TRISTRAM THE GOAT AND OTHER TALES - A WELSH ADVENTURE!


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June 6th 2020
Published: June 6th 2020
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TRISTRAM THE GOAT...AND OTHER TALES!

Creating a special place on a Welsh hillside May 2020





THE BACKGROUND



In 2002, we took a leap of faith, leaving behind home and businesses in Dorset to follow a dream. We discovered a derelict farm called Coedmor-fach, nestling on a hillside overlooking the Afon Teifi near Lampeter in West Wales, and converted the old farmhouse and ranges of barns into six cottages.



After taking possession of the property in late 2002, and with the help of local builders and tradespeople, we embarked on a crazy six month programme of work that culminated in opening five of the cottages as holiday lets and moving into the sixth.



The ambitious programme was only achieved through dedicated hard work, a great building team, and freakish good Welsh weather over the winter and spring of 2003.



We ran Coedmor Cottages until 2008, welcoming many hundreds of guests every year before selling two cottages in order to lighten the load of hard work!



We also entertained children and grandchildren, raised a variety of animals, hosted a wedding and many other many family events, before leaving Coedmor in 2017. During that time we also found time to walk the Wales Coast Path and all the Welsh National Trails!



This book is a snapshot of some highlights and lowlights of those early years!





The Project – a daunting prospect!



Can we really do this? Of course, we can, let's go for it! Not daring to look behind, we were looking out at the wonderful view over the Afon Teifi Valley from an old Welsh farm perched on the hillside. It was the spring of 2002, and we were living on a narrowboat, having sold up our house and businesses in Dorset the previous year. Knowing that we could not survive long without returning to work, we had come to Wales looking for a property to renovate and run as a holiday business. Having done some research, we realised that it was not possible to make a living without at least three properties, one to live in and two to rent. Having trawled the embryo internet, we had come up with very few possibilities. Up and running businesses were too expensive, while the idea of doing massive rebuilding and renovating was not an easy way to earn a decent income in the early years.



So, we had approached our viewing of Coedmor-fach near Lampeter with trepidation. It had all the hallmarks of a potential disaster. It was advertised as an old semi-derelict farmhouse and two sets of derelict barns, set in 20 plus acres of hillside two miles from the university and market town of Lampeter in West Wales. The place was reached by a half mile long and thankfully concrete surfaced drive, which twisted up from the valley finally entering the site through a lovely beech lined avenue. The bonus point was that it had outline planning for conversion into up to five holiday cottages. Five? But we only needed two! But the moment we saw the view, we realised that that this could make a fantastic holiday business, if only we could afford it! And even if we could afford to do it, when would we ever start to make any money from it!







We came back to reality when we turned away from the view. Behind us was a concrete courtyard fronted by the old farmhouse and surrounded by two ranges of old barns. The farmer arrived to show us round the property. While looking liveable from the outside, the interior of the house was something different. Last used as a student rental some ten years previously, the walls were painted garish colours which merely served to hide the damp. The living room had a fireplace straight out of the 1940's, while the only feature of the kitchen was a blackened coal burning range. There was no way to the kitchen except through the living room, and no back door. Flimsy stud walls separated the ground floor rooms. Halfway up the stairs was a door to an attic with a very low sloping ceiling. This turned out to be the bathroom, where one would need to be a contortionist to throw oneself sideways in to the bath! As we started to walk into the main bedroom, the floor started to sag alarmingly. Something similar happened in the second bedroom. We quickly retreated downstairs to safety outside. The farmer said he was too busy to show us around the barns and said we could wander at will. We were quite grateful for this opportunity to come to our senses!



The first of the barns was a single storey milking parlour with all the equipment still in place. The second was a two-storey barn with old ploughs on the ground floor. The third was a high barn with some rather nice exposed roof beams. The fourth was a much larger barn with large doors either side, which we gathered had been a threshing floor. On the end was a smaller barn above a cellar. Apart from the milking parlour, all the buildings were in a terrible state, with sagging roofs, crumbing stone walls, full of farm junk, and worse!



Although all these barns were traditional in design and materials, about 5 metres wide and of stone/slate construction, a massive set of steel barns had been tagged on to the back. These were also in a terrible state, with collapsing corrugated sheet roofs. If the state of the barns was bad, we had a closer look at the outside areas. There was a lane up the side, which the farmer said led to an old slate quarry at the crest of the hill. This was lined with a vast collection of old oil tanks and broken farm machinery. The old steel barns were overflowing with broken machinery and debris. The courtyard was also full of rusty machinery and rubbish.



We noticed that there was a depression in the ground behind the range of barns, with a low stone wall along one side. This looked like an old filled in pond. The farmer had told us the water supply came from a spring. After some searching we found an old partly collapsed brick tank with a pipe leading out of the ground above it. Somehow the water in this frog filled tank found its way down to the house, but we knew not how!



We also had a wander around the land, which comprised a very large meadow below the farmyard and a similar meadow above. Both were grazed by cattle and sheep, and to our totally naive eyes looked in good condition. The livestock were certainly happy! The farmer had told us that the amount of land we could buy was negotiable, as there were no boundaries around it. If we were interested, he said to just point out roughly what we might want, and he would fence it after the sale!



He also said that he wanted to sell land as much as possible, including the old slate quarry. We walked up to this and found that it comprised a large pool backed by a high cliff, with a large area of spoil below it. Although we mused about the possibility of including cave diving and rock climbing in the activities planned for our guests, we decided that the responsibility of owning the quarry would be horrendous! We retraced our steps to the courtyard. Despite all the horrors around us, one more look at the view was also it took to convince us that “this was it”.

We had enough capital to fund the purchase of the property at £110,000, but nothing for the renovation project. One step at a time, we might just be able to make the farmhouse habitable while working out how to convert the buildings.



But first we needed to deal with the purchase! We went back to the agent's office and with heart in mouth made an offer of £100,000. The agent said the farmer was a hard man to deal with, but that the property had been on the market for some time due to the recent foot and mouth epidemic. To our surprise he came back with £105,000, and we accepted!



We now realised that we needed to raise finance…. fast! So, we went into the nearby bank, and were fortunate to be introduced to the Business Manager. New businesses were rare in that part of Wales, and he was clearly delighted to hear our plans for the new holiday complex. Just what the area needed after the ravages of foot and mouth, particularly as tourism was not yet big in rural Ceredigion.



