A good start to the final month of 2020. A glorious sunny Tuesday morning so I ignore my To Do List and headed out for a walk along the lanes, doing “Tremorithic backwards” aka Abbey Dore – Cwm Hill – Tremorithic Road – Bacton – Kerrys Gate.
I did slightly regret that I hadn’t driven over to Longtown to do the Cat’s Back though….
Good week at work. Got a lot of small projects wrapped up or to the stage where they’re with someone else to do something, which at this time of year often drifts by mutual consent, into January.
Friday forecast had featured snow, but all we saw were a few light flurries in the afternoon, and the morning was lovely.
Friday morning also featured half an hour or so in the company of a stray collie that wandered past the kitchen window …. Phil had met his owners while he was out on a run and they were scouring the lanes looking for Sparky. Turns out they all live at the farm down the road, and that Sparky is an old fella – which explains why he was easy to catch and corral and seemed quite happy pottering around the lounge and kitchen giving everything the once over, and going nose-to-nose with his reflection in the mirror in the hall.
A nice way to meet some more of our neighbours.
After all that excitement Phil and I made a tactical trip into Hereford for library click & collect and then out to Rotherwas to the new Donation Station that St Michael’s Hospice have set up there. Perfect location, once you’ve navigated through the service roads of the Tom Head section of the Industrial Estate. There’s a lot more there than you see from the main Holme Lacy Road.
Then back into Hereford via Asda for a quick supermarket shop and General Dogsbody to restock on the bird feeder peanuts. The woodpecker wolfs them down. Then into town proper for an eye test (me), leather walking boot acquisition (Phil) and Christmas present pick ups. Leather walking boots are on my list too as the fields around here get muddy and wet in the winter and the grass can be long and wet all year round, so leather boots seem like a good option for dry feet for longer walks where wellies won’t quite do.
Back home via Dinedor and Lock’s Garage. Friday night pizza in the company of the log stove.
Saturday morning we mulled over the possibility of getting a Border Collie puppy from one of the farms in Abbey Dore – picking up on something the folks we’d met yesterday had mentioned. Tricky….. And eventually decided against it. Not the right time and probably not the right dog.
Did the Bacton Square and called in at Yew Tree for tea and the first mince pie of the festive season. Late lunch of leftover pizza and a lazy afternoon by the log stove.
Sunday saw the purchase of two “new” front tyres for the car and learned that they’d worn so much because the tracking is out. Not great timing.
Telly: The Good Lord Bird (still only rates an OK) and We Are Who We Are – we’re seeing a lot of Italy on the small screen this year.
Frost. Fog. Stollen. Greenhouse construction parts 6 & 7 – now with added glass.
I clocked up some TOIL time at work this week, working Tuesday and Friday mornings. Had my appraisal on Thursday. “Glowing”.
A chilly night Wednesday gave way to a cold and frosty Thursday morning, with a streaky sunrise over Garway. Gorgeous, so we went for a pre-work stroll over to Thistly Field and back for photos.
The fog rose up from the valleys and over our ridge overnight, settling in for what turned out to be a few days. And Friday was cold too, so I broke out the fatballs for the birds.
Phil and I headed back to Thistly Field for a walk after lunch – and more photos – doing the loop back via Wellfield. The dad we’d met out on Tremorithic Road last Sunday drove by and stopped for a chat. Lovely.
Following the fatball logic, Phil and I broke open the Mini Stollen at teatime.
Saturday was fog bound from the start, and I felt ropey with a tension headache that lasted most of the day. (No, I don’t think it was penance for Starting the Stollen before the Festive Season officially starts.)
Still, that didn’t stop me making three and a half jars of grapefruit marmalade in the afternoon. That made up for a slightly frustrating morning trying to turn my Forty Acres 2020 blogposts into a Blurb Book.
Leaving the marmalade setting in the conservatory, I finished off Lost Acre sat in front of the log stove, and discovered that getting cold fingers and feet during the morning meant a return of my chilblains.
Sunday morning and lunchtime were spent working on the greenhouse construction, getting almost all the glass in, which was very satisfying.
Over a late lunch, we’d also spotted two Long Tailed Tits visiting the bird feeders. Magic! Then, in what was left of the afternoon, I did the Cockyard walk enveloped in fog. Enjoyable all the same. And I pulled the barbed wire out of the hedge / style into Thistly Field.
Tasty Hot Pot for tea, with more of The Good Lord Bird (not gripped).
Monday, the fog had finally – FINALLY – disappeared.
More greenhouse in the morning. Got all the glazing done plus we discovered a box with all the drainpipe kit in. A water butt is planned… Still got to build the “staging” (or shelving, I’d call it) that goes inside.
Afternoon: Bacton backwards, then bramble snipping, barbed wire winding and some hauling of big branches of brash to the bonfire.
Evening: Caught up with Hazel and Helen over Zoom. It was St Andrews Day after all.
In COVID news, we’re in Tier 2 from Wednesday/Thursday (confusion reigns as to when, precisely). I’d be more aggrieved, except that there are only 3 places in Tier 1… and two of those are Islands.
I spent some of Tuesday morning weeding my recipe folders before heading out for a walk. I had a good seven mile leg stretch to Kerrys Gate – Stone Street – Cockyard – Duffryn Farm – Camp Crossroads – Wellfield.
