Herefordshire Week 160: Tuesday 17 – Monday 23 January 2023

Home alone as the Big Freeze continues. A magical walk in the Brecon Beacons. Snowdrops.


Back down to -5C overnight on Monday/Tuesday, and we were up at 5am to get Phil to the 06.40 train to PAD. Very dry, so thankfully no ice on the roads and Steffi’s towel-on-the-windscreen tip meant no ice on the car either.

Back home to catch up on admin – a lot of LED posts on the website and Facebook. Emailed Val about Kanchenjunga trek this Oct / Nov…. although it’s still a placeholder rather than a plan at this stage.

Long work days Wednesday and Thursday. Still freezing outside and overnight. I kept the peanuts topped up in the bird feeders and melted the water in the bird bath.

On Thursday morning, this little fella / fellaette had a bit of a brush with the kitchen window and needed a spot of recovery time on the gate.

Robin, recovering on the gate
Robin, recovering on the gate

On Friday morning I drove over to Pengenffordd in the Brecon Beacons to walk the Dragons Back and Waun Fach Circular with Sonia, Sara and Grace.

A gorgeous day – snow underfoot and sunshine overhead. Cold and clear blue skies. Just magic.

Cairn, Mynydd Troed and Pen y Fan
Cairn, Mynydd Troed and Pen y Fan

Lovely to be back walking with my Manaslu and Nar Phu trek mates.

We did this DRAGONS BACK CIRCULAR – BLACK MOUNTAINS route in reverse: up the Rhiangoll valley to the ridge, north and east along the ridge to Waun Fach, north-west-ish and down to the cairn marking the turn west onto the Dragons Back, descending down the three bumps of the Dragon’s Back to the Dinas Castle Inn car park.

Panorama from the Dragons Back Descent
Panorama from the Dragons Back Descent
Sonia and Sara catching up with Grace at Waun Fach
Sonia and Sara catching up with Grace at Waun Fach

At the bottom of the Dragons Back we made a slight detour – worth it – up and over the remains of Castell Dinas hill fort. OS GetOutside tells me that “at 450 metres it is the highest castle in England and Wales”, so there you go.

And to top off a smashing day, we got to Crickhowell in time to celebrate with a large pot of tea and very tasty cakes at Latte-Da.


Driving to Malvern that evening to pick up Phil thanks to GWR terminating the Hereford train there was decidedly less so. I LOATHE driving in Malvern; navigating is a nightmare.

We took it easy over the weekend, late starts both days.

Freezing fog outside all day on Saturday, so a day to stay inside. The whiteout confused the sheep no end. Flickred Dragon’s Back photos, did some admin, cooked dinner.

Frosty & Foggy start to the day at Forty Acres
Frosty & Foggy start to the day at Forty Acres

The weather started to warm up a bit on Sunday – BBC reckons we nudged all the way up to 2C – so we strolled down to the Abbey and back over Thistly Field in the morning. Late lunch then an afternoon eBaying “stuff”.

Busy day of admin and projects on Monday including a visit to Wren Kitchens, preceded by lunch at Dough, which was neither admin nor project!

TV:  Narcos (season 2), Life after Life, Happy Valley (series 3), Our Flag Means Death.

Podcasts: The History of England, Books and Authors.

Photos: Herefordshire week 160 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2023-01-22.

Herefordshire Week 159: Tuesday 10 – Monday 16 January 2023

Back to work in the week; lots of walking over the weekend as Charles and Steffi come to stay. Added bonus: we all got to practise our sheepherding skills…

Sheep on the loose Chez Loosemore
Sheep on the loose Chez Loosemore

Back to work on Tuesday, working the morning to get back on top of the inbox and to prep for an early afternoon new joiner induction. More work Weds and Thurs. VWW and Family Zooms resumed too.

Things got busier and more interesting on Friday!

The day started with coffee at Gwatkins with some of the Kerrys Gate Ladies and organised by K.

Time for a bit of a potter in the garden, mainly scooping up the leaves that had come to rest in Phil’s pond after a couple of days of gusts and high winds, before Charles arrived. Perfect timing for a walk around the garden and lunch in the conservatory, then off to Abergavenny to pick up Steffi. Home for tea, treats and a catch up sat by the log stove. Dinner by Phil.

Up early on Saturday so as to get into Hereford for the firsts GVWC outing of 2023, the Belmont Loop led by JP. Grey clouds but no rain. Very muddy….

