Our first summer season has rushed by and we are now into one of our favourite times of year here at Pengelly Retreat. Autumn! I keep seeing the hashtag autumn vibes on social media at the moment and it always makes me smile because I love this time of year.
We’ve had a real mixed bag of weather in September and October with some gorgeous hot sunny days and some days when the rain just didn’t seem to stop. But this means the gardens and land are looking lush and lovely, with all those autumn red, orange and yellow tones coming through.
Jim has been hard at work on the land as usual with his latest project planting a wetland garden round the oxbow lagoon, just beyond the Boat House. He’s planted umbrella grass, irises and reeds, sown bog meadow mix and planning to put in silver birch trees and gunnera plants. We can’t wait to see how it looks next spring. He’s also made a new compost area so we can properly compost our leaves and leftovers.
The wildlife has been flourishing too. We’ve got a hedgehog hibernating in the barn – it gets quite feisty if you go near it and hisses, so no photos. Jim and Aggie have built a beautiful hedgehog house by the stream in hopes a hibernating hedgehog might move in but no luck yet. Picky customers those hedgehogs!
Lucky guests staying at the Sail House yurt have been enjoying watching a kingfisher who likes to perch near the lake looking for fish. Apparently you can watch him from the comfort of the bed in there – now that’s luxurious bird-watching! We also had a couple of sets of guests earlier in the season spot an otter in the lake. We are thrilled that an otter has visited our lake at Pengelly Retreat.
We’ve had quite a few guests try their hand at fishing for the wild brown trout in the lake during their stays – catch and release policy. All I can say is those brown trout are VERY clever and you have to be a top fisher-person to catch them. There’s lots in there, but the only guest who had much success was a pro fisherman who competes and wins in high profile competitions. This doesn’t seem to put other guests off from trying, we all like a challenge!
We’ve been busy throughout the year and are already rapidly booking up for next year which is great. Thank you very much to all our lovely guests who’ve stayed with us so far in our first year of running Pengelly Retreat and we look forward to meeting all those who are booked in with us for the future. If you’d like to squeeze in a stay at the Boat House or the Sail House this year there’s still a chance! We have a few dates available in November and first half of December, take a look at our availability calendar for details and prices.
Happy Halloween everyone and look out for your next Postcard from Pengelly 🙂
Yep it’s August and we are fully into crazy busy season here in Cornwall! August is great because there is so much going on from festivals to outdoor theatre, concerts, craft markets and country shows. You name it, it’s happening – and the buzz is amazing. But it can also be a bit tricky working out which are the best spots to avoid the crowds.
I don’t like to state the obvious here, but if you’re looking for peace and quiet then staying at Pengelly Retreat is a winner at any time of year, including August. We are located in gorgeous 5 acres of private land, lakes, gardens and meadows. And we have just 3 guest accommodation here so plenty of space to roam about, relax and enjoy without it feeling ‘busy’. Our lakeside houses in particular are super-private with lots of space around them and not overlooked by any other property. Bliss! Only thing is, you need to get your booking in early as we are full, full, full until well into September.
Other than staying at Pengelly Retreat, here are our other top tips for getting the best out of busy season in Cornwall:
Make sure you book ahead for meals out to avoid that really annoying “sorry we’re completely fully booked today” moment. We love eating out in Porthleven, which is a lovely Cornish harbour just 10 minutes’ down the road from us. Kota Kai is one of our favourites there, a bistro with great views over the harbour and a tasty Asian-Cornish fusion menu with plenty of fresh seafood.
Which brings me neatly on to my next tip: go to Porthleven not Padstow in August! Padstow, lovely as it is, is full to bursting in August, it’s so well known these day. So make like a local and head to Porthleven instead. It’s a bit like Padstow – it’s a picturesque Cornish harbour with cafes, shops and restaurants around it – but not as crazy-busy. There’s even a Rick Stein restaurant there, as well as plenty of other eating & drinking options.
Don’t go to St Ives, unless you are very brave. Ok so you can go to St Ives in August but it is going to be really busy. My best advice is to avoid driving into St Ives as you’ll get stuck in traffic and have a hassle parking. A more civilised option is to catch the branch line train from St Erth into St Ives – it’s a lovely 15 minute train journey along a very pretty bit of coastline. There’s now a lovely big new car park at St Erth station so you’ve a good chance of getting a space, especially if you arrive fairly early in the morning. And pack a picnic so you can find a spot on one of the beaches for your lunch without having to tangle with crowds in cafes.
