Tag Archives: Cerdyn Villa

New beginnings….

21 Jan

 

Thirteen years ago next week Hubby and I, and our then seven year old son moved from the hectic hustle and bustle of city life in the busy East of England to a tranquil rural setting in the Heart of Wales.  In fact we about as in the middle of Wales as you can get, in the smallest town in the UK, Llanwrtyd Wells in Powys.

We happened upon Llanwrtyd in a frantic need for respite from the stresses of Hubby’s corporate life and ended up sticking a pin in a map on a page of nothingness.  We came for two night’s refuge and didn’t go home.

There was light over that horizon.  For hubby the time BLW (Before Llanwrtyd Wells) was never ending commutes; road rage; and stressful, unsatisfying work environment.  It was unhealthy, unforgiving, and it was slowly breaking him.

When we arrived in LW that wet weekend evening we chanced upon a little bistro with no other customers barr one friendly Welshman, who happened to be the ex headmaster of the village school, and an eager pupil, meeting him for some additional education support.  We chatted for ages.  The next day, also rainy, we perused the properties for sale, daydreaming of our distant retirement.  And the next day we did a bit more than window shop and went viewing a few cute houses.

That night we talked and talked and talked.  Why were we waiting until our retirement to live our lives?  What if we didn’t make it there?  What about the quality of life for our son, educated in overcrowded classrooms in Essex, unable to play outside alone etc etc?

The next day a blazing orange sun rose over the horizon and lit our future path.  We put an offer on the house.  We handed in our notice at our respective places of work.  We pulled our son out of school.  That was October 2004.  On 4th February 2005 we drove towards the light of our new future.

And we have never looked back.

Thirteen years on we have a successful and welcoming guesthouse with lots of lovely customers who repeatedly visit; maybe for our warm welcome , wholesome breakfasts and cosy beds; maybe for the respite, tranquility and magnificent scenery; probably a bit of both.

We have a wonderful community, a network of very special friends and a full and fabulous social life and work/life balance.

Our son was raised on freedom, damming rivers, climbing trees and disappearing from breakfast to supper.  He would come home with a sparkle in his eyes and stories of adventures with his friends.  He went to a village junior school with 50 kids and mixed aged classes which promoted tolerance and mentoring.  He went to a high school of 700 pupils where he had to travel daily by public transport.  And now he’s thriving in Wales’s capital, the beautiful historic city of Cardiff.  When he can, which is often , he comes home.  Because home is where the hills are, where the stars shine bright a night; where, when you look to the horizon, you are met with green pastures, trees and mountains; pink sunsets and deep orange sunrises.  Where you can walk or run or cycle for hours without seeing a soul; or where you can pop into the local pub or cafe and start a conversation with any number of friendly locals who happen to be there.

Life should be a journey, an adventure. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.  We are lucky enough to be living every moment of it.  And we are more lucky because we are able to share insights into it and the possibilities of a less then ordinary life to anyone who chooses to come and take a peak.  You are more than welcome to visit.

Life  with a view of the horizon

 

Daily Prompt : horizon

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Its cold and wet…so toga up and join in the Mountain Bike Chariot Racing….

13 Jan

 

After all the excitement of Christmas and New Year, January can feel a bit dull and sluggish.  The weather doesn’t help.  But here in Llanwrtyd Wells we have the cure.  This weekend (the second one in January) every year we hold the World Mountain Bike Chariot Racing and the Roman Saturnalia Feast and Party

There’s nothing quite like dressing in a skirt when the temperatures dip below freezing!

The premise is 2 mountain bikes, joined by  fixed t-bar with an oil drum chariot at the back; teams of 3 race round the circuit in heats of 4 chariots a time.  Each heat winner moves to the next round until we have our finalists.  The final, as if the racers are not wet and muddy enough, comprises two laps.

 

In the evening at Green Events H/Q, also head office of the Brecknockshire Branch of the Monster Raving Loony Party, there is a toga party complete with Roman Feast.

