Mera Peak – Amphu Lapsta Pass – Island Peak: Photos & Notes

I wrote up my first(ish) impressions of last November’s four week trek-with-ascents in my Mera Peak – Amphu Lapsta Pass – Island Peak: We’re back blogpost.

This blogpost is my day by day account, with links to each day’s photos, of my trek with Steffi, Nicola, Ernst, Stuart and Paul, led by Val Pitkethly and Ang Chhering. Our trip was 31 days in total, with 26 days “on trek” including the driving from/to KTM.

Before we start, here’s the mark up of our route that Val added to my map – click through to zoom in on the detail in the original, on Flickr:

Mera Peak – Amphu Lapsta Pass – Island Peak: Our route
Mera Peak – Amphu Lapsta Pass – Island Peak: Our route

Scroll down to the end for details of which sections of Günter Seyfferth’s invaluable Die Berge des Himalaya website I’ve used in this write up and when identifying some of the mountain views in my photos.

If you just want to take a look at my photos you’ll find them in my Nepal, November 2019 – Mera Peak, Amphu Lapsta, Island Peak Flickr album. I’ve included some of Nicola’s too.


Wednesday, 30 October 2019: London – Dubai (Photos)

Steffi and I flew overnight from London Stansted to Dubai on Emirates EK068, landing in Dubai just after 7am on Thursday morning.

Thursday, 31 October 2019: Dubai (Photos)

We were even less enthusiastic about our unwanted extra day in Dubai after a fairly tortuous transfer to the hotel and check in experience – might as well not have bothered booking a room for the night before. But, ever keen to make the most of a bad lot, we had a couple of hours power napping then we took the hotel shuttle bus to The Dubai Mall to spend the afternoon in air con comfort. Coffee; a late lunch at the excellent, tucked out of sight, food court; dancing fountains and people watching all featured. As did lots of strolling, always slightly lost, around this multi-storeyed citadel of consumerism.

A dip in the rooftop pool preceded the You Booked Direct free aperitif accompanied by al fresco Waitrose nibbles – our attempts to track down a supermarket in The Dubai Mall having proved futile.

Overnight: Premier Inn, Dubai International Airport.

Friday, 01 November 2019: Dubai – Kathmandu (Photos)

Much more efficient hotel transfer to Dubai terminal 2 where we rendezvoused with Nicola for our 4 hour FlyDubai flight (EK2155 / FZ0575) to Kathmandu.

Endured an hour or so queue at immigration – hot and stuffy, and exacerbated by the arrival of 3 jumbo-worth of tourists – followed by the inevitable, domino effect, queue to get through the security scanners. At least, after all that, we didn’t have to wait for our luggage. Just find it…

A relief to spot Mingmi waiting for us, and a relatively quick jeep ride to the Marshyangdi.

Great to see Val waiting for us in reception. Rooms sorted – newly refurbished ones, LOVELY – speedy unpack and a cuppa, and down the road for dinner at the good old Thakali Bhanchha Ghar.

Overnight: Hotel Marshyangdi, Thamel.

Saturday, 02 November 2019: Kathmandu (Photos)

A rare extra day in KTM ahead of the trek, which gave us a bit more time to get over jet lag (just don’t mention the cooing PIGEONS!), a leisurely Marshyangdi buffet breakfast, and to hang out with Ernst!

Spent the morning in Val’s tender mercies – kit check, crampon fitting and shopping, settling up and changing trek spends into NPR. Plus packing… always a challenge. Thankfully big boots, crampons and ice axes were allowed into separate kit bags, but cramming the remaining 6000m gear into our usual kit bags was tricky. Extra layers, puffier down jackets etc.

Paul and Stuart arrived – first impressions: They’re GIANTS! Lovely men, both of them.

The afternoon was spent mainly faffing. Steffi, Nicola, Ernst and I headed out for coffee and cake in the Hotel Mandap’s garden bakery/cafe.

Early dinner back at Thakali Bhanchha Ghar. Early night. Early start tomorrow.

Overnight: Hotel Marshyangdi, Thamel.

Sunday, 03 November 2019: Kathmandu – Phaplu (Photos)

Trek Day 1

Route: Drive Kathmandu / काठमाडौं to Phaplu / फाप्लु (2500m) (9-10 hours).

Overnight: Numbur Guest House.

So, not really trekking. But getting closer to the start, and avoiding an internal flight and the attendant uncertainties / risks. Lunch in Okhaldhunga / ओखलढुङ्गा (1561m).

Monday, 04 November 2019: Phaplu (2500m) – Takshindo (2930m) – Kharikhola (2040m) (Photos)

Trek Day 2

Route: Drive from Phaplu / फाप्लु (2500m) to Takshindo / टाक्सिन्धु (2930m) via Ringmo / Rungmu / रिङमो and the Trakshingdo La / Takshingdo La / Takshindo La / Trakshindo La (3071m).

