Herefordshire Week 107: Tuesday 11 – Monday 17 January 2022


Two big walks: Symonds Yat Circular on Saturday was topped by a gloriously sunny Monday out walking in the Black Mountains. Life doesn’t get much better.

Stand by for superlatives.

Frosty Morning Sunrise, Thistly Field Oak
Frosty Morning Sunrise, Thistly Field Oak

We were treated to a gorgeous frosty morning on Wednesday. Pink and orange hued clouds as the sun rose into a blue sky. White front lawn, grass sparkling. Not a breath of air. The blue skies and sunshine stayed all day. And I was stuck inside working.

Beautiful morning
Beautiful morning

Thursday and Friday mornings provided repeat performances. Just magical, and on Friday morning I nipped out to Thistly Field for some photos.

Frosty Morning, Thistly Field Panorama
Frosty Morning, Thistly Field Panorama

After Friday’s beautiful start and a good catch up with VP the rest of the day got hit for six. I ticked off various tasks: topped up my MX-5 antifreeze (eBay delivered), planted some of CH’s lemon grass seeds, pruned the gooseberry bush and followed Monty Don‘s directions on propagating the cuttings, raked up leaves on the mower path and made holes in the frozen pond for the fish.

We needed calm telly come the evening. This Farming Life delivered.

Out with Hereford Excalibur / GVWC on Saturday for a winter’s day walk on Saturday – Symonds Yat Circular. Smashing!

6 hours, 12-ish miles on forest trails, two short sections of road, field footpaths, Offa’s Dyke Path, Wysis Way and the Peregrine Path. Route: Symonds Yat Car Park & Cafe (above Symonds Yat East) – Christchurch to Symonds Yat Trail – Bracelands – Staunton – Birchen Wood – Kymin – Suck Stone – Peregrine Path – Symonds Yat East riverside – Car Park.

GVWC: Symonds Yat Circular - Bronze Leaves
GVWC: Symonds Yat Circular – Bronze Leaves

And at the end, a lovely mug of tea at The Saracen’s Head, Symonds Yat East watching the Wye flow by.

Back home for another cup of tea, and a mince pie. Those Sainsbury’s bargain boxes are still going!

Plans to take the MX-5 for a spin to Skirrid for a walk on Sunday were stymied by a flat battery. Thank heavens for the ancient charger and good neighbours.

An anxious day. Even a lovely morning walk around the Bacton Square and clearing some of the ivy from the Solarium Shrub didn’t help.

Grey Valley from the lane to Kerrys Gate
Grey Valley from the lane to Kerrys Gate

Monday’s weather forecast was amazing; perfect walking weather. So I took the MX-5 out for a spin into the Vale of Ewyas for a fabulous walk in the Black Mountains – a lovely 11 mile loop from Llanthony Priory: up Cwm Bwchel to Bal-Bach, north along the Ffawyddog* ridge, down to Capel-y-ffin, contouring along an old track for a bit then up to Hatterrall Ridge and back south along the Offa’s Dyke Path to Llanthony.

All under glorious blue skies and sunshine. Hot up high but still frosty and frozen in the shade, woodsmoke and mountain ponies, it made me feel like I was trekking in Nepal…..

Llanthony Loop: Up Cwm Bwchel to the ridge - Looking back at Llanthony Priory
Llanthony Loop: Up Cwm Bwchel to the ridge – Looking back at Llanthony Priory
Llanthony Loop: Ffawyddog Ridge
Llanthony Loop: Ffawyddog Ridge – looking south
Llanthony Loop: Me on Ffawyddog Ridge
Llanthony Loop: Me on Ffawyddog Ridge
Llanthony Loop: Capel-y-ffin
Llanthony Loop: Capel-y-ffin
Llanthony Loop: Climb up to Hatterrall Ridge - Capel-y-ffin waymark stone
Llanthony Loop: Climb up to Hatterrall Ridge – Capel-y-ffin waymark stone
Llanthony Loop: Along Hatterrall Ridge - HELLO HEREFORDSHIRE!
Llanthony Loop: Along Hatterrall Ridge – HELLO HEREFORDSHIRE!
Llanthony Loop: Along Hatterrall Ridge
Llanthony Loop: Along Hatterrall Ridge
Llanthony Loop: down to Llanthony Priory - the Vale of Ewyas
Llanthony Loop: down to Llanthony Priory – the Vale of Ewyas
Llanthony Loop: down to Llanthony Priory
Llanthony Loop: down to Llanthony Priory

* (You would not believe how many tries it’s taken me to spell Ffawyddog correctly. And, well I never, it means Beech Grove)

Walk 4 in Kittiwake’s excellent Walking in the Black Mountains. Plenty of signposts and waymarks and clear trails made for a straightforward route.

