Herefordshire Week 102: Tuesday 07 – Monday 13 December 2021

London. Essex Part 2. Home.

Featuring Wine Wednesday, a long weekend in Walton and a Loosemore Family Meal.

Work’s done for the year.

Morning!
Morning!

Tuesday was my first day in the London office since COVID kicked off. Strange and not so strange. The part that worried me most was the morning commute and after consultation with H I opted to get the train from CJ into Waterloo and to walk the rest of the way.

Up at 6.30am – a bit of a shock to the system – and who’d imagine I’d forget which platforms the Waterloo trains run from? The train was a bit busier than I’d imagined but not so different from Monday’s journey in from Essex, and I really enjoyed the walk along the South Bank and over the Wobbly Bridge as a technicolour sunrise took over the whole sky to the east.

Settled into my Hotelling Desk and thankfully the other person who’d booked in for the day was a no show. Got my new headphones working, tracked down my mug and picked up my parcel. These things are Important. Caught up with a few folks over coffee and, at the end of the day, wine. KMCA winter drinks rounded off my first day in the office since January 2020. Then it was the Northern Line back to Hazel’s for a cheeky Deliveroo dinner.

A tiring day. But good to be back in the office and being able to meet people in person again. And I discovered that the southbound Northern Line now has a branch line that goes to Battersea Power Station!


Another full day at work on Wednesday; same commute as yesterday.

Wrapped up at 5.50pm – having to pack everything up every evening and take it back to my locker required multiple journeys and took an age – and speed walked to Bow Lane Wine Vaults for Wine Wednesday. Another “first since January 2020”.

Found Catherine in an uncomfortably busy BLWV and with Boris announcing Plan B. As we loitered in vain for a table we decided on our own Plan B – to go straight to Pizza Express. Rachel materialised as we were texting Hazel (mysteriously late) and it was wonderful to find Virginie at the pretty empty Russia Row restaurant.

Prosecco and pizzas all round, and really special to hang out again.


Thursday was a long day.

I spent the morning in the office for my last “day” at work for 2021. I’m glad I managed to get to the London office at least once this year, and just in the nick of time (Hello again, Plan B). Unfortunately the plan to meet up with D for lunch was foiled by a Ping.

Early afternoon train to Witham to meet up with Phil at his folks for a cuppa and a mince pie, then drove east to the Essex Coast and a long weekend in a seafront AirBnB back in Walton on the Naze.

Walked to M&S and Aldi to pick up supplies – walking to the shops is now a novelty – and then settled in for an evening on the sofa, nice and snug and looking forward to waking up to sea views in the morning.


Friday’s breakfast came with a sea view, then a bracing stroll along the prom to Frinton. Lots of the beach huts showing signs of Lockdown TLC. A potter along Connaught Avenue culminated in The Hospice Bookshop, where Phil bought of a couple of books on puppies…

Lunch back at base then a lazy afternoon in PJs channel surfing on the bedroom TV.

Takeaway Thai from the Pearl of Samui for dinner. Quite honestly the best Thai anywhere.


Saturday started with an amazing sunrise and the seafront flat really came into its own.

Sunrise - stage 1
Sunrise – stage 1
Sunrise - stage 2
Sunrise – stage 2

After breakfast we headed out for a mooch around Terry’s, a successful visit to Lilley’s Bakery and a stroll along the High Street checking for changes. Not so many.

Purchases dropped off at the flat, then back out to walk to Hipkins to check on the beach hut….

Beach hut reflections, Walton on the Naze
Beach hut reflections, Walton on the Naze

All good, so we continued up to the Naze Tower and on to the headland, and all the way along the estuary shore to Stone Point and Pye Sand – making the most of low tide. It’s a lovely wild stretch of strand, tucked between Hamford Water and the Walton Backwaters and Marshes.

