Back on track!

Hiya. I am pleased to report that I am feeling considerably better now, and hope to be back to what passes for normal in the next week or so. Mike is continuing to work like a trojan to pick up any slack and keep all the plates spinning, so here’s hoping he doesn’t succumb to some lurgy any day soon.

We are delighted to report that we have been busy hosts. In particular, this last weekend, all three suites were booked out to group raising funds for stroke rehabilitation by climbing Snowdon. We had an absolute blast cooking for them, and we believe they must have enjoyed themselves as they have rebooked for next year.

I am also pleased to report that we have started, with baby steps, to return to the refurbishment work.

The long corridor.

At the lower energy level, I have worked with Gill and Alex to empty the cabinets that used to line the right hand wall of this corridor so that we could remove the cabinets. The settles which used to sit on the left hand side have also been moved, so that we can become familiar with this empty space, before we start knocking doorways through and generally relocating the toilet facilities.

But this is getting ahead of ourselves. The toilet refurb is the next phase of work, and various people are -rightly- pushing us to ensure that we fully complete the last phase before starting the next.

The exterior platform for floor 2

Which takes us to the external platforms. Both floor 2 and floor 1 have access doors to platforms which were previously part of the external fire escape, and both of them need ‘sorting out’ before we can advertise them as features of the suites.

Alex sanded and painted this platform a week or so ago, and today all three of us worked to use an angle grinder to remove unnecessary metal parts (Mike); remove the old woodwork and remove rubbish from the site (me); and prepare the underside for painting (Alex).

Mike with angle grinder going…
Yes, I know it looks pretty rubbish but…

As you can see, there is still a little work to do – but by the end of today we had put the first coat of paint onto all the metal, and hope by end of play tomorrow that much of the railings will be back in place.

Me, back in overalls, and clinging on…

This shot shows me painting the metal uprights whilst clutching onto the structure: it is surprising how having no safety rails makes the ground look so much further away.

I don’t think these stairs are fit for purpose…

And later on this, let’s face it, glorious afternoon, Alex and I set about pulling these stairs apart. In future, we will have two independent platforms without connecting stairs so they just had to go.

It feels really good to be back making progress on the building, and I look forward to showing you more next time. It might be slightly thin pickings though – I have to drive Phil (our youngest) to Cambridge Uni over the weekend, which will leave Mike to look after quite a lot of guests – I’ll let you know next time how we all got on.

Nothing much to report

I feel I need to apologise for the lack of news.

This is due, in part, to us spending quite a lot of the last couple of weeks trying to connect to the booking systems of various hotel room search sites.

We have also spent time doing some of the niggly little things we hadn’t quite wrapped up before we opened.

But also, I have been on the sick list. Ahhh. Yes, I know – we are usually staggeringly lucky, enjoying robust good health. On the jounrney back from visiting Teddy, I thought something might be wrong and nipped to the GP who prescribed antibacterials. Sadly, the first lot didn’t do the business, and the second set gave me terrible nausea and vomiting. A mercy dash to the local hospital last Saturday night (yes, not the best time to chose, we know) brought a changed prescription and a slow improvement.

I am sorry to sound a bit of a drip, but I am still feeling rather washed out, so I hope you will understand if it is a little while before we have too much to report.

Lola tried to keep Alex’s efforts under control

The only photo this time is of Alex, trimming the top off a line of bricks that mark where an old wall used to be. Once this proudness has been removed, we will flow some self-levelling cement over the area, ready for the carpet which will be with us soon.

On a more positive note, Mike has been working like a trooper, looking after our many guests. It is wonderful to find that word is getting out and we have had many super guests over the last couple of weeks (or at least so I am told).

Here’s hoping things are a bit more energetic wherever you are!

Well, what a surprise!

Our ongoing refurbishment is semi-stalled at present, as we are working on raising the profile of Plas and the suites of rooms now available.

One approach has been our new leaflet…

My, what super bedrooms we seem to have…

Another has been continuing to be welcoming to all comers…

I wonder which one is the top dog here?

… such as these adorable canines in the cafe.