Returned to find the hedges had been cut – we’ve been wondering when that’d happen – news from London and a massive moon.

Hello Moon
Hello Moon


Talking of Nepal, on Tuesday I received an email from Günter Seyfferth who runs the wonderful Mountains of Himalaya website ( asking if he could use some of my photos of the Jangla Bhanjyang and views from Seri to Dhaulagiri Himal taken on 2017’s Dolpo Trek as he is updating his page on the Dhaulagiri Himal.

OMG, YES!!!! If you’ve read any of my Nepal trek blogposts, you’ll know how much I rely on Günter’s website to identify mountains etc in my photos. What an honour.

Looking at the annotated copies he’s sent in return reminded me we crossed the Jangla Bhanjyang on my birthday….

Three Nepal-y things in one week – Val chat, Günter’s emails and Monday’s walk. Now I really want to go back to Nepal. Let’s hope….

Aconites are coming up / out, snowdrops are surfacing in all the usual spots and there are daffodil shoots down by the old garden railway.


And on the bird feeder, a long tailed tit or two put in an appearance, as did a starling, joining the usual array of blue tits, great tits and greater spotted woodpeckers on the peanuts and chaffinches, dunnocks, blackbirds and robins foraying beneath.

TV: Succession (finished season 3), This Farming Life, Toast of Tinseltown, Mare of Easttown.

Podcasts: History Extra, SheDunnit, and a lot of The Essay.

Photos: Herefordshire week 107 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2022-01-16.

Herefordshire Week 106: Tuesday 04 – Monday 10 January 2022

We’re starting our third year in Herefordshire. Crikey.

A quiet week. Back to work.

Morning walk: Tremorithic backwards
Morning walk: Tremorithic backwards

Tuesday morning was a mix of admin on the computer and the Cockyard Circular backwards. Blue skies, green fields, sparkling water running off the roads. Lovely.

I was back at work this week and it was unexpectedly busy, which was sort of OK but also a pain. I need to build up my work stamina again, and get my head back into the detail. VWW resumed on Wednesday and Family Zoom to round off the work week on Thursday.

We went to Abergavenny on Friday morning, primarily for a check up at the dentists. The first time in years and years for me. Not very exciting, but a good thing to have got done. Now I just have to claim the eye watering cost back from BUPA. We gave up trying to find an NHS dentist and are making use of the dental insurance I can get through work. It feels wrong.

Returned home to a late Christmas present of Lemon Grass seeds which was a delightful surprise. Thank you CH 🙂 Afternoon on the computer and catching up on email. Phil resumed Friday Night Pizza for dinner.

Those of you who know how strongly my love of mince pies and my love of bargains coincide at this time of year will be relieved to learn that I managed to buy FOUR boxes of reduced mince pies from Sainsbury’s on Saturday – 25p per box.

Saturday morning had started late and I’d nipped in to Sainsbury’s en route to “Winchester” to do some DIY with dad, making a firmer base for the car boot. Jean had an electric BMW for the day to test drive, which provided an excellent excuse for an afternoon’s jaunt to The Hop Pocket – my first experience of a “Shopping Village”.  Home to eBay and Freegle some stuff.

Tremorithic backwards on Sunday morning. Feeling unexpectedly low. Late lunch, then a bit of sorting out in the garage and sawing of oversize logs until CW phoned for a catch up. Once dark I headed inside for reading and eBaying (clarinet or horse brasses anyone?) before dinner and Succession, the latter having necessitated the revival of our NowTV subscription. We rewatched the last episode of season 2 before embarking on season 3.

