Photo of indian tourist visa (to go with my printed copies of my passport page)
Virgin flight details
Exodus final joining institutions
Travel Insurance certificate
Also set up 2FA for my hotmail account so that I don’t get caught in the hotmail / gmail fatal vicious circle. Saved copies of key docs to my phone and put them in a folder for Phil.
Walked to EH over the common with quick chats with a couple of AD folks en route including N from ADC. Cows, sheep, ponies, rabbits and wild orchids en route – and dad outside The Temple waiting for his Probus club speaker.
I was in EH for a blood test – booked yesterday! I’m eating a lot more cheese WFH so I reckoned a cholesterol test would be a good idea, just to check. Unfortunately the nurse couldn’t get any blood from my tiny veins so I’ve had to rebook for next Tues and wear warmer clothes to get the veins up!
Stockley Coppice has been smoking acridly and continuously since they started burning the brash a couple of days ago. Handily the weather is cooler and cloudier so having all the windows closed isn’t so much of a problem. A digger was out on the slope as I walked past so I am hoping they’re dealing with it. But on my return journey the digger was gone and the piles continued to smoke….
Usual work week. No VWW but we did do Family Zoom on Thursday.
We drove over to Crickhowell and Llanfoist on Friday, for my Crickhowell Walking Festival photography prize presentation at Beacon Park Boats. Fabulous canal boats – super smart in their forest green paint and gleaming brass livery. Quite tempted by the idea of a narrow boat holiday.
Home via Waitrose where our purchases included a very limp and forlorn looking green plant (reduced!). After a good hour or so soaking up water in the washing up bowl it looked much better, and was in full health come Saturday. Should have bought some of the others!
A lovely evening at The New Barn, tucking into curry from The Taste of the Raj – dad’s treat. Jean was on Nanny duty.
Overcast still on Saturday so I spent a satisfying couple of hours, sorting out kit for Ladakh trying to minimise as much as possible. Packed up a couple eBay sales too – including my St Andrews undergraduate gown. Trimmed the wisteria, rehung the plaque for our wedding plum, read in the conservatory. K&N came round for 6pm drinks, which lasted until almost 10pm. Smashing! An hour of Glastonbury then bed.
Sunday, after a slow start, we did Bacton Backwards. Back at base, Phil rescued another young blue tit from the cherry tree netting, and later in the afternoon another one that’d had managed to get into the conservatory. I mowed. Leftover curry for tea.
I spent Monday in the garden, bonfiring in the morning and cutting back / clearing the alpine shrubs next to the tree house in the afternoon and early evening, and sawing down the dead / dying hawthorn tree that leans over the path there. Very satisfying.
Heron at the pond. Four buzzards. More molehills!
Lots of shouting “ARGHHHHHH – SQUIRRELS!” at squirrels on the bird feeder, and occasionally chasing after them with the pump action water guns
Lots of apples, pears, walnuts and hazelnuts on the way.
A smashing 13 miles, although the final section through the woods featured a few too many nettles and brambles for my shorts-sporting legs.
Still, two scoops of ice cream at the GV Community Cafe in Pontrilas took my mind off that, and the timing was perfect to catch the 440 back to Abbey Dore. One more mile, albeit uphill, and I was home to find that Phil had spent the afternoon helping to heft hay bales onto Ray’s trailer.
Wednesday was due to be another HWF 2022 day walking more of the Herefordshire Trail, from Peterchurch to Eardisley. But it was 16 miles, and I’ve done the first section up to Merbach Hill with the GVWC, so I decided to opt out (again).
Instead, Phil and I took the 441 from Kerrys Gate into Hereford where we had a lovely couple of hours before it was time to catch the once-a-week bus back again, this time getting dropped off right on the doorstep.
It was another beautiful sunny day and it felt like we were on holiday. Our two hours commenced with coffee at De Koffie Pot with views of the Old Bridge and the River Wye, then meandered through library book return, Trekkit and a Cycle Shop, and The Mousetrap Cheese Shop.
The 441 runs every Wednesday from Longtown into Hereford, for what was market day, and, similar to the Tuesday 442 to Abergavenny, it has its regular ladies – including A from KG who introduced us. Lovely!
Before and after I did some admin – sorting out alternative travel insurance for Ladakh (turns out Exodus’s policy requires you to book with a “reputable UK tour operator” if you want to use it for other trips, which stymies me using it for Val’s treks and our Picos trip) – Trailfinders came up trumps – and uploading photos from the HWF walks so far (and doing last week’s weeknotes).
