Herefordshire Week 187: Tuesday 25 – Monday 31 July 2023

Wivenhoe, Walton on the Naze, Brightlingsea.

Walton on the Naze - me and Phil on the pier
Walton on the Naze – me and Phil on the pier

On Tuesday it was off to Walton for the day. Rendezvoused at the station with Phil and Sue and we strolled into town taking in the new shops (a bookshop / coffee shop / project space in the old Indian restaurant!) and expanded businesses (The Good Taste cafe – my favourite – now extends round the corner into the former ladies fashion / dress shop). I don’t know if it’s because we’ve been away for a while, but Walton feels like a more thriving small town than it used to.

The pier revamp has resulted in the arcade machines taking over almost the whole of the inside space. There are a few (new) takeaways by the entrance and some of the old funfair rides have been set up towards the back and outside – not a bad set of changes really. The most surprising change is the inside climbing walls which were proving very popular.

Walton on the Naze - new "Walton Pier" carpet. Very Instagrammable
Walton on the Naze – new “Walton Pier” carpet. Very Instagrammable

We strolled all the way to the new end of the pier – the RNLI life boat dock and beyond is fenced off due to the condition of the pier.

Lovely views along the Sunshine Coast albeit with a few gunmetal grey clouds.

Walton on the Naze - from the pier
Walton on the Naze – from the pier

A short drive to the Naze for lunch at the Naze Tower which was when the heavy rain arrived. We sheltered first in the smart wooden gazebo then dashed over to the Tower and had a cup of tea sat at one of the first floor tables in the gallery space.

Once the skies cleared we walked on to the hut – finding everything in good condition.

Walton on the Naze - Back at the Beach Hut
Walton on the Naze – Back at the Beach Hut

Chairs outside for a spot of reading and a swim for Sue. Hardly anyone else about – and it’s school holidays.

5.30pm we said our farewells and set off on the drive to STN to drop off Sue, returning via Witham to drop off Phil then Wivenhoe for me.

Wednesday was a gorgeous sunny day. Ate a leisurely breakfast out by the river reading the LRB. Picked up Phil and Janet from the station and drove us all on to Brightlingsea for a dip in the Lido then on to the Beth Chatto Gardens for tea and cake.

Sempervivum grid, Beth Chatto Gardens
Sempervivum grid, Beth Chatto Gardens

After accompanying Janet back home, Phil returned to Wiv.

Thursday started cool, a good day for reading, then a stroll around Wivenhoe as the day brightened up followed by a spell sat by the river.

A bit of time on email looking into accommodation options for the Beacons Way days 3, 4 and 5.

Friday was meant to be The Sunny Day. Sadly not, but another good day for reading and a stroll – this time along the estuary to Arlesford Creek.

Wivenhoe Waterside Walk
Wivenhoe Waterside Walk

Successfully booked accommodation for both nights of the next stage of the Beacons Way.

And worked out how to get the code to embed Flickr photos into weeknotes on my iPad, which meant I was able to finalise and publish last week’s.

Saffron Indian takeaway for dinner,  because here we can.

What a treat .....
What a treat …..

Saturday featured reading inside and outside, a stroll up to the bookshop and the Coop and back via the Deli, and leftover curry.

Sunday saw more reading, a stroll along the riverside towards Colchester and back, then Sunday lunch at The Black Buoy.

Sunday Lunch at The Black Buoy, Wivenhoe
Sunday Lunch at The Black Buoy, Wivenhoe

Back at base, as the rain sort of set in, I indulged in an afternoon vegging in from of the telly finishing The Light in the Hall, and then watching, loving, the Wham! documentary on Netflix. Sniff. I still can’t quite believe George Michael is dead. And that Wham! were only around for 4 years. So many singable songs, the soundtrack of my teens.

Monday was wet, a good day for driving home. Another good journey with a top up shop at Ross on Wye en route and tea and a Wivenhoe Norwegian Bakery sticky bun back home. Greenhouse looking good – thanks dad and Jean. First apples nearly ready for picking. Ponds full.

Admin, then dinner and telly.

TV: Halt and Catch Fire (finished season 1, started season 2), The Light In The Hall, Wham!

Podcasts: The Forum, The History of England.

Photos: Herefordshire week 187 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2023-07-31.

Herefordshire Week 186: Tuesday 18 – Monday 24 July 2023

Beacons Way Days 1 & 2. Gardening. Off to Essex. Day trip to London.

Me, Sara and Sonia at the Crug Mawr Trig Point
Me, Sara and Sonia at the Crug Mawr Trig Point

More Rain.

Rain returned Tuesday. A good day for admin, and then into Hereford for more admin-y type things. LED call in the evening, followed by my first post-retirement KMCA catch up.