Trek to Kharikhola / Kharikola / खरीखोला (2040m) via Nuntala / Nunthala / नुनथला (2440m), Pipli Papli (lunch), Chhirdi (1500m) / Dudh Kosi river / दुध कोसी and Juving / Jubing / जुबिङ (1670m).

Overnight: Namaste Lodge / Snowland Cabins.

Tuesday, 05 November 2019: Kharikhola (2040m) – Panggom (2850m) (Photos)

Trek Day 3

Route: Trek to Pangkongma / Pangom / Panggom / पन्गोम (2850m). Visit Gompa – Tashi Sangag Chholing monastery.

Camp: Hotel Panggom Inn.

Wednesday, 06 November 2019: Panggom (2850m) – Najingdingma (2730m) (Photos)

Trek Day 4

Route: Trek to Najing / Najingdingma (2730m) via Pangkongma La / Panggom La (3174m), Sibuje / Chatuk / सिबुजे (2770m), Inkhu Khola / Hinku Khola river (2028m).

Lunch at Mera Peak Lodge & Restaurant, Waku 4, Inkhu River / Mapya Dudhkoshi R.M.-7, Sibuje, down at the Inkhu Khola bridge.

Camp: Mera Hotel & Restaurant camp.

Thursday, 07 November 2019: Najingdingma (2730m) – Chalem Kharka (3250m) (Photos)

Trek Day 5

Route: Trek to Chholem / Chalem Kharka (3250m) via Surke La / Surkie La / Spiki La / Charakot Pass (3085m) and Phokte (lunch).

Camp: Himalayan Lodge camp.

Friday, 08 November 2019: Chalem Kharka (3250m) – Khola Kharka / Chanbu Kharka (4200m) (Photos)

Trek Day 6

Route: Trek to Khola Kharka / Chanbu Kharka (4200m) via Pokta La (c. 4500m), Panch Pokhari La (c. 4600m) and the Panch Pokhari / Five Lakes (4336m).

Camp: New Mera Lodge camp.

Saturday, 09 November 2019: Khola Kharka / Chanbu Kharka (4200m) – Kothe (3600m) (Photos)

Trek Day 7

Route: Trek to Gotay / Khote / Kote / Kothe (3600m)

High trail above the Hinku Khola / Inkhu Khola, dropping down through the Mojang Forest to lunch at the bridge over the Mojang Khola.

Camp: Sherpa Hotel & Lodge camp.

Sunday, 10 November 2019: Kothe (3600m) – Thangnak (4350m) (Photos)

Trek Day 8

Route: Trek up the Hinku Khola valley to Tagnag / Thangnag / Tangnag / Thangnak (4350m). Lunch at Gondishung / Godishung Gompa (4161m).

Camp: Pemba Dickie’s Tagnag Lodge camp.

Monday, 11 November 2019: Thangnak (4350m) (Photos)

Trek Day 9

Route: Acclimatisation day at Tagnag / Thangnag (4350m).

Hike up towards the moraines below Kusum Kanguru to the cairns at 5025m.

Camp: Pemba Dickie’s Tagnag Lodge camp.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019: Thangnak (4350m) – Khare (5000m) (Photos)

Trek Day 10

Route: Trek to Khare / खरे (5000m), via Dig Kharka.

Camp: Pemba Dickie’s Khare Lodge camp.

Wednesday, 13 November 2019: Khare (5000m) (Photos)

Trek Day 11

Route: Acclimatisation day and skills training, Khare / खरे (5000m).

Morning: Acclimatisation hike above the Hinku Shar / Khare Glacier system to c. 5400m.

Afternoon: Training with crampons and ropes (jumar up, karabiner across, abseil down).

Camp: Pemba Dickie’s Khare Lodge camp.

Thursday, 14 November 2019: Khare (5000m) – Mera La (5415m) – Mera La camp (5350m) (Photos)

Trek Day 12

Route: Trek over Mera moraine to crampon point, onto glacier/snow and climb snow slopes to the Mera La (5415m). Drop down off glacier to Mera La camp (5350m).

Crossing from the West to the East side of Mera La takes you from the Hinku Valley and into the Hongu Valley.

Camp: Mera La camp.

Friday, 15 November 2019: Mera La camp (5350m) – Mera Peak High Camp (5800m) (Photos)

Trek Day 13

Route: Climb easy snow slopes to Mera Peak High Camp (5800m).

Camp: Mera Peak High Camp.

Saturday, 16 November 2019: Mera Peak High Camp (5800m) – Mera Peak (Mera Central, 6461m) – Kongma Dingma (4850m) (Photos)

Trek Day 14 – Summit Day

Route: Mera Peak High Camp (5800m) – Mera Peak (Mera Central, 6461m) – Mera La (5415m) – Kongma Dingma (4850m)

Described as “Climb easy-angled snow slopes and short steeper section to summit Mera Peak.” Incredibly hard work at this altitude – each step felt like it was the last one I could take. But, roped up with Chhering and Nicola, I did it.