Morning walk: Tremorithic backwards
Morning walk: Tremorithic backwards

I am hoping the past month or so of sleeping in is coming to a natural end as on Monday morning I was rising and shining around 7.30am. The days of a 6am start and a 4 mile walk before breakfast (aka my London routine) are long gone.

In spite of the low, low clouds and occasional spots of rain I had a busy morning doing jobs in the garden and garage, with the army camp providing gunfire soundtrack. My personal highlight was getting rid of a dead mouse, all on my own. Then progressed on to weedkillering around the house, digging over the compost heap, emptying the compost bin dalek and laying mesh underneath it in an attempt to deter the rats (joint job with Phil) and making a start on sorting out the garage.

Late lunch, cleaned some of the metal tools unearthed from the garage shelves and then settled down with a book finishing off Robin Hobb’s Renegade’s Magic. More Succession in the evening. Very annoying to discover we’d only got 1 day left to watch the whole series. Not impressed, Now TV.

The bulb shoots around the bird feeders are increasing in number and height. More snowdwops are out but there’s no sign of the aconites. Our inherited hellebores are blooming by the front door and there are lots of buds on the camellias old and new.

In less good news, the rat trap claimed a robin.

Telly: This Farming Life, The Tourist, Doctor Who (NYE Special), Toast of Tinseltown, Succession (season 3).

Podcasts: Lingthusiasm, The History of Japan, The History of England Guest Episodes and History Extra.

Photos: Herefordshire week 106 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2022-01-09.

Herefordshire Week 105: Tuesday 28 December 2021 – Monday 03 January 2022

A NYE Dinner Party up the lane = a really lovely way to round off our second year in Herefordshire.

New Year's Eve Dinner Party
New Year’s Eve Dinner Party

Happy New Year! No Year Notes from me.

Another late start on Tuesday, read for a bit then headed down to T&Js for coffee and a mince pie. Continued on to do a litter pick on Bacton Backwards. Sunnier than expected – I had to take my coat off half way round and warm enough to sit in the conservatory for a late lunch.

Caught up with weeknotes, photos and computer admin until it got dark, then read in the lounge having first decanted and bottled the Damson Gin.

Damson Gin 2021: Bottling - Before
Damson Gin 2021: Bottling – Before
Damson Gin 2021: Bottling - After
Damson Gin 2021: Bottling – After

We watched Don’t Look Up with dinner (leftovers continued), then I read Robin Hobb in bed until 1am. The sign of a good book.

Late start to Wednesday, finding a much drier and brighter morning than forecast.

More Robin Hobb before and after lunch, with brief forays outside. One of which was to relocate the rat trap after spotting our furry friend by the BBQ, blending in with the EIGHT squirrels down there.

Dad and Jean arrived around 3.30pm, and after a leisurely tour of the grounds we cut into our Christmas cake and enjoyed a slice with a cup of tea. Dad brought his sander – we’re planning to re oil the wooden worktops in the kitchen.

Thursday – more Robin Hobb, with the log stove on once it got dark plus a bit of telly. Oh, and sorted out the car insurance for next year – we’ve gone with Admiral Multicar, fact fans!

Another amazingly mild day for the end of 2021. T-shirt weather.

Phil and I walked to Ewyas Harold Shop and back in the morning to buy stamps – deer field, EH Common and Recreation Ground there; School Lane, EH Common and Dore Abbey back.

Ewyas Harold Shop and back
Ewyas Harold Shop and back

After lunch I did a couple of jobs outside – dug the log stove ash into the veg patch and weedkillered the west side of the house – then more Robin Hobb.

Early evening we donned our glad rags and bow ties for K&N’s NYE dinner party. I just about survived wearing heels for the first time since…. I don’t know when. Long before COVID times. It was a fab evening and a late night – we walked back and got into bed around 1.30am.

We both paid for our overindulgence on Saturday. Still, a telly and sofa day every now and then is a good thing.

Back on form by Sunday, doing Tremorithic (road version) in the morning and getting back before the rain started. Still weirdly warm for Winter.

