April 2013

Here we are well into April and at last Spring seems to be springing from the dry freezing easterly winds which kept in at bay until now. Everything is on fast forward now trying to play catch up. I suspect we will get some interesting combinations of plants flowering together this year which are usually separated by several weeks.

photos for blog daffs at riverside   photos for blog wood anenomes  photos for blog daffs on drive

The daffodils are now daring to bloom and the Hellebores that did not get zapped by the wind continue to give pleasure. The wood anemones are coming into flower and the masses of primroses in our wild flower meadow are starting to show their gentle yellow. It will be a real picture in a day or two as they have multiplied considerably in the three years since we have been walking there.

It is almost exactly three years since we were informed that 13 acres of adjacent land may be available to purchase from our then, new neighbours. We climbed over the fence from our top field into a ‘new world’ of discovery. Within just a few steps we saw Early Purple Orchids in full flower in the wooded area at the top of what we now call our wild flower meadow. Neither Philip nor I had seen Orchids growing in the wild and even these relatively common ones have something about them that makes you realise that they are somehow special. We decided there and then to purchase the land if at all possible, which we did eventually with a little help from a bank. The meadow has continues to enthrall as other species of Orchid came into flower later in the year along with a great number of native wild flowers. This year the Early Purple Orchids are along way off flowering though their distinctive leaves have been visible for some weeks now.

orchid leaves

One final plant related observation to confirm that summer is not so far off is that our long suffering peach tree is smothered in blossom in our collapsing greenhouse. Pollinating the flowers is on my ‘to do’ list for this week.

photos for blog peach blossom

I should not have waxed lyrical about our chickens in the post for March. Just after I had published the news blog last month we had left the five hens out of their enclosure late on Sunday afternoon while we took Megan for a walk. When we returned dusk was falling so I went to shoo them off to bed in their run. I found a buzzard picking over the remains of one of the white chickens while two others were hiding under their hen house. No amount of calling brought the remaining two home as a few feathers were all that was left. photos for blog buzzardSo was the buzzard to blame for all three ex chickens, or was it capitalising on what the fox had left behind? We shall never know of course, and depending on who you talk to the culprit may be air born or not. We are much more careful now about letting the remaining two hens out only when we are in the garden. They are not that impressed by the new regime and try and get out at every opportunity.

The recent dry weather has meant that a few jobs have got done. We are fortunate to have a large log store at the back of the Dutch barn (which serves as our garage). It was full when we moved here over 7 years ago and eventually we have cut up the last of this old wood and it is now ready for burning on our log burner. With the log store empty, and cleared of the deep layer of sawdust (used as mulch in our front field round the newly planted trees and shrubs), the discoloured wall could be painted on a sunny Saturdayphotos for blog 005while the washing dried.

photos for blog  wall paintingWhat a difference a coat of paint makes!

We also went rock picking in the fields and used the stones to make a drier path into the wild flower meadow.photos for blog gateway

Justine and Huw have made a start on the next phase of hedge laying. opening up new views…photos for blog species daffs and new viewThis one is from the mill end of the’millstream’ looking up to the wild flower meadow which was obscured by trees until now.

photos for blog hedge laid The hedge laying is resulting in huge piles of wood to be cut into logs, piled up for seasoning and so much brash that we will have more wood chips than we will know what to do with. Only joking…it never seems to go as far as had been anticipated, as there are always good uses for it.

photos for blog woodlandWork is on going in the woodland at the top of the wild flower meadow. Dry stone walls, arches, mossy stumps on plinths and ivy sculptures are appearing making the walk ever more interesting.

In past years the swallows that nest in our out buildings would have returned from southern Africa, but not this year so far. By my next news blog I’m sure they will be well ensconced in their summer residences. I will bring news too (hopefully) of work starting on the goat house to transform it into a ‘garden room’ for us and the visitors to Felin Fach to enjoy.

