Herefordshire Week 100: Tuesday 23 – Monday 29 November 2021

Wardrobe wrangling. Chutney cupboard reorganising. A cold snap. First frost, sleep and snow. Some nice walks.


One hundred weeknotes.

Squirrel in the Yew Tree
Squirrel in the Yew Tree

Woke with a headache on Tuesday morning, so after Phil and I had driven to Ewyas Harold to post off this week’s three eBay sales, we set out on the Bacton Square for some fresh air. Cloudy and cold, so we wrapped up warm for the first time this autumn. Good to be outdoors.

VWW with H & R (good Picos Planning opportunity) but no Family Zoom. Internet behaving itself this week. Thanksgiving meant work a bit quieter this week. Nice winding down to year end.

Tuesday and Thursday were gorgeous blue sky days (and the army camp helicopters were busy) (as were the SQUIRRELS), and Friday morning was the same, so I ditched indoor / admin plans and, leaving Phil making bread…..

Phil's loaf - perfect timing for lunch.....
Phil’s loaf – perfect timing for lunch…..

… set out on the Cockyard Circuit, Quarrells Green first. Val phoned while I was out and we had a good long chat. Clouds loomed over Hatterall Ridge and double rainbows over the Golden Valley. Beautiful.

I got back just in time as from lunchtime we had showers and occasional heavy rain. Good weather for sorting out the spare room, decommissioning the tall narrow wardrobe and moving the oak bureau up in its place.  Made a batch of apple chutney in the afternoon – The Yellow One – and managed, eventually, a FaceTime with Jenny. Lots of catching up.

Four more jars of Apple Chutney - "The Yellow One" (it's spicy!)
Four more jars of Apple Chutney – “The Yellow One” (it’s spicy!)

Pizza and The Harder They Fall in the evening. We didn’t make it to the end.

Storm Arwen arrived overnight. Strong winds woke me up a few times – they’re noisy in themselves plus the bargeboards over the white wall rattle. The winds continued into the morning along with sleet flurries and grey clouds, so, with the log stove adding extra warmth to the house, I settled down to do some admin.

The morning’s greatest achievement, however, was moaneuvring (I know that’s a typo, but I like it) the tall cupboard downstairs, Freegle having delivered a taker in a matter of hours yesterday.

At many stages I was convinced we’d never get it out of the house – the size and weight of the thing, the tight angles of the old landing, the narrow stairs, the tricky corner turn at the bottom of the stairs, only 10cm or so clearance between the top of the cupboard and the dining room ceiling (so no tilting), the getting it back up into the staircase’s awkward bottom turn and angling the descent into the hall rather than the dining room…. I’m still amazed we managed it. And without damaging the new wooden floors! (I don’t know at what stage the floor will stop being new and precious. Probably when we damage it for the first time!)

High fives all round.

And then a grey and gusty drive into Ewyas for Phil to get his booster, a few tilting trees en route and one horizontal but helpfully from high up on a field bank. Back for lunch, with short but essential stops at Neil Powell’s (Pork Pie and eggs) and The Forge (milk).

A satisfying afternoon on the Grand Chutney Cupboard Reorganisation – chutneys (and jams, mincemeat and vinegars) are now distributed evenly between two kitchen cupboards. Then a pot of tea and a biscuit reading Katherine Langridge’s essays analysing the Narnia books she’d loved as a child after an adult reread. Excellent. She’s made me realise why I loved them too – strong female characters (absent Susan) and realistic child-centred narrative and characters – from feelings about death to attitudes to right, wrong and justice. What I’d not remotely fully appreciated were how often the plots, characters and scenes draw upon fairytales, myths and legends.

The tall cupboard collection went by without a hitch and we settled in for a cosy film night. Clear and cold outside.

Saturday night weather
Saturday night weather
Sunday morning weather
Sunday morning weather

Sunday morning was clear and cold – a beautiful morning for Tremorithic, footpath edition. A scattering of snow on Hatterall Ridge and Hay Bluff. Blue Skies. Green fields. Lots of sheep. A few buzzards. Hardly another soul out. Peaceful. 8 miles, 2 3/4 hours.

