What’s happening in Grandma’s Attic?


This week’s post is prompted by the concerns of a number of people in Blaenau Ffestiniog and Porthmadog about a charity called Grandma’s Attic and its associated ventures.


We begin our story at number 13 on Blaenau Ffestiniog High Street, where we find the charity shop, Grandma’s Attic Community Project. Next door at number 14, we see their drop-in centre. While down the road in Porthmadog we find another charity shop and a tea-room.

Grandma’s Attic accepts antiques and bric-a-brac, and it also solicits donations of money. Which it’s said is then used to provide skills, qualifications and employment for those ‘excluded’ by society. All worthy stuff.

Samantha Mountford-Tilley and Gary Halford. Click to enlarge. To return to blog click X top right

But let’s tarry awhile on the website, because there’s always information available.

Starting with the ‘About’ page, where we read: “Launched in February 2018, Grandma’s Attic Community Project is a registered charity (number 1188377).”

Which is not true. It may even be deliberately misleading.

What was registered in February, 2018 was the company Grandma’s Attic Community Project Limited. Which was struck off voluntarily – by its director – in December, 2018.

The charity, Grandma’s Attic Community Project, was not registered with the Charity Commission until 6 March, 2020. What’s more, it’s a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) rather than a traditional charity. I’ll explain the difference in the next section.

There’s another company, Grandma’s Attic Community Project Trading Limited, which was Incorporated 6 September, 2018 as Grandma’s Attic Community Project Blaenau Ffestiniog Limited. The name changed in March this year.

A move that was clearly linked with the registration of the charity.

Also connected with the registration of the charity is the award of £10,000 from the (Lottery) Community Fund for a community transport scheme.

Click to enlarge. To return to blog click X in top right corner

As I know from personal experience, bodies dishing out moolah like to see that you’ve made some effort yourself to raise money, and that’s what Grandma’s Attic did. But even with publicity in the local press the appeal was struggling until it received an anonymous donation of £2,091.

What an odd amount!

Without that donation the figure raised was just £180, and £50 of that came from an earlier anonymous donation. There seems to have been very little local support for this ‘local’ initiative.

Something else worth mentioning is that Grandma’s Attic Community Project Trading Ltd is not a Community Interest Company (CIC). Though it might be trying to give that impression by using ‘Community’ in its name.

Sticking with the website . . .

Awarding qualifications few people have heard of, and may even be worthless, is still big business, there are hundreds if not thousands of companies offering such ‘qualifications’. It’s a racket.

On Grandma’s Attic we find two organisations. ASDAN and SafeCert.

Click to enlarge. To return to blog click X in top right corner

As these outfits go, ASDAN seems kosher. On its website it describes itself as an “awarding organisation”. One of the thousands.

The other logo belongs to ‘SafeCert’, the full name of which is SafeCert Awards Ltd, and it’s based in Omagh, County Tyrone. From where it’s run by Scotsman Paul Horsburgh.

On the home page of the website we read: “We are an Awarding Body through CCEA Accreditation for Northern Ireland, SQA Accreditation that provide a registration and certification service for centres and trainers in Scotland. We await approval through OfQual for England. (My emphases.)

No mention of Wales, where accreditation would be required from the Credit and Qualifications Framework (CQFW). Which might explain why – unlike ASDAN – SafeCert does not appear on the latest CQFW database of September 2020.

This throws up a disturbing possibility.

If Grandma’s Attic is giving children and young people courses in first aid and other subjects designed by SafeCert Awards Ltd, and issuing certificates from the same source, then these may not be recognised in Wales.


Over the years I must have looked at hundreds of charities. The usual arrangement is that the charity complements a company of the same name. With accounts submitted to both Companies House and the Charity Commission.

The company – usually a private limited company – is often the ‘trading arm’ of the charity. And the directors of the company will be the trustees of the charity.

A local example would be the Talyllyn Railway. The company is Talyllyn Holdings Ltd and the charity has the same name. The Charity Commission tells us that Talyllyn Holdings is a ‘charitable company’, and it gives the company number to cross reference with Companies House.

This is the usual way. So why has Grandma’s Attic gone for the recently introduced (2013) Charitable Incorporated Body?

You might find the answer here in, ‘What are the benefits of being a CIO instead of a CIC?’ Or here in, ‘Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO): Is it a Suitable Structure for Your Charity?’