Mera Peak / मीरा पीक has multiple summits – we did Mera Central (6461m). As always, Günter Seyfferth’s Die Berge des Himalaya (The mountains of Himalaya) is invaluable for its annotated photos and maps. Here’s his page on Mera Peak.

Then a long descent to Mera La (5415m) and off the glacier down by our previous camp for a really, really long descent into the Hongu Valley to camp at Kongma Dingma / Kongme Dingma (4850m).

A long day: Wake up call / bed tea at 2.30am, into KD around 4pm. Bed around 7pm?

A fantastic day.

Camp: Kongma Dingma camp.

Sunday, 17 November 2019: Kongma Dingma (4850m) (Photos)

Trek Day 15

Route: Rest day Kongma Dingma / Kongme Dingma (4850m).

Camp: Kongma Dingma camp.

Monday, 18 November 2019: Kongma Dingma (4850m) – Seto Pokhari (5035m) (Photos)

Trek Day 16

Route: Trek to Seto Pokhari (5035m).

Seto Pokhari means White Lake, appropriate given it is frozen.

Camp: Seto Pokhari camp.

Tuesday, 19 November 2019: Seto Pokhari (5035m) – Amphu Lapsta Base Camp, South (c. 5600m) (Photos)

Trek Day 17

Route: Trek north up the Hongu Valley before turning north west off the main glaciated valley and climbing to lunch at Panch Pokhari. Big Baruntse views. Trek to Amphu Lapsta / Amphu Lapste / Amphu Labtsa / Amphu Lapcha / Amphu Labcha Base Camp (South) (c. 5600m).

Camp: Amphu Lapsta Base Camp (South).

Wednesday, 20 November 2019: Amphu Lapsta Base Camp, South (c. 5600m) – Amphu Lapsta (5780m) – Imja Khola camp (c. 5000m) (Photos)

Trek Day 18

Route: Cross Amphu Lapsta / Amphu Lapste / Amphu Labtsa / Amphu Lapcha / Amphu Labcha (5780m). Descend to Imja Khola camp (c. 5000m).

Crossing the pass entailed crunching over moraine, then rope and crampons to jumar up the glacier snow slopes to the pass.

On the Imja Khola side, a steep, steep descent clipped onto a roped route, with a short abseiling section over large rock outcrop.

Once down in the bowl of the Ambulapcha glacial valley, it was an easy but long trek over sand then turf towards Imja Tsho’s southern moraine wall before heading west to reach camp next to the Imja Khola. Another long day.

Camp: Imja Khola camp.

Thursday, 21 November 2019: Imja Khola camp (c. 5000m) – Island Peak Base Camp (5100m) (Photos)

Trek Day 19

Route: Trek to Island Peak Base Camp (5100m)

Ernst was helicoptered down to the hospital at Khunde, and the rest of us crossed the Imja Khola and the glacier’s moraine debris and did the gentle stroll over up the other side of the Imja Tsho to get to Island Peak Base Camp. Busy! After lunch, Nicola and I settled in to camp and to prep for tomorrow’s ascent, Steffi and Stuart opting to head back down to Chukhung (4730m) for a couple of rest days.

Camp: Island Peak Base Camp.

Friday, 22 November 2019: Island Peak Base Camp (5100m) – Chukhung (4730m) (Photos)

Trek Day 20

Route: Climb Island Peak – if you’re Nicola and Chhering! I started, but turned back after 45 mins or so – I just didn’t have any energy. Trek to Chukhung (4730m). Tea and apple cake with Steffi and Stuart.

Camp: Chukhung Cafe & Snooker House camp.

Saturday, 23 November 2019: Chukhung (4730m) – Phortse (3840m) (Photos)

Trek Day 21

Route: Trek to Phortse / फोर्छे (3840m) via Dingboche / दिङबोचे (4410m), Shomare (4136m) (lunch) and Pangboche / पाङबोचे (4030m) and Pangboche Gompa.

Overnight: Namaste Lodge.

Sunday, 24 November 2019: Phortse (3840m) – Monjo (2840m) (Photos)

Trek Day 22

Route: Monjo / Monzo / Manjo / मान्जो (2840m) via Dudh Koshi river (bridge), Phortse Thanga (3680m), Mong La (3975m), Kyangjungma / Kyangjuma / Kyanjuma (3620m) and Namche Bazaar / नाम्चे बजार (3440m, lunch), Larcha Dovan (2935m) and Sagarmatha National Park Entry, Jorsalle / जोरसल्ले.

Our last night together with the full crew – so it was time to party!