Spindle tree berries
Spindle tree berries
Kerrys Gate, Cockyard and the Malverns, from the footpath
Kerrys Gate, Cockyard and the Malverns
Buzzard in a tree
Buzzard in a tree
Hatterall Ridge and Hay Bluff - with a scattering of snow
Hatterall Ridge and Hay Bluff – with a scattering of snow

Light lunch, catch up with JC then over to Dinedor for a late afternoon Sunday lunch feast with dad and Jean.

Back to an evening should have been snoozing in front of the log stove but ended up being rejigging December travel plans to have a bit more time in Witham and rebooking Premier Inn for Picos – I realised I’d booked the wrong LGW hotel.

Another cold night.

With the log stove adding extra heat to the house, I spent Monday morning on admin, including reporting broken stiles and road holes to the council using FixMyStreet. Snaps to whoever set that up!

Quick lunch then out on the ride on mower for the final mow of the year and to pick up some of the leaves Storm Arwen kindly whipped off the trees. Collected storm-blown deadwood sticks and twigs to use as kindling too.

Inside as dusk settled in I finally got around to turning some of the endless windfalls into Nigel Slater’s apple and sultana pastries. No poppy seeds so I blitzed some of the Pembrokeshire Pecans and used those instead.

Apple and Sultana Pastries - Cooling off
Apple and Sultana Pastries – Cooling off

YUM! We had two each, just for quality control.

Gave the Christmas Cake its first feed and prepped the first crop of the Albutt’s Red Chillies to turn into It’s Not Complicated’s Preserved Chillies in Oil.

Then relaxed….

TV: The Billion Dollar Code (excellent if you like German dramas and remember the 1990s) plus The Harder They Fall  and The Rhythm Section.

Podcasts: History Extra, Lingthusiasm and The Allusionist.

Photos: Herefordshire week 100 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2021-11-28.

Herefordshire Week 099: Tuesday 16 – Monday 22 November 2021

Week 99. Gosh.

Cold and clear days. November is here.

A weekend in Westbury. Dad ‘n’ daught DIY.

DIY with Dad - Turning old decking into a planter for the sage bush
DIY with Dad – Turning old decking into a planter for the sage bush

Tuesday = weeknotes, a walk down to the Abbey and back with Phil, and an early start to my working week so that I could finish up at 4.45pm. That gave me 45 mins to drive to Ewyas Harold, post my eBayed crockery, and get my COVID booster jab.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

AND I sussed out how two pieces of string could provide The Ultimate Saucepan Lid Storage Solution!

String Saucepan Lid Storage Solution
String Saucepan Lid Storage Solution

AND booked Phil and me into a weekend course with Chainsaw Sam in Jan.

Our Internet went on a go slow on Wednesday so I decamped to dad and Jean’s. Lifesavers. We ended up cancelling VWW and although the internet was fine during the day on Thursday it had another glitch in the early evening which put paid to Family Zoom.

Dropped off apples, chutney and mincmeat with T&J first thing on Friday (meeting J’s mum setting out with her metal detector) before heading over to Winchester for a morning of Dad & Daughter DIY. We had a lovely time ticking off two things on The List:

  1. Repair the broken wooden tray leg
  2. Make a worktop to go on top of my filing cabinet now it’s sitting more snugly between the wardrobe and the wall.

It turns out that the tray is one of many old Cadbury Marshmallow manufacturing trays dad got from work. I’m seeing the small stools he made for me and Tom (curved seats) and my Dolls House (roof base) in a completely new light.

DIY done, I got treated to an excellent pub lunch out with dad and Jean with my first visit to The Bunch of Carrots. VG.

Back home to set up the worktop. A PERFECT FIT:

Dad 'n' Daught DIY - Filing Cabinet Worktop
Dad ‘n’ Daught DIY – Filing Cabinet Worktop

The (late) afternoon’s main achievement was moving more stuff up into the loft, and tidying up the spare room. At Last.

I spent the weekend down in Westbury visiting C. We had a good time – went into Bath, had a potter around then settled in a pub for a late lunch and some pints. I had to put the COVID risk to the back of my mind – the train was packed and I only saw 2 other people wearing masks. The pub was very busy too. Urgh.