GVWC: Belmont Loop
GVWC: Belmont Loop

Home for lunch by Phil then Charles headed over to Fromes Hill and the delights of the army and outdoor kit shop, aka the place with the tank, and the rest of us walked down to rendezvous with TJL. The six of us continued on to the very wet and muddy Riverdale footpath – wellies better suited to the submerged waterlogged sections. At Black Bush, rather than heading back up to Kerrys Gate, J persuaded us to do a new (to me and P) route to Kerrys Gate. So we continued on along the road almost to Gwatkins then took the footpaths up and over the fields to emerge opposite Bushmills in Kerrys Gate.

Riverdale - Gwatkins - Kerrys Gate
Riverdale – Gwatkins – Kerrys Gate

One to remember, but not to redo until the ground has dried out. It was very squelchy.

Back at base we all tucked into much needed tea and cake sitting around the log fire with TJL. Relaxation and chat continued through 6pm G&Ts and nibbles and dinner then early to bed.

Sunday saw a more leisurely start to the day then Charles, Steffi and I headed out to walk the Camp Crossroads – Cockyard (shorter) circuit.

Almost home when we encountered the week’s main event: Sheep on the Loose chez Loosemore!

On the last of the uphill stretch we spied sheep on the skyline… three escapees from Kiln Field.

Steffi, Charles and I managed to persuade them back along our bit of the lane, but then they veered onto the drive and embarked on a tour of the front lawn. At least that gave me time to get Phil and between us we tried herding them back up to the gate while S and C barred the lane back to the road junction. Almost there and then they bolted doing a u-turn and bombing around me and past C & S at quite a lick before sauntering off down the hill towards Quarrels Green.

Sheep! (Steffi’s photo)

While P drove to R’s I hopped over the gate into Thistly Field and keeping low and out of sheep-sight hurried down the fields to the old metal gate, squeezed between hedge growth and back into the lane below them pesky critters. Kept them in sight but at a distance until P reappeared soon followed by R’s truck…. Which the three sheep happily trotted after as far as the gate where R lured them back into the field with a magic white bucket. We will remember that trick for next time!

Such excitements!

We don’t lay such spectacles on for all our guests.

Charles, Steffi and I recovered with a mug of tea in the sunny conservatory until it was time to drive north along the Golden Valley to Dorstone for a fab Sunday Lunch at the 12th century Pandy Inn. Top marks to PR for the recommendation – great menu, fantastic food, relaxed and chatty hospitality, efficient service. You can’t ask for more.

Lunch at The Pandy Inn, Dorstone
Lunch at The Pandy Inn, Dorstone

Back at base, we all vegged in the lounge until just before 9pm when it was time to rustle up a cheese platter and a glass of wine to accompany episode 3 of Happy Valley. Then bed. After our lunchtime feast we didn’t really need the cheese and biscs to be honest…

Another leisurely start to Monday. Having waved off Charles, Steffi and I headed out to Kerrys Gate and on to do the (short) Cockyard Circuit Clockwise. Bumped into P plus pooches en route to Kerrys Gate and had a quick catch up with A&A at Cockyard.

Back home just enough time for a quick cuppa then off to Abergavenny to wave S off on the thankfully delayed train to Cardiff.

Gorgeous sunny afternoon but I’d done enough walking and so after a tour of the new expanded Abergavenny Aldi it was home for a late lunch, a visit from the Wren Kitchens surveyor, and the a lot of tea, a mince pie and the LRB.

I spotted the first flowers out on mum’s camellia on Friday morning. Elsewhere in the garden, snowdrops are flowering and bulbs are coming up everywhere – daffodils in all the usual places, tulips on the willow tree stump and things in the orchard planter (alliums and/or tulips).

First camellia of the year
First camellia of the year

TV: Narcos (season 1 / 2), Our Flag Means DeathHappy Valley (series 3).

Podcasts: History Extra.

Photos: Herefordshire week 159 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2023-01-15.

Herefordshire Week 158: Tuesday 03 – Monday 09 January 2023

Snowdrops. Pruning. Christmas with dad and Jean. Hedges cut.

Last week of hols.

Tuesday morning was busy on the computer doing weeknotes and Nepal photos. Lunch then into Hereford for library, Trekkit, Christmas bargains hunt (no joy), insulation and gaffer tape, then to dad and Jean’s for tea and Christmas cake.

No more leftovers, so Nigel Slater’s butterbean mash with broccoli was a culinary delight come dinnertime.

