A folk-ing good night was had by all

Quite a lot has happened since I last wrote.

Mike has tinkered with one or two minor blips in the water containment abilities of this property.  First we found a few drips from one of the pipes leading to a radiator; and then a minor leak became evident during a rainstorm in one of the new roofs – but at least this is being caused by some work we knew would be necessary but have not yet started.  We have had BT out to repair a faulty phone line.  Mike has finished constructing the shell of the linen cupboard which I have now painted, so Mike should be able to add the shelves this week.  I have shopped till I dropped ready for our first big ‘event’ in the cafe.  I have sorted all the linen (no mean feat in a hotel which has had several owners recently) and have had another Welsh lesson.  We have fitted new signs to the building which were beautifully produced by Signz of Llanrwst, and Mike has fitted 5 exterior lights, to enhance the walk from car park to entrance.  Unfortunately, we don’t seem to have taken photos of any of these momentous items…

Then we come to the main event of the week: on Saturday night, we had the pleasure of hosting an evening of European music from the folk band Mouton (https://soundcloud.com/moutonnorthwales).

Mouton making music
Mouton making music


Mike and I really enjoyed the music, and the evening seemed to pass in a blur of good humour, conversation, chilli, and just a vague suspicion of alcohol.  As this was our first ever attempt at such a night, we hope it was as much fun for everyone else, and look forward to the next such occasion.


Speaking of which, a quick plug:

  •  on Friday 9th December – yes, in just under two week’s time – we will be hosting a Christmas Quiz night
  •  on Saturday 7th January 2017 – an evening with the covers band Jabberwocky.

Full details will be on our web pages shortly!


Winter draws on…

This might be quite a short posting.  It has been gloriously comfortably warm recently in the building, as our new boiler has definitely made the heating system better able to cope with the size of these premises, but we are destined to be quite cold tonight.  This is partly due to the weather which is cooling rather rapidly tonight, with frost forecast overnight (and maybe snow), but an even greater factor is that we appear to have run out of heating oil.  How is that possible, we hear you cry?   On the plus side, at least we now have accurate information on the likely oil consumption rate of two boilers running, rather than one.  To defend us against not unreasonable charges of incompetence, I should say that the boiler man did have to drain the tank several times lately which presumably used rather more oil than we had thought – and he kindly removed some of the accumulation of watery oil lurking in the bottom of the oil tank….Thank goodness for multi-fuel burners, that’s what we say!  We will just need to retire to bed early tonight, with lots of hot water bottles and perhaps a hot chocolate drink.


Some of the first snow of this winter highlighting Moel Siabod
Some of the first snow of this winter highlighting Moel Siabod – as seen from our car park


To briefly summarise activities over the last few days: we have enjoyed meeting some lovely guests both in the cafe and to stay – including a delightful little boy of about 4 years who thoroughly enjoyed playing with the Duplo we have saved for our grandchildren, should any ever arrive (no pressure).  We took delivery of new signs from  a local supplier (Signz of Llanrwst) to help us improve our image.  I attended the AGM of the Betws y Coed and District Tourist Association and joined the committee.  We held our first Welsh conversation session (Thursdays 2-3pm with Adrian) in the cafe.  And last but not least, we had sufficient dry weather on Saturday to finish painting the area around the front door.  On a less positive note, our credit card machine broke down overnight.  It was astonishing to see that not only did the card reader alert us to the problem, it gave us the number to call, and this office explained what we had to do to reset the system and get back to business.   The power of technology these days still has the power to amaze me – and I’m only talking about relatively routine stuff!

To help us all relax after the mention of technology, I show a photo taken from our phone, minimised by a free internet resource, and posted on a blog- like you do…

Probably the last of our autumn views, taken from roughly the same spot each time outside the cafe
Probably the last of our autumn views, which have all been taken from roughly the same spot just outside the cafe


followed by a quick snap of the river, so we can follow it as the voume rises for our next theme
followed by a snap including the river, so that we could follow a new photographic theme watching the river volume rise.  The white froth on the water can just be seen as the shadow touches the wall towards the centre right


Mike’s work on the linen cupboard is beginning to make real progress.  Here you can see how he has fixed the novel feature known as a floor.  Since we now know this cupboard feature sits in a void running unobstructed from the ground floor to the attic, he’s lined the floor with fire resistant board and sealed the edges with fire-proof expanding foam to help reduce the inherent risks.

Fire-resistant gap filling foam edging the new (only slightly recycled) floor
Fire-resistant gap filling foam edging the new  floor (made from only slightly re-cycled materials.

This afternoon, whilst we had a particularly quiet time in the cafe, we put up some seasonal strings of lights.  No Christmas decorations yet – those will follow once we are in December – but we thought you might want to see how cosy the cafe looks with some extra lights.

With models....
Day time photo, complete with models….


...and without
…and night-time photo without models (please ignore the box of Christmas decorations behind the chairs – they have now been moved elsewhere) but with the floodlights on to pick out the rocks (which is better seen in person)


Lest we forget

You won’t find me writing bonus blog posts too often, since (obviously!) I am normally working my fingers to the bone with some important but slightly off-beam activity or other – as is my beloved, currently in the middle of making me a linen cupboard.  I don’t like to air our dirty laundry in public (as it were) but in the last house, we had lived with a temporary airing cupboard for about 20 years, and as we are eventually planning on offering accommodation here, the need for a clean – and thus necessarily well built – linen cupboard is huge.  The back story is ridiculously long, but we understand from the local fire service (and from careful inspection) that the current version had been used for unexpected activities, and has also housed a fire at least once.

Mike has stripped out the very rickety shelves to discover the cupboard had no floor (you can see a couple of feet down to a rats nest of old cabling) and no roof (you can see up into the attic floor) and when he gently prodded on one wall, found it to be rather more mobile than is normally the case for the side of a cupboard.    Below I include the photo after he replaced the studwork which had previously suffered several floods (at a guess, given how soft and squidgy the wood was) and then ‘glued’ the wall to the cupboard via strategic application of (really quite a lot of) builders expanding foam.

Right hand wall of the linen cupboard which we hope will now stay in place!
Right hand wall of the linen cupboard which we hope will now stay in place!

Anyway, this is all by way of a long and almost irrelevant intro into the real story.  Mike should have been working on the linen cupboard today, and I should have been sorting and prepping the linen, but instead following a conversation with one of our customers, Anna, earlier this week about the poppy installation at Caernarfon castle we decided to take the afternoon off to go and see it.  There follows several shots which may give you something of the flavour of the piece, but almost certainly not the numinous immediacy of being there.

Anna in front of the poppies
Anna in front of the poppies




A view from one of the battlements
A view from one of the battlements

and if that isn’t enough, we also took a shot of the remembrances placed for individuals within the castle grounds.  Each of the remembrances was either on a wooden cross, or crescent, or star of David, or crosses with stickers on for Hindus, or a shape for Sikhs, or a sort of thin hourglass shape for those of no religion.


A shot showing approx three quarters of the remembrances
A shot showing most of the remembrances

We had a very interesting and sobering afternoon looking around; walking through the various exhibitions in the castle; and in particular sharing thoughts with other visitors.  We didn’t get a chance to see the exhibition in the Tower of London, but are both glad we managed to catch this one.  For anyone local, the poppies can be seen in Caernarfon castle for free until 20th November.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.