Me, Stone Point & Pye Sand, Walton on the Naze
Me, Stone Point & Pye Sand, Walton on the Naze

Back via Hipkins / Hall Lane park with its (temporarily ?) relocated beach huts, Joy Otter Walk and the decommissioned Coastguard Station. Late lunch and a couple of hours reading before we headed round to see Margaret and Richard for tea and cake, and a glass of wine or two. Catching up on all the Walton news.


A glorious morning on Sunday with blue skies and sunshine, so breakfast done I set out for a quick spin around town checking out cafe / takeaway options ahead of the Wivenhoe arrivals. Luxuriating in T shirt weather in December I decided to stretch my legs a little further – over golden sands to the beach hut and along the front to the Naze Tower, then back via Old Hall Lane and Hall Lane to Foundry corner, the perennially muddy footpath to the Naze Marine Caravan Park and along the “sea wall” and more muddy footpath all the way to North Street. Smashing. No camera with me, of course.

With half an hour before Tom, B, Dad and Jean were due to arrive, I picked up Phil and we strolled south along the Prom, passing people eating ice creams and drinking coffee/tea al fresco at Mays, and returning to town along the upper path past Burnt Farm and the Seaview Caravan Park – ready to rendezvous with Dad and Jean, T & B.

Cloud cover caught up with us at the station rendezvous, so we picked up sandwiches and drinks at the lacklustre Potatoe Shack (yes, that’s the correct spelling) and lunched in the green kiosk near Ice Cream Central. A stroll along the sea front took us all the way to Hipkins where dad and Jean took a breather on a bench while T, B, Phil and I continued on to The Links Cafe for tea and cake. Then back to the station, where our guests headed back to WIV.

Walton Wander with Dad & Jean, T & B, and Phil
Walton Wander with Dad & Jean, T & B, and Phil

A leisurely afternoon featuring The Living Daylights, then the 6.30pm to Wivenhoe where T, J & B were waiting to take us all to the Wivenhoe House Hotel. Dad and Jean were staying there for the weekend and treated us all to a long overdue family meal. Very Christmassy, and  easy to forget Omicron, except for the masks.

Today’s the first time dad, me and Tom have been together for ages, stretching back pre-COVID.


Slow start to the day, Monday.

Winter sunrise, Walton on the Naze
Winter sunrise, Walton on the Naze

An orange and turquoise sunrise sky glimpsed through the bedroom window, and a couple of episodes of The Essay. Clouds arrived as the tide receded, and we decided we were missing home, had done all the things we really wanted to do in Walton, and that we’d drive back a day early.

So we did.

Another excellent lunch at the cafe in Ampthill Great Park, a quick shop in Ross on Wye, and home for an evening by the log stove.

Lovely.


And so ended Trip No. 6 of 2021: Essex

Destination: WTM, WON & WIV, way over there on the East Coast

When: December 2021

What: A few days in Witham (P) and Work (M) followed by 5 days in an AirBnB in Walton including dinner with dad and Jean, T, J and B in Wivenhoe.

How: Driving there and back, and the train for WTM-LST.

Why: For a seaside mini-break, time with family and to wrap up the work year “in person” (aka in the office) for the first time since Jan 2020.


TV: At Hazel’s – Masterchef; In Walton – Money Heist season 2 (not as gripping as season 1), What We Do In the Shadows (series 3), The Living Daylights.

Podcasts: The Essay, Books and Authors, History of England.


Photos: Herefordshire week 102 on Flickr.

Phil: f/e 2021-12-13.


Just spotted this is my 800th blogpost.

Herefordshire Week 101: Tuesday 30 November – Monday 06 December 2021

Essex, part 1, and London.

Back in the Barbican (Briefly)
Back in the Barbican (Briefly)

After a hectic Monday, we took things a little easier on Tuesday morning with a lovely stroll down to the Abbey, the footpath around Abbey Dore Court and across the fields there and stopping off for a quick chat with T on the way back.

