Herefordshire Week 052: Tuesday 22 – Monday 28 December 2020

Christmas week at Forty Acres.

Montage: Christmas Day at Forty Acres - Presents
Montage: Christmas Day at Forty Acres – Presents

MOT, Return to Tier 2 and Snowdrops.

And – eventually, on Christmas Eve – UK and EU agree Brexit trade deal.

Spent more time than I wanted to getting the car MOTed, which took out large chunks of Monday (21st) and Tuesday, plus a return for the retest on Wednesday. Next time we’ll go local.

At least on Tuesday Phil came with me and we walked along the Hereford Greenway from Rotherwas into the City centre. It was lovely discovering older parts of Hereford, particularly the Victorian Villas of Bartonsham and Castle Green. It felt like a different city!

Tuesday’s day out in Hereford was bookended by Birthday Zooms with Hazel and friends – coffee in the morning, wine and crisps in the evening.

We woke to fog on Wednesday, then rain. Lots of rain. Reorganised my office in the afternoon – partly to be closer to the radiator ūüôā

Work Desk & Play Desk
Work Desk & Play Desk

When I came to take some pics, I discovered to my dismay that my trusty 10 year old Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX9V had broken. When you turn it on, a vertical crack and green line appears on the display screen ūüôĀ ¬†I don’t know how that happened – it’s survived countless tumbles and hard use on all my treks since the Three High Passes to Everest, when I dropped it on the muddy stony trail from Trakshindo. I bought a replacement later in the week – Sony Cybershot HX90V, which is the most recent successor model that has GPS (not many cameras offer that these days), plus 4 new batteries.

And Wednesday also brought the announcement that we’re back into Tier 2 from 00.01am on Saturday 26 December aka Boxing Day. Thanks “BoJo” for the ongoing shit show.

While Phil and I had been out on Tuesday, dad and Jean had come to inspect the greenhouse, and for a stroll – during which they spotted the first snowdrops, down by the willow tree trunk and beyond the “rose garden”. Christmas Eve sunshine brought out lots more shoots from bulbs by the bird feeders.

First Snowdrops, Christmas Eve
First Snowdrops, Christmas Eve

I now have reading glasses. Sigh.

Christmas day at 40A started with coffee and croissants, then a lovely walk round via Cockyard, complete with icy stretches on the way to Kerrys Gate, then presents which turned out to contain lots of tasty treats. So we opted for cheese and biscuits for lunch, with our Festive Feast coming in a little after 6pm.

Christmas Dinner
Christmas Dinner

Our menu comprised: Felicity Cloake’s Perfect Nut Roast, roast potatoes, roast parsnips and carrots, sprouts, stuffing, pigs in blankets (40), and gravy.

There are plenty of leftovers and we didn’t have any room for Christmas pud, although we did manage some choc truffles. And cheese. Both quite a bit later in the evening.

In the week’s weather watch, Storm Bella on Saturday night managed to remove two of the big panes of glass from the greenhouse, thankfully leaving them unscathed. Not sure how we’ll get them back in – but if they came out with wind power, there has to be a way!

And on Monday mid-morning: SNOW!

My oldest friend died in the early hours of Sunday morning. She just made her 51st birthday and had been peacefully unconscious at home for the past week.

It was a beautiful sunny day so Phil and I went out for a walk up along Tremorithic Road in the morning and had a quiet afternoon. In the evening we raised a glass to family and friends and happy memories with Dad and Jean and Tom, Jo, Barney and Rosa.

Telly: We watched the final episode of¬†We Are Who We Are¬†which I didn’t find at all satisfying. I have enjoyed the Blood Orange series soundtrack though. Leaving Italy we returned to London and the world of Investment Banking in the City, which provided better viewing – Industry came with high production values drama plus a little bit escapist, even if they don’t seem entirely sure if Pierpoint & Co are based in The City or The Wharf. The offices to the east of Liverpool Street Station certainly seem a popular location though – they’ve featured in one of the recent Bond films too.

And because it’s Christmas week there were a few Christmas Specials – Ghosts: The Ghost of Christmas, Upstart Crow: Lockdown Christmas 1603, Worzel Gummidge: Saucy Nancy,¬†Victoria Wood: The Christmas List, Being Bridget Jones, plus The Personal History of David Copperfield.

Podcasts: The usual.

Photos: Herefordshire week 52 on Flickr.

Phil: Weeknotes for w/e 2020-12-27.

Herefordshire Week 051: Tuesday 15 – Monday 21 December 2020

A truncated edition of weeknotes for the penultimate week of our first year at Forty Acres.

The return of relentless rain hasn’t managed to stop us from starting to get into the Christmas spirit.

