Herefordshire Week 226: Tuesday 23 – Monday 29 April 2024

Skomer stay! Puffins! And Everest Trek Get Together No. 20!

(You’ll have to wait for Puffin Pics – need to get them off my camera) Updated: now with added puffins

Serious puffins, Skomer
Serious puffins, Skomer

A drizzly morning on Tuesday, just right for sitting at my computer doing weeknotes, photos and various bits of admin. The weather perked up in the afternoon, but I was lost to Nepal 2023 trek wrap up – printing out our final itinerary and doing the insert for my diary and the map, and highlighting the route on my copy of the Himalayan Map House map for Makalu and Kanchanjanga, purchased in KTM.

Nepal 2023: Kanchenjunga & Lumba Sumba trek - Map showing our route
Nepal 2023: Kanchenjunga & Lumba Sumba trek – Map showing our route

Zoom with the KMCA ladies, and FaceTime with Phil in Witham. Then packed for Pembs!

Busy morning on Wednesday – up early to plant out seedlings and pack the Panda before driving the Zoe to the gym for aerobics and callisthenics then speedily home for a shower and final Panda packing before setting off for Carmarthen to collect H…. only to realise I’d left the keys in the porch door. Thankfully realisation arrived as I was driving through EH, so I was able to return home and retrieve them. It did mean I was half a hour late picking up Hazel though.

Tasty cake and a couple of mugs of tea at S&Ms then on to Newgale via M&S for wine bags – so practical.

G&T on the deck in the lovely evening sunshine then inside for traditional Everest Trek Get Together curries.

Drinks on the Deck
Drinks on the Deck

Up early on Thursday to get to Martin’s Haven for our 9am crossing to Skomer and the start of our two day stay. Fifteen of us in total, a mix of birders and tourists – we were definitely the latter, in spite of our basic bird knowledge.

Fresh off the boat, Skomer farm courtyard
Fresh off the boat, Skomer farm courtyard

After a brief briefing from the Visitor Officer we settled into our Manx Shearwater room for five and unloaded our food (and drink) into our designated cupboard and the fridge, then headed out for a stroll around the island. Sunshine and clouds, and a biting cold northerly wind.

A pair of razorbills, Skomer
A pair of razorbills, Skomer

Seals at Garland Stone, puffins, razorbills, fulmars and other gulls in the inlets, rabbits (and dead bird remains), bluebells and red campion lining the paths. We sheltered from the wind in the bird hide and spotted mallard ducks, Canada geese as well as the ubiquitous gulls (various varieties) and heard some pheasant squwarks. No short eared owls. Later on a lone buzzard spiralled on a rare thermal.

Rabbit, Skomer
Rabbit, Skomer

Very nice to be able to return to the farm / hostel for tea and cake, a late lunch, and finally chips n dips followed by chilli for dinner. I got the log stove going, warmed up the lounge / dining room nicely.

Decided against going out to watch / hear the Manx Shearwater crash land under the cover of darkness. Felt all a bit too The Birds for my comfort.

Weather was much worse on Friday – wet, albeit a bit warmer. Incentivised by Bird & Bug Bingo we donned waterproofs and photographed slugs, tadpoles, LBBs, coots, oystercatchers, etc etc etc. More time indoors, sheltering from the worst of the rain, the day visitors looking longingly in through the windows…. Bird Log at 8pm in the dining room / lounge revealed our amateur status – although G’s mating curlews and D’s Skomer vole sighting gained us some kudos.

Puffins in the rain, Skomer
Puffins in the rain, Skomer

Up early on Saturday to pack up for the 8.15am “out of the hostel” deadline, cloudy and raining again. Just enough time to walk to The Wick (NO PUFFINS!) and round to the Boat Landing. Repeated the “chain transfer” technique to get our bags down to the jetty, and helped the new arrivals get their much, much heavier bags up one length of “chain”. Then back to Martin’s Haven.

