Herefordshire Week 037: Tuesday 08 – Monday 14 September 2020

A rather more relaxing week than Week 036.

Calm sea with sailboat, Hipkins Beach
Calm sea with sailboat, Hipkins Beach

We took Phil’s mum and dad to Dedham on Tuesday, as Janet fancied a swim in the river there. Turns out there is a super restaurant / cafe (The Boathouse) which also does boat hire, and we had a lovely stroll alongside the river to the Burnt Tree Swimming Spot. Large car park close by. Highly recommended. The village looked worth a potter around too, although we didn’t do that.


Not 100% R&R though – the Government’s guideline change introducing The Rule Of Six (Does Cummings’ clique include some Star Trek fans?) meant a series of email exchanges with Steffi working out options for our October Pembrokeshire Get Together. Plus lots of emailing and phoning sorting out things in London and Walton, ranging from booking EICRs for both flats to getting someone to fix the hut window.

But I did find time to make another batch of Apple Brandy Mincemeat.

Apple Brandy Mincemeat - Batch 2
Apple Brandy Mincemeat – Batch 2

Overall though, we did manage to spend a lot of time at the beach hut, relishing the peace and quiet, reading, snoozing, listening to podcasts.

We met Josh from AJ Property Maintenance there early on Wednesday, and by Friday the window was fixed and next year’s repaint was booked in.

We caught up with Margaret and Richard again on Thursday morning before heading down to the hut after lunch, and we spent the afternoon there on Friday having walked to Frinton in the morning for coffee and teacake courtesy of Bird & Bean, and another mooch around the St Helena Bookshop.

We spent all day Saturday at the beach hut.  A fab last day of our hols, and the end of an era as we’re going to be renting out the flat from early November. Moving everything out will entail a return visit in October to pack up and drive everything back to the cottage. We’re going to allow ourselves a few days for that. I’ve got plenty of unused holiday to take before the end of the year. We’re keeping the hut and planning to explore the myriad of Air B&B options now on offer in Walton.

Standley Road Sunset
Standley Road Sunset

Sunday started early for the Long Drive Back. We had three stops: Witham to drop off books and clothes at Phil’s parents, Ampthill Great Park (busy!) for an early lunch and Ross on Wye for food shopping. We were getting a 54 gun salute from the army camp as we pulled into the drive. Home.

After tea and biscuits sat out on the lawn (beautifully mown by dad, and looking lush), we took a Tour of The Estate before refilling the bird feeders, reestablishing the hose to water the veg patch / herb bed (the lettuce still going surprisingly strong), removing the rotten apples from the storage racks and unpacking. Chores done, we returned to sit out on the lawn with beer & crisps.

Back home
Back home

Dinner with telly, plus two new videos from Olive & Mabel – Intermission and Looking for Love 🙂


Monday was another gorgeous day, a beautiful misty morning followed by a long hot day. Perfect walking weather, but with removals arriving a week on Wednesday, the day had to be spent On Admin. Still, we cleared stuff out of the shed and made room for the nice outside table and chairs.  And I saw a yellow wagtail!

Morning Mist. Sheep. Shadows
Morning Mist. Sheep. Shadows

TV:  I Hate Suzie, interspersed with Strike: Lethal White and This Farming Life , plus Silicon Valley season 6. Not that wowed by the first – whilst I do really enjoy watching Billie Piper act, I just wasn’t that engaged with the Suzie Story. I have become a bit obsessed with Border Collies though …. Sorry Mabel. Sorry Olive.

Podcasts: More of David Crowther’s  The History of England. A lovely few listens to birdsong through the seasons, courtesy of Geoff Sample’s A Birdsong Garden on BBC Radio 3’s The Essay.


For other perspectives:

Herefordshire Week 036: Tuesday 01 – Monday 07 September 2020

September already!!

We are in Walton on the Naze for a couple of weeks, enjoying a holiday on the Sunshine Coast with intermittent interruptions for admin.

Major event: Haircut!


So, yes, Tuesday morning featured a haircut. Not just any haircut… my first haircut since 19 August 2019.

Yep, over a year ago.

I am calling this one my COVID-Chop.

Haricut: Before & After
Haircut: Before & After

Locks chopped we headed down to the beach hut. Spent the afternoon reading and enjoying the soft evening light. Quieter now that the summer holiday season has come to an end. Always a lovely time of year to be in Walton.

