Herefordshire Week 072: Tuesday 11 – Monday 17 May 2021

Goldfinches on dandelion puffs. Blossom like confetti. A double rainbow.

FitBit and stats. Front gates repainted. Second jab booked.

Double Rainbow, with Birdsong (Video, 20s)
Double Rainbow, with Birdsong (Video, 20s)

I don’t know what “light rainshowers” look like in your part of the world, but they were more like monsoon downpours interspersed with blue skies and sunshine here for most of the working week. Things started to brighten up on Saturday, continued to improve during Sunday and Monday was A Scorcher.

Very glad we decided to delay our drive to Bristol IKEA until Friday, in the hope that the things we want to get are in stock.

Had my final physio phone consultation on Tuesday morning. Need to keep working on those glutes and to take more breaks when I’m working – turns out my gammy leg / dodgy hip was all down to Dead Butt Syndrome (and yes, that’s safe to Google!)

No VWW due to other commitments all round, mine being Go Live. Which was not a success. Still, while waiting to log on at 10.30pm for the start of our US time zone friendly upgrade/server switch schedule, I did get a text telling me I could book my second jab, which I duly did.

After a very late night on Weds/Thurs – we called off go live at 1.30am – I had an early Family Zoom on Thursday after an unexpectedly good day at work.

Surprisingly relaxed Friday after the stress of the failed and frustrating Go Live experience. Getting our first goldfinches out on the drive was an excellent start to the day.

Our first goldfinches
Our first goldfinches

Drove into Hereford with Phil in the morning, me to pick up reservations from the library and Phil to buy new walking shoes at Trekkit, and we topped up the car with petrol and filled up the big petrol can in anticipation on an afternoon’s mowing.

With all the rain, the grass has gone into overdrive but the ground is sodden – so it was a lick and a promise level mow – focusing on the “western lawns” and the orchard. Job done, I headed out to walk Duffryn Direct.

Everywhere is so, so green and lush. It’s gorgeous. The clematis over the log shed is in full bloom – beautiful – and we have buttercups galore on the front lawn alongside daisies and the early purple orchids. Blossom like confetti in the orchard and out in the lanes, green hedges are lined with white flowered verges – may blossom, cow parsley, dandelion puffs, greater stitchwort (oh for a less clunky name!).

Log shed clematis in bloom
Log shed clematis in bloom

Caught up with Carl in the evening. We’re interring Rach’s ashes at the start of June. It’s surprising the things that trigger thoughts of her – recently it’s been mugs of tea.

On Saturday I did Cockyard backwards, ie coming home via Kerrys Gate. Drizzle and damp to start with, the sun was out by the time I got home stopping to say hello to the sheep and lambs installed in Canns Hill field. Down in Grey Valley, chatty birds were balancing atop rape flowers – about the size of a great tit with a black head, white collar and rust red breast, their call is a whistle and gravelly clunk like two stones being tapped together. I thought they were stone chats, but the song doesn’t match.

View towards Vowchurch
View towards Vowchurch

Stunning double rainbow in the early evening.

Sunday I was up early (had a good run of getting ups this week) to walk to Riverdale and back, and after breakfast we headed out again to do Tremorithic on the roads.

Spent most of the afternoon reading – finished Shamen’s Crossing and started one of my library haul, the next Barbara Nadel – A Knife to the Heart – Ikmen’s retired, and Fatma’s died.

Monday was a very productive day. After completing the Bacton Square first thing, I planted out the Albert Schweitzer Rhododendron that D&G bought me on Monday, and then Phil and I got stuck into “dry weather jobs” – P laid bricks to create a solid area for the bins, and I did a bit of Honda mowing tidying up the places the ride on mower doesn’t reach and attempted a few overgrown areas that would have been better handled with the blue strimmer but we couldn’t get that to start.

Then I repainted the front gates, which meant washing all the green off them first. Very satisfying.

Front gates repainted
Front gates repainted

I did manage to lock myself in the garage mind you.

With plenty of walking, it’s been interesting seeing the stats on my new FitBit as I familiarise myself with it ahead of next month’s LW Spring Challenge. First though, the FitBit needed to upgrade to the latest software… it only took 3 days, finally completing on Friday by which time I’d practically given up on it. Technically it’s my ancient tech that’s to blame – neither my phone or iPad have a recent enough OS, so I’ve resorted to the old Huawei tablet of dad’s that I use for LED Facebook updates. Even synching to get the data in takes a good few minutes, during which I need to keep the page alive. Oh well.

I do like seeing the stats though, although my Tuesday-Thursday pattern is very different from my Friday-Monday one!

First week's FitBit stats on WalkingSpree
First week’s FitBit stats on WalkingSpree

TV: Finished season 1 of Call My Agent and season 3 of Better Call Saul and thoroughly enjoyed all three episodes of The Pursuit of Love. Started Mystery Road.

Podcasts: History Extra, In Our Time, The Essay, World Book Club, Books and Authors, You Must Remember This and SheDunnit. Running out of podcasts….

Photos: Herefordshire week 72 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2021-05-16.

Off to get that jab! Don’t forget your vaccination record card!

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).

Where next: Lake District

Trip No. 2 of 2021: Lake District

Destination: Lake District

When: June 2021

What: A week’s guided walking with Val and Steffi, based in Grasmere to start with and then Keswick outskirts

How: Driving there and back, probably taking the scenic A49 up through the Welsh Marches before joining the M6

Why: For fresh air and friends, and some English hills

June 2021: Trying to book train tickets up to the Lakes failed at the mandatory seat reservation stage, and I wasn’t keen on driving the now rattling/creaking car there, around and back in the first place. After a lot of soul searching, to-ing and fro-ing and telephone calls (with my phone finally running out of credit midway through), I decided not to go. I’ve realised I need a bit of time off here to get on top of things and to have a bit of a break.

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.