It seemed that most visitors stayed on the coast in places like Aberaeron New Quay and Aberystwyth, ignoring the beautiful interior. He said “come up with a viable business plan, and I'll get the bank to look at it”.



Armed with a pile of forms and leaflets about Business Loans, we headed back to our B and B near Cardigan. Luckily, we had already done some costings on holiday cottage businesses, but nothing on the renovation costs.



Being an architect and having been given some plans of the conversion attached to the permission, I started work on construction costings. We worked all night on the business plan until our laptop was red hot. Sue found lots of useful statistics about local tourism and local authority plans to increase visitor numbers. This included facts about the lack of holiday accommodation.



Somehow, we arrived at a figure of about £380,000 for the project, with an amazingly optimistic time frame of 6 months from Completion to get the holiday cottages completed and running. Of course, we were banking on about four months to buy the farm, which would take us to mid July, then we hoped to get a builder on site over the autumn, winter and early spring. We had not bargained for the slow pace of life in Wales!



The B and B owner must have wondered what we had been up to all night as we emerged bleary eyed for breakfast! First thing in the morning we headed back to the bank and downloaded our very professional looking business plan. The manager seemed enthusiastic, but we dare not tell him that the whole plan had been cobbled up overnight on the bed in our B and B.



We headed back to our boat moored near Macclesfield wondering what on earth we had done. Instead of buying a house with one or two cottages in reasonable letting condition, we had committed ourselves to a virtually derelict property with acres of land, the possibility of a home and five letting cottages…..and the need to borrow and service a loan of nearly £0.4 million!



Thinking that the sale would now proceed normally in the capable hands of solicitors, we started to plan the details of the conversion project. With the help of a friend who was a quantity surveyor we started to build up a specification for the work while I also began to draw up more detailed plans. Most of the plans were done on the small dining table on our narrowboat using old fashioned pen and ink, as CAD was still in its infancy.



Through the agent, we had tracked down a couple of local builders near Lampeter who seemed keen for work of this scale. In due course we were able to send them some plans and specifications for estimates. The build costs came in at around £200,000, which left us approximately £75,000 to fit out the cottages. That seemed like little money to buy everything such as kitchens, bathrooms, furniture and appliances….six times over!



Over the next few weeks, the build up to the project seemed to go very well, but the sale did not. The first shock was hearing that we might have been “gazumped” over the price. Reluctantly we agreed to revert to the original price of £110,000. Then we started getting early morning phone calls from the vendor requesting the deposit money, even before contracts were anywhere near exchange! His solicitor was very slow, to the frustration of ours who was a lifelong friend.



Things that should have taken days took weeks, and before long we were well into July with no sign of an exchange. Meanwhile, we had selected the builder, agreed the provisional building contract, and the bank had agreed the loan in principle. Panic set in as we realised that unless we completed soon there was no chance of getting the project up and running before the 2003 season.



At last on August 31 2002 we became the proud owners of a derelict Welsh farm! Luckily the builders were able to start in October, so we began to work on the details of the project, including the process of getting building approval. Meanwhile we also started sourcing advertising and even started preparing leaflets showing the cottages from clever angles, which made them look complete while in fact being derelict inside! We also commissioned a website from a friend of our daughter who was studying website design at University. He kindly agreed to do one as part of his project work!



One of the conditions we set for the builder was to get the farmhouse habitable by the time we planned to move in, which was Christmas week. That meant ripping out the old floors and plastering the old walls, installing the new en-suite shower room and bathroom, and installing new electrics and heating. Despite all our cajoling, we arrived in a rainstorm on the appointed day with a lorry load of our possessions only to find the house full of builders but most of the work only half complete. Water and plaster covered the floor, the boiler was not working, the new bathroom fittings were incomplete, and the power was still off.



As the builders departed down the long steep drive in a convoy of vehicles, we were left to contemplate the scene. We had one bedroom to live in, but only because that had a completely new floor! Fortunately the power was on, so we were able to connect a microwave to cook with and use the bathroom basin to wash up. Bear in mind that the water was still coming from the frog infested tank on the hillside! The first night was surreal, living in one room in a partly derelict house, surrounded by derelict barns on a night black as pitch. Bats circled in the courtyard. The lights in the valley far below were of little comfort!



Luckily, we had already planned to go away for Christmas with family, so by the time we got back it was almost the end of the builders’ holiday. It was a great relief to watch the convoy of headlights coming up the drive on the first working day. Over the previous couple of days, we had discovered that there was very little pressure from the water supply, so that only brown water trickled from out shiny new taps. We managed to rig up a battery pump using equipment from our boat, which sadly expired after only a couple of days!



We quickly realised that a new water supply would be needed, especially to cope with demands from six cottages. Within a couple of weeks, we had installed a new set of plastic water tanks linked to the spring and a sophisticated pumping system to supply water to all the future cottages. This involved digging long trenches all over the site, including the courtyard. It was however a welcome relief to discover that the electric power to the farm was just enough to supply the projected demand. We had previously been warned that upgrading it could cost £25,000! We also planned and had installed the phone line, which included an internet link. This involved digging a trench all the way up from the valley, luckily only crossing the land owned by our friendly neighbouring farmer!



Shortly after the builders started work, we were visited by two scrap dealers, both claiming that the farmer had sold them the vast collection of old tanks and machinery, barns and roofing. It certainly seemed as though he had done an independent deal with each of them, and a fight nearly broke out. We pointed out that there was plenty for both, far more than they knew existed. So, for several days, there was the sound of old tanks and machines being loaded on to a succession of lorries, and the sight and sparks of oxyacetylene cutters working to demolish the two massive steel barns. However, we thankfully stopped them removing two lovely antique horse ploughs, which we planned to paint and display in the courtyard!



We were incredibly lucky with the weather that winter. We got used to the routine of a long line of headlights coming up the twisting drive each morning at 6.45am, and tail lights departing at 5pm! Gradually the farmhouse came together, as we moved from room to room, trailing behind the builders and plasterers, until we were finally able to decorate. Work moved on to the first of the barns, the easiest being the old dairy. As supervising architect, I spent most of my mornings going around the site checking and giving advice, especially as there had to be frequent decisions to change the design to suit the conditions discovered during demolition. Knocking through walls for doors and windows often involved leaving sections of loose wall hanging precariously in mid air, and many roof timbers had to be removed due to rot or worm.



