Herefordshire Week 071: Tuesday 04 – Monday 10 May 2021

Work Work Work Work (a 4 day week). More visitors. Week in the Lakes with Val lined up for June.

The upgrade continues. We got to the bumpy stage mid-week but by the end of Friday I felt more on top of things. Exhausted. Now we just have to get through Wednesday night’s go live. One of the downsides of Tech being in LA….

Once I wrapped up the week on Friday, I took myself out for a walk doing the Kerrys Gate – Riverdale route. First though, I did a tour of the garden. Beautiful down by the bluebells, with birdsong in the air.

Birdsong and bluebells (video, 25 sec)
Birdsong and bluebells (video, 25 sec)

Loads of flowers  – the camellia and daffs are on their last legs, but cowslips and primroses are still going strong, as are the bluebells, violets, forget-me-nots and lady’s smock, and recently joined by carpet bugle. There’s blossom on all the fruit trees and wild strawberries have appeared down on the lower mower path and their domesticated brethren in the patio pots are starting to show buds. Out on the lawn the purple orchids are expanding their territory, with one brave flower emerging much closer to the conservatory than any of last year’s.

The clematis is out over the log shed too, and I finally planted out my birthday Japanese Quince, next to the other shrubs between the patio and the small pond.

Planted out my Japanese Quince birthday present from Phil
Planted out my Japanese Quince birthday present from Phil

My pea stick frame got blown down in the veg patch/herb bed (P and I did a temporary repair on Monday in between downpours), but I do have more shoots, and the mint has recovered. Plenty of rain this week. The water butts are full.

Zoomed with Emma on rainy Saturday morning (and had VWW and Family Zoom in the week) and drove into Hereford to do a big supermarket shop in the afternoon – wet and windy and weirdly warm (quite monsoon-ish) but surprisingly quiet in the supermarkets – and had fish & chips from EH for dinner.

We did the Cockyard walk on Sunday morning, bumping into K&K at Hill Farm. Didn’t manage to get my LW Spring Challenge Fitbit set up in time, and still struggling to get the app working Sunday and Monday. None of my mobile devices are new enough I fear. Shame.

Monday had been pencilled in for Pen y Fan with Steffi but during the week it turned out that it suited us both very nicely to postpone. So we did.

Which meant Phil and I got to see Dave and Gwyn for a late lunch as they had to be in Hereford late morning.

In travel news, I’m off up to the Lakes for a week walking with Val and Steffi at the end of June, and we’ve got visitors booked in for weekends in June and July, with C and SL staying in the Pod while they’re here. Nice.

COVID is wreaking havoc in Nepal: ‘A hopeless situation’: oxygen shortage fuels Nepal’s Covid crisis | Coronavirus | The Guardian

TV: Finished season 1 of Ozark, then a bit more Call My Agent before turning back to Better Call Saul (series 3 – not so gripped), tried out Jonny Vegas: Carry on Glamping (1 was enough), had another attempt at Song Exploder (won’t bother with another –  Chris Molanphy’s Hit Parade does it better) and polished off Bridgerton on Sunday afternoon (more please).

Podcasts: History Extra, In Our Time, The Infinite Monkey CageThe Essay and Bookclub.

Photos: Herefordshire week 71 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2021-05-09 (although he doesn’t mention that he’s done a lot of baking this week – two chunky boules of bread and a big batch of oat and raisin cookies).

Herefordshire Week 070: Tuesday 27 April – Monday 03 May 2021

Work work work.

Cuckoo! Bald headed robin. The first squirrel finds the bird feeders…..

This week and next week I’m working a full working week as we migrate and test one of our existing systems onto a new version a new server.  A shock to the system in some ways, but it’s nice to have time …. usually my 20 hour / 2.5 day working week is spent manically Getting Things Done. This week I’ve had time to think.

We’ve a bald headed robin visiting the bird feeders.

Bald Headed Robin
Bald Headed Robin

Not a healthy looking feathered fella / fella-ette, I thought it was leucistic initially, with a white head and lower body, but once we got a better look the poor thing has a  bald head. Googling suggests feather mites. There is another robin that feeds it, so another possibility is that it’s a baby and the head feathers are just a little late to come in. I hope so.

On Saturday morning I heard the first cuckoo of the year.

Frosty nights are back, and although some mornings are beautiful –


… it’s still quite cold without the sun. On Tuesday – a cold day with cloud and rain – we even lit the stove. MORE rain on Monday. Lots.

A good Bank Holiday weekend, albeit shorter than my usual.

Dad and Jean came over for coffee on Saturday morning and on Sunday morning we did the Bacton Square, picking two large bags of wild garlic at Bacton Stud and finishing up with a very sociable section in and around Abbey Dore with chats in the Abbey porch, at the Old School House, the end garden in Dore Hamlet and the Old Magistrates Court.

