Saturday, 29 May 2010

Crossing the finish line

It’s the morning of Saturday, 29th May. It’s our grand opening day. Out there are 6 people packing to go on holiday at Banceithin Farm and Holiday Cottages. And it’s raining. After days and days of sunny weather, it’s raining. I guess that’s traditional for a bank holiday weekend whether you’re in Wales or anywhere else in the British Isles. Annoying though.

The bara brith is baked, the cheese straws are cooling, the marmalade jars are labelled and we’re waiting for the girls to lay some fresh eggs.

And so it begins.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Lay one, get one free

With a huff and a puff, and quite a lot of clucking, a Rhode Island Red laid the biggest chicken egg I’ve ever seen.


On the right, an average egg. On the left, the Rhodie monster egg. We’re  not sure if it was Athena or Aphrodite. I don’t remember seeing a look of pain, surprise or relief of either of their faces at any point during the day. So it was omelette for tea and lo and behold the monster egg was a double yolker. Is that lucky? Or a bad omen? As it’s the grand opening of Banceithin Farm and Holiday Cottages in two days time, I’m hoping it’s the former. And if it turns out to be the latter, maybe we’ll be having roast chicken for tea.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Here piggy piggy!

The next stage of the smallholding plan is in motion with the arrival of our pigs now imminent. they were born 2 weeks ago and we went to see them on Saturday to check the farm and mother were all to our liking. The pigs were in great shape and spend most of their life running free in a 7 acre orchard full of oak and chestnut trees. So we put an order in for three little pigs. They are Oxford Sandy and Black’s, a rare breed which are slower growing than intensive breeds, but develop exceptional pork and bacon for you lucky ones who have reserved a ‘slice’ of the action!


The little piggies will be weaned at 8 weeks which means we shall get them around mid June.

Their living quarters have arrived which we’ve built. But as you can see from the picture, the fencing has yet to be erected, but I’m hoping to get some help next week when we get our first guests in the cottages!


Friday, 21 May 2010

The Final Drive

Well that’s it, the last big project done, the resurfacing of the driveway. We were thinking of hiring some Irish navies for the job, but Phil turned out to be considerably cheaper!



Paul the builder provided the heavy machinery to spread the loads of scalpings. Scalpings are a mix of small bits of slate and powdered slate from a local quarry, which when compacted gives a great hard surface. We installed our recycling area at the end of the car park using one of Squaddie Dad’s signs. He excelled himself this time with a free hand recycling logo.


The driveway looks a little barren at the mo, so we plan to soften it with a few ‘agricultural’ ornaments. We have even got a couple of car parking spaces for us so we can park away from the holiday properties.

Now we just need to get some guests!

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

White Elephant

It’s big. It’s white. It’s not an elephant.


The Games Room is rendered, painted and completed. The argument goes on, however, over the question of when a games room becomes an indoor sports arena, and when a sports arena becomes a sports stadium. According to Dave, it’s something to do with the amount of seating. Although quite how an old church pew and a rattan chair constitutes arena seating is unclear.

The signs are up too. Caps doffed to Squaddie Dad, sign maker extraordinaire. Check out the ghostly figures in the window! Maybe our Games Room is haunted. Is that a selling point? We should start advertising in Mediums Weekly.

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I’ve decided that my “dinky” market stall is actually a gateway to another world. Like the Stargate or CS Lewis’ wardrobe.


Except instead of going through to alien worlds or Narnia, you find yourself in a magical land where there are no slugs, the weather is a perfect balance of sunshine and showers, and every fruit and vegetable known to man (and maybe a few unknowns) grows full, ripe and disease free without the need of seeding, feeding or weeding. Meanwhile, back in the real world the sweetcorn is dying and the watercress has been eaten by ducks.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Countdown to the World Cup

Well Philippa and I until recently have been counting down to our opening day on the 29th May when we have guests in both cottages. Philippa is still focused on this date and is busying herself with doing baking tests of Bara Brith (Welsh tea loaf!) and cheese straws, which will be the star components of the welcome hamper. I on the other hand find myself thinking ahead to the upcoming football World Cup. In our new frugal lifestyle, alcohol seems to be the biggest luxury expense…..funny that! So armed with a 40 pint fermenting bin from my folks, a pressurised beer barrel from Jim our old neighbour in Berkshire, and a Norfolk Wherry best bitter kit from Phil’s parents, I set about brewing our first beer.