Fab drive there and back in the MX-5 though. The Wye Valley down to Tintern was gorgeous with the trees in their autumn splendour. And I spotted the Sex Education convenience store.

Lounged around in the sun-warmed conservatory for Sunday afternoon. Recuperating.

Dad came over on Monday for the last of the initial trio of To Dos: turning old decking from the Garden Railway Line into a planter for the sage bush. A beautiful sunny day, and a very satisfying morning for us both.

We also hatched a plan to turn some of the surplus loft boarding into shelves, which we’ll do once I’ve got some wall brackets.

After lunch I headed out to do the Cockyard Circuit. Glorious sunshine. Bright blue skies, green fields and warm russet leafed trees.

Autumn Colours on the Cockyard Circuit
Autumn Colours on the Cockyard Circuit

Should have taken my camera. The one on my iPhone doesn’t do justice to the beautiful colours.

Packed up more eBay crockery sales in the late afternoon, then sorted out flights and pre-flight hotel for Picos 2022. That plan feels like it’s come together all too easily!!

TV: Mainly the excellent Money Heist (season 1), a bit of Master of None, trying out On the Verge (meh) plus Doctor Who and Bloodlands (Phil needs to catch up).

Podcasts: History Extra, In Our Time and Lingthusiasm (earlier episodes much more interesting than the latest one I’d sampled initially).

Photos: Herefordshire week 99 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2021-11-21.


Herefordshire Week 098: Tuesday 09 – Monday 15 November 2021

Getting Things Done. Tyre trauma. Fish & chips. Apples and Cake.

Apple Picking in the Orchard
Apple Picking in the Orchard

Busy morning Tuesday, doing the Duffryn Loop and having a nice chat with P from near the farm, watching a hawk chase a buzzard and exchanging phone numbers; getting the first batch of Stuff up into the loft – mainly empty boxes and “Treasures” stored in my Office. Having hauled them up there, I think the Treasures are due for a cull. We have a bat in residence too. The mouse poo turned out to be bat poo.

Work and VWW, but not Family Zoom as dad and Jean were at the Remembrance Day Service at the Abbey. I find the “required” commemorations – 2 minutes silence, poppy-wearing – difficult. Remembrance, yes; glorifying war and nostalgia for power, no.

Friday was overcast, but Phil and I got a lot of To Dos ticked off: we took a boot-load to the recycling centre (which I realise I still refer to as The Tip, which it isn’t), bought some leather walking boots (me) / did the food shop (Phil) and paid a visit to B&Q, Dunelm and Halfords.

Late lunch, and a total blank as to how I spent the afternoon.

We had T&J round for fish & chips in the evening. Got the log stove going. Lovely.

Sunny Saturday, perfect for taking the MX-5 out for a spin and Jean to lunch in Ledbury. A lovely morning, although I did almost run out of petrol on the way home… I just made it to Locks Garage on fumes.

Back at base I spent the rest of the daylight picking windfalls from the Golden Delicious apple tree in the Orchard, which I shall remember is the one that fruits late and long, and planting out Aunty Carriage’s red camellia, which dad and Jean brought from Dinedor. It’s now sitting on the willow tree hump.

With darkness falling around 4.30pm, indoor jobs included catching up on email, making yoghurt and straining the Apple Cider Vinegar into old gin bottles. I’m not convinced I’ll be confident about using it as there were traces of mould and the vinegar is a bit cloudy. We’ll see.

Gorgeous morning on Sunday. Perfect for the Cockyard Circuit.

Fields, Camp Wood
Fields, Camp Wood

And for picking the last (almost) of the orchard apples – goodness knows what we’ll do with them all. The Apple Racks are almost full (Monday: and now are!)

Apples continued: This is about half of the day's haul
Apples continued: This is about half of the day’s haul

I planted out the second of the Dinedor donations – a hydrangea – which is now settling into its new home inside the old garden railway line near the small pond.

In less good news, whilst toing and froing from the Orchard I spotted what I thought was a hawthorn spike coming out of one of my New Tyres. Turned out to be a nail. Urgh. I started investigating the “We come to replace your tyres at your house” options as I really didn’t fancy getting a blow out driving into Hereford.