Gradually the old walls were hidden behind new walls of insulated blockwork, and the old slate roofs were hidden behind layers of insulation. While ripping up floors, we decided to lay the underfloor heating pipework ourselves. This involved uncoiling 50m long pipe reels into each cottage and following plans to lay them down into special clips fixed to the floor insulation. The pipes had to be laid and pressure tested before the final layer of concrete screed went down. Always a tense moment, as I was determined there would be no leaks….and there weren’t!



To save costs, we had also agreed to do all the finishing joinery ourselves. This involved laying out hundreds of meters of skirting boards, architraves and door linings on trestles in the courtyard for priming painting or staining, before the laborious process of cutting and fixing.



One routine never changed. The tea breaks! Sometimes there would be over twenty people on site, plus plumbers and electricians. So, we bought a huge yellow plastic box, a kettle and a vast set of mugs and spoons. Every morning at about 11am, we would put the box in a small outhouse which had power, and the builders would down tools for their break. Naturally we also supplied cake and biscuits!



There were naturally a few characters who stood out, including the plasterer who sang all day, the carpenter who was nearly 80 and drove to work an hour every day, and the plumber who was so fat he had trouble getting pipes into confined spaces! They were a lot of fun to have around, and we learnt a lot about the local area. One of the strangest tales was about the Teifi Panther, a legendary black cat that stalked the valley. One day, a builder pointed out a large black animal sauntering through the fields several hundred meters below us. It was too large for a domestic cat, so we now believe the story!



The only grumpiness we experienced with the builders was directed at the bosses of the firm. The boss was highly respected, but when any of his three sons rolled up, angry words were often exchanged, and the post visit comments were unrepeatable. Clearly, they were learning the trade the hard way, but the older wiser builders were having none of it!



January gave way to February and March, with still almost no days of bad weather. By this time, we had started sourcing furniture and fittings, so spent a lot of time ordering online or driving off to nearby towns. Lampeter had most of the building materials we needed, but 40 mile round trips to Carmarthen were needed for more choice.



The big day came when the new water supply was switched on, and there was clear treated spring water instead of brown frog polluted water. And the showers became a dream to use! One by one, the bathrooms were connected, to be followed by the boilers and heating systems.



One of the final jobs was installing the kitchens. We had ordered these several months previously, and at last I gave the instruction to deliver them. Hundreds of flat packs had to be unloaded and stored, then sorted into six complete kitchens. We had agreed to build and install the kitchens ourselves, so as each kitchen came near completion I set to with screwdrivers and Allen keys to install all the units and worktops. It was a great relief when I finally reached the bottom of the stack of flat packed units!





Having completed the internal joinery and kitchens, we both moved on to decorating with litres and litres of paint. In the early days, we used an electric sprayer, but after several breakdowns resorted to tried and tested rollers and brushes. Many of the old parts were at high level, involving perching on tall ladders to reach inaccessible spaces. I often wished that I had not been so concerned to preserve the original roof shapes and some of the high timber roof beams, but the results were worthwhile!



We had by now also sourced fabric for the cottages, and hours were spent making curtains ready to fit as soon as the dust settled….and there was a lot of dust! Carpet reps came too and fro keen to price the hundreds of metres of floor covering required, while we laid many metres of tiles on cottages floors and bathroom walls. Naturally we had to be careful about expense but like to think we struck a good balance between economy and quality!



In the meantime, we had pre-ordered fridges, freezers, washing machines, ovens, hobs, and appliances, all of which we fitted ourselves. We were also lucky to find a nearby manufacturer of quality pine furniture, and placed a massive order for wardrobes, chests, tables and chairs. A long line of white vans was to be seen proceeding up our one-way drive, often having to reverse when meeting, to the chagrin of the drivers.



Not forgetting the ten sofas, which arrived very early one morning at 7am while we were still in bed! The top of a huge pantechnicon completely blocked our bedroom window and we thought there had been a solar eclipse. It was the sofa lorry! We discovered that one set would not go through a narrow door, and we had to replace them with our own sofas, which just fitted.





In June, the project reached the stage where the builders could tackle the barn in the worst condition, which was to become our home. The roof and walls were in a bad state, and the smaller section, which was to be our living room was full of junk and had only a tin roof. The two massive doorways either side had to be completely blocked in, and the respective supporting beams removed. In addition, the drains were to pass under the building in a deep trench. We needed to complete this work fast, since the barn was also closest to the driveway. Not much fun for arriving guests to be greeted with building work in full swing as they rounded the corner for a relaxing holiday! The work went very well. The huge openings were blocked, the drain was dug and tested, the roof was renewed, and best of all we had a large window cut in the end of the barn giving a panorama over the valley below.



We were now almost ready for the first guests. We had taken a chance that at least four of the cottages would be available for the early season, and had taken some bookings. Our first guests arrived in June to stay in our smallest cottage Red Kite, which was a one bedroom studio in the upper half of one of the barns. We were still painting the cottage when the guests arrived, so had to make a rapid exit through the back! While expecting only a couple, we were surprised when two cars rolled into the car park, a smart MX5 sports car driven by a young woman, and a larger saloon driving by a man. We were immediately alarmed, as there was only one car park space for this cottage. We will never know the story, but suspected that the couple were in fact having a secret relationship using our cottage to meet up!



Our facilities included a Games Barn with a snooker table and table tennis. It also had a fitness machine, which we thought would be very appealing to some of our less fit guests. All was fine until the builders returned on the Monday following the couple's arrival. We had warned them that we would now have guests staying, and they agreed to make themselves as scarce and quiet as possible, reserving noisy work until the couple went out.



It so happened that the young lady was obviously a keep fit addict, and had taken to walking across the courtyard from the cottage to the Games Barn for a morning workout. We witnessed hilarious scenes as she flounced across each morning, with the unseen eyes of several Welsh builders straining to catch a glimpse of this lovely apparition!



And so it all began! During the spring of 2003 work proceeded apace, with builders mainly working on our own barn conversion while trying to stay out of the way of growing numbers of visitors. We spent a lot of time shovelling gravel and building low stone planters to create landscaped areas in place of the concrete desert of the courtyard. We calculated that by the time we finished most of this work, we had shifted some 35 tons of gravel by hand with the help of two wheelbarrows! We also dug out gardens behind Meadow and Beech Cottages and laid patios behind all the cottages.

Despite being told by the local garden centre manager that nothing much would grow on our hillside, we also planted hundreds of plants and trees around the cottages. Very few died, to his amazement!



