And then I walked back again as far as Hill Farm to collect horse manure 🙂
A gorgeous evening.
Spent the whole of Sunday gardening – mowed, strimmed, lopped and snipped. Very satisfying.
On Monday, with lockdown in Wales lifted, Steffi and Carmen made an early start from West Wales to cross the border for a day on the English side of the Brecon Beacons.
We headed over to Longtown, in the valley at the foot of Hatterall Ridge and climbed up via The Cats Back, continuing on to Hay Bluff before heading back via the Olchon Valley. Wonderful views and So Many Greens!
We ended up walking 17 miles – a bit more than planned. We were all very grateful for Phil’s flapjack (plus a pot and a half of tea) when we got back, followed by butternut squash curry. Just right.
No photos for one of the week’s main events – on Tuesday morning I found two female blackbirds, dead on the patio. They’d flown head first into the conservatory windows, despite the yellow post it notes and hovering birds of prey transfers. I wondered if the change in the weather – to much more humid conditions, with sporadic heavy downpours, might be partly to blame. Later in the day, Phil spotted a male recovering on the patio. It died in the early evening. All a bit sad.
It doesn’t help that I’m too squeamish to deal with the dead, of any species.
I fled the scene, doing the shorter Cockyard – Duffryn Farm – Wellfield loop.
Work’s got even busier, and the signs of the stress and strain of working from home are starting to show in earnest. Having failed to make VWW and worked late Thursday as family Zoom had moved to Friday, I worked Friday morning to break the back of a couple of larger automation projects, and feel more on top of things as a result.
It helped that Friday morning was wet.
On the plus side, the garden is very green after a very rainy few days, there’s lots of Loosemore Lettuce and the tomatoes (and chillies) are thriving in their ASDA growbag.
On Saturday, I planted out some of the radish seedlings and the last of the junior lettuce. I had been protecting them in the conservatory during the deluges, but as it turned out, the veg patch radishes were doing much better in comparison. I’d been rather profligate in my radish seed sowing into the recycled seed trays, so I’d filled the rest of the spare space in the veg bed with the occupants of only one of the trays. Hmm. Good job I like radishes.
On Sunday morning I did a longer walk, extending the usual Bacton Square: Kerrys Gate and Riverdale as usual, then turning off the B4347 and walking up past Bacton’s St Faith’s Church and on to the junction with Tremorithic Road – where there were magic views out over Hatterrall Ridge – before walking back towards the Common, dropping down into Abbey Dore on Cwm Road.
The extension pretty much doubles the route.
In the afternoon, we headed over to dad and Jean’s for another smashing BBQ. A Father’s Day FEAST:
I really want to get over to Longtown, to walk The Cat’s Back, but Monday proved a bit too breezy, and I’m a bit nervous about getting right up onto the border when Wales is still on a 5 mile lockdown, so I satisfied my wanderlust with a new, slightly random, route over to Ewyas Harold, up towards Rowlestone and a meander around Lower Maescoed before dropping back down into Dulas at The Old Trout Inn.
After taking the footpath round the back of Abbey Dore Court and across the field to Dore Abbey, I tried a different footpath up onto the Common from the abbey: not entirely successful as a field with cows, calves and a bull meant I deviated from the direct route – but I did discover that the farm on Cwm Hill is a deer farm. Which might explain the escapees we’ve seen roaming around…..
At the EH end of the Common, I managed to find the footpath back down to School Lane, and continued out the other side of the village along Prill Lane – Rabbit Lane – The Hill Road.
Rabbit Lane is a bit of a misnomer – it’s the sunken road we walked down as kids, and whilst it starts off with tarmac it swiftly turns to an overgrown track, then path, then stream bed before you reach a steep cobbled section that brings you out on The Hill Road. I acquired a handy stick for restraining nettles and bramble shoots. Slow going.
At the top of The Hill Road I turned right onto The Wigga, right again at the junction with Lower House Road, and left onto Wern Ddu at Balls Cross. I love the blend of English and Welsh names as we get ever closer to the border. Ddu = Black. Maes = Field. Coed = Wood.
Left onto the Longtown road for a short spell, then right onto what Google has as “Old School Mid Mc”, which I think is likely to be Old School [Road?] Middle Maes-Coed. Anyway, it was the first side of the square to Lower Maescoed, The Common Road providing sides 2 and 3, with Lower Maescoed at their corner and side 3 returning me to the Longtown road, for a downhill run to The Old Trout Inn.
Over Dulas Brook, up Mill Lane, footpaths over the fields to Tremorithic Road, then Cwm Road down into Abbey Dore and the road route home.
6 hours on mainly roads = tired legs! But a great walk. The Cat’s Back, Hay Bluff and Hatterrall Ridge were almost within touching distance from Wern Ddu.
Janet sent Phil a BTO email with a video feature on Identifying Great Spotted Woodpecker and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. The key fact, loitering several minutes in, is that Greater Spotted are blackbird/thrush size, Lesser Spotted are sparrow size. Which means our two are Great Spotted Woodpeckers, one adult and one juvenile. It would explain why one of them seems to be leading each time the two of them visit the bird feeder, and occasionally passes peanuts to the other:
A more successful social life this week – VWW, family Zoom (special guests, Jo and Rosa), Skype with Rach, phone call with Tom. And on Sunday we chatted with the folks down at Yew Tree Cottage, who were making a start on their extension. Al fresco coffee is planned.
I went to Asda first thing on Friday to do an interim shop (mainly fruit), and was in the small queue that formed before they opened at 7am. About 10 people in there, which was fine by me. More masks.
Dropped a few things off with dad and Jean on the way home, and stayed for a cup of tea. Asda had tomato grow bags – they are the new toilet roll / tinned tomatoes / yeast / bread flour in terms of scarcity – so I bought two, one for me and one for Jean.
I left Dinedor with a “squirrel proof” bird feeder and tree netting from dad, and from Jean gorgeous sweet peas plus two pots of parsley and one of coriander – grown from seed.
Called in a Lock’s Garage on the way home to buy some eggs and they had free mini cucumbers and mange tout. The former got pickled on Saturday and the later are livening up lunches and dinners.
Later on on Friday we netted the cherry tree and I planted out my two tomato plants in the grow bag together with two of the chillies. On Saturday I took a leaf out of Primitive Technology‘s book and on my way from Stone Street to Canns Hill I picked up binder twine and cut hedgerow withies and used them to stake out my tomato plants.
The weather took a turn for the worse this week – lots of rain on Wednesday and really quite cold on Thursday. That said, the weekend’s rain didn’t arrive as often / for as long as forecast, so I postponed “computer time” (I was going to do my Blurb book for Nepal) and went out walking the lanes instead.
Saturday morning I did Thistly field – Camp Crossroads – Duffryn Farm – Cockyard – Stone Street – Kerry Gate, and Phil and I did the Bacton square on Sunday morning (although we got caught in heavy rain at Riverdale).
Monday morning’s attempt to get off the roads and onto some footpaths was frustrated by wet meadows and nettle-crowded stiles and paths. Still, did a good three hours over to Dulas / The Trout (as was) via Canns Hill and Cwm Road, and on to Ewyas Harold via the naturereserve and the footpath into the recreation ground, back over the Common on anothernew route.
The good news from EH is that The Old Stables is open again, for telephone orders – YAAAY!
Telly: we finished The Tunnel series 1 and started Succession series 2 (still SO GOOD). All the better for one of Phil’s best Friday night pizzas yet: