Wednesday, 23 September 2020


Hello there. I'm sitting here feeling rather smug at the moment. The reason being that we went away for a short break last weekend and the weather was absolutely glorious. Not so at the moment - I've just had to charge outside to rescue my washing as it's currently pouring down. Autumn seems to have well and truly arrived.
We had, on a whim, booked 3 days and 2 nights in a hotel in Hereford. Neither of us had been before and it looked like a good base to explore the area. 
We stayed at the Green Dragon Hotel next to the cathedral. The hotel was fine, apart from the overly heated room and the noise from the kitchen vent which kept us awake when we opened the window to try and cool down. The noise stopped at around midnight, only to start again at 5:30 the following morning. To be fair, it wasn't the noise that woke me up but R bellowing 'There's that noise again' down my ear! They did a fine vegan breakfast though, so I shouldn't complain.

We stopped off in Tewkesbury on the way. We had stayed here before, renting a small Tudor cottage back when we were students. I remember that after getting over the initial shock of there being no TV, we raided the charity shops for 2nd hand books and board games, collected wood for the open fire and had a fabulous time. It was just as beautiful as I recalled.
Bridget parked in front of Tewkesbury Abbey. We had our picnic lunch in the grounds:
Interesting dragon gargoyl:

We then continued to Hereford itself. The statue of Edward Elgar stands overlooking Hereford Cathedral. Designed by Jemma Pearson, it depicts Elgar supposedly finding inspiration in the Herefordshire countryside, which he loved to explore on his Sunbeam bike. He lived in Hereford for a while with his wife and daughter, composing many pieces there before moving to Hampstead in London.
The cathedral:
The SAS 75th anniversary stained glass window:
I loved the ceiling bosses and decoration:
The font, dating from around 1150:
Beautiful floor tiles:
The chained library containing many rare and valuable manuscripts. The books are shelved with the page edges facing outwards, rather than the spines, so that the chains don't tangle when thay are lifted onto the desk. One end of the chain is attached to the book's front cover and the other edge to an iron bar. Lists at the end of the row enable readers to find books on the shelves.
The Mappa Mundi, showing the world and heaven as they were understood in the Middle Ages. It is the largest complete world map drawn on vellum known to have survived from that time:
The Old House Museum. Built in 1621, it was restored and now depicts Jacobean life.
Hereford Library and Museum:
We liked the carved animals playing instruments:
On Sunday, we drove to Hay-On-Wye, famous for its Literary Festival:
Hay Castle, built between 1200 and 1211:
One of the many second hand bookshops in Hay. I bought a copy of 'Larkrise to Candleford' as a souvenir. I've never read it, nor seen the TV programme, but am assuming it must be good if it has been televised.
The riverside walk:

After leaving Hay, we visited Arthur's Stone, a Neolithic chambered tomb, over 5000 years old. According to legend, it was here that King Arthur slew a giant, who left the impression of his elbows on one of the stones as he fell. It was also thought to have been C.S.Lewis' inspiration for the stone table in the Narnia books. Then again, I've heard that said about the stone table in the gardens of Merton College in Oxford!
We went for a walk down the Golden Valley. It reminded me about the film 'Shadowlands' and I wondered if it was the same one ....... it was! Apparently, C.S.Lewis had a painting of the Golden Valley on his bedroom wall  when he was a boy. He thought it was a picture of Heaven and didn't realise until later that it was an actual place. For the film, they used a view from Symonds Yat (see below!) as the valley wasn't considered picturesque enough! It is thought to be called Golden Valley because of the River Dore that runs through it. It is actually the Welsh name for water (dwr) but the Normans thought it was the French word 'd'or' meaning golden.
After seeing the actual Golden Valley, on Monday we took a walk at Symonds Yat:
OK, so it is quite a nice view!
We planned our circular walk, going along one side of the valley, across a scary bridge, back along the other side before crossing the river again by a hand ferry. As it was quite a long walk, I suggested to R that we do it in reverse, just to check that the ferry was operating in these Covid times. He assured me that they would have put up a sign if it wasn't, so off we set. You can imagine my expression when, after completing 95% of the walk, the ferry was closed and we had no option but to turn around and walk back the way we had come - crossing the scary bridge for the 2nd time! The vertical climb back up the valley at the end nearly finished me off and I needed a vegan sausage roll from the cafe to recover! :O)