Tremorithic Walk (Road version)
Tremorithic Walk (Road version)

The last of the Christmas leftovers for lunch (Nigel Slater inspired bubble & squeak with green herb salsa) then got the log stove going and settled in for a lazy afternoon reading, snoozing (unsuccessfully), computing and curry making. After dinner, Phil read Tom Stuart’s weeknotes out to me.

Lovely long walk on Monday morning, then over to Dinedor and onwards to Solihull with dad and Jean to visit A&M. Really lovely to see them both.

Back to work on Tuesday afternoon. Time to gird the loins.

During the course of one week snowdrops have started surfacing by the old willow tree stump and in the clear patches by the coppiced hazel and the holly.


On the other side of the house we are crunching bulb shoots underfoot when we top up the bird feeders – daffodils in waiting and we still haven’t had a hard frost or really cold spell.

Buzzards have been circling on the thermals, and I spotted six of them in the Stone Street field, and a kite en route to Cockyard too.

Telly: Don’t Look Up, The Salisbury Poisonings, Worzel GummidgeWhat We Do In The Shadows (finished series 3), Crazy Rich Asians, Attenborough and the Mammoth Graveyard, Mr Holmes (abandoned), Pretty Little Liars (abandoned), Far From The Madding Crowd (abandoned), This Farming Life (started series 5 – success! Phil remembered. Hurrah!!!), Hip Hop Evolution (season 4).

Podcasts: Lingthusiasm, The History of Japan, Books and Authors, The Allusionist, History Extra, The History of England Guest Episodes.

Photos: Herefordshire week 105 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2022-01-02.

Herefordshire Week 104: Tuesday 21 – Monday 27 December 2021

Our second COVID Christmas.

Christmas Afternoon
Christmas Afternoon

Busy morning – into Hereford to do the Christmas food shop, back via The Forge to make the most of their cheap petrol (relatively speaking – 136.9 p/l) overfilling the Panda again which necessitated a pre lunch drive around the roads. I went for Vowchurch – Bacton – Ewyas Harold – Camp Crossroads this time. There was still a small drip after all that so I shoved cardboard underneath to soak it up, and the dripping had stopped when we checked again after lunch.

Took Sue out for a spin in the MX5 to The Forge again (trouble-free tank top up this time) and back via Duffryn and Quarrels Green. Late lunch!

Main achievement of the afternoon was putting up the two sets of battery & timer operated fairy lights outside. Phil’s went on the yew 40, mine on the gate. We now provide very festive twinkling 4pm – 10pm.

I also ordered another box of COVID lateral flow tests, and GOV.UK’s postcode look up has an extra line in our address. So now we know our lane is technically the C1223.

Thistly Field’s hedges got a cut too. Seems later than last year.

Indulged in some Telly: 14 Peaks – Nepalese unknown (according to Netflix) Nims Purja climbs all 14 8,000 metres peaks in 6 months and 6 days. Remember that photo of a long line of climbers queuing for the summit of Mt Everest? He took that en route to summiting Everest during Project Possible. Amazing.

Early evening Sue and I joined K & N and M at the Bacton Church Christmas Carol Service. Carols and readings stood outside in the churchyard, thankfully a large raised firepit provided some warmth, further enhanced by mulled wine and mince pies after the service. I’m not religious at all, but I do like a good sing. And mulled wine and mince pies. To balance out the potential excess, we tucked into lentil soup a la Phil on our return, along with another episode of The Outlaws. Top tip from Jo there.

Late start on Wednesday after the longest night. I’m definitely in hibernating mode. Did a few small jobs outside, coinciding with A&A (no M) delivering our Christmas Card in their new electric car.

Then out for a late morning walk: Abbey Dore – Cwm Hill – Ewyas Harold Common – Dore Abbey – Abbey Dore Court footpath – Wellfield – Thistly Field.

Morning Walk: Ponies, Ewyas Harold Common
Morning Walk: Ponies, Ewyas Harold Common
Morning Walk: Dore Abbey Lych Gate
Morning Walk: Dore Abbey Lych Gate

I’ve christened it Abbey Dore Dumbbells:

Morning Walk: Strava Map
Morning Walk: Strava Map

Early afternoon sunlight brought the birds, and – pah – rattus rattus, to the bird feeders. Perfect for some photos.

