Herefordshire Week 028: Tuesday 07 – Monday 13 July 2020

Microwave marmalade. Potting up and pottering around. Bonfiring.

Holiday plans come to the fore.

A nice long walk on Tuesday morning before my working week began (2pm Tues, Weds & Thurs all day): Abbey Dore – Rive Dore footpath to Riverdale – Bacton – up to Tremorithic Road – along to Ewyas Harold Common – footpath down to Dore Abbey – footpath to Abbey Dore Court – Home.

Friday was busy doing lots of small jobs – emailing various friends, sorting out a card and present for my nephew, recreating our “vintage” sunflower placemats for Carmen, watching (tracking via email notifications) UPS delivering my Nepal 2019 photobook to everyone else before the Gloucester depot got mine to me!

In the orchard, picked the first of our morello cherries:

Morello cherries
Morello cherries

I like tangy, tart fruit, so these are in the fruit bowl. Disappearing rapidly.

The highlight of the morning was making grapefruit marmalade in the microwave.

Mary's Microwave Grapefruit Marmalade
Mary’s Microwave Grapefruit Marmalade

However, that highlight was outshone by my afternoon engagement, heading up to Kerrys Gate for a glass or two of Prosecco with some of the local ladies. Delighted to be invited; less delighted that I was driving to dad and Jean’s fish & chips for tea, which put paid to my partaking of the Prosecco!!

A lovely evening with dad and Jean, and bathed in the soft sunlight of early evening, Ewyas Harold was busy with both pubs open and doing a good socially distanced trade, as was The Old Stables. Drove back via a near deserted Aldi and Sainsbury’s – scored bread flour and assorted other essentials.

What wasn’t such a welcome event on Friday – I told you it was a busy day – is that EasyJet cancelled our flight out to Bilbao – Grrr. So lunchtime was spent frantically emailing between the group to work out what to do before all the alternatives – The Alternative being BA – sold out of seats. Very grateful to Steffi for handling all that. Duly blogged: El Anillo de Picos: Travel Update.

Saturday morning, on the computer, I realised that a rat-a-tat-tat coming from close by, outside around the roof somewhere, was small birds enjoying energetic baths in the guttering.

I was on the computer booking train tickets to/from London for August/September. Weird to be doing that again.

A lovely sunny day, so I didn’t linger indoors

The “sheep field” opposite got mown. Thistly Field remains empty.

Phil and I also decided to take the last week of July “off” as holiday. Possibly in Walton on the Naze. We’ll see.

Sunday was a scorcher, so having helped Phil mastic the edges of the rendered wall overlooking the hazelnut tree, we did the Bacton walk and then sat out on the patio for lunch.

Blackberry flowers, Bacton
Blackberry flowers, Bacton

Snoozed / read / pottered about potting up plants in the afternoon. Lovely. It felt like a proper holiday, relaxing. We agreed we needed to do that more.

The squirrels started feasting on the hazelnuts that morning, littering the ground with half eaten shells as dad had predicted. And the nuts aren’t even remotely ripe….


Neither are the apples. I tried one off the small tree in the orchard to check.

Ants reemerged and were duly Doffed.

Bonfired Monday morning – perfect timing as it started chucking it down at lunchtime, which sorted the embers out.

In the afternoon, we had our first conservatory casualty for a while 🙁

Reading pace has picked up to pre-Mantel levels. Raced through the first two of Lindsey Davis’ Flavia Albia series. Back in 1st Century AD Rome, solving crimes in the company of Falco and Helena’s adopted daughter. Excellent.

Telly: Babylon Berlin series 3 and Enlightened series 1 and most of series 2.

Podcasts: The Essay whilst bonfiring. History Extra – I particularly enjoyed their interview with Dr Emily Ward about Cnut and William the Conquerer and the 50 years between their two contrasting invasions. Some older material from The National Archives – you can tell podcasting has become A Thing since these talks were recorded.

Photos from Herefordshire week 28. Not many this week.

Enemies at Home – Lindsey Davis

Enemies at Home - Lindsey Davis
Enemies at Home – Lindsey Davis

The second on the Flavia Albia series looks at the life of the household slave in Domitian’s Rome, when newlyweds Valerius Aviola and Mucia Lucilia are discovered dead – strangled in their bed – with the family slaves having taken refuge in the Temple of Ceres.

