Herefordshire Week 154: Tuesday 06 – Monday 12 December 2022

Abbey Dore – London – Wivenhoe & Walton

Who needs London – Paris – New York??

Wivenhoe pano
Wivenhoe pano

We did return craving non-fancy food and our own bed after 7 days of the high life…….

Worked Tuesday morning so that we could catch the 15.18 train to Paddington. A much more civilised departure time than 06.43. We left the car at dad and Jean’s, together with pressies to be transported to Essex. Jean ran us to the station in her new electric car. Nice!

Elizabeth Line to Liverpool St, popped into work to drop off bags, nipped up to M&S for dinner contributions then caught the Northern Line down to Hazel’s where we feasted on chips ‘n’ dips followed by veggie Mexican wraps.

Up early to have enough time to commute and for a shower at work. My lovely fellow KMCAs arrived over the course of the day. Phil and I checked into the hotel late afternoon. KMCA dinner out at Som Saa with DF.

All day Thursday and Friday morning were spent on strategic stuff, planning next April’s Global KM Meeting and other Q1 & Q2 stuff. We returned to Ottolenghi Spitalfields for team dinner on Thursday evening. Had my review Friday afternoon, then caught the train out to WIV. Tom met me at the station and we had early pizza dinner then watched the Netherlands – Argentina match, which turned out to be a good one!

Leisurely start on Saturday. Crisp and cold in Wivenhoe with a dusting of snow in places, which made for a lovely morning walk along the Colne estuary, Alresford Creek to Thorrington. Bus back to WIV. Beautiful.

Sunny Saturday Walk with Tom: Wivenhoe - Alresford Creek - Thorrington: Looking back at Wivenhoe
Sunny Saturday Walk with Tom: Wivenhoe – Alresford Creek – Thorrington: Looking back at Wivenhoe
Sunny Saturday Walk with Tom: Wivenhoe - Alresford Creek - Thorrington: Old Quarry Pier and Crane, Alresford Creek
Sunny Saturday Walk with Tom: Wivenhoe – Alresford Creek – Thorrington: Old Quarry Pier and Crane, Alresford Creek

J & R arrived early afternoon; dad and Jean drove over from Hereford arriving at Wivenhoe House Hotel late afternoon, and the six of us gathered at T&J’s for a lovely COOK! dinner that evening.

Similarly slow start to Sunday, very frosty.

Very frosty start to Sunday, Wivenhoe
Very frosty start to Sunday, Wivenhoe

Late morning T & R, dad, Jean and I caught the train to WON. Cloudier there and a rain shower but we saw the sea, and ventured into Revved Up for teas/coffee and then headed up the High Street to the (busy!) Good Taste Cafe for comfort food lunch before getting the train back to WIV. B and Phil had arrived, so we commenced the Christmas Present exchange.

The Extended Loosemore Family gathered that evening at the Wivenhoe House Hotel for our Christmas Celebration 2022, and Phil and I stayed the night in the hotel.

We headed home on Monday, dad as driver and me as supplementary sat nav. Google Maps and the Sat Nav both agreed that we should drive back via Birmingham to avoid the snow down south. Easy drive, not too busy on the roads, snow disappeared once we left Essex. Very cloudy and cold though.

Drove back from dad and Jean’s via Asda for supplies. Back at base – thankfully no sign of any burst pipes! (We left the heating on so I should hope so) – we got the log stove going, opened Christmas cards, caught up on the local news from Bob The Post, unpacked, pottered and read. Lentil soup for dinner, watching the last two episodes of Industry – so good!

TV: Rev (wrapped up series 3), Industry (completed series 2), The Secret World of Christmas Chocolate, Men’s Football World Cup 2022 – Netherlands v Argentina.

Podcasts: History Extra, The Essay.

Photos: Herefordshire week 154 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2022-12-12.

Herefordshire Week 143: Tuesday 20 – Monday 26 September 2022

Weeknotes 140-143 will be published out of chronological order, mainly because for most of that time I was away in London and Spain, and I’m still playing catch up.

This one’s going to be short and sweet.

Still in Northern Spain on Tuesday and Wednesday, relaxing in Llanes and exploring the coast on our drive back to Bilbao. Flew home Wednesday night and stayed at Hazel’s along with S. A fab trip. I’ll do a post about it soon, but I need to write up my diary first….

A Beer in Bilbao - Homeward Bound
A Beer in Bilbao – Homeward Bound

Crash-landed back into work on Thursday, then got the evening train home.

Spent Fri frantically working through admin.

A GWVC-funded navigation course took up all of Sat & Sun… excellent training from Colin at Borderlands Outdoor in the lovely Forest of Dean. Phil took the opportunity to go to London to see friends and for an acting class.

Finally managed a much needed lie in on Monday and took things a little easier… although I did spend a few hours mowing the grass. Good to have got that out of the way.