Helicopters came back on Wednesday, Army Camp holidays must be over. More Nepal photos – we got to Phu! – then out into the high winds to walk to Ewyas Harold for a pub lunch at The Temple Bar Inn. The roadworks have started, so we took T’s tip to detour through R’s field and strolled down to the Abbey with T and L.

Disaster awaited in Ewyas – The Temple was closed for the staff Christmas Party. So we tried out The Dog for a lacklustre lunch then headed home to top up the bird feeders and to walk the grounds discussing fencing. Crunched on the tops of the tips of the daff shoots at the bird feeders and found fungi on the dead ash tree.

Fungi on the dead ash tree
Fungi on the dead ash tree

My main achievement for what remained of the afternoon was making a slaw out of half of the surplus red cabbage.

Thursday was meant to be a dry day and I had hoped to bonfire ….. but it turned out to be damp and mistily mizzly drizzly. Still a good day for jobs: descaled the coffee maker and kettle with white vinegar, swept out the log basket and around the stove and even got the hoover out to get rid of some of the ash build up in the hard to reach places. Took a surprisingly long time!

A bit of back and forth over email with FH back in London – thankfully only something we will need to do again in another couple of years.

After lunch we headed out with the step ladders and loppers to prune the pear tree. Let’s see what happens now…

Raked up some of the leaves by the log shed but the breeze kept nicking leaves from the wheelbarrow so I moved round to the old rose garden at the bottom of the slope. Easier going there and I spotted the first snowdrops were out! As you can see, they remain impossible to photograph well.

First snowdrops
First snowdrops

Decided to prune the rose bush while I was there.

Inside for tea and mince pies. Phil got the log stove going. That’s usually my domain.

I made an effort to break the Christmas and NY lie in cycle on Friday – up at 8am! Raining again so gardening and walking plans were put on hold and instead I finished off the long overdue final filing of my recipe folder and flickred my Nepal photos up and over the Kang La pass and all the way Ghyaru.

Marshyangdi River valley, looking east towards Pisang and Chame - Annapurna II on the right
Marshyangdi River valley, looking east towards Pisang and Chame – Annapurna II on the right

Got the log stove going as the rain splattered on the windows then dinner and telly. Windy outside.

Dad and Jean came over on Saturday for our much delayed Christmas Get Together: presents then lunch with dad supplying wine and Christmas Pudding (made using Vi A’s handwritten recipe) and brandy cream. We squeezed in cheese, biscuits and port too. Oh, and coffee and chocolates lounging around the log stove.

Welly Boot Rack in use
Welly Boot Rack in use

I needed a little lie down once they’d gone – watched The Good Liar. A lovely day.

Still raining on Sunday so a good opportunity to finish flickring my photos from this last year’s Nepal trek and the corresponding Photos & Notes blogpost. Took down the Christmas decorations too – a couple of days late but they were required yesterday.

Into Hereford on Monday morning – bought new sofas for the lounge and conservatory from DFS and popped into Wren Kitchen while we were there.

Recovered with a smashing coffee and giant flapjack at a new coffee shop – Dough – that’s opened in Sensory & Rye‘s old premises. V handy having two lovely coffee shop/cafes in the same part of town.

Supermarket shop then home for a late lunch in the conservatory. Sunshine and showers. The hedge cutter tractor had cut our laneside hedges while we were out.

Did a few minor garden jobs in the afternoon. Back to work tomorrow…..

TV: China’s Van Goghs: The Village That Paints Thousands Of Fakes A Year (YouTube – I found the Amsterdam part really poignant), When Motown Came to Britain2 Tone: The Sound of CoventryThe NestOur Flag Means Death, The Good Liar, Narcos (season 1), Happy Valley (series 3).

Podcasts: Empire, History Extra.

Photos: Herefordshire week 158 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2023-01-08.

Herefordshire Week 157: Tuesday 27 December 2022 – Monday 02 January 2023

The Inbetween Week. A lot of reading and relaxing. Some surprise socialising too.

Hello 2023!


Drove over to see dad and Jean on Tuesday, a flying visit to drop off some fruit and strepsils. Back home to potter and read. We spent the early evening sat by the log stove, enjoying one (two) of the Christmas cocktails Phil ordered on the drive back from Wivenhoe.

We got the log stove going again on Wednesday and I spent the afternoon reading while it chucked it down outside.

The Drinks Party in Kerrys Gate was cancelled as the hosts are both ill, so we did some Impromptu Entertaining inviting K&N and recent arrivals J&J over for bread and cheese, olives and pistachios, fruit. And wine.

