Thursday, 29 June 2017

Connections , Complications and Congratulations

When we first took on Pentre Bach in 2008, Wi-Fi was a fairly new phenomenon and holiday makers coming to rural Wales didn't really expect to be able to use this facility in our holiday cottages. After all there was the great outdoors to explore, wasn't there?

In those first few years the main phone line came into the office/store room next to the kitchen of the main house so if guests were lucky they could connect to the router that was in that room. However the walls are very thick (up to 40cms in places) so the best places to get a connection were in the main hallway and in the main bathroom above. Guests in the other two cottages Y Popty and Y Llaethdy had no chance!
Before long we had to add an extra router in the hallway to improve connection.

The first real problem arose when we actually moved into Pen y Lon and had the phone line moved to that property, leaving no line coming into the main house at all. So with advice and practical help from Stuart (our website designer/host and go-to man for any digital help) we managed to run an Ethernet cable from our router in Pen y Lon to the main house. This ran along the top of the nearby stone wall then went underground across the edge of the car park and into the house, where it was connected to two routers in series, one near the front door and another at the far end of the hall to serve the other two cottages.
This worked pretty well for a number of years with limited success in the two cottages. Again the best place to get a decent connection in Y Llaethdy was actually in the bathroom , but not everyone wants to update their Facebook profile sitting on the loo!
The next problem arose last year when Mike accidentally cut the Ethernet cable in half while using a hedge cutter on the bushes along the top of the stone wall one day. Ooops!
However Mike being the enterprising chap that he is, got on Tinternet and found that you could buy a gadget to connect the two severed ends of the cable. It wasn't a straightforward job to connect them but he did it successfully! So after a few days without, our guests were connected once again!

There appeared to be no more problems until this Spring when some guests began to tell us that they were having difficulty connecting to the Internet. They seemed to be able to connect to the routers but not to the Internet. Most adults were quite sanguine about the position and quite happy to be separated from work emails and depressing news from the outside world. However we could tell that teenagers were getting rather agitated and suffering from withdrawal symptoms. One or two took to sitting outside our window in order to connect directly to our router! Some guests suggested that we could actually market ourselves as having Wi-Fi free accommodation which sounds nice in theory but somehow I think our bookings would quickly dwindle.
So .... we had to do something. Thanks to a recommendation from Stuart, we got in touch with HB Digital who agreed to come and upgrade our system. But first Mike had to create a more direct route with a new Ethernet cable from Pen y Lon to the house. Another trench was dug across the car park and the cable was fed through a water pipe directly from Pen y Lon across to the house , without the need to be exposed along the top of the wall. This done, HB came and put two new routers into the house, including one on the first floor, and also one in each cottage. So everyone can now get a decent connection, without having to resort to sitting in the bathroom.
And if any parent should decide that they want a Wi-Fi free zone they just need to say the word.....

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Panorama Walk and a lot more!

Today we decided to explore the hills above Barmouth and extend one of our favourite walks (to the Panorama view point). We set off from  Morfa Mawddach Station car park and walked over Barmouth Bridge and down the hill towards Barmouth , then veered off to the right and up a steep set of stone steps which eventually levelled off to an undulating path but gave us amazing views over the harbour, bridge and south towards Fairbourne and Llwyngwril in the distance.

The path went past a house with large garden on the right and shortly afterwards we turned left and uphill to where we could see posts with yellow markers on the hill above. We followed this path , going past a bunkhouse until we reached a narrow road, on which we turned left and headed on up hill again.

We continued on up this road which became a track winding around the contours of the hill , going past an isolated but habited cottage and found that we were now on the Ardudwy Trail. Before long we were able to look out northwards  and westwards over Cardigan Bay and the beaches north of Barmouth and beyond to the Llyn Peninsula.
Eventually we reached a T Junction of paths where we turned right and followed a rather boggy path in places until we reached the crown of a hill overlooking a lovely looking valley to the north of Bontddu. We continued on down towards a rather ugly mast and emerged out on a quiet road , where we turned right and carried on downhill for about a mile until we came to the path going towards the Panorama Viewpoint. Of course we couldn't get this close without going up to the viewpoint, despite the rather ominous dark clouds that were gathering in the hills over the estuary. We managed to have coffee and a snack at the viewpoint before deciding that the clouds were heading our way so we headed back to the road, down through Orielton Woods and back across the bridge to the car park.
In all the walk was about 6 and a half miles long, and with a couple of stops for coffee and nourishment, took about 3 hours in all.

The route took in all sorts of terrain, woodland, moorland , stone steps and of course flat wooden bridge, with fantastic views in all directions. If inclined there's  always the opportunity to make a detour into Barmouth for a swift pint or more on the way back.

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for 11 more walks not far from Llwyngwril.