Sunday, 11 November 2012

2 very different weekends

Last weekend we were delighted that all our cottages were occupied- a great result in early October. What a shame that the weather was so awful on Saturday evening when most of our guests wanted to have a bonfire and fireworks display. It turned out to be a bit of a damp squid of an evening.
However on the Friday evening, after welcoming our guests into their cottages we set off to Machynlleth, to watch the Lantern Procession. We parked up by the station and walked into town where small crowds were gathering in anticipation of the annual event. We weren't expecting much , perhaps just a few children carrying some small lanterns. We had quite a wait beyond the expected start of 7pm but when the procession eventually arrived, proceeded by a percussion band, we were absolutely amazed. There were hundreds of people of all ages, carrying lanterns of all different shapes and sizes, but all linked by the theme 'things with wings'. Obviously masses of work had gone into creating these lanterns and what a spectacle they made. Well worth the wait. The participants and most of the watching crowds were then going on to somewhere, where there was going to be a grand fireworks display but we left them to it and returned to the village with a quick stop off at the Riverside in Pennal for a drink on the way.

This weekend, only Heather, Maggie and friends were in residence at Pentre Bach. A great weekend was had by all, including a rather wet walk across Barmouth Bridge, a live game of Cluedo, organised by Rick and the usual poses on Fairbourne beach.

This apparently spells TRIBE!

Meanwhile, this morning, before any of the above opened an eyelid,   Mike and I set off into the hills above Arthog in search of a memorial that we knew existed but had never been able to find before. Despite having to negociate a very muddy and prolonged landslide, we eventually came across the memorial plaque set into a wall in a beautiful spot, overlooking Fairbourne and Barmouth in the distance. Our research on the Internet, before setting off, informed us of the sad story of the American bomber , heading back to the states on the 8th of June , 1945, just after WW2 had ended. The plane somehow got lost in bad weather and ended up crashing into the side of the mountain, just yards from safety, with the loss of all the crew and passengers inside, 20 men altogether.
We sat and had our coffee, thinking about those poor men, before leaving our poppies and headed back down the mountain.
On the way back down we met a couple, probably in their 60s,  on their way up and started chatting. It turned out that they were on their way to find the source of the river Gwril. After finding that , they only had another 3 river sources to find out of all the rivers in the whole of England and Wales. They'd already climbed all mountains over 2000 feet in england and Wales. what an achievement! I just hope Mike isn't getting any ideas!

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Monkeys, ghosts and a donkey that walked backwards!

We’ve often wondered about the history of Pentre Bach. We’d heard vague stories of monkeys, ghosts and whisky swilling landowners. Last night we were invited to Nick and Margaret’s (the previous owners) for a drink and slide show of how Pentre Bach used to look and the huge project they undertook when they bought it. We asked Margaret about the history. This is what we found out

Thanks to Margaret for this.

We know that someone was living at Pentre Bach in 1770 but we don't know what buildings were here then.

A maltster was the tenant here in 1840. His sons qualified as medical men and practised at Pentre Bach. The house has a plaque on it, telling us that it was re-built in 1868. This is when it was bought from the Garthangharad estate and we guess transformed from a farmhouse into a rather grander house with 11ft ceilings in some of the rooms.


The lower road through Llwyngwril passed down the lane by the post office and along the narrow left fork of the drive before coming down the rest of the drive past the house and along between the old sycamore and corsican pine trees behind and beyond Pen y Lon, meeting up to the south of the village with where the railway line now runs.


The upper road went up along the hills behind the pub and up again behind the church.


When the railway was built in the 1850s, it used part of the lower road, so the present road was built between the two and a new entrance made to Pentre Bach, with the big stone pillars.


On the dining room wall, behind the shutters is a note "snowing heavy, very miserable day 1st 1897". On the window reveal of the Sweet Chestnut room is a pencilled drawing of a butterfly. On a purlin in the main roof are the names of three builders from local villages who must have been part of the re-building team in 1868.


William Williams was wheeled to church in a bathchair for his marriage in 1920. He died three days later and his new wife claimed the estate. His family objected to that so she burnt all the papers she could find, except her marriage certificate. Hence the fact that the deeds for Pentre Bach go back only to 1954. The fight over ownership went all the way to the High Court and she won.