We relocated the car to Marloes Beach NT car park and decided to try our luck at the Runwayskiln in the hope of a morning coffee….. and delightedly discovered that they’re open from 9am! RESULT. Coffee turned into Coffee and Carrot Cake, which set us up for a stroll back towards Martin’s Haven via the Lagoons and their bird hide…. An Endurance Hike Event meant the coast path was busy with runners, but handily the headland is open and roomy. Back to Runwayskillin along the road, then a really, really lovely lunch.

Lunch, Runwayskiln
Lunch, Runwayskiln

Back at the van, showered and relaxed, celebrating a successful Skomer Stay with Prosecco and crisps as soon as the sun went over the yard arm.

Time for a stroll on the pebbles and a thin strip of beach on Sunday morning then back to Steffi’s (via Lidl) for the mandatory and much loved Maurice’s Marvellous Sunday Lunch.

Easy drive home with sunshine and showers. Having refilled the peanuts in the bird feeder (top priority), I got the log stove going (and kept it going since) – the house had got cold while I was away; with Phil staying in WTM I’d turned off the central heating.

Caught up with various things on Monday morning – including checking in on my Oakchurch courgette plants and Jean’s seedlings (all doing well) and bringing in the house plants (some doing not so well after the overnight low temperatures, AND the fungus gnats are still around) – then over to dad and Jean’s to help with some DIY in the lovely new garden room. Bought a whole kilo of mealworms from Gen Dogsbody – need to help those breeding birds as much as we can with through this rain and cold weather.

Dug up some of my leeks for leek, garlic, butterbean & crème fraiche dinner. A success!


More orchids out on the front lawn and leaves are out on all the trees. The waterfall clematis is covered in flowers and the cherry trees in EH at covered in blossom, our various apples trees too.


TV: The Gone (season 1).

Podcasts: The Rest is Entertainment, AmericastEmpire, Americast, When It Hits the Fan.


Photos: Herefordshire week 226 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2024-04-28.

Herefordshire Week 198: Tuesday 10 – Monday 16 October 2023

Pembrokeshire for the Everest Trek Get Together No. 19.

Marloes Circular: The Gang
Marloes Circular: The Gang

My first full week back home = still catching up.


Tuesday comprised catching up on admin and weeknotes 196 and 197, walking to and from Ewyas Harold for my first in person Physio appointment at the surgery (VG. Assessment = Hip pain, right glute med tendinopathy + some ITB / Iliotibial Band Syndrome symptoms), Pembs Prep, another catch up with Val, more apple collecting, a great update from dad on his jaundice.

Beautiful day.

Home to Ewyas Harold: Top Sheep
Home to Ewyas Harold: Top Sheep

Pilates in the evening – getting back into the gym routine, even if it’s only for a couple of weeks.


Having failed to book onto the morning gym classes, Wednesday was more admin, mainly money – I’m still working out my “being retired cash flows” – and we had our catch up with Carol. Also some Nepal prep – working out paying, online tourist visa (bearing in mind the max 15 days in advance constraint) and checking eBay for Expedition grade down jackets….

Over to J’s for dinner in the evening. Lovely. On my way there, I spooked an owl down by Blackmoor Farm.

A very rainy day.


Thursday morning featured LBT at the Gym and Chutney Transport Box pick up from the shop, then back home to finish off weeknotes 197, which also entailed fully Flickring Italy photos.


More gym on Friday morning, a petrol fill up at the Forge, more computing (I forget what), then off to Pembs for Everest Trek Get Together No. 19, picking up Hazel at Carmarthen en route to Mayhem where Steffi supplied a Greek Feast as a change from the usual Curries. Replete, Dave drove us to the van and we polished off a bottle of wine.

The heavy rain had cleared to sunshine on the drive west.

Steffi spotted Starlink low on the horizon. It was that or anti alien tracer fire….


Saturday’s walk was the Marloes Circular, with sunshine, seals and a super lunch at Runwayskiln.

Strava Map: Marloes Circular
Strava Map: Marloes Circular
Marloes Circular: Seals
Marloes Circular: Seals
Marloes Circular: Runwayskiln lunch
Marloes Circular: Runwayskiln lunch

Back at the van, a cup of tea then down to the beach for a gorgeous sunset.

