Bookhound often calls it the parish lantern but I think the rest of us
might know it as the moon and occasionally it does something quite
special in our outdoor planetarium.
No light pollution but our own to contend with and so a while ago I took out the posh camera, the one I'm holding hostage, to see what it could do. My trusty little Olympus All-Weather 600 sees me through day to day pictures for here, and you all know by now that all I do is point and press, so what I see is what you see, blurry bits and all, but it has all made me a much more observant person than I ever was, for which I thank you.
I'm not sure I'd be quite such an assiduous snapper were it not for the scribbles.
So, it's midnight and I'm out on the verandah in the pitch dark clicking away at the parish lantern.
Rocky is indignant that I've disturbed his night time prowling and for a minute I wonder what it might be that's padding across the gravel and I'm quite relieved it's him.
Owls are hooting and there are all sorts of weird and wonderful noises in the front field.
The swallows were still snuggled up with their babies in the nest and just fluttering a fraction over my head and there were some very odd scratching and scuffling noises going on beneath the verandah decking which was all a bit distracting.
After about fifty rubbish shots, showing two moons and clouds that looked like an ante-natal ultra-sound scan, I went in and found the tripod and things improved considerably.
Then there was nothing for it but to get out one of our favourite children's books and read it.
I Want To See The Moon by Louis Baum and illustrated by Niki Daly was published in 1984 and our copy is held together by sellotape.
The pages are faintly sticky and very finger-worn because it has been read countless times to wakeful children, and in the intervening years I see the book has become an out of print rarity, which is sad because it's a thing of quiet and peaceful beauty that would still make lovely childhood reading.
This is the olden days, all long before the Baby Whisperer or Gina Ford, way before the invention of controlled crying or the disappearing chair methods of trying to get wakeful children back to sleep. There's an acceptance of occasional wakefulness and a lovely Dad involved in these pages.
Toby can't get to sleep so his Dad goes in to see him and by the time you see the first page Toby has dropped that teddy and is leaning over the side pointing at it and declaring 'I want to see the moon'.
He is then walked round the house in any number of diversionary tactics because surely he doesn't mean it.
He gets a clean nappy, a glass of water, a piggyback, a story, builds a castle, drinks some warm milk but each picture shows that recalcitrant body language of the thwarted toddler...
...until in the end he and his Dad go into the garden to look at the moon
The moon hides behind the clouds for a while, sneaks out a bit and back in again and then
'There's the moon!' said Toby
'It's a beautiful moon' said Daddy.
'Beautiful moon' said Toby.
'Good-night, moon,' said Toby.
And ever thereafter when we see the parish lantern one or other of us will recite these lines which have entered into family folklore.
Bookhound was away, so I had to make do.
'It's a beautiful moon, Rocky'....