In addition to the old farmhouse, which we rather boringly called the Farmhouse, and our barn named Watermill Cottage, we converted four more cottages from the barns, Beech (sleeping 3), Meadow (sleeping 4), Red Kite (sleeping 2) and Woodpecker (sleeping 2). They were named after nearby features or local birds. Beech was next to the lovely beech drive, Meadow was flanked by meadowland, while both Red Kite and Woodpecker were common visitors! Woodpecker was originally named Quarry after the quarry at the top of the lane. However, we decided this sounded a bit gloomy and were pleasantly surprised when bookings took off after renaming it Woodpecker! It's all in the name it seems! We renamed the Farmhouse as Apple Tree Cottage after finding the old apple orchard in the rear meadow.

Between May 2003 and May 2008 we entertained approximately 200 people each year in our five cottages. Given that our first year visitors had only seen a brochure with cleverly disguised pictures of the barns pre-conversion, we did rather well! It is proof of the march of time that in our first year we were taking bookings through the post and banking cheques, while in later years we had full online availability, booking and payment!



Over the years there were many highlights and a few lowlights. In the following pages we will share just a few.







The Early Years – a steep learning curve!





The Tourist Board Man



Early in our business, we believed that it was essential to have a grading from the Wales Tourist Board in order to boost our status and bookings. So every year on the appointed day an official looking man arrived with his briefcase and laptop. He proved to be just as official in deeds as in looks! Armed with his sandwich box and Thermos flask, he had clearly planned a long day! He went around each cottage with a fine toothcomb, inspecting for dirt and dust, poor decoration and bouncing on beds. He even measured the thickness of the mattresses and checked the water pressure from the taps!



He made copious notes, and then sat down in our own cottage with his laptop. It transpired that he was the inventor of the Wales Tourist Board grading management system. Every feature of a holiday cottage has been given a section in the system, with points being awarded under each heading. After what seemed like hours of inputting scores, we breathed a sigh of relief when all our cottages hit five star grading, except for Red Kite and Woodpecker which were downgraded to four star for sharing a washing machine. Luckily, in later years he seemed to know our standards, and managed to short cut the process by a couple of hours!



Guests and pets



Our research told us that dogs were a good thing for holiday cottages, especially in way out rural areas like West Wales. So, at first, we allowed the traditional “one well behaved dog” in our cottages. The very first guests in Meadow brought their two “very small and very well-behaved” dogs. Shortly after arrival, we were horrified to notice both dogs leaping about on the virtually brand-new sofas. And on departure day we were further horrified by the appearance of dubious yellow stains on the new carpet.

We very quickly decided we could do without the hassle of dogs. This didn’t stop the occasional problem, such as the family staying in the Farmhouse who had visitors with a huge dog. There was a tense shouting match when they were challenged to get the dog out. Sure enough, on changeover day the house bore evidence of the dog having run everywhere and caused considerable mess. No doubt the family sought revenge against us!



In later years we allowed pets for a small charge and had few problems. We also hosted a few other pets, including cats and rabbits, but to our knowledge no snakes, lizards or other exotics!



The rowing machine



One Christmas we had guests in Meadow Cottage who came with masses of Christmas presents. We saw one very large box being manhandled into the cottage and became curious. On departure day, we went into the bedroom to find several very large dents in the carpet. In the rubbish, which we had to take to the tip ourselves we found a box that had contained a rowing machine. Putting two and two together we challenged the former guests about the damage and asked for a contribution. They flatly denied that their rowing machine was to blame, in fact I recall that they even denied having one until shown pictures of the dents and the box!



The Water Shortage



Coedmor water supply came from a spring in the hillside and fed into two large tanks. Despite having our sophisticated pumping and treatment system, everything depended on the spring and the 10000 litres of storage. The farmer had told us that the spring had never failed in his lifetime. However, one year the supply started to dry up just as the main holiday season arrived. Unfortunately, we happened to have guests who seemed to be doing nothing else except washing their clothes.



Things quickly reached crisis point. Luckily, we had good friends nearby with mains water. The only problem was that their cottage was ½ mile down the steep lane, and we only had a 500-litre static plastic water tank. We managed to fit this tank into our small trailer, which could be pulled by our quad bike. We made several trips up and down the lane with the tank, very slow on the return journey due to weight.



We also had the problem of getting the water from the portable tank into the main tanks. We managed to overcome this by parking the trailer uphill from the tanks and allowing it to discharge by gravity, but it took a long time!



Sadly, even this was not enough! We had a marker gauge in the main tanks, and every night before going to bed we looked at it with growing concern. Convinced that the water level had reached rock bottom, we took desperate measures. Knowing that the treatment plant was very effective, we started carrying buckets of water from the pond to the main tanks and diverted rainwater to the inlet.



As most of the water originated from springs fed from the old quarry, we never quite ran dry before the rains came to replenish the supply, and don’t think our guests noticed! Sadly, the water shortage caused other problems, of which more later!



Pipe burst



There were some more serious consequences of the water shortage the previous year. Early in the season, the water supply failed just as the first guests started to arrive. It appeared that the low water levels had allowed a lot of silt and gravel to run down the main pipe into the pumping station. This initially caused the pump to fail, although there was a backup. Worse still, it caused a break in the main pipe just outside the pumping station! So, there was no water flowing!



This was not an easy problem to sort out. We had insurance to cover disasters like this, but action was needed immediately to save peoples’ holidays and our business. If the pipe was damaged beyond

repair, we needed to locate, buy and install over 50 meters of 50 mm water pipe from the tanks to the pumps.



So, with a garbled explanation for the water shut-down to the guests in our two booked cottages, we shot off with car and trailer to Cardigan to buy pipe. A 50m coil of 50mm pipe is huge, and barely fitted into our trailer. We somehow got it in and returned to Coedmor.



The process of laying it started immediately but unwinding such a huge coil was very hard work. And would it lay flat? No way! It was almost dark by the time we had laid it and connected it to the main tanks. Then the fun really started, as the connection at the pump house was deep beneath the ground. The broken connection came in vertically, which was where the break had occurred. The new pipe would have to go in horizontally, but even this involved digging a trench about 1m deep and then knocking an access hole through a 300mm thick concrete wall.



The process took several hours, working late into the night. Breakthrough was made near midnight, and then the pipe had to be fed through the wall and connected. By morning we had water restored, but we had a 50meter blue pipe running on the surface up the lane and some damaged pumps. Luckily the insurance paid to rebury the pipe and repair the pumps!





