Circe – Madeline Miller

Circe - Madeline Miller
Circe – Madeline Miller

Titan goddess, Daughter of Helios, Unloved child, Witch, Lover of Odysseus, all I knew of Circe was that she turned Odysseus’ sailors into pigs….

In her marvellous retelling of this Greek Myth, Madeline Miller places the focus firmly on Circe – a goddess with more than the touch of the mortal about her than usual.

Author page: Circe – Madeline Miller

Herefordshire Week 045: Tuesday 03 – Monday 09 November 2020

Greenhouse construction commences.

Frost. Fog. Lunch al fresco.

A bit of a mixed week.


Managed my first longer walk along the lanes for what feels like an age on Tuesday morning. Kerrys Gate – Bacton – Tremorithic Road – Cwm Road – Abbey Dore. Beautiful autumn colours and lovely views of Hatterall Ridge, The Cat’s Back and Hay Bluff.

Morning walk: Autumn tree tunnel
Morning walk: Autumn tree tunnel

At the junction of “Bacton Road” and Tremorithic Road, just as the Black Mountains come into view, I spotted this sign:

Morning walk: Fair Oak Horse-Powered Cider
Morning walk: Fair Oak Horse-Powered Cider

So, a visit to Fair Oak Horse-Powered Cider is definitely on the cards for when Catherine, and other cider lovers, visit. And then on to The Bridge Inn at Michaelchurch Escley for food.


First frost on Wednesday morning:

First frost
First frost

And a pre lockdown fish & chip take out from The Old Stables and dinner with dad and Jean in the evening. A chance to chat. Back via Asda and Tescos. The shelves not bare, but back to no bread flour….


The second lockdown started at 00.01 on Thursday. Roll on December.

One small “personal plus” that’s come about due to COVID is that working from home has ended up working really well, partly because although I was an anomaly in January (had to get the OK from the Chief HR Officer over in NY to be WFH on a permanent basis), come the end of March it was the norm, and has been since then. So that has really helped. Plus – touch wood – the wifi is holding up. Who knows when broadband will actually make it to our stretch of country lanes. We can see cables (they’re strung alongside the phone lines up on BT poles) within 10 mins walk in either direction – so close!! Who knows why our bit of road in between the two didn’t get done. There are plenty of houses all the way along. Anyway – so far so good.


A misty morning on Friday so I was able to tackle various bits of admin as I waited for the mist to clear and the grass to dry off so that I could mow and clear the paths of leaves.

I finished sorting out my work paperwork and office. We still need to put stuff in the roof but I am feeling like I’ve got through a few of the more annoying jobs on my to do list. And there’s more chance to do things other than unpacking and sorting.

I also emailed various friends to let them know we are staying and with our “new” address. If you’ve not got it and want it, let me know. It’s been really nice getting updates back by return. Lots of 17 year olds and talk of driving lessons! SEVENTEEN!!!

Strong sun cleared the mist over the course of the morning and it was warm enough to have lunch outside on the patio – in November.

Lunch al fresco
Lunch al fresco

Almost like being on trek…. This time last year I was in Nepal, and we trekked from Panggom (2850m) – Najingdingma (2730m) via the Pangkongma La (3174m) and the Inkhu Khola / Hinku Khola river crossing (2028m). I know I would be really missing doing a big trek this year if it weren’t for all the novelty of our first year at Forty Acres. (We don’t have 40 acres by the way, in case you were wondering.)

After a slight delay (I discovered the mower battery needed a bit of a recharge) I spent the late afternoon mowing, continuing on into the twilight. I’d spent the delay bonfining in the old quarry. As my dad would say “A very satisfying afternoon”.


Phone calls and Zooms with Rachel and Jane making plans for the coming couple of months, and a sociable Friday FaceTime with Simon & Susa. More catch ups lining up for the coming weeks.


We started the greenhouse construction on Saturday morning, making good progress: site selected, post holes dug, base made plus side and end frames. It is like putting together a giant Lego / Ikea kit.

Greenhouse Construction, Part 1
Greenhouse Construction, Part 1

Finished off the mowing / leaf clearing / compost raking in the afternoon.

And AT LAST the US election result. Relief all round.


Very, very foggy on Sunday.


Walked to Camp Crossroads and back on Monday morning – more beautiful colours after a foggy start – and then concreted in the greenhouse posts. Weedkillered the drive and around the house foundations, and lopped some of the brash down in the quarry ready for another bonfire. Still masses to do.

Foggy Morning
Foggy Morning

Ended up succumbing to an early afternoon nap. Probably a good thing.


Photos: Herefordshire week 45 on Flickr.