Overnight: Monjo Guest House Eco-Lodge.

Monday, 25 November 2019: Monjo (2840m) – Pakhepani (2710m) (Photos)

Trek Day 23

Route: Trek to Pakhepani (2710m) via Benkar / बेन्कार, Phakding (2639m), Choplung / Chheplung / Cheplung / छेप्लुङ् (2660m, lunch) and Surke / Surkhe / सुर्के (2290m).

We said farewell to Ernst, Chhering and Budi before we left Monjo, and to Stuart and Tenzi after lunch in Chheplung. Ernst had extra time to take its easy for a few more days, and Stuart and Tenzi were braving the Lukla-KTM flight. Steffi and I kept our fingers crossed for good weather for them all.

Overnight: Khumbu View Lodge.

Tuesday, 26 November 2019: Pakhepani (2710m) – Nuntala (2440m) (Photos)

Trek Day 24

Route: Trek to Nuntala / Nunthala / नुनथला (2440m) via Chutok La (2775m), Paiyan / Puiya / Paiya / Puiyan / Poyan / Poyen / पैया (2770m), Khari La / Kare La / Kari La (2840m), Bupsa (2360m), Kharikhola / Kharikola / खरीखोला (2040m, lunch), Jubing / Juving / जुभिङ (1670m) and Chhirdi (1500m) / Dudh Kosi river / दुध कोसी.

We said farewell to Val and Despier before we left Pakhepani. A long day – we were walking in the dark for the last hour.

Overnight: Shangrila Guest House.

Wednesday, 27 November 2019: Nuntala (2440m) – Takshindo (2930m) – Khurkot (Photos)

Trek Day 25

Route: Trek to Takshindo / टाक्सिन्धु (2930m).

Drive to Phaplu / फाप्लु (2500m) via the Trakshingdo La / Takshingdo La / Takshindo La / Trakshindo La (3071m) and Ringmo / Rungmu / रिङमो.

Drive to Khurkot / खुर्कोट via Okhaldhunga / ओखलढुङ्गा जिल्ला

Overnight: “Khurkot Roadside Motel”.

Thursday, 28 November 2019: Khurkot – Kathmandu (Photos)

Trek Day 26

Route: Drive to Kathmandu / काठमाडौं.

CLEAN CLOTHES.

HAIR WASH.

We had the traditional last night feast at The Mandap, hosted by Tenzi. A bit strange to be without Val and Chhering.

Overnight: Hotel Marshyangdi, Thamel.

Friday, 29 November 2019: Kathmandu – London (No photos)

Route: Fly Kathmandu – Doha – London

Qatar Airways QR 0653: KTM 11:25 – DOH 14:35 (5h 55m), then Qatar Airways QR 0015: DOH 15:50 – LHR 20:25 (7h 35m). Steffi and I said our farewells at the airport, then I took the tube home.

Overnight: Home!


Resources

I cannot recommend highly enough Günter Seyfferth’s Die Berge des Himalaya (The mountains of Himalaya) website with its annotated maps and photos. The following are the pages covering key elements of our route.

The Hinku Valley including Kothe, Thangnak and Khare

Mera La and Mera Peak, plus upper sections of the Hinku and Hongu valleys

Hongu Valley and Amphu Lapsta

  • Makalu Region – Kangshug, Barun, Hongu Valley: G. The Hongu Khola Valley (Hunku Khola) (includes Baruntse and Amphu Lapsta)
  • Amphu Labsta pass and in particular photos:
    • (7) View from Amphu Labtsa north to east
    • (11) Looking south from Amphu Labtsa into the western area of ​​the upper Hunku Valley with Chamlang and Peak 41
    • (10) View from Amphu Labtsa to the southeast with Westcol and Chamlang
    • (14) View from Amphu Labtsa to west-southwest with Kangtega and Ama Dablam

Island Peak and the Imja Khola and Dudh Kosi valleys from Chukhung to Namche


Not surprisingly, having just spent a chunk of time revisiting this trek, I am now desperate to get back to the mountains…. I doubt it will be this year, but Kanchenjunga south and north base camps with possible extension to exit via the Wolungchu valley is TOP of my list now.

Herefordshire Week 022: Tuesday 26 May – Monday 01 June 2020

“Cor, what a scorcher!”

Another week of August weather. Too nice to sit at a computer working through photos from our final week in Nepal last November, so no week 22 photos yet.

Normal service will be resumed once the temperatures drop. And once I’ve done Nepal!


Tuesday morning, after we’d nipped out to Locks Garage for a fruit etc top up (and tomato plants) to tide us over until I did a bigger supermarket shop on Saturday evening, I took the strimmer out for a long overdue spin on the solarium. Very satisfying.