Try and do the opposite of what everyone else is doing. So on a hot, sunny, beachy kind of day avoid going to the beach and instead go to one of Cornwall’s gorgeous great gardens. They are so beautiful and cool and shady on a hot day, perfect for a peaceful wander. The gardens still get busy but they won’t be nearly as busy as the beach when the sun is shining. Trengwainton near Penzance is a lovely one with lush tree ferns and cool water flowing down the hillside.
If you are heading to the beach then go off the beaten track and steer clear of the best known beaches. Kynance and Porthcurno are rightly famous beach beauties but they can get very packed in August and parking is limited. Try one of Hayle’s beaches instead, where there is miles of golden sand and various different car parks to try. If you head to Godrevy fairly early in the morning or later in the day then you’re likely to find a space. Or go a bit leftfield and head for North Quay in Hayle where there is free parking along the road. From here you can walk along a stretch of river estuary beach until you come out on a wonderful sweep of golden sands, part of St Ives Bay.
So there you have it, my top tips for August in Cornwall. Just don’t tell any one else!!
Can you believe we are into June already, summer is well and truly here at Pengelly Retreat. The gardens, meadows, land and lakes are looking absolutely gorgeous and are once again full of wildflowers, birds, butterflies and dragonflies. This really is my favourite time of the year – apart from the occasional hayfever sneeze attack that is!
We’ve been so busy with happy guests staying in our 3 accommodations – the cosy Mill Annexe and our lakeside Boat House & Sail House – that I haven’t actually written a Postcard from Pengelly since January. Whoops!
My excuse is that in January we opened our beautiful Sail House yurt to our first guests and then mid-March we unveiled the rather lovely Boat House cabin too. And since then we literally haven’t stopped! At least not long enough to sit down at the laptop and type a blog post.
We’ve been so happy to get all the lovely feedback from those who have stayed with us in 2019 so far. Here’s what a recent visitor to the Sail House wrote in the guest book… These really make me smile when I read them – holiday bliss all round!
We still have a little bit of space in June, July and August – so if you are flexible on dates then take a look and snag yourself a piece of paradise in Cornwall this summer. Alternatively for the savvy traveller this is the best time to book up for autumn – equally lovely and a lot less busy on the beaches once the school holidays are over. So take your pick from the best dates in September, October and November now.
We look forward to seeing you at Pengelly Retreat soon – come and stay soon before we put the prices up 😉
At last! After all those years of dreaming, planning and, constructing, the good news is the Pengelly Retreat Sail House is finally launched and open for business. Hooray. Over New Year, we had our first two sets of Air BnB guests come and stay in this luxurious double-yurt with it’s natty ensuite bathroom, cosy underfloor heating and gorgeous lake views. And… they loved it!
It’s so great to finally welcome guests to come and stay in the Sail House. We think that it is beautiful and unique. But sometimes you just need to hear someone else tell you that it really is! So thank you to our first sets of guests and for all your lovely feedback and encouragement.
We are now in that nervous ‘early-days’ stage where we would love to get more guests booked in, more reviews on Air BnB and generally get the word out. So if you, or any one you know, enjoys peace and quiet, lakeside views, wild swimming (yes even at this time of year), then we’ve got the perfect wild but cosy and comfortable Cornish getaway. Just click on the link to book a stay, either on our website or on Air BnB. There are also some really low introductory prices available at the moment so it’s a positive bargain too.
And how about the Boat House, that rather wondrous architect-designed wood cabin at the other end of the lake? Well, the big news is… it will be open for business by the end of February. Or possibly the start March…. One or the other. But it is looking amazing! We are so excited about this one. The exterior is up (umm if you don’t include doors and windows), Jim has been painting the interior in Annie Sloan chalk paint (darling) after we agonised over 3 different kinds of white. Who knew that was even possible? The glass balustrade is up on the veranda (building regs – check!) and it is looking beautiful. Here’s a recent pic of the exterior, yes it’s coming on!
The Mill Annexe
We’ve surprised ourselves even with how successful the Mill Annexe has been. We stayed busy all through November and December and have had a fair few bookings through January. We’ve closed it temporarily for a bit of re-painting TLC and will be opening up again from next week. There’s availability again over the next few weeks, so if you are looking for a cosy place to stay in Cornwall at a price that is a total snip, book yourself a bargain on either our website or Air BnB.
Well Christmas was a blast as ever down here. I have never know such a chrimbo-loving county: christmas lights up in all the villages, shows, fairs, markets, events… It really is a great time to come and visit with so much on, no wonder we were booked out in the Mill Annexe all month.
We’ve been lucky with some sunny winter days before and after Christmas, the perfect time to enjoy the beaches without the crowds. These pics are of St Ives in late December. Lovely and quiet. And sunny!