Evening light, Hipkins Beach
Evening light, Hipkins Beach

Wednesday we walked along the prom to Frinton for coffee and cake, sat outside the Bird & Bean. Took some books to St Helena’s Charity Bookshop. Good to see both of them open.

Back home, Phil and I transferred our individual To Do Lists out of our heads and onto paper. Digital paper. We both felt better for it, for different reasons.


Thursday/Friday saw us make our flying visit back to London to meet with the removals man and two potential redecorators, and to do various other bits of house move admin. Thankfully train commuters were much more compliant with the mask wearing mandate.

We booked the removals and they’re going to do all the packing too. All being well, our stuff should be coming over to Herefordshire at the end of the month. We just have to find house room for it.

Once we have quotes from the decorators we’ll book that in for as soon after as they can manage.

Admin involved a walk over to Cheapside, where Wonder Of Wonders, Bow Lane Wine Vaults was open!! Sadly, too rainy to venture back for an early evening drink, plus we both needed to spend the time packing up a few fragile things.

But we did have wine, crisps and Waitrose pizza for dinner.

Almost Wine Wednesday #2
Almost Wine Wednesday #2

And whilst in Waitrose I bumped into one of my super Silver Surfers, which was really, really lovely. I do miss them, and that volunteering element of my life. Now I know we’re in Herefordshire for the long run, I’m going to find a replacement.


Saturday, Sunday and Monday continued the London socialising theme, with Hazel coming to stay and Catherine driving over for the day on Sunday.

Phil, Hazel and I had the long awaited fish & chips from the Tollgate Fisheries on Saturday evening, with a G&T aperitif featuring ice, gin and tonic from BJH.

Catherine arrived early on Sunday, and the three of us walked to Frinton along the beach, moving on to footpaths to Great Holland and almost into Kirby Cross (in search of a pub, I do confess) before heading back across the fields to Frinton

In Frinton we sat outside The Lock & Barrel enjoying a Sunday lunchtime pint. Not sure I’ll ever be allowed back into Frinton after such a display of wantonness.

Frinton pint with Hazel and Catherine
Frinton pint with Hazel and Catherine

Lunch back at the flat, then ice creams and a short stroll before Catherine headed home. A great day. Wonderful weather and fab friends.

Phil escaped by heading back to London for the day to do a bit more preparation at the flat and to meet up with friends for lunch.

A leisurely morning on Monday, Hazel and I strolled up to the end of the Naze and back before she took the train back to London. Phil and I spent the afternoon at the hut.


Podcasts: I subscribed to some new “listens” earlier in the week, with The History of English podcast proving a particular favourite. I think it’s mainly because I am fascinated by the centuries between the departure of the Romans and the arrival of the Normans. The centuries of invasion (or, perhaps simply “immigration”?) by the Angles, Saxons, Jutes and others, and then the Vikings from various parts of Scandinavia that we don’t know much about.

TV: More of season 2 of My Brilliant Friend which covered the teenage years as Lenu and Lila’s lives really start to diverge and emotions and character emerge. Plus the next instalment in This Farming Life.


For other perspectives:

Herefordshire Week 035: Tuesday 25 – Monday 31 August 2020

Technically, half of this week was “Walton on the Naze Summer Holiday Week 01”.

More apples.


Busy morning Tuesday, picking more windfalls and making another batch of chutney, then my final “week” at work before heading off for our hols.

Today's Batch of Apple Chutney
Today’s Batch of Apple Chutney

It’s not a bad view out of my office window….

Morning, sheep!
Morning, sheep!

Work wasn’t too hectic – laying the groundwork last week definitely helped – and taking a half day’s holiday on Thursday meant we got to WON just before 9pm on Thursday night. Having arrived just after both the fish & chip shops had closed, we treated ourselves to a dirty pizza from the takeaway in town for tea. It made up for the 6+ hour drive in torrential rain. All. The. Way.


Friday was v windy, with big rain clouds moving out to sea, and producing very localised rainstorms. Avoided downpours for a scoot around the Aisles of Aldi and a walk out to the Coop at the Triangle to stock up on ingredients for Brandy Apple Mincemeat (and bargains).


I spent Saturday morning using up some of the Forty Acres windfalls (Golden Delicious edition) to make a double batch of Brandy Apple Mincemeat.

