Two weeks down, and still smiling…

I do apologise for the rather slim postings of late.  Once we get used to having a cafe to run, no doubt we will be able to return to normal service!

This week, we have been steadily increasing the time we could spend on maintenance jobs whilst letting Jane have full run of the kitchen and restaurant. Highlights have been a few busy days; meeting more very interesting people; and having a surprise visit from our eldest daughter en route to Scotland.

The entrance lobby, now complete with coir matting to complete the look
The entrance lobby, now complete with coir matting to complete the look

Mike has now finished re-glazing the front door – so its time for me to get out my paint brushes again.  I have moved some brick shelves out of an outhouse; moved wood from the bin store into said outhouse; moved bins into the bin store (how radical are we!?!) and then spent the afternoon gardening – totally blissful.

If you had asked me a few months ago, I would never have expected to be posting a picture of bins!
If you had asked me a few months ago, I would never have expected to be posting a picture of bins tidily parked in a bin shed!

I have also been playing around with the accounts, since today is the end of our financial year.  We have visited a local garden centre and purchased the necessary to turn our summer planters into winter highlights just as soon as the frost gets at the pelargoniums.


Bedding plants, ready to go into the planters
Bedding plants, ready to go into the planters

But the most important thing this week – I have had my first Welsh lesson!  I now know just how badly I have been pronouncing the letters of the alphabet and many of the local place names.   I also now know how to ask “Sut dach chi heno?” and hope to find out how you are this evening….  Or I could say “Dw i’n dysgu Cymraeg” so that everyone knows I am just beginning in the language – perhaps we could set up a coffee morning for local welsh-learners to come along and have a good old natter?

This weekend’s task, along with completing the year end stock check, is to create the spreadsheet of tasks necessary between now and opening our first accommodation next year.  This is likely to create tension between Mike and I, since I like to organise, and Mike not so much – he is more a seat-of-the-pants sort of chap.  I hope the passage will be smooth, especially as it will be our wedding anniversary on Monday, and we plan to go out for dinner so I am hoping we have at least a little to say to each other.

Phase one of mission accomplished, and still exhausted!

Our cafe / restaurant has now been open for 8 whole days.  I am pleased to report that our systems are settling in, and customers are beginning to arrive.  Over the last few days, we have met some fascinating people, many of whom have shared with us reminiscences of the times they worked at Plas, or dined here, had Christmas parties here and/or honeymooned here.  Jane’s cooking is being very well received (especially her special order for cheese straws), and Mike’s cooked breakfasts appear to be hitting the spot.  As ever, I am gently bustling around, paddling below the surface in order that we present the illusion (I hope!) of a serene operation and well planned activity.

Highlights this week have been:

  • increasing traffic on our Facebook/penaeldroch site.  I am struggling to learn this new method of communication, but will persevere!
  • a surprise visit from Jeannine and Lucy, friends from Newmarket.  When we last saw Lucy (22 years ago), as she reminded us, she was a big fan of Count Duckula videos and we had only 3 children….
How the years have flown... Jeannine and Lucy with Jess and Carrie, and a rather disinterested Jasper
Jeannine and Lucy with Jess and Carrie, and a rather disinterested Jasper
  • We were delighted to receive a wonderful bouquet of flowers from our Dutch friends, the Bommeljes, along with a bottle of fizz to help us celebrate.  It reminded us of four much loved people (our and their parents) who used to be the bond between us, and my hope that they would all have approved of what we are all now doing.

We have finally managed to get to the top of our new dentist’s waiting list, and managed to have a check up, which was a great relief for Mike who needed a little remedial work following our 9 month wait.  We have both had a day off (sequentially, naturally – I suspect it might be a while before we can have a day off together), but we are delighted that having put up some signs, folk are beginning to find the restaurant.  I also visited Dolwyddelan’s Macmillan coffee morning and had the pleasure of meeting a few more near neighbours.  And we had our first visits from both motor cyclists and pedal cyclists today, so obviously our new promotional flyers are beginning to help spread the word.

On the work front, Mike has fitted a closer onto the front door and re-glazed 3/ 4 of its panels.  We have been visited by our architectural designer with a structural engineer and hope to have detailed plans for the new stairway very soon, and for our next phase of work shortly thereafter.  Mel has been in to continue her work starting the eradication of Japanese knotweed and Rhododendron ponticum on the site.  We are aware this is the start of a long process, but at least we have started….  And I have been trying to bring order to our financial records, as our financial year end falls next weekend.

As I was driving between Pont y Pant and Blaenau Ffestiniog earlier today, I noticed that the foliage colours are beginning to change.  The stunning forest in which we live is just beginning to cloth itself for the autumn and I will try to take some snaps next week to share this glory scenery with you.


So now we are open – but what then?

So, true to our word, we opened on Friday last, having taken action based on some of the very useful feedback on Thursday.  Now three days into the new regime, we can report that business is slow but steady.  We have been thrilled at how many locals have taken the time and trouble to drop in and wish us well with the new venture.

Our first paying customers:

What lovely people we can see!
What lovely people we are having the pleasure of serving!


For the next week, we will be focusing on sorting out the advertising for this new venture, as well as doing some of the essential domestic chores that we have shirked recently.  Mike and I are both going to have a whole day off – each – I know!  How radical is that!  And then, by mid week, we plan to have a Board meeting (or perhaps a quick coffee break, maybe with one or two of Jane’s cakes) to decide in what order to approach the next steps.  Will we start by tackling the major roof leak over the old kitchen?  Or by repairing and repainting the external walls near the entrance along with the front door?  Or to insulate the new hot water tank?  Or start the refurbishment of the toilets?  Oh, decisions, decisions….