January and February are quieter months down here, ideal if you like to get away from it all. And for the hardy types, the winter chill doesn’t stop the water sports – the surfers are out every day at Gwithian & Godrevy beaches (15 minutes’ to the north of us) and our amazing guest Wendy was out on the Pengelly Retreat lake swimming and paddle boarding during her stay in early January. What a legend! Click on the video link to below to see the photo evidence…
Who Let the Dogs Out?
Cornwall is also at it’s most dog-friendly in winter with the majority of beaches lifting their beach bans through the cooler months. As for us, we are doggie-friendly all year round with 1 well-behaved pooch welcome in each of our accommodations. As Cleaning Manager (yes, that is my new job title) I am now also something on an expert on the furriness of the different kinds of dogs who come to stay with us. I do love the -oodles, labradoodles, cockerpoos and the like. Those lovely non-shedding beasts! But we welcome all kinds of dogs (and humans) to come and stay. Have a look at this pic from our Instagram account of a recent guest, who was most well-behaved and didn’t shed a bit:
All of which gives me just enough time to sign off and leave you with a dreamy shot of winter skies above the Boat House. Happy new year to you all and make it your resolution to come and stay in gorgeous Cornwall soon.
I’ll be back with more news in my next Postcard and meanwhile keep your eyes peeled for our pics and stories on Instagram and Facebook.
So much has happened since I last wrote a blog that I hardly know where to start.
Well, how about the fact that we now have a brand spanking new Boat House. Ok the beginnings of it at least. When I last wrote we’d just had our beautiful Sail House yurts constructed. While at the other end of the lake, our Boat House was still just a twinkle in her umm Architect’s eye.
But now ta-daa here she is. Complete with local family of ducks.
I would like to say that everything is 100% ready and now unveil the finished product with a huge flourish. But as you may have spotted from the above photo, we’re not quite ready for guests yet. These things take time – you’ve seen Grand Designs right? And so our Boat House is still in her ‘developmental period’ (technical term). However we are hugely excited to be progressing with the build at last.
The Boat House Build
It all started back in May with the arrival of some ginormous steel girders which form the base of the Boat House. These were man-handled into place by Jim, Billy and Ross plus a smaller digger and a trailer. No please don’t mention health & safety. Fortunately all went well and no one had a girder fall on their foot.
Then the construction began in earnest. Billy & Jim covered the girders in waterproof paint, laid the wooden floor joists down and built the timber wall frames and roof.
Since then things have continued apace with the roof tiled in slate and insulation and weather-proofing (the blue bit) to make sure this little house keeps cosy in winter and cool in summer. There’s even a velux in the bedroom, our first window!
It’s still a shell of a building at the moment but the views from the (currently window and doorless) living area out across the lake are just jaw-dropping. It’s such a peaceful feeling being on that balcony looking out over the lake, watching trout swim below the water and dragonflies and swallows dancing above. Still lots of work to come but this Boat House is going to be a real beauty.
Sail House Update
So how about the Sail House you ask. That’s all finished and kitted out now?
Well, no not exactly. As with much else in Cornwall that will be happening ‘dreckly. So far the electrics have gone in and Jim has completed the underfloor heating and laid this beautiful wood laminate floor. Which does look rather fine, if you can just focus on that and ignore the general building mess and gubbins in the picture.
The wood burner is in and so is the gorgeous free-standing bath tub. I use the word ‘in’ loosely here – as in, the bath tub has been placed ‘in’ the yurt. Nothing is actually plumbed in yet. That’s also happening dreckly.
Meanwhile I have put together a design for the layout and have my list of interior fittings and fixtures to purchase. We’ve also chosen some gorgeous pieces of sycamore wood to construct the kingsize bed from. The aim is to complete all ready for actual guests from November this year.
Did I mention the Website?
So what’ve I been doing over these interim months while Jim’s been busy moving steel girders and huge truckloads of soil about? Lazing around in a sun lounger and do interior designering? Sadly I don’t actually own a sun longer. I really need to get one… No I’ve been mostly writing content and working on our fantabulous www.pengellyretreat.co.uk website which is now fully fledged, up, running & ready for bookings. As you’ll obviously having spotted if you’re reading this blog post.
It’s been a learning curve for me, this is the first website I’ve ever launched and the world of social media is still something of a mystery. I’m definitely not from the tech generation – when I was at university only IT students actually had email addresses (crazy new-fangled idea). And no one I’d seen had a mobile phone. Except Michael Douglas in Wall Street. I also clearly remember in one of my early jobs that paper memos were still a ‘thing’. This is quite odd as I’m pretty sure we did have emails at this point…
Luckily we have some very talented friends to help us. Rich created our beautiful logo and branding (www.richardedgerton.co.uk). This cleverly encapsulates some of the things we love about Pengelly: the swallows that dip into the lake, the brown trout which leap out of the water, the dragonflies that dance above. While Pat (www.verycreativepeople.co.uk) designed and created our fabulous website and has also shown the patience of a saint with my endless lists of questions and ideas. We are thrilled with the results, thank you very much to both. And if you are in need of amazing branding and a website then you need look no further.