On Wednesday and Thursday I walked the first two days of The Beacons Way with Sonia and Sara. Read the write up in my blogpost. Thankfully we had two days of good weather – and could see the downpours deluging everywhere else!

Beacons Way Day 1: Abergavenny to Llanthony, 22km / 13.5 miles, 850m / 2790ft ascent, via Skirrid / Ysgyryd Fawr (486m) and Hatterrall Hill (531m).

Strava Map & Graph: Beacons Way Day 1: Abergavenny to Llanthony
Strava Map & Graph: Beacons Way Day 1: Abergavenny to Llanthony

Beacons Way Day 2: Llanthony to Crickhowell, 19km / 12 miles, 890m / 2920ft ascent, via Bal Bach (520m), Crug Mawr (550m) and Crug Hywel / Table Mountain (451m).

Strava Map & Graph: Beacons Way Day 2: Llanthony to Crickhowell
Strava Map & Graph: Beacons Way Day 2: Llanthony to Crickhowell

Phil and I made the most of the third (and final) day of dry weather on Friday to do some garden jobs. Phil scythed (and encountered many toads large and small) and I:

  • Pulled up plum growth below the pond
  • Transplanted 4 baby yews I found near the quarry into pots
  • Cleared the fenced edge of the large pond of bindweed, dead cow parsley, ground elder, giant nettles etc etc etc
  • Cleared the ground elder under the yew tree by the hedgehog house
  • Swept the tree house deck (lots of yew leaves and seeds)
  • Pruned the coffin gooseberry and planted larger cuttings in pots
  • Picked peas (6 pods) and dwarf beans (4) and 2 strawberries and 4 sweet peas
  • Planted out the last of the leeks into long plastic planter. Rough and ready but better than the shallow tray there were in…

I also took some photos of the large fungi at far end of lawn – never seen those before.

Big fungi....
Big fungi….
Big fungi.... with kitchen scissors for scale
Big fungi…. with kitchen scissors for scale

Before dinner I spent an hour working out route options for day 3 & 4 of the Beacons Way. Most of the time was spent on trying to work out bus routes….

Rain returned with a vengeance on Saturday.

Good weather for another hour looking at days 3, 4 & 5 of the Beacons Way. Again, most of the time was spent on trying to work out bus routes…. until I found Transport for Wales’ super handy TrawsCymru Bus journey planner. I’d wasted a lot of time on Stagecoach’s website which only shows their services (which took me a while to realise).

Flickred my Beacons Way photos (and some older ones), prepped these weeknotes and wrote my blogpost covering Days 1 & 2 of the Beacons Way.

Then down the lane for early tea – F&C with TJL.

Up early on Sunday for the drive to Essex.

As we were eating our early breakfast, we were treated to a pair of hares in Kiln field…..

A Pair of Hares
A Pair of Hares

… and a green woodpecker adult showing its young where to find the best bugs on our verge and drive.

Green woodpeckers - adult and juvenile
Green woodpeckers – adult and juvenile

I went dad’s return route this time (M50 M5 M42 M6 A14 M11 A120 A12) and it was a million times less stressful than the M25, and faster / easier driving than our cross country route via Milton Keynes.

We got to Witham around 1.30pm and had a couple of hours there before I left Phil with his folks and continued on to Wivenhoe, which proved to be a more painful drive thanks to roadworks on the A12. And meeting a bus on Wivenhoe’s narrow, car-lined High Street.

Tom and Jo supplied an ice lolly on arrival which improved things no end.

By 7pm I was sitting out by the river with a glass of wine.

Wivenhoe Wine Time
Wivenhoe Wine Time

Not bad.

Monday, train into London for the Persia exhibition at the British Museum (excellent) and a tour of the outdoor shops in search of a new pair of trekking boots (in vain).

Luxury and Power: Persia to Greece
Luxury and Power: Persia to Greece

TV: Halt and Catch Fire, The Light In The Hall.

Podcasts: The Forum.

Photos: Herefordshire week 186 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2023-07-23.

Herefordshire Week 081: Tuesday 13 – Monday 19 July 2021

Holidays continued.


River Colne Estuary Walk, Wivenhoe to Alresford Creek
River Colne Estuary Walk, Wivenhoe to Alresford Creek

Tuesday turned out to be sunnier than forecast, so we had a lazy day at Riverside reading and snoozing. Getting through a lot of LRBs ahead of visiting Witham on Thursday when read LRBs will be exchanged for read NYRBs.

Riverside, Wivenhoe
Riverside, Wivenhoe

An afternoon stroll around Wivenhoe with S, who spotted a muntjac deer on the meadowlands near Anglesea Road railway line.

The Wednesday plan had been to drive to the hut to make the most of the sunny day, except it wasn’t so we didn’t. More reading instead. Early evening, we strolled along the river out beyond the flood barrier, then back for a pint and an al fresco dinner out at The Black Buoy. Back for a bit of lazy telly – introduced S to the delights of Derry Girls.

