Tuesday morning = an hour of admin then the Cockyard Circuit with K.
Showers on our return, but a lovely sunny afternoon – perfectly timed (not) for work. Escaped at 6.20pm to join Phil in his daily Thistly Field walk. Took some photos of the former Stockley Coppice.
Usual Weds & Thurs, including VWW and Family Zoom.
Friday to Sunday were spent with Steffi in sunny Pembrokeshire.
I drove across Friday morning and we had time for a stroll with Bessie through Slebech Woods before lunch. Then to Newgale via Lidl and out again to walk the extended footpath route through the Southwood Estate. A rather too close encounter with a herd of bullocks required restorative rehydration at The Haven in Nolton Haven before taking the coast path back to the van and a G&T on the deck and dinner.
Saturday saw us walk from Whitesands to Abereiddy and back. A fab day, flowers galore and sightings of seals and a sailing ship, and the coastguard helicopter at the Blue Lagoon. We rewarded ourselves with giant ice creams from The Bench in St David’s then back to the van for a small G&T and burgers.
A bit more cloud on Sunday, and an early start to drive to Castlemartin for one of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park‘s occasional guided walks along the section of the coast through the MOD firing range, which is usually out of bounds. Another fab day out, with four very knowledgeable volunteer leader-guides taking us from Stack Rocks to Brownslade Farm. Fossils, amazing geology, wildflowers and butterflies, iron age forts and D-Day Landings, sea birds – and complicated car sharing!
Back to Steffi’s for a slap up Sunday tea from / with Maurice – sausages, mash, cavalo nero, carrots, leeks, cheesy broccoli, a yorkshire pud and gravy – then back home, with a doggy box of dinner for Phil.
The only fly in the ointment was discovering a scratch all the way along the MX5’s back bumper, presumably acquired in the Whitesands Car Park 🙁 That’s sealed its fate…
Phil’s cold had manifested on the drive home so I didn’t do much on Monday other than wash the MX5 and look at options for selling it. In the afternoon I indulged in a nostalgia marathon watching Top of The Pops’ The Story of 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1996.
In other news, I got an email telling me that I’d won the Crickhowell Walking Festival Photo Competition with my photo of the snow on the slopes of Waun Fach:
[I was due to be presented with my voucher today, but postponed due to cold.]
In bird news, it’s the time of year when the new arrivals go a bit mad with their new found powers of flight, bombing around from place to place without a care in the world. As a result, lots of bonks on various windows – and (so far) the greenhouse has claimed two tiny casualties and the conservatory one. All Great Tits.
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.
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.
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.
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.
An On Off On Off week in Pembs with rainy days and dry sunny days alternating. Breezy throughout.
Back home…. a couple of significant new things:
Heavy rain overnight so Tuesday was deemed as day to spend in the van, reading and chatting until cheese on toast lunch. The afternoon held dry spells and we managed the walk around the Southwood Estate picking blackberries and sloes. We stewed the former in anticipation of a crumble on Thursday and froze the latter ready to make sloe gin. Tasty Cashew Nut Curry Risotto for dinner with cheese and biscuits after.
Wednesday was the sunny day of the week so we drove over to Marloes and walked on up to Martin’s Haven and around the headland to Marloes Sands, returning via roads and field footpaths.
Lots of seals and pups in the bays along the way. Lots of photos.
Tea and welsh cakes back at base and bit of relaxing before Maurice arrived and drove us to Nolton Haven for dinner at The Haven Brasserie. My first evening meal out for a long long time.
Back to rain on Thursday – light windswept showers and heavier spells. Leisurely start then into Narberth. A damp and drizzly potter around time with our buzzer from Ultracomida in order to get a place at their tapas table.
Worth the wait for a tasty tapas lunch then tea with Maurice, Outlet & Lidl shopping in H’west and back to base for the evening.
Rain resumed. We tucked into cheese and biscuits followed by blackberry and apple crumble.
