Our first year as a Bed & Breakfast

Saturday November 6th, 2010 |Fiona

Well, what a year it’s been! With the scorching weather in May and June; then the showers in July & August; a bright but cold September and the very mixed October – we’ve had it all. I won’t even mention the blustery start to November!!

We opened in May to our very first guests – who truly tested us; with evening meals & packed lunches, as well as the cooked breakfasts of course, it was quite a start. To then find out one was a chef was daunting to say the least! Alas, that was not the only chef to stay with us!!

There have been a great variety of guests – from California to Brisbane, and Kent through to Leicestershire, Cornwall to Anglesey – and all points in between. Each and every one has had their reasons for being in this beautiful Mid Wales area, for example: attending a wedding at Lake Vyrnwy Hotel; meeting up with family who live nearby; completing the Glyndwr’s Way or sometimes just passing through – mistakenly some have said, as they didn’t realise it was so beautiful. Some even came to escape – leaving the kids with others to have a birthday night away! Hopefully their stay fulfilled their wishes – I think so, considering the lovely comments they put in our books.

Some of our guests have had adventurous journeys to get here– we’ve had to tow one out of a field entrance nearby – they’d given way to someone and didn’t realise the land sloped away; others have missed turnings and had long detours (I managed to save dinner for 2 hours, so one couple could still eat on arrival) and some have got lost – either not reading/bringing directions or not using the satnav correctly. But all have arrived…

I think the weirdest moment for me was when a guest apologised for booking the superking room, as she knew how much I hated ironing the sheets – all from my blog…! I must correct that now – the ironing is no longer the battle it used to be, as I am getting more skilled at using the machine and I am not burning my hands as much as I used to…!

Something which has been a surprise, is my enjoyment in baking – I have always loved eating (!), just never been much of a cook. I know, why open a B&B? Well, Norman cooks most of the breakfasts – as he has always enjoyed cooking. So, now I have taken on the puddings for our evening meals, and am experimenting a bit – still pretty simple choices, but making sure they are good quality, and tasty. A favourite is the baked cheesecake, as well as the bread and butter pudding (my B&B pudding I call it!); a recent addition is the chocolate mousse (how could I have not had anything chocolate on the menu…? Ah well, that’s rectified now). In addition, we offer tea/coffee and some sort of cake when guests arrive (if they are late, we offer it the next day – so they don’t miss out) which is usually a Bara Brith, a Welsh classic, or sometimes banana loaf or even banana/choc chip muffins. I am flattered to say that 2 sets of guests asked to take home a Bara Brith… they’d enjoyed it so much!

Another reason people have come to stay with us is to see the birds – Lake Vyrnwy has RSPB sites all over its estate, so it’s a good reason to visit. I am happy to say that we are lucky with the birds we get at Gwaenynog – due to the varied habitat. I now recognise the Peregrine sound when I am out walking the dogs… they are a sight to behold. One day I might remember to take my camera with me!!

One thing which was a delight for us – we are members of the Mid Wales Tourism, which is where my availability calendar and booking facility is – and they sent a journalist to chat with us and created a short article about our hunt for a house to turn into a B&B. Our surprise came when the Shropshire Star put us on the front page of the Lifestyle section way back in June. I had heard we were there, but never realised we were front page news! It was a lovely surprise, and we have a few copies for posterity!

Now, as it’s a little quieter, we’re able to do one of the things we wanted but were unable to due to time constraints – and that is being a tourist! We are lucky to be surrounded by beautiful countryside, with some dramatic scenery too – at the top of the hill behind us, you can see the mountains of Snowdonia National Park to the north-west, our nearby mountain is Moel Bentyrch which is visible from the house and grounds (it’s an extinct volcano apparently!) which you can also walk to the top of. In addition, a lot of attractions in the area are all a drive away: Ironbridge and the Blists Hill Museum (well worth a visit); Llanymynech Rocks; Dolgellau and Cader Idris; Clywedog Lake; Devils Bridge Falls; Aberystwyth; Chester… to name just a few. So, our plan is to try and do these during our quieter months.

Also, we’re preparing for Christmas and New Year. We’re open for both, and have created a package which we hope people will feel is a good deal and will enjoy the ambience we will to create. It’s very traditional, with mulled wine, turkey and homemade Christmas pudding as well as our open fire… (See our Food page on the website for greater detail and costs.)

I hope you have enjoyed my review of our first year, perhaps enough to come and stay…

Gobeithio gweld chi cyn bo hir!

(Hope to see you soon!)

Fiona & Norman,

Gwaenynog Farmhouse B&B

(And of course Bonnie & Beau, our dogs!)