Solarium strimmed by a beginner strimmer
Solarium strimmed by a beginner strimmer

My working “week” is hectic. We’re seeing a lot more demand for KM support from the practice groups that don’t have a dedicated KM lawyer in place, and in those that do. It’s good to have evening commitments in place, to force me to stop. There will always be more to do at work.

As well as VWW and Family Zoom on Weds and Thurs, on Friday evening I sat on the patio with a beer and crisps catching up with a couple of London friends before Pizza à la Phil. This week, with spinach and jalapeños – TASTY!

Pizza à la Phil
Pizza à la Phil

It is GORGEOUS here at the moment, and despite the hot, dry weather, the grass is looking lush – and in need of a mow…. and gardening generally kept me busy on Friday and Saturday, and for some of Sunday. Not a chore – although Friday was a bit patchy in terms of focus and achievement (see below). I did spend a very satisfying Saturday, taking the big mower up to the solarium to pick up the grass cuttings, taking the Honda mower around the “edges” in the orchard, and pruning the wild plum at the bottom of the garden. Pottering around I noticed how much fruit is coming on the trees – apples, cherries and hazelnuts.

Apples
Apples

I am really enjoying growing things. My lettuces, sunflowers and pumpkins are already looking bigger! On Sunday, I planted the larger lettuces out in the herb bed, and on Monday, we had the first organic home grown lettuce with dinner.

Some salad seedlings, and the tomato plants
Some salad seedlings, and the tomato plants
With added lettuce
With added lettuce

Saturday morning started with great excitement, with a trio of early morning visitors…  three deer, down by the log shed. They then headed over the train tracks and reappeared down by the sweet pea. Pretty sure they use the “path” under the Yew tree to get to the road and up the other side. VERY exciting.

Deer
Deer

We also got back into our bird obsession, watching gangs of blue tits darting hither and thither, checking under leaves for bugs and seeds, with two wood peckers dominating the bird feeder devouring the peanuts (which hopefully means they’re not devouring chicks), their left overs providing nibbles for nut hatches below, as chaffinches, greenfinches and coal tits sunbathe near by. And on Monday afternoon, sat on the “love seat” by the big pond, I watched a chaffinch having a bathe / drink on a lily pad! Magical.

Blue tit in the hazelnut tree
Blue tit in the hazelnut tree

Sunday and Monday we had our first foray into making ice cream in the Le Glacier, following the “egg yolk custard” recipe. Leaving the yolks chilling in the fridge together with jersey milk, whipping cream, sugar and Lindt 85% dark chocolate, destined to become the ice cream machine’s christening batch, I – literally (ha ha) – whipped up my first ever batch of meringues, to use up the egg whites.

My first meringues
My first meringues

We did manage to relax a little in between all this activity. Breakfasting on the patio, reading in the shade, down by the big pond. I made good progress through the third Hilary Mantel / Thomas Cromwell hardback I got for my birthday.

Breakfast
Breakfast

We also got out for a stroll to Bacton on Sunday, and I did some longer walks – the Army Crossroads & Cockyard loop, and yesterday I ventured all the way to Vowchurch for the first time, returning via Gwatkins and Riverdale.

Vowchurch, and Hay Buff beyond
Vowchurch, and Hay Buff beyond

In non photo news, the big shop on Saturday evening went fine. I had hoped that Aldi and Sainsbury’s would be relatively quiet – especially if folks were making the most of the gorgeous weather to have a weekend BBQ. No one wearing a mask, and not as quiet as I would have liked, but not too bad. And I found bread flour on the shelves for the first time.

Telly: Having watched BBC Four’s Storyville series OJ: Made in America last week, it was good to change gear to The Crown season 3. Nice to have a theme tune that doesn’t go all Game of Thrones. Looking at you, Westworld.

I’m finding it difficult to shut down at the end of my working days, both mentally as well as laptop-wise, and I find it takes all of Friday not at work to feel less frazzled and to stop trying to do a million and one things a minute. This week was particularly difficult as I consciously and subconsciously fumed about Dominic Cummings’ and Boris Johnson’s absolute distain for all the difficult decisions and sacrifices everyone else has been making, and continue to make. I heard from a friend this week that her mother had died of COVID-19. My friend hadn’t been able to be there, and isn’t sure how best to travel – it would need to be by train – to be with her dad. Or even if she should.

I am still so angry about the behaviour of these two men.


Let’s close with a late afternoon shot of Skirrid, to calm me back down.

Skirrid
Skirrid

We should have been in Italy this week, for our friends’ wedding. But there are worse places to be…..


Update 14 June 2020

Here are the photos from week 22.

Herefordshire Week 021: Tuesday 19 – Monday 25 May 2020

No week 21 photos (yet)* and only short notes this week as I need to get out into the garden strimming!


