Idle thoughts before we redouble our efforts…

After the very busy Easter weekend, we have been taking things a little more gently than normal, planning to return to full speed tomorrow.

More water anyone?

You may recall that we experienced very heavy rain one day last month, resulting in the river Conwy flooding. Since then until yesterday, we had had almost no rain, so the river levels were very low. Just in case any of you were worried, I can assure you that the 24 hour experience yesterday with Storm Hannah has restored the river levels! I am not surprised the cafe was extremely quiet – I wouldn’t have wanted to walk from the car to the cafe, let alone drive anywhere on local roads to get here!

A reminder of last weekend’s weather…

Lisa and family took this shot of us with Lola last weekend. We thought you might like to see it as it shows the grounds are beginning to respond to our tlc.

Aren’t we adorable?!

Anyway, back to this week. I have been producing a work schedule which now shows we should be ready to request sign off from the various official bodies for the fire stairs by around end July this year. Later than we had hoped, obviously, but at least it should still be (only just) in time for the Eisteddfod in August. To celebrate, Paul and Shaun took me shopping in Bangor for more bits and bobs for the rooms, and I just couldn’t resist these bath toys…

Something missing here, methinks

Mike has been working on the plumbing for the floor 1 bathrooms – which doesn’t make for interesting photos. Instead, above you can see the recess in the fire doors (of which we have a considerable number) into which the intumescent strips should be fitted. Yesterday I wrestled with these to fit them into the very close fitting recess, and managed to complete nine fire doors by fitting these strip so that the fire seal will be close, but so that the door will close under its own steam – or with the help of the door closer – depending on their location.

Carrie using a cross cutting saw (ha ha ha ha…)

The other thing we have finally got around to was cutting the base off this newel post. Because the stairs are narrower between floor 0 and 1 than floors 1-2 and 2-3, this particular newel post end appeared almost randomly in the sight line of people as they descended the stairs, and gave the impression they would hit their heads on it. In fact, the height above the stairs meant this was extremely unlikely, but the building inspector commented several months ago that it might hamper the role of firemen, should they ever be required. It was one of those jobs that never seemed to get to the top of the priority list, so earlier today I decided…

…that it just had to go!

Especially as I will soon need to finish off under the stairs and landings with insulation and fireboard, which is likely to be a lot easier without projections randomly dropping below the boarding line I plan to use.

I look forward to bringing you more news soon.

What a great week that was….

We thought that we were tired when we finished furnishing the rooms and making the beds. How little we knew!

Ten days later, we are now proper tired – but it was worth every minute of it. We have trialled the rooms with three different groups of people. We have completed two changeovers, and quite a lot of laundry. We have offered early (and not-so-early) breakfasts and up to 20 evening meals at a time. So if nothing else, we are now clear how many people will will need to employ to make this work.

We even provided entertainment for the kiddies…

—they built the canyouuseeverypieceofduplosaurus

The feedback has been really useful. Suggestions range from putting in hooks in various specific locations, through to installing a bird table and leaving binoculars around for people to see, hopefully, some of the local birds (red start, pied flycatcher, wood warbler and dippers, to name a few).

Giles in the cockpit

In the meantime, all the normal cafe duties continued. Here you see Giles leaving in his stylish old Ford, after enjoying a latte.

What with the test in the rooms, and holding the fort in the cafe on Easter Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday, we haven’t been doing any building works this week.

Our new pot garden

I have been working with Alex to fill pots for the flat area outside the cafe doors. I had been hoping to break up the top of this slate-covered area, cover it with soil, and create a sort of scree garden, but turns out that isn’t possible. So, instead, we have filled various pots, and then Alex is spreading slate waste between the pots to hide the rather patchy crazy paving below.

Tomorrow Mike is having a day off. I know – does the man have no sense of urgency at all?!? On the other hand, he has been slaving away pretty hard recently, so I guess he deserves a little time off…

The clock is now ticking again, though. We really hope to be open for at least part of peak season this year (i.e. the school summer holidays) which gives us about 12 weeks to complete floor 1 and the staircase. No pressure there, then…

A new era dawns…

Many, many apologies for the delay in updating you all. Words cannot express the exhaustion, but also the excitement, that we both feel having gone through the last week!

As you may recall, we now had some carpets down, and needed only to furnish, because we had friends due to stay and test the suites this weekend. Yes, as in, right now…

So between early and late last week, the above scene could be seen over and over again. We took delivery of furniture, beds, sofas and bed linen in surprisingly large quantities. Obviously, all the bed linen needed washing, and I have had to re-discover the delightful art of ironing after a 3 year hiatus. I don’t know, the things I will do for Mike’s dream…

Eventually, we managed to co-ordinate things enough to achieve scenes like this…

…and this. Sorry this duvet is unclothed – I was still ironing the cover at this point.

On Thursday, I was taken shopping by a couple of friends (who deserve medals for their help) who also have a keen eye for interior decor. After an exhausting morning, we had a car full of cushions, curtains, crocks and objects to create this look…


Some of the bedrooms were looking like this.

…and this. See, we even have pictures on the walls (courtesy of Shaun).

One sitting room almost finished…

…and here it is again, seen from the other end of the room.

We are now in full test mode. Some friends are trying out the rooms for the weekend, in exchange for detailed feedback of the comfort of the rooms, and the provision of evening meals – so that we can test our systems with a (hopefully) forgiving party. So far, so good (I think.hope). More of this in the next post…

Screwdriver anyone?

How I wish I was alluding to something alcoholic! This week, we have started putting together huge quantities of furniture, ready for the rooms.

Charley and Morgan finishing the woodwork

…and Will sporting the ‘I have been emulsion-ing’ hairstyle.

As I mentioned last time, we brutally involved our children, home for Mother’s Day last Sunday, to give a hand.

What a view!

We had a couple of very cold days, including one with enough snow that as I drove to Porthmadog for shopping, I was not 100% sure I would be able to drive back over the Crimea pass, which is frequently closed if we have poor weather.

Floor 3 lounge

So by Wednesday, we had two floors of rooms looking a bit like this…

Floor 2 hallway

…or this. Floor 2 was fully painted except for the doors which I need to gloss over the weekend.

Yesterday the carpet fitter arrived and now we have…

Floor 3 lounge

Looking into hallway of floor 3.

Floor 2 main bedroom

We now have carpets in most rooms on floors 2 and 3, and the carpet fitter still awaits some carpet from his supplier. Friends Yvonne and Julie have fitted most of the wall lights and I am still painting – but now in the stairwell, well out of the way of the carpets!

Sorry, can you tell me again how I put flange f into slot d?

Yesterday, whilst the carpet was being fitted, Mike, Julie and Yvonne began making up the furniture. After a lot of thought, we have chosen to buy the majority of the furniture for the suites from a local charity that offers professional support for adults with learning difficulties. Here’s hoping we have put sufficient pieces together by the next time I blog so that you can see the finished rooms.

If the general finishing work hadn’t been bad enough, constructing the furniture has required the use of many and varied screwdrivers so we might need to find something different to do tomorrow, to give people’s hands a chance to recover!