 

Sadly you’ve missed your chance this year but there’s always 2019… enough time to get fitted for your Centurion outfit and find yourself a team.  Join us and wash away the winter blues with a fun packed weekend of crazy in the UK’s smallest town.

The World Mountain Bike Chariot Racing is the first event of the year run by Green Events Ltd, throughout the year they run a calendar of events, both quirky and mainstream, including World Bog Snorkelling, Real Ale Wobble, Man v Horse Marathon and Real Ale Ramble.  Bi-annually in the same small town of Llanwryd Wells, Powys you can find the 2 week festival of the World Alternative Games

Mission Mindfulness

Focus Aspire Inspire – How Did I Do In 2017?

29 Dec

 


It wasn’t until late February of 2017 that I set my ‘goals’ for the year. One of them being, ‘get more organised’! I was INSPIRED at the time by Debbie of My Random Musings to write down measurable, realistic yet Aspiring goals to FOCUS my mind on my art and my social media. My plan was to review my own progress and tweak my activity throughout the year to meet or even succeed my targets (arbitary numbers that I liked the sound of).

In the original post which you can read in full by following the link I set myself targets relating to Twitter, blogging, teaching, making stock items, obtaining art commissions,, obtaining exhibitions, vlogging and setting up retreats and events at our B&B, Cerdyn Villa.

In August I did my first quarterly review. Seemingly I still had more work to do on the ‘get more organised’ resolution! I was pretty pleased with my progress, some targets had been exceeded, others were in my sights; but a couple had lost direction completely. I resolved to resolve these issues. Four months left to get full marks in my end of year review. In October I blogged an update and sadly the same weak spots remained.

So all in all how did 2017 go for me?

Aside from the goals set. 2017 can best be described as BLOODY FANTASTIC.

A year full of joy and laughter, friendship and parties. I had a massive celebration on reaching my half century in tact; Hubby and I became grandparents.

But lets focus on the 2017 challenges I set myself

1. Twitter – 500 followers : as of today I have 574… I notice that I picked a realistic 500 but had a wild dream of 1000. I think to achieve that I need a course. I need to know how to use lists and analyse my stats. I suspect in 2018 the important thing should be concentrating on engagement and interaction rather than followers. No point in getting 1000 likes if only 6 people ever ‘speak’ to me. Any tips and recommendations people?

2. Sort out my twitter lists. – well I did, but now feel like I need to split them and review them. I also need to know how to make use of them because I’m sure twitter would be a more useful tool if I had some more skills knowledge. I suspect there are loads more I can do with it than I can do now.. so 2018 is about LEARNING and APPLYING that learning to achieve more meaningful INTERACTION

3 & 4. Blog – 150 followers / 20,000 views… well I have 143 followers and 17796 views – I need to work harder at the blog … problem is I don’t know what I want to achieve with it. I write for my sanity. As I have said many times it’s my place to ‘brain dump’, sometimes posts never get published. Would I want blogging to be a money spinner for me rather than a social and mental outlet? I am a little reticent, I generally scan over or don’t read sponsored blog posts. I’m a skeptic, I don’t watch adverts. If someone is being paid to like a product, how do I know they really like it, or really like it more than any similar product. In an ideal world I’d like to continue to write what wanted about anything I wanted to AND earn money from it…hey, wouldn’t we all. It would make me feel less guilty about the amount of time I spend writing and reading blogs. At the moment as we edge into 2018, it remains my guilty pleasure. I have a feeling it may stay that way

5. Teaching – I spent the first 6 months of 2017 co-teaching a fantastic community stained glass project in Myddfai. As a result of that I had the opportunity to co-run three one day stained glass workshops. Incentivised by this I have ‘tidied’ (inverted commas as it’s already messy again) my home studio with a view to running private and small group workshops in 2018. Problem is I can’t work out the structure, format and how to promote them. I’d like to offer bespoke sessions to 1-4 people; tailored to the level and desires of the individuals attending. How do you price that? A one day workshop could include lunch. Maybe somehow I can incorporate our B&B business; that is, to offer stained glass breaks or artistic retreats. So a 2 night package with a day and a half of workshops including lunches. Our B&B can take a max of 8 people. Perhaps I should engage with other creatives so there is a choice of activities, eg photography safaris, watercolour / knitting /needle felting workshops. A build your own break type scenario. I feel I need find another course to teach me how to progress with this idea. Is there a course out there to teach me how to package, price and promote?

