Herefordshire Week 187: Tuesday 25 – Monday 31 July 2023

Wivenhoe, Walton on the Naze, Brightlingsea.

Walton on the Naze - me and Phil on the pier
Walton on the Naze – me and Phil on the pier

On Tuesday it was off to Walton for the day. Rendezvoused at the station with Phil and Sue and we strolled into town taking in the new shops (a bookshop / coffee shop / project space in the old Indian restaurant!) and expanded businesses (The Good Taste cafe – my favourite – now extends round the corner into the former ladies fashion / dress shop). I don’t know if it’s because we’ve been away for a while, but Walton feels like a more thriving small town than it used to.

The pier revamp has resulted in the arcade machines taking over almost the whole of the inside space. There are a few (new) takeaways by the entrance and some of the old funfair rides have been set up towards the back and outside – not a bad set of changes really. The most surprising change is the inside climbing walls which were proving very popular.

Walton on the Naze - new "Walton Pier" carpet. Very Instagrammable
Walton on the Naze – new “Walton Pier” carpet. Very Instagrammable

We strolled all the way to the new end of the pier – the RNLI life boat dock and beyond is fenced off due to the condition of the pier.

Lovely views along the Sunshine Coast albeit with a few gunmetal grey clouds.

Walton on the Naze - from the pier
Walton on the Naze – from the pier

A short drive to the Naze for lunch at the Naze Tower which was when the heavy rain arrived. We sheltered first in the smart wooden gazebo then dashed over to the Tower and had a cup of tea sat at one of the first floor tables in the gallery space.

Once the skies cleared we walked on to the hut – finding everything in good condition.

Walton on the Naze - Back at the Beach Hut
Walton on the Naze – Back at the Beach Hut

Chairs outside for a spot of reading and a swim for Sue. Hardly anyone else about – and it’s school holidays.

5.30pm we said our farewells and set off on the drive to STN to drop off Sue, returning via Witham to drop off Phil then Wivenhoe for me.

Wednesday was a gorgeous sunny day. Ate a leisurely breakfast out by the river reading the LRB. Picked up Phil and Janet from the station and drove us all on to Brightlingsea for a dip in the Lido then on to the Beth Chatto Gardens for tea and cake.

Sempervivum grid, Beth Chatto Gardens
Sempervivum grid, Beth Chatto Gardens

After accompanying Janet back home, Phil returned to Wiv.

Thursday started cool, a good day for reading, then a stroll around Wivenhoe as the day brightened up followed by a spell sat by the river.

A bit of time on email looking into accommodation options for the Beacons Way days 3, 4 and 5.

Friday was meant to be The Sunny Day. Sadly not, but another good day for reading and a stroll – this time along the estuary to Arlesford Creek.

Wivenhoe Waterside Walk
Wivenhoe Waterside Walk

Successfully booked accommodation for both nights of the next stage of the Beacons Way.

And worked out how to get the code to embed Flickr photos into weeknotes on my iPad, which meant I was able to finalise and publish last week’s.

Saffron Indian takeaway for dinner,  because here we can.

What a treat .....
What a treat …..

Saturday featured reading inside and outside, a stroll up to the bookshop and the Coop and back via the Deli, and leftover curry.

Sunday saw more reading, a stroll along the riverside towards Colchester and back, then Sunday lunch at The Black Buoy.

Sunday Lunch at The Black Buoy, Wivenhoe
Sunday Lunch at The Black Buoy, Wivenhoe

Back at base, as the rain sort of set in, I indulged in an afternoon vegging in from of the telly finishing The Light in the Hall, and then watching, loving, the Wham! documentary on Netflix. Sniff. I still can’t quite believe George Michael is dead. And that Wham! were only around for 4 years. So many singable songs, the soundtrack of my teens.

Monday was wet, a good day for driving home. Another good journey with a top up shop at Ross on Wye en route and tea and a Wivenhoe Norwegian Bakery sticky bun back home. Greenhouse looking good – thanks dad and Jean. First apples nearly ready for picking. Ponds full.

Admin, then dinner and telly.

TV: Halt and Catch Fire (finished season 1, started season 2), The Light In The Hall, Wham!

Podcasts: The Forum, The History of England.

Photos: Herefordshire week 187 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2023-07-31.