A wet start Friday cleared to leave a breezy sunshine-filled day and so it was off to St Davids to walk the Coast Path from Caerfai to White Sands.
A smashing day, blackberry picking, seal watching and with coffee and cake at Porthclais Kiosk.
Steffi took the footpath route back into St Davids which cut down the long road section at the end and brings you into St Davids via the Cathedral and Bishops Palace. Lovely.
By the end we were all glowing from a day of sunshine and fresh air.
Back to the van for tea and a welsh cake then wine and nibbles, Lidl Deluxe pizzas, crumble and creme fraiche.
October started well.
Rain returned in the evening and continued in and off overnight and into Saturday, heavy. Lazy morning featuring bed coffee and a late breakfast, sloe gin production, reading and listening to podcasts. And a fab sunset.
Early rain cleared on Sunday morning and another bright and breezy day lured us down onto the beach for a low tide stroll.
Then it was packing up and off to Mayhem for one of Maurice’s slap up Sunday lunches. Well up to the usual high standard, even if the gathering was significantly smaller than usual. we’d not managed our Everest Trek Get Together as D&G had decided not to come in light of the petrol shortages and weather forecast.
Easy drive home dropping Hazel off at Carmarthen train station en route, returning to find the downstairs walls and skirting painted by Phil and the grass collector bit of the mower fixed by dad and Phil.
Phil managed half of the box of Sunday lunch leftovers I was sent home with…..
Quite a momentous day, Monday:
We collected our new car. It’s a Fiat Panda 4×4, to cater for the icy roads and occasional floods as well as potholes, narrow country lanes and Hereford parking. We did a part-Ex on the Nissan, which made me realise how attached I’d become to it. Sniff.
The wooden flooring was laid in the hall, dining room and lounge.
New car! (But you’ll have to wait to find out what…)
More Chutney. Some Apple Cider Vinegar plus Damson / Wild Plum and Blackberry Gins.
Pembrokeshire with Hazel and Steffi.
Garden-wise we have a bumper crop of wild plums, and stacks of apples – mainly from trees that were quiet last year.
I need to remember to keep more time free at this time of year to make the most of the autumn harvest. Turning the apples etc into useful things takes an age, let along picking and washing them. There is no room left in the freezer now. On top of that, the veg patch is untended and the third bed awaiting my attention.
I’m going to try a few new things this year – Janette sent me the apple cider vinegar recipe she uses. I’ve thought about making it before as a lot of my apple chutney recipes use it, and I tend to just chuck in malt instead because it’s cheaper. I’m eying up a couple of chutney and gin options, working on the basis that our very tart wild plums are equivalent to damsons, and I’m hoping to find time to squeeze in Blackberry Gin making too.
Anyway, Friday was set aside for all that.
Into Hereford on Tuesday morning for shopping and library, Wilko for pop top bottles and Poundland for cheap reading glasses. And General Dogsbody for more peanuts for those greedy garden birds. (We love them really.) Then coffee with dad and Jean at the bungalow, sat out on the patio, and taking receipt of a black chilli plant gifted from Annette and Michael.
After the afternoon at work, we drove to Brecon to look at a new second hand car, and settled a part-ex purchase with collection set for Monday 04 October. I can’t reveal what it is yet because Phil is taking betssolicitingguesses as to what it is.
Up early on Wednesday. Morning dew on the spider webs adorning the front gate.
And enough time to collect windfalls and make apple cider vinegar following Janette’s recipe before work. VWW after.
The Welsh Water engineers didn’t materialise on Thursday to look for the leaks they think we have, and after Family Zoom I headed out to collect blackberries as the light faded and managed to get a jar of blackberry gin underway. Phil is on sugar dissolving shaking duties once I’m in Pembs.
A busy day Friday.
The day’s preserving began with getting three mayo jars of Allotment Garden Damson Gin underway – handy tip to freeze the fruit so that it splits so you avoid the need to prick.
