Herefordshire Week 133: Tuesday 12 – Monday 18 July 2022

Goodbye MX-5. Hello Ladakh.

At least I had a good view from our COVID isolation hotel room in Leh....
Spoiler Alert: At least I had a good view from our COVID isolation hotel room in Leh….

A manic week, trying to get work/life projects into shape before my hols, with a few extra curricular activities included; some planned, others not.

Relaxing morning with F&I on Tuesday watching the birds on the feeders and having mothers’ meetings in the bird bath and then sitting on the patio enjoying coffee and cake with L&M and dad. Then work!

Down to Ewyas early on Wednesday morning for a follow up blood test, arranged from Abergavenny last Friday morning. In the evening we went down to the Abbey with dad and Jean, N&T to watch Rain or Shine’s The Recruiting Sergeant. After Drs and work I was a bit too wound up to enjoy the evening as much as I wanted to, even  with an M&S picnic beforehand. After a sweltering day it turned cool in the evening, a bit too cool. Huge moon.

Got to work early on Thursday morning so that I could duck out after a speedy late lunch to drive to Ross to sell my MX5 back to Bowens Garage. I love it but I’m just not driving it and it stresses me out with all the keeping clean, driving-s0-the-battery-doesn’t-go-flat and other maintenance. So I took the hit and we now have a clear view of the birds and the pear tree from the kitchen window. And I feel better for it.


Then we had to speed back to Ewyas for me to have another blood test – I’d had a phone call and text message in the morning asking me to come in for another one ASAP as my sodium levels are (too) low. Wasn’t prepared to then be asked to drive the blood sample to the hospital for overnight testing so had a chat with the Dr and she’s going to phone/text me my results tomorrow. It’s likely to be just as I’m boarding… Let’s hope the levels are low because I drink a lot of water and don’t take a lot of salt.

A couple of hours more work, and then time to pack for Ladakh and online check-in!

Packed for Ladakh
Packed for Ladakh

And relax…..

Up early Friday to catch the 06.43 HFD-PAD train. I’d decided to allow as much time as possible for travelling to London and out to Heathrow for my 18.30 flight to Delhi, and to spend the morning/early afternoon working in the LO office.

Back in the smoke, I had my first go on the Elizabeth Line – aka Crossrail. The signage at Paddington isn’t great – “Elizabeth Line” doesn’t feature on the signs you see on the platform when your train pulls in and instead you need to look at the floor on the main concourse. Not easy when that’s full of people. That said, once I’d found my way to the eastbound service it was a speedy 11 min to Liverpool St – magnificent!

First time on the Elizabeth Line
First time on the Elizabeth Line

I headed back to Paddington early afternoon and was once again stymied by the signage. Westbound trains (currently?) leave from platforms 11, 12 and 14 but it’s not at all obvious how to get to 11, which of course was where the next Elizabeth Line train to LHR was due to depart from. Still, I made it to T3 a bit before 3pm and was sitting in the departure lounge by 3.25pm having done bag drop and security. No long queues for me.

A smooth flight, and mandatory masking except for small children etc – and there were lots of those, and lots of coughing. Uh oh.

Landed in Delhi a bit after 8am on Saturday. Spotted some likely fellow trekkers in the visa / immigration queue. Out of the terminal, Valerie Parkinson was waiting for us and once she’d corralled all 11 of us (turns out there had been 6 cancellations and 1 new booking since I’d bagged the “last place”) it was into taxis and through the busy streets of New Delhi to the Jaypee Siddharth hotel. A briefing from VP in the cafe/bar while rooms were sorted out and then some money changing (90INR : 1GBP). I’m sharing with J, the only other woman on the trip (cf 5 women when I’d booked). Took the taxi tour option for the afternoon – Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, India Gate, Government Buildings and Shri Laxmi Narayan Temple. Monsoon downpours limited what else we could do. Group dinner at the Mughal Mahal restaurant just down the road from the hotel.

Up early Sunday for our flight to Leh. All good. Taxis to the Hotel Glacier View, not far from the Kang Lha Chen where we’d stayed in 2016. Checked into our rooms and relaxed, acclimatising to the thinner air at 3,500m, until VP took us out for an afternoon orientation tour of the bazaar and old town. Thankfully not much has changed. Tea (and late lunch for some) at the Leh View rooftop restaurant overlooking the gilded roof of Leh Gompa. Leisurely afternoon, then buffet dinner at the hotel.

Leh’s night time audio entertainment comprises barking dogs and two 3.30am calls to prayer that segue into one another. Fighter jets optional.

The weather forecasts proved correct and it was as hot hotter in Abbey Dore on Monday as it is in Delhi. That’s nuts.

Another acclimatisation day, but a little more active – we drove to Shey to visit the old palace and temple, then walked across the valley to Tikse where VP gave us a guided tour of the gompa. Back to Shey for a late lunch then back to the hotel for a snooze and prelim kit bag pack, then a kit check (boots primarily) and trek briefing with VP out on the terrace.

Dinner out at another rooftop restaurant – Il Forno, overlooking the main road and entrance to the bazaar. I had pizza and banana lassi 🙂

That said, generally I’m finding I’m slow to acclimatise – headaches, no appetite, stuffy nose/head.

But other than that it’s so far, so good!

