Thursday, 19 December 2013

Christmas Jumper


Those of you who read my blog must realise that I am a practical person and most of my hobbies are craft related. So earlier in the year when I was watching the film Bridget Jones Diary with my Daughter for probably the 3rd or 4th time,  she said ‘I want a Christmas Jumper’.  So I filed the information away and then in October I decided to look for a pattern and knit her one.  I have never knitted such a complicated colour way pattern before and to say it was a challenge is an understatement.  At one point I had 12 different balls of wool that I was working into the knitting and I have lost count of the times that I had to undo and redo rows.    After weeks of weeks of frantic knitting I finally finished last week and then had to spend hours working all the wool ends into the wrong side of the front section.    Still all the hard work was worth it and I am really pleased with the end result.

The fact that the Christmas Jumper has had a real revival this year is a bonus because when I presented Megan with her new jumper this week – she was thrilled to say the least. Not sure if I will attempt another one though!

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Christmas Pudding

Well I am a bit late this year making my Christmas puddings but they should be alright.  I  remember when I was a child my mother making them in October or even September, and she always made enough for the following Easter too.

Traditions are what makes families special and yesterday our daughter was home so she helped me prepare the mixture. It was lovely working together in the kitchen and laughing and sharing and remembering things that happened when she was young.  How lucky we are.  We all had a wish which is all part of the tradition, and today they are steaming on the top of the stove for their required 8 hours. 

I have always loved Christmas.  The preparations are really what make it fun.  Cooking, thinking of what to give, and making some of the gifts too also makes it very special.  I always think there is lots of time when its still November and then December arrives and panic!  Anyway it will be an enjoyable lead up to the festive season I hope, and I will try not to stress at all. Some hope of that!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Bed and Breakfast

     I don’t normally write about the bed and breakfast business in this blog which seems a bit daft really. As my blog is linked to the website for the B&B I just wonder how many of you who read this really want more information about us and what we offer. Our website is great, it tells you what you need to know about the rooms and where we are etc but it doesn’t really explain much about us.

 So I thought I would pen a few words for those who are interested. We thought running a B&B would give us a great work life balance as well as earn a living. On the whole it does and we feel very lucky to be able to do that. However running a B&B is hard work, but then what job isn’t, it’s far better to work hard and enjoy it, than have to do a 9 to 5 in misery!   We love welcoming guests into our home and hope they enjoy staying with us, many come back and are now friends but if you only want to stay for one night we don’t mind,  it will be a pleasure to meet you.  We live in such a beautiful part of Wales that is often neglected as people rush through Flintshire to get to the coast, Snowdon or beyond. But it’s well worth the visit if you take the time, and so well placed for visiting Chester, Liverpool as well as North Wales.
Les and I have many hobbies and Les likes gardening, woodwork, DIY and ‘pottering in his shed’ as well as enjoying a good book. He doesn’t watch football!!

 I love painting, sewing, knitting and any sort of handicraft as well as reading and watching a good film.  I also love cooking! This is why our guests enjoy eating our food I expect, and why neither of us are as slim as we would like!   I am always trying out new recipes and love to wade through cook books looking for something delicious.  So don’t think the evening meals listed on our website are the limit to what we offer –we like to change it every day that we cook and normally discuss at breakfast what ‘tonight’s’ meal will be.  Of course many people don’t want an evening meal as they are visiting friends or family, working or simply want to try one of the local pubs.    We do however offer a three day dinner bed and breakfast break which is a good deal, so email us if you are interested and we will send you the price.

When you arrive we will offer you tea or coffee and probably a Welsh cake or a piece of homemade cake (chocolate with Nutella icing is my current favourite).  Welsh cakes are like flat scones flavoured with mixed spice and are lovely. You can have this in the lounge or on a nice day in the garden or the gazebo. (The lounge is where you eat breakfast and dinner around our large table with other guests, it also has two sofas and a chaise lounge and a big flat screen TV with Sky and BT for those who want to use it – all the bedrooms have TV’s too).

All our rooms are offered at a 10% discount if you book for more than one night, so if it is not clear please do email or phone and we will tell you if we have availability.  Sometimes we can move things about a bit to accommodate you so it’s always worth contacting us.

