Herefordshire Week 137: Tuesday 09 – Monday 15 August 2022

MCR continued. Nepal firms up. Heatwave. Meadow cutting marathon and clearing the small pond.


As regular readers will know, I was in Manchester for work Monday-Wednesday this week and Tuesday and Wednesday continued to be(e) hotter and sunnier than ever before. A good trip.

Not such a good journey home – my 18:31 train was cancelled so it was a slow service to Wilmslow then a wait for the train to Cardiff.

Hello Wilmslow…
Hello Wilmslow…

I’ve no idea of the geography, and it turned out I was joining the 19.31 departure from Manchester. If I’d waited there I might have found a glass of wine for company! Oh well. Phil and I had a cheese and wine supper once I was home.


Not working a Thursday threw my week out completely.

Took the car for its MOT first thing, and heard back with the all clear a few hours later. A came over for tea and a hot cross bun and we chatted in the shady part of the garden until gone 1pm.

Caught up with Val early afternoon, and – Trek Siren – I am officially off on a 3 week trip to Naar Phu with Val in October / November. Naar (Nar) and Phu are small villages in Nepal, north and east of the Annapurnas, Manang side. Chulu East and Himlung Himal were also mentioned. I’ve booked flights with Qatar Airways.

I’ve christened this trip Val Pitkethly’s Naar Phu Explorer.

NEXT!
NEXT!

Spent the rest of the afternoon doing admin on the computer, including trying to sort out our LPG supply for the next 2 years. It’s just Too Hot outside.


Friday was hotter.

We were both awake around 5.30am so made an early start to the day. Handy, as we needed to walk back to Ewyas to pick up the Panda post MOT. We took the Dicks Pitch route – shady and speedy – and got to the garage in less than an hour.

Just don’t ask about locking the conservatory keys in the conservatory before we set out … Thank heavens (Thank dad) for the tub of spare keys.

Raked up the strimmer grass and relocated it to the dip by the hedge (freshly cut by Richard while I was in MN). Hot and sweaty work. Dug up a few weeds – easy to spot as they’re still green against the parched yellow grass.

Front lawn: Meadow Cutting Marathon
Front lawn: Meadow Cutting Marathon

In the afternoon, more admin – inside, but not cool. Did online check in for our flights to Bilbao for September’s Picos trip. That’s coming up fast!

In the evening (still hot, but not quite so sweltering), our first visit to Winchester as “guests” since dad and Jean moved. A lovely BBQ.


The extreme heatwave continued on Saturday (mid-30s), so another early start.

Ray called round a bit after 7.30am and said he could clear our cut grass later in the day, so I got to work with the strimmer mower, hacking down the tougher grass and tall flowers that have grown on the slope down to the pond. Hot hard work. My blisters have blisters. Well, not quite but not far off.

Three quarters of the way through the strimmer stopped working and neither of us could work out why. So we decided that was a good reason to have our first independent outing with the Stihl strimmer. Phil did the honours while I moved the pond weed piles and weeded the drive.

We had a bit of a hiatus when he reached the end of the cable and we had to work out how to load it up with another 8 metres…. The instruction booklet, a YouTube video and a call to dad later and Phil was back in action.

Phil strimming
Phil strimming
Scythed grass and strimmed grass
Scythed grass and strimmed grass

We are so not having a meadow next year!

I revere Monty Don as much as the next person but he must have “help” when it comes cutting the meadow – which we don’t – and better options for making use of the cut grass.

Thank heavens for Ray who turned up a bit after midday and lifted piles of the scythed grass onto a rake/frame attachment on the back of his tractor and drove the grass up to his field.

Ray collecting the scythed grass
Ray collecting the scythed grass

A break for lunch – we’re eating / relaxing in the shade down by the log shed / willow tree stump – after which I decided to have a go at clearing the small pond. It’s bone dry and we figured this gives us the chance to find and fix the leak….. Even unsaturated the iris bed was too heavy, do I made do with cutting back the leaves, pulling off chunks of dried out pond bottom and clearing the weeds and ivy from the rim.

Sweated so much that when salty sweat dripped into my eyes it really stung!