Monday was designated Christmas Cake Making Day. Delia’s Rich Fruit Cake recipe always does the job. And I always burn the top.

Christmas Cake Making Day
Christmas Cake Making Day

Dad came round mid morning to size up some of the DIY projects he and I are planning – repairing one of the old Cadbury wooden trays which is missing a foot, making a shelf to sit on top of my filing cabinet, and turning more of the old decking / railway into a planter for the sage bush.

He also took a Dad-Look at the nail and we agreed our neighbours would know more. And so it proved: C suggested taking the wheel off so that Phil and I could drive it to his preferred tyre place in town for them to look at, which he and we did. And even luckier, Bernie Jones of Bernie Jones Tyres was able to pull the wire (not nail) out and there’s no puncture. What could have been a new tyre plus call out fee turned out to be an opportunity to get to know people and places that bit better. Karma.

BJT are right next to General Dogsbody, so we bought new bags of seeds and nuts for the birds. Since Phil mended the hole in the wire mesh they’re not getting through the peanuts at quite the same rate.

Spent the early evening packing up the white china I’d sold on eBay. Such a faff packing fragile things and inevitably none of the hoarded cardboard boxes were quite the right size. I’ve still got some pieces unsold so if you want some lovely plates, bowls and cups & saucers drop me a line!

I’m getting my COVID booster tomorrow. I’d looked online on Sunday but the Hereford vaccination centre didn’t show up at all (presumably nothing available) and the nearest ones – Forest of Dean and Malvern, so not that close – were booking for late Nov / early Dec. Monday was jab 2 + 181 days and when I phoned the surgery they eventually managed to fit me in. I really want the booster plus a few weeks before my visit to the London office and our week with family / friends / holiday in WTM, WIV and WON.

I do wonder how long this mild spell will last…. A bit of me is waiting for a serious cold snap to balance it all out. We have a lot of red berries this year.

Red Holly Berries
Red Holly Berries

I spotted the first daffodil shoots too, in the planter outside the porch. Hope they’re not venturing forth too soon.

TV: The Last Dance, Master of None, Rocks, Doctor WhoWhat We Do In The Shadows (series 3). And Money Heist (season 1) – how could I forget Money Heist?!

Podcasts: History Extra.

Photos: Herefordshire week 98 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2021-11-14.

Herefordshire Week 097: Tuesday 02 – Monday 08 November 2021

(Playing catch up)

VROOOOOOOM! Picked up my Mazda MX-5. How nice is this?

Me and my MX-5
Me and my MX-5

Tuesday was a gorgeous day, hard to believe November can be so mild and sunny, and – occasionally – hot. Phil and I had a lovely morning’s walk to Ewyas Harold and back – the Deer Field and Ewyas Harold Common there and the Common and Dore Abbey back. We sat outside on the patio for coffee once we got home, and had lunch al fresco too.

Hatterall Ridge and Hay Bluff from Ewyas Harold Common
Hatterall Ridge and Hay Bluff from Ewyas Harold Common
Holly berries
Holly berries

I’d peeled and salted a bag of pickled onions on Monday evening, which meant 24 hours later I put them into jars for pickling. Two jars got the vinegar from the Psycho Pickled Onions we’d finished off earlier this year (aka the EXTRA HOT CHILLI ones) and the third jar got normal malt vinegar. Should last me a while.

Onions, Pickled
Onions, Pickled

Usual Tuesday afternoon to Thursday evening: work, with VWW on Wednesday and Family Zoom on Thursday.

Obviously, the highlight of the week was heading down to Ross on Wye to pick up my Brilliant Black Mazda MX-5 from Bowen’s Garage, once I’d paid the balance and sorted out insurance (not so much of a highlight).

I cannot rate the team at Bowen’s Garage highly enough – great car, outstanding customer service from start to finish. Five Stars.

Not a practical car, but sometimes you just have to indulge….. and the drive back, under sunny skies with the roof off, was fab.

Me and my MX-5
Me and my MX-5

I had been a bit anxious about picking the car up this morning, wondering if I’d made an expensive stupid mistake. But having driven it home I don’t think I have – it even got two gents at The Forge talking when I pulled in for petrol.