Started Thursday with breakfast coffee with an LRB on the waterfront, then did Phil and I did first COVID-19 rapid lateral flow tests. Tricky getting to those tonsils….

First one
First one

Why? Because we then drove to Witham to spend the day with Phil’s folks where they treated us to a lovely take away lunch courtesy of the Tea Rooms, which we tucked into, plates on laps, in the front garden. Smashing. Top up shop at Morrisons then back to WIV leaving S to spend a few days at home. Back at base we resumed watching Godless. Liking the idea of a projector telly at 40A…..

Frinton Friday! We took the train to Frinton for morning coffee from the always excellent Bird & Bean (home of the famous Bacon Donut)….

Second breakfast
Second breakfast

… and a mooch around the shops – books from the Hospice Bookshop for Phil and half price charity shop champagne flutes for me (and in anticipation of Hazel and Catherine’s weekend visit – such demanding guests!).

A leisurely stroll along the Greensward to the hut and a late lunch up at the Naze Tower Cafe. Hardly a soul around at Hipkins Beach – but the cafe was doing good business. A super sunny day in the Sunshine Coast. We didn’t want to leave.

Happiness is Hipkins Beach on a super sunny Friday
Happiness is Hipkins Beach on a super sunny Friday

But Indian Takeaway and a gorgeous evening awaited us in Wivenhoe….

Riverside, Wivenhoe - River Colne at dusk
River Colne at dusk

Saturday and Sunday saw belated birthday celebrations with Hazel & Catherine. A sort of “Wine Weekend”. So hot!!! And so good to see them both in person again.

Birthday champagne celebrations
Birthday celebrations

A fab couple of days featuring pints at The Rose and Crown, crosswords, rigging up some shade for with a bit of washing line and a towel, champagne and pizza, a stroll along the estuary waterfront to Alresford Creek and back and slap up Sunday Roasts all round at The Black Buoy.

Sunday lunch at The Black Buoy, Wivenhoe
Sunday lunch at The Black Buoy, Wivenhoe

After a bit of toing and froing P and I decided to drive home on Monday. It was an easy drive – although the Nissan’s aircon only does hot, so we had the windows down – and we stopped at Ampthill Great Park for a cuppa, Rollright Stones near Chipping Norton for lunch and Ross for a speedy supermarket shop. Very pleased to see so many people still wearing masks, using hand sanitiser and social distancing, in spite of Monday being the fatuous and foolhardy “Freedom Day”.

Found 40A looking top notch. Watered the tomatoes, lettuces, broad beans and peas and the blackcurrant – stripped of fruit, and sadly not by TJBR, and hoovered up this year’s influx of ants in the lounge. We had had some flying ants the day before we left and I thought the ant powder would kill any later ones off too…. not so.

Finished off Godless before bed.

Still hot. Looking forward to a week’s holiday at home.

TV: Godless and Derry Girls.

Podcasts:  History Extra and Books & Authors.

Photos: Herefordshire week 81 on Flickr.

Phil: f/e 2021-07-19.

Christmas Week in Walton on the Naze

Home after our seven day sojourn by the sea, the highlight of which was a beautiful “blue skies and sunshine” 25th of December – what The Sunshine Coast does best, although not always at this time of year.

Happy Christmas from Walton on the Naze
Happy Christmas from Walton on the Naze

The week sped by, mainly because it was broken up into a series of “events”.

Settling in and Shopping

We arrived on Friday, early evening, only to find that The Tollgate fish and chip shop was closed for Christmas! So it was Plan B: Yates’s for F&C with mushy peas a la Aldi back at the flat. But first, a quick visit upstairs to wish Margaret and Richard Season’s Greetings and an early Happy Birthday for Richard.

Happy Christmas from Walton on the Naze
Happy Christmas from Walton on the Naze

Saturday started with our Christmas Food Shop at M&S and Aldi – 99% successful (and surprisingly easy – neither were as busy as I’d feared) with only the M&S Festive Vegan Roast unaccounted for. A tactical strike back at M&S on Sunday sorted that out and revealed that Sunday morning was Prime Christmas Food Shop time.

To Frinton for coffees at the Bird & Bean accompanied by a bacon donut for Phil (verdict: try it!) and the usual mooch along the shops of Connaught Avenue. Back to the flat for a late lunch and a leisurely afternoon. Sunday was similarly leisurely, after the Festive Roast foray. We ventured out early evening for a pint at The Victory, with beer spillage.

Gyford Guests

Monday was early Christmas Dinner with Janet, John and Sue – very successful roast ham, mashed potatoes, roast parsnips and carrots plus stuffing and pigs in blankets followed by Christmas Pud. The less successful aspect from our perspective was the lack of leftovers!!!