From 1920 until her death in 1953, Margaret Winifred Williams hardly lived at Pentre Bach preferring to spend her time in the village shop that she also owned, now Ivy Cottage. In 1954, there was a two-day sale of the property and contents of Pentre Bach and most people in the village bought something, including stuffed animals in glass cases that stood on the big marble fireplaces. Then the council houses were built on the top field above the road and the new primary school and head teacher's house were built below the road. The cottages to the south of Riverside Stores (Northern Terrace) and those on both sides of the Post Office (Meirion Terrace) all belonged to Pentre Bach until 1954. Most were offered to existing tenants for the sum of £20. One was sold for £10 because £20 was too much. Another was sold for £200 to a relative of Mrs Williams but who lived out of the area.


Stories about William Williams abound: before his marriage, the vicar objected to behaviour and it's said that he took his donkey up to the church, saddled it and when it charged backwards up to the altar, he shouted at the vicar "You mind your business and I'll mind mine!" Around 1910, he had a five-legged ram here. No pictures, unfortunately, only hearsay. He had a monkey that was prone to escaping, getting in through any open bedroom windows of cottages in the village and shredding feather pillows all over the place, then sitting above the chapel door when the worshippers were coming out - and peeing over them. William Williams used to shoot at the devil in the gooseberry bushes. In the Victorian Kitchen Garden on television in the 1990s, we were told that it was common practice to fire a shotgun along a line of gooseberry bushes to make the caterpillars fall off. So, we guess that he too was an organic gardener. He was also known to gamble with the local vet. They would race with ponies and traps along the road to Tywyn with farms at stake.



Boys from the village were forever coming down for sweet chestnuts. Thomas Owen's father caught them one day and locked them in the stable between 1954 and 1971 when he and his wife left (in their 90s) to move to Tywyn. The boys' friends came along and removed stones from the wall under the window and they clambered out. The stones were replaced rather randomly and can still be seen today!


Nick and Margaret bought Pentre Bach in 1979 after it had been empty for 8 years except for a few months when the schoolmaster from Friog was here with his family. When they arrived, there were 15 retail businesses in Llwyngwril:


Haberdashers, post office and shop, paper shop and groceries, paint and glass, butcher, greengrocer, pub, Sunday papers & toys & gas &everything else, repair garage, petrol garage, antiques, hairdresser, 3 banks. Gradually over the years, several of them have closed as the owners have retired. However, new businesses have also started up. Many chapels have also closed and several have been converted to other uses.


Apparently many years ago, soon after Nick and Margaret started letting out the cottages, at least two guests saw the ghost of a young girl and an old man. Nick and Margaret brought in some ‘experts’ who  discovered that the ‘old man’ had ‘interfered’ with the young girl in some way and she wouldn’t let him settle, after he’d passed away. The ‘experts’ had a word with them both, sorted out the problem and the ghosts were never seen again!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

A sad time.....

What a glorious weekend of weather! However the last few days have been under a huge cloud.........
We arrived on Thursday morning knowing that April was missing but the whole community was still hopeful that she could be found. Pink ribbons were sprouting everywhere and the gate of Llwyngwril school was festooned with pink ribbons.
Mike went off on Friday morning to offer his services as a volunteer searcher and offer our accommodation to any other searchers but he arrived back after lunch with the news that it was now a murder enquiry and he was no longer needed.
All day long helicopters flew up and down the shoreline , obviously in search of a body.
We used to always tell guests that there was no crime around here and they needn't worry about locking car doors, etc. But there can be no greater crime than the one committed by one man in or around Machynlleth last week.
What has happened to that poor family, is every parent's nightmare. We can only begin to imagine what they're going through at the moment. Our thoughts are constantly with them and we just hope that they can soon have their daughter back,and put her to rest.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Dogs or No Dogs?