Tuesday’s twin highlights were a walk over EH Common with Phil, and a successful shop at Mailes – milk and chorizo and sundried tomato “pork” pie. So hot, I had to buy an ice cream maker from Argos once we got back home 🙂


On Friday, I took a couple of screenshots of The Guardian‘s COVID-19 graphs for reference:

Screenshot from The Guardian, 22 May 2020: New Coronavirus cases per day for the County of Herefordshire
Screenshot from The Guardian, 22 May 2020

 

Screenshot from The Guardian, 22 May 2020: Deaths from Covid-19 by week, 2020 - for the County of Herefordshire
Screenshot from The Guardian, 22 May 2020

Frustratingly, I can’t link to them as their Coronavirus UK map: the latest deaths and confirmed cases in each region page is updated each week, and the URL changes.

In other COVID-19-related news, it should have been the St Andrews Ladies Celebration this weekend, so we had a Virtual Get Together on Saturday afternoon instead.

And I’m still waiting for a whole slew of train ticket refunds – looking at you Avanti, Greater Anglia and Transport for Wales. GWR has left them all standing,


I spent most of the blustery bank holiday weekend working through my photos from last November’s trip, and getting them up onto Flickr and into this album – Nepal, November 2019 – Mera Peak, Amphu Lapsta, Island Peak. Still a week or so to do, but we have summited Mera Peak and crossed the Amphu Lapsta pass…

Sunrise over the Hongu Valley, Mera Peak panorama
Sunrise over the Hongu Valley, Mera Peak panorama

It’s identifying the mountains that takes the time, and even though it happens every time, I still don’t manage to make a note of the names en route. Thank heavens for Günter Seyfferth’s Die Berge des Himalaya (The mountains of Himalaya) website!

… All of which has made me wonder when I’ll be able to return. Kanchenjunga North & South, Val’s version, is top of my list.


Phil ticked off lots of To Dos too: my birthday photo is now framed and on the wall in my office, and we have a sign for Forty Acres, all done bar the varnishing.

Manaslu Team -2018-154 © Doug Beecroft
© Doug Beecroft’s photo from our Manaslu & Tsum trip, Nepal 2018

Monday was the promised scorcher, so after a leisurely morning featuring Flickr, writing to my MP and coffee and carrot cake on the patio, I did a long walk across Thistly Field, down the Army Camp Crossroads, to Duffryn Farm and Cockyard and back via Stone Street and Kerrys Gate. Everywhere is looking green and lush, and the sheep and lambs have been shorn.

I spent the early evening planting out the marigolds, larger lettuces and sunflowers in the herb bed, and put the pumpkins into 3 pots by the compost heap.

Marigolds, lettuces and sunflowers in the herb bed
Marigolds, lettuces and sunflowers in the herb bed

 

Pumpkins in pots
Pumpkins in pots

Down at the big pond, the yellow – and blue – flags are out, as are the “red” lilies (phew – I was worried my weed-clearing had finished them off). And there are loads and loads of slim blue dragonflies whizzing around, and – on close inspection – mating and laying their eggs in the water.

When I went down later in the afternoon to photograph the dragonflies, I spotted two larger ones anchored on separate flag leaves, one either end of the pond, emerging from their nymph skins. Amazing.

Dragonfly metamorphosis
Dragonfly metamorphosis
Dragonflies
Dragonflies

Photos from week 21 to follow – but I need to get back from Nepal first before uploading them, so as not to break the flow…

You’ll need to wait for that link to do anything.

Right: Stim-Time!


PS I keep forgetting to mention the birds hidden and hiding in the hedges and trees….. swallows (long tails) have joined the swifts – and bats come early evening! – flying over head. Blackbirds battling on the grass by the bird feeder, a woodpecker (or two?) coming to breakfast on peanuts around 8am every day. Plus blue tits, coal tits and great tits, thrushes, sparrows and chaffinches. One conservatory casualty, green.


* Update 14 June 2020

Here are the photos from week 21.

Herefordshire Week 020: Tuesday 12 – Monday 18 May 2020

Three good walks this week. I’m failing miserably to manage my morning walks, but at least when I do go out I am taking longer walks. And it is beautiful.


Tuesday morning, Phil and I strolled down to the Abbey and I decided to continue on over EH Common to see what Ewyas Harold Village Shop’s fresh bread offering looked like. Returned with a large granary loaf, TWO big bags of flour (white bread flour for Friday Night Pizza, and self raising) plus a pork and plum pork pie from Mailes Butchers. I’ll be back! Not least of all because they stock milk in 4pt bottles….

Feeling cheery, I took a new route back over the Common, turning off the road up to the Common just after Down House. VG.

First new footpath from Ewyas Harold
First new footpath from Ewyas Harold

On one of my periodic strolls around the grounds, in between mows, I spotted that we have yellow flags flowering in the small pond. Beautiful.

