Herefordshire Week 123: Tuesday 03 – Monday 09 May 2022

Glorious garden and lush green lanes. A day out in Malvern. Ladakh visa progress. Restored hooks.

Purples and Blues: A montage of Orchids and Dead Nettle
Purples and Blues: A montage of Orchids and Dead Nettle

Up early with girded loins on Tuesday, all set to sort out my Indian Tourist Visa application. COVID-complicated, not the process’s fault, but all the online info is inconsistent / potentially out of date – as is Exodus’ guidance. Not reassuring.

The e-visa option isn’t available to UK citizens at present and the standard Tourist Visa application involves attending an appointment at the VFS centre in London. Handy when you live in Hereford. So I’m biting the bullet and paying an agency to do  it for me.

After spending far too long looking at Exodus’s two recommended visa agencies (in two different places – deliberate or oversight?), I opted for Travcour. Partly because I’ve used them in the past and partly because their website was less pushy/polished than the alternative and their online chat / email contact were both responsive.

Anyway, filled out the forms and posted everything off from Pontrilas Post Office, which entailed taking the MX-5 for a spin. It does need a wash….

Then work. Not long to our two day KM Consulting Meeting. I am looking forward to that, and all the other London plans.

Before starting work on Thursday morning (we’re now waking up  / getting up nice and early), I heard my first cuckoo of the year and watched a hot air balloon floating towards us from Hatterall Ridge.

Blackbird on the font
Blackbird on the font (not a cuckoo or an air balloon)

I spent most of Friday at the RHS Malvern Spring Festival with Jean. We had a fab day out and returned with lots of goodies including a seed bird feeder, bean cane ring thing, seeds, darning mushroom, Worcestershire honey. We saw Princess Anne, although only recognising her on the second occasion.

One highlight was coming upon a small stall where a lady – The Wheat Weaver – was patiently making corn dollies. Amongst the examples she had on display were a trio of what I now know are Hereford Lanterns. We have one hanging on our landing.

In the evening, pizza à la Phil – the new dough + pizza stone is a crispy winner! – paired with Ozark. Just right.

(In the background: did a COVID test first thing; all clear.)

Busy day on Sunny Saturday. First up, washing the cars then a bit of Malvern-inspired pottering in the Orchard staking out the broad beans, which are going Jack and the Beanstalk bananas.

Broad beans staked
Broad beans staked

A late lunch, sat outside, then down to Abbey Dore Village Hall for the plant sale. It was bustling, inside and out. I splurged £3 on a variegated hosta, a baby lavender and two pots of geraniums – one large, one small. Relaxing with coffee and cake on an outside bench, Peter R spotted us and did various intros so I’ve more faces to go with names.

Down the lane for tapas al fresco at TJs that evening. Our contribution – apple crumble – meant we were a little late; chopping up two dishes of apples from the apple racks took longer than expected. Doesn’t it always? Still, it means that we have dish no. 2 providing pudding every night this week.

Lateish start on Sunday and a bit of admin triggered by an email and invoice from Travcour plus news of an appointment date. A relief to know that Tuesday’s post reached them – even if it felt weirdly scammy to get an email from the / a Director on a Sunday morning….

A gorgeous day – hot and sunny – so after doing the Cockyard circuit, another late lunch was followed by a lovely afternoon sat on the lawn reading the LRB, listening to podcasts and – yes – snoozing.

The hedgerows and verges are in their beautiful green and white stage – cow parsley, greater stitchwort, may flowers and dandelion puffs.

Green and white: A montage of mayflower, pheasant's eye daffodil, dandelion puff, cow parsley.
Green and white: A montage of mayflower, pheasant’s eye daffodil, dandelion puff, cow parsley.

Dad and Jean called in en route to Compline at the Abbey to see the orchids and clematis in their short-lived glory.

Climbing Clematis
Climbing Clematis

Lots of buttercups glowing yellow on lawn, overpowering the cowslips which are fattening with seed.