Thursday and Friday featured another two sections of the Herefordshire Trail courtesy of the HWF 2022.
Up early Thursday to drive to Edwyn Ralph, way over there in that East Herefordshire. I mean, it’s practically in The Malverns! … which also means it’s the other side of Hereford and we all know how horrendous rush hour traffic is in the City Without A Bypass. So I opted for the longer route with more reliable timing via Holme Lacy, Dormington and Yarkhill, which got me to ER just after 9.15am after an hour or so’s drive.
Only four on the walk plus the leader. After driving to Leominster we walked through the town then along section 13 of the Herefordshire Trail back to Edwyn Ralph. A bit of rain early afternoon but we soon dried off. No thunderstorms.
13 miles, not too hilly, one Iron Age camp, one restored railway station and one lovely couple who offered us cups of tea!
We finished up around 5pm, so I rescheduled ChipsAway and Family Zoom and did a speedy shop on ASDA on the way home. Main purchase: a blaster water gun, for “shooting” squirrels 🐿
Beer and crisps on the patio then two more episodes of For All Mankind.
An even earlier start on Friday – up at 6am to drop P off at Hereford train station for the journey to Witham for a long weekend. The rail strikes meant he was on the 7.50am-ish train rather than the 6.43am he’d booked on (fine by us)! Surprisingly little traffic in Hereford, no queues at all. And an easy drive on to Edwyn Ralph for the next section (section 14) of the Herefordshire Trail: Fromes Hill to Edwyn Ralph via Bishop’s Frome and Bromyard, 10 miles or so (Strava reckons 12 miles).
A cooler and cloudy day, you could feel the moisture in the air… and shortly after setting off from Fromes Hill the heavens opened and we got soaked. Once it stopped we dried off although I did squelch for the rest of the day. But all in all it was a lovely walk led by three ladies from the Bromyard Walking Club. Lots of hop fields, apple orchards and the occasional vineyard.
A late finish again (5.30pm), then home for a shower and a pot of tea and a slice of cake purchased from the Lamings Bakery in Bromyard (highly recommended!).
A bit of Glastonbury on the telly with cheese and biscuits for tea (“supper” sounds too posh for me).
Breezy start to Saturday. Good washing weather (tick). Uninteresting but productive morning: took the MX5 for a spin to pep up the battery, picked some lettuce, did some admin. Similar afternoon, with very slow progress using the Virgin Atlantic website to select seats for my flights to/from Delhi. their website killed Safari, which in turn killed my mac and I had to restart. Managed some progress in Firefox, but their “this website is causing your browser to run slowly” (or some such) message surfaced at each step. Frustrating.
More admin in the afternoon, FaceTime with DF, tea and scone – during a very loud and fierce thunderstorm (featuring hailstones) and Flickred photos from the walks on Thursday and Friday.
Pottered around the garden on Sunday morning, made apple crumbles and cleaned the cupboard doors. Go me. Dad and Jean arrived at 4.30pm bearing gorgeous sweet peas and we walked down the lane to P’s party. Plenty of fizz, canapés and chat. And the rain held off – coming down with a vengeance later in the evening.
Monday started slow and rainy. A bit of a bitty day. Flickred photos and checked India’s COVID entry requirements. Read / snoozed. Drs for Diamox (tick). Dinner at T’s then back. They’re burning the brash in Stockley Coppice.
In the greenhouse the runt of the tomato seedlings, which had begun to thrive, did the thing where it wilted in its pot. I think it must be when the roots reach the egg cartons at the bottom of the pot. Lesson learned. At least the one surviving “seedling” is now a thriving plant, with flowers just starting to appear. I’m keeping it in the greenhouse this year to see how that goes.
In the garden the deutzia is in full bloom. And, since I cut the grass etc a couple of weeks ago, we’re seeing the hedge mice more often, scurrying out to snaffle fallen peanuts, and, once the birds have gone to roost, actually climbing up the pear tree to munch directly on peanut bird feeder!!!
There are still baby birds around – there’s a blue tit that hasn’t yet learned to be wary of humans (or to fly, it seems) that visits the bird feeder and on Tuesday’s walk we came across a tiny, tiny wren hopping across one of the lanes.
Plus – Moles! Yep, mole hills have materialised in the orchard and up near the swing.