Fundamentally, the Grandma’s Attic charity was set up because a CIO has advantages over a CIC. Not least because charities are more likely to get grants. We’ve already seen how charity status has worked with the £10,000 funding for the community bus.

That grant may have even been conditional on Grandma’s Attic becoming a charity.

As it’s explained in the first of the links provided:

“The charity would be eligible to apply to a lot more trusts and foundations that only give grants to registered charities. From a VAT perspective, certain activities delivered via a charity qualify for concessions, and charities don’t pay stamp duty land tax when purchasing properties or leases.”

On the assumption that the properties in Blaenau and Porthmadog are rented or leased, I take this to mean that cheaper leases can now be entered into. While property purchased in the name of Grandma’s Attic will not need to pay Land Transaction Tax.

We also read:

“You’re also more likely to get 100% rate relief – but at the very least you’ll get 80%.”

If I’ve read that correctly, then the tea-room recently opened in Porthmadog could qualify for rate relief on the grounds that it is part of the charity. Which would give it an advantage over long-established eateries in the town. And go some way to explaining why I’ve received complaints from Porthmadog.

But all charities get these advantages. What gives a CIO the edge over a traditional charity is that it’s easier and quicker to set up, and can be done with no money. And of course it doesn’t need to submit anything to Companies House.

Finally, as we read in the second link:

” . . . if things go wrong, the members and trustees are generally not personally liable for any debts or other liabilities that the CIO incurs that are greater than the charity’s assets.”

That could prove useful.


Now it’s time to meet the cast. Turning to the entry on the Charity Commission website we can dismiss two of the trustees because they’re young locals employed part time by Grandma’s Attic.

For our purposes we need to concentrate on two whose names we’ve already encountered in an image shown above. I mean Samantha Mountford-Tilley and Gary Halford, who I assume are a couple.

But before that, I need to mention a further trustee, one who is neither local nor one of the ‘family’, a larger-than-life figure.

Click to enlarge. To return to blog click X in top right corner

I’m talking here of Lee ‘Wide Load’ Jobber. As you can see, Lee’s a big lad, and he beats the drum for Leicester City Football Club. Though quite how he fits into the Grandma’s Attic set-up is not clear.

He certainly hasn’t moved to Gwynedd.

Is his presence as a trustee viewed as some kind of celebrity endorsement?

To help me make sense of the backgrounds of those involved with Grandma’s Attic, I compiled a table of the companies they’ve been involved with over the past decade. It paints a rather worrying picture.

You’ll find the table below. Links are provided for the more recent companies in the pdf version but the older ones are not accessible through the normal Companies House portal.

Click to enlarge. To return to blog click X in top right

After collecting these facts there are a number of concerns.

First, we see a pattern that crops up  a lot on this blog – start a company, use the name, fold the company. It’s a tactic used by money launderers and by others, such as the gang at Bryn Llys / ‘Snowdon Summit View’.

The Bryn Llys gang are professional fraudsters. They start companies, open credit accounts with suppliers, place big orders, then flog off the goods delivered; finally, they strike off the company themselves or let creditors do it when they refuse to pay for the goods supplied, or for anything else. (HMRC is a creditor.)

I’m not suggesting that this is what’s happening at Grandma’s Attic. But so many short-lived companies is rarely an encouraging sign.

Though what I find really odd is that, despite having been struck off, some of these companies linked with Granny’s Attic still seem to exist in some ethereal form.

Let’s look at images I’ve plucked from the internet (and there are plenty more) which suggest that the names of companies dead to Companies House are still being used. And that these ‘ghosts’ operate out of Grandma’s Attic.

These are Guildhall Antique Fairs, Guildhall Fairs, and Antiques to Shabby Chic.

Click on any image to enlarge the images in the slideshow. Click on the X in the top right to return to the blog.

Guildhall Fairs and Guildhall Antique Fairs are still running shows since the move from Leicester to Blaenau. So is paperwork being issued in the names of companies that no longer exist?

Or is it cash only?

Another mystery is why Gary Halford is named in a number of the advertisements I found online yet he has never been a director of any of the ‘Guildhall’ companies.


Why did Gary Halford and Samantha Mountford-Tilley leave a relatively prosperous city in England to move to a deprived former slate-quarrying town in Gwynedd?