Yellow flags flowering in the small pond
Yellow flags flowering in the small pond

And I found a label on the box my birthday herbs came in, telling me what they are! And in other herb bed-related news, Phil made a really nice asparagus and broad bean pilau on Thursday night, with mint and thyme from the herb bed.  Two tweaks – we didn’t do the herb butter – it was MORE than buttery enough!! – just stirred them in at the end, and we used frozen beans.


Friday was busy and productive, with a trio of phone calls in the morning as I was planting out some of the dwarf green beans purchased from Sainsbury’s, and covered them in an assortment of plastic bags, as instructed by the packet.

I also transplanted the sunflowers and pumpkins into bigger pots made out of 4pt milk bottles / spare flower pots, and potted up the largest lettuce seedling to see how that goes…

Seedlings snapshot
Seedlings snapshot

… turned out fine, so on Monday I repotted some of the larger lettuce seedlings into a variety of pots.

Did a spot of reading, cleaned and stored the daffodil bulbs dug up when we’d installed the compost bin, and wrote Tom’s birthday card, which resulted in a lovely impromptu late afternoon walk: Canns Hill – Abbey Dore – Riverdale – Kerrys Gate. Started off as a stroll on the footpath from Canns Hill to Cherry Burton to our nearest postbox, and ended up as a magical hour and a half out on the local footpaths and country lanes. Peterchurch’s wonky spire, buzzards and the perennially intriguing Cockyard Tump all featured.

Dore Abbey, Abbey Dore
Dore Abbey, Abbey Dore
Buzzard, Riverdale footpath
Buzzard, Riverdale footpath
Cockyard Tump, from Kerrys Gate
Cockyard Tump, from Kerrys Gate

Frustrated by the fact that I can’t show the footpath sections on Google Maps, I edited the screenshot in Flickr to add them on.

Map of my late afternoon walk: Canns Hill - Abbey Dore - Riverdale - Kerrys Gate
Map of my late afternoon walk: Canns Hill – Abbey Dore – Riverdale – Kerrys Gate

Another irritation is the map pin labels – we are 12 miles from Hereford.


On Saturday, Phil and I did the Bacton square, picking some more wild garlic leaves en route, and on Monday I did another great late afternoon walk – Cockyard in reverse. I’d spent most of the day pottering in the garden, snipping away at new growth bramble and ivy. All very satisfying!

The hedgerow colours have shifted spectrum to whites [1, 2, 3, 4]and pinks [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] – there are even rogue sweet peas flowering down in Abbey Dore, and peonies at Black Bush. The blossom on the horse chestnut trees and apple trees is a white-and-pink combo. The frothy cow parsley that lines the lanes is a favourite.

Cow parsley lines the lanes
Cow parsley lines the lanes

Sunday early evening, I made a start on flickring photos from my 2019 Nepal trek. We are done with Dubai and are in Kathmandu.

Dancing Fountains, The Dubai Mall
Dancing Fountains, The Dubai Mall

Not sure there’ll be any trips this year…. we’d have been in Italy in a fortnight’s time, and I can’t see England’s failure to contain COVID-19 meaning Spain will want to us as tourists later this year. Half hoping there might be a chance of getting to Nepal in the early winter, but that’s doubtful – and I’m not sure I’ll want to spend N hours in the recycled air of an aeroplane before trekking somewhere remote for X weeks.

In related travel news, I got an acknowledgement of my BA refund request, and my train ticket refunds are very, very slowly materialising. I’d have been in Wasdale this weekend for the LED fundraising weekend, and the coming bank holiday weekend was due to be the St Andrews Celebration. Oh well.

There are worse places to be.

Here are the photos from week 20.


Oh yeah.. we had our first bird-meets-window casualty this week. Phil disposed…

And the scampering mice are back in the roof.

The joys of the countryside!

Herefordshire Week 019: Tuesday 05 – Monday 11 May 2020

Shopping. Composting. Strolling. Mowing.

Falling down the Open Street Map rabbit hole…


It seems an age ago now, but last Tuesday, Phil and I walked over the Common to EH to post cards and top up milk supplies to tide us over to a Big Shop on Friday evening. Some of the cards were delivered on Wednesday – and, naturally, I’d only posted them second class…. No photos, but a lovely walk there and back.

Wednesday brought an early afternoon treat – Belated Birthday Box from Betty’s, sent by Sue! Who doesn’t want a couple of Fat Rascals turning up on their doorstep?!!!

Belated Birthday Betty's Box!
Belated Birthday Betty’s Box!

When we had a weekend in York a few years back – seems like another world – we were strolling around the city and saw the queue for the Betty’s there… 10am and it stretched all round the 2 sides of the shop …


A busy Bank Holiday on Friday.

