A walk on Hergest Ridge with friends in mid-February (followed by obligatory pub lunch of course)
Spring is finally showing intermittent signs of its imminent arrival, and our idyllic time in Herefordshire has drawn to a close for now. Winter blew back in with a little too much enthusiasm on the weekend we moved though.
The past few months were punctuated by artistic endeavours, visits from family and friends, lots of exploratory outings, and the perennial still trying to work out what we’re going to do next.
So what are our onward plans?
After living the dream on the road and following it wherever it goes, ending up in Herefordshire on somewhat of a whim, we are now following the narrow lanes of Welsh border country and preparing to live the dream in the country. A journey of a different kind. Our travelling shoes are going to be hanging on a hook near the door, ready for another journey in the not too distant future.
Househunting started as a bit of fun, but after starting to actually view some properties, we found ourselves honing our requirements and gaining an increasing knowledge of what we didn’t want. When we walked into a certain house close to the Welsh border, we felt strongly that this one had the right vibe, and was the closest to meeting our needs within our budget. In fact we fell headlong in love with it even before the second viewing. And later, after spending several hours with the vendors over delicious homemade goodies, we felt that this place has close to exactly the right ingredients and will form the framework we’ve discovered we want for the next stage of our lives. So now we’re into the lengthy house sale and purchase process, and I don’t want to jinx anything by saying any more here now. Watch this space!
There have been all too frequent visits back ‘home’ to our old house, once our tenants departed, to prepare it to put on the market. So suddenly all the odd-jobs and projects that never quite got ticked off in our 15 or so years of ownership have been done in around a month of rushing round like flies with blue bottoms. After clearing the house of our personalities before we left on our travels, and having had tenants in it while we were away, it no longer feels like home. In fact the nights we’ve spent in our van in the last couple of months have felt more like coming home. On making the house beautiful through others’ eyes though, we have tried to get over noticing all its faults borne of familiarity, and have worked very hard to make it as perfect as possible for the next owners to enjoy. And hopefully provide us with the hard cash for our continuing plans.
The finer points of architecture, house interiors and estate agents’ details, and our dreams about our new place have not quite been the only things to consume us. We’ve enjoyed socialising with lots of visitors, from those who’ve dropped by for lunch, to those who’ve stayed for a few days. We went to see the splendid Hereford Cathedral and its most famous treasure – the Mappa Mundi, and to Ludlow for a huge book sale, a lovely riverside lunch – and to see the walls, before their recent collapse. In fact we have visited most of the towns and villages in Herefordshire and southern Shropshire. We also went up to Derbyshire for a rather muddy but very joyous 2cv meeting – think of a cosy heaving pub where you know everyone. And we have thrown ourselves into our arty pursuits.
My printmaking course has been most thrilling and I’ve loved the surprise of the results, and was sorrowful when the term came to its end. I’ve been drawing on images from among our many trip photos to create collograph printing plates, basically printing with a specially prepared collage. Although I’m now tempted to splash out on a printing press, they are sufficiently pricey enough for me to rein myself in and bide my time to be sure that I will indeed do enough printing in the future to make it a worthwhile investment.
Inspiration from Dougga, Tunisia
Collograph printing plate
Resulting print with chine collé technique (coloured paper applied to paper during printing)
My creative bookbinding course didn’t run in the end, but I’ve been picking up on my old skills again, creating unique handmade books for friends’ birthdays in February and March.
In the end I did a term of watercolour and mixed media techniques at the college instead, and some of my inspirations came from closer to home – our chicken neighbours on the vineyard.
Coddington Vineyard chickens sketched in water soluble Neocolor crayons
The upstairs bedroom space at our cottage doubled as a studio for these endeavours with great light and a great view.
Adrian turned his hand to woodcarving, and while I have been painting away, he has been enjoying having time to spare to cook lots of lovely food, including cake and biscuit baking and pasta making. His lasagne has always been a dish to die for, and now made with handmade pasta it really is wonderful. We have very much enjoyed having an oven again.
We also both went to a stained glass taster day, coming away with a colourful duck and a puffin to hang in our forthcoming sun-filled windows.
When Lynne at Dovegreyreader and I teamed up on our Colourborations, we were delighted to find that quite a few of her followers joined us for the ride here on WhereverTheRoadGoes – it’s been great to have you along. Libby is one of you, who was quite surprised when she found out that we’d ended up only over the hill from where she lives. She got in touch with a warm welcome and tons of local information, and a dinner invite. It was lovely to meet Libby and Colin, and their friend Pat, and an evening of fabulous food and animated conversation followed as cyberspace contacts turned into real life friends.
On one of our last weekends, we happened upon an event that was happening in the wooded hills above the village. People in ancient open-topped motor vehicles were hurtling round the lanes, and then throwing themselves and their cars up muddy tracks on hill climb challenges. It was the Vintage Sports Car Club’s Herefordshire Trial, and it looked like huge amounts of fun. We felt nostalgic for the days when we owned a 4×4 Citroën 2cv and enjoyed doing much the same.
We chose to live out in the sticks to test out a period of country living. We were in Herefordshire during a long unprecedented winter period of wet and cold weather. We were even snowed in for a few days back in January. In spite of this we’ve become so captivated by this area of Britain, that’s helped to shape our thoughts finally towards what we want to do next.
Keep following us to find out if the road now goes where we want it to. In the meantime, let’s raise a glass of local cider to Herefordshire.