After The Earthquake…

… came the “Beast from the East” and with it freezing temperatures and a lot more snow!

Global warming in Abergavenny seems to agree more with POTUS Trump rather than the global climate change scientists as when we moved here the accepted wisdom that it only ever snowed on the tops of the surrounding mountains.  Needless to say that has been proved wrong twice this year…


Nevertheless we are so much better prepared than the first time being clad in Mountain Warehouses base layers & jackets to march across to our Waitrose next door this morning, which I’m glad to say was open promptly at 8.30am for the “first of the few” brave souls venturing out to get much needed emergency supplies.  Tonight and tomorrow are forecast to be the worst of the weather so we thought this was wise.

James had left for Morrisons this morning on foot at around 7.30am for his shift as the roads on the estate were just too icy and with thick snow forecast for later meaning he may not get back home at all if he drove.  Again another blessing about where we now life as pretty much everything we need is walkable and it keeps you fit!  I can’t remember what it used to be like were even the shortest journey I picked up my car keys…

On our return from Scott’s Hut (sorry Waitrose) we let the hounds out for a run around the garden but it was so cold they came in fairly promptly for a gravy bone.


Rather ironically this latest weather is called Storm Emma, presumably after my daughter and one of her best friends, who just happens to be called “Snow”!  Without wanting to panic anyone I shall be dusting off my DVD of “The Day After Tomorrow” to contemplate my next steps, although given today is St. David’s Day here in Wales (& elsewhere) maybe it should be called “The Dai After Tomorrow”…

Speaking of Molly she has been a little tinker recently digging up the corner of our Easigrass looking for stones to play with behind the drainpipe.  Yesterday Chris Carpenter had been due to fix this and give the Easigrass its annual maintenance but because of the snow we’ve had to delay this to later next week.


As usual in recent weeks I’ve been adopting my Victor Meldrew persona much to Debbie’s annoyance with complaints logged with Sky for their impending price increase as our discount comes to an end.  Given we only use Sky really for recording and scheduling now given Amazon Prime Video and Netflix being available at home with smart TV’s, BluRay players and Amazon Fire Sticks giving access to catch up apps like BBC iPlayer etc. I’m really not convinced they will survive longer term, a little like the sad but rather inevitable news about Toys “R” Us and Maplin Electronics this week going into administration.

“I don’t believe it” extended to my interactions with Vodafone too when I found out they were offering monthly contracts for £6 which included unlimited calls and texts and 500MB data through a package called Vodafone Basics!  As Debbie and my phones with Vodafone current cost £9 pcm discounted, this seemed a good “standard” deal which I wanted to move to.

Alas after numerous instant messages, calls to about six centres within their customer services and launching two formal complaints it became apparent that these deals only available via Carphone Warehouse and USwitch through redirected internet links to Vodafone are only available to new customers.  Sod the concept of customer loyalty (I’m paraphrasing) the complaints manager said, we just playing commercial hardball…

Sadly for me this blog has under fifty regular followers, so I don’t wield the power and influence of various better known bloggers, however I pretended that I had a “friend” who did so they gave me a workaround much to my surprise.

Basically exactly 30 days before our discounted contracts are due to expire (no earlier and no later much to my annoyance on the former) ask for the contracts to be switched to Pay As You Go and order the two new SIM only Vodafone Basics contracts.  Once they arrive use the “Keep My Number” feature on the Vodafone website to then transfer our existing numbers to the new contracts and Bob’s your uncle a workaround is found.

How annoying and wasteful of my time and theirs, however one thing I do have as a retired person snowed in like Captain Scott is time on my hands, so for a saving of £6 a month and a better bundled deal (albeit limited only to the UK) I shall follow the process and see if it works!

On the David Wilson new home customer care front, we continue to get excellent support on the few niggles that remain half way through our five year guarantee.

After them fixing & replacing a fair amount of guttering during that last heavy snow fall (which was very wet and heavy unlike the powder snow we’re experiencing today) they have returned gently to fix our ensuite toilet where the siphon valve needed replacing and have replaced a plastic cap on the towel rail that was missing.

In the same location our shower rail at the bottom of the doors was also missing caps and the hinges had become loose so they have order brand new fittings to be fixed hopefully along with a small leak of a few drops per hour in the cold water intake pipe of our centre heating cylinder.

Oh and we’ve also had a carpenter round to sort out the door to the den cupboard that was sticking, the guest bedroom and our own bedroom ensuite where the door locks were very stiff to close which were all done so quickly I couldn’t believe it.

I really have to say the way they fix these is really excellent although I am glad we bought our house in Llanfoist when they still offered five year guarantees rather than the two years on offer for new home purchases today…

So all in all I’m kept very busy in my retirement, following up customer issues and complaints as if I’d almost reverted back to my old role as VP Service Delivery – as I think it was called – only in reverse! 🙂

Now before I wrap up this post, what else has been going on in the “Escape to Llanfoist” world recently?  Well without going into too much detail we’ve celebrated the arrival of Debbie’s free bus pass as she reached the incredible age of sixty last month and a more detailed account of her party is the topic of my next blog.

On the health front I’ve continued with my vegetarianism while Emma has become vegan, alas this has been accompanied by toothache which given my fear of dentists resulted in too much ibuprofen and co-codamol which wasn’t very clever and resulted in acute constipation, however I am relieved to announced that this discomfort has now passed (pun intended) and I’m feeling 100% fitter and only 7.25 lbs away from my 12 stone weight target!

