The Old Town, centre of Hereford is lovely when the market is in full swing and the sun is shining. The lack of cars, the groups of happy, smiling people, is wonderful. Sadly, this changes somewhat at night. The market has packed up and gone home, the shops are all closed. Horrid children hang around McDonalds, giving the place an air of suspicion.
Actually, I wonder where kids would hang around if it wasn’t for McDonalds. Funnily enough, most of the people who work at McDonalds are young kids, most of the customers are young kids and the horrid ones hanging around outside are kids. Talk about a self perpetuating industry.
Even though it may be a bit shadowy, making the traveller slightly wary, the Old Town centre is fantastic when compared with the main road into Hereford. The kindest word I could use would be ‘ugly’. In fact, it is enough to put anyone off ever coming to Hereford.
Pub after grim pub, smokers drifting about at the front doors, bouncers in hi-viz jackets, girls wearing teacloths in an attempt to find a mate. It’s all very, very grim. Apart from the strangely placed Methodist church at the top of the street.
What I’m saying is that the casual visitor to Hereford should ignore this first impression. It is not a fair indication of the more pleasant side of the city. Ignore this awful stretch of road and stride forth to the glories beyond. Persevere, for the rewards are many.
Breakfast this morning was spent with a geologist and a civic engineer. She (the geologist) was saying how she found rocks really, really interesting. In fact, she pointed out the window at a rock formation and explained to the civic engineer how she could tell him a story about it. I watched Mirinda’s face as she tried to suppress a grimace.
The woman who runs the B&B was originally from Melbourne. She sounds and looks exactly like a little old English lady who runs a B&B. She doesn’t sound Australian at all. We found out the story of her family before we left this morning. She was a nice enough lady and just a little bit eccentric. I don’t mean that in a bad way.
After Mirinda had left the B&B for her meeting, I once more took the horrid walk into Hereford. My first stop was (of course) Starbucks for my usual morning latte with a lovely view of Old Town from my seat. The perfect start to a day, albeit at lunch time.
The rest of my alone time in Hereford was spent wandering from one attraction to another, disappointment greeting me at each. Monday is not the day to visit the Cider Museum. It also not the day to visit the Waterworks Museum. And, if you are inclined to visit the town museum in the public library…don’t bother, it’s closed on a Monday.
Fortunately, the day was bright and blue as I spent a lot of it walking between locked doors.
I did find Castle Green, a lovely parkland area on a corner of the River Wye. There was a castle here from the 1000s but it was destroyed a number of times and now it’s just a park.
Being so close to the Welsh border, Hereford Castle was besieged and taken by the Welsh and the English in equal amounts. In 1746, the ruins of the castle were completely removed and the park started life. It’s now a lovely spot to sit and admire Nelson’s column, which rises just beyond the bowls club. What remains of the moat is now a pond.
From Castle Green I walked over the lovely Victoria Bridge to the other side of the river where a path follows the bank, giving lovely views of the cathedral, rising on the other side. I stopped for a moment’s contemplation by the bulldog statue.
It was near this spot that Dan, the bulldog belonging to organist George Sinclair, fell into the River Wye and started paddling. Elgar based his Enigma variation #11 on the sound of his paddling. Dan’s statue looks a bit woebegone. I assume he survived his dip.
I headed up to the old bridge and, having crossed it, settled into a seat in the Black Lion pub for a pint of Butty Bach. The name is Welsh for ‘little friend’ and it’s a lovely drop from the Wye Valley Brewery.
As I sat sipping, lots of people wandered in, asking if they were serving lunch today. The answer was a resounding “…not on Monday’s“. I must say that that was a surprise.
Having wandered around most of Hereford, visiting a church which doubles as a cafe, a lovely statue of Elgar and his bicycle, the very old cathedral barn and the public toilets which give you 12 minutes before flushing themselves out, I returned to Starbucks for a latte and panini. Truly life on the edge.
Mirinda eventually texted me and I met her back at the B&B for the easy, uneventful drive home.