.Alongside website-ing, I’ve been trying to inform myself about all things Social Media by watching seminars on Youtube. I have so far learnt that video is the future (isn’t that a bit 80’s?) and Facebook is going to be all videos by the year 2020. Or something. Well there you go – a free top social media tip from me
While I may not be quite ready to run my own Youtube seminar as yet, I have got Pengelly Retreat set up on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. And over the coming months I will be sharing lots of news, offers and general excitement. So click on the links and follow us – you’d be crazy not to!
Mill House & Annexe
We’ve also been keeping busy with lots of guests to our Mill Annexe over the past few months, plus a busy July & August of whole House rentals. I’ve got to hand it to Air Bnb, their marketing reach is phenomenal and we’ve enjoyed hosting visitors from all over the world. Here are just some of the lovely comments we’ve had recently:
“This is an absolute gem. A dream home in a private paradise.”
“Ruth’s Place is lovely, welcoming and relaxing. The grounds are wonderful, we saw a Heron, bats, ducks, jumping fish and lots of cute tiny frogs! There are many beautiful spaces to sit with a book or just emerse yourself in the sounds of nature.”
“Beautiful house on stunning grounds. Kids love it to bits. Wouldn’t go anywhere else in Cornwall ”
I’m also pretty pleased with myself for achieving Superhost status on Air BnB. I’d like to think is much like being a Superhero, but umm in the world of holiday rentals. Air BnB describe a Superhost as ‘ a host who goes above and beyond’ and who hits the required targets, including 5 star rating, quick response times and happy clients. And as some of you may know, I do LOVE a target. So I am super-grateful to all our guests who have enjoyed their stays at Pengelly and given us such lovely feedback. Thank you.
Here’s a bit of stat-age for you all. Apparently 13 recent guests have said our Mill Annexe is “sparkling clean” and 90% rated it as 5* for value for money. I am particularly thrilled about the cleaning feedback as I have recently discovered I have OC-cleaner tendencies. Who knew. Look out Kim & Aggie from How Clean is your House (not my Aggie – she is definitely not displaying OC-cleaner tendencies). Anyway nice to see that this has been noticed by happy guests.
Summer turns to Autumn
As interested as you are in my cleaning stats, I thought I’d leave you with a few lovely pictures of our land, flowers and gardens that I took today. It does feel like autumn is round the corner with leaves starting to falls and the nights going chillier. We’ve all got the ‘back to school’ feeling with Aggie back at pre-school and us back to business after our August travels.
Although it’s officially autumn, we are still enjoying some gorgeous sunshine here. The dragonflies are having their final late summer hoorah before they disappear for the cooler months. The wild mint is growing with wild abandon round the lake edges, September is a lovely month for this. And there are some gorgeous red flowers blooming by our ponds. Tell me if you know what these are!
Happy autumn and ‘back to school’ to you all. I’ll keep you on posted on our news on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram (go on, click on the links!!) and in my next Postcard from Pengelly x
After a few final delays and hitches, the BIG Yurt-day finally dawned on 18 April 2018 and what a beauty it was. After all the snow and rain we’ve had this year, our chosen day for yurt putter-uppering (technical term) was bright, sunny and warm with hardly a cloud in the sky. Must be a good omen.
As you may have guessed, I’m not able to give you the exact technical details of how a yurt is put up. As far as I could tell there are lots of poles and beams plus a circle bit in the middle, all somehow held together with rope. Hmm. While that description was less than amazing, it is an incredible process to see, so I’ll let the pictures do the talking.
Jim and Pete & Co from Meadow Yurts up bright and early taking all the gear to the plot at the far end of the lake:
And before our eyes the frame work of the main yurt starts to take shape. From just a base… to oh look a yurt!
Polished wood latice and beams framing the sky, lake and trees. What a view.
They’re multiplying! In the words of Aggie: “A Daddy Yurt and a Baby Yurt”.
And the canvas goes on. Ta-Daaaaa!!
The Boardwalk & Circular Deck
Wow, amazing to see how quickly our long-planned for Yurts sprang up. And we are so pleased with the final result. Since then, Jim and Billy have been finishing off the boardwalk across the lakes and adding on a beautiful circular deck around the main yurt. And I can actually show you some photos of the finished result. What a beaut!