That move is even more curious, and inconvenient, when we realise that they are still organising fairs and antique sales in eastern England. Obviously, these activities have been curtailed by Covid-19, but there are presumably online sales.

Halford and Mountford-Tilley seem to have been in Blaenau for two years or so before the idea of ‘good works’ occurred to them.

But how much has this charitable activity raised? We know they didn’t raise much themselves towards the community bus.

The table of companies above shows a surplus of £603 on a turnover of £15,785 for Grandma’s Attic Community Project Trading Ltd. With £9,344 going on ‘Administrative expenses’, and another £5,697 on ‘Cost of sales’.

Click to enlarge. To return to blog click X in top right corner

As for ‘Administrative expenses’, shouldn’t Halford and Mountford-Tilley be giving their time free of charge? It was their idea to set up Grandma’s Attic as a ‘Community’ company.

Another worry is that commercial enterprises are operating out of the same premises as a charity collecting donations from the public. There are two issues here.

First, there’s the obvious financial benefit of not having to pay council tax on business premises because those premises are registered as a charity shop. There may be other benefits.

The other worry is that private companies sharing premises with a charity collecting the same things could easily result in mix-ups. A valuable item donated to the charity could end up being sold by one of the ‘ghost’ companies at an antiques fair in England.

Despite the modest figures we have seen declared money must be coming in from somewhere. Gary Halford and Samantha Mountford Tilley have already bought one property in Blaenau Ffestiniog. Admittedly, they only paid £86,000, but they didn’t need a loan or a mortgage to make the purchase.

Sources tell me they now plan to buy a much larger property, one that has appeared on this blog. The Market Hall featured in a round-up in July 2019. Click here and scroll down to the section ‘Blaenau Ffestiniog’.

Old Market Hall, Blaenau Ffestiniog. Click to enlarge. To return to blog click X in top right corner

If the rumours are true, then what will this building be used for?


Everything may be hunky-dory at Grandma’s Attic and it may do exactly what it says on the tin.

But questions certainly need to be asked about the courses and qualifications on offer from Grandma’s Attic.

Grandma’s Attic must not be allowed to threaten the financial viability of tax-paying local establishments through exploiting its charitable status.

The charity Grandma’s Attic and the private business of antiques fairs and other ventures must be kept entirely separate, and run from different premises.

Until there is clarification on these issues, and local people are reassured, it might be best if official bodies, funding agencies, and others, proceed with caution.

♦ end ♦

UPDATE 07.12.2020: Yesterday Grandma’s Attic issued a press release. Read it here.

In it, you’ll read, “From the inception of Grandma’s Attic our charity shop was our source of income to ensure that we were able to make enough money to provide our community-based services.”

Are they saying that a ‘charity shop’ is also a private business and a source of personal income, with no one checking that the two are kept separate? If there is some other interpretation, then I look forward to hearing it.

Also, I read no attempt to address the issue of first aid certificates being awarded in the name of SafeCert, which is not recognised in Wales. Nor was there an attempt to explain why Leicester City super-fan Lee Jobber is a trustee.

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Off topic, but it has to be said. May I take this opportunity to thank members of the royal family for their contribution to fighting the Covid-19.

In March princess Sofia of Sweden signed up for the emergency national training program in medical care and has since we working round the clock, as a payrolled nurse, at Sophiahemmet hospital in Stockholm, and is now qualified to administer the vaccine.

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On the other hand I take this opportunity to condemn the pieces of scum, also from a foreign monarchy, who today turned up in Wales today, claiming exemption from essential travel restrictions and who have done nothing to assist in the pandemic. Unbelievably they have invoiced the taxpayer for the cost of their personal train.

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When can we send the scum home, and then invite the nurse to visit Wales in honour of her efforts?

David Smith

Fartsuckers, the feeble-minded and forelock-tugging tossers will be out in their tens to greet their betters! There does seem to be no short supply of barely-literate anti-SNP accounts on Twitter that all conform to a crude archetype of Rangers-N-Royalty though. I’d love to know how many are actually real people behind those low-resolution and often poorly centred profile pics.


…and here’s a sobering comment from Bangor University which will be like a cowpat to the chops for those narrow minded Monbiotic twats who want to shut down Welsh agriculture as part of our national mission as world leading peddlers of the green gospel.


