August 2, 2019
It’s the little touches that make the difference. Proper coffee. Fresh flowers. Decent books on the bedside table. It’s not rocket science, but it does take a bit of extra effort to get it right. Here at Penhein we take pride in going that extra mile in order to offer the very best experience for our guests. That means being thoughtful; sourcing locally, hand-picking the highest quality products and working with some amazing, like-minded businesses. In the first in a new series, we meet some of the people behind-the-scenes whose love and passion makes a huge difference to the Penhein adventure:
Cupsmith: Coffee and Hot Chocolate
Being able to make a proper cup of coffee has always been an essential part of the Penhein experience. We immediately thought of Cupsmith, who use only the highest quality arabica beans meaning their coffee is packed with flavour – rich and round with chocolatey notes. Emma Crawford, co-founder along with her husband George, shares more:
How long have you been supplying Penhein and can you explain a little about what it’s been like working together?
Helen asked me to make a bespoke blend of Cupsmith coffee for the Penhein Pantry a little over two years ago, but we’ve known each other for years. As both friends and fellow small business owners, we love working together on these sorts of partnerships. Of course we want to help each other out, but it’s also fun to get creative coming up with new ways of making Helen’s guests happy and adding to their experience at Penhein.
Having both lived in London before retreating to the countryside, we share a common belief in the importance of taking time out from the hustle and bustle of daily life. At Penhein, that means yomping across the fields, admiring all that wonderful greenery and spending time with family and friends. Whilst at Cupsmith it means enjoying a cup of tea or coffee sitting down and watching the clouds go by. By putting a pack of Cupsmith coffee in the Penhein welcome hamper, those lucky glampers get to enjoy the best of both worlds!
What makes the ultimate hot chocolate?
Our hot chocolate is all made by hand using amazing single origin, Colombian chocolate. We make big 5kg bars that we then flake. It’s a real labour of love but the flaking process means you get the creamiest, smoothest hot chocolate. Our hot chocolate has lovely notes of fruitiness and less sugar.
We think the ultimate hot chocolate is all about how you feel drinking it and where you drink it. We can make the very best hot chocolate out there, but what makes it truly brilliant is when you sip it from a mug, sitting around a campfire after a day in the great outdoors at Penhein.
Favourite part of glamping?
We’ve been to stay at Penhein many times so we know how well Helen and James look after their guests. From the welcome hamper to the vintage books by the bed, the attention to detail is incredible and really makes you feel at home. My favourite bit is when waking up in the morning and just lying there for a few minutes looking up through the skylight and listening to the birds stirring in the trees around you and tweeting their chirpy hellos.
Holidays at Penhein are all about slowing down and enjoying that morning coffee with a book rather than rushing about! What books are you reading this summer that you could recommend?
I wholeheartedly agree! And can think of nothing better than cosying in with a good book and a cup of tea or coffee. I’m looking forward to getting stuck in to The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal. It’s her debut novel – I always think it’s quite exciting to discover a new writing talent.
Favourite tipple to drink around the campfire?
It’s got to be our Truly Magnificent Hot Chocolate – the perfect treat at the end of a day spent adventuring.
Find out more and order coffee and hot chocolate here: https://www.cupsmith.com
The Preservation Society: Banging BBQ Sauce and Sirop
Over the past couple of years we’ve gradually been growing our Penhein Pantry. We’ve taken our time because we wanted each item on offer to be truly hand-picked, to not only taste amazing but also fit with our ethos, and to be locally sourced wherever possible. Part of our scrumptious selection are two delicious sirops – Blissfully Blackcurrant and Ravishingly Raspberry as well as a Banging BBQ sauce, homemade by Angharad Underwood of The Preservation Society:
Where did the idea for your preserves and sauces come from?
I’m a Farmer’s Daughter, it’s in the genes! My Mother and Grandmothers were all competitive in their preserve making but it wasn’t until my 30’s that I realised you could make far more exotic preserves using chillies and spices, from that point on I was hooked!
Favourite thing about your job?
The amazingly talented people I get to meet – plus every day is different, I love the variety and that a single phone call can change everything.
Where do you source your ingredients?
I use a lot of “swapcropped” fruit & veg, I use the glut from people’s gardens and repay with jars of deliciousness.
What’s your idea of the perfect summer lunch to eat outside?
Perfect summer lunch has to be a bbq with friends – home made burgers topped with really strong cheddar and our Bangin BBQ Sauce, with coleslaw with home made potato salad.
What about a summer tipple?
Chilled sparkly wine with a large dash of our Blissfully Blackcurrant Sirop. Guests at Penhein can do a DIY on this by ordering the Sparkle Under the Stars from the pantry – which is a 100ml bottle of our raspberry or blackcurrant sirop along with a bottle of crémant.
