NEVER in my wildest dreams did I imagine I’d be saying this: I’ve been replaced by a robot. Well, in the garden at least.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

Cheers! Thanks for doing the lawn for me

I don’t profess to be much of a gardener. Indeed, my sole task is to cut the grass with our old petrol mower, known as “the pig in the shed” because it’s a stubborn brute. While I’m getting increasingly frustrated trying to coax the pig into life, my wife does all the artistic stuff like looking after the flower beds.

Suddenly, I’m redundant because our friends at Sam Turner have asked us to “test drive” a robot lawn mower over the summer. Its real name is a 430x Automower, ingeniously manufactured by Husqvarna, at Newton Aycliffe, but I’ve dubbed it “Mow Farah” because it’s small, sleek and just keeps on going.

To begin with, I was cynical about his ability to do as good a job as me, but I have to confess he’s incredible. Mow is guided by a wire sensor, hidden under the surface around the perimeter of the lawn. When he reaches the sensor, he simply turns round and trims another area.

Now and then, he returns to his docking station for a recharge. And the bit that impresses me most is that you never see any grass cuttings because the blade cuts so finely it mulches back into the lawn.

We’ve had Mow on trial for three weeks now and we’re still getting used to having him around. Once, my wife ran outside, thinking we had a dog in the garden, only to discover that it was our energetic little robot going about his business.

“I just love him,” I overheard her say to a friend. In fact, I think there’s a real danger she might love him more than me. I put this concern to her and she didn’t deny it. Instead, she came up with the following cutting remarks listing why she considers him preferable: l “He never whinges about having to cut the grass – he just gets on with it and barely makes a noise.”

• “He doesn’t let the grass get so long that it’s impossible to cut without taking a scythe to it first.”

• “He doesn’t use the weather as an excuse. Rain or shine, he’s working.

• “He doesn’t wear his iPod and sing so loudly and out of tune that the neighbours knock on the door to complain.”

• “He’s dynamic, neat and stylish.” (The clear inference being that I’m lazy, scruffy and an old-fashioned.)

• “He doesn’t stop with the job half done, have a couple of beers and then leave the bottles in the garden for me to pick up.” (I deny this.)

• “He’s never been so clumsy as to pierce the side of the kids’ inflatable paddling pool and then try to cover it up with electrician’s tape.” (To be fair, that was nearly 20 years ago and I’ve served my time in the doghouse after being grassed up by the kids.)

• “He has charisma.” (That hurt the most.)

The question is, how long will it be before a robot takes over my other husbandly duties and I’m completely surplus to requirements?


IN the last Grandad At Large column, I told how I’d been beaten in the Park Run by a mum shoving a pushchair with a child inside. I was grateful for the empathy shown by David Laud, of Stockton, who wrote: “It reminded me of when I was overtaken by a wheezing carrot in the Great North Run.”

THANK you to Grandad Robin Davison for the following memory… It was Saturday and, as usual, Dad was giving Mum a rest and cooking breakfast for Emmie, eight, and Anya, four, at home in Middlesbrough. They were sitting patiently and Dad put a tea towel over his arm and pretended to be a waiter.

“Good morning ladies,” he said “How would you like your eggs cooked for breakfast?”

Emmie thought about it and replied: “Scrambled please.”

Anya thought about it and said: “I don’t want any eggs thank you, I’ll have cereal.”

Dad, who was in the middle of cracking eggs into a large bowl, replied: “Everybody is having eggs this morning for breakfast.”

Anya thought about it some more and patiently explained: “Well I’m the customer and you are the waiter, so please get me some cereal.”

Dad, suitably deflated, served Anya the cereal.