Feeling Festive at Forty Acres (Triptych)
Feeling Festive at Forty Acres (Triptych)

Thursday brought the surprising news that Herefordshire was moving into COVID Tier 1, despite our lack of coastline.

I got back to 40A on Friday evening, in time for Friday night pizza à la Phil. The drive was OK, just a lot of big puddles this side of the Severn which slowed me down a bit.

Very soggy underfoot when I went out for a stroll around “The Estate” on Saturday. The ditch by the train set is full of water and appears to be making a bid to join up with the big pond, plus we’ve a third pond up by the small pond (temporary I hope as it’s where the first snowdrops bloom). And we seem to be acquiring a moat!

Squelching around the grounds and across Thistly Field reminded me of last February’s floods.

Waterlogged (Triptych)
Waterlogged (Triptych)

While I was away, Phil had hauled up the brash from the lower slopes to “The Quarry”. Now all we need is some dry weather to lop and burn ….

Lots of Bonfiring still to do in the Quarry
Lots of Bonfiring still to do in the Quarry

We put up the Christmas decorations on Saturday evening, lit the log stove and Phil got his Christmas Selection playing from the Sonos, all of which made us both feel a lot more festive.

I did manage to spook myself overnight though. It turned out to be the flashing light was coming from the printer in my office – not aliens or burglars.

Podcasts: ¬†History Extra, The Night Driver (didn’t make it further than the start of ep2), The Memory Palace, ¬†Shedunnit, Books and Authors, and David Crowther’s educational and enjoyable¬†The History of England on the drive home.

Telly: 12 Puppies & Us (still lovely!) and We Are Who We Are .

Blogposts and Articles: Not my normal telly routine over the past couple of weeks and I’ve done more reading on my iPad instead, including:

I’m looking forward to the possibility of a big trek in Nepal next November, so there were some Kanchenjunga related posts including¬†Mark Horrell’s 2018 Kangchenjunga base camp trek (N&S) and Drohmo Ri ascent:

and¬†Derek’s October 2013 Kangjendzonga Base Camp Trek

But not to ignore telly completely, I’ve noted down lots of future TV viewing from The Guardian’s Christmas TV guide 2020: the festive shows you can’t miss.

Photos: Herefordshire week 51 on Flickr.

Phil: Weeknotes for w/e 2020-12-20.

Herefordshire Week 050: Tuesday 08 – Monday 14 December 2020

All is well with me and mine but no weeknotes this week.

That said:

  • These past few weeks have made me truly appreciate that I work for a great firm.
  • It seems a lot of people I know are moving house.
  • During this week’s Bxxxxx Negotiations I have to say I’ve been Team Ursula.
  • We have a fab Christmas Wreath, hand crafted by Phil.
Wreath (Photo by Phil Gyford)

Photos: Herefordshire week 50 on Flickr.

Phil: Weeknotes for w/e 2020-12-13


Herefordshire Week 049: Tuesday 01 – Monday 07 December 2020

December. Almost a year.

A good start to the final month of 2020. A glorious sunny Tuesday morning so I ignore my To Do List and headed out for a walk along the lanes, doing “Tremorithic backwards” aka Abbey Dore – Cwm Hill – Tremorithic Road – Bacton – Kerrys Gate.

Morning walk: Tremorithic Road

I did slightly regret that I hadn’t driven over to Longtown to do the Cat’s Back though….

Good week at work. Got a lot of small projects wrapped up or to the stage where they’re with someone else to do something, which at this time of year often drifts by mutual consent, into January.

Friday forecast had featured snow, but all we saw were a few light flurries in the afternoon, and the morning was lovely.

Friday morning also featured half an hour or so in the company of a stray collie that wandered past the kitchen window …. Phil had met his owners while he was out on a run and they were scouring the lanes looking for Sparky. Turns out they all live at the farm down the road, and that Sparky is an old fella – which explains why he was easy to catch and corral and seemed quite happy pottering around the lounge and kitchen giving everything the once over, and going nose-to-nose with his reflection in the mirror in the hall.


A nice way to meet some more of our neighbours.

After all that excitement Phil and I made a tactical trip into Hereford for library click & collect and then out to Rotherwas to the new Donation Station that St Michael’s Hospice have set up there. Perfect location, once you’ve navigated through the service roads of the Tom Head section of the Industrial Estate. There’s a lot more there than you see from the main Holme Lacy Road.

Then back into Hereford via Asda for a quick supermarket shop and General Dogsbody to restock on the bird feeder peanuts. The woodpecker wolfs them down. Then into town proper for an eye test (me), leather walking boot acquisition (Phil) and Christmas present pick ups. Leather walking boots are on my list too as the fields around here get muddy and wet in the winter and the grass can be long and wet all year round, so leather boots seem like a good option for dry feet for longer walks where wellies won’t quite do.