Magic sunset, Newgale Beach
Magic sunset, Newgale Beach

Once darkness had descended, we relaxed in the van where wine and crisps were followed by cheese and biscuits, fruit and wine. And bed.


Mandatory Sunday morning stroll on Newgale Beach, then back to Mayhem for Mexican! Lovely sunny day. Cold and crisp overnight and in the shade. October has arrived.

Newgale Beach
Newgale Beach

Home by 6pm, got the log stove going – first time this year (well since the spring at any rate).


It had been cold overnight, so on Monday morning we put the heating on. First time…

A couple of hours prepping (these) weeknotes and updating already-flickred photos (Pembs and previous) and doing my new physio exercises, then out to bonfire.

Slow going, and very smoky, but over the next 6 hours or so I got through the three piles of hedge clippings and the older pile(s) of tree / shrub loppings. During the marathon session Phil brought my lunch out to me and laid on the 4pm tea and biscuit on the patio. I was done by 5pm-ish, give or take a few extra bramble cuttings.

Bonfire: Almost all done
Bonfire: Almost all done

In between times I trimmed the broken branches I could reach on our Wedding Plum, deconstructed the old, broken deck chair in the quarry and repurposed it as compost heap “fence” and refreshed the bait in the rodent trap – something had moved the box and dug a path to it; hopefully rats as the bait was all gone.

Listened to a lot of the Empire podcast episodes.

Got my Disney+ subscription up and running in the evening and started The Mandalorian.


The days are definitely drawing in. Dawn colours lingering over Grey Valley at 7.30am, and getting dark by 6pm.


TV: Fleabag, The Ghosts cast on the show’s final series | BFI Q&A (plus the Comic Relief Kylie Special and Bloopers on YouTube), This Farming Life, The Mandalorian.

Podcasts: In Our Time, Shedunnit, Empire.


Photos: Herefordshire week 198 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2023-10-15.

Herefordshire Week 179: Tuesday 30 May 2023 – Monday 05 June 2023

To Pembrokeshire for Everest Trek Get Together No. 18. This autumn’s Nepal trek comes into focus. Frogs!

Newgale Beach
Newgale Beach

Tuesday morning, cool and breezy, a good time for admin: weeknotes, banking, emails, flights…. The morning brightened and I had time to rake some of the mown grass into more readily collectable lines and piles before lunch, and to take the ride on mower for a grass collecting (and more cutting!!) spin after. Just enough petrol….

We also topped up the pond with the 4 buckets of tap water we’d left standing for 24 hours to let the chlorine out.

Strawberries from the greenhouse for pudding at dinner.


Quite cold on Wednesday. Good for indoor jobs, and for an afternoon outing to Tescos. Second top up of the pond. More strawberries from the greenhouse for dinner.

The cool and cloudy weather continued on Thursday. Phil and I booked our Turin hotel for September’s trip, then on to more computer admin for the rest of the morning. I ought to feel like I’d achieved more.

In the afternoon – sunny, of course – I had my last under-the-radar 1-2-1 session with my LW successor. Good luck PH! P’s weekend guest, D, arrived and we had dinner in the conservatory before I headed on on a fast drive to AGV to collect H. Back for cheese and wine.


Another cool and cloudy start to Friday. P made two fresh loaves and we ate half of one for breakfast. Yum Yum. P and D headed out to walk Tremorithic while H and I waited for the courier to collect my work  IT kit… in vain.

Just before lunch, as the sun came out, dad arrived with 2 bags charcoal ahead of the Annual Birthdays Party BBQ later this month, soon followed by D&G and P&D. Time for a potter around the garden, primarily to check on newts and tadpoles / froglets / frogs, then lunch on the patio. Lovely.

Mid-afternoon, D, G, H and I set off for Pembs taking the Bredwardine / Bridge Sollers route to avoid the Hay Festival. A gorgeous afternoon – blue skies and sunshine. Nice to be able to look out of the window; I’m usually driving.

We arrived at Steffi’s around 6.30pm. Gs&Ts on the deck waiting for CN to arrive – the M4 route turned out to be a bit rough – then the usual fantastic Friday night curry feast.