In an unusual turn of events, I made dinner, and tried out the Damson Gin. Tasty!


Sunday – still hot.

Phil and I finished clearing the iris bed out of the small pond, and swept out the remaining debris. There’s a crack running from near the centre towards the railway power point, so we’re looking up ways to fix that. Liner or cement/putty?

Small pond - dry as a bone
Small pond – dry as a bone
Small pond - cleared
Small pond – cleared

Raked the strimmed grass into piles, then lunch. A few jobs / tidying up by the compost heap, a breather to allow the shade to reach the piles and then it was time to start wheelbarrowing the grass piles to the compost slope above the BBQ and the bigger one at the far end of the path.

Raking
Raking

Before dinner we sat outside the kitchen and watched the birds on the feeders and in the font for a while, once they’d decided we weren’t a threat.

At dusk, a bat got into the conservatory, but it managed to make its own escape through the doors.


A cooler start to Monday and – AT LAST – some rain.

A day for “indoors jobs”.

Put surplus picture frames into the roof, then did some computer admin. Tidied up recent Flickr titles, tags and descriptions, prepped tax return, caught up with Val, did some Picos prep (looked at my kitlist and  tried working out how much money to take).

7pm, thunder and heavier rain arrived.


In “heatwave and extreme weather warning” news, – it’s been > 30C most of the week, with – thankfully – rain / thunder arriving on Monday.

The trees are shedding leaves by the sack load.

Apples doing OK.

My office is still hot and the patio and the walls that side of the house are still radiating heat, but the rain is cooling things down.

It’s also been a week of massive moons and a mewing buzzard.


TV: For All Mankind, Ted Lasso.

Podcasts: History Extra, SheDunnit, Lingthusiasm, Great Lives.


Photos: Herefordshire week 137 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2022-08-14.

Herefordshire Week 136: Tuesday 02 – Monday 08 August 2022

Heatwave and scorched grass. Bacton BBQ, Kilpeck Circular and up to Manchester.

GVWC: Kilpeck Circular: Garway Hill panorama - Dave & Hugh on the path down
GVWC: Kilpeck Circular: Garway Hill panorama – Dave & Hugh on the path down

Tuesday began with a trip to Abergavenny for a filling (sort of) and a tour d’Aldi. Home for lunch then back to work. The new antenna providing a nice stable 30MB/s.

Weds was the usual day at work and a VWW with Rach. Thursday ditto with Family Zoom. It takes the first week back after a break for me to get my work ooomph back. My unpacking ooomph took longer to return.


Friday was due to be another hot day so I did the mowing first thing, sticking with the Honda mower and leaving the cuttings to mulch. Tidied up some fallen sticks, snipped the wild plum shoots on the slope to the BBQ and by the bird feeder.

Phil continued scything the front lawn – the long cut grass dries out very quickly as does the newly revealed “lawn” grass – and made a seat to sit on when sharpening his blade. (I’m endlessly surprised how swiftly scythe-speak descends into double entendre.)

Phil's Scything, Front Lawn
Phil’s Scything, Front Lawn

We spent the afternoon reading and resting ahead of the week’s major social event – Bacton BBQ. A super sociable evening with a couple of pints, veggie burgers and salad and a vast array of puddings. Caught up with the KG crowd – K&N were in charge of the coconut shy – PR and the Abbey Dore Ladies, S&M and T&J. Walked there and got a lift back. Magic.

Bacton Barbecue
Bacton Barbecue

Finally finished my unpacking (and putting away) on Saturday and did my Peaks of Ladakh trip notes and reading updates. Still got to tackle the photos mind you. At least there aren’t as many as there would usually be, Ha Ha.

Read outside in the shade down by the willow tree stump. It’s officially too hot.


Joined D and H on Sunday to recce the Kilpeck Circular ahead of next Saturday’s club walk. Walked from home to Kilpeck which added on an extra 5 miles or so. Strava says I did 17 ½ miles all in: Abbey Dore – Wormbridge – Kilpeck – Bagwyllydiart – Garway Hill – Kentchurch – Bagwyllydiart – Kilpeck.

