Molly’s “Birthday”

It was a year ago today that myself, Debbie, James, Emma & Hamish drove down to Gatwick in the Galaxy to pick up Molly our rescue golden retriever.  We’d adopted her from the Many Tears rescue centre in Llanelli who’d rescued her from an Irish puppy farm.

Molly had been fostered with Julie who lived near Gatwick awaiting her “forever home” and we found out later that she had been considering adopting her but fortunately for us we were very keen to take her on, hence the rapid deployment down south!

Of course we don’t really know her true birthday, nor how old she really is but officially from now on we will treat today as her third birthday which can’t be far out.  Many people have told us that taking on a rescue dog is very rewarding and all we can say is that we agree wholeheartedly.

Molly is the most affectionate dog we’ve ever had in the family (sorry Tom & Hamish) and I think seeing her transform from a untrusting, terrified and emaciated creature into the happy and contented member of the family we see today is really heartwarming.

So here follows her monthly adventures over the past year as she too has “escaped to Llanfoist”!

May 2016

This is how Molly looked when she first came to Llanelli from Ireland, she was looked after by Chloe one of the volunteers at Many Tears who sent us this photo before she was fostered out…

June 2016

This was us collecting Molly on the 29th June from Julie who lived in Copthorne near Crawley and Gatwick airport.  She had a rather smelly slip lead around her neck for the journey home as we were all terrified she’d escape and we’d not get her back.

July 2016

For the first few weeks we all had to work hard to earn her trust despite inducements such as raw lamb breast and sliced hot dog sausages…

August 2016

Eventually we started to venture out and I had the Freelander fitted with a dog guard supplemented by a rear window guard so that we could lower the window without them escaping.

September 2016

Despite being the larger dog Molly will often curl up and sleep in Hamish’s smaller bed and even worse ours!

October 2016

Eventually we gave up trying to get her to sleep in her cate downstairs and somehow she wheedled her way onto our king sized bed.  Not for long though and we found that she quickly preferred to sleep in her own bed next to us, rather than being disturbed in the night as we tossed and turned!

November 2016

This was her first visit to the seaside at Barry Island and although she only paddled a little in the sea water this must have given her ideas for wallowing in the River Usk later on.

December 2016

Her first Christmas with us dressed as a reindeer, unlike our neighbours Andy and Helen who dressed as Elves…

January 2017

A lady in repose relaxing on our bed while she thought we weren’t looking.

Amazingly I can’t find a photo of her in February 2017, the only missing month!

March 2017

Watching the Rugby with James in her favourite viewing position.

April 2017

A walk up Sugar Loaf mountain licking her lips in anticipation of sheep…

May 2017

A later walk down Sugar Loaf after chasing some sheep hence back on the lead!

June 2017

A classic pose in the River Usk sans tennis ball.  This walk is the highlight of her day and she will nudge my hand and prompt me to where we store the dog leads to try and persuade us to take the Land Rover out and park up at Castle Meadows.

So a year on what does Hamish think of her?  I’m not 100% sure but I do know he gets jealous of affection that we show to Molly but when we try and do the same to him in return his terrier instinct kicks in, but all in all I think he loves his little (or should that be big) sister don’t you Hamish?

Together at Royvon kennels
Molly’s “Birthday”

The Houdini Twins

I’m writing this post in our lounge on Thursday afternoon after being out with Debbie walking the dogs & my legs are aching.  I am exhausted and relieved as believe it or not both dogs decided on following the exploits of Houndini and escaped our clutches separately today…

First we took Molly halfway up Sugar Loaf mountain, then followed up by taking her and her older brother Hamish (who’s eleventh birthday it was) on the long circuit of the Llanfoist canal walk.

The first walk with Molly went smoothly initially and I can remember telling Debs that this was probably my favourite walk and I thought Molly’s too as she was free to run up and down the mountain without getting lost unlike our Deri debacle.

Unfortunately no sooner had I said that she disappeared into some bracken and started chasing a sheep with her not so young lamb.  I immediately sprang to action with her lead and shouted “Molly” at the top of my voice but to no avail as she was hurtling into the distance playing with her quarry which to her eyes must have looked like a pair of Hamish lookalikes.

