Christmas 2014 / New Year 2015

…. were spent in Herefordshire, for the second year running, and featured:

Mince pies by Maestro Phil

Mince pies with marzipan
Mince pies with marzipan

A fabulous hamper of festive treats from dad and Jean

Our Christmas Hamper from dad and Jean: a veritable feast!
Our Christmas Hamper from dad and Jean: a veritable feast!

Christmas Day presents galore

Christmas Day: Presents Revealed
Christmas Day: Presents Revealed

and a very fine Christmas Dinner

Christmas Day: My plate, full
Christmas Day: My plate, full

Frosty mornings

Frosty Morning at Forty Acres
Frosty Morning at Forty Acres

Superb sunsets over Skirrid

Skirrid sunset, from Forty Acres
Skirrid sunset, from Forty Acres

Walks….

1) Forty Acres – Abbey Dore – Bacton – Kerry’s Gate – Forty Acres (the reverse of our usual route)

A wonderful day for a walk: the usual Kerry Gate - Bacton - Abbey Dore route
A wonderful day for a walk: the usual Kerry Gate – Bacton – Abbey Dore route

2) Forty Acres – Abbey Dore – Riverdale – Bacton – Tremorthic Road – Dore Abbey – Forty Acres

Abbey Dore - Riverdale - Bacton - Tremorthic Road - Abbey Dore: Mist and Shadows
Abbey Dore – Riverdale – Bacton – Tremorthic Road – Abbey Dore: Mist and Shadows

“Mountains” – well one, even if Skirrid / Ysgyryd Fawr at 486 m / 1,594 ft isn’t technically a mountain …

Skirrid / Ysgyryd Fawr (486 m / 1,594 ft): trig point
Skirrid / Ysgyryd Fawr (486 m / 1,594 ft): trig point

… but it does have superb views, both east over misty Herefordshire…

Skirrid / Ysgyryd Fawr (486 m / 1,594 ft)

… and west, into the beautiful Brecon Beacons

Skirrid / Ysgyryd Fawr (486 m / 1,594 ft)

New Year’s Eve (part 1) with Dad and Jean, Annette and Michael.

Forays into Hereford for the Panto (with dad and Jean, Kate, Warwick and Oscar), tablet cover shopping with Jean and mooching with Phil.

Tech support at The New Barn and a fine final meal at The Kilpeck Inn.

Rain to wave us off on the return to London on Saturday.

A stunningly sunny Spring weekend in Herefordshire

Back from a stunningly sunny Spring weekend in Herefordshire, with Hazel and chauffeur Catherine.

On Saturday, we soaked up Friday night’s drinks-on-arrival with a nice big fry up for brunch before heading over the border to Abergavenny where we made the most of Mountain Warehouse’s sale and searched for postcards in vain before heading off to climb Skirrid (Ysgyryd Fawr). At 486m it felt a little, well, lower than my last peak 🙂

Very windy up at the top, but blue skies above made for fabulous views (although a little too hazy to see the Bristol Channel) – worth the “near vertical” climb up from the footpath the circumnavigates the mountain. According to the National Trust guide to the Skirrid Far walk, “Once you reach the end of the hill take the grassed footpath on the right hand side of the Skirrid a short but sharp climb to the top and the trig point.” – hmmmmmm, not so sure about “short” or “sharp”. Can’t quibble about the “splendid views of the surrounding countryside.” though.

Hazel and Catherine, Skirrid (Ysgyryd Fawr) walk
Catherine and Hazel on Skirrid (Ysgyryd Fawr)

Tea and cake / cider and crisps back at base, and a little read of the papers / snooze before a fish and chip supper from The Old Stables, and the odd glass of wine or two…

Sunday was sunny from the start, so after a light breakfast in the conservatory we donned our boots and headed off on the Kerrys Gate – Bacton – Abbey Dore route, continuing on along the B4348 to Ewyas Harold for a very nice lunch at The Temple Bar Inn. Back at the cottage, dad and Jean called in on their way home from Hay just as we were packing up for what proved to be an easy motorway drive back to Catherine’s and from there the train home.