Lastly to note, somewhat mystifyingly, my right big toe is finally showing signs of getting over a recent gout attack thanks to a squirrelled away supply of old Naproxen tablets.  Sadly this is incomprehensible to my very near teetotal, rich food avoider & vegetarian self thank God I’m not a hypochondriac!




After The Earthquake…


After the celebrations of Debbie’s 60th birthday party I thought it might be a good idea to have a short break away in Ceredigion in West Wales with Emma and Molly, leaving James and Hamish behind.  As James secured his new job in Morrisons he had to attend new hire training in their Cwmbran store so he couldn’t go with us unfortunately.

To be honest it was an experiment with Molly as she’d never been away with us on holiday, we’d always put her and Hamish into the Royvon kennels together and had done so in the days just before and after the party.  Being brutally honest though we felt the need to have a brief rest from the mad Scotsman and his bark and he’s very close to James anyway so we didn’t feel too bad leaving them both behind.

So last Tuesday we left Llanfoist in the Galaxy with a bemused Molly in the rear in her basket surrounded by suitcases, Emma in the rear seat surrounded by shopping bags and Debbie and I in the front.  We left as late as possible mid afternoon so as to minimise the time Hamish had to spend in his crate awaiting James’ return from Cwmbran.  My sat nav predicted a two hour journey without stopping which proved accurate as we headed past Brecon on the A40 and onto various twisty A & B roads towards our destination.

The cottage I’d chosen was called Cartref Bach which is Welsh for “Small Home” in the small hamlet of Llanrhystud.  It was a little Tardis like downstairs at least as the living room was quite large as was the adjoining kitchen diner and utility room, leading out to large gardens.

When searching for a suitable place to stay I’d looked for an enclosed rear garden for molly so she could wander outside freely to explore and do her ablutions, had a log fire in the living room to snuggle up by, be close to the coastline for walking and a pub for refreshments.  Cartref Bach ticked all those boxes along with off road parking on Church Road and a local small supermarket combined with a sub post office so we were very well served.

We arrived with it still being daylight after an uneventful and uninterrupted journey and for once the sat nav took us straight to where we were going and I pulled the Galaxy into the narrow entrance to the cottage.

Llanrhystud has hills separating the village from the sea as you can see to the rear

The instructions which I had to admit to having not read properly before arriving told us entry was not before 4pm to allow time for handover and cleaning which was fine, although finding the key safe through the wooden doors to the right of the cottage and attached to the door frame of the adjacent tool house was more challenging although the code was very easy to remember!  I won’t mention it here in case they don’t change in regularly…

Keys secured we made our way inside and immediately Emma bagged the front bedroom with the attached bath and shower, something I didn’t realise until we left as our rear facing bedroom overlooking a field full of sheep and a large hill obscuring the sea just had a curtained off toilet/shower area attached!

Still it was very cosy especially when Debbie got the log fire going and I read about there being further supplies in the shed located in the large rear orchard to the rear of the property on the right.  The weather though was pretty wild with strong winds and rain making the outside rather cold but that only contrasted with the snug warmth inside.

Don’t take my photo in my PJ’s!

Settled in we watched TV and some episodes of TV Burp 3 on DVD before eventually retiring for a good night’s sleep with Molly in her basket next to our bed in the rear…

Where’s Hamish and James?

The following days we spent relaxing, popping into the local shop where I was given a ginger cake free of charge that was going out of date the following day which definitely generated goodwill with yours truly as I purloined newspapers, wine, bread, baking potatoes, tomato sauce, yogurts, chicken curry and rice with mango chutney etc. to add to the emergency vegan shop in Waitrose we’d done prior to leaving!

This patio is all mine!

Molly seems to love exploring out the back although very skittish in terms of noises from the local sheep and bird population.

The orchard too!  Extra logs are in here Dad…

With the two human ladies of the party staying behind in comfort Molly and I ventured out twice during our four day stay, both times following the same route to the pebble beach closest to the property.  The first time however Molly turned back just before getting to our intended destination due to the blustery conditions of the strong wind coming off the shoreline.

Turn right outside Cartref Bach and you pass this Church dedicated to Saint Rhystud

With our second attempt though we passed through a deserted caravan park and made it to the bleak shoreline without a trace of human or canine company where Molly looked rather bemused at the expanse of sea water.  Being more of a freshwater River Usk lady, she came, she saw and conquered & returned to the cottage fairly promptly much to my relief.


The cottage was well equipped with DVD’s and games which we all enjoyed and it’s warmth and comfort led to only two short expeditions outside by car during our short break.

The first was a rather brief seven mile journey south towards the picturesque fishing village of Aberaeron which according to our local guide book in the cottage could only be described as a Welsh “Tobermory” however sadly on this occasion it was not to be due to the fact that as soon as I parked up Molly threw up in the rear of the galaxy and started shaking so we beat a hasty retreat back to the cottage.

Having decided that Golden retrievers, like Molly’s predecessor Tom, travel on light stomachs it was decided prudently to dispatch me alone towards Aberystwyth which 40 years previously had been on my UCCA interview list of potential University places to study planetary and space physics!

Sadly visiting on my own seemed even less attractive than back in 1978 so when I spied Morrisons on the outskirts I gratefully pulled in to do some emergency shopping of tofu stir fry for Emma and I along with some requested treats for Debbie back at Cartef Bach.

Before we knew it the days passed and it was time to leave our cottage and head home, fingers crossed with no further stomach troubles from Molly, although we minimised the risks by refusing her breakfast until we were safely back home…


Mind you as I napped in our bedroom after a two hour journey back to Llanfoist I suddenly awoke to a rumble where the bed and whole room shook for about five seconds as magnitude 4.4 earthquake shook Wales as a true welcome home surprise! 🙂