Leisurely afternoon – finished The Buried Giant (OK, but not amazing) and started Shaman’s Crossing (Assassins-meets-Native American Peoples post colonialisation), planted out some more lettuces, sowed some pea seeds in pots.  I think I’ve decided where to put the Japanese Quince…

Monday was cold and wet. Good weather for a morning of admin and treating ourselves to telly in the afternoon catching up with Sunday night’s LoD finale before stumbling upon any spoilers, and turning the wild garlic haul into Wild Garlic Pesto and Wild Garlic Pesto and Feta Tarte, based on Tamal Ray’s foraging recipes.

Wild Garlic Pesto and Feta Tarte
Wild Garlic Pesto and Feta Tarte

In this week’s articles of interest:

TV: Ozark gripped from the start, started Call My Agent for some light relief, a bit of Bridgerton on Sunday and Line of Duty (and back again to Call My Agent) on Monday.

Podcasts: History Extra, The History of England, Out of the Ordinary and Bookclub.

Photos: Herefordshire week 70 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2021-05-03 (Bank Holiday Edition).

Herefordshire Week 069: Tuesday 20 – Monday 26 April 2021

Socialising and Florence Nightingale-ing (not my forte). More sunshine. Some walks.

Looking south east
Looking south east

Tuesday morning was spent catching up on admin and doing weeknotes, which put paid to getting out and about outside. Still, we met up with T&J after work and did the Riverdale circuit. Lots of chat, and at Canns Hill we coincided with the Vowchurch farmer who’s building a holiday rental on the field at the top of Camp Wood – he told us he’d got planning approval, and also that the sheep we’d seen in that field earlier in the year were Badger Faced Welsh Mountain Sheep. A very apt name as they’d had twin black stripes running down their faces, like overemphasized eyebrows.

Busy week at work as we start an upgrade fortnight next week (which means I’m flexing my days to work a 5 day week next week. Urk). Managed a brief VWW and a longer Family Zoom where the main theme was Herefordshire Council’s approach to Council Tax on unoccupied second properties.

After Family Zoom I went for a walk around the garden, during which time Phil managed to slam into the patio windows between the snug and the conservatory and to fall backwards onto not one but two hefty coffee tables, knocking himself about a bit in the process. A bag of frozen sweetcorn and Bridgerton came to the rescue. Now he knows what the birds that headbutt the conservatory feel like.

Gorgeous day on Friday, which made the run into Hereford for shopping, library and Dinedor delivery all the less appealing, and the traffic jams are back which made the morning all the more torturous.

Perked up by pottering around the garden. Flowers are starting to appear on the clematis and the first of the orchids have surfaced on the lawn …

Spring colours: Green, blue, yellow, pink & purple - Orchids
Spring colours: Green, blue, yellow, pink & purple – Orchids

… and the wild flowers are beautiful – blues, yellows, pinks and purples.

Spring colours: Green, blue, yellow, pink & purple - Cowslips, Forget-Me-Nots & Lady's Smock
Spring colours: Green, blue, yellow, pink & purple – Cowslips, Forget-Me-Nots & Lady’s Smock

And Phil was well enough to make Friday Night Pizza. A Good Sign.

After a restless night cursing Herefordshire Council, I stomped off the grump with a long walk on Saturday morning and did the Bacton Footpaths route. Nettles not (yet) as prolific as I’d feared. Chilly breeze + strong sun = pink arms and face. But my hip held up, and it’s a long walk. I spotted the year’s first swallows at Bacton (which reminded me that I’ve not heard a cuckoo yet), butterflies were in busy along the hedgerows of Cwm Hill Road and I bumped into our Abbey Dore Pod hostess too.

Later on in the afternoon we had the Kerrys Gate neighbours over for drinks – quite a lot of drinks! Fab. Socialising to the Max (Six).

On Sunday the cool wind continued as did Phil’s recuperation, so I spent the morning pottering in the garden and inside, getting jobs done before next week’s work marathon. Did Duffryn backwards late afternoon, then read with a pot of tea and a hot cross bun.

Strawberry plants repotted
Strawberry plants repotted

Monday saw the start of my upgrade fortnight at work….. Keep your fingers crossed on that!

I like this quote from Joanna Lumley:

You can’t be happy all the time, but you should always try to make other people happy.

TV: More instalments in The People vs OJ Simpson; indulged in the first two episodes of Bridgerton on Friday following Phil’s close encounter with the double glazing, Line of Duty on Sunday. Gave up on Uncut Gems on Friday and m anaged 20 minutes of Scarface on Saturday before deciding it would be too gruesome, and switched to The People…. instead.

Podcasts: History Extra, In Our Time, The Life Scientific, Books and Authors, SheDunnit and The Essay.