 We don’t grow any vegetables at the moment but Les keeps promising! But we do grow soft fruit:  raspberries, gooseberries and blackcurrants which mostly go into jams for the B&B. We also have plum and apple trees which also get turned into jams, chutneys or just frozen for a nice crumble.
Apart from that we like our caravan when we can get away, our dog Willis (who we take cycling along the Wales Coastal Path in his own buggy) and socialising with our family and friends.   If you want more information about our home then click onto the ‘Short history of Celyn Villa ‘on the right.  If you would like more information on the area check out the Discover Flintshire website.
We hope to welcome you to our home sometime in the future.   Just remember to telephone, email or if you prefer book on line.  We look forward to meeting you.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Summer, Painting studio, Autumn and France

I am cheating a bit, I am sure blogging should be done on a more regular basis but being a busy bee I am doing a bit of a roundup of the last few months.

The good news is that the summer was very busy for us, the weather was great and it was so lovely to be able to welcome guests from all over the world, in the sunshine.  The past couple of summers have been pretty bad weather wise and even the most beautiful country side cannot be enjoyed as much in the rain. We also gained our 4 star AA badge as well as their awards for both Breakfast and Dinner – a bonus which was unexpected – we are so pleased that our food is appreciated.
As already blogged, I also have been lucky enough to have a studio in the garden.  Les put up a new summer house for me to paint in.  When you run a B&B most of your home is used up with guests so my painting has been neglected recently due to lack of space.  I had been using the Gazebo in the garden but that wasn’t really successful; Les and I are such hoarders that it had gradually been filled up with ‘stuff’ so there was no room to paint in the end.  So now that too has had a face lift and a new coat of paint inside and it is now a lovely place to relax and read in, or just enjoy the odd glass of wine. And of course our guests can use it to. So instead of one not very useful garden room we now have two!

We are already having a nice autumn and although the thought of picking up all the leaves in the garden is not one to relish, it is such a lovely time of year.   But in fairness, Les will do most of it!

As autumn is also the time for bottling, jam and chutney making, it is a busy time.   I have already made blackcurrant and gooseberry jam and now have 12 pounds of plums and trees of apples waiting to be dealt with.  I normally freeze a lot of the apples for crumbles and pies through the winter, but also love apple jelly though it’s a pain to make. The rest will be chutney and I haven’t even thought what to do with the pears yet.

We have managed to have a break though and have just had a long weekend in France – our annual Twinning get together.  It was our turn to go to St Gregoire (near Rennes in Brittany) and we had as usual a fantastic time. The weekend was spent mainly eating and drinking  with the added trips to Mont St Michel and Honfleur thrown in.  The French always look after us so well and over the past 11 years we have been involved, we have made some wonderful friends.  Like many organisations we are made up of mainly ‘older’ people but this year we had 11 students from our local high school join us which was fantastic, they all had such a good time and we hope that we can continue to encourage younger people to get involved.

Well must get back to the kitchen, the jam won’t make itself.



Sunday, 11 August 2013

All finished

My new studio is now finished and ready for use when I get time. Now busy doing up the Gazebo so that guests can use it for relaxing or enjoying afternoon tea.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

New Studio

Very exciting couple of days as I am having a new summer house in the garden, somewhere for me to paint.  I have been using the Gazebo up until now but it has gradually filled up with 'junk' - its such a lovely space that we want to refurbish it so that guests can enjoy it for reading, relaxing or just having afternoon tea.  Still thats another project to start after we have finished the 'Studio'.  It is now up and we are about to start painting it!

And here it is all painted outside - just got to start inside now. Watch this space!