And finally, what’s your connection to Wales and what do you like about working here?
I love being Welsh, there’s a huge camaraderie within the food industry in Wales and it’s great to be part of it and although I’m originally from the Valleys, now living in Chepstow, I relish the Wye Valley produce. It really is a place of beauty!
Find out more and order Angharad’s delicious products here: https://thepreservationsociety.co.uk/
Rory Lindsay Photography: Postcards and Photos of Penhein
Rory has been taking photographs of our glampsite since our inception, and flicking back through the archive of his images it’s rather amazing to see how much things have changed and how far we have come in six years! His beautiful, sensitively-shot photographs reflect the natural beauty of Penhein and seem to capture the very essence of what glamping holidays are all about. His photos grace our website, social media and you can now buy Penhein postcards too.
How long have you been a photographer and what do you think makes a good photograph?
I’ve been taking pictures since 1978 when my Dad bought me a little film camera for my 8th birthday. After the first prints came back from the lab, I was hooked. I have been snapping in a professional capacity for 12 years, which has flown by. What makes a good photograph, in my opinion, is any intriguing subject, anything bathed in beautiful light, or anything observed from an unusual perspective. The very best pictures include all three of these elements.
What makes it so special to take photos at Penhein?
The beauty and wildness of nature in such close proximity to creature comforts, the light dappling through the trees, the overriding sense of calmness, peace and serenity.
Where are the best spots to take amazing photos?
The best spots are in amongst the glampsite with that divinely filtered green light through the leaves, and out on the meadow with its spectacular view, especially at dusk with the lights twinkling off in the distance.
What do you get from a professional photograph that you just don’t get on a snap-happy iPhone?
Generally better image quality from better equipment but also the practiced eye, always looking, looking, looking for the bigger picture, the little details, the juxtapositions, the brief, unguarded moment, always trying to capture the things nobody else notices.
Any tips for taking photos of cheeky children?
Patience! Rather than posing them and asking them to say “cheese”, if you have time, just let them do their thing (usually playing or eating, in my experience!) then surreptitiously snap them when they’re fully immersed. That’s when you’ll capture their true personalities.
What are 3 essential things for a glamping holiday?
A good book, a warm jacket for the evenings, and remembering your phone has an ‘off’ button.
What’s your connection to Wales?
My maternal grandparents lived on a Welsh hill farm in Radnorshire, near Builth, so when I was little my parents used to take me and my brothers there during school holidays. We would run wild all day on the hills and help out in the fields when needed. Later I spent summers helping my ageing grandmother with her flock of pedigree sheep. It’s a truly beautiful country with a proud ‘soul’ and has a very special place in my heart.
To find out more about Rory’s work or to book a family photoshoot to capture the memories of your cheeky children, visit: www.rorylindsay.co.uk
Avril’s Country Kitchen: Flowers
Born and bred in Monmouthshire, Avril Lord and her husband run a wonderful cutting garden full of beautiful flowers. We have always wanted fresh flowers in our alachigh tents – it’s those little things that make glamping a world apart from camping! We spoke to Avril about running her business:
How did you get into growing flowers?
We inherited our love of gardening from both sets of parents and have always grown as much as possible. We produce as much of our own fruit as possible and inter-plant with flowers partly to prevent the garden looking like an allotment and also to help with pollination and pest control. We wanted to diversify and the logical option was to try taking flowers to market. This has been so successful that our bouquets are a major part of the business and we now specifically grow flowers for cutting.
Which flowers thrive in Monmouthshire? Any favourite varieties?
We are very fortunate to have excellent soil and a good climate which gives us a long growing season in Monmouthshire so virtually all plants grow really well, including borderline hardy varieties. We grow so many different plants that it’s really difficult to list our favourites as we love them all and it depends on the season! During summer our collection of roses, wild valerian, ornamental grasses and alstroemeria have to top the list.
What’s in the garden this August?
We have lots of choice this month but the dahlias and phlox are coming into their own along with the annuals sown earlier in the year such as scabious, english marigolds, larkspur and sweet peas. Herbs such as fennel and oregano are also good for cutting now.
You currently supply the flowers for Penhein’s six alachigh tents. Could you also do flowers for weddings at Penhein?
We would love to! Over the last few years we have been asked to supply flowers for weddings and really enjoy this.
Any insider tips for getting garden flowers to last longer in the vase?
In general a teaspoon of sugar and a few drops of bleach in the water really helps with any flowers. Some flowers such as euphorbia and cerinthe will droop immediately unless their stem ends are dipped in boiling water for about 20 seconds. If a flower wilts without any treatment it’s always worth trying this. Woody stems such as roses last better if the bottom part of the stems are scraped or split to help increase water uptake.