It’s still very, very dry – lots of patches of dead grass and there a huge cracks in the clay all around The Grounds. I wonder what will happen when we do finally get some proper rain.

Also a bit concerned that I’ve not seen any goldfish in the pond; Phil mentioned the heron had been hanging around on the yew hedge….

TV: The Outlaws (finished off season 2 – vg), Grand Designs.

Podcasts: The History of England

Photos: Herefordshire week 143 on Flickr. (There aren’t any yet)

Phil: w/e 2022-09-25

Herefordshire Week 141: Tuesday 06 – Monday 12 September 2022

Queen Elizabeth II died.

London, Aylesbury, Gatwick, Bilbao & Arenas de Cabrales.

Tuesday (R’s graduation ceremony – yaaay!), Wednesday and Thursday morning I was in a leadership course at work. A good blend of focused, applicable sessions and meeting colleagues from a range of European offices.


Tiring though, especially when you’re trying to wrap up the day job before going on hols for 10 days. And sort out Family Christmas.

WW with H and R and F. BLWV is now Balfours – it’s OK, but I think they’ll soon learn that the after work regulars don’t come for food. Sadly Pizza Express Russia Row is no more. So we went to the one in Leadenhall. Not a patch…

Bit of a work-crisis on Wed evening / Thursday, but was back on top of things by the time I logged off on Thursday and headed north to Aylesbury for an overnight stay with C and SL.

And it was while I was sitting on the train to Aylesbury when Buck Pal announced that The Queen had died.

Queen Elizabeth II, Britain's longest-reigning monarch, dies aged 96
Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, dies aged 96

I still can’t quite believe it. I feel like I’ve been dropped into a parallel universe where King Charles is greeting the public.

And just when I really hoped things wouldn’t get any worse: Right wing, Free market Govt, Economy / Inflation / Recession, Gas & Electricity bills, War in Ukraine, a divided society fuelled by anger and hate, and controlled by powerful, manipulative people with no morals.

Still I had a lovely time with C and SL. Just what I needed. Good company, good food and a walk to Wendover Woods and picking a large carrier bag’s worth of damsons. On Friday, not only did Charles make lunch for us but it was a special Vegetarian Version of the Mid-Autumn Festival specials – Steamed Egg with Silken Tofu & Sweetcorn and a Buddha Mixed Vegetable Bowl:

Charles makes lunch
Charles makes lunch

Friday afternoon it was back into London to nip into work to pick up my Picos Pack and to leave my work clothes etc in my locker from hell. Then the Northern Line to H’s. Armed with a bottle of wine.

Saturday morning, after a leisurely start, Hazel and I got down to packing for Picos. For me this entailed emptying my big rucksack (stuffed to the gills), filtering out all my work stuff, working out exactly what I need in my daypack for 8 days hut to hut in the mountains of Northern Spain…. Oh, and putting the damsons into H’s freezer. Turns out 1 large carrier bag = 8 takeaway tubs.

Into CJ for a final spot of shopping for the trip then lunch…. and with a couple of hours spare until we needed to head down to Gatwick I decided to nip into central London to pay my respects to The Queen at Buckingham Palace.

I made it to The Mall – very speedy walk to Buckingham Palace and then on down the Victoria. Quite an emotional experience.

The Death of The Queen: Buckingham Palace
The Death of The Queen: Buckingham Palace

It’s going to be a strange time to be away and I’m really sad that I will miss The Queen’s lying in state and her funeral too. Very different from how I felt about missing the aftermath of Princess Diana’s death 25 years ago. A whole range of reactions from family and friends.

Back to CJ then the train to LGW to rendezvous with S & R in our rooms at the Gatwick North Premier Inn. Very hot rooms. Repacking to accommodate poles etc prompted the purchase of an extra hold baggage, and happily we were able to take advantage of the Twilight Bag Drop that EasyJet are trialling at LGW. Worked like a dream. Then back to our room to tuck into the M&S “bits” H and I had got for dinner. One of the reasons my big rucksack had been So Heavy had been the two bottles of wine…

Early start on Sunday for our 6.15 flight to Bilbao. All good.

Good morning, Bilbao!
Good morning, Bilbao!

BIO is a small airport so we were swiftly through COVID checks and passport control – my first post-BREXIT experience. There are stamps!

Alfonso materialised in his new van looking fitter than ever. It felt strange to actually be doing this trip at last after two years of failed attempts, but that feeling didn’t last long.

We spent the (sweltering) morning strolling around Bilbao – lovely on a Sunday morning: we had coffee in an open air cafe next to the Guggenheim museum, explored the riverside’s sculptures and pedestrian paths, flower markets, and bric a brac stalls and had a mooch around the old town.