Herefordshire Week 186: Tuesday 18 – Monday 24 July 2023

Beacons Way Days 1 & 2. Gardening. Off to Essex. Day trip to London.

Me, Sara and Sonia at the Crug Mawr Trig Point
Me, Sara and Sonia at the Crug Mawr Trig Point

More Rain.

Rain returned Tuesday. A good day for admin, and then into Hereford for more admin-y type things. LED call in the evening, followed by my first post-retirement KMCA catch up.

On Wednesday and Thursday I walked the first two days of The Beacons Way with Sonia and Sara. Read the write up in my blogpost. Thankfully we had two days of good weather – and could see the downpours deluging everywhere else!

Beacons Way Day 1: Abergavenny to Llanthony, 22km / 13.5 miles, 850m / 2790ft ascent, via Skirrid / Ysgyryd Fawr (486m) and Hatterrall Hill (531m).

Strava Map & Graph: Beacons Way Day 1: Abergavenny to Llanthony
Strava Map & Graph: Beacons Way Day 1: Abergavenny to Llanthony

Beacons Way Day 2: Llanthony to Crickhowell, 19km / 12 miles, 890m / 2920ft ascent, via Bal Bach (520m), Crug Mawr (550m) and Crug Hywel / Table Mountain (451m).

Strava Map & Graph: Beacons Way Day 2: Llanthony to Crickhowell
Strava Map & Graph: Beacons Way Day 2: Llanthony to Crickhowell

Phil and I made the most of the third (and final) day of dry weather on Friday to do some garden jobs. Phil scythed (and encountered many toads large and small) and I:

  • Pulled up plum growth below the pond
  • Transplanted 4 baby yews I found near the quarry into pots
  • Cleared the fenced edge of the large pond of bindweed, dead cow parsley, ground elder, giant nettles etc etc etc
  • Cleared the ground elder under the yew tree by the hedgehog house
  • Swept the tree house deck (lots of yew leaves and seeds)
  • Pruned the coffin gooseberry and planted larger cuttings in pots
  • Picked peas (6 pods) and dwarf beans (4) and 2 strawberries and 4 sweet peas
  • Planted out the last of the leeks into long plastic planter. Rough and ready but better than the shallow tray there were in…

I also took some photos of the large fungi at far end of lawn – never seen those before.

Big fungi....
Big fungi….
Big fungi.... with kitchen scissors for scale
Big fungi…. with kitchen scissors for scale

Before dinner I spent an hour working out route options for day 3 & 4 of the Beacons Way. Most of the time was spent on trying to work out bus routes….

Rain returned with a vengeance on Saturday.

Good weather for another hour looking at days 3, 4 & 5 of the Beacons Way. Again, most of the time was spent on trying to work out bus routes…. until I found Transport for Wales’ super handy TrawsCymru Bus journey planner. I’d wasted a lot of time on Stagecoach’s website which only shows their services (which took me a while to realise).

Flickred my Beacons Way photos (and some older ones), prepped these weeknotes and wrote my blogpost covering Days 1 & 2 of the Beacons Way.

Then down the lane for early tea – F&C with TJL.

Up early on Sunday for the drive to Essex.

As we were eating our early breakfast, we were treated to a pair of hares in Kiln field…..

A Pair of Hares
A Pair of Hares

… and a green woodpecker adult showing its young where to find the best bugs on our verge and drive.

Green woodpeckers - adult and juvenile
Green woodpeckers – adult and juvenile

I went dad’s return route this time (M50 M5 M42 M6 A14 M11 A120 A12) and it was a million times less stressful than the M25, and faster / easier driving than our cross country route via Milton Keynes.

We got to Witham around 1.30pm and had a couple of hours there before I left Phil with his folks and continued on to Wivenhoe, which proved to be a more painful drive thanks to roadworks on the A12. And meeting a bus on Wivenhoe’s narrow, car-lined High Street.

Tom and Jo supplied an ice lolly on arrival which improved things no end.

By 7pm I was sitting out by the river with a glass of wine.

Wivenhoe Wine Time
Wivenhoe Wine Time

Not bad.

Monday, train into London for the Persia exhibition at the British Museum (excellent) and a tour of the outdoor shops in search of a new pair of trekking boots (in vain).

