Here at Under The Thatch we try to practice what we preach – giving back to the community via restoration of ruins and cottage pricing. We are a small business and we believe in helping others to help themselves. That’s why we think the Lend with Care system is an excellent idea. We were very grateful to receive a small amount of EU grant funding, around £500 for training and specialist advice, when we first started back in 2001, so we know how much difference even a few hundred pounds and make to a fledgling business.
Through Lend With Care we have helped 87 people reach their dreams of becoming business owners, or expanding their small business into bigger, better businesses. Every time you give a small donation when you pay for your booking you are helping us help others.
Black Friday is an American tradition for price reductions the day after ‘Thanksgiving’. It seems to have come out of nowhere as a new event over this side of the Atlantic… as a celebration of consumerism. There’s something inherently vulgar about it. So why do we, a small, independent family-run business join in the scrum, and why have we chosen to launch our best-ever sale this week? It’s a good question, and one I’m happy to answer.
The answer (or part of it) is above. Meet Betsi & Megan, Owain, Leevan, Ffion, Erin and Lili-Mair, and Mickey: our kids. To use another American expression we cringe at – we’re a ‘mom and pop’ business. And there’s another hundred kids not photographed here that are the children of the dozens of individuals who own our Under the Thatch properties. Most of them are families who live in rural Wales, and who have taken on a neighbouring property as a holiday rental to enable them to stay in their communities (which have little traditional employment). In some cases it’s a couple who has bought the house right next door to prevent it being insensitively modernised. In others it’s a family who are using the property as a rental until their children are old enough to live independently.
Under the Thatch isn’t owned by a large company, and we don’t have shareholders. We pay VAT and taxes on the commissions we make, and our owners pay their taxes; it’s what keeps the whole system running. When you holiday with us you’re not sending your profits to shareholders on the other side of the world.
We like to keep our properties in use as often as we can, and all-year round. As Welsh-speakers we know more than most the damage that second homes can do to small rural communities. Hence we make sure our properties are used year round, providing jobs for housekeepers, helping keep local shops and restaurants open.
When you stay in a hotel, the chances are you’re lining the pockets of a multinational. When you book with one of the major booking portals, the chances are you’re lining the pockets of a multinational. Even the larger UK cottage agencies are mostly owned by American multinationals. When you book with us you’re helping Megan and Betsi, and all the families who own Under the Thatch properties. That money stays local, and makes a difference.
We think this woman is amazing – and we’d kindly ask you to vote in a ’30 second’ poll that will give her National recognition. Watch the video of her amazing cottage (link below), and please, take a few seconds to vote.
UTT recommended a friend (without her knowledge) for a ‘Heritage Angel’ award – Margaret Gallagher lives in a wonderful, traditional cottage in Fermanagh NI – without electric or running water, and is forever inviting schools groups, or anyone interested, to see her traditional way of life. She’s still living in the same cottage where she was born in 1942 – making her 76. She’s spent 50 years fighting to protect vernacular buildings, and educating others about rural life.
We’ d be very happy if her contribution to the conservation of traditional buildings was recognised by an award – watch the video and see inside:
We’re fans of vernacular architecture – and have published/ helped produce a few books ourselves on the subject (Welsh/Irish interest).
We’ve an interest in vernacular architecture from any country, and obviously Wales. Here’s a list of books from a country that we have a particular soft spot for – Ireland. Ireland has a peculiar relationship with her traditional buildings – on the one hand they’re celebrated as part of the national identity/ psyche/ culture..and yet on the other hand they’re rarely protected or conserved.
Below is a list of links to others books that are available that we’ve enjoyed. They vary from academic to touristic, but all have some use or interest. This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means. Note if you purchase via any of these ‘smile’ links 0.5% of the purchase price (no cost to you) is donated to charity Battery Chicken Rescue Northern Ireland. We’ve rescued battery chickens ourselves and, of course, encourage everyone to check the category of every egg you buy. To be honest I can’t remember the last time we found a UTT guest leaving eggs in a cottage that weren’t free range, which says something about the good community that we are! If you use amazon you can use that ‘smile’ system to donate on any purchase you make (to a charity of your choice, no extra cost).
We’re such HUGE fans of traditional Scandinavian buildings, yet despite several visits we’ve never managed to find the right UTT in Sweden (or Norway, Faroes, Iceland, Finland… but we love them all!)
So we’re building one nearer to home. We want to have it in distinctive the distinctive red oxide paint…but modern paints available in UK/Ireland have too much crap in them. So we asked our good friend and artist Åsa Fridén as she lives in one such ‘Falun Red’ house in SW Sweden. Åsa studied with us at University several eons ago.
Ingredients can all be bought from Amazon.co.uk cheaply – Iron Sulphate is moss killer for lawns (try Amazon or any garden centre). Rye flour try your local health food shop. Iron oxide is available from lime.org.uk or Amazon – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0797SS1XK/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&th=1
and here is how you make it – compared to most modern exterior wood paints this is MUCH healthier. Also a wonderful natural preservative for wood.
Tack! / Thank you! to Åsa for the translation. Even though we must have seen every Scandi-Noir TV series ever..even we couldn’t work it out 🙂 See her illustrations here – www.facebook.com/Calluna-Art-Illustration-252425358101911/
Here are the steps on how to make Falu rödfärg!
1. Dissolve 2 kilos of iron sulfate in 50 litres of boiling water.
2. Add 2-2,5 kilos of finely ground rye flour while stirring, almost whipping, to blend the flour properly. Leave to boil for 15 minutes, stir now and then.
3. Add 8 kilos of red pigment while stirring rapidly.
4. Leave to simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.
The paint is ready to use as soon as it has cooled down and will last to cover 150-180 square metres, depending on the surface.
This paint sticks better on roughly cut boards. It’s also important to make sure that the fibres of the boards are facing downwards, so that water won’t be caught in the fibres and sucked into the boards.
Boards should be dry when paint is applied, but you should not paint if it’s too hot outside. 15-23 C is the ultimate temperature. Use a big brush and apply generously. Make sure to work the paint into the fibres of the boards. [image: image.png] [image: image.png]
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The Cobbler’s children are always the worst shod, they say…and we’re probably guilty of not photographing our own home like we do the UTT cottages – so here’s a few interior shots of UTT HQ – built in 2017