Berclas Blog 1st June 2009… a Tit

A Blue Tit chick

The weather is just gorgeous: the sun is shining from a clear blue sky onto a blue sea rippled by gentle breezes and the mountains are clear as though they had been cut out. All the trees are in full leaf and the sound of bird song fills the air. We watched recently as a family of blue tit fledglings left their nest in the cottage nest box one at a time – some of them were distinctly nervous of leaving their sanctuary, their little fluffy heads bobbing in and out as they summoned up the courage. The rabbits too have a number of young (well that’s what rabbits are supposed to do!) including some really tiny babies. They form the welcome party at the entrance to our drive and frolic, as though to entertain us, on the lower lawns.

The buzzard parents have been teaching their young how to fly, calling to them to watch the most amazing aerial displays – we, of course, were watching too. How wonderful it must be to soar, swoop, hover and dive with such consummate skill – I can both admire and be envious of this wonderful bird and its astonishing abilities up there in the wide open skies.


Classic British Sports Cars at Coed y Berclas.

A Morgan and a TR6 came to Coed y Berclas

We had a treat over the May Day bank holiday… Two beautiful classic cars swept down the drive at Coed y Berclas – a Morgan and a Triumph TR6 – all the more poignant for us as Daf once had a TR4A and I had a TR6 and subsequently a Triumph Stag; all wonderful British sports cars. They were then to be seen touring round Anglesey for the next few days and I’m sure a lot of heads were turned. Usually classic cars, like butterflies, hibernate, (snug in their garages – getting a lot of ‘hands on’ attention) then come out, as the days get longer and the weather kinder, to display their beauty in the sunshine. We look forward to more visits in the future. I’ve just realised I haven’t even mentioned their owners – well, they were all lovely too!


Quilt Workshops Anglesey

Dorothy Russell Quilting workshop on Anglesey

I’m now half way through the twelve session quilting course I’m teaching to a group of new quilters and I’m enjoying it hugely. They are all lovely; they’re getting on really well both with their work and with each other – and they want to carry on after this course – which is brilliant.

I hope lots of the quilts will be ready for the Llandygai Patchers’ Exhibition in Menai Bridge in August this year.

I also offer patchwork/quilting lessons to guests staying at Coed y Berclas Holiday Cottage but recently I had a request to teach a lady staying elsewhere on Anglesey – I hadn’t previously thought of offering quilt days to visitors other than those staying with us, but why not – so if you live on Anglesey or in North Wales or are visiting the area – wherever you’re staying – and you would like to enjoy a few hours of Patchwork and Quilting tuition, beginner or improver, give me a call or send an email.

In September I will be starting another twelve session Beginners Quilting Course too – Contact me for information and to put your name down.


Ice Cream in Beaumaris

Red Boat Ice Cream Parlour, Beaumaris

Sunday 22nd March 2009

Daf and I went to Beaumaris this morning to buy some teak garden furniture for the Apartment – there are quite often interesting sales in the Bulkeley Hotel Ballroom.

While we were there, we spotted a new arrival on Castle Street which is going to be a must for our guests – an Ice Cream Parlour called Red Boat – offering ice creams, sorbets, coffees, paninis and sandwiches. I enjoyed a Bounty flavoured ice cream in a cone and Daf had an amazing blend of pineapple and basil, which was really good. The only thing which worries me is that we may feel driven to try every flavour!


A spring Daffodil

The snowdrops have now finished flowering and the daffodils are in full bloom especially on the aptly named ‘Daffodil Lawn’ which catches sunlight throughout the day. In fact, Coed y Berclas ushered in St David’s Day (March 1st) with a fanfare of the first yellow trumpets opening their smiling faces to the sun. These lovely blooms were well chosen as Wales’ national emblem. We brought one daffodil into the house where it glows in our kitchen against a backdrop of Snowdonia and the Menai Strait.

The Spring has begun here in earnest and the birds are busy, their song brightening our garden – I’ve been out there starting the seasonal tidying. There’s plenty to keep me busy and soon I’ll be out in the vegetable garden getting the seed potatoes in – I love going out mid summer, taking crops straight from our garden and into the kitchen. I don’t know whether they do taste better but they certainly seem to and they couldn’t be fresher. It always takes me back to my childhood, sent out to pick peas for Sunday lunch – there were always three for the bowl and one for me and I still eat a few while I’m picking – I refuse to cook any peas I’ve grown, they’re much better fresh!