Now I shall just have to work on looking glamorous.

After all the excitement, I spent the afternoon mowing the grass. The ride on mower wouldn’t start, so I did the edges etc with the Honda mower while the battery recharged, and then had a bonfire burning the stubborn hedge trimmings and the boxes of St Andrews-era letters that dad had been keeping in the loft. If you give things long enough, memories are enough. You don’t need “stuff”.

On Saturday morning I had my long awaited booking at Ledbury Repair Café to get the replacement motor fitted into Jean’s Kenwood Chef. I’d blown the motor earlier in the year. Phil persuaded me to drive there and back in the Mazda. Oh, alright then.

Vroooooom and Zooooooom.

Having left the mixer in the Repair Team’s capable hands, we pottered around the shops and calmed down over excellent coffee and cake in the The Malthouse courtyard.

Coffee and cake, Ledbury
Coffee and cake, Ledbury

Back home, mixer repaired, we had a late lunch and then I got stuck in to sorting out the last of my loft boxes, which had turned out to contain various scrapbooks and travel souvenirs, including the Queen’s Silver Jubilee (1977), Family trip to the Somme (1980), and Inter-Railing (1991).

A Duo of Domestic To Dos wrapped up a busy day – decanting this year’s Blackberry Gin into bottles and having my first go at making yoghurt in a thermos flask. Janette’s “recipe” – and careful temperature reading – meant the yoghurt turned out beautifully. A lot easier / cheaper than the yoghurt maker!

Sunday was another gorgeous day, so we did the Terrific Tremorithic circuit in the morning, and I mowed in the afternoon. The ride on mower started fine and I whizzed around – a lot of leaves, not so much grass at this time of year.

Tremorithic Tree Tunnel
Tremorithic Tree Tunnel

I even had time  before dinner to get most of the Thomas Medallion White porcelain dinner service listed on eBay.

We had Martin Watkins and Jon with us for most of the day Monday, installing the upgraded, updated fuse box, strip lights in the loft, a second set of sockets in the utility room and more. All very satisfying.

I left Phil In Charge for the morning and had a lovely walk – another dry day – over to Ewyas Harold via the Deer Field and the Common. A new route back on footpaths from the Recreation Ground to Home Farm, over Dulas Brook for a short stretch on the road, then through the grounds of Dulas Court and footpaths up through Witney Wood, sheep fields and Cott Farm back to the Common. Home via the Abbey and the footpath behind Abbey Dore Court, and the Canns Hill footpath. Magic.

Gardening in the afternoon, pruning the crab apple tree and the Herefordshire Russet sapling, and filling in the holes left by the garden railway infrastructure Phil’s removed, which involved hauling some of the bags of earth dad’s been gifting us from the orchard and across the front lawn.

In wildlife news, we’ve got squirrels and birds feasting on the yew tree’s red berries and seeds. There’s a great gallery view from the en suite. On Saturday morning we had redwings and thrushes bombing around, and a squirrel practising its acrobatic skills.

Squirrel in the Yew Tree
Squirrel in the Yew Tree
Redwing in the Yew Tree
Redwing in the Yew Tree

On the varmint front, Phil’s current hit rate – literally – on the garage mice is 1-a-day. Soon there will be none left. Surely! At least the apple racks are untouched.

TV: Happy Valley, Worzel Gummidge, Hip-Hop Evolution and The Last Dance.

Podcasts: Keeping up with regulars History Extra and Bookclub; trying out Answer Me This, Lingthusiam and Futility Closet.

Photos: Herefordshire week 97 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2021-11-07.

Herefordshire Week 096: Tuesday 26 October – Monday 01 November 2021

Home alone. Mouse-proofing the apple racks. Sunday lunch. A long walk. Torrential rain and glorious sunshine. T-shirt weather, in November.

Sunset over Hatterall Ridge, Canns Hill
Sunset over Hatterall Ridge, Canns Hill

Into Abergavenny on Tuesday morning to drop Phil off at the train station, do a top up shop and to get my flu jab. Back to 40A for the working week, with VWW and Family Zooms as usual, then back to Abergavenny in the sheeting rain to collect Phil late on Thursday evening. It’s quiet without him.

