Where next: Herefordshire

2020 is going to be a rather different year as Phil and I are moving to Herefordshire in January to try out the country life (but not Country Life). I’m still aiming to get a few trips in, but living in Herefordshire opens up a whole new world of walking opportunities, and travelling further afield means getting to grips with regional flights or factoring in a 3 hour plus train journey to/from London.

So….

Trip No. 1 of 2020: Relocating to Herefordshire

Destination: Abbey Dore, a hamlet half way between Hereford and Abergavenny.

When: January – June 2020, possibly long term. We’ll see how it goes.

What: Living in rural Herefordshire, with Phil. Working remotely for LW (I got the official approval this week).

How: With the cooperation of family, friends and work.

Why: I’ve spent a lot of my life in Herefordshire, whilst growing up in Solihull, studying at St Andrews and Chester, and working in London. We’ve had a holiday home there since I was tiny, which is where Phil and I will be based, and dad and Jean live half an hour’s drive away.

Forty Acres
Forty Acres

I did my first walking in the Black Mountains, up Skirrid and along Offa’s Dyke. I love the history of the Welsh Marches, and the fact that we have a Cistercian Abbey and a Saxon Motte and Bailey castle (remains of) within walking distance, and stone castles scattered across the landscape. Not to forget Bacton, Kilpeck, Craswall and Cwmyoy.

Skirrid sunset, from Forty Acres
Skirrid sunset, from Forty Acres

I’m ready to spend some time living in a green world rather than a grey one, with space to grow things and to make and store things. The preserving pan and sewing machine will be coming with us.

“But why leave London?” I hear you ask –

“Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”
— Samuel Johnson

Well, I am somewhat tired of London.

I love the fact that everything is on the doorstep, from shops to cinemas to museums, that I have family and friends within easy reach, that every Wednesday I can meet friends for wine and pizza, and that trains and flights offer a boundless choice of destinations near and far.

But I don’t love the noise, the early morning dustbin lorries and delivery vans announcing to all and sundry that they are reversing or turning left, the late night drunken revellers shouting and singing as they try to navigate the residential back streets of the Barbican, the police helicopters hovering over possible crime scenes in the middle of the night or monitoring protests and public gatherings during the day. The construction sites, providing relentless background noise of jackhammers and power tools at play, for new luxury developments in place of buildings with civic and social worth, signifying the Corporation of London’s distain for its residential communities and neighbours.

So. Watch this space.

Forty Acres sign post, Kerry's Gate
Forty Acres sign post, Kerry’s Gate

 

Back from Hong Kong…. finally!

My business trip to Hong Kong gained another six days thanks to the Eyjafjallajokull volcanic ash cloud and the closure of UK/European air space. I got quite excited at the prospect of rerouting to Spain and sailing back on the Ark Royal, or getting the Trans-Siberian train, but in the end the lovely ladies at the BA office in Hong Kong got me on the second flight back that left once the skies reopened. I landed at LHR at 6am this morning, and spent a fair chunk of the day completing expenses and insurance claim forms…..

The only downside about the extra time was that it meant I didn’t get to spend my birthday as planned…. no family brunch at The Diner in Shoreditch! But Simmons & Simmons friends in Hong Kong and London made sure that I had a great day on Sunday.

Getting a big bunch of flowers from S&S at the hotel was a great way to start the day and after a lazy lie in with newspapers and tea, I strolled down to central HK to meet Adam and family and Kelly and his wife for a lovely (“mostly veggie”) dim sum lunch, complete with a card and gift, cheesecake birthday cake and candles! I feel very lucky to know such lovely people in HK and in London.

Then over to Kowloon on the Star Ferry to explore the sights and shops. I phoned Phil en route and he told me one of my birthday presents is a “driving experience” – Silverstone Aston Martin here I come!

Strolled around Kowloon taking in the prom, park and night markets – and got a call from my dad and brother and families as I was perched on the prom taking in the harbour and the ferries, all lit up in their evening finery. Them singing Happy Birthday over the phone to me was a *lovely* end to my birthday.

Very glad of the BlackBerry too! Not to mention Twitter and Facebook for keeping in touch with friends, and tracking developments following British_Airways and HeathrowAirport on Twitter.

2007 round up

I didn’t do a round robin letter this year, but as I always enjoy reading the ones that I receive I’ve succumbed: here’s a very brief round up of my 2007.

Reading

68 books read – from S is for Silence to The Closers; mainly the usual mixture of fiction (predominantly modern / historical / crime) and autobiographical travel.

Travel / Holidays

Big trips

  • Iran – on a Wild Frontiers recce tour, in May. Fantastic.
  • China – an October fortnight travelling with Hazel from her dad’s Shanghai base; plus a week of work.

Short trips and weekends away

  • Brecon Beacons – bringing in the New Year with Phil’s Bristol crowd.
  • Forty Acres – for the annual birthday parties weekend.
  • Saltaire – to catch up with Cat in early June
  • Seville – with Fiona and Catherine in mid June.
  • Walton on the Naze – twice (May Bank Holiday weekend and the week leading up to the August Bank Holiday weekend); both times a bit on the chilly/wet side.
  • Bristol – for Tim and Helen’s wedding on the SS Great Britain. Glorious.
  • Milan – for Jess and Mike’s wedding. We travelled there/back by train. Altogether very lovely.

Work

Still at Simmons & Simmons where I spent the first nine months of the year as the elexica editor and the last three seconded to a new role of Knowledge Management Business Manager.

Home and family

Still happily esconced in the Barbican with Phil; still happily doing Aunty Mary duties to Barney (10) and Rosa (8). Dad and Jean both well. I’m off to Hereford for a relaxing weekend with them in January.

Plans for 2008

Currently only features travel – 2008 is the year I’ll finally get to see some of the Silk Road in Central Asia. Nothing booked yet, but it’s The Trip for the year. Hoping to squeeze in a week in Libya too to maintain my one a year quota of visits to countries in the Axis of Evil. Luckily work have introduced the option of buying additional holiday…..