Luxury and Power: Persia to Greece
Luxury and Power: Persia to Greece

TV: Halt and Catch Fire, The Light In The Hall.

Podcasts: The Forum.

Photos: Herefordshire week 186 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2023-07-23.

Herefordshire Week 154: Tuesday 06 – Monday 12 December 2022

Abbey Dore – London – Wivenhoe & Walton

Who needs London – Paris – New York??

Wivenhoe pano
Wivenhoe pano

We did return craving non-fancy food and our own bed after 7 days of the high life…….

Worked Tuesday morning so that we could catch the 15.18 train to Paddington. A much more civilised departure time than 06.43. We left the car at dad and Jean’s, together with pressies to be transported to Essex. Jean ran us to the station in her new electric car. Nice!

Elizabeth Line to Liverpool St, popped into work to drop off bags, nipped up to M&S for dinner contributions then caught the Northern Line down to Hazel’s where we feasted on chips ‘n’ dips followed by veggie Mexican wraps.

Up early to have enough time to commute and for a shower at work. My lovely fellow KMCAs arrived over the course of the day. Phil and I checked into the hotel late afternoon. KMCA dinner out at Som Saa with DF.

All day Thursday and Friday morning were spent on strategic stuff, planning next April’s Global KM Meeting and other Q1 & Q2 stuff. We returned to Ottolenghi Spitalfields for team dinner on Thursday evening. Had my review Friday afternoon, then caught the train out to WIV. Tom met me at the station and we had early pizza dinner then watched the Netherlands – Argentina match, which turned out to be a good one!

Leisurely start on Saturday. Crisp and cold in Wivenhoe with a dusting of snow in places, which made for a lovely morning walk along the Colne estuary, Alresford Creek to Thorrington. Bus back to WIV. Beautiful.

Sunny Saturday Walk with Tom: Wivenhoe - Alresford Creek - Thorrington: Looking back at Wivenhoe
Sunny Saturday Walk with Tom: Wivenhoe – Alresford Creek – Thorrington: Looking back at Wivenhoe
Sunny Saturday Walk with Tom: Wivenhoe - Alresford Creek - Thorrington: Old Quarry Pier and Crane, Alresford Creek
Sunny Saturday Walk with Tom: Wivenhoe – Alresford Creek – Thorrington: Old Quarry Pier and Crane, Alresford Creek

J & R arrived early afternoon; dad and Jean drove over from Hereford arriving at Wivenhoe House Hotel late afternoon, and the six of us gathered at T&J’s for a lovely COOK! dinner that evening.

Similarly slow start to Sunday, very frosty.

Very frosty start to Sunday, Wivenhoe
Very frosty start to Sunday, Wivenhoe

Late morning T & R, dad, Jean and I caught the train to WON. Cloudier there and a rain shower but we saw the sea, and ventured into Revved Up for teas/coffee and then headed up the High Street to the (busy!) Good Taste Cafe for comfort food lunch before getting the train back to WIV. B and Phil had arrived, so we commenced the Christmas Present exchange.

The Extended Loosemore Family gathered that evening at the Wivenhoe House Hotel for our Christmas Celebration 2022, and Phil and I stayed the night in the hotel.

We headed home on Monday, dad as driver and me as supplementary sat nav. Google Maps and the Sat Nav both agreed that we should drive back via Birmingham to avoid the snow down south. Easy drive, not too busy on the roads, snow disappeared once we left Essex. Very cloudy and cold though.

Drove back from dad and Jean’s via Asda for supplies. Back at base – thankfully no sign of any burst pipes! (We left the heating on so I should hope so) – we got the log stove going, opened Christmas cards, caught up on the local news from Bob The Post, unpacked, pottered and read. Lentil soup for dinner, watching the last two episodes of Industry – so good!

TV: Rev (wrapped up series 3), Industry (completed series 2), The Secret World of Christmas Chocolate, Men’s Football World Cup 2022 – Netherlands v Argentina.

Podcasts: History Extra, The Essay.

Photos: Herefordshire week 154 on Flickr.

Phil: w/e 2022-12-12.

Herefordshire Week 081: Tuesday 13 – Monday 19 July 2021

Holidays continued.


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.


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.