In my blog series Wales : In their own words I am introducing readers to the people behind the businesses I have got to know and love in my travels around Wales. A huge thank you to Fiona of The Arches at Bailey's Barn who kindly gave up her time to answer my questions. I have previously stayed at The Arches and it was bliss.
Name: Fiona Goodsell
Business Name: The Arches at Bailey's Barn
What does your business do: Self Catering Accommodation, sleeping from 2 - 6 people.
What prompted you to start your business: I was working in the Tourist Information Centre in Brecon and thoroughly enjoying sharing my passion of the area with visitors, so when it was announced that the Visitor Centre would close I felt it was a great loss to the local area. I wanted to continue working in Tourism so I could share my local knowledge and passion of the area with visitors, so providing accommodation was a way I could continue to do that.
Our best asset: Is obviously the view as it is amazing looking over to The Allt & the Black Mountains. Also our accommodation works well for a couple who want to relax and get away to relax in peace & quiet but it also works well for walkers and mountain bikers in small groups and families as it sleeps up to 6 people.
Where are you based: We are based in Talybont-on-Usk, which is a fabulous village with fabulous scenery with walks on the doorstep and it also has great amenities like a shop, cafe, 2 pubs, a restaurant & a bike shop. The Monmouth & Brecon Canal runs through the centre of the village and there are waterfalls a short drive away too.
How long have you been in business? We moved here 8 years ago and have been rennovating our house ever since but we hope to have everything finished by next month and I have been in business here for 6 years
What are the hours: We are open every day of the year and have a minimum stay period of 2 nights in the Winter and 3 nights in the Summer.
Favourite part of the Day? Once a turnaround has been done and the place is looking fabulous and ready for its next guests.
Where is your hidden gem? Now this is a hard question as we are surrounded by stunning views and peace & quiet. So if we don't have any guests staying, sneaking around to The Arches in the evening once all my jobs are done and sitting on a sunbed in solitude with a glass of wine just before the sun goes down! If guests are stayng then I wander out to our field and look over to Buckland Hill and just take in the area's beauty which makes me realise how lucky I am to live here.
The easiest most fun part: Sharing local information with visitors is my passion and makes me really happy when they visit and enjoy parts of the park they would never have discovered without sharing local knowledge with them. A lot of people do not realise how much there is to do in the Brecon Beacons so sharing information with them helps them realise that just one visit is never going to be enough! So when we get repeat visitors staying it makes me really happy that they have enjoyed their first stay so much that they wanted to return.
Hardest part: Turnovers can be pressurised when guests are leaving and new guests arriving on the same day, as I always want to make sure I am completely prepared when guests arrive.
Where do you live: I live with my husband and 19 year old son next door to The Arches.
How do you relax: I love walking and have 2 dogs, so when my work is done for the day I love taking them out for a walk. There are so many areas around our house which are very peaceful that it isn't difficult to find somewhere quiet to walk and sometimes we don't even see another soul. It is really invigorating and is fabulous for mind, body & soul!
If you weren't doing this what would you do? I worked in London for years and commuted 3 hours a day to get to work so anything the opposite to that would be great.
Is this the career path you thought you would have? Definitely not. I thought I would work in an office all my life after starting work in Swansea when I left school, then moving to Bracknell in Berkshire. Following that I then worked in Woking in Surrey, then in London and then Farnham in Surrey whilst living on the border of Berkshire, Surrey & Hampshire for over 20 years. I had worked in offices all my career until I moved back to Wales in 2012, so now my life is totally different to how it was previously.
What have you learnt since starting your own business? That doing something you enjoy and are passionate about is far more rewarding than anything financial.
Where did you train/learn? Throughout my career all my training has been on the job training. I worked in HR providing payroll services & a HR service worldwide so got a chance to travel abroad with my job. But my role in The Tourist Information was the most enjoyable as I learnt so much every day from my colleagues about the area.
What is your favourite meal? I am not a fussy eater so enjoy most foods, but Welsh cakes must be one of my favourite treats.
Where did you grow up? I grew up in Swansea with a Welsh Dad and a Scottish mum. In school I did Welsh 'O' Level so I do understand a lot of Welsh words but I have never spoken Welsh.
Would you ever leave Wales? I don't intend on ever leaving Wales as although I have been back living here for 8 years there is so much to still explore and experience.
What makes Wales so special? The people of Wales make it so special. Very friendly and love a chat and a cwtch! The Welsh people really like to support each other too and it is great to still have local shops in nearby towns such as Brecon & Crickhowell that are run by hard working local people who are passionate about the products they make or sell.
Do you do online sales? We do take online bookings but at present we are closed because of the pandemic. (It is anticipated that the lockdown and 5 mile travel restriction in Wales will be lifted on Monday 6th July and on fingers crossed on the 9th July the Welsh Government will announce that the 13th July is the date that people will be able to visit Wales and stay).
What are you most looking forward to doing when the pandemic is over? Having guests to stay again. I personally meet all guests when they arrive so have got to know some great people asI love to see them really appreciating the beauty of our area.
Could you recommend a website? I would like to recommend a Facebook Page for a local business. One that has great community spirit is Ty Cariad which is a local gift shop in Brecon.
Who inspires you? Nellie Williams - so enthusiatic & passionate about Wales, a great asset to Wales and to the Glanusk Estate. (Oh gosh thank you, it's very easy to be passionate about Wales!)
Anything else? Just want to thank you Nellie for giving me the opportunity to be part of you blog. (My pleasure, thank you for having me to stay last year and I can't wait to see you all again soon, very soon I hope!)
Fiona is also a Brecon Beacons National Park Ambassador and knows loads of popular and out of the way places to go, she can make recommendations and point you in any direction. The Ambassadors are a network of individuals who know and love the Brecon Beacons, we have all attended courses to become Ambassadors.