I guess one of the realities of visiting lots of new places is that you have to say goodbye to a lot of them as well. Some of these are fairly easy, but leaving Herefordshire and my mum and sister wasn’t. As if it was trying to remind me of what I’d be missing, the last two days of my stay were washed with sunshine. I had packed my shorts in the depths of my bag assuming I wouldn’t need them until we reached the Pacific but dragging them out was a price worth paying. The garden was full of daffodils and the flowering cherry blossomed early. I assume it realised I wasn’t going to see the more celebrated displays of its Japanese cousins and wanted to make up for that.
On mother’s day we went to the river Monnow at Tregate. It was our swimming location of choice when we were children and the trees still require climbing with just as much urgency. I decided that the best way to see off this lovely corner of the world would be to go for a swim and began to undress – much to Mum’s alarm. However two steps into the river it transpired that fresh meltwater from the Himalayas (which amazingly was somehow below freezing) had made it to Wales. Because of these improbable (some would say completely fictional) occurrences I had to settle for a paddle.
I’m trying to consider South Herefordshire objectively to think whether I’d recommend it to other travellers. There certainly isn’t much in the way of civilisation, no trains come here and the single bus service from Hereford to Monmouth only runs once every two hours – not at all on Sundays. If you have your own means of transport then there are some picturesque areas and a few quiet pubs. If you like ale then I can recommend Butty Bach, it is brewed locally by Wye Valley Brewery and served by most of the pubs in the area. It’s my favourite beer by a long way but that’s probably due to the strong aftertaste of nostalgia.
I left Hereford by train on the 27th of March to rejoin Rosanna at her Granny’s house. From here on out I’m down to one rucksack and the clothes I’m wearing. Sitting next to my bag watching Hereford fade away to countryside around me I had a very clear sense that the journey was now underway.