Super Blue Moon

Although my blog has been a bit quiet over the past week or so, yours truly has been not, so let me use today’s post as a typical example to “illuminate” you dear reader.

Before I do that though, just let me just explain the title of today’s ditty, which reflects the fact that I have just observed a “super blue moon” through my binoculars mounted on a carbon fibre tripod in the second floor guest room.

Just need to take the lens caps off, hold my iPhone to the eyepiece & hey presto!
OK so it’s not very good with a handheld camera phone, but looking through the binocular it was really spectacular!

Now back to more mundane matters and the main topic of today’s post, as per normal Deb and I awoke around 8am to the sound of Molly taking a run up to jump onto our king sized bed.

I can tell you it is a lottery on which of our torsos her 25kg of “love” she lands on, however today was my lucky day so I made it downstairs unscathed to continue my morning ritual.

This involves carrying down Molly’s bed into the living room where I draw the curtains, pulling up the Roman blinds there, in the snug and in the kitchen.

Molly usually follows me downstairs after enjoying repeated cuddles with my better half on hearing kibbles being poured into her food bowl.  However before she tucks in I normally let her out onto the pristine Easigrass outside in our small garden (the best £4K I have ever spent) for her ablutions first.

While she’s occupied I therefore put the kettle on for two mugs of decaf coffee and open a sachet of golden syrup flavour Oat So Simple which makes the most delicious porridge in the microwave in only 2 minutes!  I have to say that turning vegetarian seems to have increased my proclivity for sweet things whereas previously I always had a more savoury preference.

I’ve also become rather a porridge aficionado recently, ordering it on our regular jaunts to Caffe Nero in town with lashings of runny honey, instead of ordering my usual decaf Americano.

Enough of this culinary diversion, so the next stage of my typical day comes with the postman’s delivery of my next eBay acquisition which recently have included Captain Scarlet & Thunderbird figures, as well as Dinky die-cast vehicles from the same shows.  UFO is so old hat here in Llanfoist now!

Unfortunately this collectors habit of mine has also extended recently to the imminent arrival of an old fashioned Police telephone box from the late 1950’s that heralds my new addiction to Doctor Who.  Almost every day now new DVD episodes of each Doctor arrive by the Amazon Prime courier service…

This of course triggers a natural request of mine to Debbie which goes along the lines as an example yesterday of “ fancy watching the Claws of Axos?” to which she normally accedes but ends up watching through half closed eyes, interspersed with the occasional snore…

Approximately 2 hours and 4 episodes later I will then announce to my long suffering wife that I should have a shower and get ready for the marathon that is taking the hounds from heaven (Molly) and hell (Hamish) for a walk.

Now Molly our rescue golden retriever is the most angelic dog we have ever owned, but if she suspects that a walk is imminent will leap up in the air, snorting with excitement and rushing all round stalking the two of us attempting to dress in warm clothing and putting on shoes for the short walk to the waiting Galaxy parked in our drive.

Hamish’s blue touch paper is also lit but he adds on a persistent ear shattering bark and occasional bite to encourage a speedy exit.  This has led Debbie and I to concoct a rather elaborate & some would say desperate strategy of getting ready in the rear garden to avoid upturned and damaged furniture on our ground floor.

To spare our long suffering neighbour’s eardrums we believe in the motto “haste over elegance” in our attempts to bundle them into the rear of our people carrier and conclude the desired fast exit.

The Galaxy has a rear compartment reserved for canine occupation with a bespoke rubber mat underneath, fortunately not eaten yet by Molly (unlike the sadly departed Freelander’s) and are prevented from access to the “people” reserved space at the front by an expertly fitted custom dog guard.

All secure we then head off the short distance to the normally crowded car park in Llanfoist that heralds the start and finish point of our typical canal walk which has three  optional routes.  Namely long, medium and short, which doubles to six options if you include the two alternative ways round.

My directional preference and as such frequently overruled by SWMBO, is to cross the main road next to the car park and walk uphill to the canal as if you intended to climb up the Blorenge.  The direction preferred by Debbie’s takes the four of us up along the old railway track which once went all the way to Merthyr, which is now a National cycle track on a steady climb up to Govilon.

