We had an unusually quiet Christmas this year; not so much on the restaurant side, which was its usual festive self, but from a personal point of view.
After we closed on Christmas Eve, we took the opportunity to thank all our full-time and casual staff for their hard work throughout the year. Rob cooked them a meal and I served. They loved the idea of being pampered for once, especially after a few glasses of bubbly.
We were closed on Christmas Day, so Rob and I played host to my family. I cooked, while Rob and my dad sampled wines from around the world. In fact, they both did little else all day.
I surpassed myself with our festive lunch - Jack Scaithe's black pudding to start, whole roasted local free-range goose with Black Fox organic cider to follow, and Christmas pudding soufflé. It all went down a storm, finishing off with Coulston and Bassett Stilton, Dad's favourite.
New Year's Eve was, as usual, full-on in the pub. There was a mass exodus at 11.45pm to Montgomery town square to watch the fireworks go off in time with the town hall clock striking 12. The light rain only added to the atmosphere, rather than dampening the occasion.
The night also brought good news for our kitchen assistant, Peter, who managed to secure a week's placement in February with Nigel Haworth at Northcote Manor. Rob had e-mailed Nigel asking for a placement at 10.45pm and he had responded 20 minutes later, saying: "That should be no problem." A meeting was set up with Peter and, after sampling Northcote Manor's food, he's looking forward to his placement immensely.
Our thanks go out to Nigel. He allows trainees into his kitchen and takes the time to encourage young people, not only by showing them Michelin-starred standards of food and service but also by encouraging the right attitude to work. I would like to be able to return the compliment some day.
I hope the weather stays mild, as January gives me time to walk the beaches of west Wales with my two Great Danes. I do so love those cold mornings, walking for five or six miles along empty beaches; it gives you an opportunity to reflect on life - and how good that hot coffee will taste when you get back to the car.
January also allows time for repairs and improvements to be made to the pub. We need to do some retiling and to reorganise the cellar, so we can put in more wall racks and give it a coat of paint.
On one of the stormy days last November a tree fell on a local farmer's field. We bought a chainsaw, and hope it will stop raining and harden underfoot so we can get out and sort out next year's log supply. We've been offered storage space for the wood, and think there's about 18 months-worth of it. It's a big tree - it looks like it will be there until next summer at least.
Sara Pezzack is the proprietor of the Bricklayers Arms, Montgomery, Powys
Next diary from Sara Pezzack: 6 March