Saturday, 27 March 2010

Playing catch up

Apologies for the recent lack of updates. We’ve been somewhat distracted by the launch of the web site, guests and simply getting on with it. There’s only 9 weeks to go until opening day and with both cottages booked for the first week it’s all systems go to finish in time. Yikes!

So here’s a highlights package to help you catch up on progress during the last month.

1. After 5 days on our hands and knees sanding and varnishing, we finished the floor of the barn. It’s come up a treat. Can’t say the same for my hands though – the fuzzy tingling feeling from the sander vibrations may have gone but the white spirit sapped the last moisture out of my skin. I could probably sand the next floor with just my bare hands.


2. Spring finally arrived and we took advantage of the unexpected sunshine to give the cottage a lick of paint. Dave is a pussy when it comes to ladders, so it fell to me to scale the heady heights and slap the paint on at the apex. But to his credit after I handed over the brush he slaved all day to complete the wall by tea time.


3.We’ve started on the hard landscaping. As there is no shortage of rocks on site, Dave decided to put them to good use and is now an expert at creative rock path edging. No particular plan or design, just rocks. It kind of works. If you like the quarry look. No seriously, it really does work. Maybe you have to see it in the flesh (so to speak), to appreciate the beauty of Welsh stone, lots of it.

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4. Much as we love Welsh stone, planting must begin before spring passes us by. Planting needs soil, so Paul and his digger are called into service once again. Note the re-appearance of Squaddie Dad in a cameo role. It’s man against machine as he fights to protect the new patio from the encroaching pile of mud.


5. It’s time the three amigos were put to work and earned their keep. Stevie has learned to drive the truck and is now in charge of trips to the tip to dispose of all the scrap metal that we’ve dug out of he ground. Next week Nessa will be learning the art of bread baking and Charlie will be fitted up with a yoke to pull rakes across the new wildflower seedbeds.


6. Not every job on site is as enjoyable as piling up rocks or raking up soil. Sometimes there’s a really crappy job to be done. Like testing all the jigsaws that have been dug out of dusty cupboards of various family members and donated to the Banceithin cause. As you can see, it’s thirsty work. So just how many Pickworths does it take to do a 1000 piece jigsaw?


Monday, 15 March 2010

On your marks, … get set, … grow!

The new Formula 1 season has begun. Vettel, Alonso and Hamilton jostle for pole position. The new growing season has also begun. Numex Bailey, Principe Borghese and Black Beauty jostle for tray space on the windowsill. Meanwhile, at the back of the grid, Bendigo pepper struggles upwards through the soil, its seed case dragging down the tiny leaves like a heavy crash helmet on a weak neck. It’s so tempting to liberate those leaves from their prison, but I know my clumsy fingers could be fatal at this crucial time of growth.

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The morning routine for the first riser now goes something like this: check for chewed mouse corpse, feed the three amigos, check wood stocks, feed Bertha, check for eggs, feed the chooks, check for germination, feed the seedlings, check for mould on the bread, feed self and spouse.

Every windowsill is a mini-nursery and Bertha is a propagator. The three amigos are banished from their view points after Stevie put a big fat paw square on top of a cluster of lettuce seedlings and Nessa knocked a chitting potato out of its egg box and onto the floor.

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This year there’ll be some newcomers in the veg plot. Parsnip for Dave (one of the devil’s vegetables as far as I’m concerned). Cauliflower for me (a pointless vegetable unless covered in cheese as far as Dave is concerned). Artichoke as an experiment in my final permanent bed. Red cabbage because it’s yummy braised with apple and served with pork chops.