6. I got caught out in 2016 by promoting my stained glass light catcher designs but not making any ahead of time. Orders normally trickle in and I make to order. As an artist I prefer the one offs and commissions; on a commercial basis (I suck at being commercially viable) I should have a number of units of each of my own designs already made for times like say, Christmas, especially if I plan to shout about it. Anyway my challenge was to start making Christmas stock in August. Did I? Did I heck!!! So this year I simply didn’t advertise either, so as a result hardly sold anything too.

7. I wanted to have new stained glass standard designs in my portfolio so I set my sights on creating two new designs. I didn’t do it. Full stop. No comment

8. I aimed  to get 3 commissions in 2017. Interesting one this. I did get asked for more than three but none of them came to fruition. Problem is with 3 of them I spent a lot of time doing the design work and getting it approved without charging for the design phase. I do however suspect that at least one of the three might well happen in 2018. In addition I was commissioned to make 3 other much smaller bespoke stained glass items. Two were for before Christmas, one is for sometime in the first quarter of 2018. I also had a painting commission I thought had fallen by the wayside. I’d written it off but in December they confirmed with me. I have until November 2018 to do it and the recipient is paying a deposit before I start and making monthly payments towards the finished painting throughout the year. So what have I learned? Again, I need to be more business like in my approach. I need a charge card and I need to take some money up front. If I am going to spend time doing designs I need to charge for them. They take a lot of time. Plus if they invest in the process from the beginning they are more likely to be genuine and more likely to follow through. The other issue I have is under charging / undervaluing my services. One commission, were I to be asked to do similar again, would definitely be three times the price I charged. How does one value oneself? Especially when the items being made are one offs , made to order. Perhaps there’s a course I can go on for this too ?

9. Run a retreat at our B&B – didn’t happen. Not been forgotten. I refer back to 5. and 8.

10. Complete 2 more paintings in my sky-scape series and exhibit. Job done. Four more paintings, three glass installations and an exhibition with the preview set for 12th January 2018. My first ever solo exhibition. Despite it being in a small, local venue I am bricking it. Thank goodness for supportive friends.

11. Facebook. I wanted to increase likes/following of our combined B&B and my arts page to 1000. In the end I decided to split the two back up. It was all getting too confusing. So this is where you find Cerdyn Villa B&B with its 375 followers and Berni Benton Art and Glass with its 753 followers. I do suspect however that whilst followers may be important, I should be concentrating more on understanding my stats and looking at interaction and engagement. I should also be trying to actively generate commissions and bookings from these pages, particularly as my websites are redundant/none existent. Yet again, there must be a course that I can attend to improve and develop these skills.

12. start Vlogging. ….well….. I did one. better add it to my 2018 list.

So for 2017 three key doing words to work by: focus, aspire, inspire

They’re good valid words that helped me move forward and progress

My work mantra for 2018…

LEARNING, APPLICATION, INTERACTION

… Meanwhile I shall carry along my life with LOVE, LAUGH, LIVE

What words are you living and working by in the coming year?

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE

May your futures be full of love, peace, happiness, laughter and prosperity xxxxx

Letters to my Daughter

The Big Five Oh…

24 Nov

Birthday cake

WasThis amazing cake was made by the wonderful derful Kate George of Caffi Sosban, Llanwrtyd

To say I milked my 50th birthday might be considered an understatement. Hubby referred to it as my birthday year.

Presents from Hubby arrived sporadically and with excited squeals of delight and surprise from me throughout the year …it was all very exciting.