This caught my eye as a neat summation of the statement : ” Dywedodd Dr Prysor Williams, uwch ddarlithydd mewn rheoli amgylcheddol ym Mhrifysgol Bangor: “Mae astudiaeth Prifysgol Bangor yn defnyddio’r dulliau diweddaraf a gymeradwywyd yn rhyngwladol i astudio’r allyriadau a dal a storio carbon, gan roi cipolwg gwerthfawr i ni ar yr hyn y mae ffermydd Cymru eisoes yn ei wneud yn dda o ran cynaliadwyedd, a lle gellir gwneud gwelliannau pellach.”

“Mae ôl troed carbon llawer o’r ffermydd Cymreig ymhlith yr isaf a gofnodwyd ar gyfer gwledydd eraill sy’n cynhyrchu cig oen a chig eidion.”

I couldn’t find the English version but I’m sure there’s a sharp cookie among our readers who can do the honours.

Robert Tyler

Dr Prysor Williams, senior lecturer in environmental management at Bangor University, said: “The Bangor University study uses the latest internationally approved methods to study emissions and carbon capture and storage, giving us a valuable insight into what Welsh farms are already doing well in terms of sustainability, and where further improvements can be made. ”

“The carbon footprint of many Welsh farms is among the lowest recorded for other lamb and beef producing countries.”


“The carbon footprint of many Welsh farms is among the lowest recorded for other lamb and beef producing countries.”

What happens is the grass uses a process of photosynthesis to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Oxygen is liberated. The sheep and cows then eat this grass and metabolise the carbon. We then eat the meat. It’s what’s called carbon sink agriculture. The process is a net sequestrate of carbon dioxide.

The carbon footprint of rural Wales is tourism.

David Smith

“Monbiotic”. Brilliant! ?
It sort of evokes single-minded environmentalism as a word in itself.


I saw this online earlier on today and immediately thought of you !.


I was drawn to the pompous little line ( well there’s a few in there) which reads – “a thought-leading Social Enterprise meeting of minds, bringing together prominent figures from Welsh business and government, discussing the need and opportunities to embrace a range of social enterprises capable of delivering sustainable employment, inclusive growth and greater social equity to local economies and communities”.

They cited 2 examples of success stories – 2 businesses that actually deliver products and services in competitive markets thus shielding all the grant grabbers and feeders off the public purse that dominate the sector.

Of course that highly rated lady who often features in these columns, Jane Davidson, was present to grace the occasion with her thoughts. Shame she couldn’t just shove them in a matchbox and mail them in. Which begs a question – Why didn’t they invite Jac or someone similar to engage in a serious critical appraisal instead of a day long self congratulatory navel gazing event ?.

Dyn Gwyrdd

Do you suspect ‘Rocks’ after drink – or is it a new kid on the block. Nasty scared ‘twats’!
Stick to the subject – apart for a quick word of respect for Dai Davies.


Off Topic. The Welsh Government has just awarded a substantial grant to a charity called KidsScape. It is an organisation that tackles bullying and operates by embedding advisors in Welsh schools.


The charity is based in Epsom, Surrey.


It also offers a parent help line of 0207 823 5430 which is course is in England.
Truly bizarre.


When the truth comes out ‘Jac of the North’ from Swansea ?.

Are you ready to apologise?

You’ll look like a right Jac shite afterwards.


Ooh, or is that Www ? That sounds ominous. Is this the all-knowing, all seeing Anonymous that induces an uncontrollable tremble of fear, or is it some other type of mouse like the little clicky thing I’m using while loading this little note ?. Use of anonimity suggests a lack of imagination as well as a fear of identification. Scoundrel material.


For the absolute nonsense you have written above.


Colonialism is a bit of a lop sided debate in our country right now what with Plaid and its Youth SS Thought- Gestapo wing issuing new guilt standards almost daily. More thoughtful pieces of this kind from Seimon Brooks will get him into hot water with the Groupthink Standards Office before long. Worth a look.



My answer to the spurious allegation that the Cymry were ‘colonisers’ is that they were refugees escaping from gradual cultural genocide (of which tourism, mass media, and demographic change are the latest manifestations, now that the Welsh Not is out of fashion).


Nice answer. Succinct and to the point. Ardderchog.


