It’s raining again…

…which is surprisingly unusual so far this year.

As we approach the end of January, we are pleased that progress is still being made, and rather less pleased that the plans for the next phase are still not here.  We understand that the Building Regs chaps requested some elements be re-drawn and understand these are with them now so are hoping for positive news early next week.

In the last few days, I have continued to be rather destructive.  I have pulled down a ceiling:

This has become:
This area which will be the entrance to the staircase has become:

 

...this
…this

so that we will be ready as soon as we get word that we can measure for the new staircase.

Meanwhile, Mike (having pretty nearly run out of jobs) has been much more constructive.  He has started haunching in the bricks of the labyrinth, so that they should be relatively stable when we finish this path by infilling with slate waste and then landscaping the area

Just starting
Just starting

 

a little further along the next day
a little further along the next day

 

Yesterday the old boiler was repaired whilst I was at my ‘dosbarth Cymraeg’ so we are rather warmer than before.  In the afternoon, I vented further urges on two of the rooms we are gutting.  The lovely furnished room I posted on Monday has been reduced to a shell, with the furniture either given away or reduced to firewood; the carpet cut up for disposal, and the walls getting some attention:

Why did they stick woodchip paper on quite so firmly?
Why did they stick wood chip paper on quite so firmly?

 

Mike has been making inlays for a customer from our previous lives, so we haven’t bothered taking photos of this.  He also had to remove the hydraulic motor from the digger which drives the left hand track, as one of the keyways is worn – a similarly non-photogenic activity!

On the more exciting news front, during our Welsh conversation hour on Thursday we were visited by about a dozen cyclists who were wet and muddy.  They seemed to enjoy our welcome and complete lack of concern regarding the dirt, so we are hoping they will pass the word back to their activity centre on Anglesey and that we might see more of them and/or their colleagues in future.

I also managed to finish off the left hand edge of the grass path/flower bed – so as soon as the grass starts growing, we hope this path will look slightly less worn.

blah blah
By the summer, this’ garden’ should be worthy of a quick glance or three from any of our visitors interested in gardening.

 

 

 

 

Day 402, and still going strong

We have yet to hear definitive news on the plans for the staircase, so are continuing to make steady progress in other areas – or I am, at any rate.

We have now all but emptied the four ‘bedrooms’ on floor 2.  The exceptions are twofold: the carpet in one room, as I need Mike to give me a hand to roll up the carpet; and a vanity unit in another, since I need Mike to disconnect the water before I take a lump hammer to the cabinet.

To help you understand the scale of this operation, here are some photos of the ground floor rooms not yet emptied:

Room 5
Room 5

 

Room 6, also housing some spare bedding
Room 6, also housing some spare bedding

And then here are some photos of the areas I now cleared:

Room 17
Room 17

 

The hallway on floor 2. We were surprised (buit then again, not so surprised) to see the holes in the floor once the carpet came up...
The hallway on floor 2. We were surprised (but then again, not so surprised) to see the holes in the floor once the carpet came up…
Room 7, of which more in a moment
Room 7

Room 7 is the first room on floor 1 that I have gutted.  In this room, I have been dismantling the worst of the furniture and cutting up the panels for firewood, hence the buckets (for ease of transportation).

On a more decorative note, I planted up the cleaned beds at the end of last week, but unfortunately was not able to lay all of the slate edging before the icy weather arrived so for now, they look something like:

The newly cleaned bed to the left. A slate line will be inset on the edge, to better define the grass walkway in due course
The newly cleaned and part-planted bed to the left. A slate kerb will be inset on the left edge, to better define the grass walkway in due course

 

This bed sits at the base of the hill. The slate edge to the left will, I hope, stop the rough grass invading the bed too effectively.
This bed sits at the base of the hill before the slate feature. The new slate edge to the left will, I hope, stop the rough grass invading the bed too quickly.

 

Mike, on the other hand, has not been able to progress the building works far lately, as he generously volunteered to do duty in the cafe during Jane’s days off, which were Friday to Sunday this week, leaving me free to exercise my more destructive tendencies.

So far, so routine, so let me share a little of the fun we had on Thursday.  There I was quietly clearing the garden and digging the flower bed, from which one gets a clear view of the A470 running past.  When a couple of police motor bikes arrived, lights flashing, it would have been rude not to stop and have a look…

One parked across the main road, blocking traffic from both directions; the other drove over the river bridge and travelled behind the hotel, and then back to meet his pal.  They waited about 5 minutes, and then a convoy of perhaps 4 cars led and followed by police bikes (all with lights flashing) arrived from the right and drove on towards Dolwyddelan on the left.  A few  minutes later, the whole convoy reappeared and pulled up past our hotel, going to the Lledr Hall behind us.  Jane and I were discussing who the major celebrity might be that requires this size of escort… would we have enough coffee for the entire entourage?  Do we have suitable food if it’s a Royal?  Or would it be some film star I have always wanted to meet?

