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

Green Green Grass of Home – Day 2

I’m feeling pretty smug this morning having just removed (cleanly) two of Molly’s “deposits” on our Easigrass this morning!  OMG it’s so much easier than real, muddy grass – I feel Christmas has come early!

The weather was kind to us yesterday and it kept dry all day thank goodness.  When Chris and his team arrived we’d already taken delivery of more of the pink crushed hardcore and the compactor was hard at work all morning.  By the time they finished around lunchtime the base was a smooth as the proverbial baby’s bottom.

After a brief stop for lunch Chris told me that if I wanted to use the skip to help clear out any rubbish they that was included in the price so I got to work with old redundant furniture being emptied from the double garage – I can’t believe how empty it looks now!

After that was completed I noticed on Chris’ van the 3 rolls of Easigrass were lashed onto its roof and Chris drove round the side of the house so that they could be lifted across the wall into our rear garden.

In the background you can see the work is well advanced on the remaining flats & house, we can’t wait for the kiddies play area to be landscaped where the temporary car park is! 
Laid in three strips leading away from the house he thoughtfully had moved our washing line and concreted it in place beforehand.  To be honest it looked a lot better where he positioned it…

Finally the cutting of the grass was done in the same way as carpet is laid out but after that a few things were different, like the 20 bags of fine grade silica sand brushed and hammered into the grass to give it added weight and the pinning of the three areas of trash that led onto paths.

Laying the “carpet” – 20 of those bags of sand were brushed in afterwards
Finally a quick wash of the grass, surrounding walls, paths and driveways and I was ready to say goodbye and thank them for their tremendous efforts.

No more mud!
A lot of money for sure but worth it, Debbie & I are really pleased and would highly recommend them to anyone.  Even Molly was grinning afterwards!

Molly says “nice toilet”…
Green Green Grass of Home – Day 2

Green Green Grass of Home – Day 1

An empty skip was delivered very early yesterday into our drive all ready for Chris Carpenter’s team of three who arrived promptly at 10am today, just after some aggregate in a large sack was delivered by lorry.  Our new artificial rear lawn is on the way!


Their first job, despite the light rain constantly falling, was to remove the patchy grass turf using a cutting machine and then disposing of the rolled up layers into the skip by wheelbarrow.

Skip “parked” next to the Galaxy

It was muddy, cold, backbreaking work but done very efficiently and so by lunchtime the bare earth was being covered with a plant resistant membrane ready for the layering on of the aggregate.

Turf cutting machine parked to right of garage, membrane now in position

Sadly Molly and Hamish had to spend most of the time in their crates so Debbie and I took them for a rather wet walk over at the lower Llanfoist canal walk late afternoon.

When we got back the team had departed due to the late arrival of a second load of aggregate but we were really pleased with the progress so far!

One skip full of turf ready for exit!
Looking good for tomorrow!

Thankfully the weather is looking much drier according to all the forecasts we’ve seen and we have the first drop tomorrow of the second load of aggregate so fingers crossed we’ll be all done by COB tomorrow!


Green Green Grass of Home – Day 1

Going to the Dogs at Christmas

What’s he on about now I can hear you say?  Well I love Molly very much and after so many years I can just about tolerate Hamish, but one of the downsides of our abode here in Llanfoist with 2 resident dogs is that our little enclosed rear garden turns rather muddy after a bit of rain.

Oh and we have had a leatherjacket (daddy longlegs larvae to you) infestation attacking what grass remains after the dogs bound around and do what comes naturally in terms of number 1’s and 2’s if you get my drift.  I remember in 85 Foxwood many years ago when we had Tom we paved over the rear garden for hygiene reasons but we didn’t want to repeat that here in Llanfoist, especially with the gradual slope down to the garage.

Yesterday as fate would have it a chap came round the estate posting leaflets through the letterbox just as I was about to go out in the Freelander.  I thought nothing more of it until I got home when I had an excited Debbie regale me of the benefits of an “Easigrass” installation by the local franchisee in Llangynidr, near Crickhowell.


After a little thought I phoned the number and asked for someone to come round and give us a quote which today at 1pm Beth promptly arrived in her artificial grass covered Smart car!  Hamish was upstairs with Debbie listening to some music and Molly was in her crate while I looked at the two recommended samples and decided to go for the “Kensington” dog friendly option.

Now what is involved is slightly more than cutting out a bit of “astroturf’ and laying it on top of the existing grass!  Nope, about 5cm of existing turf is taken up and removed off site, a weed barrier membrane installed along with a compacted aggregate base lying beneath 3 joined pieces of Kensington Easigrass.  This is then dressed off with silica infill and then finished off by hand using a mechanical brush, not a DIY job methinks.

The thought of no more mud being trailed into the house, easier cleaning up in the garden after the canine two, plus no more lawn mowing for yours truly as decrepit old age marches on relentlessly seemed to outweigh the not inconsiderable quotation cost in my mind, despite it being only just less than the price of my old Freelander…  Gulp!

Look out for updates as the installation proceeds, as I’m just paying the 50% deposit and we’re promised completion in time for Christmas.  Aren’t Molly & Hamish lucky with their surprise present?



Going to the Dogs at Christmas