Then there was the party planning. Although most of it was dealt with by Hubby and his team of delegates, I was privvy to snippets and had access to the private party page on FB so I new who was saying they could come and was able to “e-squeal”, every time I got overly excited thinking about it

I must be the most fortunate woman alive. The amount of love and energy that was poured into that party weekend that overflowed into the whole of the following week, throughout the following weekend and trickled into the next few days. Friends from near and far; loads of live music, laughter, chat, dancing, hugging and drinkng.

Prosecco, gin, toiletries, lush, Dr organics, mohair blanket, handmade pottery

Some of my beautiful birthday gifts… I am very spoilt

I have never ever seen so many wonderful gifts and cards. I love receiving actual cards. I received about 55 of them and I shall keep and treasure them all. The flow of pink gifts was astounding. Pink wine, pink blankets, pink gin, pink gloves, pink hats and scarves, punk vodka, pink balloons…. A beautiful sight. And everyone seemed to get my message about my view on cut flowers. Not one. But I think I have a bit of a reputation for a drink !!! Honestly I need another fridge to house the champagne, prosecco, wine etc etc. (Must add at this point that I am not complaining at all)..

Recovering now at the beginning of my 51st year. Feeling immensely positive about the future.

Someone said to me “here’s to the next half century”, personally I doubt that I’ll make the century the way this body is abused! However, I shall aim to continue to live every day with an open heart and mind and grab every opportunity that presents itself with open arms.

That just leaves me to,  once again,  thank every single person I know and love for helping me celebrate and making my life fuller than it would be if any of them were absent from it. I love you all.


Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Letters to my Daughter

3 Little Buttons

Another day (plus an hour) in the life of…..

30 Oct

It’s 3:45 pm and I’m in my fave relaxing place, the bath. Another typically atypical day in the life of moi.

Today began with the end of yesterday. As days tend to do, merging seamlessly from one day to the next without any blank no man’s space in between. But this day started with a groundhog moment. Heading home from a Halloween party at 1amish we get in and start our tomorrow. Or is it today? I guess technically after midnight becomes the next day but if you’re still in the throws of the previous day and have not been to bed yet does that mean it’s still yesterday? By which I mean not yet today. Making today still tomorrow?. Confused? I am now!

Anyway. We got in and started doing all those things we prep when we have guests in the b&b. John checks the Ray burn is still alight and adds more coal to ensure its still cosy warm at breakfast time. He sets the bread maker so (later) in the morning the gorgeous aroma of freshly baked bread will waft up the stairs and entice the guests down for a delicious Cerdyn Villa breakfast. I  prepare all the breakfast ingredients. We maybe set the table. Clear the kitchen.  Set the dishwasher and washing machine.

I check my phone for the time. It’s still just after 1am…..Am I in a time warp? No. It’s  daylight saving.  (Could have had an extra hour at the party).

So we go to bed at 1:30am which is really 2:30am but I’m all relaxed ‘cos the guests want breakfast at 8am , which is really 9am so I have loads of time?!?!

Hubby goes upstairs like this..

…and shortly after we realise getting back to his normal handsome self is not going to be easy… the transfer is not coming off. He tries makeup remover. Nope. Soap and water. Nope. My facial scrub.  Nope. My super luxurious body scrub. This bugger is not shifting. He starts scratching at it with his nails…. it’s half off when he goes to sleep. And as we feel we have so much time in the morning with our groundhog hour, we figure we’ll sort it then.

Suddenly it’s 7:55am, which may well really feel like 8:55 am but even stretching that extra hour it still mean’s we have 5 real minutes before we find guests salivating to the smell of fresh-baked bread and longing for their full cooked breakfast. Eek. Hubby has the morning after Halloween party face and I’m not sure our guests can handle it. Then I remember how I got my transfers off. Aqueous cream or vaseline. Rub it in and the transfer slides off. Oops.  Hubby is under the impression that it would have been more helpful and less painful had I remembered that seven hours previously.  Oops poor Hubby and his beautiful raw face!