lovely dog

When we first took on Pentre Bach Holiday Cottages and started receiving guests, we thought long and hard about whether to accept pets. The previous owners didn't despite owning a dog and two cats themselves. In the end we decided to allow one pet per cottage, and of course this usually means a dog (although we did have one group who brought along their tortoise on holiday- fair enough!).
On the whole we've been satsfied that we made the right decision. there's a huge market out there of dog owners who refuse to leave their much loved Spaniels, Jack Russels and Collies at home when they go away for a weekend or a week. We reckon that about 30% of our guests bring a dog with them. So if we'd not accepted pets , that would've been a sizeable chunk of income that we would've lost.
The vast majority of our guests who bring along their best friend, are considerate, careful and clean. They clear up after their dogs, bringing doggie bags with them, with which to dispose of the dog mess and very often bring a dog bed or blanket for the dog to sleep on. They keep their pets on a lead at all times and make sure they don't upset other guests or our sheep-rearing farmer neighbours. They make good use of our large field to exercise their dogs or take them off to enjoy the many dog friendly beaches nearby.
However ...............very occasionally come along some dog owners who give other dog owners a bad name. We had one couple last week in Y Popty. They allowed their Alsation to roam the garden and lawns unattended (thank goodness the main house wasn't occupied last week!) and let it leave its messy deposits here , there and everywhere. This is not nice to get caught up in the lawn mower or trodden in and tramped into the cottages. The poor animal must have also been sick in the garden on a number of occasions but again this was left for us to clear up before the next guests came across it.
The cottage carpet was coated in a thick matt of long dog hairs, both downstairs and up in the bedrooms. I even found dog hairs in the cutlery drawer! It took me over 2 hours to vacuum the lounge carpet, down on my hands and knees, using the nozzle of my Little Henry! The whole cottage stank of wet dog throughout. To make matters worse, they'd left the log fire unguarded, with the result that we had burn marks on the carpet. Oh and they left early in the morning before we were up and about. could it be that they didn't want to face us?
We had to refuse a last minute booking from a family with a toddler because we couldn't guarantee that we could get the place cleaned and odour-free before they arrived.
Don't get me wrong; I love dogs and if we didn't have to travel as much as we do, we'd most likely have a dog of our own. Its just the odd thoughtless, selfish owner that thoroughly gets up our noses (and other places!).
We do make a small charge of £15 for a dog , to cover the extra cleaning, but this would not have come anywhere near the cost of extra cleaning this week. We're going to have to have all the carpets cleaned before we can let the property again. We also ask owners to abide by a set of commonsense 'Doggie Dos and Doggie Don'ts' before they arrive, just things such as keeping dogs on leads on our property and picking up their 'Doggie Dos'! Most owners are happy to comply and do.
As holiday cottage owners, we're constantly at the mercy of guests who could post a derogatory review on Trip Advisor, if we happened to have a problem such as the heating failing unexpectedly or poor weather which made our guests feel miserable and then find fault with something in one of our cottages. Its never happened yet, but we're always nervous that it could , and then our business could suffer. Perhaps there should be a cottage owner version where we could name and shame people such as those we had the pleasure of hosting last week. We wouldn't but its an idea.
Rant over. I feel better for getting that off my chest!
Dogs and their considerate owners are still very welcome.

Friday, 28 September 2012

A wee problem with badgers!

For the last six weeks or so, we've had a bit of a problem with badgers digging up great lengths of the grass verges alongside our drive leading down to our cottages, leaving us with a bit of an eyesore. It doesn't make a very good impression when guests initially arrive at the start of their holiday.
So.......what to do about it?
Well my mum and dad had a similar problem in their immaculately kept garden down in Oxfordshire until my mum remembered a speaker who had come to give a talk to her WI group many, many years ago. He came up with the solution with which my brother-in-law obliged, and the badger never returned to their garden.
We thought, 'Why not?' so over last weekend, Mike filled up a plastic bottle every time he went to spend a penny, then under cover of darkness, went out and poured the contents of the bottle down the badger hole and along the grass verges either side of the drive.
So far, so good. No more digging has occured this week! Where have they gone? We don't really care, as long as they're not digging up our drive!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

What our guests had to say about Y Llaethdy this year....

These are some of the comments written in Y Llaethdy's guest book this year. Carina , from Holland, who's been many many times, even drew us a picture!

September 2012

A wonderful sunny week we had in Llwyngwril. I guided my friend Marieke, who had her 50th birthday here and her wish was to come to Wales. We went on my favourite walks and visited other nice spots. It was great to be back again and hope to return again one day. Thanks Mike and Wilma for keeping the place as it is ….such a peaceful haven.

Carina and Marieke, Holland


September 2012

We have had a wonderful stay in Llwyngwril and have very much enjoyed staying in Y Llaethdy. One day we took the train to Harlech which had the most amazing castle. Purely by accident we were there on the evening of Glyndwr Day, as there was an amazing torchlight procession winding its way into the castle.

We have had a brilliant time. Thank you very much, and hopefully we will be back some day! J

Tom and Penny, Kent/Surrey


August 2012

Diolch am ‘wg liau bendigedig!