 

March 2013

How time flies! It is nearly a month since my last post. The weather has been predominately dry, though cold, so my default position has been to be outside catching up with gardening tasks. It is pouring with rain this morning so I’m in the office posting a new blog to tell you of what is going on here and to encourage new visitors. Apologies for the images in this posting which seem to have mind of their own and some are much smaller than I anticipated. I am a complete numpty at this technology so I think it is better to get this blog posted rather than delay it while I sort the photo problem-which may take some time!

bridge 1

 Philip, aka Isambard (Kingdom Brunell) has built a wooden bridge at the back of the house to replace the rotten one. The wood was bought last September but the poor weather meant that construction was delayed. It did not take much time to complete the excellent structure once he got started and he is rightly rather pleased with the finished article.

completed bridge

new planting

I was fortunate to purchase a large number of plants at an ‘end of season’ sale at a local wholesale nursery for a ‘too good to miss’ price, so have been weeding and clearing in preparation for planting. We have had two large bonfires to clear the debris accumulations, with a little help from Megan who was keen to dig into the ash piles!

megan digging ash

Another area under going changes and improvements is the woodland at the top of the wildflower meadow. Some of the thinner trees have been removed, some hazel coppiced and paths and arches have been created so that  a well defined journey can be taken, thus making more sense of the space.

woodland arches

Our five chicken are real characters and have loyally provided us with eggs throughout the winter.  The shreddings from the laid hedges have been recycled in their enclosure to help keep them happy and  their feet dry. During the day if we are around they are free to roam in their field and have found a new pastime! They are helpfully turning the compost I am making in large builders bags and adding more nutrients at the same time! All part of recycling here!

chickens with wood chips

chicken turning the compost

On arrival at Felin Fach, visitors find half a dozen fresh eggs and muffins or a cake made from the fruits of our chickens’ labours.

The paperwork and 5 star certificate has arrived from Visit Wales following the inspection last month. The new certificate has been added to the frame in Felin Fach and we were pleased to see that the break down of our scores showed a final percentage of 97.71% and increase on the last inspection (96.6%).  The following is taken from the report:-

“Felin Fach is a beautifully presented converted watermill enjoying a lovely riverside location near the village of Pumpsaint. The cottage continues to offer a very high standard of accommodation  for a couple with it’s warm and welcoming living room and well equipped kitchen on the ground floor. The master bedroom is of an equally high standard with a luxurious bed and well coordinated furnishings. It is good to note that the ground floor has benefited from new, solid wood flooring since the last visit. The property is very well equipped and easily meets the required 5 ‘extras’ which will be expected in 5 star properties by 2014”

Already we have 23 bookings for weeks or short breaks for 2013. At present we are in the middle of back to back bookings until early April when we have 2 weeks free. Spring is a good time to visit us-There are tiny lambs appearing in the fields, daffodils are emerging and spring is not far away, and there is alot to do in the area.

ghost forest

protea

Last week I went to visit the National Botanic Garden of Wales with a friend. It is looking lovely and well worth a visit. In the warmth of the Great Glasshouse the Protea are flowering and outside the Ghost Forest is stunning and thought provoking. A new exhibition has opened at The Quilt Centre in Lampeter featuring the colourful quilts of Kaffe Fassett. A real feast for the eyes.

Looking forward to meeting new guests here.

Monday 18th February 2013

amarylis

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Quite alot has happened since I last wrote.

John, our son visited last weekend with a friend to go mountain biking at Brechfa. John works at the specialist independent bike shop, Psychlewerx in Bristol, and is mad keen on downhill mountain biking.

johns bike pic 1

Both he and Shaun had a great time completing both the Ravenswing, with the black downhill sections and the Gorlech trails in the one day, over 40 km of hard riding. They are both competing in the international Mega Avalanche event in the French Alps this July-not for the faint hearted!-so this was a little warm up.

johns bike pic 3

Whilst John was with us, we discussed setting up a Facebook page for Felin Fach as further media exposure for our holiday let. He kindly set it all up for us so we have gone from no internet coverage to having a blog, website and Facebook presence in less than a month. A quantum leap into the 21st centuary! Do visit us on Facebook.com/felinfachcottage and ‘like’ us if you do!