Coal tit
Coal tit
Great tit
Great tit
Blue tit
Blue tit

(The people searching Flickr for “tits” “perfect” “photo” are going to be sooooo disappointed.)

Dad called round at tea time, so had a chance to chat with S and enjoy a cup of tea and mince pie at the same time.

Quiet day Thursday, but last week’s stress resurfaced and the combi boiler started showing an error message that wouldn’t clear. Not what you need on Christmas Eve Eve. Anxious all day, so not at my best when I got to see T & R on Family Zoom as well as dad and Jean.

Christmas Eve itself – Friday – started with a morning walk for me and Phil down to Abbey Dore and back via T&Js. Emails and reading. Mid afternoon walk to deliver the Cockyard Christmas Card. We saw Bob both times, and had a lovely chat with A&A. Back under clear skies, Jupiter and Saturn taking centre stage as the light faded. Traditional Friday night pizza and telly, finishing up the first series of The Outlaws.

Leisurely start to Christmas Day. Dank and rainy outside so we had a lovely morning with the log stove on, opening presents accompanied by the Muppet Christmas Carol soundtrack.

It's Christmas!
It’s Christmas!

And there was a green woodpecker out on the front lawn.

Phil was Christmas Day Chef, making Anna Jones’ Celebration Celeriac and Sweet Garlic Pie as the centrepiece. Sue and I took charge of choosing gin to go with tonic. Feasted on our festive lunch mid afternoon, then read until we’d made enough room for seconds / cheese and biscuits accompanied by Morecambe & Wise.

Christmas Dinner
Christmas Dinner

Boxing Day Sunday started in heavy fog and a long lie in after a restless night. I’d ended up listening to podcasts from 4am-ish, good for snoozing on and off. Once up we all strolled to Kerrys Gate then P and I continued on to do the Bacton Square and Sue headed home. Late lunch and a lazy afternoon. Heavy rain overnight.

Up early Monday – alarm went off at 6am – to drive Sue to BHX. Motorways v quiet there, a bit busier on the way back but easy driving. Paid a visit to Temple Fields before leaving Solihull. Returned via Hereford B&Q and a speedy Sainsbury’s shop.

LFTs before lunch, then a snooze before we drove over to Dinedor for a festive meal with dad, Jean and PR. Delicious. Vegged in front of the telly on our return trying to work up space for a snack or two. No great success. And losing track of what we’ve actually been watching….

TV: 14 Peaks,  The Outlaws, What We Do In the Shadows (more of series 1 with S), Ghosts (Christmas special) and, yes, more random Christmas telly: The Invisible Woman, Shaun the Sheep, The Wife, The Morecambe and Wise Show (the 1970 Lost Tape), The Abominable Snowbaby. Plus whatever we watched on Sunday and Monday evening….. Phil’s just reminded me: A Very British Scandal aka Posh People Being Horrible To Each Other.

Podcasts: LingthusiasmHistory Extra. Great Lives. The Memory Palace, SheDunnit.

Photos: Herefordshire week 104 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2021-12-26.

Herefordshire Week 103: Tuesday 14 – Monday 20 December 2021

Christmas holidays week 1.

Stollen! Sheep! Stress. Sue!

This is the life.....
This is the life…..

Tuesday was devoted to admin and generally catching up with stuff after 12 days away. Weeknotes to write up, photos to Flickr, Christmas presents to buy, washing to do…. We treated ourselves to another log fire in the evening.

Another very mild day on Wednesday, perfect for a stroll around the lanes with Phil. We picked up a bin bag of rubbish on the Camp Crossroads – Duffryn – Cockyard – Quarrels Green loop. To be fair, Phil did most of the picking up. I was spotter. A lot of Coke cans.

Spent the afternoon in the garden – cleared the last of the tomato plants from the greenhouse growbag, split and repotted the bathroom fern into 3 smaller plants, raked up the leaves down by the rose garden and railway apple trees.

December Rose
December Rose

Caught up with DF on FaceTime mid afternoon then settled in the lounge with the log stove, reading.

AND the sheep are back in Kiln Field!

The sheep are back!
The sheep are back!

