To me this cottage is one of the most wonderful places I have ever visited. I’ll tell you all about it and you can see if you agree. You will either be horrified at the thought of it or you’ll be green with envy!! The cottage is called Fynnon Badarn and is situated way off the beaten track near to Corris in mid Wales in a place called Aberlefenni. It is inland from Barmouth and roughly equidistant from Machynlleth and Dolgellau. To reach the cottage from Corris you travel along a rough track, which can be a bit dodgy if you have a car with a low exhaust! When you actually reach the cottage you cannot actually see any other buildings in any direction, just hills, grass, trees, sheep and a stream. The cars were parked at the end of the track and we then had to unload our entire luggage and carry it across a field, over the bridge across the stream and up the rocky path to the cottage. We also had to bring lots of food and drink as shopping wasn’t going to be as easy as nipping to Asda at home! The cottage itself was owned by the Bournville Trust at the time and was let out to scouts, guides etc for outward bound holidays. When it wasn’t being thus used members of the public could rent it. From memory it used to cost about £30 per week each based on about 8 of us sharing. It was VERY basic. The best way to describe it is like camping with four walls and a roof! Downstairs consisted of a kitchen area with a stove run from a gas bottle, a dining area with a table and chairs and a sitting area with an open fire and some seats and small tables. There was lighting provided by gaslights run from the gas bottle. There were spare gas mantles in the cupboard but I was never called upon to change one! You see they would have turned to me being the oldest!! Up some very steep stone stairs there were two rooms and a landing. One room had four sets of bunk beds and the other had one set of bunk
beds, a single bed and a mattress on the floor. We all had to take our own sleeping bag and a pillow. It depended on how many of each sex there were in the party as to which was the boy’s room and which was the girl’s room! There was also a set of bunk beds on the landing. The first time I went there were four girls in the bunk beds room so we all had a bottom bunk with a top bunk above on which to store our belongings. The second time we were in the smaller room as there were only three of us and I had the single bed. There was no lighting upstairs unless we lit a night-light. There was no running water so the water for cooking and washing up was fetched from the stream in large plastic water carriers. Washing, bathing and hair washing was all done in the stream too. We did go one at a time so we could have a little privacy I hasten to add! You haven’t lived until you’ve washed your hair in icy cold water! It makes your head tingle I can tell you. Of course the down side to the lack of water was the lack of toilet facilities. We had a chemical toilet in a room next to the barn and this had to be carried up the mountain and emptied into a hole in the side. Luckily for us girlies the lads used to do that – not a pleasant job at all! It was also a bit scary when we got up in the night to go to the loo, as we had to walk from the cottage to the barn by torchlight wondering if there was anyone or anything about….. The cottage was allegedly haunted and one of our friends did see the ghost of a young girl in the living area. There were one or two people who wouldn’t stay there on their own even during the day. I did though – I wanted to meet the ghost but no such luck! There was no electricity and so no TV. We made our own entertainment by having a singsong round a bonfire, playing word association (which always ended up getting rude), Jenga (hysterical after a few drink
s) and just generally talking and laughing until the wee small hours. Burning logs in the open fireplace provided the heating and everything used to smell of wood smoke. I would be sniffing everything when I got home, as I love that smell. Even now it always reminds me of the cottage. Sometimes we’d go out for a midnight walk with the torches. Bearing in mind that it was so dark if there was no moonlight we could see absolutely nothing, it was well spooky! I remember singing Bohemian Rhapsody at the tops of our voices one morning at about 2am – just because we could do so without disturbing anyone (apart from the sheep). I also remember all going to bed one night and deciding to play I Spy. I’ve just told you how dark it was and we were in two separate rooms but that didn’t stop us – it was hilarious! During the day we’d either chill out around the cottage or head off all together or separately for a days walking or a day by the sea. We usually ended up back at the cottage for tea all together and then spend the night in as it was better than trying to negotiate the track in the dark. I remember telling a girl whom I used to work with about the cottage and she laughed and asked where the bath was. I told her about bathing in the stream and she thought I was joking and asked where we plugged in our hairdryers! She really did think I’d gone mad when I told her that there was no electricity! For me it was so peaceful and so relaxing. It didn’t matter how stressed I had been prior to our holiday it all just disappeared as I walked up the path to that cottage. I could go on for ages about all the fun we had but I will just close the opinion with one little story, which still makes me smile to this day. I was sitting downstairs talking to some of the others and Helen, my sister (aka Pagan) was upstairs getting changed. She decided to do her hair and wan
ted to know if she could use my hotbrush. I had a travel type one, obviously. Picture the scene if you will – she came downstairs waving the said hotbrush still in its protective cover and asking ‘Can I borrow this?’ Well, you can guess what the lads thought it was can’t you? They decided that was taking sisterly love a bit too far!