There will be some photos, once I’ve sorted through them.

TV: For All Mankind (finished season 2), Ted LassoThis Farming Life.

Photos: Herefordshire week 133 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2022-07-17.

Herefordshire Week 131: Tuesday 28 June – Monday 04 July 2022

Ladakh Prep. Smokin’ Stockley Coppice.

Still Smokin'
Still Smokin’

Tuesday morning I completed my Air Suvidha registration for entry into India and then printed out my Ladakh paperwork:

  • UK NHS Vaccination Certificates
  • Air Suvidha Self Declaration Form
  • 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!

Waitrose plant, revived!
Waitrose plant, revived!

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.

Blue tit bird bath
Blue tit bird bath

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.

Apples - Baby Bramleys
Apples – Baby Bramleys
Red Hazelnuts
Red Hazelnuts
Self Heal
Self Heal

TV: For All Mankind (finished season 1, started season 2), Slow Horses (season 1), Glastonbury (Pet Shop Boys, Olivia Rodrigo).

Podcasts: The History of England, Lingthusiasm, The Allusionist, History Extra.

Photos: Herefordshire week 131 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2022-07-03.

Trip No. 1 of 2022: St Andrews, Scotland

We made it!

A walk along the West Sands, St Andrews
A walk along the West Sands, St Andrews

Destination: St Andrews, Scotland

When: June 2022

What: The long awaited long weekend back at the Alma Mater with the St As Ladies.

How: We’ve rented a pretty amazing looking house with a garden via Fife Cottages. Hopefully travelling there and back by train – but only if Advance fares materialise. Super Off Peak Return is currently coming in at £262.60….

Why: Nostalgia.

Herefordshire Week 121: Tuesday 19 – Monday 25 April 2022

Belated Birthday celebrations. Hereford for fun. Dore Abbey to Hay on Wye. Bluebells and orchids.

Dore Abbey to Hay on Wye: Cusop Hill Panorama
Dore Abbey to Hay on Wye: Cusop Hill Panorama

Drove back from Pembs on Tuesday morning, dropping Hazel off at Carmarthen en route. (That seems like a long time ago now.)

It was straight to work once I got back, so I opened cards and presents in the evening, and admired the repainted porch and utility room – all Phil’s hard work.

We were both a bit shattered after our respective weekends.

Dad and Jean came over on Thursday evening for belated birthday fish & chips (battered mushrooms in my case) and it was warm enough to sit in the conservatory until it got dark. Cake and candles rounded off a lovely evening.

Spent Friday catching up on admin and Flickring Pembrokeshire photos, with a late afternoon break for a speedy walk to Hill Farm and back with Phil, chatting with the ewes and lambs in the field en route. Yes, we do that.

On Saturday, Phil and I went into Hereford for fun. Yes – FUN! The first time since March 2020, or so it feels like. There were a few “jobs” – library (good haul of novels – much needed), bits and bobs to get, train tickets to collect, charity shop drop off to do, but the main event was lunch and coffee at Sensory & Rye. It was busy, which was good to see.

Tremorithic Footpaths on Sunday morning with Phil, then an afternoon in the greenhouse and orchard, planting out lettuce and sunflower seeds, potting up the tomato and lettuce seedlings, and planting out the sweet peas in the Coffin. I sowed a strip of rocket in the herb bed too. Keep your fingers crossed!

Tremorithic footpaths with Phil: Bluebell woods
Tremorithic footpaths with Phil: Bluebell woods

Marathon walk on Monday, recce-ing a Herefordshire Walking Festival / GVWC route with Dave who had pieced together 18 miles of Herefordshire Trail, Three Rivers Ride and Cusop footpaths to get us from Dore Abbey to Hay on Wye: Abbey Dore – Bacton – St Margarets – Turnastone – Peterchurch – Hinton – Snodhill – Twyn Coed – Bonny Lands & Vagar Hill – Mynydd Brith – New House Wood – Cusop Hill – Cusop Dingle – Hay on Wye.

Strava Map: Dore Abbey to Hay on Wye
Strava Map: Dore Abbey to Hay on Wye

Fabulous day and fantastic walk, going through lush green fields full of lambs, bluebell woods and farmed forests, up over hills and sheep moorland on the border with Wales. Amazing views from Bonny Lands / Vagar Hill and Cusop Hill – seeing Hay Bluff from a completely new perspective.

Dore Abbey to Hay on Wye: St Margarets Church
Dore Abbey to Hay on Wye: St Margarets Church

All rounded off with tea and top notch cake from The Cosy Cafe in Hay on Wye – highly recommended for super customer service, as well as super cake!

Home for pizza by Phil – new dough recipe. Thumbs UP.

Spring has definitely arrived here in Herefordshire with bluebells and cowslips galore. The orchids have materialised on the front lawn and there’s blossom on the fruit trees. It’s lovely.

Orchid on the front lawn
Orchid on the front lawn
Cherry Tree Blossom
Cherry Tree Blossom

Plus the cows have arrived in Thistly Field. Mooooooo.


TV:  Peaky Blinders (finished off series 6 – what a finale!), Russian Doll, This Farming Life

Podcasts: The History of English, Lingthusiam, Books and Authors.

Photos: Herefordshire week 121 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2022-04-24.