Impromptu Entertaining
Impromptu Entertaining

Neither of us slept well. Red wine, eh? I ended up tucking into a 2am bowl of muesli and yoghurt and finished reading The Kingdom of Ice.

Thursday featured a couple of short walks in between showers – Thistly Field with Phil in the morning and Kerrys Gate and back to return a hat in the afternoon. But I spent most of the day reading, polishing off The Midnight Library in one sitting. Smashing. Thank you LBM.

The sheep are back in Kiln Field and I spotted the first pink tinge on the camellia buds.

Sunshine and showers on Friday. A good day to start looking through my Nepal photos and uploading some to Flickr. I got as far as Sama.

Trek team on the suspension bridge between Shyala and Sama, Naike Peak behind
Trek team on the suspension bridge between Shyala and Sama, Naike Peak behind

In a change from leftovers, Phil made Friday night pizza.

More Nepal photo-ing on Saturday, albeit only getting us to Samdo. Still, not bad:

Mountain panorama from our 4760m vantage point
Mountain panorama from our 4760m vantage point: Pangpoche Himal, Manaslu & Larya Himal

Towards the end of the morning Phil and I did the Thistly Field walk then back for Bubble & Squeak for lunch – Christmas Dinner leftovers are the gift that keeps on giving

Talking of squeaks… we found five drowned mice in the bucket under one of the water butts.

On the plus side, there were five long tailed tits at the bird feeder. We don’t often tempt them this far up the lane. We’re seeing sparrows too.

New Year’s Eve = a quiet evening in with cocktails and nibbles, finishing off our personal Manhattans Project.

New Year's Eve Cocktails and lunchtime leftovers
New Year’s Eve Cocktails and lunchtime leftovers

On Sunday, more Nepal photos in the morning then up to Kerrys Gate for New Year’s Day lunch with K&N, B, K&B.

We walked there – Bacton Backwards – and had a couple of Happy New Year chats en route. J plus parents were building a shed….

K&N served up a festive feast: champagne, then a plate loaded with cauliflower cheese, broccoli, green beans, roast potatoes, red cabbage, mashed swede, stuffing, Yorkshire pud, beef or veggie wellington (tidying up the last of our Christmas Day centrepiece leftovers). Key lime pie and cream was followed by the cheese boards of the gods, and then mince pies…

New Year’s Day Lunch, Kerrys Gate
New Year’s Day Lunch, Kerrys Gate

We weaved home in the dark and collapsed in front of the telly.

A lovely day.

Another batch of Nepal photos on Monday morning (we’ve finally got to the Nar Phu leg!), then over to Dad and Jean’s with a light lunch. Jean’s on the mend, slowly, but trying to get a follow-on amoxicillin prescription proved impossible.

Final tidy up of Xmas left overs for dinner – a three egg tortilla with the surplus veggie wellington filling.

Not leftovers, but one of the tastiest meals we had on trek – dal bhat at The Seven Sisters Lodge on the descent from Bhimtang to Tilche:

The BEST Dal Bhat is served up at The Seven Sister Lodge, Karche (?)
The BEST Dal Bhat is served up at The Seven Sister Lodge, Karche (?)

TV: His Dark Materials (series 3), Strike: Troubled Blood, The Witcher: Blood Origin (to spot CN1 in ep 1), Happy Valley (series 3 – watching in (almost) real time, partly because it’s so good and partly to avoid spoilers)

Podcasts: Empire, History Extra, Books and Authors, Bookclub, The Essay.

Photos: Herefordshire week 157 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2023-01-01.

Herefordshire Week 156: Tuesday 20 – Monday 26 December 2022

It’s Christ-maaaaaas!

Christmas Dinner
Christmas Dinner

Raked up the leaves forced off the trees by the freeze and the breeze on Tuesday morning. They’re on the compost heap ready for next spring. Phil scooped leaves out of the big pond – now fully unfrozen.

Admin in the afternoon, including sorting out next year’s car insurance using the excellent new Compare + tool on Money Saving Expert. Admiral (current) quoted £366.42, Co-Op Eco Insurance came in at just over £200 for broader cover – so guess who got our money….

On Wednesday morning we headed into Hereford to do the Christmas Food Shop calling in at DFS first to look at a potential sofa for the lounge. Food shop successful (and not as stressful as anticipated), sofa purchase postponed as they were waiting for a new Josefina to arrive.

Walked the Bacton Square in the sunny afternoon, catching up with JC on the walk back from Dore Abbey and belatedly realised that I’d got Saturday and Sunday as Christmas Day and Boxing Day in my head…..