Geese at Malltraeth Nature reserve

The days are lengthening now and Daf and I went back to Llyn Coed Mawr at Malltraeth – such a lovely peaceful place – and this time there were no fewer than ten egrets sitting together like sophisticated white mopheads resting in the last of the day’s sunlight. Two pairs of Canada geese noisily layed claim to the same small island, Mallard were ‘a dabbling, up tails all’, a couple of Gadwall glided silently along with the ‘peeping’ coot, while a group of Shovelers paired up to perform an intricate circle dance. The bright eyes of the Tufted Ducks caught our attention before they vanished under water to come up some distance away. A large Buzzard flew low over the water but none of the waterfowl seemed in the least bit disturbed. High in a tree two Raven sat motionless, surveying the scene below. I’m sure you can see why Llyn Coed Mawr is now one of our favourite places.


Posted: 2009-03-08

Red squirrels on Anglesey

An Anglesey squirrel

10th Feb 2009

We had a visit today from Craig Shuttleworth of Menter Mon. He is responsible for overseeing the development of the Red Squirrel population on Anglesey and we’re pleased to note that these lovely creatures are well settled in Pentraeth Forest and Newborough Warren. Not only that, they’ve been seen very near to Coed y Berclas and we’re assured that it’s only a matter of time before they are seen in our woodland.I can’t wait! The last time I saw a red squirrel was on a visit to the Lake District in the early 1980s.

Menter Mon’s work is supported by the Red Squirrel Survival Trust which has Prince Charles as its Patron. It is vital the grey squirrel is kept away from red squirrel settlements. Not only do they out-compete they also bring with them a pox to which they are immune but which brings a lingering and painful death to the reds. Just imagine how lovely it will be to wander through woodland and know that at any moment we might catch a glimpse of one of Britain’s most endearing native creatures.


Posted: 2009-02-11


Telford’s awesome suspension bridge

Telford's awesome suspension bridge

I walked down from the scenic lay by on the old A5 road out of Menai Bridge, to pick up the Angesey Coastal Path down by the water edge. I wanted a shot of the Telford Suspension Bridge at dusk across the Swellies. It was low water springs and the ebb had ritually changed its mind. It wanted to get my feet wet. A heron flew across the shot, I sank a bit in the mud and didn’t get the shot I wanted. The bridge was awesome.

I had quite forgotten how lovely the little Church of St Tysilio is, nestling on the island beneath the bridge. By the time I arrived through Coed Cyrnol it was dark, so after a look around the little island, I returned over the causeway and turned along the Belgian Promenade towards the bridge. Again I ventured to the water edge to see a most awesome view of the floodlit bridge with the moon beyond trying to poke her face through the clouds. The lapping water thought my feet weren’t already wet enough. I had a word with Canute. I sank in the mud again. The tide doesn’t seem to understand the photographer’s needs. I got half a shot…

Daf… trainee photographer

Posted: 2009-02-11

Snow on the Carneddau

Snow on the Carneddau

Sunday 8th February 2009

I’m looking out from our living room at Snowdonia, beautiful in its white overcoat. At lunch time, Daf watched tiny figures walking down Carnedd Dafydd, along the ridge which looks over to the Black Ladders. On Anglesey, protected by our proximity to the sea, we have the best of both worlds: we can look out at stunning views of snow on the mountains while not suffering its inconveniences. Well, it suits me!

On Friday a flock of 20 Canada geese flew low over the Cottage. The sound of their wing beats and their calls made them feel very close indeed. I’m also keeping a lookout for Red Squirrels which have been sited in the area.


Posted: 2009-02-10 22:19:59

Mon 26 Jan 2009… up tails all

Swans on our local lake

After a chilly day, which had started grey and threatening, moved on to short rain showers with a stunningly colourful rainbow set against a mostly-blue sky; Daf and I took a pleasant late afternoon walk along the lane to the the lake, timing it so we would arrive as the sun was slowly setting, sending beautiful pink, flame and mauve reflections twinkling and rippling across the slow surface of the water.

There are myriad lifeforms living in and around this old reservoir, most of which are shy of humans and keep themselves hidden. As we arrived, the coot and moor hens scattered in a noisy flurry of wings, settling again in the centre of the lake, safe from our intrusion.

However, as we stood quietly for some time, absorbing the tranquility, one of the pair of swans we frequently see here glided gently across the water towards us, leaving his mate, more timid, quietly circling near the other birds. Most elegant of birds, he serenely put on a display like an effortless ballet, all the time keeping an eye on his entranced audience – how lucky to be in the presence of such a magnificent creature.

Gaining courage, his mate joined him in a pas de deux more graceful than anything seen at Covent Garden. Finally, certain we were little threat they began feeding ‘up tails all’, not so elegant and rather amusing us, but still the control and gentility was striking. Eventually, in the gathering darkness, they glided away together and we turned from the lake to walk home to the warmth and comfort of Coed y Berclas.


Posted: 2009-02-01