Dick and Dina Allard

  ( I translated this online to something like ‘thanks for wonderful egg turns’! but heh!)


July 2012

We’ve had a fantastic time! Peace and tranquillity. The cottage is divine, so homely we couldn’t wait to get back after we were out and about each day. We went on the train to Fairbourne and caught the ferry to Barmouth- a great day out.

We absolutely loved the little touches you’ve given to the cottage; they made it very welcoming and it felt like home from home. We will definitely be returning. Thanks so much.

Sally, Clare , Jasmine and Teddy.


June 2012

Our second visit- very comfortable and warm, despite the horrendous weather at first! Hope to return when we can stay longer. Thanks very much.

Graham, Sally and Charlie


May 2012

Thank you for your great hospitality. We had a great time. People here in Wales are really welcoming. Our dog Oscar was happy as well. We had a wonderful time in your cottage with the beautiful sea view. We’ll definitely come back soon.

Marta and Krystian



Saturday, 8 September 2012

What people say about Pentre Bach!

Here is a selection of guests' comments from one of our visitor's books this year. It's so nice to feel that our guests appreciate all this beautiful house and the stunning surrounding area.

The perfect house for a family Christmas, we all felt right at home! Hope to come back again soon. Thank you!
The O’Byrnes, Jacks, Sfakianoses and 1 Zvesper, Christmas 2011

What can I say?
Wonderful! J
We had a fantastic weekend. The house was warm, inviting and beautiful.
We played hide and seek, had great meals in the dining room and congegated in the cosy kitchen.
Best of all, my best friend had the best weekend with all his family and friends.
Thank you so much.
We will never forget Pentre Bach!
Shelley, Feb 2012

We have had a lovely week, lovely place to stay as a family. We felt like royalty in the dining room! Beautiful scenery from all of the windows. We enjoyed visiting the Blue Lake and our day trip to Barmouth on the train. Definitely would love to come again.
Becky T , aged 13, April 2012

An absolutely wonderful long weekend with a fabulous group of friends!
Pentre Bach is gorgeous - warm, welcoming and very homely. We all loved it!
Climbed Cader Idris, beautiful views and a lot of laughs white-water rafting in Bala!
We will definitely be back!
Laura, Tel, Maggie, Alan, Paul, Liz, Albert, Charmaine, Flash and Grace, May 2012

We had had the lovliest weekend celebrating Maggie’s 21st. Felt like luxury in this beautiful house, and the scenery is amazing! Don’t think I’ve ever been in a more picturesque place.
Thank you ever so much.
Alice, May 2012

A group of 22 friends and family were here for Mo’s 60th birthday. Fabulous house, great views and sunshine!
A fantastic weekend!
The Collins, July 2012

What a super holiday we’ve had again at Pentre Bach, and what glorious weather we had the whole week. An eventful week with lots of walking, swimming, and sitting out admiring the view and the sunsets. Lovely! Great house!
Chris, Rosaleen and all the family, July 2012

Excellent house for a family holiday. Marvellous location, views and sunsets. Breakfast and dinner in the garden.
Good excursions to Talyllyn, C.A.T., Cader Idris and Barmouth, ( via Fairbourne Railway and ferry boat across the estuary- perfect for small boys!).
Great windows for reading in.
The Grants, August 2012

Monday, 3 September 2012

Time to put our feet up..........

Well that's the busy summer holidays over so it must be time to put our feet up now......or not.
We've still got a healthy lot of bookings in the cottages over the next few weeks and enquiries are growing again as people start to think about their next holiday. We've got nearly twenty bookings for 2013 and even one for 2014!
Thanks to all our guests so far this year. Its great to see more and more returning guests. The Holmwoods have been coming for 20 years and it was lovely to be able to welcome back Carina from the Netherlands, yet again.
As for putting our feet up.... well there's the garden to tidy, that shower to fix, that pink bedroom to paint, the gutters to clean, the outside of Pen y Lon to finish painting (only one side left to do!) and so on and so on. The list just gets bigger!
Well the main house was vacated on Saturday so we were able to move in there for a couple of nights - made a nice change from our normal abode in the caravan for the duration of the summer. It was lovely to be able to enjoy the sunset from the patio last night.

Many many thanks to our knight in shining armour, Stuart, who drove over 3 hours to come here on Saturday to sort out our wi-fi (that I'd ******ed up!). He also sorted out a few other computer/phone problems while he was here. It was a good excuse to be able to take him out for a scrumptious meal at Indiana in Fairbourne.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

The train was beaten!