Anyway. Lots of happy well fed guests who shared a laugh at Hubby’s expense. By 10 am, seven breakfasts have been served and cleared. Guests have checked out. Rooms are stripped. Dishwasher is loaded. Washing machine is going full pelt and I’ve made us a brunch after all its 11am in our heads!

It’s a gorgeous day. Sun was shining when we woke, (thankyou day light saving for repositioning 7am in the 8am slot) and I still had half a dozen plants that needed to go in the ground before the first frost; Hubby had the lawn to cut and the garden furniture all needed moving/storing ready for the tree felling to take place next week.

Four hours of strenuous digging, weeding, plant moving and clearing in my poor neglected garden and I can barely stand.   So Hubby sends me for a soak. And here I am. Soaking,  blogging and enjoying a nice cuppa.

Did you remember to turn back your clocks?

Lucy At Home

Rhyming with Wine

Please don’t bring me flowers….

31 Jul

My attitude to cut flowers is funny old thing.  After all I love gardening, dead-heading, weeding, pruning.  I lo20170731_183610ve seeing the garden in full bloom and I’m aware that some flowers need picking to encourage more flowers to grow.  Plus sometimes the rain, wind or our chickens damage a flower stalk so I’ll pick it up and stick it in a vase.

On the whole though, I’m not a cut flower person.  I mean they look lovely in a vase in someone elses house in full bloom on a visit or in an arrangement at a wedding or on a table in a restaurant.  But when I actually have them at home they just make me sad.  They arrive at their peak and then you plonk them in water with a bit of food to prolong their life and you just watch them wither and die.  Its tragic.  Not to mention that in the confines of the house either, and sometimes, both Hubby and I will have an allergic reaction to the scent which is often quite overpowering when indoors.

I remember sometime back writing about my wishes for end of life.  I wasn’t being morbid but I felt I should document the things I feel strongly about.  One of my key requests was to have snowdrops, crocuses, and daffodil bulbs buried with me and absolutely no cut flowers.  I don’t want my relatives and friends coming back to dead flowers, a bit too much morbid symbolism.  But with bulbs they will flower and multiply year on year, and my plot, under what ever tree wherever that will be, will live on and bring joy and colour long after I’m gone.

funnily enough i also have a problem with house plants.  In a garden I will nurture and tend, water and maintain but the minute a plant is in a pot in my house I look at it with bemusement as it droops or withers.  I never remember to water it, or re-pot it or feed it.  I’m an indoor plant murderer (remember that should you ever feel inclined to gift me a plant – if it has to live indoors I WILL KILL IT!!! ).  It’s a shame really because I actually love orchids but once the initial flowers die off I have absolutely no clue how to tend it to ensure I get new life in future years.  I’ve had two sad-looking specimens on top

of the piano for a year!  I kid you not, in fact I am going to provide photographic evidence right now…

see, I told you!

 

 

Our garden here at Cerdyn Villa B&B

3 Little Buttons

Lucy At Home

Designed by Berni

30 Jul

A very good friend of mine keeps telling me to take credit where its due and to shout from the roof tops that I design stained glass windows.  She tells me now is the time because this latest design of mine was recently officially unveiled by HRH Prince Charles and its a blooming masterpiece!

Community Stained glass Project – Welsh Legends themed window at Myddfai Hall

HRH Prince Charles unveiling our window on 9th July 2017

 

stained glass window, mabinopion, welsh legends, physicians of myddfai

the finalised design for the 3 panels making up the window

She is right of course. (because she is very wise).  This window is the culmination of six months work, created through a most wonderful community project in Myddfai Hall, Brecon Beacons.  I had the honour of designing it.  Pulling together the ideas from those engaging in the project and translating those ideas into this image and then scaling it up and selecting the appropriate glass to make their imaginings a reality.

