Standing on the steps of the impressive Georgian era manor at Castletalbot, Blackwater, Jonathan Andrew is a man with a vision.
Tucked away just outside the village, the imposing house and it's picturesque lands were purchased by his parents Denis and Louise when they retired there from Glasgow back in 1990. Having grown up in Blackwater and attended St Peter's College, making a name for himself in show-jumping along the way, Jonathan is all too aware of the potential of the lands that he calls home.
Just over a year ago, he decided to open up the grounds at Talbot Lake to the general public. With the help of friends, he dug trails around the 17 acre man-made lake and installed some picnic tables with a magnificent view over it, along with a quaint playground for the little ones.
'It's kind of a long story,' the 26 year-old laughs. 'We applied for planning permission to build log cabins and install them around the grounds, but for one reason or another that plan never worked out. I just knew I wanted to open the place up to the public though, so I started digging out and improving the paths and installed the picnic area, the playground and the coffee kiosk.
'I always wanted to do something with the place though and while I was involved in show-jumping, my career has taken a different path now and I'm hoping to build this up slowly but surely.'
The project is most definitely a work in progress, but Jonathan is not afraid of putting in the hard work. He smiles as he recalls wading into the lake to clear it himself, the damage that the adorable ponies on site can do to the grounds when they get loose, or how it takes around four and a half hours to mow the lawns. For the moment, he runs the show himself, getting a helping hand from his mam who mans the coffee dock for him, however, he hopes this will change.
'Ideally what I'd love to do is build it up even further from the nature walk,' he said. 'Down the line I'd love to install glamping pods and stock the lake with fish and do fishing holidays. For now we're planting another 3,000 trees and we're looking at installing another woodland walk to add to the 1.3km loop that's there at the moment. I'd also love to make it more wheelchair accessible and to put in some kind of clubhouse with a proper café.'
'What I'd love to do long term is to host food festivals or a small music festival here and maybe even get into the wedding market.'
For now though it's a one man operation and since opening last year, he's seen quite a few people pass through the gates. In the year of the staycation, he's hoping to see even larger crowds arrive in August as they look for somewhere new to visit and a place to avoid the crowds of the larger tourist traps.
'On a busy day, we'd easily have around 40 cars through the gates,' he said. 'In the winter we stay open, but we operate with an honesty box that people can pay into. At €5 per car, it's not a lot of money. Any money we make at the moment goes straight back into it.'
While some of the trails are a little treacherous under foot and some of the shrubbery may not be immaculately maintained, part of the charm of Talbot Lake lies within it's natural state.
'We have all kinds of wildlife here,' Jonathan says. 'We have otters and ducks on the lake and we also have extremely rare dragonflies which attract photographers from all over.'
As well as all this, there's also animals on site which include the adorable miniature ponies and a donkey and alpaca bearing the wonderful names Larry and Derek! The potential at Talbot Lake is endless and even before Jonathan implements his ambitious plans, it makes for a welcome change of pace away from the frantic scenes that have become commonplace at some local attractions.