Congratulations to all those runners who beat the Talyllyn steam train back to Tywyn yesterday. There were quite a few  out of the hunderds who took part, who actually beat it!
A great day was had by all those who took part in the 29th Annual Race The Train starting in Tywyn yesterday. Well done to all the runners, walkers, organisers and helpers over the weekend (including Mike who was manning the barriers!).
For the first time in years the sun actually came out!
Anyone fancy it next year?

Meanwhile, all cottages occupied again- busy , busy, busy! :-)

Monday, 13 August 2012

Get out and do something!

Feeling down now that the Olympics are over? Then why not book a break at one of our 4 cottages and sample some outdoor activities- you can do open water swimming, rowing, kayaking, canoeing, windsurfing and sailing

in Cardigan Bay, the Mawddach Estuary or Dyfi Estuary, mountain biking at Coed y Brenin, cycling, running or walking along the Mawddach Trail, cross country running at the Beat the Train Event starting in Tywyn next Saturday, play football or Rounders (not an Olympic event yet!) in our field, equestrian activities in Friog, etc., etc.,

If you don't want to be quite so energetic you can always go fishing at Cregennan Lakes or join in with the local sandcastle competition.

Or you can always just sit on the patio with a glass of wine and relax!

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Great reviews on Trip Advisor

We now have a grand total of 14 reviews about Pentre Bach main house, 2 for Y Llaethdy and 1 for Y Popty on Trip Advisor, and more promised by recent guests. All great reviews! We try our best to make our guests' stays as enjoyable and comfortable as possible. Thank you to all those guests who've taken the time to post these reviews. It's great to know that our efforts are appreciated! :-)

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Surfing West Wales!

 We had all 4 cottages booked this week, all the guests arrived safely on Friday night and were well settled in. Saturday morning started grey and miserable with lots of showers. Its seemed that the terrible weather forecast for West Wales was going to be accurate.
However, Heather arrived from Macclesfield, missing the surf after her season in Devon, and keen to get back on the sea. The clouds started to clear so we set off for Tywyn, had a quick look at the sea from the prom, saw that there was some surf so went back to that great shop in Tywyn , The Rise, and managed to hire their last surf board, which normally was used by the owner's dog! (thus the claw marks!)
We then spent the rest of the afternoon on the beach, trying to catch Heather on camera catching the waves.

 Tywyn beach never looked better.

Oh and we had a little bit of a paddle ourselves.
Talk about the British on holiday!

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Make hay while the sun shines!

 While the field has been looking quite wild and attractive recently, it has become increasingly difficult for our guests to find lost balls while endeavouring to play rounders or football.

To the rescue came Ed, Rob and most of Rob's family. Earlier this week they cut the grass, and yesterday they turned the grass, turned it again and again until they baled it up and took it away this morning. A good job done!
The only problem is, since I went out to take photographs, I haven't stopped sneezing. Damn hay fever!
This afternoon we attended a quintessentially Welsh village Summer Fete- brass band, cream teas, book stall, pin the tail on the Welsh dragon, coconut shy, etc. Only spent £1 !

Monday, 23 July 2012

What to do at Pentre Bach when it's sunny!!!

Well at last the jet stream has changed course and the sun has well and truly decided to show its face! What a difference!
So .......what to do when its sunny around Pentre Bach

  • Just chill out and relax on one of our four patios, with a cool glass of wine , gazing out to sea (pods of dolphins have been spotted in the last 2 weeks by our guests)

      • There's lots of space in our gardens and field to sunbathe, enjoy the scenery, play rounders or fly a kite.
      • Climb a mountain

      • Go sailing, kayaking, fishing, kite surfing or even surfing!

          • Go for a walk (see our previous blog 'Lots of lovely walks around Llwyngwril')

    •           Build sandcastles or just go for a paddle
  • Go for a bike ride to the adventurous trails in Coed y Brenin or for a more leisurely ride along the Mawddach Trail stopping off for refreshment at the George III on the way
      • Go on a train ride
      • Visit Portmeirion
      • Play golf
      • Go birdwatching at Ynys-hir
      • Go crabbing off the piers at Aberdyfi or Barmouth
    The list is endless! Just enjoy!

    PS Mike's been taking advantage of the good weather and started the huge job of painting Pen y Lon!