Cloudier and cooler Monday. Just right for a trio of chats. In the morning, as I walked to Cockyard, a lovely catch up phone call with Blast from the Chester Past. Tea and cake with A in Cockyard then home for lunch. Admin in the afternoon with a break for stroll up to Kerrys Gate with T.

In the evening we joined a special screening online of a restored cut of I Know Where I’m Going. A different experience from other shared viewings, which tend more towards the Eurovision end of the spectrum. Also, WhatsApp has replaced Twitter as the backchannel. And I am still loathe to use WhatsApp.

In other news, the Utility Room repaint is 95% complete and Phil’s painstakingly restored the hooks to their original (ish) glory. They look fab.

Utility Room redecoration - hooks restored to their original glory
Utility Room redecoration – hooks restored to their original glory

Please note those horizontally-aligned screws!

My daily routine currently includes a morning stroll to the greenhouse to put out the baby plants, repeated in reverse every evening to put them back into bed.

They’re coming along very nicely. The first set of lettuce seeds I planted are looking more like lettuce, and most of the tomato seedlings are looking very healthy. The runt of the February sowing gets to stay inside the greenhouse 🙂

Montage: Greenhouse plants, and our visiting pheasant
Montage: Greenhouse plants, and our visiting pheasant

The second planting comprised more lettuce plus sunflowers, and they’re all going great guns. Last year’s strawberry plants (four, small) produced runners which are now in four small pots. Flowers and fruit already showing in all eight. Along the west side of the greenhouse the sage and gooseberry cuttings and oak tree saplings are various shades of green. Closer to the house the wild garlic is in flower. I think it likes its new home.

And we have a resident pheasant. Noisy chap, struts across the end of the lawn, around the orchard and visits the bird feeders for seed and nut droppings.

TV:  Severance (Apple TV – double meh), Ozark (final season, part 2….), Better Call Saul (real time weekly viewing!), I Know Where I’m Going, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

Podcasts: History Extra, Great Lives, Lingthusiasm, Books and Authors, Bookclub.

Photos: Herefordshire week 123 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2022-05-08.

Herefordshire Week 121: Tuesday 19 – Monday 25 April 2022

Belated Birthday celebrations. Hereford for fun. Dore Abbey to Hay on Wye. Bluebells and orchids.

Dore Abbey to Hay on Wye: Cusop Hill Panorama
Dore Abbey to Hay on Wye: Cusop Hill Panorama

Drove back from Pembs on Tuesday morning, dropping Hazel off at Carmarthen en route. (That seems like a long time ago now.)

It was straight to work once I got back, so I opened cards and presents in the evening, and admired the repainted porch and utility room – all Phil’s hard work.

We were both a bit shattered after our respective weekends.

Dad and Jean came over on Thursday evening for belated birthday fish & chips (battered mushrooms in my case) and it was warm enough to sit in the conservatory until it got dark. Cake and candles rounded off a lovely evening.

Spent Friday catching up on admin and Flickring Pembrokeshire photos, with a late afternoon break for a speedy walk to Hill Farm and back with Phil, chatting with the ewes and lambs in the field en route. Yes, we do that.

On Saturday, Phil and I went into Hereford for fun. Yes – FUN! The first time since March 2020, or so it feels like. There were a few “jobs” – library (good haul of novels – much needed), bits and bobs to get, train tickets to collect, charity shop drop off to do, but the main event was lunch and coffee at Sensory & Rye. It was busy, which was good to see.

Tremorithic Footpaths on Sunday morning with Phil, then an afternoon in the greenhouse and orchard, planting out lettuce and sunflower seeds, potting up the tomato and lettuce seedlings, and planting out the sweet peas in the Coffin. I sowed a strip of rocket in the herb bed too. Keep your fingers crossed!