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Cycling with Willis

We have for the last 20 years or so always had two dogs, so when we lost our lovely Sam recently we did think we would probably get another one. However that has all changed now. One small dog is so much easier to manage we have discovered. Willis has been everywhere with us recently and today we were able to go cycling with him too.  We have been unable to do much cycling in recent years ‘because of the dogs’ – not liking to leave them for more than a few hours at home and  never taking our bikes on holiday with us – but that hopefully has all changed now.  Les had the idea of getting a child’s buggy to go behind his bike and taking Willis with us.  A quick EBay purchase and we had the very thing.  We took him out for the first time today along the Wales Coastal path – and he loved it.  So we are now planning our next bike based  dog holiday – watch this space! Needless to say he drew a lot of attention from the holiday makers, most commenting ‘well I have seen everything now’.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

A good bye to a great dog

Animals have always been a big part of our lives. This week we had to say good bye to our lovely Standard Poodle Sam. He was nearly 15 which is an excellent age for a large dog, around 105 in human years.  He was the fourth dog we have said goodbye to and it doesn’t get any easier.    We now have just our Border Terrier Willis left and hopefully he will be with us for a long time yet as he is only three.  The temptation to get another dog is great as we have always had two.  But one is so much easier to manage, so I must stay strong and avoid all places that have puppies and rescue dogs, and try not to be tempted again!!  

Sunday, 28 April 2013

How old?

When guests ask how old our house is, we point then in the direction of our stained glass door. It says 1855, but we know  the house is older, it's just that the deeds only go back that far.  We have seen it on older maps. There is also a farm opposite with a similar name that is mentioned in the Doomsday book - so who knows. 
An ingot of stamped Roman Lead was found about 300 yards away where it probably fell off a cart on route to Greenfield Docks.   (Now it resides in the Grosvenor Museum in Chester). So there may have been a house here then!
It's just a good job we have made a few improvements since then!  In fact as I type this Les is busy in the Lilac Room making some improvements.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Snow Joke !

Maybe I jinxed it in my last blog, when I said that good weather was on its way. Well I did say hopefully.   The start of the Easter holidays and we are knee deep in snow!  The forecast isn’t much better for the country but at least here we are lucky.  Our roads are clear and we have no problems getting about, we haven’t had our electricity cut off and its business as usual in the B&B.

However saying that it has had an effect on business and we now find ourselves with empty rooms for the Easter weekend. The last time I remember snow at Easter was when Les and I went to Cornwall for the holiday weekend.  We were camping and had pitched our tent in the sunshine and the next morning we woke up to snow.  That was about 30 years ago, so it doesn’t seem like a regular event.  So here are a few pictures just to show you how deep it has been. 

And if you fancy a break next weekend we still have availability.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Three months in already

Nearly mid March already and I wish I could say the winter was a distant memory. But unlike last year when we enjoyed lovely warm days in February and March, this year it has been a different story.   Although we have had lovely bright sunny days, they have been so cold. But this just increases my belief that the good weather is on its way.  

Already we have snowdrops and miniature daffodils out in the garden and the crocuses are making their usual colourful display.  They are always a welcome sight after a cold winter, but wrapped up and enjoying the open fire is defiantly one of the benefits of cold days and evenings.   The other thing that makes the cold weather enjoyable is ‘food’! A homemade soup, pies and stews with dumplings and warming hot puddings, is there anything better.

However as Easter is only two weeks away, I have had my warm and sunny hat on today, trying to work out some nice new recipes for our guests for the coming months.   It is very easy to get comfortable with the things that we cook regularly but new dishes are always a challenge and it’s sometimes a complete surprise how they turn out and taste!  

Breakfast too sometimes needs a rethink. The pancakes we cooked on Shrove Tuesday were so successful we are think of putting them on the breakfast menu all the time, what do you think?  A welcome change to a full Welsh breakfast or not!   Maybe we will trial them over Easter and see how popular they are. Watch this space.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Last year seems forever away!

Les and I enjoyed a few days in Venice at the beginning of December.   Then our daughter came home from Canada.  Then it was Christmas.  Then New Year.  Then both my Mum and Dad were in hospital and I had to go south for a few days. Then we had to ferry our daughter around for interviews for a new job (which she got) and find her a new flat (which she has found).  All the time trying to finish my tax return, decorate the hall and finish a few jobs in the house and garden.  Today we went to see the film of Les Miserables and it’s still only 11th January.  So forgive me for not writing anything for so long but Venice was fantastic, its lovely to have our daughter home, we had a good Christmas and New Year, both my parents are  doing OK,  I haven’t quite finished the tax return, and I loved the film.  Lucky for us it’s a quieter time of year business wise but we are now back to normal again and Celyn Villa is open for business.