The walk back from coffee at K’s in Kerrys Gate on Friday morning provided the perfect opportunity for a spot of blackberrying along the lanes.

We were due to have the power off all morning while the electrician replaced the fuse box, installed the lights and the magic switch in the snug, LED lights in the loft plus a timer switch for the fly zapper and a few other things, but an emergency job meant he only had time to do the snug stuff. Still, having a light switch by the door in from the kitchen, without any wiring required, really is magic. Technically, it’s a wireless / kinetic light switch and receiver.

Headed back down towards Kerrys Gate in the afternoon and on round to Riverdale and back along the river. Lovely.

Back home, chopped up some of the small apples from the orchard and got them simmering with the blackberries (and then left them too long so that they burnt the bottom of the pan….) and had just enough time to start to look at car insurance before FaceTiming with S&S.

We decided Friday night pizza should be accompanied by a film but The Dead Don’t Die proved too much horror and not enough (not any) comedy for me so we switched to try out Paris Police 1900.

A very satisfying day Saturday – starting with mouse-proofing the apple racks, which have been relocated to the garage. A good morning’s work courtesy of the 6mm wire mesh, a staple gun and wire snips.

Mouse-proofing the Apple Racks ...
Mouse-proofing the Apple Racks …

Blackberrying in Thistly Field after lunch to get a replacement supply for tomorrow’s crumble, then restacked the apples into the relocated racks and then pottered in the greenhouse finally potting out the sage cuttings I’ve had growing roots in an old water-filled yoghurt pot, and applying the black, rubber nut & bolt covers dad had left over from Jean’s new greenhouse at the bungalow.

More tiny apple chopping segued into my cooking dinner (noteworthy as it’s not all that common an event) – Chetna Makan’s Black-Eyed Beans and Mushrooms – which we ate watching the first couple of episodes of Happy Valley, often recommended, and now on iPlayer.

It poured with rain overnight and all Sunday morning, with brief patches of blue sky and dry starting around midday. Very handily timed as Dad and Jean came for lunch, and they managed to get into the house with out getting drenched. A lovely lunch – leg of pork plus roast veg, all cooked by Phil. Jean brought a camellia and hydrangea from Dinedor, and some beautiful dahlias.

Washing up done, I spent a lazy late afternoon with the telly – I had completely forgotten that the clocks had gone back overnight and had got up at old time 7.15am / new time 6.15am. So that’s my excuse.

Hallowe’en Doctor Who then another episode of Hip-Hop Evolution. We’ve abandoned Paris Police 1900 and weren’t in the mood for Horrid James Norton / Happy Valley.

Out with the GVWC on Monday to recce next Saturday’s Challenge Walk: Eaton Bishop, Madley, Brampton, Cockyard, Wormbridge, Cobhall, Clehonger (17 miles).

GVWC Challenge Walk Recce: Eaton Bishop, Madley, Brampton, Cockyard, Wormbridge, Cobhall, Clehonger (17 miles)
GVWC Challenge Walk Recce: Eaton Bishop, Madley, Brampton, Cockyard, Wormbridge, Cobhall, Clehonger (17 miles)

A gorgeous day. I can hardly believe it’s 1st November. I spent most of the day in my t-shirt and got a rosy face. The only flies in the ointment were my Strava phone running out of battery – so only a partial map – and my feet / socks / boots getting absolutely sopping wet courtesy of a waterlogged farm track.

Strava Map - GVWC Challenge Walk Recce: Eaton Bishop, Madley, Brampton, Cockyard, Wormbridge, Cobhall, Clehonger (17 miles)
Strava Map

Back home for tea and Tunnocks in the conservatory, then out over Canns Hill to capture sunset over Hatterall Ridge.

Sunset over Hatterall Ridge, Canns Hill
Sunset over Hatterall Ridge, Canns Hill

TV: Four Hours at The Capitol, Nature and Us: A History through Art, The Dead Don’t Die, Paris Police 1900, Happy Valley, Effie Gray, Doctor Who, Hip-Hop Evolution.

Podcasts: History Extra, The Essay.

Photos: Herefordshire week 96 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2021-10-31.