Tremorithic footpaths with Phil: Bluebell woods
Tremorithic footpaths with Phil: Bluebell woods

Marathon walk on Monday, recce-ing a Herefordshire Walking Festival / GVWC route with Dave who had pieced together 18 miles of Herefordshire Trail, Three Rivers Ride and Cusop footpaths to get us from Dore Abbey to Hay on Wye: Abbey Dore – Bacton – St Margarets – Turnastone – Peterchurch – Hinton – Snodhill – Twyn Coed – Bonny Lands & Vagar Hill – Mynydd Brith – New House Wood – Cusop Hill – Cusop Dingle – Hay on Wye.

Strava Map: Dore Abbey to Hay on Wye
Strava Map: Dore Abbey to Hay on Wye

Fabulous day and fantastic walk, going through lush green fields full of lambs, bluebell woods and farmed forests, up over hills and sheep moorland on the border with Wales. Amazing views from Bonny Lands / Vagar Hill and Cusop Hill – seeing Hay Bluff from a completely new perspective.

Dore Abbey to Hay on Wye: St Margarets Church
Dore Abbey to Hay on Wye: St Margarets Church

All rounded off with tea and top notch cake from The Cosy Cafe in Hay on Wye – highly recommended for super customer service, as well as super cake!

Home for pizza by Phil – new dough recipe. Thumbs UP.

Spring has definitely arrived here in Herefordshire with bluebells and cowslips galore. The orchids have materialised on the front lawn and there’s blossom on the fruit trees. It’s lovely.

Orchid on the front lawn
Orchid on the front lawn
Cherry Tree Blossom
Cherry Tree Blossom

Plus the cows have arrived in Thistly Field. Mooooooo.


TV:  Peaky Blinders (finished off series 6 – what a finale!), Russian Doll, This Farming Life

Podcasts: The History of English, Lingthusiam, Books and Authors.

Photos: Herefordshire week 121 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2022-04-24.

Herefordshire Week 120: Tuesday 12 – Monday 18 April 2022

Picked up the Panda. Easter weekend in Pembs = Everest Trek Get Together No 16 = More puffins. And cake.

Puffin, Skomer Island
Puffin, Skomer Island

Tuesday’s main event was picking up the Panda from Ponthir after its service. Expensive. Let’s hope it’s an investment.

Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday were work, but Thursday to Tuesday were spent in Pembrokeshire with Steffi, Hazel, Dave and Gwyneth for Everest Trek Get Together No 16it’s been a while – and my birthday.

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.

Around the St David's Peninsula from Caerfai to Whitesands: View from the path
Around the St David’s Peninsula from Caerfai to Whitesands: View from the path

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.

Puffins afloat, Skomer Island
Puffins afloat, Skomer Island
Rabbit, Skomer Island
Rabbit, Skomer Island

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.

Pembrokeshire Easter Weekend: Carmen's Amazing Birthday Cake
Pembrokeshire Easter Weekend: Carmen’s Amazing Birthday Cake

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.

St David's to Newgale along the Coast Path: Porth-y-Bwch
St David’s to Newgale along the Coast Path: Porth-y-Bwch
Mexican and Margaritas to round off a lovely day
Mexican and Margaritas to round off a lovely day

Walks Round Up

TV:  Peaky Blinders (series 6), Russian Doll

Audiobook: The Confession – Jessie Burton

Podcasts: You Must Remember This

Photos: Herefordshire week 120 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2022-04-17.

Herefordshire Week 119: Tuesday 05 – Monday 11 April 2022

Social events in Stow on the Wold and Kerrys Gate, back to the Brecon Beacons to walk Corn Du, Pen y Fan and Cribyn, and iPhone upgrade.

Plus the spring flowers are OUT!


New joiner onboarding this week meant I was working Mon, Tues and Weds am. Rather nice to finish at lunchtime mid-week, although it did throw out the rest of the week – I kept thinking we were a day later than we really were.

Wednesday afternoon didn’t go well. I stuffed up my Indian Visa application (managed to submit without a photo, so I’m waiting to hear back from the email helpdesk as to what I should do…), and Facebook emailed to say that they’re deleting grey accounts – which the LED one is, and it’s the only account set up to run the LED Facebook page. Timely that I caught up with Val on Wednesday evening, although it did mean I was late to VWW.

