Herefordshire Week 152: Tuesday 22 – Monday 28 November 2022

Christmas Cake Making. Rain. Sun. Back to work.

Two sparrowhawks!! (But not Two Soups. Or swoops)

Tuesday afternoon’s excitement (other than working my way though the 746 emails in my work inbox) was Phil spotting a sparrowhawk sat on the top bar of the gate. We watched it for a while, while it watched the pear tree birds, eyeing up some snacks…..

Sparrowhawk on the gate
Sparrowhawk on the gate

Luckily for those pear tree birds, a bigger sparrowhawk suddenly materialised and drove off the first one. I missed all that excitement as I’d gone back to work.

We had a lot of heavy rain and high winds Wednesday and Thursday. The ground is saturated, the waterbutts are full.

And yet we sat outside in glorious sunshine eating our lunch on Tuesday. A good day for washing the last of the Nepal stuff, including the kit bags….

I had a beautiful sunny walk on Friday morning: Camp Crossroads – Duffryn – Cockyard – Kerrys Gate.

Blue sky. Oak tree.
Blue sky. Oak tree.

Back to admin on Friday afternoon, after that lovely walk.

We treated ourselves to lunch out on Saturday, at The Gaff in Abergavenny. Excellent. We’ll go again.

Lunch at The Gaff, Abergavenny
Lunch at The Gaff, Abergavenny

Woke up feeling a bit blue on Sunday. Uncle M or 2 glasses of lunchtime red wine – who’s to know?

Spent the morning making this year’s Christmas Cake – Delia Smith’s Rich Fruit Cake recipe is always reliable. My cakes always come out of the oven a little on the brown side but I’m sure this one will taste lovely all the same. They always do. And not just because of the brandy.

Christmas Cake Making 2022
Christmas Cake Making 2022

Joined Phil outside for an hour raking up the leaves and squashing them into the two black bin bags that had been my Nepal trip kit bag liners, following one of Monty Don’s November Tips.

I headed back outside for a spell after lunch – cut back all the dead foliage and giant nettles around the large pond, pulled up ivy by the small pond and weedkillered the drive, around the conservatory and along the drainage ditch on the west side of the house.

Then got the log stove going, read and solitaired listening to the History Extra podcast about the Mary Rose. Then some computing / admin.

Another beautiful morning Monday. Pottered in the greenhouse, trimming the tomato plants and repotting some of the smaller strawberry pots plus one of the indoors orchids.

Zoom with R. Lunch with T & L. At dusk, the sparrowhawk returned to the gate…. Before dinner, Wine Time Zoom with CH & H. A sociable day.

TV: Happy Valley (series 2), Snowfall (season 4 – after we’d watched the season 4 recap and realised we didn’t remember any of it….), Rev (series 3).

Podcasts: Books and Authors, BookclubHistory Extra, Lingthusiasm.

Photos: Herefordshire week 152 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2022-11-27.

Herefordshire Week 151: Tuesday 15 – Monday 21 November 2022

Five days in Nepal; Two in Herefordshire.

Tuesday: Ghyaru (3730 m) – Pokhara / पोखरा (830 m). We trekked from Ghyaru down to Lower Pisang (3250 m), then caught a jeep to Besi Sahar / Besishahar / वेसीशहर (760 m), said farewell to the crew and changed into a very nice estate car. Unfortunately the road to Pokhara was just as bumpy as the one from Lower Pisang: monsoon damage and road repairs. A long day’s driving. Dinner with Tseten and Tenzi in the Tashiling Tibetan Refugee Camp Settlement.

Wednesday: A day in Pokhara. Tashiling, Peace Stupa, Boat to Lakeside, Shopping, Taxi back to the lovely Siddhartha Garden Hotel for beer and dal mhut before dinner.

Thursday: Morning / midday flight from Pokhara to Kathmandu. None of us wanted to return to / on those terrible roads.

Friday: A day in Kathmandu, farewells to Val, Sonia and Sara, killing time at the hotel until 10pm. To the airport for my overnight flight back to the UK.

Saturday: More time to kill at KTM airport until my Qatar Airways flight QR 0645 (KTM-DOH) and QR 0327 (DOH-LGW). Thameslink and Elizabeth Line to PAD. GWR industrial action impact not as bad as feared – I got the 13.50 PAD-WOF-HFD, where Phil was waiting for me. Beaming smiles all round. Cheese and handmade wholemeal, seeded bread for tea – then bed.

Sunday: Coffee and croissants for breakfast. Unpacking, washing etc. Time for a speedy mow just before the rain set in – got the long grass cut and picked up some of the leaves too. Wind and rain during the afternoon brought more leaves down mind you…. Pizza à la Phil for dinner!

Monday: Heavy rain. More unpacking / putting away. Logged onto work laptop to download email ahead of tomorrow afternoon (wound up having to get Tech Support – 4 weeks off = password expiry). Prepped actual itinerary spreadsheet. Worked through weeknotes backlog. Over to Winchester to see dad and Jean: third mince pie of the season – and we’re still only in November!