It’s hard to put into words the joy, pride and sense of achievement this project brough not only to me and the co-teacher, Lesley Griffiths (if you ever need a bespoke table or lamp, she’s your woman) but also to every one of the 30 members of the community who took part.  I think I should leave it to them to articulate our joint achievement

 

If you are looking for a bespoke stained glass panel, window or sun catcher then get in touch, I am happy to do design and scaling up only; design, and make; or design and teach you to make it!!  No obligation quotes.  Pricing depends on size and complexity of design.  If you have a budget in mind I will happily let you know if your dream piece is possible within it!

I work from my home studio in our B&B in the Heart of Wales  Berni Benton, Pink Butterfly Art and Glass at Cerdyn Villa

email: pinkbutterfly@cerdynvilla.co.uk

 

 

Lesley and I with the panel we gifted designed, made and gifted to The Prince of Wales

 

 

In our back yard….

14 May

Hubby has just pointed me in the direction of a folder on his computer titled “Cerdyn Villa wildlife”….

…. so I’ve had a peak

…and now I’m sharing some of the content with you… all of these have been seen in or from our garden

We do have more visitors: bull finches, tree creepers, crows, blackbirds, pheasants, red kites, buzzards, foxes, blackcaps, red starts , wrens… which he’s still trying to catch on his point and press camera…

In the meantime, did you spot the odd one out?!

Taking a breather…

10 May

You can’t beat a few moments of mindfulness at the end of a busy day

Life as a semi retired  (!) rural B&B owner, DIYer, gardener, decorator, car mechanic, and family diplomat can be pretty exhausting; but it’s all worthwhile when you can live somewhere like this and at the end of a long day, flop into a sunlounger with a pint of beer, a clear blue sky and the sounds of lambs and birds….

This hubby deserves his precious moments….

There’s nothing quite like this at the end of a long day

 

150 years in the Heart of Wales

6 May

2017-05-06_17.06.15[1]

Today celebrated 150 years of Llanwrtyd Wells Station.

Things have changed a lot.  Originally the Heart of Wales line ran multi-coach trains throughout each day bringing Victorian ladies and gentlemen, here to take the healing waters at the wells. It was a vibrant community with many shops and the line  transported goods as well as people.  It made the heart of the Heart of Wales accessible to All.

Llanwrtyd_Railway_StationThese days, whilst the station itself looks much the same, it only runs four single carriage trains each way each day.  But its still an essential asset to our community.

Llanwrtyd is at the central point of the Heart of Wales Line which runs between Shrewsbury and Swansea.  It is the only real public transport we have and it connects us to the rest of the UK.  My parents, for example, who live in Essex, visit us here at Cerdyn Villa, using the trains (Southend, London, Swansea, Llanwrtyd) and then a five minute stroll to our front door.

150 stationThe station buildings have recently undergone a transformation as far as re-purposing is concerned.  Community Transport have an office there.  There are weekly community coffee mornings and the elderly are transported to and from here for their morning tea.  And since the closure of our bank in the town aquare, Credit Union have set up a pay point in there , open every Tuesday and Thursday.

Inside there is a small IT suite with WIFI connectivity; a conference room and a sitting room filled with armchairs and sofas surrounding a lovely log burner.  Then of course there’s a small kitchen so teas/coffees and snacks can be prepared.

Outside there are well maintained gardens thanks to a group of volunteers from within the Llanwrtyd community, Friends of Llanwrtyd Station.

Today, the station, community rooms and gardens hosted a celebration. There was a picnic and live music.  The local school children from Ysgol Dolafon performed some beautiful country dancing. The last ever station master of Llanwrtyd Wells, John Davies, unveiled a plaque.  Our Mayor, peter James, gave a speech. And of course, the obligatory raffle.  (Anyone living in a small community knows that pretty much everything that happens is funded through the selling of raffle tickets!). Whatever was raised will be used to buy plants to keep the station looking as gorgeous as ever.

I can recommend the Heart of Wales Line for a scenic train journey or as a practical mode of transport; and if you should find yourself stopping off here at the midway point, I’m only a stones throw a way, so book a room and stay the night, Llanwrtyd really is a relaxing place to be.