It took far too much of Thursday morning to work out how to keep the LED Facebook page alive. I think I’ve managed it but we’ll know on 06 May. The help pages they’d linked to in the email tell you to do the wrong thing and it took me 4 hours just to add a new account as a page admin.  I hate having to use Facebook – it’s so unintuitive but, worse, it freaks me out, showing me people I’ve not been in contact with for years as friend suggestions. How?

Thursday had turned out to be a day of sunshine and showers, so, FB sorted, I put off my plan to walk around the lanes and tackled some admin:

  • Bought tickets for the Herefordshire Walking Festival to balance things out. And – stop press – RG is coming along for some of them too.
  • Bought train tickets for the St Andrews Ladies Weekend, at least for Crewe to Leuchars and back. I am now waiting for Transport for Wales to release their timetable/advance fares. The London ladies bought theirs weeks ago.
  • Did some Pembs Prep, including soliciting requests for chutney / jam / marmalade / sage.
  • Set up Phil’s old iPhone SE, replacing his old iPhone 4 (Tech Support from PG) (aka iPhone upgrade)
  • Caught up with Tom in lieu of Family Zoom.

Williams Water were with us all day, moling a new water pipe from the mains to the house. We’re hoping that’ll provide better water pressure inside the house.

Had a lovely day in Stow on the Wold with C and SL on Friday. Sunny weather made for a fab drive there/back in the MX5, a long lunch in the rear courtyard of The Queen’s Head and then a stroll around the town. It’s bigger than the High Street we drive along on our way to/from Essex. The clouds and raindrops held off until I was home.

Saturday brought two highlights.

I spent most of the day walking in the Brecon Beacons with the GVWC, doing the Corn Du – Pen y Fan – Cribyn Horseshoe from Neuadd Reservoir Car Park. Once up on the ridge, we could see the Bristol Channel shining in the distance.

Brecon Beacons Horseshoe: Corn Du, Pen y Fan & Cribyn panorama
Brecon Beacons Horseshoe: Corn Du, Pen y Fan & Cribyn panorama

Another sunny day and not as cold as the forecast (which had promised wind chill at -10C). Walk done, we stopped off for medical rehydration (aka a pint) at The Stag Inn, Talybont.

Brecon Beacons Horseshoe: Pen y Fan panorama
Brecon Beacons Horseshoe: Pen y Fan panorama

And in the evening, Phil and I headed up the lane for dinner with friends in Kerrys Gate. Really fab.

Took things easy on Sunday – slow start then Cockyard with Phil before a late lunch.

Cockyard Circuit: Longwood Cherry Tree Blossom
Cockyard Circuit: Longwood Cherry Tree Blossom

A pair of blue tits have taken a shine to the gap in our soffits on the corner of my office, evidenced by frequent tapping I can hear when I’m working. And on Saturday we’d spotted some moss hanging from the gaffer tape we’d used to patch up the gaps last summer, so we reckoned nesting was probably in progress. So Sunday afternoon’s main task was trying to close the gap by pushing chickenwire into the hole(s). Partially successful, but it did make us realise the whole section could do with replacing.

After all that excitement I was ready for a lazy afternoon in the conservatory, listening to Hayley Atwell reading Jessie Burton’s The Confession – thoroughly enjoying it.

I did manage one more job –  potted up the lemongrass. Doing well!

Spent Monday morning in the garden – cleared up windfall sticks, hauled some weed out of the pond, sowed the meadow flower seed, then did a Honda mow and a big mow. The ride on mower is sounding much better.

Honda mower
Honda mower

I did manage to put a trio of rips into my trousers though.

Cloudy and breezy afternoon, with smatterings on rain, so I adjourned to the computer.

Lots of blossom out on the fruit trees, and the Christmas Present tulips are about to flower – including the ones we’d planted out on the verge. More alliums are surfacing in the pots. Primroses looking lovely, cowslips are popping up everywhere. and the bluebells are out too. Beautiful.