Albia’s uncles, Quintus and Aulus, and their families put in an appearance and I’m pretty sure we’re destined for a replay of the “Will they? Won’t they?” plot line of the early Falco novels. No Complaints There!

I also like the, to me, Brummie words that materialise every now and again – mithered and scrage resonated in this read.

Author page: Enemies at Home – Lindsey Davis

El Anillo de Picos: Travel Update

Yes, we’re still planning to go to Northern Spain at the end of August for 10 days walking hut to hut in the Picos de Europa, with Alfonso.

Having booked flights way back when, and sorted out hotels and refugio bookings, we put everything on hold once COVID-19 hit. But we were (are) all keeping our fingers crossed.

So, it was not EasyJet’s finest moment when they emailed yesterday to let us know that they’d cancelled our outbound flight.

After a flurry of emails, we’re now booked on the BA flight on the Saturday – a much earlier departure, and a lot more expensive, but at least we should be able to get there….

… although obviously the trip is entirely dependent on the Travel Corridor between England and Spain remaining open, and the summer’s lockdown easing not generating a second / third / fourth / nth wave of infection in either country.

Ya veremos.

Still trying to work out the safest way to travel to/from London.

Mary’s Microwave Grapefruit Marmalade

I’ve fine tuned this Grapefruit Marmalade recipe and use it periodically to top up supplies of the super zingy stuff. It’s very popular with certain family members.

Here’s my version:


3 medium-sized grapefruit, pink or yellow
1lb white sugar – you will need the same weight as the peeled weight of the grapefruits


Kitchen scissors
Large microwave-proof bowl – 3 litres or bigger
Bowls / plates to put grapefruit on as you work through the recipe
Saucer / plate
Food processor, or chopping board and knife
Serving spoon / desert spoon – to stir the marmalade while it’s in the microwave and to spoon it into the jars. Check the spoon will go inside the jar, to minimise spillage!
3 jam jars – 300g / 350g ones, clean
Tea towel – to hold the jars while you’re filling them up
Damp kitchen cloth / sponge – to wipe the jars at the end


  1. Put the saucer / plate into the fridge to cool.
  2. Peel the zest from the grapefruits.
  3. Snip the zest into thin strips (using the scissors).
  4. Remove white pith from the grapefruits.
  5. Weigh the three peeled grapefruits. Weigh out the same amount of white sugar.
  6. Chop the grapefruits – I do this in a food processor, 1 grapefruit at a time – removing any seeds as you go.
  7. Put chopped grapefruit, shredded zest and sugar into the microwave-proof bowl.
  8. Microwave on high for 20-40 minutes, uncovered, stirring every few minutes. How long it takes depends on how powerful your microwave is. I stir every 5-10 mins.
  9. While the marmalade is in microwave, sterilise the jars by pouring boiling water over them (lids too). I do this in the sink.
  10. Test whether marmalade has reached setting point – smear some onto the cold plate and let it cool. The setting point depends on whether you like your marmalade runny or rubbery.
  11. When marmalade is ready, spoon it into the jars, filling each one to about 1cm from the top. I use a tea towel to hold the jars as they will get hot.
  12. Wipe spilt marmalade from the outside/lips of the jars, then put the lids on and turn upside down for 5 minutes to seal and sterilise the lids. Then turn upright and let cool. <- That said, I am a bit slap dash, so I usually let the marmalade cool (put some kitchen towel over the tops to keep flies off if they’re around) and put the lids on once cooled.

I made some today, taking photos as I went. Here’s a montage of them.

Montage: Mary's Microwave Grapefruit Marmalade
Montage: Mary’s Microwave Grapefruit Marmalade

The Ides of April – Lindsey Davis

The Ides of April - Lindsey Davis
The Ides of April – Lindsey Davis

Back to my normal speedy reading standard with the start of what looks to be a smashing  new (to me) series from Lindsey Davis.

More Roman Crime Fiction, but this time featuring Falco’s adopted Briton daughter, Flavia Albia. She’s as hardnosed and sassy as her dear old dad, and as self aware as her Patrician mama.


Very pleased I’ve got the next two in the series ready and waiting on my bookshelves… Thank you, AbeBooks.

Can’t wait to meet some of the old crowd again 🙂

Author page: The Ides of April – Lindsey Davis