I was all a bit zombie from the hecticness of the past week and the day’s early start, so I snoozed for most of the drive to Arenas de Cabrales. Once there we checked into the excellent Hotel Picos de Europa, in a lovely old building in the heart of the town, then headed out for a late lunch, a beer and an ice cream / sorbet to cool us down. After a bit of time to relax (unpack!) at the hotel Alfonso ran us through the route and recommended kit. Then repacking and dinner out.

Back in the UK, The Queen’s coffin arrived at Holyroodhouse.

The Death of The Queen
The Death of The Queen

After a sweltering night, Monday saw the start of our 8 days doing El Anillo Extreme.

We met Alfonso’s mate Manu over breakfast – he’s coming with us to see more of the Picos (and, as it turned out, to be a very, very welcome extra pair of experienced mountain guide hands!) – then a short drive to Puente Poncebos and the walk / hike / trek along the the Cares Gorge and up to our first Refugio, Vega de Ario (1630m). We’d opted for the easier Blue route. Everything’s relative…

Cloudy morning gave way to rain. A lot of rain.

You’ll have to wait for my Picos trip write up to find out more…

TV:  Something trashy at H’s!

Podcasts: History Extra.

Photos: Herefordshire week 141 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2022-09-11.

(Yes, catching up with the Weeknotes backlog…. It’s now Friday 07 October 2022.)

Herefordshire Week 140: Tuesday 30 August – Monday 05 September 2022

The week’s – nay, the decade’s – big news is that the pink house, Wellfield, is no more.

And B is in his first flat. YAY!

AND Baby L arrived safe and sound!

Tuesday morning was a mix of Pensionwise, Picos prep and setting some strawberry runners. We (Phil) also partially patched the crack in the small pond.

Pond putty
Pond putty

Work – typical – has turned manic, the week before I’m on a course for the whole of my working week and then going on hols. VWW but no Family Zoom (thankfully – more time to Get Things Done, including ordering Euros).

On Thursday Phil dropped off the car at the garage first thing and picked it up late afternoon, and The Rattle Has Gone! Hurrah.

He also noticed that Wellfield had gone! That must have happened on Wednesday. We didn’t hear a thing.

Busy day Friday – dropped Phil off at HFD for his London / Interesting weekend, supermarket shopping, iStore appointment (iPhone is completely kaput, so I’ll have to make so with the Samsung until post-Picos), town shopping, collected train tickets, library books and Diamox prescription. Then up to B&Q for paint testers (and a quick look at kitchens….), General Dogsbody for a sack of peanuts – lucky birds – then, at last, to dad and Jean’s for tea and catch up.

Back home, late lunch then started the freezer defrosting, threw some more stuff on the Picos Packing Pile, cleared the last of the lettuces, then there was just enough time for a cup of tea before chatting with one of the ladies coming on the Naar Phu trek in Oct/Nov.

After All That, vegged out on the sofa watching Bohemian Rhapsody. Just right.

Walked down to A&As for tea and chat on Saturday morning, picked blackberries on the way back and put together a crumble with those and the Laxton Superb windfalls. Did some more admin until CW arrived 4pm-ish. We chatted in the conservatory until pizza and crumble time.

Damp on Sunday, we’d had rain overnight (not enough but better than none). But dry enough for breakfast at Gwatkins. Another excellent veggie breakfast,  “just the right size” (no need to use an extra wide lens), this time featuring the baked beans, onion, fresh tomato & mushrooms all mixed up together and plonked on the toast. BIG TICK to that. And a nice hard egg and two veggie sausages. YUM.

Gwatkins Veggie Breakfast
Gwatkins Veggie Breakfast

And C drove us back with the roof down and an occasional bust of speed. Vroooom!

Back at base, a bit of essential computer admin and then an afternoon slowly, methodically packing for London (work), Aylesbury (social) and Spain (Picos, hut to hut).

I'm sure it'll all fit in....
I’m sure it’ll all fit in….

A break for tea and toast, a few more jobs, then off to HFD to pick up Phil. Just as the rain starts again…

Up early on Monday to catch the 6.43 to London, complete with large backpack. Spent the 3 hour train journey doing more essential email admin including the all important Looking after the plants! email to P.

Oh yeah, we got a new Tory PM: Liz Truss. From the lying frying pan into the fanning the right wing flames fire.

TV: Borgen (Season 3, Netflix reboot), The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Bohemian Rhapsody, Metal Lords. And some YouTube reviews of the MG ZS EV.

Audiobook: Alice Roberts reading her book Tamed: Ten Species that Changed Our World (excellent).

Podcasts: History Extra,  Books and Authors, You Must Remember ThisLingthusiasm.

Photos: Herefordshire week 140 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2022-09-04.

(Yes, catching up with the Weeknotes backlog…. It’s now Friday 07 October 2022.)

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.


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.