Herefordshire Week 051: Tuesday 15 – Monday 21 December 2020

A truncated edition of weeknotes for the penultimate week of our first year at Forty Acres.

The return of relentless rain hasn’t managed to stop us from starting to get into the Christmas spirit.

Feeling Festive at Forty Acres (Triptych)
Feeling Festive at Forty Acres (Triptych)

Thursday brought the surprising news that Herefordshire was moving into COVID Tier 1, despite our lack of coastline.

I got back to 40A on Friday evening, in time for Friday night pizza à la Phil. The drive was OK, just a lot of big puddles this side of the Severn which slowed me down a bit.

Very soggy underfoot when I went out for a stroll around “The Estate” on Saturday. The ditch by the train set is full of water and appears to be making a bid to join up with the big pond, plus we’ve a third pond up by the small pond (temporary I hope as it’s where the first snowdrops bloom). And we seem to be acquiring a moat!

Squelching around the grounds and across Thistly Field reminded me of last February’s floods.

Waterlogged (Triptych)
Waterlogged (Triptych)

While I was away, Phil had hauled up the brash from the lower slopes to “The Quarry”. Now all we need is some dry weather to lop and burn ….

Lots of Bonfiring still to do in the Quarry
Lots of Bonfiring still to do in the Quarry

We put up the Christmas decorations on Saturday evening, lit the log stove and Phil got his Christmas Selection playing from the Sonos, all of which made us both feel a lot more festive.

I did manage to spook myself overnight though. It turned out to be the flashing light was coming from the printer in my office – not aliens or burglars.

Podcasts:  History Extra, The Night Driver (didn’t make it further than the start of ep2), The Memory Palace,  Shedunnit, Books and Authors, and David Crowther’s educational and enjoyable The History of England on the drive home.

Telly: 12 Puppies & Us (still lovely!) and We Are Who We Are .

Blogposts and Articles: Not my normal telly routine over the past couple of weeks and I’ve done more reading on my iPad instead, including:

I’m looking forward to the possibility of a big trek in Nepal next November, so there were some Kanchenjunga related posts including Mark Horrell’s 2018 Kangchenjunga base camp trek (N&S) and Drohmo Ri ascent:

and Derek’s October 2013 Kangjendzonga Base Camp Trek

But not to ignore telly completely, I’ve noted down lots of future TV viewing from The Guardian’s Christmas TV guide 2020: the festive shows you can’t miss.

Photos: Herefordshire week 51 on Flickr.

Phil: Weeknotes for w/e 2020-12-20.

Herefordshire Week 050: Tuesday 08 – Monday 14 December 2020

All is well with me and mine but no weeknotes this week.

That said:

  • These past few weeks have made me truly appreciate that I work for a great firm.
  • It seems a lot of people I know are moving house.
  • During this week’s Bxxxxx Negotiations I have to say I’ve been Team Ursula.
  • We have a fab Christmas Wreath, hand crafted by Phil.
Wreath (Photo by Phil Gyford)

Photos: Herefordshire week 50 on Flickr.

Phil: Weeknotes for w/e 2020-12-13


Herefordshire Week 049: Tuesday 01 – Monday 07 December 2020

December. Almost a year.

A good start to the final month of 2020. A glorious sunny Tuesday morning so I ignore my To Do List and headed out for a walk along the lanes, doing “Tremorithic backwards” aka Abbey Dore – Cwm Hill – Tremorithic Road – Bacton – Kerrys Gate.

Morning walk: Tremorithic Road

I did slightly regret that I hadn’t driven over to Longtown to do the Cat’s Back though….

Good week at work. Got a lot of small projects wrapped up or to the stage where they’re with someone else to do something, which at this time of year often drifts by mutual consent, into January.

Friday forecast had featured snow, but all we saw were a few light flurries in the afternoon, and the morning was lovely.

Friday morning also featured half an hour or so in the company of a stray collie that wandered past the kitchen window …. Phil had met his owners while he was out on a run and they were scouring the lanes looking for Sparky. Turns out they all live at the farm down the road, and that Sparky is an old fella – which explains why he was easy to catch and corral and seemed quite happy pottering around the lounge and kitchen giving everything the once over, and going nose-to-nose with his reflection in the mirror in the hall.