Sue stayed on to Christmas Eve, which started sunny and saw Sue go for a swim in our southern stretch of the North Sea. Very impressive. We celebrated with a late lunch in Frinton – back at the Bird & Bean, naturally – followed by more mooching then homes (various).

Christmas Day

Christmas Day provided a smashing sunrise, two strolls along the beach, beautiful blue skies and the option of a 10am swim from The Last Fisherman Cafe. We participated, as spectators. Phil had cooked on Monday, so I was doing Wednesday and spent a relaxed couple of hours preparing our Christmas Day dinner, assisted by a glass of white wine and some nibbles.

Christmas Morning by the Beach Huts, Hipkins Beach
Christmas Morning by the Beach Huts, Hipkins Beach

Our plates of M&S Vegan Festive Christmas Roast with gravy, roast potatoes, roast parsnips and carrots, Brussels sprouts, green beans, broccoli, stuffing (and a pair of pigs in blankets for Phil) didn’t last long. No room for any afters, although after a walk along the prom and back via Southcliffe we did manage a cup of tea and some small cakes… Just tidying up!

Kings Reach Christmas Dinner
Kings Reach Christmas Dinner


Boxing Day was wet and windy. A day to stay inside, and to finish Kingmaker: Winter Pilgrims – and to wish I’d checked that I’d not read the other three novels I’d picked up at Barbican Library before bringing them to Walton. Read a few chapters of The Beckoning Silence, but not gripped. That evening we finished watching The Knick. Glad it got less graphically gory as the series wore on.

Today was overcast and mild. No great incentive to head outside, but we did manage a trip to the glass recycling bins, and on to the Yacht Club where we saw how the glass recycling bins get emptied. Thankful for Phil’s backlog of LRBs either side of lunch, during which we almost finished off all the leftovers…. There’s a tub left for tea once we get in. Plus plenty of cheese.


Five days to pack the ever expanding list of things we are taking with us to Herefordshire. That’s come around fast!

Christmas week in Walton on the Naze

We’re back from a lovely warm Christmas week in Walton.

We travelled down on Friday, got the heating on and put up the Christmas cards.

A Gyford Gathering was arranged for Saturday – we rendezvoused with Sue, Janet and John at Frinton train station followed by a mooch around the charity bookshops and a late lunch at The Hat & The Mouse. More mooching before Janet and John caught the train home and Sue, Phil and I walked back via Pole Barn Lane and the fully renovated Round House.

Sunday provided bright blue skies to lure us out for a stroll up along the front to Hipkins Beach and on around the Naze. Lots of energetic waves splashing along the waterfront. Hardly a soul in sight. Not so at Aldi and M&S Food Hall, which were the day’s other main destinations! Christmas food shopping accomplished with (relative) ease thanks to Aldi’s speedy checkout and M&S self service one. Sue still in shock at The Shops.

Splashing waves, Hipkins Beach
Splashing waves, Hipkins Beach

Monday was Christmas Eve, so a quiet day for us, Sue heading “home” after lunch.

Christmas Day dawned crisp and clear a little after 8am, which allowed for a couple of speedy trips to the seafront (and a clamber over the wooden flood barriers) for photos followed by breakfast and presents.

Christmas morning, Walton on the Naze
Christmas morning

It was too nice a morning to stay in, so Phil and I walked along the front and on the beach towards Frinton. Lots of other folk were out and about enjoying the morning too, most of them with dogs.

Christmas dinner for two was cooked without any trauma, accompanied by a glass of sauvignon blanc, some of Jo’s Nibbles and Phil’s Christmas Playlist.

Christmas dinner, Walton on the Naze
Christmas dinner

We had to have a breather between mains and pud – and even then we could only manage a mince pie each. The Christmas Pud will have to wait its turn. Much later on we squeezed in cheese and biscuits. And port.

The rest of the week flew by, and we were tempted to stay longer. Weatherwise it was warmer and cloudier, so less incentive to venture out although we did manage a muddy walk along the flood defences to Hipkins Beach and back on Boxing Day. Reading was the main replacement activity and I finally finished Lonesome Dove and polished off the two library books I took – Y is for Yesterday and A Sweet Obscurity – and still had time to catch up on articles I’d saved to Pocket plus a podcast or two.

Christmas Reading Completions
Christmas Reading Completions

Thursday was the exception with another Frinton train station rendezvous, this time with Tom and Jo. Coffee at Harry’s (nowhere else was open!) and a mooch around Great Danes was followed by a stroll along the prom back to Walton where we paused in The Victory for a pint and some crisps before a last of the leftovers lunch back at the flat.

Train home yesterday, with rail replacement from Ingatestone to Newbury Park. One day GreaterAnglia will finish the engineering works. One day…..