Sneak Peak Inside
Inside there’s still lots of work to do of course. Here’s a sneak peak of the underfloor heating going in plus electrics. And we also have a rather beautiful oval bath sitting on the deck outside our house ready to be plumbed in to the ensuite bathroom. Nope I’m not going to show a picture of a bath covered in plastic.
The interior of the yurt is lined with white to give it a lighter feel, we were impressed how light and airy it feels in there. And so cosy too! We almost wondered if we need underfloor heating as well as the log-burner that will be going in. But flashback to our Easter weekend break where we stayed in a traditional yurt in Cornwall with just a log-burner and – YES we definitely need underfloor heating.
It was cold and rainy over Easter and our yurt hols were fun but blooming freezing. Even Aggie woke up in the night cold – and she, like Jim, never feels the cold. Actually even Jim was cold which is literally unheard of. So we are really glad we’ve got the underfloor heating going into our luxurious yurt, no feeling chilly here.
The Outdoor Shower
Oh and did I mention, there’s also an outdoor shower complete with lake-view. How cool is that! These pics show the shower tray waiting to go in and then the very smart deck board over the top. Admittedly there isn’t actually a shower there yet….but there will be soon!
What’s in a Name?
We love the way our yurts’ green canvas nestles into the landscape here, blending into the trees and grasses. It really is a magical spot. Next stage is to get the bathroom plumbed in, the flooring laid down and the interior furnished. Yep I’ve already got the interior design all planned out!
We’re still mulling on the name, but because our Pengelly yurt is so different to the traditional yurts we experienced elsewhere we are thinking to call it The Sail House. Ties in with the watery theme and is a little play on the canvas, ropes and oiled wood used in it’s construction.
Pengelly Retreat Website
Meanwhile I’m continuing to type away madly, creating the content for the Pengelly Retreat website, and attempting to take some half decent photos for it. A challenge, with my point-and-click photography skills. The grand unveiling of our website is due in the summer when we will start marketing and taking bookings in earnest. Plus we have plenty to keep us busy with the Boat House build about to start, a steady stream of guests to our Mill Annexe and the whole house rented out for several weeks over the summer.
Phew. After all that activity, here’s a couple of peaceful Buddha pics. And breathe….
More news to follow in my next Postcard from Pengelly ?
Spring is finally in the air here at Pengelly, the hedgerows and banks are full of daffodils and primroses, the birds are singing and tiny buds are appearing on the trees. And exciting happenings are afoot with more than just flowers springing up here at Pengelly.
Rewind two weeks and it was quite a different story. Cornwall was covered in a blanket of snow…
Da Beast hits Cornwall
Snow Far Snow Good
What the heck?! Cornwall doesn’t do snow. Like ever. Well maybe twenty years ago or something. So for three days we were thrown into chaos with cars slithering about on unsalted roads, all the schools closed and half the county stuck in their houses. On the upside Pengelly looked beautiful, like a true winter wonderland. The Buddha’s were covered in snow, the ponds froze over and we enjoyed a bit of sledging on a surfboard in the garden.
Snowy fun at Pengelly
We thought we’d seen the last of snow for the next 20 years. But we were all taken off guard by yet more snow over the past couple of days. Erm what??!! Luckily Mini-Beast-From-The-East didn’t stick around too long in Cornwall and we can see the land, daffodils and primroses once more. Good thing too, snow is so last season darling.
So now it’s back to business. Never one to rest on his laurels, Jim is currently immersed in about 70 different building projects at the same time.
Project 1 – add a conservatory onto the house
We have already converted part of our downstairs into The Mill Annexe, a gorgeous holiday rental for two, available on Air Bnb. So then we thought…wouldn’t it be lovely to create more sunshiny space by adding a conservatory onto the house. Jim and Billy have worked through rain and snow to add the foundations on and it currently looks like this:
The new conservatory (imagination required)
As my mother recently commented “You really do need to get this finished off darling”. Yes thank you, you are quite right it looks a bit of a shambles. However it will be fab-u-lous when finished. Hold that vision.
Project 2 – re-do the outside deck
This is sort of a side project to the conservatory as it’s doors will open onto our outside deck area. But it did also need doing as the existing deck was a bit rotten and slippy. Again Jim and Billy are on the case (how do they get time in the day), ripping up old deck, sanding, sawing, chopping and drilling to create a shiny new deck and pathway to the garden. And here’s the completed deck, ta-da!!
What a lovely deck!
Project 3 – get the Yurts up!
Ahh yes, you were wondering are we actually doing anything with our holiday accommodation by the lake. Well I can confirm that as well as everything else Jim and Billy have completed the ensuite yurts’ foundation and all the services for water, plumbing and electrics are in. Phew. Next step is for the underfloor heating to be installed. And then finally in early April the yurts themselves will go up. It will be a landmark moment for us when we finally see how they will look like in situ. EEEK!