Bridget in the Forest of Dean:
We came home on Monday evening, popping into Ross-On-Wye on the way. It was a glorious few days away, seeming much longer than a long weekend, and I'm so grateful that we were able to make the most of the last of the sunny weather. 
Anyway, back to normal life ......... I'd better go and check on that washing!
Toodle pip for now. x

Thursday, 17 September 2020

A Whiff of Autumn

Hello there. I hope September finds you all well and coping with whatever Coronavirus restrictions are in place near you at the moment. We are off for a few days this weekend, so I thought I'd grab a minute to unload my camera in preparation. L and J are coming to house and Hamish sit and to enjoy a few days outside  London. Their flat purchase went through smoothly and they have the keys. As the lease doesn't expire on their rental flat until the 30th, they have been taking the opportunity to do a bit of decorating before moving all their belongings across. A few days break will be welcomed by all after, what has been for everyone, a rather trying year. I'm hoping the weather lasts as, despite the leaves starting to change, it's gloriously warm and sunny here at the moment.

After 6 months of going practically nowhere, apart from our daily Government sanctioned exercise and the supermarket, the last few weeks have felt like a social whirl. I've started going swimming again - a slot booked beforehand and temperature checked on arrival. My pottery classes have resumed and I've managed socially distant meetings with many friends. All that and seeing L and J on Friday before a few days away - happy days! 

Here then are my uploaded photos. They have uploaded back to front, so rather than jiggling, I'll just do them in reverse!

A walk on Greenham Common. The site of the old airbase made famous during the protests in the 80s. The cows have a lovely life, wandering and grazing freely. 

Monument to the US airmen who were killed in WWII:
A discovery at the supermarket this week. Verdict? Houmous - nice, marmite - love it, marmite houmous - an acquired taste!
Walking the White Horse Trail again in Pewsey. It's a great spot for a picnic:

Loving the book that L lent me. She read it for her chambers' book group:
After about 15years, R finally got around to reinstalling our weather vane. It gives me happy Mary Poppins vibes whenever I look at it. Especially if the wind's in the East!
A trip to Basildon Park with my friend, C. We sat on tree stumps having our picnic and putting the world to rights! :O)
A circular walk in St. Mary Bourne, which sounds so much like St. Mary Mead that it always reminds me of Miss Marple! I love thatched cottages and the boxing hares also caught my eye:

The last of the greenhouse toms and bay leaves rescued after R pruned the tree:
To be honest, we've done so many walks that I can't recall where this photo was taken. I think it may be West Ilsley:
A trip to Westonbirt Arboretum to meet S and enjoy another picnic!
A trip in Bridget to Woodstock near Oxford:
There was a Dinosaur Garden near to the museum:
Visiting L and J to see their new flat. We had a takeaway supper from Wagamama's and were horrified by the amount of plastic involved!
Visiting a second hand bookshop that L recommended. It was lovely. I bought a copy of 'The 39 Steps' as a souvenir and we admired 'Popeye' the bookshop cat, so called because when he first wandered in off the street  he had an eye infection.
Popeye having a snooze:
Sadly, the seating area was roped off owing to the pandemic:
Popeye practising social distancing!
Finally, R had been repointing the patio. When he came in for a tea break, the ducks decided to leave their own mark. Louis was here! I hope it didn't cause too much difficulty when he tried to swim with his little concrete boots!
Well, that's all for now. Enjoy the sunny weather while it lasts. It will be mists and the first lighting of the stove of the season in no time! Take care.
Toodle pip for now. x.