Eyarth Station Guest House Interview
Eyarth Station Guest House is a former Railway station located near to Ruthin, the county town of Denbighshire in North Wales offering country guest house style accommodation set in an elegant rural location. We speak to proprietor Michelle Cunningham to find out how a typical day runs for her.
WHAT IS A TYPICAL DAY RUNNING EYARTH STATION LIKE FOR YOU?
A typical day here at Eyarth Station can be extremely varied. Usually I am up around 6am laying up the breakfast room and preparing breakfast. We have recently extended our choices on the breakfast menu. We try to include as much locally sourced Welsh products as possible. We have a community shop nearby for our eggs, jams and honey, with the local butcher providing sausages, bacon and black pudding. We have Welsh yogurts along with a selection of fruits, nuts and seeds, which prove popular with our walkers who like a healthy option.
Greeting the guests for breakfast is next. Finding out their plans for the day or discussing what they did the previous day is always interesting. It’s surprising the links we can find with our guests one way or another.
After breakfast I may need to drop some walkers off on the Offa’s Dyke pass to continue their walk and often drop their luggage at their next destination. Some of the walkers plan the walk in stages others complete it in one go. Some walk for pure enjoyment of the beautiful local countryside, others for charity and may not be that experienced. You get to know if walkers are experienced or not, we have been out on rescue missions looking for walkers who have become lost on the way down from the path and been unable to make the rendezvous with us.
Back home now and it’s time to change the rooms, put in the washing, load the dishwasher and do some cleaning. We have recently taken on an assistant, Nerys who lives locally, as the Station has become quite busy. During the week I usually turn the rooms around myself with Nerys helping at weekends or during busy periods.
Then it’s off to the shop, usually for milk and bread. I may require ingredients if we have guests staying for an evening meal. Sometimes we have our walkers dining with us, taking advantage of our home cooked meals. We also cater for our guests who enjoy the tranquil setting of the dining room with wonderful scenery.
I have a bit of time after this to reply to emails, and ensure telephone bookings are shown on the website. I tend to do some ironing in the afternoon and listen to the play on radio 4 so the time passes quickly. I will start the preparation for the evening meals and put fresh milk into the rooms for the guests when they come back from their day out or for new guests arriving.
I meet and greet our new arrivals and settle them into their rooms. If we are serving evening meals it’s time to lay up the dining room again. If we don’t have any evening meals it’s a bit of relaxation time.
Soon its 10pm and time for bed again. The guests have their own front door key and can come and go as they please.
DESCRIBE YOUR FAVOURITE PART OF THE DAY
My favourite time of day is breakfast time. I am a morning person and think the mornings are calm and unspoilt. Sharing this time of day with guests is exciting as they are looking forward to their day ahead and have expectations of what the day will bring for them. Even if guests are going home they reflect on the time spent with us. This is the time of the day when we often get to talk about the history of Eyarth Station which was built in 1864. After breakfast guests will look at the old pictures on display and may ask us about its past. We feel privileged to live here and are keen to give as much information as possible. Some of our guests are train enthusiasts too and have sent us information about Eyarth Station when they have returned home.
WHAT IS YOUR NUMBER 1 PRIORITY?
We pride ourselves on being welcoming and friendly and see the main priority of running our guest house as ensuring our visitors are happy, safe and comfortable. Over the years we have had many of our own friends and family staying with us so running a guest house was the next step. We treat our guests as part of our extended family which is a major reason why we are pet friendly. We allow faithful friends to accompany our guests as we see them as part of the family too. Our dog – Mr Lily enjoys meeting them and making new friends as well. We hope that any visitors to Eyarth Station regard it as a real home from home.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR BIGGEST CHORE?
There are two big chores. One is the laundry and the other accounts.
We are trying to become more eco-friendly and have just had solar panels installed. To make the best use of the electricity its best not to have the washing machine and dryer on at the same time, its fine in the summer when bedding can dry outside in the fresh air but difficult in the winter with less sunshine and still having plenty of bedding to dry!
The accounts are one of those chores that you can put off until later, whereas attending to the guests is immediate. But if left, you can get your accounts into a right mess, so I try to set time aside at the same time each week to put things in order – not my favourite time of the week!
OUTSIDE OF RUNNING EYARTH STATION HOW DO YOU LIKE TO SPEND YOUR SPARE TIME?
We have only been at Eyarth Station for a year and have many ideas and plans for the property. Consequently much of my spare time is spent researching. We intend to have more railway memorabilia in the guest rooms and need to source items which will be of interest to our guests. We are changing the names of the rooms to reflect well known steam engines and fit them out in the style of the era of each engine.
We have detailed plans to install self-catering log cabins on site with access through a gate which looks like a rail crossing and picket fencing.
All this takes time and as I am sure you can appreciate, there is not much time available for relaxation when running a Guest House. During the low season I enjoy taking in a musical theatre show if possible and I really enjoy reading, which is handy as I can pick up my kindle if I do get a spare minute or two.