Low cloud but warm, and the hedgerow shrub that has the funky pink flowers now has red / orange berries, which means I now know it’s a Spindle (aka Euonymus europaeus).
Opening the downstairs curtains first thing on Friday, I saw a buzzard down by the log store. After a microsecond Mexican Stand Off, it flapped off slowly up the slope and towards the rope swing. Amazing.
The rest of Friday was a getting things done day: fixing a Contract Express glitch at work first thing, then into Hereford with Phil for a big shop (Aldi, Sainsbury’s, ASDA), flu jab, petrol and library click and collect (by the skin of my teeth, having run all the way there from the ASDA car park).
Got the wood burner going as dusk fell for a lovely FaceTime with Janette followed by Blackberry G&T then pizza plus Pubs and Puppies.
Caught up with Rachel and Carl on Saturday – a grey day. Hoping to get down to Wilts to see them in December.
Sunday provided a pick-me-up: a gorgeous sunny morning and Phil and I did a smashing walk up to Kerrys Gate – Bacton – Tremorithic Road – Cwm Hill – Abbey Dore. Super sunshine and technicolour colours.
Home for lunch then an afternoon of bonfiring the brash followed by an early evening FaceTime with Jenny over in Silicon Valley.
I picked the last of our lettuce and dug some ash from the wood stove into the soil of the “herb bed extension”. Felt like A Good Idea. Who knows….
A quick trip into Hereford on Monday morning to deliver hotel toiletries, chutney and boxes to Hereford Food Bank, and more Greenhouse Construction in the afternoon.
We got the bloody doors on. Next up: installing all the glass….
More greenhouse construction. Christmas Cake made. Sorting out and reading.
But, the sheep are back!
Phil and I did the Bacton square on Tuesday morning, bumping into the farmer who has the sheep in the field opposite and adjacent to Forty Acres. A good chat. He’d bought the sheep at Hereford market – they’d come from Builth Wells – and raises them over winter to sell on in the spring. He’d lost eight to acorns, down by Abbey Dore Court.
Afterwork Zooms Tuesday (Rach), Wednesday (VWW) and Thursday (family). I’m trying to stop myself working through to 8pm and a commitment to a Zoom helps, although I did spend the first 15 mins of Family Zoom finishing up an email…..
Too shattered for my planned FaceTime with Janette on Friday, and Jenny’s work foiled our catch up on Saturday.
A lovely surprise parcel arrived on Thursday. Completely unexpected. But we now have 6 posh wine glasses – thanks Cat 🙂
More greenhouse construction on Friday morning, getting the frame up and the roof beam in.
I made our Christmas Cake in the early afternoon and I realised I was overdoing things when I blew the motor in Jean’s old Kenwood Chef and then hit my head on the worksurface getting out mum’s old Magimix. I do have a bad habit of wanting to get everything done, and not realising when I’m done in.
So, cake in the oven, I settled in the lounge with a book. Having finished Madeline Miller’s excellent Circe, I started on Ben Aaronovitch’ s False Value – lots of fun in the high tech world of Silicon Roundabout. And there was time for a chat with Val too.
Pizza for dinner, and we took a break from our current TV staple (Gomorrah) to watch some more factual fare courtesy of the BBC, starting with the first episode of 12 Puppies and Us (educational – we are still playing fantasy dog, and I’m still holding a candle for a collie….) before moving on to Saving Britain’s Pubs with Tom Kerridge.
Spent a rainy Saturday sorting stuff. Phil and I worked through the “junk shop” piles in the spare room – bundling clothes hangers, rationalising the wardrobes and clearing bubble wrap and boxes. Much more under control.
I then tackled my personal filing, reintegrating the letters etc that have arrived here since January with the filing folders that came from London in September. I now have another box of old papers to burn. I also came across a notelet that my mum sent to “Aunty Carriage” right after I was born, which ends “VERY SUPER” 🙂
Jobs done, time for more reading in the lounge.
Decanted my Blackberry Gin, and had a small taste. It is a lovely dark purple but doesn’t taste very brambly….
More rain on Sunday, which foiled our plans for a walk in the morning but we managed to get up to Kerrys Gate and back in the mid afternoon. In between, I chatted with Tom, read and pottered.
The day’s highlight was a St Andrews’ Ladies Zoom organised by Helen W complete with Quiz. Smashing. I’m really hoping we’ll manage our weekend back in St Andrews next May.
Greenhouse construction part 4 on Monday morning doing more work on the roof, preceded by a walk to Wormbridge where I spotted the red brick farm sells its spare free range eggs. Handy.
(Not really visible, but we got the first bit of glass in – the window / vent in the roof.)
We also got a quote for the loft insulation/boarding out. As Jean says, we’ll have to get used to “Herefordshire Time”.
In Nature News, I don’t think I’ll ever tire of watching the small birds visiting our bird feeders, and we can get really quite close. We’ve now got Coal Tits accompanying the families of Blue Tits and Great Tits, plus Chaffinches and Robins, Blackbirds and greedy Greater Spotted Woodpeckers.
The Fieldfares seem to have flown, with Starlings (I think) roosting in the Oak Tree in Kiln Field (aka where the Sheep Field). No sign of the cock pheasant that used to strut around the place. Perhaps he had too close an encounter with a car….