Brandy Apple Mincemeat
Brandy Apple Mincemeat

I have a really easy microwave vegan recipe, but it’s a photocopy and I can’t remember which book it came from, or who lent it to me. It uses 1kg tart apples, of which we have many, and a morning’s chopping, microwaving and stirring produced have 9 jars, which are now maturing in readiness for Christmas mince pies.

We went to WIV on Saturday evening for lovely dinner with Tom and Jo, which involved some very nice red wine and entailed our first train journey since… January for me, and sometime last year for Phil.

Good practice for Thursday / Friday next week when we are doing the longer journey in/out of London, and stopping off at Phil’s parents on the way back. Hoping it won’t be busy with commuters. I can’t see there being loads, but I imagine there will be more over the course of Sept.

The young people heading into Colchester for a Saturday night out were not wearing masks.


Whiled away the rest of weekend reading on the window seat, devouring more of the Flavia Albia series courtesy of Hereford Library’s ‘Click & Collect’ service, with a snooze on Sunday afternoon and a stroll up to the Naze before tea and cakes from Lilly’s.

Dinner was tasty Thai Takeaway from the excellent Pearl of Samui, with more of My Brilliant Friend – we started season 2.

Cake


Monday was a gorgeous sunny day, perfect Bank Holiday weather. Spent the morning reading and soaking up the sun on the window seat, before coffee with Margaret & Richard and an afternoon at the Beach Hut.


TV: Watched the end of Watchmen plus almost all of My Brilliant Friend, season 2. And a new Tuesday night real time TV treat …. series 4 of This Farming Life.

Podcasts: Various. I am running out….


My photos from Herefordshire week 35 on Flickr.

Phil’s weeknotes for W/E 2020-08-30.

Herefordshire Week 034: Tuesday 18 – Monday 24 August 2020

Chutney. My foray into Hereford town centre. Many wet and windy days – the Weather Gods must have read last week’s griping and sent autumn early.

The apples are flying off the trees – literally.

Windfalls
Windfalls

My photos from Herefordshire week 34 are on Flickr. You might like reading Phil’s weeknotes too, so I’ll start including links to those too.


Busy week at work, getting projects into positions where it’s OK to leave them for a couple of weeks while I’m on holiday. Can’t wait.

I do love seeing the sheep out of my office window. No desire to return to The Office, although that’s an option for attorneys from 01 September, on alternate weeks following the Team 1 / Team 2 model.

Strange realisation that September is only a week or so off, and it feels like the summer has flown by. Not helped by this week’s awful weather. I’m British, so I have to obsess about the weather.


Friday was sociable, with Zooms and FaceTimes with London friends, plus a phone call with Val. Lots of mutual catching up.

In between, CHUTNEY made from Forty Acres Windfalls. Of which there are many.

I doubled the recipe for Frugal Feeding Apple & Cinnamon Chutney AKA Frugal Feeding Chilli Apple Chutney, producing 13 small / medium jars made using Golden Delicious blown from their tree in the Orchard by Friday’s high winds.

Frugal Feeding Chilli Apple Chutney: Montage
Frugal Feeding Chilli Apple Chutney: Montage

Janet’s Jam Pan makes even double quantities look meagre.


Chutney-ing continued on Saturday with 10 small jars of Anglo-Indian Apple Chutney made from a photocopied recipe for a microwave version, but done on the stove. The small jars are usually the size I give away as gifts or thank-yous, so I might have to make another batch as it’s one of my favourites.

Anglo-Indian Apple Chutney: Montage
Anglo-Indian Apple Chutney: Montage

I also made lettuce soup for lunch. Tastier than you might imagine. Lettuce and mint from the garden, onions and peas from the supermarket. A good way to use up bolted lettuce top leaves.

Lettuce Soup for Lunch
Lettuce Soup for Lunch

Phil and I did the Bacton Square on Sunday morning, followed by a speedy mow (around 2 hours, which is a new record for me). Then a drive to Dinedor for a late afternoon/early evening BBQ with dad and Jean. We returned with armfuls of rainbow chard.


Monday morning’s gloom-busting walk saw a retread of the Kerrys Gate – Cockyard – Duffryn Farm – Camp Crossroads – Thistly Field route. Lots of butterflies pottering around the hedgerows and verges. Managed to get a snap of a Small Tortoiseshell. My old iPhone never does them justice.