Impoverished communities like Blaenau Ffestiniog do have many vulnerable, mainly elderly, residents who have family heirlooms. Stuff like pianos, dressers, family trunks, wooden chairs, etc. These are of personal value in the eyes of the owner, however, in the antiques market such items can be sold for considerable sums.

I have no doubt that this ‘Grandmas Attic’ is such a parasitic enterprise.

There is someone, English by background as it happens, who I have great respect for, who is known locally to trade in such items but will always procure a fair price. His name is Drew Pritchard. I strongly recommend that any residents of Blaenau never to give or sell anything to this Grandmas Attic and Shabby Chic outfits, without first getting a full and fair valuation from Drew. He is very honest and also very knowledgeable.

If it is the intention of the owner of such items, described above, to gift items of value for charity there are many pre-existing charity shops that would be glad to accept. They specialise in specific causes, from cancer to stray animals, from sick children to convalescence for the terminally ill. There is no need to engage with dodgy upstarts from Leicester, who are evidently using such proceeds to establish their own property empire.

Also, a panad purchased in the associated establishment is robbing local enterprises of a living.


And if their “charity” is merely offering worthless certificates to the young people of Blaenau Ffestiniog (and perhaps Porthmadog), then aren’t they merely doubling up on work done by authenticated training-bodies? Compare this with the work done by, for instance certain Jewish charities that offer financial help to Jewish people to enable them to train for, and enter, the professions. That’s genuine charity. The odd food-delivery, or lift to the supermarket, for elderly Blaenau people isn’t, it’s just being a good neighbour and replicates what other local people are probably doing anyway (at least, in my village).


Another venture diverted away from Wales, or so it seems. I was never all that convinced it was ever going to happen anyway. We shall see someday where it turns up, somewhere offering bigger inducements no doubt.


No doubt those underachievers down the Bay are happy that small traders turn up at Blaenau Ffestiniog and only rip them off for relatively small change.

Rhys ap Gethin o'r Bwlch

I wonder if their range of antiques runs into stocking the old “white pith helmets” of the colonial bosses of yesteryear? They might as well dress the part as well as act the part. Fancy hinting “Police” and “Solicitors”. Next it will be “whippings for the indigenous peoples”. You don’t use such colonial wording in Gwynedd as its not good for business. It seems that they must now be avid readers of this wonderful BLOG. That being so – learn the Welsh language on a crash WLPAN Course, get a real job of work where getting your hands dirty means a result of manual toil, not greasy business deals, and go native. Threats are not the making or nature of this BLOG, but exposure is. Take a headache pill and sit in a dark room and contemplate over why you are here. You don’t come here to ever use words like “Police” and “Solicitor” to the families descended from the Penrhyn Unions.


Also, as an addition to my previous comment, Antiques to Shabby Chic (one of their old companies) used to be based at 14 High Street, Blaenau Ffestiniog, where the Grandma’s Attic office now is.


A bit more information:
Gary Halford is his name on everything official, though he’s known as Gaz Mountford on Facebook.
One of the trustees named on the charities page, Daniel Cotton, is engaged to Sam’s daughter. He is also part of Country Lifestyles Fayres. Going on this website there’s a statement to say Country Lifestyle Fayres is part of the Guildhall Antique Fairs group. This company is based at Lord Street, Blaenau Ffestiniog, Sam and Gary’s home address. Why is this company at their home address but Guildhall Fairs is at the same address as the charity, 13 High Street?
Made by Mountford (on Facebook) is a business venture by one of the daughters. They sell cakes through the charity shop.
Grandma’s Attic will be renting the Market Hall until they raise the money to buy it, but they’ve put an offer in to buy it that’s been accepted so they anticipate having the funds to buy it. All the information has said that Grandma’s Attic are buying it, so that’s a large undertaking.
Two paid jobs were created in August 2020 that will last until the end of the year (one in the charity shop and one in the office). Sam said a friend of the couple donated the money to pay for these two part-time positions.
Your article was shared in local Facebook groups and Grandma’s Attic has advised they are contacting their solicitor about it. One Facebook group has been asked to remove the article as the matter is now in the hands of the police.