Next up, chutneys, apple and plum / damson:
Holly Jones’ Spiced Apple Chutney (with star anise and mustard seeds, from pickled cucumber vinegar)
Anglo-Indian Apple Chutney (microwave version)
Frugal Feeding Apple Chutney (with jalapeño vinegar)
Delia’s Spiced Damson Chutney (her favourite!)
The second batch was left to cool temporarily mid-afternoon as we nipped into Hereford to test drive the Mazda again. Hot and sunny afternoon made for a lovely top down drive (even with the Friday traffic) and I remained tempted, but we reached stalemate on price. Stopped off at Asda on the way home to fill up the car and mower petrol cans – the fuel delivery crisis was starting to stick around in the headlines and lingered for a week or so. There were “Out of….” signs / covers around at Lock’s Garage and The Forge and various petrol stations in Pembs, but we were fine.
Back to base to finish simmering and bottling the chutneys. The overall tally for the day was 29 jars. That should last us a while:
Last job of the day was to clear the lounge and dining hall – all bar the sideboard and table – in anticipation of the new flooring being laid Monday week and for Phil to repaint the walls and skirting boards before then.
After all that, a well-earned evening of pizza and Grand Designs.
Out walking Saturday with the GVWC, on a 12 mile circular route around Kilpeck, Garway and Kentchurch. We arrived at the trig point on the top of Garway Hill in heavy cloud but occasional breaks gave glimpses of the views. A fast pace meant we were enjoying medical rehydration in the beer garden at The Kilpeck Inn by 3.30pm.
Deleted my Tuffmail account under Phil’s supervision then flickered photos and packed for Pembs. In the evening, collected Hazel from Hereford train station and fish and chips from The Old Stables in Ewyas Harold.
Leisurely start Sunday, breakfast in the conservatory and then off to Pembs for a week of walking (and drinking). Not quite Trekking in Nepal, but we should see seals and seal pups (you don’t get those in the mountains), and culminating in an Everest Get Together with D&G at the weekend.
A good drive – no sheep this time – and a late lunch at the van after a miscommunication on rendezvous location meant H and I surprised M and M at Mayhem, while Steffi waited for us at the van. Speedy trip back into H’west to do the food shopping and still time for a windy stroll on the beach before G&Ts and puff pastry tart for dinner.
Monday morning was cloudy but dry, so we drove to Stackpole Quay and, after waiting out a heavy shower, walked along the coast path to Barafundle Bay, Broadhaven South and Bosherton Lily Ponds, with a late lunch at Mrs Weston’s – still not serving cheese on toast.
A couple of showers early on – with a rainbow curving over the coast and into the sea – then a lovely breezy and sunny walk.
Jewel-like flowers, blue, pinks, yellows and purples, heather and gorse stretching over the hillsides. Beautiful. And, in the rocky coves and sheltered inlets opposite Ramsey Island, I spotted first seals, and then seals and their pups, and then a dolphin in Ramsey Sound. Magic.
At Whitesands I treated myself to an ice cream for the final slog along the roads back into St Davids. Back at the van for 4 o’clock tea, sat outside on the decking again, reading more of Underland – although images of pot holing and urban explorers in the catacombs of Paris were hard to conjure up given all the sun, blue skies and occasional very welcome breeze.
Very much wishing I’d brought my swimming costume….
Late afternoon stroll on the beach with P, then Southwood Estate again or Dog Shit Estate as I fear it should be renamed. By the time I got back to the beach the tide was almost in and there was the start of a good sunset, so I nipped back to the van to get Phil, the M&S G&Ts purchased on Saturday plus crisps and peanuts, and we sat on the pebbles watching a glorious sunset, first gold then technicolour pinks and purples.
Late dinner and another instalment of The Hunt for A Killer.
Wednesday morning began with a red sky warning. Phil and I surfaced around 8am and polished off the croissants with OJ and stove top coffee. Having concluded last night that I’d probably just walk south along the coast path until I felt like turning round, the timing and the revised weather forecast combined such that it made perfect sense to get the 9.10am Puffin Shuttle to St Bride’s Haven and to walk back from there.