Usual work week. Additional highlights: picked up Phil from Hereford train station on Tuesday evening after his sojourn in Scotland, Ray mowed his hay fields on Wednesday and on Thursday Richard from ChipsAway came to look at the MX5 and we arranged he’d come back next Thursday to deal with the paint chips and scuffs. That’ll give me time to give it a wash…
Friday was the PR day before the start of the Herefordshire Walking Festival, and featured the epic “Home to Hay on Wye Hike” with the GVWC (aka just Dave in this instance), with our official route starting from Dore Abbey. A hot, hot day, blue skies and sunshine. Glorious walking along the length of the Golden Valley. And a very welcome cold drink from the revamped Golden Valley Stores in Peterchurch at lunchtime. 18 miles all told.
Phil met us in Hay, with a restorative pint of bitter shandy in the beer garden at The Blue Boar before we headed home for a shower, pitta pockets and The Morning Show.
A very good night’s sleep.
I was booked to do the Herefordshire Trail section 1 Ledbury to Much Marcle on Saturday, but my hip / groin muscle was feeling it a bit after Friday’s 18 miles and the forecast was for rain so I decided to bail. A good decision as the “rain” featured heavy downpours. I spent the day relaxing, doing photos in the morning and on a Bridgerton Binge in the afternoon. Pizza for dinner.
Another easy day Sunday. I washed the car and hoovered inside, then P and I walked to Ewyas Harold for eggs and, because they were there, almond croissants. Back via Dore Abbey and the Abbey Dore Court footpath, finding a headless snake en route. It was quite big, an adder I think.
Late lunch then nipped down to Peterchurch to pick up an early finisher from Dave’s GV Walk. Pottered for the rest of the afternoon.
I was booked onto another HWF walk on Monday – The Olchon Horseshoe – but yesterday’s walk to EH hadn’t been good for my groin muscles and sleepless overnight I’d decided I wasn’t going to do any of the week’s walks for fear of putting Ladakh at risk.
However, once I was up and about, I didn’t feel so bad and The Olchon Horseshoe was one of the walks I’d really, really wanted to do – so I decided to give it a go. And I am SO glad I did. It was another glorious day, a bit cooler and breezier up in the Black Mountains and I now know another great route: Little Black Hill Car Park – Road down into the Olchon Valley – Footpaths across the valley & up onto Hatterrall Ridge – Straight across Offa’s Dyke Path at the stone signpost – Down to Capel-y-Ffin – Footpaths to Pen-y-Maes and up onto the ridge – Ridge to Twmpa / Lord Hereford’s Knob – Gospel Pass – Hay Bluff – Hatterrall Ridge & Ridge back towards Black Hill – Back down the Cat’s Back to the car park. 13 miles, 3000 foot ascent.
The only fly in the ointment was that my back up phone ran out of battery, so my Strava Map only shows the route as far as the return turn off from Offa’s Dyke Path for the Cat’s Back. Still, I know that bit blindfold.
Home for a pot of tea and a scone, and a spot of bird watching sat out on the patio with Phil.
In the garden, the lilies are out on the large pond.
We have apples and pears growing on the fruit trees and cherries and blackcurrants in the orchard. No gooseberries though. In the herb bed, veg plot and coffin planter, we have lettuce galore and broad bean pods have appeared.
Catching up on life admin & garden jobs. Gwatkins Golden Valley Vintage and Country Fair.
Hung out with Phil’s friends from Munich on Tuesday morning, then the usual Work Week. Internet woes on Thursday meant I decamped to dad and Jean’s.
Friday was devoted to catching up on admin, including paying the balance of my Exodus trip and sorting out clothes to take to the charity shop sometime. In the afternoon I took P to HFD to catch his trains north and came home via Asda for petrol (177.7p/l) for the mower and car, and food. Repotted the lemongrass and supermarket basil.
Loads of people there, stalls, a small barn with animals large and small, traction engines and vintage cars out in the fields, and a chance to check out The Red Cow Tavern. We’d missed the Terrier Competition, but the Arcklebear Gundogs dog training demo was amazing. Back to base for a potter around the garden, then fish & chips from The Old Stables.
Headed over to dad and Jean’s on Sunday morning then back for mowing. Couldn’t start the strimmer mower, so took the Honda round the edges, below the pond and slowly back and forth over the long grass and dead daffs. Break for a late lunch, then out on the ride on mower for the rest (but not the front lawn, that stays as summer meadow). Tea and cake, then a bonfire. Very smoky with all the green stuff. Busy day. Slept like a log.