We have had several parties to stay in the rooms who have been delightful, and in at least one case saying goodbye was like waving off firm family friends at the end of their three night stay.

And we finally got to say Hi in person to little Eddie…

Proud dad and grandad (make that Taid)
and no, I can’t remember what on earth Mike had said to make me laugh.

And Mike, obviously, has continued to work like a demon on the first floor, which still has a few minor adjustments before it is ready for use…

No, the real surprise this week was when I was sitting watching the box about 9.30pm on Saturday when I heard a noise which I thought was Mike trying to take a book out of the bookshelf, causing all the books to fall. Mike, in our kitchen, heard a noise making him think a rushing wind was passing through the lounge – so we both moved quick sharp to where the other was, only to find we hadn’t done/seen anything….at which point we noticed the thick pall of dust in the entrance hall , which currently doubles as our library.

One less-than-sound ceiling

Imagine our surprise when we pushed through the fog and saw a large chunk of ceiling on the floor, with small building rubble covering a wide area, and the occasional drip from the hole in the ceiling…

Luckily, most of the books survived relatively unscathed
but they might be a bit dusty…

A little head scratching followed, and then we realised that a joint where the water main feeds into the toilet in one of the bedrooms in the (as yet un-refurbished) Manor has obviously been dripping for a while, and the weight of water had finally won over.

I have been trying to be very zen and look for the good in this. Firstly, neither Mike nor I were hurt, thankfully – not even when we were standing in the library looking at the devastation and another chunk of ceiling fell down! Secondly, much of what the ceiling landed on is fine – its just a shame we had had so much stored here to keep it out of the way of the newly opened rooms. And thirdly, at least we were both concerned that the other might have been hurt: it would have been far worse had we been indifferent on that score!

Oh well, just one more thing on the extensive to-do list- of which more in the next edition.

Great news!!

This will be a brief blog, because I am very tired… (I know, I can hear your violins playing from here).

Mike and I have been running the show on our own for the last couple of weeks whilst Jane was on holiday, so I have been in the cafe every day. Mike has also spent a lot of time in the cafe, but has managed to escape to do some little (?) jobs around the place, now that we are open as a hotel!

Not that we are complaining, you understand. It has taken us the best part of 10 days to connect our web pages, and our booking platform to, but we think we finally achieved that earlier today.

In the meantime, we had guests on two of the floors this weekend and a very busy cafe, so we might need to have a little sit down this evening.

Much more importantly, and in the words of somone you might have heard of a while ago, we are a grandmother! Our eldest daughter Charley and her husband Damien made us very proud grandparents earlier today. We welcome Edward to the family and congratulate all involved in a happy outcome.

Guess who came into the cafe..?

We are both still waiting for the reality of Tuesday to sink in. We have approval (subject to sending two certificates to Building Control) to open. We have received one certificate, and the other is due here tomorrow, so progress is still creeping by.

I have been working on the web pages and various electronic interfaces, so that people can book rooms remotely. Just one or two wrinkles to iron out, but that process is also slowly reaching completion.

We have had a friend to stay this week, and Gill has heroically been prepping the platform outside one of the suites, amongst other glamorous jobs…

Just a quick lick of paint needed, I think

…so not much more sanding required now before we can paint it, then finish the railings, and then another task knocked off the To Do list. Mike has been fitting curtain poles and curtains, door locks, towel heaters and the like whilst I played at running the cafe last week.

Having said that, I did have a wonderful morning on Tuesday. I turned to greet a customer entering the cafe and got quite a surprise…

Is this a Welsh Rarebit I see before me?

…the most delightful couple had arrived who were on a road trip of unknown length, so brought their rabbit with them. It was fantastically well behaved and, in case you are interested, in only 6 months old at present so still has quite a bit of growing to do!

Ah well, onwards and upwards…

The man from Building Control…

…he said YES.

As of about 30 minutes ago, we are cleared to open as a hotel, providing we can let him see our electrical certificate and the fire certificate. Both of these have been promised by the companies who have tested our systems, so we should be getting them any day now.