Photos: Herefordshire week 69 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2021-04-25.

Herefordshire Week 054: Tuesday 05 – Monday 11 January 2021

Another week of frosty starts, mince pies and mugs of tea.

And back to work.

Another frosty morning at Forty Acres
Another frosty morning at Forty Acres

Did the Kerrys Gate – Cockyard – Duffryn – Camp crossroads walk on Tuesday morning, and on the stretch from the crossroads I was kept company by three long tailed tits scooting along the hedgerows alongside me. Really lovely. And we seem to have lured a group of long tailed tits to our bird feeders on a long term basis (I don’t want to tempt fate and say “permanent”). So, thank you, fat balls!

Got through my first week back at work. I wasn’t looking forward to it to be honest – there was a chunk of “what’s the point” after R’s death, as in “I could be doing better things with this time”. Anyway, it was OK. I’ve really kind colleagues, which really helps.

As did the first VWW of the year on Wednesday evening, before belatedly catching on to the news coming out of the US Capitol. Incredible. Family Zoom also resumed in its regular Thursday slot.

Friday turned out to be a Day of Admin – clearly getting back to work has brought some further benefits in terms of summoning the ooomph to Tackle The To Do Lists. Got through a lot, even though it ate up most of the day. Our new Cast Iron Casserole  arrived from ProCook, which brightened up the afternoon.

We treated ourselves to a new cast iron, enamel casserole
We treated ourselves to a new cast iron, enamel casserole

Friday Night Pizza resumed too, and we took it easy with the new series of Grand Designs (jaw, meet floor) and the new second half of This Farming Life, which starts off in February – so we are in the calm before the COVID Storm.

Friday night is Pizza night!
Friday night is Pizza night!

Allowed myself to get freaked out by how high the infection rates are in Hereford on Saturday morning, thanks to turning on Facebook. Walking the Bacton Square and visiting Dore Abbey to read R’s Requiem there got things back into perspective.

In the afternoon we made the most of the occasional patch of blue sky to lop some more of the brash, with Phil lugging the more distant stacks closer to the Quarry, then adjourned to the lounge for a lazy late afternoon/early evening featuring the log fire, a bit of a snooze and roast chestnuts.

Chestnuts roasting on the log stove
Chestnuts roasting on the log stove

After a leisurely start to Sunday, Phil and I headed out for a walk – deciding on the 12km or so Tremorithic route. Hatterall’s Ridge was under cloud, but there’s still snow on the lower slopes.

Mist in the valleys south from Tremorithic Road
Mist in the valleys south from Tremorithic Road

A bit more lopping in the afternoon, then a replay of yesterday evening with the log fire, a bit of a snooze and the rest of the roast chestnuts.

A bit less brash
A bit less brash (now even less!)

The early spring flowers are starting to emerge – we’ve got bright yellow aconites and more snowdrops showing up, and the daffodil shoots growing taller. I spotted buds on the “smelly evergreen by the railway that I cut back hard last year” too.

Aconite flower!
Aconite flower!

Monday morning was a relatively balmy 4C, which was perfect for chainsawing up the bigger chunks of brash. Phil sorted out the outside log store and the stacked wood in the garage. Computed in the afternoon. More “admin”.

TV: Spiral, series 8 –  soooooo gooooood. I so don’t want this to be the last outing for les flics! (But it is). Plus Grand Designs and This Farming Life and the second series of Staged.

Podcasts: David Tennant Does a Podcast With…,  The History of England, History Extra.

Photos: Herefordshire week 54 on Flickr.

Phil: Weeknotes for w/e 2021-01-10.


Herefordshire Week 026: Tuesday 23 – Monday 29 June 2020

Horridly hot and humid week, followed by a wet and windy weekend. But “good for the garden” (which has got even greener), and featuring a conservative conservatory lunch with dad and Jean.

It’s been WAY too hot and humid here this week. Thursday night was unbearable. Even after a 10pm stroll up to Kerrys Gate and back before bed, I ended up going to sit on one of the comfy chairs in the conservatory and slept there for for a couple of hours.

Hatterral Ridge and Hay Bluff, from Kerrys Gate
Hatterral Ridge and Hay Bluff, from Kerrys Gate

London would have been worse though.

Phil and I really don’t know how we’ll decide about whether “here” is the new “home” or not. Right now, we are loving it. But the past few months have all felt a bit unreal. That said, the only benefit of being back in London I can see is being able to see friends there. I’ll probably have to work from home some of the time, and our flat isn’t set up for that, and all the social/cultural things, even if they’re open, will be weird. I really can’t imagine going to the cinema, or going into a pub once winter comes. 2021 is going to be strange. Anyway, we’re here until the end of September, and enjoying ourselves – am I allowed to say that?