Back at base, we moved the leftover loft wood into the green shed and set the rat trap by the compost bin, discovering it had already claimed one victim, a mouse from the size of the skeleton….

Justin the tiler came round on Wednesday morning to take a look at the porch and the utility room / downstairs loo, where we want to replace the Lino with red quarry tiles. All good. VWW in the evening.


We had decided over the weekend to head to Essex / London a few days earlier than originally planned so I flexed my working pattern to work Friday so that we could drive to Essex on Thursday.

Thursday turned into a long day.

Up early to discover that a cold night had meant that the raindrops on the windscreen had frozen. The drive east was a dream, clear blue skies, not too much traffic, smashing lunch at the cafe in Ampthill Great Park.  First long run in the Panda, and once at P’s folks we made good use of the car driving over to Chelmsford and back.

So far, so good.

Things started to go awry with the WIV stage of the plan – I was due to drive there to spend the weekend with T and J and to work from theirs on Friday. J’s train journey out turned into a nightmare – first train cancelled due to trespassers on the line, second train broke down before Shenfield and they were marooned there for 3 hours. It all worked out in the end though, with me meeting J at Colchester and driving on to WIV. Late night though.

Worked from WIV on Friday, T arriving late afternoon and we treated ourselves to fish & chips for tea.


Saturday was a busy day – first job was to see what was in T’s boxes from the loft which had filled up most of the car. They contained some gems, including our “attick club” membership cards and several of my long forgotten school projects. I obviously had a stage where I was obsessed with Victorian fashion.

But most of the day was spent with P and his folks. Tom provided a taxi pick up service and back in WIV we tucked into a lovely lunch laid on by Jo. Morning rain had cleared to leave beautiful blue skies and another cold but sunny day. Just right for a potter along the riverfront and around old Wivenhoe and a mooch in the bookshop. After tea and cake to warm up, I drove J & J and P home, leaving the car there and catching to train back to WIV. A good day, but T, J and I were ready for a rest that evening.


Late start Sunday, then the short drive to the University of Essex to charge the car and to go for a stroll around the campus and into Hythe. We also checked out Wivenhoe House Hotel where dad and Jean are staying next weekend.

Wivenhoe / University of Essex Campus & Hythe
Wivenhoe / University of Essex Campus & Hythe

T and J headed home late afternoon and I pottered until it was time for the St Andrews Ladies Zoom. Always so lovely to catch up, and we all have our fingers crossed that it will be third time lucky for our weekend back in St Andrews next summer.


I caught the train into London on Monday morning. First up, a quick nip into work to activate my work locker and to leave most of my stuff there. All good. The first time I’d been into the London office since January 2020 – and Reception team still recognised me 🙂

Then up to the Barbican for a long overdue coffee with silver surfer Jean, followed by a wet walk to Regents Park and a nice catch up with Charles in the Regent’s Bar & Kitchen. As afternoon turned into evening I walked via Chelsea to Hazel’s. I clocked up 15 miles all told on foot today.

Barbican Lakes
Barbican Lakes

A relaxing evening at Hazel’s indulging in Masterchef and Made in Chelsea – and a bottle of wine with healthy dinner.


TV: at home – Tick, Tick… Boom! (we only managed about 10 minutes) and Hip Hop Evolution; in WIV – various YouTube videos featuring Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf and Doctor Who (finished series 13); in SW11 – Masterchef (US version) and Made in Chelsea.

Podcasts: The Essay, Lingthusiasm and SheDunnit.


Photos: Herefordshire week 101 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2021-12-05.

Herefordshire Week 081: Tuesday 13 – Monday 19 July 2021

Holidays continued.

Heatwave.

River Colne Estuary Walk, Wivenhoe to Alresford Creek
River Colne Estuary Walk, Wivenhoe to Alresford Creek

Tuesday turned out to be sunnier than forecast, so we had a lazy day at Riverside reading and snoozing. Getting through a lot of LRBs ahead of visiting Witham on Thursday when read LRBs will be exchanged for read NYRBs.