The grand unveiling of the Yurts’ (base-bit)
Meanwhile we’ve been racking our brains to think of a good name for our Yurt. Well it’s two yurts really; the main yurt is home to bedroom, lounge and kitchenette. While the second smaller yurt is adjoined to the main one and will have a luxury bathroom including actual bath. Hell yeah, this is glamping but not as you know it! There’s a lovely boardwalk area that leads from the door of the yurt across the two lakes to a sun terrace. And on the bank alongside there will be an outdoor kitchen area and fire pit overlooking the first lake.
The view up towards the Yurt plot
It’s going to be AMAZING if I do say so myself. So what can we call said yurt(s)? The Yurt really doesn’t do it justice. I’m currently thinking The Lake Yurt in a sort of does-what-it-says-on-the-tin approach. But I’d love to hear your ideas… what do you think we should call it??
Project 4 – build a luxury lakeside Boat House
I know, there isn’t much to see above ground right now. But the services are in, the ‘treatment tank’ (poo tank I like to call it) installed and foundations have been started. I think you’ll have to hang on a bit till my next Postcard to see more:
The Boat House (a LOT of imagination required)
But just to say for now that this will be our more luxurious accommodation so it’s going to be pretty special and more accessible for those who feel that nights under canvas (even very luxurious canvas) are a step too far.
There are literally about another 67 projects on the go (at least) but there’s not space enough here to tell you about them all.
The Poxy Wife
So instead I’ll move on to some photos of our Feb holidays in Spain, where we smugly set off to avoid the wintery weather here. All didn’t quite go to plan. We did get some gorgeous (although chilly) sunshine and we enjoyed a good potter round Seville, Cordoba and Granada.
Hanging out in sunny Spain
And then I got chicken pox halfway through the hols. Again – what the heck?! Surely I’m too old for childhood viruses!! Apparently not. So anyone perusing our photos will notice that I don’t feature in any of them beyond Granada. I was there. Just a bit poxy and spotty. One expensive trip to a private doctor and one even more expensive prescription later I was just about recovered enough 10 days later to get on the flight home without any problems.
At least I got to see the Alhambra!
So, my top tips for any adults with chicken pox are: (1) Don’t catch in the first place. There is a vaccination you know. Ahh the benefits of hindsight… Ok too late, in which case: (1) See the Doc asap. (2) Stock up on bucketloads of tea tree oil. (3) Make sure you are located in nice Spanish apartment with sun terrace where at least you can languish about in style. Big thank you to Jim for putting up with the “poxy wife” while I was ill.
On that spotty note, I wish you all a healthy and happy springtime. No more bugs, colds or viruses! More (germ-free) news to follow in my next Postcard from Pengelly…
Feeling Festive in Cornwall – It may not be Christmas quite yet but it’s certainly feeling festive down here at Pengelly. Cornwall goes in for Christmas in a big way and our calendar is choc-a-bloc with christmas markets, events, shows and light switch ons. In fact there’s so many festivities it gets a bit stressful trying to choose which ones to go to. Yup #firstworldproblems!
Who IS this strange man? I’m keeping a safe distance…
The Christmas tree and lights are up in the house, while outside Jim has hung our decking and a nearby tree with long strings of twinkling fairy lights. An operation that involved him perching precariously on a wobbly ladder while poking at the lights with a broom handle. I know, sounds ominously like the start of an episode of Casualty but luckily all ended well.
Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) it very rarely snows down here in mild Cornwall so we had big snowman-jealousy seeing everyone’s photos on Facebook recently. The closest we get to snow is a snow-dome at our local garden centre and a festive snowman made out of rubber tyres in Porthleven. Hmm, not quite the same.
The Grand Designs Emerge
Meanwhile work carries on a-pace at Pengelly Retreat and so much has happened since my last post in October. Jim has been working like a madman, digging, rollering, dumpering (is that a word?) and laying the foundations for our ensuite yurt and wood boat house. So YES at last we are finally seeing our holiday houses begin to emerge from the ground.
Driver who knows what they are doing (kinda)
‘Begin’ to emerge is the operative word here as putting in foundations is not really a thing of beauty. What with the combination of wintery drizzle and heavy plant vehicles our land is returning once again to a boggy quagmire. So it requires a bit of imagination to picture the final results. We’ll get there!
Up at the yurt site, the circular wooden framework is now in place. Billy has constructed a stonework retaining wall by the bank and all services are in situ, waiting to be connected. There’s also a beautiful zig-zag boardwalk beginning to take shape. This will connect the yurt to its sun-terrace on the opposite side of the lake. And there’s a little pontoon jutting out into the lake; the perfect spot to sit with your toes dangling into the water on a sunny day.