Sign painted vans for Guidhall Antique Fairs and Country Lifestyle Fayres can often be seen near their home address in Lord Street (the house is for sale as they’re hoping to move to another house locally).
Several people have stated on Facebook that nothing slanderous has been said and that the article raises questions people want answered, asking Grandma’s Attic to address these, but there have been no replies yet.


Other Local Traders are not running the towns elderly and disadvantaged to the hospital, or dropping off food, offering befriending services, school holiday activities.

If you unpick and analyse anyone’s business and their own personal life, you will indded find questions that raise perhaps red flags. However, although this states the above blog is based on facts, it has no substantial evidence that foul play has occurred whatsoever.

Lots of spectaculation over why the above moved here? Why they have the trustees they do? Even down to the cash purchase of their house? (which is nobody’s business).

Why this blog falls short for me, no offence intended, is for these reasons:

* Claims they advertise being a charity since 2018, suggesting possibing misleading the general public. WRONG. It states ”
Launched in February 2018, Grandma’s Attic Community Project is a registered charity (number 1188377)”. Can you please point out where it states that they claim they have ran as a charity since 2018? Is actually claims is was launched in 2018 and is a registered charity. None of that is a mistruth or misleading.
*Questioning the trustee based in Leicester? Anyone can be a trustee, struggling to see how this grasping of straws is relevant?
*asking why Gary is named under the trading name when not listed as a director? My question is: Why not? Why shouldn’t he be named on trading articles? If he works for the company, then he is entitled to be names and carry out company duties.
* The question over ‘tax relief’ on the ‘tea rooms’. Well, with all due respect, all the local businesses are not dropping off the towns shopping, befriending the elderly and paying to run people to medical appointments.
*Indicating they should be doing the work for free. This absolutely nailed your blog. Why should anybody do all those hours and all that good work and expect to do all that for free? Good work doesn’t pay bills. Oh, that’s right, maybe they could use one of their other companies to pay for this glamorous lifestyle they have in Blaenau Ffestiniog. After all, they exiled here right?!


Somewhat off topic but evidence that things are stirring a bit in some of our communities, nation.cymru gives (grudging) coverage to Cllr.Tim Thomas’ move to WNP.


The killer comment from Plaid is the closing remark :

“Plaid Cymru is proud of the way its councillors, MSs and MPs represent their constituents with compassion and commitment in all parts of Wales. “We won’t be taking lessons in effective representation from a party which has no democratic mandate.”

If they think for a moment that what they are doing down the Bae and elsewhere across this country is “effective representation” then they are beyond salvage in their delusion. They have managed to retain some exemplars here and there but the majority of Plaid’s representative cohort isn’t worth a cup of cold piss.


No doubting that they hate McEvoy. However their hatred is rapidly extending to cover people they don’t even know – people whose values and stances on a raft of ishoos don’t align precisely with the diktats of the orthodoxy laid down by the Party’s inner circle of groupthink architects. Though “architects” is a bad choice of word, given that the whole shambles will end in tears. And I look forward to that day.


That tweet suggests that the locals aren’t very impressed. These two have displayed a profound level of ignorance of the Bro Gymraeg, and I can’t see them staying in the Bro for long unless the free handouts start rolling in from the Senedd grantocracy.


HMRC may be lax over certain issues but they are strict about companies submitting annual reports, which include accounts. This pair have seen each of their companiesfailed to last the distance before being voluntarily struck off, to be replaced by another. They seem to have submitted annual reports on only two. It takes a degree of expertise, or else an accountant, to do these properly, and these two probably can’t hack it. This may be the reason for the quick death of each of their companies, followed by the birth of a new one. Amateurism rather than nefariousness.

The ‘ghost’ companies are probably not companies; Halford and his woman are probably now sole traders in the antiques trade, but are crafty enought to use the name of one of their struck-off companies are already known to dealers and customers.

Why have they chosen to honour us with their presence in Gogland? Three possible reasons:
1/ They’re hippy white flighters. 2/ Lack of scrutiny if they’re up to no good with their CIO. 3/ The cash cow that is Cardiff Bay.

How have they managed to start acquiring Welsh real estate? 1/ Inheritance from Mummy and Daddy? 2/ Blaenau’s cheap. Eventually they’ll sell the Blaenau Ffestiniog properties and move to a more touristy town, e.g. sunny Abersoch, and open an overpriced antique shop.

But keep an eye on them, Jac.