Riverside, Wivenhoe
Riverside, Wivenhoe

An afternoon stroll around Wivenhoe with S, who spotted a muntjac deer on the meadowlands near Anglesea Road railway line.

The Wednesday plan had been to drive to the hut to make the most of the sunny day, except it wasn’t so we didn’t. More reading instead. Early evening, we strolled along the river out beyond the flood barrier, then back for a pint and an al fresco dinner out at The Black Buoy. Back for a bit of lazy telly – introduced S to the delights of Derry Girls.

Started Thursday with breakfast coffee with an LRB on the waterfront, then did Phil and I did first COVID-19 rapid lateral flow tests. Tricky getting to those tonsils….

First one
First one

Why? Because we then drove to Witham to spend the day with Phil’s folks where they treated us to a lovely take away lunch courtesy of the Tea Rooms, which we tucked into, plates on laps, in the front garden. Smashing. Top up shop at Morrisons then back to WIV leaving S to spend a few days at home. Back at base we resumed watching Godless. Liking the idea of a projector telly at 40A…..

Frinton Friday! We took the train to Frinton for morning coffee from the always excellent Bird & Bean (home of the famous Bacon Donut)….

Second breakfast
Second breakfast

… and a mooch around the shops – books from the Hospice Bookshop for Phil and half price charity shop champagne flutes for me (and in anticipation of Hazel and Catherine’s weekend visit – such demanding guests!).

A leisurely stroll along the Greensward to the hut and a late lunch up at the Naze Tower Cafe. Hardly a soul around at Hipkins Beach – but the cafe was doing good business. A super sunny day in the Sunshine Coast. We didn’t want to leave.

Happiness is Hipkins Beach on a super sunny Friday
Happiness is Hipkins Beach on a super sunny Friday

But Indian Takeaway and a gorgeous evening awaited us in Wivenhoe….

Riverside, Wivenhoe - River Colne at dusk
River Colne at dusk

Saturday and Sunday saw belated birthday celebrations with Hazel & Catherine. A sort of “Wine Weekend”. So hot!!! And so good to see them both in person again.

Birthday champagne celebrations
Birthday celebrations

A fab couple of days featuring pints at The Rose and Crown, crosswords, rigging up some shade for with a bit of washing line and a towel, champagne and pizza, a stroll along the estuary waterfront to Alresford Creek and back and slap up Sunday Roasts all round at The Black Buoy.

Sunday lunch at The Black Buoy, Wivenhoe
Sunday lunch at The Black Buoy, Wivenhoe

After a bit of toing and froing P and I decided to drive home on Monday. It was an easy drive – although the Nissan’s aircon only does hot, so we had the windows down – and we stopped at Ampthill Great Park for a cuppa, Rollright Stones near Chipping Norton for lunch and Ross for a speedy supermarket shop. Very pleased to see so many people still wearing masks, using hand sanitiser and social distancing, in spite of Monday being the fatuous and foolhardy “Freedom Day”.

Found 40A looking top notch. Watered the tomatoes, lettuces, broad beans and peas and the blackcurrant – stripped of fruit, and sadly not by TJBR, and hoovered up this year’s influx of ants in the lounge. We had had some flying ants the day before we left and I thought the ant powder would kill any later ones off too…. not so.

Finished off Godless before bed.

Still hot. Looking forward to a week’s holiday at home.


TV: Godless and Derry Girls.

Podcasts:  History Extra and Books & Authors.


Photos: Herefordshire week 81 on Flickr.

Phil: f/e 2021-07-19.

Herefordshire Week 080: Tuesday 06 – Monday 12 July 2021

Off we go to Wivenhoe!


Flexed my working pattern this week to work Tuesday morning instead of Thursday afternoon – partly to allow me more time to prep for hols and partly because Thursday was the first day in weeks that the weather forecast looked dry enough for a mow….

