Sunday, 9 November 2014
When we got our hive and small nucleus of bees , complete with queen, earlier this year , we thought it would just be a case of establishing a colony, keeping them alive and healthy, in the hope that they'd produce enough honey stocks to help them survive throughout the winter ready to multiply and produce lots of honey next year. HOWEVER!!! We didn't take into account what a brilliant summer we would have this year, plus the fact that our hive is the only one for miles around so they had free range to forage far and wide (well up to 3 miles away)in an around the village of Llwyngwril. Our hive was also situated in our walled garden where there was an absolute abundance of foraging material from flowering fruit trees, flowering green bean plants and dozens of sweet pea plants. In early September I cleared and removed the top super (a section of the hive with 10 frames of honeycomb, where the bees store honey and the queen is excluded from laying eggs). It was groaning with capped honey! Meanwhile I'd added another 10 frames of fresh wax foundation to another super in the hope that they might still be collecting and storing nectar and pollen. I asked my mentor, Paul, if I could go and watch him extract some of his honey , so that I would know what to do when I borrowed a spinner from the local beekeeping association. He kindly suggested that I bring my frames to his place and use his electric spinner. I was there like a shot! The whole process took less than an hour. My 10 frames were turned into 26 jars of clear runny honey with minimal fuss, effort or stickiness! Paul told me to put the super of wet frames back into the hive for the bees to 'lick' the remains of the honey off the combs to take back down into the brood box to store for the winter. I did this and after inspecting the hive a week later , found that they hadn't 'licked' it dry but continued to produce more honey! They'd also filled and capped the frames I'd added a week or two earlier. The bees were doing so well, I had to buy another super and make up 10 more frames! I couldn't keep up! So after a fantastic October we had another 20 frames full of capped honey to extract and the bees still had a super full of honey to keep themselves, as well as lots of honey in the brood box (where the queen was still busily laying eggs!). I didn't want to impose on Paul again so managed to track down the beekeeping association's manual extractor and brought it back to Pen y Lon. Mike and I spent an exhausting afternoon using this extractor. We had to take turns, with one vigorously cranking the handle while the other sat on top of the drum to keep it from jumping around the kitchen! We managed to extract a couple of plastic bucketsful of deliciously smelling honey but there was also honey everywhere and the buckets had a scum of particles of wax about 2 cms deep on the top. What to do now? We'd passed it through a double honey sieve but that obviously wasn't fine enough. Muslin! That was the answer! The honey wouldn't go off so it could wait until we'd been over to York for a family visit. We managed to buy some muslin in a Lakeland shop. We were all set! Back home and we set about straining a ladleful of honey through the muslin into a clean jam jar. 12 hours later and it was still straining - literally! Back to the drawing board. We tried cheesecloth but the holes in that just stretched so anything could pass through. In the end we just strained the honey again through finer plastic sieves and eventually all the honey was jarred up- 44 jars in all! It does have a fine film of wax on top but hey, what does it matter? SO ........ we were just going to give jars of honey to friends and family as presents but we'd still have shelves groaning with jars of honey. We may as well sell it. Anyone know anyone who would like to buy some? We've also got the Beekeeping Association AGM coming up where everyone tastes each others honey. How will ours compare? Will they be able to taste runner bean and sweet pea?
Sunday, 12 October 2014
Mike started cleaning the main house back in April then gradually over the next weeks and months he worked his way round the house masking windows, painting walls, replacing guttering, repairing and painting facia boards, etc. This all had to be fitted in between guests staying and so during the busy summer months , nothing could be done at all. He used ladders, cherry pickers, scaffolding, ladders on top of patio roofs, etc. It was a momentous job but now its finished and it was all worth while - it looks a treat. What an improvement on the dull grey walls of the old look Pentre Bach House. Now all that remains to be done is change all our website! And lets hope it doesn't have to be repainted for many years to come!