GVWC: Kilpeck Circular - Strava Map
GVWC: Kilpeck Circular – Kilpeck Church Carvings Montage
GVWC: Kilpeck Circular - Kilpeck Church Carvings Montage
GVWC: Kilpeck Circular – Kilpeck Church Carvings Montage

Another scorcher so the post walk medical rehydration (aka 2 pints of bitter shandy plus two packets of s&v crisps) at the lovely Kilpeck Inn went down very swiftly.

Back home courtesy of Phil+Panda – and probably primed by the two pints – I hauled out some of the pond weed. That’ll go onto the compost heap next week. It’s too dry to bonfire and the hedge clippings and shrub loppings are piling up…..


In a change to my normal working pattern, I spent Monday-Wednesday in the Manchester office. Monday morning’s 8.30am TfW train from Abergavenny was a 2 carriage service, and was soon swamped by families off to Blackpool / elsewhere for their summer hols and lots of commuters. Me and the lady who sat next to me wore masks, everyone else opted for Omicron Roulette.

Weatherwise, the city of the worker bee was scorchio with blue skies.

Good day in the office – aircon! – and M&S mezze dinner in my room at The Edwardian with the Commonwealth Games Closing Ceremony from Brum on the box. It’s only now struck me that I’ve been in a lot of hotel rooms recently. All very, very different!


Watering the tomato plant in the greenhouse I spotted that there is an offspring?offshoot? completely unrelated? smaller tomato plant growing up between two of the paving slabs. I wonder how that happened.

The strawbs are at the “growing greenery” stage ready for next year and the lemongrass, inside and outside, has gone into overdrive. Smashing. The lettuce is on the wane – not that the slugs seemed to have got that memo.

Lemongrass
Lemongrass

Lots of apples on the trees. The dwarf Bramley in the orchard is laden but (thankfully) the Golden Delicious that produced so many small apples last year is taking it easy this year. Not so many wild plums.

I’m watering the big bay tree, lettuce, rhubarb and gooseberries most evenings with the hose pipe and using grey water for the hydrangeas, buddleia (yep, had to look up how to spell that), D&G’ rhododendron and my birthday Japanese Quince. I’ve topped up the pond a couple of times too. Hoping for rain soon but the forecast shows relentless sunny days and with the temperatures rising.

Everything is languid – from leaves to birds to us.

The grass is crispy, and that’s only partly due to hazelnut shells. Talking of which I thought the heatwave might have kept the squirrels at bay during the day – until I spotted two on the peanuts…


TV: For All Mankind (started season 3), Better Call SaulTed Lasso, (this starts off as “Football Man” as I can never remember the name of this show!) and the 2022 Commonwealth Games Closing Ceremony.

Podcasts: History Extra


Photos: Herefordshire week 136 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2022-08-07.

Herefordshire Week 133: Tuesday 12 – Monday 18 July 2022

Goodbye MX-5. Hello Ladakh.

At least I had a good view from our COVID isolation hotel room in Leh....
Spoiler Alert: At least I had a good view from our COVID isolation hotel room in Leh….

A manic week, trying to get work/life projects into shape before my hols, with a few extra curricular activities included; some planned, others not.


Relaxing morning with F&I on Tuesday watching the birds on the feeders and having mothers’ meetings in the bird bath and then sitting on the patio enjoying coffee and cake with L&M and dad. Then work!


Down to Ewyas early on Wednesday morning for a follow up blood test, arranged from Abergavenny last Friday morning. In the evening we went down to the Abbey with dad and Jean, N&T to watch Rain or Shine’s The Recruiting Sergeant. After Drs and work I was a bit too wound up to enjoy the evening as much as I wanted to, even  with an M&S picnic beforehand. After a sweltering day it turned cool in the evening, a bit too cool. Huge moon.


Got to work early on Thursday morning so that I could duck out after a speedy late lunch to drive to Ross to sell my MX5 back to Bowens Garage. I love it but I’m just not driving it and it stresses me out with all the keeping clean, driving-s0-the-battery-doesn’t-go-flat and other maintenance. So I took the hit and we now have a clear view of the birds and the pear tree from the kitchen window. And I feel better for it.