Felin Fach has retained the Five Star rating first awarded to us by Visit Wales, the tourist board, two years ago. Sue Richards inspected the property last Wednesday and was most complementary. We await her certificate and break down of the number of points she awarded us this time. Our score on the previous occasion was 96%. Interestingly she said that our 41 bookings last year for whole weeks or short breaks was exceptional and probably only 1% of lets get such a high occupancy.

pictures for blog 053

Here is the table dressed for inspection!

We have been as busy as ever in the last week or so. The goat house is now clear of the old stalls and we have started to burn the rubbish piles accumulated over the winter.

inside goat house 1

bonfire start

I the last blog I wrote of watching the starlings swooping over the fields. I have tried to photograph their aerial antics but not been successful. However yesterday I did not need to leave the relative warmth of the kitchen to catch a murmur ( the collective noun for starlings I am reliably informed) feeding on the lawn at the back of the house. Here is the rather poor result!

starlings from kitchen

We are enjoying some long awaited sunshine here in Wales so I’m off now to do more planting and clearing in the garden.

February 6th 2013

The website and news blog have been live for a couple of weeks now and we have had lots of favourable comments. Thank you. We have made a couple of changes to the content as a result, to improve clarity. Interestingly we have had several new bookings for Felin Fach including a short notice weekend break starting tomorrow. Is there a link?
davies lunch
Last weekend we had a houseful staying here with 10 of us enjoying a long planned family get-together with our friends the Davies Family. On Sunday we all had a brilliant lunch at our favourite local pub/eatery, The Neuadd at Cilycwm. It is a 20 minute drive away and to be thoroughly recommended for excellent local food, drink and service.
shredder
The weather has continued to be changeable here but it has been a little drier especially during the day. We have therfore managed to get a bit more hedge laying and shredding done. The hard standing out side the Goat House proved to be a good place to connect up the shredder. It is this building that we plan to alter into a ‘garden room’ in time for the summer. Over the years we seem to have accumulated lots of ‘stuff’ so hopefully the alterations will incorporate re-using, recycling and upcycling rather than buying all new, to create a room which will not be too much of a drain on resources.
megan on bridge
While walking round our fields today I enjoyed watching a flock of starlings swooping and turning and chattering in the trees. Sadly I did not have my camera with me. Spring does seem to be not too far away, with the snowdrops, Hellebores and wichhazels in flower. The daffs are pushing through the soil and it will not be long before the garden is filled with their cheerfulness.
5 stars
Next Wednesday Sue Richards from Visit Wales is coming to inspect Felin Fach to check on our 5 star grading. Lets hope we maintain our high marks. We will let you know how we do next week.

Monday January 21st 2013

Jan Snow 2

The main news is that our new website is up and running and you can read this! Many thanks to The Garden Impressionists for spending the snowy weekend creating the Felinfachatglanyrafon@wordpress.com website. Fiona and Julian have done a masterful job to show case our holiday let. Huge thanks go to them!

jan 2013 020a

Yes we do have snow here but not that much. All the roads round here are clear so no problems in our part of Carmarthenshire-so far!

December 2012 inc Athens 158a

Before the snow came at the end of last week, I was able to get out in the garden and start some of the autumn tasks that were rained off last year. Snow has stopped play for now!

Jan Snow 1

The wet and bedraggled ewes were taken off our pasture at the beginning of the month, to go under cover at Justin’s farm in Ffarmers for lambing in a couple of month’s time. We are doing some fencing maintenance whilst the sheep are away, and Justin hopes to lay the last of our over grown hedges this winter.

Sheep

We have started to clear out ‘The Goat House’, the last of our stone outbuildings here at Glan yr Afon to be sorted. We plan to turn two of the three rooms into a ‘garden/summer room’ for visitors and family to use and enjoy. It was used as a dumping ground for unwanted building materials from the conversion of Felin Fach. They are now gone and we next need to remove the old goat stalls left from our predecessors, and then decide how radical a job we are going to do! Watch this page for our progress!

jan Snow 4

Our first guests of 2013 left on Saturday and although we have 11 weeks booked already for the coming year we have none for February. We have a two family get-together planned here for the weekend of Friday 1st-to Sunday 3rd of February but that still leaves lots of time for visitors to enjoy Felin Fach.

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