Phil: Weeknotes for w/e 2020-11-08.

Herefordshire Week 044: Tuesday 27 October – Monday 02 November 2020

November already.

Greenhouse delivery. Pizza with neighbours. Office swap.

MORE unpacking – but the end is in sight….

… unlike COVID: the second England-wide lockdown announced (eventually).


My birthday / staying greenhouse from dad and Jean was delivered on Tuesday afternoon. It comes flatpack so now all we need to do is build it. Dad’s happily perusing the instructions.

The Greenhouse has arrived
The Greenhouse has arrived

We need more insulation added to the existing 100mm in the loft and want to get the “extension” section boarded out so that we can use it for storage, and on Wednesday evening a local property maintenance man came to take a look. A much more positive experience than the home energy solutions team. So, fingers crossed for a good quote and timetable.

Other admin: The box of “cottage folders” wiped down and shelved, and the folder of 40A instructions manuals deduplicated (with dad’s input). Landlords insurance sorted, eventually. Dore Abbey crockery returned. Paper form completed to get online patient access at our local surgery. Shower upgrade recommendation / quote pondered. Phil fielded a few calls from Frank Harris – keep your fingers crossed.

Dore Abbey Crockery
Dore Abbey Crockery

A sociable week – VWW on Wednesday, Zoom with Helen and Hazel on Thursday, tea and hot cross buns at Dinedor on Friday morning (after returning library books and trundling around Asda, hence HCBs) and then catching up on the phone with Steffi in the afternoon.

The highlight – novelty! – was having our neighbours from down the road up for pizza on Friday evening. A late night, and two bottles of red between three. Not quite WW standards, but better than I would manage on my own.

And two more Zooms over the weekend – with Hazel and Cat on Saturday, and Rachel (and Carl) on Sunday.


The weekend’s main event was scheduled in as “sort office”, which morphed into “swap offce”.

New office
New office

As the nights had started drawing in, and the central heating is now on, I’d been rethinking our office allocation. I can’t remember why we initially decided I’d have the “small” bedroom and Phil the larger one (formerly home to dad’s train set), but 10 months in, we both agreed we should swap.

Phil uses his computer for work and play (and Pepys, which is a blend of the two, I’d say), and his office is home to his piano too, so he’s in his office a lot more than I am. Which means being warm while he is in there is important. As readers of my trekking posts will know, I “run hot”.  Phil doesn’t, so it makes more sense for me to be in the larger, colder room in the older part of the house.

A secondary reason is that the larger room doubles up as the spare room (or will do, when we’re allowed to have guests….) if we need to use the twin trundle beds. I’m at my computers less, ergo it’ll be less disruptive for me as and when guests need to use “my office” in “spare room” mode.

(As an aside, in these unprecedented times, I do wonder if it’s timely to revisit Pretend Office….)


Although it was a bit of pallaver moving the furniture around, which we did on Saturday, it did mean I tackled The Boxes over the weekend.

As well as more cards and postcards, this week’s rabbit holes included my primary school reports. There’s a theme:

Mary needs to take more care with her handwriting. (July 1978)

She still needs to practise her handwriting. (February 1979)

My only complaint is that the quality of her handwriting still leaves much to be desired, but doubtless she will rectify this in time. (July 1981, in Mr Whittington’s beautiful cursive….)

I’ve now got 3 1/2 plastic boxes ready to go into the roof. Once we’ve got the loft sorted …


Phil and I did the Bacton Square on Sunday morning, a little earlier than usual so not quite as sociable. Grappled with the boxes for most of the afternoon, pausing for a Zoom with Rachel accompanied by a cup of tea and a hot cross bun. The imminent COVID-19 lockdown couldn’t have come at a worse time, but I’m determined to manage a trip to visit them both before Christmas.


Monday brought showers, with bright sunshine in between. I abandoned the idea of going for a walk and spent most of the afternoon making more chutney to go into Hereford Food Bank’s Christmas Parcels.


Telly: Roadkill (so so) plus the first series of Gomorrah. I didn’t watch the Lockdown press announcement.

Podcasts: History Extra (lots to catch up on)


Photos: Herefordshire week 44 on Flickr.

Phil: Weeknotes for w/e 2020-11-01

Big Sky – Kate Atkinson

Big Sky - Kate Atkinson
Big Sky – Kate Atkinson

Jackson Brodie is back, and back in the north east. A 21st century tale of young women being lured to the UK with the promise of a good job, and being forced into prostitution.

It is the world we live in, but choose not to see.

But it’s not all hard reading. Big Sky also shows us choices that some women can make, and the choices men make in response.

Author page: Big Sky – Kate Atkinson