And the guests are sleeping where exactly?
A small witch inspects progress
Yurt deck frame and boardwalk beyond
Digging for Australia?
Meanwhile down at the Boat House end of the lake, foundations have just started to go in. The site has been staked out and 4 holes dug for the supporting pads. Things are never straightforward though. The pads by the lake are sitting in firm ground only requiring small holes of about 1-2 feet to be dug. However, the ground towards the back of the building is lot less firm. In fact Billy was beginning to disappear down a hole of over 7 feet before striking hard ground. So while it looks a bit like we’ve decided to dig a mineshaft in our garden, the firm ground is there! Phew.
The Boat House site
Hole for foundation pad at front
And at the back… hellooooo down there!!
Complications continue however as being classed as a ‘new building’ the boat house has to meet strict fire and access regulations, just as though we were building a new house for permanent occupation. Something of a challenge when it’s a wood cabin in a wild and remote lakeside setting. At one point we thought we might have to scrap plans for our lovely cabin as costs were beginning to spiral. But we are hopeful we can come up with some solutions that will satisfy buildings control without us going bankrupt. Nothing is ever easy is it!
The Long and Winding Road
Meanwhile mountain-loads of gravel have been arriving to allow us to create pathways to the both the yurt and the boathouse sites. Initially we’d just planned to have a gravel path snaking up to the Boathouse. We’ve now added a gravel path up to the yurt as well, running behind the bamboo, to allow vehicle access without creating muddy ruts in the land.
Paths across the field
And on towards the yurt plot
Most Wonderful Time of the Year
It’s certainly not all been plain sailing this month, we’ve all been hit with never-ending colds and the worries about costs and meeting regulations on our minds. Actually, to be honest Aggie’s not be too troubled by costs, just a pesky ear infection. But despite all the mud, puddles and pits of doom, the land here at Pengelly retains a strange beauty and magic.
Walking around the lake today, the sun glinting through the heavy clouds, there were pockets of wintery loveliness to make me smile. Pink campions keep on blossoming, there are buds on our magnolia tree waiting to burst into purple blooms in early spring, and the bull-rushes and cow parsley skeletons have a regal beauty of their own against the ripples of the water.
Contemplating the wintery loveliness
And on that peaceful note, I’ll leave you for now and wish you a fantastic Christmas. There’ll be more postcards to follow in the new year. Meanwhile love and festive wishes to you all ?
Festive Porthleven Tyre-man – “Noo we don’t get snow round ‘ere”
Happy Autumn from us at Pengelly! It’s the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness as my Dad used to say and we’ve certainly had a few misty, mizzly days here. Apples and leaves are falling onto the dewy grass and the nights are drawing in. X Factor and Strictly are back on the telly and party plans are afoot for Aggie’s 3rd birthday. All of which means October is definitely here.
Season of mists…
In my last post we were giddy with the success of getting a yes for our holiday houses from the Council Planning Committee. However we still had one last hurdle to jump. We needed a flood risk assessment and a thumbs up from the Environment Agency. After various delays and a lot of ‘that’ll happen dreckly’ we finally heard that the EA are happy for us to go ahead. Great news all round as this means (a) our house and land aren’t about to be washed away in a flood and (b) our full, official planning permission for our Pengelly Retreat is now in. Hooray!
Cow parsley seeds
Sh*t just got Real
Now that we have our official go-ahead, Jim has gone into overdrive in planning out the exact dimensions and details of our lakeside cabin and en-suite yurt. We have some beautiful architect drawings which helped us to get planning permission. However translating those into a structure is a much more technical matter altogether. We now need a structural engineer on board to help and have been busy mapping out on the ground where everything will go.
New bridges to the lagoon island
There is also the not-so-glamorous (but essential) matter of the services: electricity, water and sewage treatment . I won’t thrill you with the ins and outs of poo treatment, although it’s given Jim a few sleepless nights going through the options. Our vision for Pengelly Retreat is luxurious glamping in the Cornish countryside, a cut above the usual bog-standard (excuse the pun). We don’t want our guests to have to trek across a field to get to a chilly bathroom block. So our cabin and yurt will both be en-suite with running hot water and flush toilets. Sounds straightforward but involves hundreds of metres of cables and pipes and a network of underground trenches.
Pengelly Retreat Branding & Website
On a more artistic note, we have also finalised our beautiful Pengelly Retreat branding, inspired by the lakes, land and wildlife here. It’s been created for us by Jim’s very talented (and patient) friend and designer Rich, https://www.richardedgerton.com. We’re thrilled with it and will be unveiling the brand when our website holding page goes live later this year. Watch this space! Our full website will go live in the first half of next year designed by another talented friend Helen at firstname.lastname@example.org. Aren’t we lucky having all these talented friends!