LED Trustee Meeting over Zoom on Tuesday, VWW with Hazel (v nice to catch up), Wine Zoom with Kirsten and Justine (and back to another 90 mins work afterwards; it was only a small glass of wine), Family Zoom on Friday. Socialising over the internet is still going strong.

We got an email about returning to the office this week – no dates and a clear message that it would be voluntary once the office does start to open up. It’s what seems to be the fairly standard phase 1, phase 2 approach, team/week 1 / team/week 2. The biggest hurdle is going to be the lifts. We’ve been allocated exclusive use of 2 of the 5 lifts on each side of the lift shaft, but with only 2 people allowed into a lift at any one time it’s going to take a while to get even 40% of our workforce to their desks – let alone “from”. All in all, I can’t see us returning to ‘normal’ anytime soon.

On Friday, out of the blue, I got an email from Ang Rita Sherpa, the current chairman of The Partners Nepal, asking if he could use some of my photos from Gokyo and Khumbu in a book he is working on about Climate Change in the Himalayas (A Case from Solukhumbu). The book is to raise awareness on Climate Change and its impact on the local environment and local livelihoods, and proceeds will go to The Partners Nepal’s projects in Solukhumbu.

Climate Change in the Himalayas
Climate Change in the Himalayas – The Partners Nepal

I would have said “yes” in any event, but I’m even more delighted to as Val knows the family well and we visited his mum for morning tea when we stayed in Khunde towards the end of 2016’s Off and On the Beaten Track in Solukhumbu.

Val and Ama Dooli, Khunde
Val and Ama Dooli, Khunde

Fresher weather arrived on Friday, so I got out for a walk along the lanes in the morning and spent the afternoon pottering in the garden – planted my radish trays into bigger pots, and sowed some more lettuce.

Radishes potted up, plus more lettuce seed planted
Radishes potted up, plus more lettuce seed planted

The herb bed and extension are jam packed – lush and green. Lovely. The sunflowers have suddenly had a growth spurt and the pumpkin plants have flowers and a couple of small yellow orbs have appeared… I’m getting quite obsessed.

A Proto-Pumpkin!
A Proto-Pumpkin!

(Also getting quite obsessed with Mabel and Olive. But I’m not alone there.)

At least Sunday’s rain showers meant I haven’t had to water the lettuce and radishes in the “herb bed” (and extension) this week. We are certainly not going to run out of salad.

We are certainly not going to run out of salad!
We are certainly not going to run out of salad!

Phil’s mum turned 80 this week. Sue found a local lady who runs a cake-making business and ordered a birthday cake – it looked amazing! We FaceTimed at lunch to find Janet sat outside in the garden for a socially distanced birthday picnic lunch with some local friends and neighbours. Clearly big birthday celebrations can cope with COVID, even if they’re a bit different 🙂

Saturday started off badly. I deleted my Facebook account a long time ago and I loathe it as a thing. But we use it to keep friends and supporters updated on LED (Light Education Development, aka Val’s charity) activity and donations, and I had some posts to do following Tuesday’s Trustees’ Meeting.

I spent two hours struggling to do anything on Facebook. Let alone post anything. I’m getting “too many redirects” when I try to log in from Chrome or Safari from my mac, and the same on Chrome on my work laptop. In IE I can log in but the page doesn’t load.

Phil found this work around, which includes a link to this blog post about the same issue.

The work around worked….

…. Only for me to discover that it looks like we can’t schedule posts any more. So I ended up publishing the series of posts I’ve planned to space out over a couple of weeks all in one go.

After that I couldn’t face trying to fathom out how to fix the problem permanently. I’d already spent time futilely searching for help on Facebook and there’s no support contact details. Obviously.


So after a stomp around the garden, I settled down in the conservatory and finished Hilary Mantel’s 900+ page The Mirror & The Light, which I started in the middle of May.

The Mirror & The Light - Hilary Mantel

On Sunday, Dad and Jean came for lunch: quiche and salad, accompanied by the very nice bottle of white wine Annette and Michael gave us for Christmas / moving in back in January. It was lovely to see Dad and Jean, even if the patio dining plan was stymied by the heavy rainy showers that came sweeping across all day.

In between downpours we did manage to get out for a stroll around the grounds, and on Monday, after I’d done the Kerrys Gate – Cockyard – Camp Crossroads route and sent Ang Rita the photos in the morning, Phil and I staked up the dwarf apple tree and the growth-spurt sunflowers, and I took some photos of the pumpkin flower, the now-securely staked sunflowers and the red hazelnuts.

Remarkable red hazelnuts
Remarkable red hazelnuts

My dad keeps reminding me that the squirrels will harvest the hazelnuts and walnuts the second they’re ripe and that all we will see is the leftover leaves and shells. We’ll see…..

Photos from Herefordshire week 26. No hanging about this week!