Frozen pipes



One of the big problems with holiday cottages comes in winter, when occupancy is low, and the temperature falls below zero. One year, we were returning from a family Christmas and gratefully accepted a last-minute booking for Apple Tree Cottage. We arrived back and hastily checked over the cottage. All seemed well, but as a last thought we turned on one of the taps…. nothing! Looking outside in the dark we realised that the main water pipe was frozen solid all the way to the pump house outlet.



So, for the next few hours one of us crouched in the darkness with a hair dryer working our way along the frozen pipe until the flow restarted. Just in time, as the guests arrived shortly afterwards. They may have wondered why we greeted them looking like we had spent a month in the Arctic!



Guests from hell



Occasionally, guests from hell descended on the cottages. Early in the life of our business, we were quite desperate for early large bookings. A call came through about booking two summer weeks for two families in our two largest cottages, Apple Tree and Meadow. Naturally we said yes, even after being told that a condition was a “previewing”. We said OK if this viewing was at least a month before the holiday date.



On the appointed day, a man and his son arrived all the way from London and we showed him around the cottages and grounds. Expressing satisfaction, he paid the deposit and drove away. A month later two fully laden cars with roof boxes arrived, disgorging about eight children in addition to the four adults. Mindful that this was already over the occupancy limit we got worried. The children were clearly out of control and started throwing gravel around the car park even as other guests arrived. The two cars were followed next day by a large van, the contents of which turned out to be bikes and garden furniture belonging to the families transported from London for the holiday!



There were numerous incidents during their two weeks stay. Despite being warned that water resources were tight, the families were constantly washing clothes. They held small round circle ceremonies in our sheep meadow, despite being told it was out of bounds. An ambulance was called when one small boy banged his head on a bath.



A breakdown truck arrived when one of the family could not start their modern car. The same person refused to back up on the long drive when another guest came up, even though he was near the passing place. The children, mostly under ten, were often left to run riot in our courtyard while their parents went off shopping. This included pushing pushchairs with infants therein down the steep slope of our courtyard into the boundary wall…luckily no more ambulances were called!



On a certain day, the group asked if they could buy and sacrifice one of our lovely Shetland sheep. We refused but were suspicious when one of our chickens mysteriously disappeared. The same day we were asked if we could turn the power off as switching lights was forbidden. A final straw was seeing the children littering the courtyard with sweet papers, but on complaining being told that picking them up would count as work, on a day when work was not allowed!



We longed for departure day, but wondered in what state the cottages would be left. Turned out worse than expected. We found rubbish everywhere and furniture in disarray. TV sets turned back to the wall, as watching was forbidden. Wet children’s beds. All kitchen work surfaces covered in tin foil. Now this might seem to have been a good way of protecting the surfaces. Unfortunately, not expensive wooden worktops, where two weeks of leaking water had turned them mouldy and black under the metal topping. One work surface had warped so badly that we had to re-cut and replace it immediately. And all this extra work had to be completed between departure time of 10am, and the 4pm arrival time of the next guests. The two families had left an hour late, just to add to the pressure!



The Musician



Red Kite was our smallest cottage. Located directly above Woodpecker, it nevertheless had its own entrance. One day, a single man arrived in a rather beaten up estate car. He proceeded to move the bollards and drive up the restricted road to be able to easily unload. Not just a bag or a suitcase, however. A portable piano was followed by a succession of speakers, amplifiers and guitar cases, and a portable mixing desk. Clearly a big star seeking a quiet corner of Wales to do some recording? In the 1960's and 70's Wales had a reputation for this among stars like the Stones and the Beatles. Within an hour or so, a terrific cacophony and booming bass were ringing out over the courtyard. Mindful of our other guests, especially those below him, we had to read the riot act before things got out of hand!



Snow



Everybody wants snow for their Christmas break, and there is a good chance of that in Wales! But with a half mile long steep drive, snow poses a few problems. We had two successive white Christmases, and sent our forthcoming guests’ suitable advice about wrapping up well and carrying snow shovels etc. We looked down towards the bottom of the drive far below as the first cars skidded their way off the main road. It was not long before they started to slide backwards into the roadside ditches.

Anticipating phone calls for help, we drove down the hill in our 4WD car. Surveying the carnage, a quick visit to the farmer allowed us to offer his snowbound yard as a temporary car park. Now although 4WD, our car was a sports coupé with only two seats. Lowering the back seats allowed us to transport guests and their luggage two at a time up the hill. Bear in mind that three sets of guests were families, with children and some pretty hefty loads of Christmas presents.



Once safely in their cottages, they were able to batten down the hatches for a snowy holiday, complete with snowmen in the yard and sledging in the meadows. But they couldn’t get out, and at the end of the week the whole process had to be repeated in reverse……before the New Year guests arrived! By that time the snow had turned to ice, and we faced the challenge of chipping a way down the drive before any disasters occurred!



One February half term, the snow caught us completely by surprise. Our largest house, Apple Tree Cottage had been booked by a party of young people, and they rolled up in heavy snow very excited. Knowing that they would not be able to get out and about, we provided them with sledges and they had a great week sliding down the meadows.



The Shetland Sheep



We had a flock of Shetland and Soay Cross sheep at Coedmor, bought in order to keep our meadows neat and trim. But on the day they arrived, the meadows were as high as the proverbial elephant’s eye! To our surprise, the twelve sheep we had ordered became sixteen. It seemed that four of the Shetland ewes had become pregnant by a randy Soay ram with only one testicle, who had escaped his field!



The four lambs came with their mothers but were immediately lost in the meadow. We captured three quite quickly, but the fourth eluded us. There ensued an hour or so of careful searching through the huge meadow until thankfully she was found. The lamb was distressed, and her mum was not attentive, so after a week or so being looked after by the breeder, she came back and we bottle fed her until she was big enough to survive!



All the sheep had names beginning with either I or J. The lost lamb was called Jasmin, and she was our favourite. Others were called Iceberg, Ingot, India, James and so on. Two of the other lambs were closer in personality and looks to their Soay father, which they demonstrated by jumping over fences and running away, often taking the flock with them! One year we lost virtually all the crop in our veg patch when the Soays led the flock there. But the problem was never worse than on shearing day!





Soay sheep do not need shearing, as they deposit their fleeces naturally. Unfortunately, Shetland sheep do need shearing annually. We discovered that its quite hard to find a shearer prepared to do only 16 sheep. Most will only turn out if they are offered 100s or 1000s to shear! We were very lucky to find someone prepared to take on only 16. So come the day, we needed to be ready with all the sheep safely fenced in. Not having a sheepdog, as our own Bryn was a rather slower Labrador, it was all down to us.