Monday, 11 August 2014
Friday, 20 June 2014
We do our best to encourage birds at Pentre Bach by providing nesting boxes and putting out food on birdfeeders around the house and gardens. We also leave access to the barn through a special 'swallow door' so that our regular swallow visitors can get back to their nest in the roof of the barn where they've been returning to raise their young for a number of years. We don't really mind putting up with the bird poo all over the work bench for a few weeks! The house transformation from dull grey to magnolia has been coming along a treat and two sides have been completed. However, thanks to our feathered friends, the painting of the front has now been put on hold. The swallows have built a total of 14 nests under the eaves all around the main house and Y Popty. They're fascinating to watch as they come and go, sometimes landing on the nests and squeezing them selves in and at other times just swooping in near to the nests and swerving off into the sky again. we'll enjoy watching the young making their first attempts at flying in the next few weeks and then we'll be able to resume with our painting again. We've also been busy planting and growing a number of hanging baskets which have been coming on nicely in the greenhouse. It was time to hang them out this week but as we were coming and going from the greenhouse this week we noticed a little wren hanging around. Then when Mike was hanging one basket outside the back door of the main house, he noticed a perfectly round hole underneath. On further examination he could feel five or six tiny eggs inside the hole. So... ...... back to the greenhouse with that particular hanging basket until the wrenlets fledge.
Thursday, 5 June 2014
If you're very active or just prefer to watch then there are loads of events coming up in the next few weeks. The first is tonight- Race the Train in Fairbourne - I was tempted to take part but it clashed with my Welsh class. What a shame. This weekend the fantastic Three Peaks Yacht Race starts from Barmouth harbour (around 3.30ish on Saturday June 7th). I was hoping to help set them off with Batala Bermo at the quayside but unfortunately have to be elsewhere that day. You can follow the race all the way to Ben Nevis on the website www.threepeaksyachtrace.co.uk Other events coming up include the Trail Marathon in Coed y Brenin on the 21st of June. We have some guests staying at Pentre Bach that weekend who are taking part. Good luck to them! Also that day is the North Wales Country Fair in Bala. Merrionnydd Beekeepers' Association have a stall there! And on the same day is the Tywyn Summer Solstice Lantern Parade! Busy day. There's a Country Music and Line Dance Festival in Barmouth over the weekend of 5-6th July. Yee Ha! Then of course there's the annual Talyllyn Race the Train setting off from Tywyn on the 16th of August. Will I take part this year?
Saturday, 31 May 2014
We’re all aware of how important honeybees are to our ecology and that in recent years numbers of bees world-wide have been dwindling. We’ve decided to do our bit to help increase the honeybee population, and so in early 2014 I became a member of Meirionnydd Beekeeping Association and subsequently undertook an intensive beekeeping course
Saturday, 3 May 2014
Following on from the blog about the reasons why people come to Pentre Bach and Llwyngwril, the most popular reasons have, by far, been to celebrate significant birthdays, big family get togethers and student reunions. Large groups can just book the main house, or if required, the adjoining cottages Y Popty and Y Llaethdy. Families can eat together, party together and play games together, yet also have the space to get away from each other when they want some peace and quiet. Adults love the cosy traditional farm kitchen, the grand dining room and the window seats where they can curl up with a good book and gaze out upon Cardigan Bay. Children of all ages, enjoy the dressing up hamper, the hiding places in all the little nooks and crannies, the large field where they can play all sorts of ball games, the tyre swings and the table tennis room. The treasure hunt can also lead them round the village in search of the answers. Many groups have crazy fancy dress parties while others prefer a more sophisticated catered dinner party. We've recently found an excellent new local caterer who will cater for anything from a three course waiter service meal to a barbeque or even wedding reception! Here are a few pics of groups enjoying Pentre Bach!
Wednesday, 30 April 2014
A lovely blog from a guest who stayed in Y Llaethdy over the Easter holidays. Mom's The Word...: A Family Holiday To Pentre Bach In Wales: So, Easter has come and gone pretty quickly I ...
What more can I say!
What more can I say!