Then to the (still new) caravan!


Fantastic weather all weekend. Perfect for walking. Perfect for al fresco eating and (moderate) drinking.

On Saturday we caught the fflecsi bus Steffi had booked to Strumble Head and walked the Strumble Head Circular: 8.82 miles, elevation gain 1,460 ft; lunch at the memorial to the last invasion of mainland Britain; lots of wild flowers; TWO seals!

Strumble Head Circular: Strumble Head Lighthouse
Strumble Head Circular: Strumble Head Lighthouse
Seal!
Seal!

And on the return fflecsi, our driver was all set to drive us all the way back to the caravan until we convinced him we were fine walking up the final hill.

Back at base, drinks on the decking, dinner inside, wonderful sunset.

Sunset
Sunset

The glorious weather continued on Sunday. Breakfast outside, a stroll on the golden sands of Newgale Beach at low tide, then back to Steffi’s for one of Maurice’s wonderful, table-filling Sunday lunches.

Sunny Sunday Breakfast on the decking
Sunny Sunday Breakfast on the decking

D&G drove me home, dropping off H at Carmarthen for the new direct train service to London. Back at 40A we found Phil & D had done some scything, the first of the year. Much easier than last year, Phil says.


Bit of a blue day Monday. Pembs took a bit out of (introvert) me, plus arranged to see JC when we’re in Birmingham in July and planning to visit Temple Fields.

On the plus side, I bought flights to Kathmandu for our Oct/Nov trek. And prepped and published my Where Next: Kangchenjunga & Lumba Sumba blogpost.

It warmed up in the afternoon.

Phil did some more scything.

Phil scything
Phil scything

In the small pond I spotted fully formed (small) frogs, together with froglets (front and back legs, but still with a tail) and the younger generation still at tadpole stage.

Frog(let)s in the small pond: A more mature specimen, with no tail left
Frog(let)s in the small pond: A more mature specimen, with no tail left – centre of the photograph

Phil watched the Apple Keynote in the early evening. I’m all good to buy my Mac Mini. Thank heavens.


TV: Poker Face (finished season 1), Colin From Accounts (not for me), The Gallows Pole.

Podcasts: History Extra, Anglo-Saxon England, Empire.


Photos: Herefordshire week 179 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2023-06-04.

Herefordshire Week 144: Tuesday 27 September – Monday 03 October 2022

Meeting L and Everest Trek Get Together No. 17.

Hazel, Steffi and Dave on Newgale beach
Hazel, Steffi and Dave on Newgale beach

Powered through more of the admin pile on Tuesday morning, work in the afternoon, and down the road taking dinner for T & J – and new arrival L! Lovely evening.

BAU Weds and Thurs, but no Family Zoom as dad and Jean were on their Northern Tour.


H arrived 10pm Thursday evening (Mary-the-taxi arrived at HFD a little later….), allowing for a cheese and wine supper once home. And a late night. H had very kindly brought the 9 tubs of (still frozen) damsons I’d left in her freezer – my post-Picos rucksack had proved too full to fit them in.

Cloud and damp on Friday, so H and I headed into Hereford for library, a look around and lunch. I think it’s the longest I have spent mooching around Hereford’s clothes shops ever. Nice! Plus lunch at All Saints / Bill’s Kitchen, Pembs contributions purchased from M&S / Waitrose and a leisurely look around Wren Kitchens….

Home to unload / repack, a cup of tea, then off West to Steffi’s for Everest Trek Get Together No. 17!


A smashing weekend – curries on arrival at Mayhem, then over to Newgale for our final stay in the current caravan.

Saturday was sunnier than expected, perfect for a circular coastal walk from Marloes, seal spotting, blackberry picking and lunching at the superb Runwayskiln. Very glad Steffi had booked!

Seals, Marloes
Seals, Marloes
Al fresco aperitif, Runwayskiln
Al fresco aperitif, Runwayskiln

Sunday’s forecast had been rain rain rain, so waking up to blue skies came as a surprise. An hour or so helping S pack up the contents of her kitchen, which D Jenga-Tardissed into his Touran, just time for a short walk along the beach (high tide imminent), then off to Mayhem for Sunday lunch. M, M & C did not disappoint.