Meanwhile, things have gone awry on eggwatch. We peaked with two a day for the sum total of two days, but now we’re down to one dark brown egg per day courtesy of Hera. You know when she’s getting ready to lay when the afternoon is interrupted by chickeny shouting as she struts about doing laps of the hen house. Hestia has failed to develop a comb and is too busy chasing the three amigos away from the fence line to spend quality time in a nest box. Athena and Aphrodite have started laying soft shell eggs, which are mighty tricky to pick up. It’s a messy business picking yolk out of straw. This morning we finally had an early morning egg with shell intact, but it was more slightly deflated rugby ball than perfect ovoid.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Patio Party

Work has started on the outside now, the daunting task of turning a building site into two delightful gardens for the properties. I decided to bail out of laying the patio’s myself, and got Paul and his chums to do the work!


We’ve been really fortunate with the weather over the last two weeks, with lovely sunny days (but chilly nights!) and the guys have now finished the two patio’s. Paul (the main builder) pulled his back when laying one of the big slabs in the long patio (below). And being a typical ex-farmer refused to take any painkillers or anti-inflammatory drugs, and so by day two he was pretty much incapacitated and he had to call in the youthful reserves of Jamie and Moss.


Now that’s done, there’s just the small job of sourcing 200 tonnes of topsoil from somewhere so we can lay the turf and plant up the borders. If any of you followers have some spare dirt laying around, let me know!

Thursday, 11 March 2010

No going back

We’re striding purposefully down the road of no return. We are now at the mercy of Joe Public. Bring it on!

In other words, the full web site has gone live. Check us out at

The prize for swiftest feedback and gentle critique of text goes to Jim White.

And no laughing at the muppets on the Contact page. He insisted on wearing the hat.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Lights, camera, action!

SEO. Search Engine Optimisation. It’s the dark art of the internet. Our web designer, the beautiful, talented and jammy at cards, Holly Junak (contact details available on request), is wise in the ways of the “www” and tells me to write “content rich” text and not to write “like a lawyer”. If I didn’t know better I’d say she was trying to insult me. The aim is to set the world wide web aquiver with tempting morsels called keywords, which act as the dying flies that lure the bots and spiders out of their search engine lairs. In practice that means liberally sprinkling words such as holiday, cottage, Wales and free beer throughout the text with gay abandon. So much superfluous text. It hurts my lawyer sensibilities.

But there’s more to a web site than text. We needed photos, but none of the rooms were finished and it would be tricky to take any photo of the exterior that didn’t feature a builder, some rubble or a patch of mud, or maybe all three. Some creativity was called for. I bundled piles of bedding, cushions, throws and curtains in box, Dave grabbed some lamps and plants from the house, and we spent a day on our own Ideal Home photo shoot.

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Having completed the interior shots, we still had to come up with images for the pages on the web site detailing activities in the area. Beaches was easy. We even had a moon picture for astronomy (and by that I mean the actual moon and not one of Dave or one of his cohorts dropping their trousers). For cycling we hauled Dave’s bike out of the shed, brushed off the owl poo, muddied it up a bit with a few trips through the puddles on the drive, and hey presto an instant mountain biking shot. Golf was a bit trickier. We thought of creating a bunker out of a pile of building sand, but I feared coming across little presents left by Nessa and Steve. We decided on an action shot using the sports facility on the camera - I tried and failed to get a shot of Dave hoofing a golf ball down the drive. We swopped my inferior camera skills for Dave’s superior camera skills. Sadly my golfing skills are just as inferior as my camera skills. I knew I had to keep my eye on the ball as I hit it, but taken by surprise that I actually hit the thing, I then failed to keep my eye on the ball as it sailed off somewhere down the drive and into the undergrowth. Lost ball stopped play.


Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Here comes the sun……do dah do dah..

Under the first rays of Spring sunshine, we finally completed the solar panel array on the roof of the barn. I say we, but in truth most of the work was done by Frank, our friendly neighbourhood chap who seems to be able to do most things. He fitted the chimney in the main house at the start of this project and he happens to be the Bee Inspector for West Wales, which is handy as Philippa has started her bee keepers course at Lampeter (I hear all you people who know her saying ‘Phil and bees?’…..but she is just mad for the honey).

IMG_4349 My job was to grease up the tubes for Frank to slot in……steady on!


The completed array should provide the majority of hot water for Cwt Mochyn.