In the meantime, I am back to work in the cafe, and then get some curtains tonight and then…. I will let you know more soon, when the emotions have settled down a bit!

So near, yet so far…

This week has been fun, but completely not photogenic.

We have taken delivery of our last big order for bed linen, so I have been washing and ironing everything, ready for when we open. But even I recognise that a photo of someone ironing sheets is not what most of us are hoping to come across.

Mike has been tweeking fire doors to make sure they fit precisely as they should, whilst I have been fitting the last of the intumescent strip to ensure a smoke-tight seal. We have been fitting skirting board and wooden beading to the last bits and bobs. Mike has connected the exterior lights for the floor 1 and 2 balconies to the electrical circuits and, in quite a change from the norm, invited Stuart (a rash volunteer) to help him fit two of the shower enclosures.

Nearly good friends

When he tried to relax one evening, he needed to speak a little firmly with Lola who was trying to tell the cat a thing or two. As you can see, his influence with animals worked well as both are contentedly lying by his side, but I think he might need to talk a little more firmly with his face before he takes the next selfie…

Welcome to the Eisteddfod

Having worked on lots of bits and bobs all week, we granted ourselves Friday evening off to visit the Eisteddfod. We can now see why the cafe was quiet last week: the Eisteddfod ground has everything you need to get through the day, so there was no need to leave the site to find stuff – there was even a phone recharging place!

Mike tucking into his Welsh specialty dish of chips and mushy peas

As it happens, our visit was late in the day and also coincided with some pretty heavy rainfall, which may be why things look a little murky, but we were surprised how busy it was, and what a lovely atmosphere there was.

So now back to the future, as it were. The fire alarm installation team were here on Friday, so the alarm points are all now installed and ready to work. Mike and I will be in the cafe for the next fortnight, covering for people on summer holidays, except for tomorrow when Mike will be furiously trying to do all the little things we ideally still wish to complete before Building Control arrive to inspect on Tuesday.

I will try to blog on Tuesday, just to let you all know whether we will receive permission to open then.

Close, but no cigar (#2-ish)

Woe is me. Not really – I don’t rate woe as a phase of life, but I do have a confession to make. You have probably guessed, but that doesn’t make me feel any better about it. So to distract you from the moment of truth for a sec., I will instead ask you to consider what might be going on in North Wales …

Whatever can bring so many people to Pont y Pant railway station?

Meanwhile, back to our little project. Long story short – Building Control phoned on Wednesday morning (31st July), just before our appointment, and asked about progress. Mike explained that he hadn’t quite finished plastering the stairwell whereupon Building Control cancelled the visit, since they would need to return to see the plastering completed before any sign off. So far, so fair. Unfortunately, the next available appointment was for 13th August, meaning we totally miss the Eisteddfod slot, of which more later.

Anyway, as Mike carried on working, he put in the last fire door of this sequence. He used expanding foam to secure the frame, which has to be pink (the fire-proof version) and, as you can see, some of it dripped onto Mike…

Don’t panic – it’s not blood…

…and what a mess it made. That stuff is clearly not designed to come off, so Mike now sports quite a tonsure where I pretty much had to shave him to get the sticky gloop off.

Mike was in a directorial mood

Nevertheless, the fire door frame is in – which is what I was hoping to illustrate, but I think Mike just wanted to show off my double chin, charmer that he is.

The fire doorway is nearly complete

Here is the frame for which Mike sacrificed his hair…

Notice how Lola is trying to show she is innocent of any charge of pestering the cat

and, looking the other way, you can now see the lobby after Mike had plastered it and I had given it two mist coats.

The view from the cafe towards the toilets…
…now showing off the new fire door

Here you can see that the stairwell is now enclosed within two fire doors on the ground floor and the whole area is plastered and (by end of play tomorrow) will be painted. Yes, we still need to add some architrave and skirting board, but have done all that Building Control needs to see.

Don’t get me wrong – there is still stuff to do. We have a few bits and bobs to finish in the bathrooms before the floors are completely ready to go live, but we should be ready on the 13th, so when we get the go ahead, all rooms should go live. Here’s hoping, anyway.