Imagine our deflation moments later when a couple of policemen in an unmarked car asked if they could park in our car park.  Apparently, they were all on convoy training, and their particular task was to attack the convoy on foot.  Mind, it was a little surreal to see the men leave the car park pulling on balaclava helmets….  Still I must say it was quite an impressive sight, and the lay of the land here is not simple, so perhaps it gives them a nicely complex area to try to check and clear.

Didn’t manage to catch any photos worth using though – my apologies to all.  Maybe next time!

 

 

 

Parallel key, anyone?

It seems an age since I last wrote, but that’s probably an illusion partly due to my having just seen the last photos showing a slight coverage of snow, and remembering that it persisted for only about a day and since then we have had very mild weather.

For a change, I will share the news in reverse order(ish), starting with – we had a super day today.  We were both rather tired after yesterday’s activities, so we declared today a day off for Mike and I (after we ran some errands, such as a quick trip to deliver some cakes) and then drove through Blaenau Ffestiniog on the road towards Porthmadog and stopped at Plas Tan y Bwlch (now the Snowdonia National Park Centre).

A picture of the grounds of Plas Tan y Bwlch
A picture of the grounds of Plas Tan y Bwlch

 

and a view from Plas Tan y Bwlch of the surrounding area
and a view from Plas Tan y Bwlch of the surrounding area

We spent a relaxed hour or so pottering around the gardens, which inevitably lead to discussions of what we might do in the grounds at our Plas.  We then finished the day by nipping into Porthmadoc for a quick whip around the shops and returned home for dog walking etc.

Yesterday I made the radical decision that, as the weather was dry and unseasonably warm, I would do some gardening.  It took all day, but I managed to slate-edge the flower beds visible outside the cafe fire exit, which also defines one edge of the grass path.   Next time I am in the garden, all it requires is for me to edge the far side of the path; weed the soil to the left hand side; and plant both edges (mostly with plants we brought with us, or are nurturing from plugs in the raised beds) and voila, we will have…a slightly better view (I hope) from the cafe!

Before...
Before…
...and afterwards
…and afterwards
Three new beds (on the right) have been added to the two Mike built last autumn
Three new beds (on the right) have been added to the two Mike built last autumn, currently nursery beds for ground cover plants

 

And the beds are now filled with topsoil that previously lived where the labyrinth now stands
And the beds are now filled with topsoil that previously lived where the labyrinth now stands, and will soon be planted with broad beans and spring crops.

Mike meanwhile has worked his cotton socks off, and completed the installation and filling of the three new raised beds.  You can see above that he has made fantastic progress, and can also see below why his working day is often less than optimally productive, as he has to keep in touch with the neighbours and their news…

 

well, as I was saying only the other day, that Mr Trump seems a very nice man, and Mrs May seems such a nice woman, and the EU are such a lovely group of people and...
Well, as I was saying only the other day, that Mr Trump seems a very nice man, and Mrs May seems such a nice woman, and the EU are such a lovely group of people and and yes isn’t the weather unusual for this time of year and I seem to have lost a parallel key from the drive shaft on the digger so if you do see it please do let me know…

Monday was my day in the cafe whilst Mike was building the raised beds; and Sunday was Mike’s day in the cafe whilst I visited church and then relaxed with some paperwork.

Saturday saw Mike working on the kitchen door (which had swollen sufficiently during a wet spell to become sticky but is now moving freely) and also putting bolts on various strategic positions, alongside repositioning some of the signage for the cafe/restaurant.  I was in a more destructive mood which was useful, as I had to dismantle some 1970’s built-in furniture; cut up and remove the carpet; and steam wallpaper off the walls in one of the bedrooms.  We are trying to prepare ourselves to be ready to strike as soon as we get the plan go-ahead, hopefully in the next couple of days.   None of this work is particularly photogenic though, so I will leave things here, until the next post.

Its a good job Jane is here most days to run the cafe for us!

 

 

 

Back on the starting blocks; refurbishment phase 2 starting soon

Before I start with our news today, I thought you might like a quick glance at our views.  We have had a lot of wind over the last few days, and today we had some hail and sleet, but about 3pm today I took these shots showing that the precipitation has begun to settle on the ground:

'Standard' view outside the cafe...
‘Standard’ view outside the cafe…

 

..and on the car park...
..and of the car park…

 

...and a view of the river before any snow melts and brings back the rapids
…and a view of the river and A470, to complete the picture

 

I believe by now the coverage is more extensive, but it’s too dark to show you.

Now, we possibly may perhaps have some rather exciting news to share, perhaps now or possibly soon.  You may notice that I am hedging my bets a tad, but as Mike and I  have a tendency to be optimistic and believe what we are told, I am just leaving a margin for error in case our suppliers are not able for some reason to stick to the e.t.a. they have proposed.