A nice way to meet some more of our neighbours.

After all that excitement Phil and I made a tactical trip into Hereford for library click & collect and then out to Rotherwas to the new Donation Station that St Michael’s Hospice have set up there. Perfect location, once you’ve navigated through the service roads of the Tom Head section of the Industrial Estate. There’s a lot more there than you see from the main Holme Lacy Road.

Then back into Hereford via Asda for a quick supermarket shop and General Dogsbody to restock on the bird feeder peanuts. The woodpecker wolfs them down. Then into town proper for an eye test (me), leather walking boot acquisition (Phil) and Christmas present pick ups. Leather walking boots are on my list too as the fields around here get muddy and wet in the winter and the grass can be long and wet all year round, so leather boots seem like a good option for dry feet for longer walks where wellies won’t quite do.

Back home via Dinedor and Lock’s Garage. Friday night pizza in the company of the log stove.

Saturday morning we mulled over the possibility of getting a Border Collie puppy from one of the farms in Abbey Dore – picking up on something the folks we’d met yesterday had mentioned. Tricky….. And eventually decided against it. Not the right time and probably not the right dog.

Did the Bacton Square and called in at Yew Tree for tea and the first mince pie of the festive season. Late lunch of leftover pizza and a lazy afternoon by the log stove.

Sunday saw the purchase of two “new” front tyres for the car and learned that they’d worn so much because the tracking is out. Not great timing.

Telly: The Good Lord Bird (still only rates an OK) and We Are Who We Are – we’re seeing a lot of Italy on the small screen this year.

Podcasts: probably History Extra and Shedunnit.

Photos: Herefordshire week 49 on Flickr.

Phil: Weeknotes for w/e 2020-12-06

There won’t be the usual weeknotes for the next couple of weeks.

Herefordshire Week 048: Tuesday 24 – Monday 30 November 2020

Frost. Fog. Stollen. Greenhouse construction parts 6 & 7 – now with added glass.

I clocked up some TOIL time at work this week, working Tuesday and Friday mornings. Had my appraisal on Thursday. “Glowing”.

A chilly night Wednesday gave way to a cold and frosty Thursday morning, with a streaky sunrise over Garway. Gorgeous, so we went for a pre-work stroll over to Thistly Field and back for photos.

Frosty Morning, Phil on Thistly Field
Frosty Morning, Phil on Thistly Field

The fog rose up from the valleys and over our ridge overnight, settling in for what turned out to be a few days. And Friday was cold too, so I broke out the fatballs for the birds.

Fatball Friday Five!
Fatball Friday Five!

Phil and I headed back to Thistly Field for a walk after lunch – and more photos – doing the loop back via Wellfield. The dad we’d met out on Tremorithic Road last Sunday drove by and stopped for a chat. Lovely.

Foggy Friday, Thistly Field
Foggy Friday, Thistly Field

Following the fatball logic, Phil and I broke open the Mini Stollen at teatime.

Saturday was fog bound from the start, and I felt ropey with a tension headache that lasted most of the day. (No, I don’t think it was penance for Starting the Stollen before the Festive Season officially starts.)

Still, that didn’t stop me making three and a half jars of grapefruit marmalade in the afternoon. That made up for a slightly frustrating morning trying to turn my Forty Acres 2020 blogposts into a Blurb Book.

Leaving the marmalade setting in the conservatory, I finished off Lost Acre sat in front of the log stove, and discovered that getting cold fingers and feet during the morning meant a return of my chilblains.

Sunday morning and lunchtime were spent working on the greenhouse construction, getting almost all the glass in, which was very satisfying.

Greenhouse construction, part 6
Greenhouse construction, part 6

Over a late lunch, we’d also spotted two Long Tailed Tits visiting the bird feeders. Magic! Then, in what was left of the afternoon, I did the Cockyard walk enveloped in fog. Enjoyable all the same. And I pulled the barbed wire out of the hedge / style into Thistly Field.

Tasty Hot Pot for tea, with more of The Good Lord Bird (not gripped).

Monday, the fog had finally – FINALLY – disappeared.

More greenhouse in the morning. Got all the glazing done plus we discovered a box with all the drainpipe kit in. A water butt is planned… Still got to build the “staging” (or shelving, I’d call it) that goes inside.