Debbie although shocked had more presence of mind and shouted “gravy bone” which provoked an immediate response in the mother sheep which immediately started hurtling down a track towards me!  Fortunately there was no collision but as Molly passed me I grabbed her collar and we were reunited!

Lesson learnt she spend the rest of the walk firmly on the lead…

If only you had mint sauce dad…
Clever girl (I mean Debbie)
Trees in blossom on Sugar loaf
Bluebells in the heather

Arriving safely back home albeit a little chastened Debbie extracted Hamish from james who had stayed behind on his day off and proceeded to put him into the back of the Land Rover when his collar slipped!  Like Steve McQueen in “The Great Escape” our Westie scarpered down the road only pausing when SWMBO uttered “gravy bone” again and I managed to grab him and dog handle him into the 4×4.

Shattered we drove the short way to the car park and headed up Blorenge to the canal where I gave Hamish a stern look that didn’t last long, after all it was his birthday! 🙂

Hamish 7 Molly laughing at their “master”
The Houdini Twins

Walk, Avoid, Eat…


I can’t believe it but another beautiful sunny day in our “escape” prompting Debbie and I to repeat our walk up Sugar Loaf with Hamish and Molly.  In fact we even went higher than yesterday but what’s really special about these walks is seeing the two hounds, off lead, really enjoying themselves in a safe environment.

I love her, she loves me!
The hounds of the Baskervilles!
Following my mistress up Sugar Loaf


After about 90 minutes walk we got back into the Freelander and decided to go for Sunday lunch at the Clytha Arms  where we’d had excellent food before and where Debbie’s parents had celebrated their silver wedding anniversary.

Alas, a good experience this time was sadly wanting and for the first time in many, many years after I tried unsuccessfully to get served by the very rude daughter of the owner, I gave up and decided to take my business back to Abergavenny.


We parked up in town in the small car park next to the Baker Street cinema where we hope to see the new Disney film “Beauty and the Beast” before it’s too late.  On this occasion however we made our way to a pub called the Grofield where we’d enjoyed a really good afternoon the previous year with Emma and James and as before the welcome couldn’t have been friendlier.

A study in pink 😄
Such a great experience we booked a dinner for seven when Emma, Josh, Alex & Emily visit
Debs had goat’s cheese salad, while I chomped on roast beef and Yorkshire pudding!

Another really great day and with Emma arriving late tomorrow from Glasgow and James being at home if we can brave the colder weather forecast we may make another ascent of Sugar Loaf before too long!


Walk, Avoid, Eat…

A Welsh Christmas 2016

I can hardly believe a year has gone by in what was, in many ways, a tough Christmas 2015.

All I can say is that this year it seems to have gone really well, last night we did our traditional family “Night Before Christmas” aided by FaceTime for Alex and Emily to join in.  Today we’ve had an invasion of elves as can be seen from the following pictures!

Andy and Helen dressed for lunch….
The Llanfoist Four…
Don’t drop the turkey mum, but of you do, two little Santa’s helpers…
Emma & Josh at the piano singing carols…
Pre-serving Christmas table
James asking Molly if he can have some of her food…

For everyone out there reading this blog I hope you have a merry Christmas 2016 and a very happy New Year in 2017!

Walter Mitty 25.12.16

A Welsh Christmas 2016

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

Molly and Hamish (in Barry Island)

Remenber Gavin and Stacey the TV comedy about an Englishman who falls in love with a Welsh woman, who both have wacky friends and families?

Well Stacey came from Barry Island which is on the coast not far from Cardiff airport and we decided to take Molly on her first visit to the seaside with Hamish in the Freelander given it was such a sunny day today.

This time I went to Newport via the A4042 and then onto the M4 westwards until the Penarth turnoff.  We were very lucky securing free parking right on the seafront which was very busy with a lot of building improvements going on while the weather held before the winter onslaught.

Heading across the beach towards the sea Molly was constantly running after her ball and picking it up despite all the salty water and sand gumming up her mouth that she look a lit rabid…but happy!  Old man Hamish just looked on slightly amused by her display of unbridled energy.