Back to my earlier teaser…

As some of you may know, the Llandudno Junction to Blaenau Ffestiniog railway had been out of commission since mid March, when Storm Gareth caused all sorts of problems. With the Eisteddford in town, there was considerable pressure for the line to be open and in the event it all reopened last week. To celebrate, a steam train came down the line yesterday…and many many people turned out to hear, smell and taste it!

The first Eisteddfod weekend is drawing to a close, and we can report it has been – – – a very quiet weekend in the cafe. The word on the streets is that the streets are empty because either (a) people are in the events or (b) they are at home because they are worried about traffic. We will keep a close eye on this and report further in the next post.

This accommodation phase nearly finished…

To remind you – the carpets for floor 1 and the stairwell were fitted last Thursday and Friday.

Mike putting in the finishing touches….

This marks the completion of construction work on floors 1, 2 and 3. We still have a bit to do on the ground floor to create the hallway – so we have fitted the fire board under the first stairs from floor 0 to 1 …

Now fire-boarding under the last flight of stairs

…and then blocking off the verticals to make the space safe.

…now nearly ready for plastering

I am not entirely sure what we will do with the space, but no doubt a solution will present itself in due course.

Slowly creating a great hiding place!

Mike’s next job was to reroute some old electrical cabling, so he crawled through the roof above the long corridor, and through into the roof the leads to the ghastly bit of Plas at the ‘bungalow’ end. All went well until Mike (who had been crawling backwards for quite some time) elected to turn around to crawl back whence he had come. On turning, he noticed a really rather sizable wasps nest…

Emergency averted – but only just…

…which we will worry about later. And now back to the important stuff…

The ceiling void needed to be levelled up first…

…the ground floor ceiling by the stairs was pulled down about 2 years ago so we could fit the stairwell. We then added various stiffening beams and, as a consequence, the ceiling no longer had an obvious flat base. So Mike had to fit more stiffening beams until we could identify a base, and then start fire-boarding it…

…and then we statrted boarding it up

…using the old broomstick trick to hold up the board every now and then whilst Mike exercised his screwdriver…

Mike and Alex work so well together – which is lucky really, as I was running the cafe

…until we (almost) have a new ceiling.

Ceiling now ready for plastering

Tomorrow I have to run to Llandudno, then have a breakfast meeting In Llanrwst, then return here for a church finance meeting – and then I will be ready to give Mike a hand with finishing the work, so that it is ready form Mike to plaster very soon. And I do mean very – Building Control are popping in Wednesday evening, and we are hooping to have the new fire door in place by then. Gulp.

Partly laid

As you might have guessed, we were still painting at 8 o’clock last night, but this morning we had a relaxed start for the day.

Just to remind you where we were at…

Whilst the last of the stairs (see above) were still drying out from the last application of the fire resistant paint, Alex was clearing out the last of the tools and materials from the rooms…

…and the rooms were being emptied as the carpet van arrived.

…and then vaccuuming through…

We don’t see this very often – a space with nothing filling it

…finishing just in time for the carpet fitters to arrive and start moving their stuff into the building.

The carpet and underlay started arriving…

Whilst that was going on, our crack team of (male) furniture builders were working through a pile of bedside cabinets. Our crack (female) team have taken the extreme step of holidaying in Finland to avoid this task but we want to reassure everyone that both teams are equally valued… (Mike, do you think I have got away with that?!?)

…whilst Paul and Shaun put together the flat pack tables.

The carpet guys showed incredible application to task today, given how outragiously hot it has been, and when they left about 7pm they have carpeted down two floors, and two of the three rooms on floor 1.

The carpet starts to go down

The stairwell now looks like it should…

The staircase begins to look quite different, now its painted and carpeted

…and some of the rooms are looking lovely.

Just need a few sticks of furniture now

Our immediate plans now mean we need to get back to work on the corridor and box in the base of the stairs and, and, and – oh well, more of that next time. Just for today, I think we need to sit quietly.