In the early years we managed with a lot of shouting and running around. As the sheep became older and wiser, we resorted to other methods. We bought a huge roll of plastic fencing and walked this slowly across the meadow towards the sheep. It was rather like grandmothers’ footsteps. Move too fast and they outflanked us, usually led by the two Soay crosses James and Joanna. If lucky, we were able to funnel them towards the shearing enclosure in time for the shearer’s arrival.



One embarrassing year we didn’t get them in, and the shearer had to help with the round-up. In the end we cornered them down at the bottom of the meadow. Because we were so far from our house, he had to use battery clippers running from his car battery! The battery soon drained and we had to get our car to do a jump start!



That year, one sheep never got sheared as we could not catch her. She ended up with a matted fleece, which was hard to remove next year. Another year Joanna escaped the night before shearing. She ran off into the neighbouring farm, and we spent some hours chasing her in the dark with torches before she gave in and returned to the flock.

We like to think we were very humane smallholders. So much so that we took great care of any sheep which became ill. In one extreme case, we loaded a sick sheep into the back of our car and took her to the vets for treatment. They told us that having a sheep in their surgery was a rare, possibly unique event, even in Wales!



Unable to do very much to cure her, we took her home and made her comfortable in a specially built shelter, tending to her every need with food and water until sadly she died.



The Geese



We had chickens and ducks already, but never planned on having geese, until one of our sheep shearers told us that he had been given a spare pair of Brecon Buffs. Would we like them. Oh, and a couple of goats! Leaving goats aside, we said yes to the geese and a few days later they arrived. Tegfan and Myfanwy settled in quickly after asserting their authority over the ducks and chickens. Then they started laying eggs, which we sold to visitors.





One day we discovered that they were laying and sitting on eggs down in the meadow. So, we left them to it and eventually ended up with some goslings. Over the years the flock grew larger and larger, reaching a total of twelve. They laid masses of eggs, which were highly prized by our visitors. Our ducks sadly were not so productive. Being notoriously bad at looking after their youngsters, our three became one. Rajah, the Indian duck then became an honorary goose, following them everywhere without ever being molested by his big chums!



The Three Rams



One year we had the stupid idea of adding some rams to our flock. The only rams we had were the two Soay cross which had come to us unexpectedly as lambs. Both however had been neutered. Our neighbouring farmer was also a sheep breeder, but we knew that most of his surplus rams went to slaughter. One day passing by the farm, we spotted three tiny white lambs with black markings. On asking about them, he said we could have them with pleasure, saving him a job. The were a breed known locally as “Specklies”.



Big mistake, as they were nothing but trouble. We kept them apart from the Shetland flock, but as they got bigger, we were forever chasing them around the meadows to stop them mingling. Not surprisingly, we were pleased to hand them back to the farmer!



Sewage lorry



It is all very well having free water to supply the needs of our 20 odd guests, but the downside is that they generate a lot of waste. When we bought Coedmor, the sewage system consisted of a small primitive septic tank buried in the field below the courtyard. We estimated that we would need at least a 10000-litre tank, and an outlet drainage system stretching hundreds of metres down the meadow.



Once installed, the system gave us few problems. But while the system is effectively self-maintaining with the help of microbes and bacteria, the build up of sludge in the bottom of the tank must be removed periodically.



This involved employing a company to bring in a large tanker to pump out the sludge. As the nearest hard-standing was some way from the tank, long hoses had to be laid and the distance made this slow.

One year, the tanker driver had the bright idea of driving his lorry up the length of the meadow to park alongside the tank. All went well until the tanker started to fill with sludge. Almost imperceptibly the tanker started to sink into the ground, which was still quite soggy after a wet spring. Panic set in as the tanker wheels disappeared almost to axle height!

The driver tried to move the tanker, throwing great waves of wet mud from the wheels while merely digging in further. Drama became a crisis. We now had a six-wheel tanker loaded with 9000 litres of sewage sludge partly buried in the meadow!



The farmer who sold us the property was always helpful, and he offered to send a tractor up to pull the tanker out of the mud. But he said that it would need to be emptied first. He said that his neighbour had a sludge tanker, but since they had fallen out, we would need to ask him ourselves! Thankfully he said yes but would need to empty his own sludge first!



So, about an hour later he arrived in the meadow and the process of transferring the sludge began. The process was agonisingly slow, but eventually complete. Off he went with our sludge in his tanker, while the farmer hitched up his massive tractor and slowly pulled the tanker out of the mud and back to terra firma.



Only one more task remained. The tanker driver had to go down the hill and pump our sludge back into his own tank! So, having tried to save about half an hour of time, doing the job ended up taking the best part of the day!



The Mill Pond



When we first saw the property, there was evidence of an overgrown pond in trees behind our own barn conversion. One edge of the depression was lined with a brick wall, acting as a dam. A stream ran diagonally above the pond, but the water was not fed into it. We did some clearance of the vegetation and felled a few trees growing in the centre of the depression.





When all was ready, we dug a channel from the stream into the pond and waited to see what might happen. A few days later we were rewarded with the sight of water gently rising in the pond until it started to overflow in one corner and run down another ditch into the meadow below. We had a pond!



Some time later, we were visited by an old man who told us that he had once lived on the farm. To our amazement he explained that the pond once fed a channel or leat which ran to the corner of our barn feeding a waterwheel. There had been a horizontal shaft running the length of the barn. There were two arrow slit windows in the barn, which had always been a puzzle. He explained that the driving belts on the shaft went through the slit windows to drive machinery inside the barn. Later still, a professor at the university researching mills in west Wales got very excited when we showed him around, adding our property to his list of local mills. From that time onwards, our barn became Watermill Cottage!



Strange going on in the night



Over the years, many guests returned to their favourite cottages. One couple were very fond of Red Kite, which had a stable door leading out to a secluded terrace with views of the valley below.



One morning we awoke to someone knocking on our front door. It was the couple from Red Kite asking to be let into the cottage as they had lost the key. As it happened, the key was inside the cottage and they sheepishly explained what had happened. There was a full moon the previous evening and the skies in west Wales are very clear and great for stargazing.



They had gone out onto the terrace in their nightwear to look at the stars. Unfortunately, the stable door had slammed shut leaving then locked out. As it was very late, they had decided against disturbing us and driven in their nightwear all the way home to Cardiff, about two hours to spend the night! They returned the next morning and we let them back into their cottage!