Bertha as usual provided the perfect environment for brewing keeping a constant 20 deg in the boiler room.

Predicted timescales

  • Fermentation started on Friday 14th May
  • Fermentation due to finish on the 16th.
  • Transfer into barrel and leave for 2 days (18th)
  • Leave in a cool place for 14 days (1st of June)
  • It is drinkable then but apparently if you can leave it for 2 more weeks it’s even better (15th June)
  • 16th June England Vs USA  (5 pints)
  • 18th June England Vs Algeria (5 pints)
  • 23rd June Slovenia Vs England (5 pints)
  • 26th June Round of 16 (5 pints)
  • 2nd July quarter final (5 pints)
  • 6th July semi final (6 pints)
  • 11th July FINAL (8 pints)
  • Total pints 39 pints
  • pints left, one, for a quiet drink the day after……….

Back to the project………

We’re getting prepared for the resurfacing of the drive and parking areas, Rhydian the local quarry man has delivered 2 of the expected 10 loads of scalpings in preparation for the big day on the 20th May.


I’ve hired a vibrating compacting roller to go over the whole yard once we’ve spread the loads out.

We’ve also finished the bike and boot cleaning area, as well as Phil’s dinky ‘market stall’ shed to load up with goodies to tempt our guests.


We’re also doing test runs of the homemade pie’s we are supplying to our guests. Current front runners are Dave’s Bhuna, Mushroom Madness, Classic Cottage and Tarragon Chicken.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Freestyle fencing

I have three exciting new developments to report. First, I shovelled my first barrow load of fresh wet concrete. Second, I hung my first gate. Third, I drove Trinny the tractor for the first time. Also, I now know that it is indeed possible to do a wheel spin in a tractor.

Fencing in the front garden of Cwt Mochyn was our trickiest fencing job to date. There was none of that “bang in the posts and never mind if it’s a little bit wonky” style fencing. This was serious stuff, with diggers, concrete, spirit levels and everything. 

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In fencing, as in hanging pictures on walls, if two tall people are doing the work and there is no third short person keeping an eye on progress, you end up with everything set at a high level. Consequently, to anyone under 5 foot 10 inches tall it may appear as though we’ve erected a barricade rather than a garden fence. The gate hangs nicely though. It has a lovely swinging action too. Important qualities in a gate, don’t you think?


Perhaps best of all, the cement mixer has FINALLY left the site after 20 months in residence. It gladdens my heart to open the curtains in the morning and not see any builder’s tools and debris, just Stevie trotting up the drive with something dead and furry in his mouth.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Spears, but not Britney

The evening sun was shining on the surrounding hills, a gentle breeze was fluttering through Dave’s newly erected bird scarer streamers and the red kite was watching us from above. One of those perfect moments and a fitting occasion for the first, and only, harvesting of the asparagus for 2010.

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Back in the kitchen the scene was set so none of the precious “plot to plate” sweetness would be wasted - steamer on the hob, parmesan strategically placed by the grater, lid off the butter dish.


Mamma mia, that was lip smackingly tasty!

Now we only have to wait another 12 months before the next harvest.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Hello, hello … Banceithin calling

The engineers have completed work on the communications centre for the indoor sports arena. No expense spared. We’ve installed a hi-tech 2-dimensional red phone box, with matching chair. Mindful of the dangers of vandalism by delinquent child guests intent on trashing the arena, we’ve fitted shatterproof, glass-free, virtual window panes in the phone box. I give it 24 hours until, in time honoured tradition,  the brand spanking new box is festooned with lurid flyers advertising the talents of the fallen women of the neighbourhood.

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