We baked wholemeal bread, and sundried tomato bread, and pumpkin seed loaf; then cooked a three-course lunch of grilled aubergine, goat's cheese and tomato pesto followed by chicken, saffron, lemon and olive tajine then we prepared a bitter orange marmalade soufflé and almond praline to go on top.
When the weekend is over we will return to our noisy hammering and thumping as the builders get back to work: this year we have closed for three months, which gives us time to make some improvements.
Our old hot water cylinders and solar panels were removed, and an entirely new system of high temperature vacuum tube solar panels installed.....today was our second day of operation and the water cylinder showed 50ºC at 7pm, which is one in the eye for the electricity board. New shower and steam cabinets are going into some of the bathrooms. Now we have two rooms with tubs and two with steam showers in the main house. and the pool room also has a steam shower unit.
Bedrooms have better reading lights, and new 90% goose-down pillows, 398 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets, both from Mitre Hall and Letts.
With econonomic gloom forecast for the year ahead, we decided to drop our prices back to our 2002-2006 level, and keep our fingers crossed that some guests will come and stay. Come on, you out there! It is only 70 Euros per night per person for bed and a delicious breakfast. If you stay three nights or more, then it drops to 60 euros per person per night. VAT is a mere 7%
A bulldozer and a roller have been spreading stones and gravel on the drive, so now the cottages are accessed down a kilometre and a half of smooth track. Let's hope this lasts, as we cannot lay tarmac in the nature reserve.
The cottages will each be getting solar panels next week, as well as new mini Hifi centres with i-pod docks, MP3 connection and cd players. Pepe has built a wonderful high stone wall along the edge of the walking trail, and he will be putting in permanent stone-built barbecues for each cottage. These will make it safe to barbecue even in high summer, as they are on brick floored terraces where sparks should not escape into dry undergrowth (as long as holidaymakers are careful).
In order to be even more eco-friendly, cottages will be supplied with composters, so that all vegetable waste will be returned as fertiliser to the organic orchards and veggie patch. Summer tenants are welcome to pick their own tomatoes, courgettes, aubergines, peppers and beans.
We open again on the first of April.