Yesterday we were thrilled to receive an email, sent to our architectural designer (cc to us) from the building control guys, suggesting that by next Friday we should know for sure whether the plans that include the new staircase have been accepted.  This is great news, since we are currently faffing about with tinkering tasks whilst waiting for these.  Mike tells me that once we know these are approved, we need to knock a (smallish) hole in the three floor/ceiling combos in the centre of the space due to house the staircase so that we can accurately measure the heights between each floor.  Once we have these figures to double-check the figures on the plans, we can place an order with the stair-makers.  As it will take a few weeks for them to make the stairs, we will now be rushing to get to this stage before we leave on our holiday.

Oh, haven’t I told you?!?  We are hugely indebted to Phil and Hugo who have very kindly offered to take part of their annual leave to come and stay here to hotel/dog/cat sit for us.  Mike rushed to the internet as soon as we had their dates and, after due consideration and various conversations, has booked us a few days in Madeira.

Anyway, back to the main story.  Now we have a timescale, I have started clearing areas of the building, ready for the next phase of works.  So below I share pictures of the areas that will be demolished to enable the new staircase to be installed – as this will be the last chance for you to see them looking like this!

The area which was the old entrance to the bar, and will shortly be filled with staircase
The area which was the old entrance to the bar, and will shortly be filled with staircase
Part of the corridor from teh cafe entrance to the toilets: the wall visible on the right to be demolished as soon as we get the green light
View from the long corridor looking from the toilet end to the cafe entrance end: the wall visible on the right to be demolished as soon as we get the green light to proceed

 

and the reverse view (from the entrance, looking down the long corridor) before it all goes!
and the reverse view (from the entrance, looking down the long corridor) before it all goes!

 

And this morning, whilst I was back in Welsh class, Mike has installed another couple of raised beds – deep joy.  I can’t wait for the weather to improve so we can start planting them.

Jabberwocky – a triumph!

Mike and I have been taking it very quietly for the last couple of days.  At the end of last week, we were busy with Jane getting organised for our Jabberwocky night on Saturday and the buffet supper to be served.  We are delighted to report that all went well and, as far as we can tell, a good time was had by all including the band!  We were hugely helped by Charley (our eldest daughter) and Damien who worked like trojans throughout, but who tell us they also had a great time.  We are finding it difficult to cope on less sleep than normal which is bizarre really, since we chose to have 4 children and survived the sleep deprivation that goes with having them relatively painlessly/  I guess we must blame advancing years for our current inability to stay up beyond the 10 pm news: this ageing lark really does have some drawbacks!

Anyway, below is a photo of the event, carefully selected to try to preserve anonymity as far as possible:

 

On the restoration front, I have removed more wallpaper from a couple of rooms, and we are continuing to prepare for phase 2 as soon as the drawings for the staircase arrive.  Mike, on the other hand, has returned to our previous field of expertise and prepared some bespoke veneer inlays for a couple of furniture making customers.  Of course, when we get around to refurbishing the Manor, we plan for our expertise in veneering and marquetry to come into its own – in a restrained manner, naturally.

I am also relieved to report that I have finished the last of the holiday jigsaws earlier today.  Each year, the family collaborates to complete 2 or 3 1,000 piece(-ish) jigsaws, since they seem to stimulate interesting conversation.  This year, having completed several, we were given a jigsaw of a period view of Llandudno for New Year which was really quite tricky as the colours were all so similar.

As our last customer left the restaurant today she commented on the beautiful sky…

 

 

 

 

View looking towards Dolwyddelan...
View looking towards Dolwyddelan…

 

 

 

... and looking towards Betws-y-Coed
… and looking towards Betws-y-Coed

which I tried to capture in pixels, but with limited success

Oh, and we have fixed a date for Mouton to return to Plas Penaeldroch in response to popular demand – it will be Saturday 25th March.  And we had a customer in for coffee today who is in a band, and be interested in providing a musical evening later in the year.  I love it when a plan starts to come together.

So must dash – surely it’s nearly bed time even if its only early evening…

 

 

 

 

 

Blwyddyn Newydd dda / (belatedly wishing you a) Happy New Year

We are just about recovering from a busy spell over the festive season.

As Jane – our wonderful Penaeldroch cook – was on leave from 22nd December until yesterday, Mike and I have been running the cafe in the interim.  We have had a great time, both with our family during down time, and meeting some super people during ‘café’ time, but find ourselves rather pooped at this stage.  Today we had our first day off for ages and spent it pottering around the grounds, re-reading letters that we received over Christmas, and generally slumped in front of the fire (given it is rather cold here at the moment.)

Nothing doing on the refurbishments recently.  But Mike has promised to look at my draft schedule when we go back to work tomorrow, so I hope to have news to report early next week.  After all, we still have to take down our over-sized, much admired, Christmas tree in the next couple of days.  In case you didn’t see it last time…

It's beginning to look a lot like a Christmas tree
It’s really did look a lot like a Christmas tree

Oh and a quick reminder for any local readers – this coming Saturday 7th January, we are holding an evening event with buffet supper and live music from the band Jabberwocky.  Tickets still available if it sounds your kind of thing (details of the band can be found at www.jabberwockygroup.com) …

jabber1