Red campion flowers
It seems only 5 minutes ago that I was writing about Aggie’s 2nd birthday. Now here we are just 1 week away from her 3rd. Amidst the plans for our holiday houses, I’m also planning the very important business of her birthday party. We are having a spooky theme which means Aggie gets to wear her favourite witch’s outfit and Jim and I have to dress up like loons.
Aggie has decided that I should dress up as a spooky bride and wear my wedding dress. She’s very opinionated about clothing and fashion for a nearly-3 year old (no idea where she gets that from). I’m not sure I want to get my wedding dress covered in cake and mud. But I do like the spooky Miss Havisham bride dress-up idea! Jim’s costume is currently tbc although he says he is going to dress up as a Dark Lord. What this means is anyone’s guess. The spooky theme also gives us a great excuse not to sweep away the spiders’ webs on our outside deck area. Lack of cleaning? No, those are natural ‘spooky’ decorations. Photos to follow (of the party, not the spiders’ webs).
Got my wand, got my purple mobile phone..
Chicken Farm Petition
Some of you may also have seen on Facebook that Jim and I are now campaigning against an industrial-size chicken farm which has been proposed close to our neighbouring village of Nancegollan. The plan is to build 4 huge multi-tier barns with over 110,000 hens all packed into a small sloping area of land with a watercourse at the bottom. This watercourse feeds both our stream and ultimately the whole River Hayle system. The potential pollution impact to air, water and land doesn’t bear thinking about. While the proposed farm is called ‘free range’, it’s uncertain how much freedom to range the hens will in fact have, making it completely unethical too. If you have a spare minute, we’d really appreciate your support by adding your name to the petition against it. https://www.change.org/p/cornwall-county-councill-stop-the-free-range-egg-farce?
Fancy a holiday?
While our gorgeous holiday homes won’t be unveiled till late Summer/early Autumn 2018, our lovely Mill House Annexe is already up and running and ready for holiday rentals. This is the new section of our house which we converted when we moved in. It has it’s own private entrance, a lovely spacious bedroom and living room, cute shower room with Cornish tiles and petite kitchenette complete with microwave, fridge, toaster, kettle and washing machine. It’s very cosy and comfy, perfect for a couple and we are also doggie-friendly. Although Chigley still isn’t that keen on visiting dogs…
We were pretty much booked out in September, but we have availability in October, so please recommend us to your friends and family. Here’s our link on Air BnB: https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/show?euid=d361cb97-03e8-015b-f8be-a96edd051ad4&id=20407604
Hooray. Woohoo. Back of the net. Get in. In yer face!!! And any other expressions you can add to that list. At long, long last, after over a year, we have planning permission to put 2 lakeside holiday homes onto our land. HOORAY!!!!
It’s been a long journey, but we never gave up the faith. On Monday, Jim and I had a nerve-racking visit to Penzance to put forward our case at the West Cornwall Planning Committee. The Council’s Planning Officers were firmly still saying no to our application. But luckily we had great support locally which gave us a “second chance” with a spot at the Council’s Committee meeting.
It was indeed squeaky bum time as we had just 3 minutes to present our case to the Committee of 15 Councillors in an alarming room full of microphones and serious people in suits. I spoke on our behalf. Apparently being a female speaker in a room full of gents of a certain age can get you a sympathy vote. If it helps our cause then whatever! And we were also very lucky to have representatives from both our parish councils and our two local Councillors speak for us as well.
With all that support, the Committee voted in our favour 14 to 1. Which means that YES we finally have official planning permission for Pengelly Retreat. Jim and I weren’t sure whether Committee meeting protocol allows jumping up and down and shouting “GET IN”. So we sat quiet, grinned a lot and jumped around afterwards.
I’ve got a digger and I’m not afraid to use it..
We still have a few hurdles to leap. We now need to get a Flood Risk Report for our land and ensure that the Environment Agency are satisfied our plans comply with their regulations. That’s underway and we are anticipating some to-ing and fro-ing before we can finally begin the build. But still, this is a massive step forward.
Grass not mud!
Nice neat borders
And on that happy note, I’ve leave you to enjoy the above photos of progress made on the gardens at Pengelly. We have grass in our back garden, not mud, hooray. Work has started on neatening the front gardens with edging and flowerbeds ready for plants to go in. And Jim with help of (Zoe’s) Jim and many wheelbarrows of clay has fixed the leaky weir so the lake is filling up again and perfect for swimming.
Happy Day-sies at nearby Godolphin
More Postcards from actual “Pengelly Retreat” to follow ?
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