The Shrine



Naturally, we had our share of strange guests. We once had a family who built an obstacle course for their children in the cottage living room using upended sofas and chairs!



One of the strangest were a couple who came to Beech Cottage one spring. Checking around the cottages one morning revealed the strange sight of a large wooden construction standing in the garden. Looking rather like a gazebo, it housed a statue of Buddha surrounded by various artefacts, plants and flowers. We never did witness the ceremony that presumably took place during their stay, but on changeover day it had all been dismantled and spirited away in the back of their car!



The Brain Surgeon



One of our most loyal guests was a brain surgeon working in a hospital in South Wales. She had a farmer boyfriend living nearby, and used to visit us regularly as his own place was apparently barely habitable. He had promised to convert one of his own barns as a lovely cottage for them both. Year after year she came back, and it was always with the sad news that the cottage was not ready yet. She regaled us with gruesome stories of brain surgery, including removal of bullets and worse. Unfortunately after we moved away we never knew whether she had finally married her farmer and moved into the cottage!



The Goats



The idea of adding goats to our livestock always appealed. A small flock of Golden Guernseys was the dream, but the reality was somewhat different. The shearer who offered us the geese also had a pair of white Saanen goats, which he had received in exchange for some work. He told us how pretty and docile they were and offered to bring them to us on trial. We fell in love with them on sight, more so because our granddaughters were staying at the time. Tristram and Daisy were a lovely pair, standing only about 1 metre high with little horns.



Goats, unlike sheep, must be housed overnight, and we were totally unprepared. There were a couple of options. We had an old stable. But it was sited behind the farmhouse and inaccessible from the main meadow. However, under our living room was a cellar containing the electric supply for the cottages, our gardening gear, and freezers for ready meals sold to guests. We decided to erect some fencing inside this tiny space, just enough for the goats. Meanwhile, we used old fence panels to create an outside enclosure in the meadow. All went well for a while, but then the goats started to grow. One day, we discovered them climbing into the branches of our young fruit trees, devouring apples, plums and pears before they had a chance to ripen.



Needing regular feeding, we had the bright idea of developing an automatic feeder. Comprising a wooden box with a chute into the feed trough, the concept was that by nudging the chute, food would be dispensed from the box. Why did we think that this would be self regulating? The result was that they just kept eating until the box was empty of course!



Tristram the male grew two huge horns and a fine beard, and it wasn’t long before Daisy became pregnant. We went into their enclosure one morning to find Poppy had arrived. She quickly became part of the family, and even used to ride on the backs of the Shetland sheep.



Unfortunately, her dad became smelly and aggressive. Sitting down in our living room enjoying a drink and views over the valley, we became aware of heavy thumping noises from the cellar below. We realised that Tristram had taken to butting his way around the cellar, starting to cause some serious damage. It got so bad that we had to put up plywood walls to protect the electrical equipment and move everything vulnerable elsewhere. He even demolished the outdoor enclosure in the meadow with a few well-placed head butts!



There was only one thing for it. He had to be neutered before he did any more damage, and one kid was more than enough! Having no way of getting him to the vet, we borrowed a livestock trailer from a neighbour, and having somehow got him in, headed for the vet in Lampeter. He became a superstar during his two day stay and think that the nurses were sorry to see him go. Although he became quieter after that, we decided to let the three goats go to a good home near Carmarthen!



Chickens



We always planned to have chickens, knowing how guests would love to buy their eggs. Our first few were all rare breeds, such as Aracaunas, which laid blue eggs, Legbars and Sussex. At first, they all lived in a chicken house which was religiously locked overnight. Then we erected an electric fence around the pond, and relying on the geese for security, allowed the chickens free range.



They laid prolifically, and in due course we got a cockerel and started to breed. We had all sorts and colours of half-breed chickens over time, losing many to old age and only occasionally to predators.

Sadly, one winter night a fox got into the enclosure and killed two of our favourite chickens. Shortly afterwards, the remaining chickens took to sleeping in the trees. One freezing night when the temperature was well below zero, all the chickens were perched in one of the trees overhanging the pond, safe at least from the fox!



The cockerels were real personalities. Rambo and Brahma were two of the most outstanding, fathers to many of the chickens. Being humane people, we never killed any chickens. Having lots of hens was no problem, but the cockerel population was taking off. At one-point guests would be awoken at unearthly hours by nine cockerels.



This had to stop, so an advert was duly placed on the web for eight cockerels. Someone in Carmarthen was impressed by the pictures of two of the finest birds. We agreed to meet in the car park of B and Q at an appointed time. Arriving early, we went into the shop to pick up a few things. On our return we were greeted by a sizeable crowd of people around the car. The two cockerels were standing proudly on the back headrests regaling their rapt audience with a display of crowing! Feeling a little like proud parents, we were somewhat relieved when their new owners turned up. As for their future names? B and Q of course!





Mowing the Meadows



With several acres of meadow to look after, we first thought that the sheep would control the grass. How wrong we were! The first year the meadow grass was nicely trimmed back by the cattle from the farm next door, as the farmer had not erected a new fence as promised. By the second year, the sheep were at least keeping things under some control. But as we only had sixteen sheep, things started to get out of control that summer. Not being able to afford a tractor, or even a mechanical mower, we had the bright idea of cutting the hay by hand as seen in romantic Thomas Hardy novels like Tess of the D'Urbervilles. A vision of swarthy young people striding through the green fields under blue skies slashing with long handled scythes.



Alas no! We purchased our long handled scythe, causing great amusement at the local agricultural dealers. “Haven't sold one of those in a few years, wouldn't you rather have this power topper with fifteen different cutting heights. Can be pulled behind a quad bike!” Actually, we didn't even have a quad bike at that time, let alone the several thousands needed to buy one and the topper! So armed with the scythe and our chocolate labrador Bryn, we set off into the meadow one sunny day. The long meadow grass beckoned, and the sky was indeed blue! I did the cutting and we collected the hay in a big bulk bag. Bryn watched lazily from the sidelines, with an expression that said “Why are you doing this?”



The picnic meadows



Just then the farmer came down the lane in his huge tractor. He was laughing his head off so much that he nearly drove into the ditch! By now exhausted and dripping with sweat, I threw in the towel and said no more. After that, we let nature takes its course which involved letting the sheep eat the grass down to nothing in winter, and once during the summer hiring a quad bike and topper to tidy it up. As the sheep grew bigger, they of course ate more!