Back home via Dinedor and Lock’s Garage. Friday night pizza in the company of the log stove.

Saturday morning we mulled over the possibility of getting a Border Collie puppy from one of the farms in Abbey Dore – picking up on something the folks we’d met yesterday had mentioned. Tricky….. And eventually decided against it. Not the right time and probably not the right dog.

Did the Bacton Square and called in at Yew Tree for tea and the first mince pie of the festive season. Late lunch of leftover pizza and a lazy afternoon by the log stove.

Sunday saw the purchase of two “new” front tyres for the car and learned that they’d worn so much because the tracking is out. Not great timing.

Telly: The Good Lord Bird (still only rates an OK) and¬†We Are Who We Are – we’re seeing a lot of Italy on the small screen this year.

Podcasts: probably History Extra and Shedunnit.

Photos: Herefordshire week 49 on Flickr.

Phil: Weeknotes for w/e 2020-12-06

There won’t be the usual weeknotes for the next couple of weeks.

Herefordshire Week 048: Tuesday 24 ‚Äď Monday 30 November 2020

Frost. Fog. Stollen. Greenhouse construction parts 6 & 7 – now with added glass.

I clocked up some TOIL time at work this week, working Tuesday and Friday mornings. Had my appraisal on Thursday. “Glowing”.

A chilly night Wednesday gave way to a cold and frosty Thursday morning, with a streaky sunrise over Garway. Gorgeous, so we went for a pre-work stroll over to Thistly Field and back for photos.

Frosty Morning, Phil on Thistly Field
Frosty Morning, Phil on Thistly Field

The fog rose up from the valleys and over our ridge overnight, settling in for what turned out to be a few days. And Friday was cold too, so I broke out the fatballs for the birds.

Fatball Friday Five!
Fatball Friday Five!

Phil and I headed back to Thistly Field for a walk after lunch – and more photos – doing the loop back via Wellfield. The dad we’d met out on Tremorithic Road last Sunday drove by and stopped for a chat. Lovely.

Foggy Friday, Thistly Field
Foggy Friday, Thistly Field

Following the fatball logic, Phil and I broke open the Mini Stollen at teatime.

Saturday was fog bound from the start, and I felt ropey with a tension headache that lasted most of the day. (No, I don’t think it was penance for Starting the Stollen before the Festive Season officially starts.)

Still, that didn’t stop me making three and a half jars of grapefruit marmalade in the afternoon. That made up for a slightly frustrating morning trying to turn my Forty Acres 2020 blogposts into a Blurb Book.

Leaving the marmalade setting in the conservatory, I finished off Lost Acre sat in front of the log stove, and discovered that getting cold fingers and feet during the morning meant a return of my chilblains.

Sunday morning and lunchtime were spent working on the greenhouse construction, getting almost all the glass in, which was very satisfying.

Greenhouse construction, part 6
Greenhouse construction, part 6

Over a late lunch, we’d also spotted two Long Tailed Tits visiting the bird feeders. Magic! Then, in what was left of the afternoon, I did the Cockyard walk enveloped in fog. Enjoyable all the same. And I pulled the barbed wire out of the hedge / style into Thistly Field.

Tasty Hot Pot for tea, with more of The Good Lord Bird (not gripped).

Monday, the fog had finally – FINALLY – disappeared.

More greenhouse in the morning. Got all the glazing done plus we discovered a box with all the drainpipe kit in. A water butt is planned… Still got to build the “staging” (or shelving, I’d call it) that goes inside.

Greenhouse construction, part 7
Greenhouse construction, part 7

Afternoon: Bacton backwards, then bramble snipping, barbed wire winding and some hauling of big branches of brash to the bonfire.

Evening: Caught up with Hazel and Helen over Zoom. It was St Andrews Day after all.

In COVID news, we’re in Tier 2 from Wednesday/Thursday (confusion reigns as to when, precisely). I’d be more aggrieved, except that there are only 3 places in Tier 1‚Ķ and two of those are Islands.

Telly: DNA (a great final episode), Intelligence (for light relief), Educating Greater Manchester(the big reveal), 12 Puppies & Us (who knew there were so many different types of Spaniels?), Saving Britain’s Pubs with Tom Kerridge (we both now REALLY want a pint) and The Good Lord Bird (still not gripped).

Podcasts: more History Extra episodes plus some Shedunnits.

Photos: Herefordshire week 48 on Flickr.

Phil: Weeknotes for w/e 2020-11-29.