In greenhouse news, we are still getting cherry toms and strawberries!

TV: The English (meh – we stopped watching after 2 episodes), Happy Valley (series 2)

Podcasts: History ExtraBooks and Authors, Bookclub.

Photos: Herefordshire week 151 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2022-11-20.

Herefordshire Week 150: Tuesday 08 – Monday 14 November 2022

In Nepal. From Manaslu to Nar & Phu. Election build up and over the snowy Kang La Pass (5306 m).

Tuesday: Bhimtang (3720 m) – Tilche (2300 m). The final day on the Manaslu Circuit.

Wednesday: Tilche (2300 m) – Chhauchha. Jeep to Koto  (2620 m), early lunch, then off into Nar & Phu! Very, very narrow river valley. A lot of up.

Thursday: Chhauchha – Upper Chyakhu (3500 m). More up. The valley broadened out at Meta.

Friday: Upper Chyakhu (3500 m) – Phu (4080 m). SO COLD.

Saturday: Phu (4080 m) – Nar (4110 m). Down to 3450 m and then up again.

Sunday: Nar (4110 m) rest day. Sunny sightseeing, avoiding electioneering.

Monday: Nar (4110 m) – Kang La Pass (5306 m) – Ghyaru (3730 m).

You’ll have to wait for my Photos & Notes post for the details.

Photos: Herefordshire week 150 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2022-11-13.

Herefordshire Week 149: Tuesday 01 – Monday 07 November 2022

In Nepal. Manaslu Circuit Days 4 to 10: over the snowy Larke La (5106 m)

Tuesday: Prok (2397 m) – Hinang Gompa (3200 m)

Wednesday: Hinang Gompa (3200 m) – Sama Gaon (3500 m)

Thursday: Sama Gaon (3500m): Acclimatisation day – Punggyen Gompa (3870 m)

Friday: Sama Gaon (3500 m) – Samdo (3860 m)

Saturday: Samdo (3860 m): Acclimatisation day – up the Mayol Khola / Samdo Glacier valley to the Yak Kharka and on up to 4760 m. Eye clinic and LED light distribution.

Sunday: Samdo (3860 m) – Dharmasala (4460 m)

Monday: Dharmasala (4460 m) – Larkya La pass (5106 m) – Bhimtang (3720 m)

You’ll have to wait for my Photos & Notes post for more details!

Photos: Herefordshire week 149 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2022-11-06.

Herefordshire Week 148: Tuesday 25 – Monday 31 October 2022

Off to Nepal to trek the Manaslu Circuit and Nar Phu, with Val and team, Sonia and Sara.

Up early on Tuesday to catch the 06.43 to London. Parked the car at the pay & display for the day – Phil returned from his long weekend in London / Witham later in the day and drove it home. We rendezvoused for coffee and croissant at Paddington.

Overnight flight to Kathmandu via Doha on Qatar Airways QR 0004 (LHR-DOH) and QR 0648 (DOH-KTM).

At KTM airport, the efficiency of the new improved tourist visa process (provided you fill out the form before you go) was offset by there only being 2 security scanners, plus Tihar Holiday meant luggage was slow to materialise.

Mingmi met me outside the new “international” entrance and organised a taxi to the Marshyangdi Hotel, Thamel.

Met Sonia and Sara, did some errands with Val, falafel wrap, had a nap. Dinner at Thakali Bhanchha Ghar.

On Thursday, S, S and I got a taxi over to Boudhanath Stupa for the morning. Back in Thamel, our coffee and cake quest was only partially successful – Tihar holidays struck again. Dinner at the hotel (Tihar again).

We set off early on Friday to drive from Kathmandu to Machhakhola – you can stay in the same jeep (provided it’s local) all the way through to Machhakhola, which is where the new road (rocky, dusty jeep track from Arughat via Arkhet Bazar, Sotikhola and Lapubesi) now runs to. In Machhakhola, the village Tihar party procession keep us entertained (to a point) through to the early evening.

Saturday: trekked Machhakhola (930 m) to Salleri (1360 m). We were on the proto-road all the way to the new bridge over the Budi Gandaki to Dobhan / दोभान (1050 m) – ie not nice walking. Once over on the west side of the river we were on the Manaslu Circuit trail – but the road is being carved out of the hillsides on the eastern side.

Sunday: trekked from Salleri (1360 m) to Deng (1870 m). Lots of landslides, some nasty ones between Nyak Phedi and Deng mean that the trail gets very narrow and precarious, with long, sheer drops down to the raging torrent down in the gorge below. Lots of up and down to the river too, where landslides have destroyed the trail completely.

Monday: trekked from Deng (1870 m) to Prok (2397 m). LED solar light distribution in Deng, Rana and Bihi. The hydo-electric power station high up in the forest just before Prok is now in service. Sara and I got stung by hornets at the old gompa in Prok.

You’ll have to wait for my Photos & Notes post for more details!

Photos: Herefordshire week 148 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2022-10-30.