So I did.
… and saw a seal bobbing in Mill Haven, and a large grey seal with her pup safe on the rocks of the next inlet to the north, steep sided and inaccessible.
I got rained on a bit just after the wooded section en route to lovely Little Haven, but dried off in Broad Haven with (disappointingly weak) posh coffee and a deluxe fruit, nut and choc bar.
Lovely walk, and one we’d not done for a good few years. I’d forgotten it takes you past the dragon islands (aka Stack Rocks) and the stone with the circular hole (aka Howney Stone).
I’d also forgotten how many ups and down there are from Nolton Haven back to Newgale. Mind you, the beach was looking massive – it must have been a low low tide.
I was ready for a shower and late lunch by the time I got back a little after 3pm. Then settled in for a lazy afternoon of iPad and reading. No sign of the afternoon thunderstorms that were in this morning’s forecast.
Thursday – cloud and rain ad hoc throughout the day, so a lazy day reading and listening to more of Boudica. And a quick nip to Morrisons to top up the supplies.
Dad emailed us while we were away to let us know that one of the apple trees in the orchard had fallen over.
Friday was our last full day in Pembs. Cloudy but warm. We drove to St Davids and walked the coast path from St Justinians to Porthclais, looking out for the seals and pups (and dolphins – but there were none) en route. Sadly, one less pup than on Monday – the one on the sloping rocks has gone. To compensate, there was a very determined pup at the west end of the Sound (Porthaflod?), who was very determined to reach the water. I took a lot of photos of that one….
We treated ourselves to a great coffee and dark chocolate flapjack from the Porthclais Kiosk. Five stars.
Should have thought to time to walk to get the Celtic Coaster from St Davids to St Jusinian’s, as that 2 1/4 miles of tarmac is hard going compared to the footpaths. We saw it again at Porthclais.
Back at the van, we did an initial pack and hoover, then iPaded / read / audiobooked until early dinner – mushroom risotto – and another Grand Designs.
Up early on Saturday, breakfast, final pack / clean, then to Steffi and Maurice’s for another coffee and chat before heading back east to Herefordshire. Phil did Carmarthen home. No sheep on the road this time.
We arrived home to an invitation to a birthday BBQ down the lane, so we spent the late afternoon and early evening drinking beers, eating BBQ burgers and salads and chatting with various neighbours. Fab.
The birds are slowly remembering where to find the peanuts and bird seed, and enjoying the washing and drinking facilities. House Martins have been bombing around overhead, gobbling flying things. Large spiders have spawned squads of small spiders (cue Charlotte’s Web) and the autumn crocus and cyclamen have brought lilac hues into the garden.
Spent Sunday morning catching up on computer things – weeknotes, reading, Strava screenshots and photos. Phil’s worked out how to get the videos off my new Sony Cyber-Shot. I’m hoping that if I change the video format I’ll be able to transfer them alongside the .jpg photos via Image Capture.
Lunched outside, which is when I finally realised Richard had been and that more of the hedges had been trimmed.
Spent the afternoon continuing to flickr photos and to finalise weeknotes. Still got a lot of photos to work through…. I was almost as snap happy as on a trek.
Made a double batch of Anglo Indian Apple Chutney before dinner. Blitzed the apples and dates in the Magimix and cooked everything up in the jam pan, which I think may produce a different texture compared to the usual chopping + microwave approach. We’ll see.
Went out for the day with dad and Jean on Monday, visiting Hergest Croft Gardens. Returned with a replacement apple tree / early Christmas present – a Herefordshire Russet. Now I just have to decide where to plant it.
Handyman Sam came round to view the work we want done to the utility room in the afternoon, and we got that booked in for October. Phil and I did a speedy Sainsbury’s + Aldi shop before dinner. No salt & vinegar crisps for love nor money.