The “long” option which takes us past Govilon wharf with its moored narrow boats, up and over a small bridge and back down the canal towpath towards Llanfoist, however this option comes with a terrible danger my preferred direction is overruled…

The reason is that we pass a rather long garden constantly patrolled by two rather aggressive sounding Collie dogs that delight in snarling through a small gap in their hedge and the furthest end.

If we come from the other direction quietly we can often surprise these Collies and by pushing Debbie and Hamish ahead of me and Molly hope this will distract Molly’s attention away from protecting me from their imagined bites!

In reality this danger is vastly overstated as the gap is reinforced with chicken wire so all that ends up happening is that my arm nearly gets pull out of its socket.

If that wasn’t enough angst, the torture Molly inflicts on me is compounded by her increasing hatred of Mallard ducks going about their business swimming in pairs on the canal.  I swear if I didn’t hold her back she would leap into the near stagnant water every time we come across these courting avian couples…

By the time I rejoin the car my posture is more like an exhausted walking orangutang with lacerated hands trailing in the mud churned up in the car park.  As a result the next daily ritual is that of my late afternoon bath to soak away the aches and pains of my dog walking.  Strangely Debbie who typically walks Hamish (who weighs at most 10kg and behaves impeccably on the walk) is bemused by my sad state and settles down to watch her daily intake of soaps.

This involves watching Coronation Street on TV “catch up”, both the current 2017 version where the script seems to involve multiple homicides and the late 1980’s which seems to concentrate on Northern folk getting on with life.  I know which I prefer – the non violent one – and for once SWMBO seems to agree!

Later after suppers are dispensed and Emma and James retreat to their respective “caves” we will settle down to watch Celebrity Big Brother and watch our favourites be evicted all because as poor pensioners we refuse to pay the 50p to save them by phoning in.  Ah well, all things come to an end and 2018 may be the last year this particular program will air, still there’s always “I’m a Celebrity get me Out of Here” or at the weekends “Dancing on Ice” (yawn), or “Strictly Come Dancing” (yeh) to enjoy…

Or even do an occasional bit of astronomy!


Super Blue Moon

Horses (& Quasars)

Now careful readers of this blog may have noticed a transport theme appearing in the last few posts, which continues (with a twist) with this one!

The plan for today (Monday 23rd May) was to drop Emma and James off at Grange Trekking for 1.30pm, about 12 miles away from Abergavenny in the Black Mountains at Capel-y-ffin on the B4423.  Their trekking adventure was due to end at 4pm, but Debbie & I had to be back home ready for our farmhouse coffee table to be delivered to the “den” by Paul from Nicholls.

The road to Capel-y-ffin was very narrow and twisty, with loads of blind corners and full concentration was required from me while driving the Galaxy.  After the breakdown of the Freelander I didn’t fancy taking it on longer trips until she’d proved herself reliable again.

The journey down wasn’t too bad although a steady stream of German cars in a bizarre convoy following us (& ahead) made me wonder if the Fourth Reich was on it’s way.

Finally, after 40 mins drive we arrived and paid the balance of £54 – it was £32 each for half a day with £1 each for the hire of horse riding hats – less the £10 deposit we’d paid on booking.  Very reasonable I thought & we made our way back home with a sheep & 2 of her lambs causing us to back up a tad to let yet another German motorised convoy advance towards Hay-on-Wye – maybe they were going to burn some books perhaps?  The Germans, not the sheep naturally…

Porsche 944 brutally attacking 3 Welsh sheep

After the successful delivery of our new furniture we had 30 mins of listening to music with Hamish before I made the weary way back to the trekkers who we managed to photo just as they arrived back at the centre.

They’d had a great time with some “near death” experiences on the narrow trails halfway up the mountains.  Apparently the centre has 39 horses and some wag made the comment about how one must have fallen off recently as there was bound to be 40 originally…

Later, Debbie & I headed off to take part in the “Great Quasar Debate” being held by the Abergavenny Astronomy Society and Professor Mike Edmunds from Cardiff University College of Physics.  The talk was at the Kings Head Hotel in Cross street starting at 7.30pm & as we left a most interesting session around 9pm I realised just how much I’d forgotten (& missed) in the 33 years since I’d finished my MSc Astrophysics at Queen Mary.  Lifelong learning indeed!  🙂

The Sky at Night in Abergavenny (pun intended)
Horses (& Quasars)