Butterfly
Butterfly

And in the afternoon I drove into Hereford for my first trip into the town centre since March, spurred by the introduction of a click and collect service at the library. As well as replenishing the bookshelves, I sorted out change of address at Lloyds, whizzed around Waitrose, and bought a new bird seed feeder.

Busy in places (still school hols), but people kept their distance and wore masks. I’ll be happy to go back again for a longer mooch, and perhaps for a coffee or lunch outside. And to return my batch of library books.


Telly: Polished off The New Pope (still meh), watched most of Watchmen (OK, but you probably need to be a comic nerd to get the most pleasure from watching it) and started Harlots (fun).

Podcasts: Slow Burn, The Anthropocene Reviewed, BBC Radio 4’s Books and Authors  and World Book Club, plus History Extra.

Phil also showed me some of these Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 screencasts of people trying to land at/take off from Lukla. The jumbo jet ones are the funniest. The videos don’t quite capture the heart stopping 90 deg turn required between the landing strip and the Dudh Kosi river valley. Haven’t checked to see if there’s a $500+ helicopter option…..


Chucking it down here today (Tuesday). Good job Phil cleared the back gutters….

Chutney-time.

Herefordshire Week 033: Tuesday 11 – Monday 17 August 2020

“Staying” continued. Horrible humidity followed by torrential rain. APPLES!

Apple washing, drying, and stewing (panorama)
Apple washing, drying, and stewing (panorama)

Over the course of the week we both started telling folks that we’re staying and embarked on the admin associated with relocation, redecoration and rental of our London flat. I also lined  up an energy efficiency/insulation survey for here.

It makes it seem more real somehow.

Phil wrote a lovely piece about it in his weeknotes.


Moving on to more mundane matters, most of the week was horribly humid. Just too hot – I was literally melting every afternoon until the weather broke on Wednesday evening. It’s been monsoon-like since then. Sporadic torrential rain, accompanied by thunder and sheet lightning. Saves me watering the garden at least. It feels like we’ve gone from watering the lettuces etc morning / evening to letting nature soak them for hours on end, almost overnight.

AT LAST!
AT LAST! 8 seconds of rain (video)

Thursday sported two highlights: my first chillies have sprouted, and we had the KM Summer Party via Zoom.

My first chillies!
My first chillies!

With the rain helpfully holding off for most of Friday, I drove down to Mere to spend the afternoon with Rachel and Carl, where we indulged in some totally terrible daytime TV. Navigating there and back was fine, except for the first/last 10 miles. Must do better next time.

Back at base, Phil took delivery of our apple storage rack flat pack.


Took things easy on Saturday, with a walk in the morning and reading / snoozing in the afternoon. Reserved some books to collect from Hereford Library, prompted by finishing the last of the three Flavia Albia novels I’d bought. Dad and Jean came for dinner in the evening.

On Sunday Phil and I assembled the apple rack and set it up in the utility room (aka the downstairs loo – it’s a relatively spacious room!).

From flat pack….

From flat pack to apple rack: the flat pack
From flat pack to apple rack: the flat pack

… to apple rack:

From flat pack to apple rack: All assembled!
From flat pack to apple rack: the apple rack

In the afternoon I cut back the evergreen bush and the lilac between the patio and the small pond. I hope I’ve not been too brutal…. It was very satisfying, and the rain held off (unlike Saturday).

"Pruning" in progress
“Pruning” in progress

Monday was APPLE DAY! Picking, washing, drying, racking apples from four of Forty Acres many apple trees: Discovery in the Orchard, Discovery down by the train (small pond end), Laxton’s Superb (by train, large pond end) and Bramley on the lower path.

Apples: Discovery (left), Laxton's Superb (right)
Apples: Discovery (left), Laxton’s Superb (right)

Most were stored. The manky ones and windfalls were chopped and frozen or stewed-then-frozen. Good job we have a second freezer….


In the meantime, the birds are still busy on the bird feeders, and Phil and I periodically chase off the greedy male pheasant and pesky squirrels.

Birds busy on the bird feeders
Birds busy on the bird feeders

Telly: Polished off Perry Mason (good) and started The New Pope (meh, even with John Malkovich).

Podcasts: You Must Remember This: Polly Platt and lots of History Extra.


Photos from Herefordshire week 33.