Creative thinking in Pembrokeshire

If you’re a writer wanting to research characters for your story, I recommend you open a b&b.  We’ve been doing hospitality on a small scale here in Pembrokeshire for some years and have chalked up several ‘Fawlty Towers’ moments.  Like accidentally locking the Scottish beekeeper in the bathroom.  Like trying to cook breakfast whilst continually kicking the cat out of the kitchen because the lady from Wolverhampton who is sitting at the table clutching her handbag and looking disapprovingly at the cobwebs in the corner has just announced that she is totally allergic to cats.  Like wondering what to do about the guests who still haven’t come down to breakfast by midday and not knowing whether to knock on their door or not.

Then there was the time one summer when we had a houseful, including some good friends visiting from Essex.  My friends (you know who you are!) were worried about sleeping in beds that could be earning us money, so when a posh car pulled up in the drive and a well dressed couple knocked on the door asking for a room, they didn’t want me to turn the business down.   The guests had been told we were full and were just stepping back into their car when my friends ran past me shrieking,  “It’s ok, please stay! Have my room!  I’ll sleep on the sofa!”  That was the first and probably the last time we have ever had a BMW in our drive, and it made a very fast exit.

Over the years, the guests we liked have far outnumbered the guests we didn’t like, but given that social instincts are usually wired to sniff out kindred spirits with similar views to your own,  it’s good to be made to deal with a wide mix of people. You learn to listen, avoid making judgements, celebrate diversity and reinforce your belief that with a few exceptions people are a) basically decent and b) have a story to tell.

The days of drive-by b&b guests are long gone now; everyone books online, and most prefer our self contained bungalow, which is better – more space for them and fewer breakfasts to cook.  It’s hard work doing one and two nighters, but that’s usually what people want.  Adapt and survive…..

A spacious room with character and plenty of fresh air……. no, seriously that’s the castle down the road – every village in Wales has one.  The holiday let looks like this….

Most business comes our way via the excellent Laterooms.com (we’re in as Ty Bach, near Narberth), but some direct via www.tegfanhouse.co.uk  It does mean that I spend too much time at the ironing board and not enough time at keyboard or drawing board, but that’s life.  We’ve spent the morning clearing up after five cheerful young Welsh lads on a bit of wedding spree (how many empties???), so it’s not all fun, but spilt beer mops up from laminated flooring quickly enough and it’s all part of life’s rich something or other.

If you want somewhere peaceful to be creative, Pembrokeshire’s a good place – bring your sketch book and/or writing book and we’ll promise to try and avoid the Fawlty Towers moments.

And on the plus side, if I want to learn to write stories, there’s a wealth of material right under my nose.  This is a potential opening line for a story about smugglers and shipwrecks…

“Anna had the feeling it was going to be one of those days when Mrs Henderson came into the kitchen holding up a pair of pink knickers”……..


2 thoughts on “Creative thinking in Pembrokeshire”

  1. K M Lockwood says:

    I enjoyed this post- thank you Claudia. I have wondered about this as a day job myself as we live in the Witterings.

  2. Nick Cross says:

    What an interesting insight. My wife and I came very close to downsizing in the early-noughties and moving to run a B&B in Ludlow. We didn’t in the end (the maths didn’t really work), but I’ve always wondered what might have been.

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Anglo-Saxon Inspirations