Friday, 18 April 2014
Monday, 14 April 2014
Tuesday, 18 March 2014
In 2012 we had a large group who gathered together to celebrate Patrick and Jeremy's civil ceremony of their partnership. Friends and family gathered from all over the UK, the US and France to help them celebrate. Every year we have large groups book our cottages to spend Christmas and New Year together. We had an expat family, who came over from Dubai, in the hope of getting cool, damp weather! Americans have come here to visit ancient castles. One man stayed in Y Llaethdy and spent the week taking beautiful photographs, many of which now grace our website www.pentrebach.com Can you think of any more reasons?
Sunday, 16 March 2014
Why come to Pentre Bach/Llwyngwril? When we first took over Pentre Bach Holiday Cottages, we were sure that most of our guests would be lured to our properties in the pretty village of Llwyngwril, on the southern edge of Snowdonia National Park, by the outstanding beauty of the scenery around us. Walkers and those keen on outdoor pursuits would be arriving in their droves to enjoy the countryside around Llwyngwril. Well that has been true to a certain extent but there are numerous other reasons why our guests have chosen to come and stay at Pentre Bach, some of them quite unexpected. Possibly the most bizarre purpose for a visit to this area was by a group of around 30 (mainly) men from the Netherlands, back in 2008, led by Iwan, who came to take photographs of RAF planes training in the hills above Corris. Some of them even brought along some step ladders so that they could get even higher to snap the pilots as they zoomed past!
Wednesday, 19 February 2014
Some of our guests who have booked to stay at Pentre Bach this year may be wondering what state the house and cottages are in , following the storms of the last few weeks. Fear not! Pentre Bach is almost unscathed - well more or less! You may have followed some of the terrible stories on national and local news about what has happened to some of the towns and cities in this part of the country. Barmouth was hit badly with the first of the storms in early January. We enjoyed a cosy mulled wine or two in the Last Inn after walking across Barmouth Bridge on Christmas day but less than two weeks later the pub was under a metre of water. Our local Cambrian Coastline railway that passes the end of our field, was also hit badly in that same storm and complete stretches of the line were washed away, resulting in a complete closure of the line from Machynlleth round to Pwyllelli, for over 6 weeks. The line eventually reopened last week as far as Barmouth. It may be quite a few more weeks before the line north of Barmouth is reopened. Another victim of the storm was the Dyfi Osprey Project. They lost the tree perch that the ospreys used (easily replaced) and also an expensive camera that followers on Facebook are well on their way to replacing by their generous donations. Our village has got off very lightly so far. The first storm in early January brought down the footpath leading from the beach up past the Quaker Cemetery so when walking on the beach we usually have to retrace our steps and go back the way we came, but this is no hardship compared to other parts of the country. Last week's winds caused more havoc, with a number of trees being brought down and also caused numerous power cuts. The first one left us without electricity for 20 hours. So out came the candles, camping gaz and playing cards! We were lucky enough to have a log burner in our cottage so kept very cosy. Our electricity supply was then very spasmodic throughout the next 4 days. It certainly makes you appreciate electricity when you don't have it! How did people manage before TV, computers, tablets, microwaves and mobile phones? Fortunately we had an old-fashioned telephone that we'd kept (Mike never throws anything away!) so were able to plug that in to keep in contact with the outside world. We also had some damage to our main house roof when two large stone slabs from the top of our chimneys became dislodged and fell onto roof slates and smashed two of our older solar panels. The satellite dish was also affected but all of this can easily be repaired in time for our next set of guests. On the plus side, the weather has been very spring-like over the past few days, the birds are singing, and daffodils are starting to sprout everywhere. Rob's lambs at next door's farm will soon be appearing in the fields. Mike has been busy cleaning the exterior walls of the main house ready to paint the outside cream or Magnolia, which should greatly enhance the outside appearance of the house. Watch this space for more news about how this work is progressing. We've also been doing lots of spring cleaning and decorating in all of the cottages ready for a very busy season. We look forward to welcoming all our guests in 2014!