Greenhouse construction, part 7
Greenhouse construction, part 7

Afternoon: Bacton backwards, then bramble snipping, barbed wire winding and some hauling of big branches of brash to the bonfire.

Evening: Caught up with Hazel and Helen over Zoom. It was St Andrews Day after all.

In COVID news, we’re in Tier 2 from Wednesday/Thursday (confusion reigns as to when, precisely). I’d be more aggrieved, except that there are only 3 places in Tier 1… and two of those are Islands.

Telly: DNA (a great final episode), Intelligence (for light relief), Educating Greater Manchester(the big reveal), 12 Puppies & Us (who knew there were so many different types of Spaniels?), Saving Britain’s Pubs with Tom Kerridge (we both now REALLY want a pint) and The Good Lord Bird (still not gripped).

Podcasts: more History Extra episodes plus some Shedunnits.

Photos: Herefordshire week 48 on Flickr.

Phil: Weeknotes for w/e 2020-11-29.

Herefordshire Week 047: Tuesday 17 – Monday 23 November 2020

The last of the lettuce.

A couple of good walks.

Greenhouse construction part 5.

I spent some of Tuesday morning weeding my recipe folders before heading out for a walk. I had a good seven mile leg stretch to Kerrys Gate – Stone Street – Cockyard – Duffryn Farm – Camp Crossroads – Wellfield.

Low cloud but warm, and the hedgerow shrub that has the funky pink flowers now has red / orange berries, which means I now know it’s a Spindle (aka Euonymus europaeus).

Pink flowers + Red / Orange berries in the hedgerow = Spindle tree
Pink flowers + Red / Orange berries in the hedgerow = Spindle tree

Opening the downstairs curtains first thing on Friday, I saw a buzzard down by the log store. After a microsecond Mexican Stand Off, it flapped off slowly up the slope and towards the rope swing. Amazing.

The rest of Friday was a getting things done day: fixing a Contract Express glitch at work first thing, then into Hereford with Phil for a big shop (Aldi, Sainsbury’s, ASDA), flu jab, petrol and library click and collect (by the skin of my teeth, having run all the way there from the ASDA car park).

Got the wood burner going as dusk fell for a lovely FaceTime with Janette followed by Blackberry G&T then pizza plus Pubs and Puppies.

G&T - It's a small bottle, not massive glasses ....
G&T – It’s a small bottle, not massive glasses ….

On this day in 2019, we were crossing the 5,780m Amphu Lapsta pass in Nepal – crampons, ice axes and ropes on the way up, carabiners, ropes and abseil descent.

Our porters start their descent from the Amphu Lapsta
Our porters start their descent from the Amphu Lapsta

Caught up with Rachel and Carl on Saturday – a grey day. Hoping to get down to Wilts to see them in December.

Sunday provided a pick-me-up: a gorgeous sunny morning and Phil and I did a smashing walk up to Kerrys Gate – Bacton – Tremorithic Road – Cwm Hill – Abbey Dore. Super sunshine and technicolour colours.

Horse, Fair Oak Farm
Horse, Fair Oak Farm
Phil, Tremorithic Road
Phil, Tremorithic Road

Home for lunch then an afternoon of bonfiring the brash followed by an early evening FaceTime with Jenny over in Silicon Valley.

I picked the last of our lettuce and dug some ash from the wood stove into the soil of the “herb bed extension”. Felt like A Good Idea. Who knows….

A quick trip into Hereford on Monday morning to deliver hotel toiletries, chutney and boxes to Hereford Food Bank, and more Greenhouse Construction in the afternoon.

Greenhouse construction, part 5
Greenhouse construction, part 5

We got the bloody doors on. Next up: installing all the glass….

Telly: more of series 2 of Educating Greater Manchester, Intelligence, DNA (top tip from Catherine), plus the aforementioned 12 Puppies and Us (sob) and Saving Britain’s Pubs with Tom Kerridge.

Podcasts: A whole slew of excellent History Extra episodes plus dogs on The Essay. I think someone’s trying to tell us something….

Photos: Herefordshire week 47 on Flickr.

Phil: Weeknotes for w/e 2020-11-22.