Unfortunately nature also has the habit of springing surprises, and soon various areas of the meadow sprouted nettles and thistles. These had to be dealt with or get out of control. The goats ate some while we had them, but were far more partial to the expensive dried food. Various expensive chemicals were tried and failed, so in the end we resorted to using a strimmer to tackle the worst.

As time went by, we decided to open up more meadow areas to our guests. At first this involved cutting narrow paths through the long grass that people could wander around at will. Small areas were set aside for picnic tables and seats. There was only one area of flat land, and this was turned into play field with swings and nets for ball games. This immense project was all achieved with a small rotary mower and a strimmer. Believe it or not, we never enjoyed the luxury of a ride on mower or small tractor, despite knowing that this would have been a good solution. However, the back breaking work of keeping the meadows in trim with these primitive tools kept us pretty fit and healthy!



The Quad bike



A tractor would have been very useful, together with a topper and any number of farm machines. But we were in the holiday business, and expensive machines were outside our budget. However, one year we were away leaving the place in the hands of our capable family. We arrived back to find a shiny quad bike sitting in the drive to be told that they had taken pity on us and bought it. The ulterior motive of course was to be able to roar around the meadows at will. Our little trailer was hitched to the back. I should add that there was evidence in the trailer of a massive firework display that they had held while we were away!



However, it did become increasingly useful. Using the trailer, we were able to move rubbish the ½ mile down to the bins on the main road, and numerous loads of stone and building materials around the place. It was also used for moving sheep fleeces after shearing, but was unfortunately hopeless for rounding up sheep. We always wondered how it was that other farmers could be seen in the distance happily rounding up great herds of cattle and flocks of sheep on their quad bikes. But it was not the quad bikes doing the work, but the dogs!

So the quad bike became a play machine most of the time, and what better place to use it than the old quarry up the hill. The quarry waste had been levelled next to the quarry, and this largely flat area was an ideal track for quads and bikes. There were several jumps and berms to tackle, and much fun was had roaring around this area. We had to keep a watchful eye open for the farmer, who had wanted us to buy the quarry but instead used it to dump his unwanted old machinery and other farm rubbish!



Double booking and other panics



Every holiday cottage owner's worst nightmare is the double booking or the early arrival. We never actually had a double booking, but something similar happened. One evening we were surprised when a lady came to the door saying that she was booked into Beech Cottage that day. She had come from New Zealand with all accommodation arranged by a travel agent. We checked our records and found her booking, which was for the following day. It was no good getting cross with her, as she was merely following her itinerary. Luckily the cottage was empty, so we just had to bite the bullet and spend most of the evening cleaning the cottage while she went to the town for food.



A more serious event is to actually forget a booking entirely. Although we had a sophisticated online service, one morning we looked out of the window to see a strange car parked in the Red Kite space. The cottage had been occupied the previous week, but a quick check revealed no booking on the calendar. Shortly afterwards, a strange couple appeared and went off in the car. Peering through the small window in the door of Red Kite, we realised to our horror that we had forgotten some booked guests! The worst part was realising that they had moved into a cottage that had not been cleaned or changed from the previous visitors.



Later when they returned, a sheepish visit was made to see them. Incredibly, they said that the cottage was lovely and expressed no concern about anything! The previous guests had clearly been some of the tiny minority who ever bother to clean and tidy. However, we did offer to change the bedding! Incredibly, they gave a glowing review of the cottage!



Possibly the strangest event was the man who booked the wrong cottage for his wife's anniversary treat. Clearly impressed with the luxury of our largest cottage Apple Tree seen online, he had then accidentally booked the smallest, Woodpecker. He came stomping round to the front door the next morning saying that they couldn't stay another day, using words such as “swing” and “cat” in his rhetoric. However, he did realise that it was not our fault, so we assume he took his wife off to a local hotel!



The Cleaners



After spending nearly fourteen years cleaning up after people, the time came to employ some cleaners to help out. Although we had sold two cottages Meadow and Beech in 2007, the remaining three were almost fully booked throughout the year and became hard work. Good cleaners were hard to find, but a chance advert led to us employing two of the strangest characters. They were a husband and wife team who gave off an air of total efficiency. They arrived in a smart white van with their logo on the side, and marched into the cottages with their equipment.



But presumably taking Health and Safety to the limit, they insisted on wearing “hi vis” jackets all the time. By contrast, the male member of the team turned out to be a chain smoker, so we had to read the riot act. He wafted around behind his wife with a feather duster while she did the hard work, then dashed out for a fag every half hour or so!

Cats and dogs



Marnie our tortoiseshell cat was the first member of our team at Coedmor. Within days of moving in, we decided that we needed a cat to keep down the population of rodents left bewildered by the sudden loss of their cosy derelict barns. We visited the animal sanctuary and saw many to choose from. But Marnie was the one who adopted us, sidling towards us inside her enclosure. Incredibly, she was the spitting image of a cat we owned many years previously called Minnie. Marnie proved to be an excellent mouser, much to the relief of some of our more squeamish guests!



We briefly inherited another cat from one of our daughters. Georgie was a totally different creature. A beautiful white Persian cat clearly used to being pampered, rescued by her from the streets of Bournemouth. Unfortunately, there was no way such a “glamour-puss” could like a welsh hill farm.



Bryn our chocolate labrador was a real character, who followed us around all day long while we maintained the cottages and the grounds. He was great friends with the cats and all the other animals, in particular two of the sheep Jasmin and Ingot, with whom he would rub noses! He was also very happy when our daughters brought their own dogs, but he could never keep up with the lively spaniels who could leap the four foot fences!



Home or Away



One year we decided to sell Apple Tree Cottage, the old farmhouse. The agent had been approached by the producers of Channel Four's programme “Home or Away – A Place in the Sun” to find a suitable welsh property to feature. Apparently the house was perfect. On the appointed day a film crew arrived and set up more equipment than we appreciated would be needed. A narrow gauge railway track was laid across the courtyard for the moving camera. Jonny appeared with the young couple faced with the difficult choice of a cold wet Welsh hillside property or a beach-side villa in Spain!



Filming took most of the day, causing some disruption and a lot of amusement for our guests. We did see the finished programme, and not unexpectedly, but in our view wrongly, the couple chose the villa in Spain! We later found out that they ended up staying in the UK anyway!







So that’s it!



This little book has only touched on the vast number of memories and experiences that we took with us from our years at Coedmor-fach. We took on a massive challenge and like to think that we succeeded in creating a special place! It may inspire others to do the same, or run a mile!


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