Back again in a fortnight for The Annual Birthday Party gathering.

More photos on Flickr.

Long weekend in Herefordshire

I’m back from a lovely 3 day stay at Forty Acres with Catherine and Hazel, two large bags of Herefordshire apples heavier.

Highlights included Friday’s lunch at the transformed Temple Bar Inn in Ewyas Harold (highly recommended), and yesterday’s blustery views under blue skies from Hay Bluff – the wonderful green farmland of the Wye valley. Llanthony Abbey (more properly Priory) looked splendid too, although the drive through the narrow lanes down from the Gospel Pass provided a few tense moments….

On Friday we walked from the cottage down to Abbeydore, and up the Cwm Road to and along the ridge on the other side of the valley of the Dore. Dropping down steeply into the vale of Dulas, we passed the former Trout pub (scene of many a happy childhood glass bottle of Coke) and walked between fields and forests into Ewyas Harold. Excellent bar food lunch at The Temple Bar Inn, accompanied with a pint (or two) of local brew, then back along the road to Abbeydore and a visit to the Abbey before the final stretch back to base.

Saturday featured the papers over a full English brunch, which we attempted to walk off by doing the Kerrys Gate-Bacton-Abbeydore square. We completed that rather quicker than anticipated, and so with much of the afternoon still left to play with, we went for a spin along the country roads to Monmouth, and back via the main roads, stopping off for photos at Raglan Castle. Dinner of fish and chips from The Old Stables was abandoned in favour of dining in on Waitrose roast potato, peppers & halloumi – well, we had a lot of olives to indulge in by way of an aperitif.

Yesterday, Sunday, we made the most of having Catherine’s car and sunnier weather and drove along the Golden Valley to Hay on Wye. After a shady riverside stroll along the river to The Warren as the skies cleared and the Wye sparkled, we pottered around the shops before our epic drive up over the Gospel Pass and down into and along the vale of Ewyas, the successful completion of which we celebrated with lunch at the pub at Llanthony. Rejoining the A465 at Llanvihangel Crucorney, faster roads got us to Ross in next to no time, and we spent half an hour strolling around the town before starting the drive back towards London….

Photos

Dore Abbey, Abbeydore, Herefordshire
Dore Abbey, Abbeydore, Herefordshire
The Warren, Hay on Wye
The Warren, Hay on Wye
View of the Wye Valley from Hay Bluff, Powys
View of the Wye Valley from Hay Bluff, Powys
Llanthony Priory, Monmouthshire
Llanthony Priory, Monmouthshire

Back from the annual Birthday Party Weekend

Just back from a lovely long weekend at dad and Jean’s, for the annual birthday party at Forty Acres.

Taking the train out on Friday afternoon meant we arrived in time for tea. In fact, we arrived with plenty of time for pre dinner drinks, dad-style…. with TJBR joining us around 7/8pm and driving on the the cottage after dinner.

Saturday featured the usual familiar faces, and a stroll to The Neville Arms *, but sadly no sign of Buster. The weather today has been gorgeous, and we had aperitifs while reading the papers and soaking up the sun just outside the porch.

The Newport route home was its usual depressing experience – all the more so as our Arriva Trains Wales 2 coacher got shunted into a siding which meant we missed our connection. All accompanied by a glorious sunset.

* You know, I didn’t expect them to have a website!

Home from holidaying in Herefordshire

We had a lazy time last week, not merely recovering from the party/BBQ.

Our main activities consisted of pottering around at the cottage, making chutney (so domesticated) and reading. We went over to Hay on Tuesday with Phil’s dad to browse the bookshops, but that was about as active as we got. We managed a few meals with dad and Jean too.

Now back in London, feeling rather like a slightly dazed and confused country bumpkin after the drive back last night.

It’s rainy here today, which is good for my chili and tomato plants, but not much else … it feels like autumn has come early. No Indian summer here.

Forty Acres fruit chutneys