County Challenge

Herefordshire

I didn't really know much about Herefordshire except that it's where the SAS is based. But actually the city is very pleasant. The cathedral is being rennovated at the moment so it's not in its full glory but you can go around the back where the stone masons are working on the new block work. They're quite happy to have a chat to you about their work which is hugely impressive, a genuine craftsman's skill which I don't suppose you see around much these days.

Next door to the cathedral in the old cloisters is an exhibition about the Mappa Mundi and the old chained library. I hadn't heard of these but they are hugely important historical documents. The Mappa Mundi is a world map drawn onto an animal skin by scholars in the 14th century. So there is no America and most of the map is based on rumour and hearsay. Once you get to understand the layout (which the exhibition describes very well) it's fascinating the way that people though the world was put together. A chained library as the name implies is a library of books which are chained to benches so that they can't be stolen. Apparently this was the way that libraries used to work until the 18th century as books were so valuable.

Of course the most important thing today has been the cricket. The last test in the Ashes series has started and I'm now torn between wanting rain to try and save us (we're 309-7 as I type) and wanting the good weather to continue for my trip. Hopefully the boys can pull things round so that we're all happy.