It looks dark on this photo but the sun was looking straighter into the iPhone camera lens
Molly didn’t hesitate going into the sea
Gavin and Stacey filmed outside this fish & chip shop in 2009

Molly and Hamish drank tap water from an unused food container from the chippie.  They looked on as Debbie and I tucked into our large cods and shared mushy peas and curry sauce.  I was naughty and had chips too!


After we finished we made our way back the short distance to the Freelander and headed off home, this time via Merthyr Vale and the A470, reaching Abergavenny via the Heads of the Valley road.

Realising there was rather a doggie pong emanating from the back of the truck we headed straight for the free car park and a quick dip in the Usk for a quick bath in clean water before heading home for a well deserved rest!


Molly and Hamish (in Barry Island)

Ding Dong on Deri on High

No dear readers, my dyslexia isn’t getting worse, the post’s title shouldn’t be “Ding Dong Merrily on High“!  Let me explain…

After our recent ascent of Sugar Loaf mountain together I thought the expedition season was now probably over until the New Year.  So much to my surprise last night Debbie suggested that today we should climb the Deri.

This mountain is covered in oak trees and is within walking distance of Abergavenny town centre.  It’s famous for the “Croeso” sign with a smily face 😀 as the “o” cut into the heather visible from across town.

So after dropping James off for work this morning Debbie, I and the two dogs parked up in the free car park opposite Castle Meadows and walked down Pen Y Pound road towards the dome shaped mountain.

Deri’s dome-like appearance
Are our parents lost?  This isn’t Castle Meadows!

Stopping to ask directions once we crossed over the road just past the Deri View primary school and walked up some rather steep wooden steps carved into the bank onto a lightly path leading to the base of the mountain.

Small footpath leading to Deri from road – Debbie looking wistfully back at Abergavenny

Crossing two more stiles were the dogs had to squeeze through narrow openings we came to some white corsages and the sign for the public footpath which led up the hill.  Unfortunately it wasn’t terribly well marked and at one point we were toiling up through gorse and bracken like something out of jungle warfare films.

Debbie and Hamish wishing they had a machete

Although Debbie kept Hamish on the lead I (foolishly) decided that Molly would find it better to be free to run up and down the track as she’d done on the route to Sugar Loaf the week before and to begin with all was fine.

Molly free climbing up and down the track
Welsh flag half way up
Like stop halfway up
Abergavenny below

We reached a convenient place to stop, water the dogs and have a breather before heading into the tree-line itself.  This is where our “ding dong” happened when Molly suddenly disappeared from in front of us and we panicked.  Shouting “Molly” I headed further up the track , pausing every so often to try and hear here moving through the undergrowth but nothing!  Eventually I reached a puzzled looking and rather large sheep and realised that it was unlikely she’d come this far.

I could hear Debbie below hollering periodically for Molly and as I approached her much to my relief I could hear “good girl” – she’d finally come back.  Phew – valuable lesson learnt!  You can see how dense & dark being under the tree canopy was in the photo below.

Yours truly looking sweaty but calmer after the relief of finding Molly

After a few moments to hug each other we continued up and eventually came out of the tree-line as we got closer to the summit.

Small quarry just before Deri summit

Although the Deri is one of the smallest of the seven mountains surrounding Abergavenny the views from the top was spectacular.

Sugar Loaf from Deri
Blorenge from Deri
Sugar Loaf selfie
Blorenge selfie
Skirrid Fawr selfie

Then the “fun” of the descent happened.  What comes up, must come down, however no-one tells you that it’s much trickier coming down, especially when you have Molly trying to unbalance me in the race to get home and Debbie trying to retain her balance on the steeper parts of the descent while holding onto Hamish.

Hamish having partaken of a sheep’s poo lunch on the way up, proceeded to throw up on the way down much to our shame!  A last gulp of water for the dogs who were very thirsty at the bench heralded the final retracing of our steps through town and back to the car.

I write this blog after a relaxing bath with all limbs aching.  We did pick up a small rock that we intend to trace the name “Deri” and today’s date onto the front & reverse to add to our collection.  When it’s done I’ll update this page, but for now we all need some blissful rest!



Ding Dong on Deri on High