Herefordshire Week 001: Monday 30 December 2019 – Sunday 05 January 2020

Adieu London, Hello Herefordshire.

A week of packing, cleaning – and worrying – interspersed with socialising. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker with Hazel at the new Everyman in Broadgate Circle, lunch with Simon, Susa and Jane, Troy at the British Museum and TJBR round for dinner and presents.

The worry/ies? Would the Medium Van we’ve hired from Enterprise be big enough for all the still-accumulating boxes? Would I remember how to drive? Did I need any further ID docs for our Hereford car hire on Friday? Will how we’re leaving the flat meet the expectations of our spare room renters?

Meals have been imaginative usings up of the things in the cupboards, fridge and freezer. A larger than normal number of Gs&Ts.

We welcomed in 2020 quietly. A combination of “that’s what we usually do” and post-packing/cleaning/worrying weariness. I was in bed by 10pm, finishing off Granta 85: Hidden Histories, which turned out for be my 1000th review on SparklyTrainers.

Thursday 02 January we moved to Herefordshire. The van hire went fine, as did driving back to the Barbican and packing the van. Excellent service from Enterprise Rent-A-Car in both Tower Bridge and Hereford. Highly recommended. The drive west featured the A40/M40/A40/M5/M50/A49, with a late lunch stop off at The Old Prison cafe, just off the Fosse Way near Northleach.

Unpacking the van proved quicker than packing it had been (no lifts, fire doors or road crossings to contend with) and we had time to enjoy a cup of tea and some tiffin to recharge our batteries before we started to put all the boxes into roughly the right rooms.

We are here!
We are here!

Friday was designated car quest day 1. Our mission to find a second hand Honda Jazz took us to Blenheim and Stourbridge, without any joy. However, we did come to the conclusion that we should ditch the Jazz fixation, and focus on what was on offer locally. We had spent the drive back from Stourbridge contingency planning what to do if we couldn’t buy a car before the hire car goes back on Tuesday. You definitely need a car in this part of the world. That said, you would manage with supermarket shopping deliveries, taxis and the local bus services, but you’d need plenty of time (and money for those taxis) and the ability to get out into the surrounding countryside would be limited.

Car quest day 2 proved far more successful and yesterday morning we bought a 10 year old Nissan Note from M3 Auto on the Rotherwas Industrial Estate, located courtesy of AutoTrader’s excellent filtered search.  All being well we will be picking it up Tuesday morning after it’s been MOTed, had the 2 rear tyres replaced and the interior re-valeted.

Dinner at The Temple Inn with dad and Jean last night. It changes hands in a couple of weeks time. I wonder what changes that will bring. Glad we managed one last meal there from Gill and family.

Spent most of today clearing my “office” room (involving close encounters with childhood toys – the wooden garage and the Lego in its case, both made by dad, plus Patty People (aka Fisher Price Little People) and Playmobil. Also lots of dust), moving in dad’s old desk and setting up my LW office. All working perfectly. Phew. Let’s hope the wifi continues to hold up….

We did fit in the Kerry’s Gate – Bacton walk after lunch, and I sorted out car insurance this evening, and now this first set of Herefordshire Week Notes (henceforth HWN) is done it’s time to relax. More unpacking / clearing / cleaning calls tomorrow.

Evening viewing: The Trial of Christine Keeler and Dracula. Both excellent. We do have lots of flies here at the cottage however. Gulp.

An eventful 7 days. It feels longer than a week.

(With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I’d taken “before” photos of the rooms we’ve rearranged.)


28 April 2020 Update: Easy access to my Herefordshire Week 001 photos on Flickr.

Where next: Herefordshire

2020 is going to be a rather different year as Phil and I are moving to Herefordshire in January to try out the country life (but not Country Life). I’m still aiming to get a few trips in, but living in Herefordshire opens up a whole new world of walking opportunities, and travelling further afield means getting to grips with regional flights or factoring in a 3 hour plus train journey to/from London.

So….

Trip No. 1 of 2020: Relocating to Herefordshire

Destination: Abbey Dore, a hamlet half way between Hereford and Abergavenny.

When: January – June 2020, possibly long term. We’ll see how it goes.

What: Living in rural Herefordshire, with Phil. Working remotely for LW (I got the official approval this week).

How: With the cooperation of family, friends and work.

Why: I’ve spent a lot of my life in Herefordshire, whilst growing up in Solihull, studying at St Andrews and Chester, and working in London. We’ve had a holiday home there since I was tiny, which is where Phil and I will be based, and dad and Jean live half an hour’s drive away.

Forty Acres
Forty Acres

I did my first walking in the Black Mountains, up Skirrid and along Offa’s Dyke. I love the history of the Welsh Marches, and the fact that we have a Cistercian Abbey and a Saxon Motte and Bailey castle (remains of) within walking distance, and stone castles scattered across the landscape. Not to forget Bacton, Kilpeck, Craswall and Cwmyoy.

Skirrid sunset, from Forty Acres
Skirrid sunset, from Forty Acres

I’m ready to spend some time living in a green world rather than a grey one, with space to grow things and to make and store things. The preserving pan and sewing machine will be coming with us.

“But why leave London?” I hear you ask –

“Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”
— Samuel Johnson

Well, I am somewhat tired of London.

I love the fact that everything is on the doorstep, from shops to cinemas to museums, that I have family and friends within easy reach, that every Wednesday I can meet friends for wine and pizza, and that trains and flights offer a boundless choice of destinations near and far.

But I don’t love the noise, the early morning dustbin lorries and delivery vans announcing to all and sundry that they are reversing or turning left, the late night drunken revellers shouting and singing as they try to navigate the residential back streets of the Barbican, the police helicopters hovering over possible crime scenes in the middle of the night or monitoring protests and public gatherings during the day. The construction sites, providing relentless background noise of jackhammers and power tools at play, for new luxury developments in place of buildings with civic and social worth, signifying the Corporation of London’s distain for its residential communities and neighbours.

So. Watch this space.

Forty Acres sign post, Kerry's Gate
Forty Acres sign post, Kerry’s Gate