I woke up early, to a magical misty morning. A preliminary trip to Thistly Field for photos of the dew decked dandelions and Grey Valley, then a walk along the lanes: Kerrys Gate – Riverdale – Footpath – Abbey Dore Court – Home. Then back down the hill to scoop up horse manure for the herb bed.

Misty morning, Grey Valley
Misty morning, Grey Valley
Misty morning, Grey Valley
Misty morning, Grey Valley
Dewy meadow, Riverdale
Dewy meadow, Riverdale
Morning! Sheep and birdsong, Riverdale (video, 11s)
Morning! Sheep and birdsong, Riverdale (video, 11s)

I spent the rest of the morning on the mower, and most of the early afternoon too. Splendidly satisfying. Stripes still need work….

Then Mission Shopping: this month’s tactical strike on Hereford Aldi, Sainsbury’s, Asda, then back via dad and Jean’s to drop off their essentials, and Lock’s Garage for eggs and – at last – bread flour!

Having managed to book a click & collect slot for 8pm-9pm… easily, it took most of the week for me to twig it was the VE Day Bank Holiday. That May Monday/VE 75th Anniversary Friday switcheroo caught me out. No complaints from me: Aldi, Sainsbury’s and Asda were as quiet as I’ve ever known them.


Our long awaited compost bin arrived on Wednesday, so we set that up on Saturday morning. Very satisfying!

We ARE The Good Life.

Compost pile meet compost bin
Compost pile meet compost bin

I spent most of the afternoon snoozing out on the lawn 🙂

I’m now putting the seedlings outside during the daytime but still keeping them in the conservatory overnight. This Guardian article was an interesting (and timely) read. Lots of fascinating science there.

Fingers crossed for lettuce and chillies, sunflowers and pumpkins, and marigolds.

Hardening off the seedlings
Hardening off the seedlings

Sunday was cold and very breezy. We turned on the fridge freezer, having moved all the tins / oats / nibbles etc into the kitchen cupboards. It’s been doubling up as our second larder and COVID-19 quarantine zone.

I planned to spend the rest of the day sorting through my photos from last November’s trip to Nepal and getting them up onto Flickr.

I’ve learned the hard way that the first step is always to prepare the data, polishing up my “Actual Itinerary” spreadsheet and getting the place names in English, and Nepali where possible, plus their altitude, to use for in descriptions and for tagging (I do love spreadsheets, remember). I then copy into a temporary tab where I add in some HTML columns, then copy and paste into my Photos & Notes blogpost as a basic draft.

You won’t see any new photos in my Flickr album yet though – my prep resulted in me falling headfirst in to the Open Street Map rabbit hole. The detail they have on their maps is extraordinary:


View Larger Map

So, as well as using the maps to finalise the place names (although I do have to rely more on Wikipedia and Google maps to get Nepali names)…

Nepal 2019 Trek Prep spreadsheet - Actual Itinerary tab (Screenshot)
Nepal 2019 Trek Prep spreadsheet – Actual Itinerary tab (Screenshot)

… I added a new tab into my trip spreadsheet to capture the longitude/latitude of (almost) all of the places we stopped at and many of those we passed through, and I’m going to have a go at creating a map in Excel following the instructions in this 4m video. I’ll use them to map my photos in Flickr too.

Nepal 2019 Trek Prep spreadsheet - Actual Itinerary - Map Data tab (Screenshot)
Nepal 2019 Trek Prep spreadsheet – Actual Itinerary – Map Data tab (Screenshot)

In the background, I had the BBC Radio 3 Sound Walk from Capel y Finn to Hay on Wye playing. Lovely, and  long – over 4 hours.


In the non-photo world:

COVID-19 and Sunday’s announcement on the first steps in lifting lockdown? I’m not convinced. I’m looking ahead week to week, and wondering how an office environment will function if we have to keep 2 m apart. The offices I work in, when I’m there, are on floors 7-24 of an office block. Given that people who work on the 1st floor usually take the lift to get there, rather than the stairs, how on earth the building managers will manage 2m spacing in the lifts while getting hundreds of people up to all 24 floors, I don’t know. Not that I’m planning to go into the office, and I suspect lots of others will feel the same. As for the bigger picture, the global economy, I’m not going there; I can’t influence it. I do wonder what the government will look like over the coming years. And then I shrug.

We “splashed out” on our first subscription telly service – to Now TV – and are watching Westworld. Sci Fi. VERY gory at times. The warnings make me laugh – bad language, sex but hardly ever mention the violence. Just because the violence is directed at extremely lifelike androids doesn’t make it feel any less violent to me, and it’s also extremely ironic given one of the main themes of the show – when do androids achieve consciousness? Or perhaps the US have a higher tolerance of violence? I suspect so.


Hmm, that’s a bit of a double glum tone to end on when all is well. It’s sunny and the breeze is gentle, so Phil and I are going to walk down to the Abbey. Here are the photos from week 19.