Thursday was perfect for another day of outdoor jobs: hosed down Nana Helen’s bench and then washed and dried the garden railway track that had been stacked up on it. There’s a lot of track and that ended up occupying the rest of the morning.

Cleaning the Garden Railway track
Cleaning the Garden Railway track

After lunch I pruned the hanging brambles by the gas tank (partly refilled last week with a top up today – we’re now at 85%) and the rose bush and got a bonfire going in the old quarry to get rid of yesterday’s leaves and today’s prunings. I also had a go at clearing the ivy from the Solarium shrubs and the path down to the quarry. That kept me busy until tea time. We’ve started the Stollen!

Down to T & J for dinner and catch up.

Friday was a stressful day. Tricky phone call from London, which occupied my mind for the next 48 hours or so, and I overfilled the petrol tank in the Panda and the resulting petrol coming out from the underside of the car made me think there was a leak in the tank or the pipes. Thankfully a super helpful man at The Forge suggested I’d just overfilled the tank and this was the overflow, and that driving home should use up the excess petrol without any danger. The 3 mile drive home resulted in reduced drippage but it was still happening, so we took the Panda for a longer spin via Kingston where Brian W had the same reckon. And by the time we’d got home a second time the drips had ceased altogether. That’ll learn me. And all that, plus driving to Abergavenny Screwfix and back, before lunch!

We both decided we could do with an afternoon stroll to soak up some of the morning’s adrenaline, and Riverdale did the trick.

Riverdale route - Strava Map
Riverdale route – Strava Map

We got back just in time for my long overdue Zoom with E. Then opened the accumulated Christmas cards. We’re not going to score too well on sending those this year…..

Friday night pizza and film featured The Power of the Dog. Benedict Cumberbatch playing a baddie.

Didn’t sleep well. Mithering.

Saturday started with the last of the scheduled catch ups, with Steffi. Got the log stove going as it was a damp day – drizzle merging with almost-mist. Spent the rest of the morning working off the anxiety – packed up the clean garden railway track in the loft boxes, brushed down the sage container dad and I made a few weeks back, mopped / cleaned the MX5 (the drizzle brought some benefits), tied up the thorny shrub behind the garage.

Late lunch, then “creosolved” the sage container. Inside, reviewed Walton postcards and pictures with Phil – the last of our moving in boxes – then computing with a break for tea and stollen.

Woke to a solidly foggy Sunday. A morning stroll to deliver postcards turned the Bacton Square into a very sociable 2 1/2 hour stroll. Smashing.

Foggy lane and eerie Oak tree
Foggy lane and eerie Oak tree

Took a LFT in advance of dad and Jean coming over, and tried to report the negative test result. Hopelessly overcomplicated and “Try again” errors on the postcode lookup and the final ReCaptcha confirmation. AND on the feedback form. So, if you’re reading this GOV.UK, test LWT04295449 taken today was negative. And please sort out broadband installation to our part of the world. Like provide some.

Mid afternoon cups of tea with dad and Jean were accompanied by Phil’s Finest TM Marzipan Mince Pies – delicious. Our sideboard is now covered with presents and cards.

Up early to drive over to Brum to collect Sue from the airport. Omicron + London trains anxiety had resulted in a last minute change of plan over the weekend. No complaints here. No better reason for more treats!

We got back to find Richard had been to cut down the fallen apple tree and to trim the top hedges. Magic! We now have a healthy supply of cut holly, yew and other assorted greenery.

And as we were munching our lunch, a fox sauntered along the line of the old garden railway to the rose bed. Calm as you like.

Still anxious / adrenalin-filled about Friday (rest assured, it’s nothing serious in the big scheme of things), so I headed out on the Cockyard Circuit in under low grey skies and damp afternoon air. Good chat with P in Kerrys Gate and lots of waves. Returned home feeling better.

TV: Money Heist season 2 (got better towards the end), What We Do In the Shadows (series 3 & series 1 with S), The Repair Shop (Huw’s episode – Series 7, episode 32), The Power of the Dog, Bloodlands and The Outlaws.

Podcasts: Books and Authors, Bookclub, The History of Japan, History Extra.

Photos: Herefordshire week 103 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2021-12-19.