LED Trustees Meeting before dinner in front of the telly.

Started Thursday by finishing up The Mermaid of Black Conch; the first book I’ve read since October. The gap is due partly to being away in Nepal, partly to reading a lot of LRBs (trying to get through the backlog. I’ve got to May 2022) and partly because I am finding it harder to read longer form works. Perhaps that’s due to the book, perhaps that’s due to the internet.

Wrote up the minutes from last night’s Trustee call, with a break when Santa arrived (in the shape of dad) bearing Christmas presents. We had a stroll around the grounds together – clouds low over the hills, drizzle/damp in the air, water lingering on leaves and grass – then a cup of tea with a piece of cake.

Made mince pies in the afternoon. Delia’s recipe (all butter instead of half lard), with my vegan apple brandy mincemeat. Phil and I tested two each with a cup of tea.

Forty Four Mince Pies
Forty Four Mince Pies

Got the log stove going. Not cold, but nice to be cosy (even if the days are now technically starting to get longer…), and all the more so as I’m feeling we’re nearing the end of the To Do List.

Foolishly decided to “pop into Hereford” on Friday morning to look at sofas and for a small Tour of Waitrose. We hit the traffic at Belmont Abbey, the car parks were full, DFS was shut, Waitrose’s shelves were almost bare (but we managed to get what we needed) and there was a queue of cars from Sainsbury’s all the way down Whitecross Road to the roundabout, which is home to the Whitecross Plague Cross I’ve just discovered.

Recovered back at base with a book, after a late lunch and an hour of London-related admin.

Settled on the sofa for some late afternoon / early evening telly (Misbehaviour, The Young Victoria) plus pistachios. Later, Pizza Philippoise and posh chocs accompanied Knives Out: Glass Onion.

Saturday – Christmas Eve – in the garden: One squirrel. Two squirrels. Three squirrels. THREE!

Out to deliver Christmas cards to Kerrys Gate, Cockyard and Wellfield Junction, a three pronged route. Late lunch, log stove on and reading (finished Piranesi) before adjourning to the Telly Room for cocktails and an evening watching A Charlie Brown Christmas, The Dog House at Christmas (Wood Green meets Godmanchester) and Motherland.

Commencing the Christmas Cocktails!
Commencing the Christmas Cocktails!

We started off Christmas Day with coffee and cinnamon buns followed by presents and family phone calls. Then an unplanned drive over to the bungalow for cheering up coffee and mince pies with a very poorly Jean and about to be poorly dad.

Back home to join Phil in preparing and then eating our Christmas Feast: Vegetarian Wellington, roast potatoes, roast parsnips, roast carrots, sprouts (for me), pigs in blankets (for Phil) stuffing, bread sauce and cranberry sauce.

Yum yum.

Christmas Dinner
Christmas Dinner

And plenty of leftovers to keep us going to New Year.

Look at All Those Leftovers
Look at All Those Leftovers

We then needed a lot more telly as a digestif – A Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, The Sinner (yawn, but at least it’s done), Top of the Pops Review of the Year, Ghosts (Christmas Special), The Story of Film: A New Generation (part 1).

We just about had room for cheese by 9pm….

AND we used the dishwasher!!

Sunny Monday so we did the Bacton Square as our Boxing Day stroll, dropping in to Dore Abbey to check out the Christmas Trees and coming back across the field – currently home to sheep rather than cows.

Then reading in the lounge before an evening of leftovers and telly, finishing off The Story of Film: A New Generation before indulging in Detectorists Christmas Special.

In utilities news, Balfour Beatty on behalf of Herefordshire Council sent us notification that they’re going to be digging up the road down into Abbey Dore to fix the big hole where the road has collapsed into a drain. That hole has been there since before we moved – that’s three years….

At last!
At last!

And Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water notified us that they were aware of / were dealing with the no water / low water pressure situation. The shower has run dry a couple of times during the past week or so. Turns out “operational issues” had affected pretty much the whole length of the Golden Valley.

A lot of telly this week. Well, it is Christmas.

TV: Snowfall (finished season 5), The Sinner (finally finished off season 3 – meh), Misbehaviour, The Young Victoria, Knives Out: Glass Onion, A Charlie Brown Christmas, The Dog House at Christmas, Motherland, A Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, Top of the Pops Review of the Year, Ghosts, The Story of Film: A New Generation, Detectorists

Podcasts: Empire, History Extra, SheDunnit.

Photos: Herefordshire week 156 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2022-12-25.