Orchard primroses
Orchard primroses

(This morning, I spotted the first flowers on the clematis.)

TV: Friday Night Lights (finished season 5, farewell all you lovely people in Dillon, Texas), The Split (series 3, farewell Hannah Defoe & Co), This Farming LifeRussian Doll (not what I was expecting, but ep1 was OK) and back to Brum for the last series of Peaky Blinders….

Audiobook: The Confession – Jessie Burton (No Podcasts)

Photos: Herefordshire week 119 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2022-04-10.

Herefordshire Week 118: Tuesday 29 March – Monday 04 April 2022

Birthday Celebrations (not mine or Phil’s) and I’ve booked a trek….

Thikse Gompa
Thikse Gompa

Very cold overnights. Payback for the past couple of weeks of “summer”.

Dad called round on Tuesday morning with the first batch of surplus bricks, now neatly stacked in the quarry. Phil and I then did a three stop dash to spend the last of the free (COVID recovery) money on our Herefordshire Shop Local card – drawing blanks at our two stops in Ewyas Harold we ended up returning to Lock’s Garage for more Rowlestone Ice Cream.

No time to go out for my planned Bacton Square walk to check on the wild garlic, so planted sunflower seeds instead. So far, no sign of any seedlings.

Usual working week. No VWW – IPWWs began this week. We are alternating 🙂

Being at a loose end on a Wednesday evening proved dangerous…..

I booked the last place on Exodus’s Peaks of Ladakh Trek.

(You’ll have to go look it up for yourselves – Exodus asked me to remove my links to their website.)

Val Parkinson’s leading it and I’ve wanted to go back to Ladakh ever since our wonderful Autumn in Ladakh back in 2016, organised by the other/usual-trek Val (Pitkethly) and Rimo Expeditions.

Very excited.

Busy day Friday. The highlight was hosting the Kerrys Gate Ladies for an evening of Prosecco and nibbles to celebrate A Birthday. A lot of fun.

We’d been up early to take the Panda in for an official 8 year service, and for a less official “we bought this from a trader and we didn’t really know what to look for” health check.

Phil and I drove in convoy to Ponthir, deposited the car and log book with the very efficient front of house team, then headed in to Hereford in the MX5 for a whizz around M&S (party purchases) and to return a book to the library.

K came over mid morning with party supplies, narrowly missing dad and the second delivery from Dinedor – “concrete sets”.

After lunch I did the Bacton Square, then put up banners, blew up balloons and generally got into the party spirit.

Six bottled of prosecco / cava between 8 (including 2 non-drinkers) made for a quiet start to Saturday. Not a hangover – just that tiredness that comes from missing out on a deep sleep.

The Cockyard Circuit with K&K followed by a late lunchtime fry up from Phil sorted that out.

Sometimes you just need a fry up.....
Sometimes you just need a fry up…..

Phil and I did a new route for a Sunday morning walk: Abbey Dore – Deer Field – Ewyas Harold Common – Cott Farm – Dulas Court – Old Trout Inn – Mill Lane – Cwm Hill – Abbey Dore.

Plenty of blackthorn blossom out:

Blackthorn in bloom
Blackthorn in bloom

Lunch, then an afternoon of Ladakh Trek Prep. I spent a happy few hours sorting out kit hire from Expedition Kit Hire (who were the highly recommended source of hired kit for my Mera Peak – Amphu Lapsta Pass – Island Peak trip in 2019) and prepping my Trek Prep Spreadsheet – and a less happy few hours getting to grips with my application for an Indian Visa. The e-Tourist Visa we’d got last time isn’t available.

Monday, unusually, was a work day. New joiner onboarding. But we did get the ride on mower back, bearings repaired under warranty. Top job, Ron Smith!

TV: My Brilliant Friend (finished season 3), Friday Night Lights (started season 5), The Levelling (film) Mysteries of the Bayeux Tapestry (minus headache) and The Normans.

Podcasts: History Extra, The Essay, The History of England.

Photos: Herefordshire week 118 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2022-04-03.