… which was interrupted by a visit from Welsh Water to check pressure after repairing the outside stop valve (rest assured, I had to look up that technical term). Pressure there is great, but the flow rate at the house is lower – so the v helpful WW man suggested we replace the pipe from the road to the house, and gave us some names to call. Another To Do added to our list – but well worth doing.

A bit later in the afternoon we had our home visit from the Simply Stunning flooring manager, who measured up and talked us through the options for replacing the downstairs carpet with wooden floor of some description.

Both super helpful guys.


In bird feeder news, the seeds and peanuts have been having plenty of visit from the greedy sparrow-lings and the bald headed robin is still with us. No sign of the jay. Good.

Feeding time for greedy sparrow-lings
Feeding time for greedy sparrow-lings

In the orchard, the fruit is starting to ripen – lots of apples and cherries – and the broad beans and pea pods are swelling. Lettuce is going well – at least, the ones that the slugs ? snails? birds? aren’t nibbling.

Blackcurrants....
Blackcurrants….

Friday saw the start of our holidays!

Good drive to Wivenhoe trying out a new route via M50 / M5 / A46 / Stow on the Wold and Chipping Norton – Chiltern heartlands – which proved a success. It’s a long way from the Welsh border to estuary Essex and the drive took up a lot of Friday. But so worth it – LOVELY to have some time with T, J and R at Riverside, starting with tea and cake with fizz and crisps following later and home made veggie Indian dinner – yum all round.

Cool though, and the cool and overcast theme continued on Saturday morning. We ventured out for a tour of The Plot and, a bit later, for a Tour de Wiv and up to the Co-Op. Lunch and then farewell to TJR. A leisurely afternoon reading indoors, then Godless in the top floor lounge.

Sunday promised sunshine so we decided to head over to Walton. Clouds and distant rain dominated the skies as we sat on the train from WIV to WON…. Uh oh. But the Sunshine Coast turned on the charm and not only did we find the beach hut looking good courtesy of AJ’s March repaint, but the sun came out and we had a lovely, lovely day sitting out on the prom, reading. Not many people around at all. Can’t all be watching The Football.

No 20, Hipkins Beach
No 20, Hipkins Beach

Back at base, dinner then out to pick up S from Stansted. Hardly another car on the road – everyone watching England v Italy in the (postponed) Euro 2020 final. Even we had the radio on, listening to the match and timed things perfectly to dash into the house to watch extra time and penalties right through to the bitter end, accompanied by cheese and biscuits and wine with S.


After indulging in a lazy Monday morning, I took the train to WON for my annual trim, bought a few things from Bartall’s and headed on up to the beach hut. Once again the gloomy weather forecast proved wrong and I had a smashing lunch up at the Naze Tower cafe, with a copy of the LRB. They have installed a coffee shed / van which offers a great range of sandwiches, coffee, cake and ice cream and a new wooden sheltered seating area, as well as the usual tables and chairs. Really lovely.

And a hot and sunny afternoon – the Sunshine Coast strikes again!

Phil arrived late afternoon, along with the clouds, and we headed over to M&R’s for a good catch up over Chinese takeaway. A real treat.

A good start to our holidays.


TV:  Ozark (season 3) at home,  Godless  and The Football (!!) in WIV.

Podcasts:  The History of England, You Must Remember This, History ExtraBooks & Authors and The Essay – Albania!


Photos: Herefordshire week 80 on Flickr.

Phil: f/e 2021-07-19.

Where Next: Wivenhoe & Walton, Essex

Trip No. 3 of 2021: Essex

Destination: WIV & WON, way over there on the East Coast

When: July 2021

What: A long week based in Wivenhoe courtesy of a house swap. Hoping to fit in a few day trips to Walton on the Naze and a day in WTM and to celebrate two years’ worth of birthdays with Hazel, Catherine and Rach

How: Driving there and back, and the train for WIV-WON

Why: For a low stress holiday by the seaside with family and friends