Sold
Sold

Then we had to speed back to Ewyas for me to have another blood test – I’d had a phone call and text message in the morning asking me to come in for another one ASAP as my sodium levels are (too) low. Wasn’t prepared to then be asked to drive the blood sample to the hospital for overnight testing so had a chat with the Dr and she’s going to phone/text me my results tomorrow. It’s likely to be just as I’m boarding… Let’s hope the levels are low because I drink a lot of water and don’t take a lot of salt.

A couple of hours more work, and then time to pack for Ladakh and online check-in!

Packed for Ladakh
Packed for Ladakh

And relax…..


Up early Friday to catch the 06.43 HFD-PAD train. I’d decided to allow as much time as possible for travelling to London and out to Heathrow for my 18.30 flight to Delhi, and to spend the morning/early afternoon working in the LO office.

Back in the smoke, I had my first go on the Elizabeth Line – aka Crossrail. The signage at Paddington isn’t great – “Elizabeth Line” doesn’t feature on the signs you see on the platform when your train pulls in and instead you need to look at the floor on the main concourse. Not easy when that’s full of people. That said, once I’d found my way to the eastbound service it was a speedy 11 min to Liverpool St – magnificent!

First time on the Elizabeth Line
First time on the Elizabeth Line

I headed back to Paddington early afternoon and was once again stymied by the signage. Westbound trains (currently?) leave from platforms 11, 12 and 14 but it’s not at all obvious how to get to 11, which of course was where the next Elizabeth Line train to LHR was due to depart from. Still, I made it to T3 a bit before 3pm and was sitting in the departure lounge by 3.25pm having done bag drop and security. No long queues for me.

A smooth flight, and mandatory masking except for small children etc – and there were lots of those, and lots of coughing. Uh oh.


Landed in Delhi a bit after 8am on Saturday. Spotted some likely fellow trekkers in the visa / immigration queue. Out of the terminal, Valerie Parkinson was waiting for us and once she’d corralled all 11 of us (turns out there had been 6 cancellations and 1 new booking since I’d bagged the “last place”) it was into taxis and through the busy streets of New Delhi to the Jaypee Siddharth hotel. A briefing from VP in the cafe/bar while rooms were sorted out and then some money changing (90INR : 1GBP). I’m sharing with J, the only other woman on the trip (cf 5 women when I’d booked). Took the taxi tour option for the afternoon – Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, India Gate, Government Buildings and Shri Laxmi Narayan Temple. Monsoon downpours limited what else we could do. Group dinner at the Mughal Mahal restaurant just down the road from the hotel.


Up early Sunday for our flight to Leh. All good. Taxis to the Hotel Glacier View, not far from the Kang Lha Chen where we’d stayed in 2016. Checked into our rooms and relaxed, acclimatising to the thinner air at 3,500m, until VP took us out for an afternoon orientation tour of the bazaar and old town. Thankfully not much has changed. Tea (and late lunch for some) at the Leh View rooftop restaurant overlooking the gilded roof of Leh Gompa. Leisurely afternoon, then buffet dinner at the hotel.

Leh’s night time audio entertainment comprises barking dogs and two 3.30am calls to prayer that segue into one another. Fighter jets optional.


The weather forecasts proved correct and it was as hot hotter in Abbey Dore on Monday as it is in Delhi. That’s nuts.

Another acclimatisation day, but a little more active – we drove to Shey to visit the old palace and temple, then walked across the valley to Tikse where VP gave us a guided tour of the gompa. Back to Shey for a late lunch then back to the hotel for a snooze and prelim kit bag pack, then a kit check (boots primarily) and trek briefing with VP out on the terrace.

Dinner out at another rooftop restaurant – Il Forno, overlooking the main road and entrance to the bazaar. I had pizza and banana lassi 🙂

That said, generally I’m finding I’m slow to acclimatise – headaches, no appetite, stuffy nose/head.

But other than that it’s so far, so good!


There will be some photos, once I’ve sorted through them.


TV: For All Mankind (finished season 2), Ted LassoThis Farming Life.


Photos: Herefordshire week 133 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2022-07-17.