Morgan & Cuss were with us on Monday, replacing the radiator valves and checking on the dripping tap and toilet. I headed out for a couple of hours’ basic first aid training courtesy of Herefordshire Heartstart and the Herefordshire Walking Festival, then did garden jobs – planted out the lettuces, collected yesterday’s grass cuttings on the ride on mower, chopped some branches from orchard trees and snipped some bramble runners.
Phil has been in Edinburgh for a few days this week, which meant I’ve been home alone. In itself that’s fine but it does mean I have no one to deal with the birds that don’t recover from crashing head first into the windows….
On Saturday morning, there were two bonkers on the bedroom windows – 1 great tit and 1 woodpecker. I wimped out of removing them…. and by lunchtime they’d gone. Not sure if that’s good or bad! And a small green finch on the patio 🙁
Later in the day I spotted another woodpecker, feet up by the tall window on the west side of the house. We don’t usually get casualties there. Dad did the necessaries.
In better bird news, on Sunday evening there were 4 red woodpeckers on the pear tree – parent and offspring x 2. Each parent was feeding peanuts to its young (in between scaring off the other pair). Magic.
Took things easy in Tuesday morning, feeling the ill effects of Phil’s cold. Awful internet all afternoon meant that work was relatively quiet too. The day’s major highlight was the arrival of my Indian Tourist Visa. PHEW.
Better on both counts on Wednesday. In the evening, pre holiday pizza by Phil and more of The Morning Show.
First strawberry crop too.
Up early Thursday to get to Abergavenny for the 8.30am train. Gorgeous day, with the Black Mountains looking at their most tempting, but I was destined to spend the next 7 hours on the train: Abergavenny-Crewe; Crewe-Edinburgh; Edinburgh-Leuchars. I joined the southern contingent of the St Andrews Ladies at Edinburgh and we splashed out in a taxi to get us from the station to our fab Fife Cottages house in St Andrews.
Lovely sunny afternoon, and the earlier arrivals were already settled out on the terrace with glasses of Prosecco enjoying a long overdue (twice deferred) catch up. A lovely afternoon eased into an equally lovely evening. Perhaps a few too many glasses of fizz and munchings of crisps, but hey…
We woke to another sunny day. Leisurely breakfast, then out for a stroll over to the Old Course, on to the Castle and the Cathedral, out to the end of the pier and then back to The Quad, St Mary’s, various student flat locations and the three streets of town. Back at base for a late lunch out on the terrace, with tea and Fisher & Donaldson cakes a bit later when Prof M FRSE came round. A late afternoon walk along the West Sands to The End and Back then Fish & Chips from the Tailend for dinner.
More sunshine on Saturday. Another slow start, watching Friday night’s Platinum Party from Buckingham Palace – complete with Paddington – and deciding what to do. We plumped for the Fife Coastal Path south from the East Sands, Prof M joining us as far as the caravan park. Fabulous weather, St Andrews looking at its absolute best. I can’t quite believe I spent 4 years there. I loved it, but it doesn’t seem real. And it really doesn’t seem like thirty years since most of us graduated.
Another late lunch, a spin out to David Russell Apartments (aka David Russell Hall) and Fife Park to pick up a bike provided the opportunity for H and I to walk back via the Sports Hall and the North Haugh (with a stop for photos outside the Institute of Mathematics), Kinburn Park and the Bus Station.
Then a lazy late afternoon enjoying the sun trap back garden with a drink or two before dinner out at Forgans followed by ice cream from Janettas – open to 10pm!
Sunday. Sunny. The first set of farewells then down to the West Sands to watch the Chariots of Fire 5k Run. Helen, Hazel and I headed back to the North Haugh via Uni Hall and then into town for a potter, postcards and pizza for dinner. Another lazy afternoon in the sunny garden then to the Picture House for Top Gun: Maverick. Home for pizza and salad, and to tidy up the wine. Perfect end to a lovely long weekend.
Monday, the weather had turned to cloud. Sorted out the house, strolled down to the Old Course, narrowly avoided being brained by a golf ball and then took our taxi to Leuchars for – in my case – the three trains home: Leuchars-Edinburgh; Edinburgh-Crewe; Crewe-Hereford.
The long journey home was improved by the news of a no confidence vote in Mr Johnson (even though he survived it), and in particular our MP‘s open letter and the catalogue of issues that reflect my own loathing of this Prime Minister, his personality, his populist policies and his privilege.
Phil’s friends from Munich arrived late evening. Supper in the conservatory then bed.