Sunday lunch
Sunday lunch

3pm-ish, D & H headed off for Newport, and I drove home.

Another fab weekend.


VIP news from Phil while I was away: he’d seen goldfish in the pond!


Spent most of Monday preparing my talk for Kingstone’s Sunshine Club. N’s mum had suggested me earlier in the year, and I’d agreed to give a talk about Nepal. I’d planned to just do a “My first visit was in 2005 and this is what I saw/did …. My first trek was in…. ” etc but as I was pulling photos together into a Flickr Album I decided themes was the way to go – cities, villages and farms; transport, roads and bridges; homes, crops and animals; rivers, hills and mountains – and that worked much better.


TV: The Eddy, Grand Designs, Ghosts.

Podcasts: Not really any other than History Extra ones I fell asleep to (intentionally). Busy workdays sometimes lead to sketchy sleeping.


Photos: Herefordshire week 144 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2022-10-02

Herefordshire Week 120: Tuesday 12 – Monday 18 April 2022

Picked up the Panda. Easter weekend in Pembs = Everest Trek Get Together No 16 = More puffins. And cake.

Puffin, Skomer Island
Puffin, Skomer Island

Tuesday’s main event was picking up the Panda from Ponthir after its service. Expensive. Let’s hope it’s an investment.


Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday were work, but Thursday to Tuesday were spent in Pembrokeshire with Steffi, Hazel, Dave and Gwyneth for Everest Trek Get Together No 16it’s been a while – and my birthday.


Hazel arrived Wednesday evening, and Phil and I picked her up from Hereford train station after an Aldi/Sainsbury’s shop-a-thon.

Easy drive to Steffi’s on Thursday morning. Lunch, then a walk around Minwear Woods before driving on to Newgale via Lidl (supplies) and Morrisons Petrol (163.9p/l) in H’west.

Friday dawned a grey day, so we scrapped our plans to walk north from St David’s and walked around the Peninsula from Caerfai to Whitesands instead.

Around the St David's Peninsula from Caerfai to Whitesands: View from the path
Around the St David’s Peninsula from Caerfai to Whitesands: View from the path

No dolphins in Ramsey Sound, but good coffee and cake at Porthclais and a solitary seal near St Justinian’s. And sunshine by the end. Dave and Gwyneth arrived in the evening bringing Easter treats and Indian starters and sides for the traditional Friday Night Curry.

Saturday was Skomer day! Puffins and porpoises, rabbits and seals. Smashing. Young Jim was a brilliant host for the boat trip there and back.

Puffins afloat, Skomer Island
Puffins afloat, Skomer Island
Rabbit, Skomer Island
Rabbit, Skomer Island

After a wash and brush up back at the van it was off to Nolton Haven for a delicious dinner at The Haven. Highly recommended.

Easter Sunday was another cool day – unlike the South East which was spending the Easter weekend in record breaking temperatures. Still, good weather for a stroll around the Southwood Estate, taking in some of the new footpaths towards Nolton Haven. A drizzly, damp afternoon did not deter me from heading out to walk Newgale Beach end to end before driving the gang to Mayhem for one of Maurice’s traditional slap up Sunday Dinners. We were not disappointed.

Pembrokeshire Easter Weekend: Carmen's Amazing Birthday Cake
Pembrokeshire Easter Weekend: Carmen’s Amazing Birthday Cake

Another smashing walk along the coast path on Monday: Caerfai to Newgale via Solva. Sunshine all the way, and an ice cream at the end. In the evening, Mexican and Margaritas rounded off a lovely holiday.

St David's to Newgale along the Coast Path: Porth-y-Bwch
St David’s to Newgale along the Coast Path: Porth-y-Bwch
Mexican and Margaritas to round off a lovely day
Mexican and Margaritas to round off a lovely day

Walks Round Up


TV:  Peaky Blinders (series 6), Russian Doll

Audiobook: The Confession – Jessie Burton

Podcasts: You Must Remember This


Photos: Herefordshire week 120 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2022-04-17.