Private Quilt Workshops at Coed y Berclas

 Private Quilt Workshops at Coed y Berclas

At the moment, we have Julie and Anthony staying at the Cottage, along with members of their family who have dropped in for a few days, one or two at a time. Julie, already a skilled needlewoman, has been having quilting lessons with me and is enjoying herself, adding new skills to her repertoire.

She hit a good time to holiday here as she caught the last of my current series of Individual Workshops and was able to join the group doing Reverse Applique (contemporary style!). She was pushed well outside her comfort zone and had fun escaping her usual symmetrical approach to produce a really lovely piece of work which you can see for yourself in the photograph taken at my group’s ‘end of term’ Pot Luck Lunch, on Sunday 4th July.

While Julie has been doing patchwork and quilting with me, the other members of her family have been discovering Anglesey and North Wales before being guided gently towards one or two of the quilt shops we have on the Island. They have climbed Snowdon, visited Bodnant Gardens and Beaumaris Castle, watched nesting seabirds at South Stack, been body boarding at Cable Bay on the north coast, enjoyed ice cream at Red Boat and a lot more beside.

While at Cable Bay Julie sat quietly quilting a piece of wholecloth work she had designed, layered and begun stitching in a private workshop with me. You can also see how that’s developing in one of the Show and Tell photos from our lunch party on the 4th. The section you can see is only part of a bed quilt Julie is planning to make – the drawing is done and at the rate she’s working, it won’t be too long before it’s finished.

Having come to grips with Machine Quilting, at our next session together she tackled a version of Magic Tile; so keep an eye on the blog to see how that looks later on. I must ask her to let me have photos of all her finished work.

I have to add that I too have really enjoyed myself: Julie has been very good company, always open to new approaches, fun to spend time with and at the Pot Luck Lunch she blended in with my regular quilt groups as though they’d all been friends for ages.

Private Quilt workshops at Coed y Berclas


July 9th 2010

Beaumaris Court

Beaumaris Court house performance

Court scenes at Beaumaris

This afternoon Daf and I were invited to a special performance at Beaumaris Courthouse, a lovely old building which has seen the balance of justice swing to and fro since 1614.

We were in very distinguished company: following brief speeches by representatives of Anglesey Council’s Department of Leisure and Culture and an amusing delivery, given with urbane skill by Alun Ffred Jones, Minister for Heritage (in which Daf was given a mention!), we were treated to a performance by Cwmni’r Frân Wen (an Anglesey based group of professional actors).

Assembled outside the Courthouse by the ‘Town Crier’ we were ushered into the building and settled in various parts of the court to attend the ‘trial’. I found myself climbing an old wooden stairway to become a member of the jury, seated in a box overlooking the body of the courtroom.

Other guests represented members of the press or the public and everyone was closely involved in the performance as the actors delivered two different cases for our entertainment and education.

When asked for our verdict on a man accused of ship wrecking (1742), we, the jury, offered a distinct ‘not guilty’, much to the delight of both the man and his vociferous wife.

  • These performances are offered to the public:
  • 31st May – 6th June 2010
  • 19th July – 30 August 2010
  • 25th -31st October 2010
  • Monday, Thursday and Saturday 11:00/12:00/2:00/3:00

And I can honestly say that it brought the court to life and would be both fun and interesting to all ages. Cwmni’r Frân Wen will also be performing at the Round Houses at Llynnon Mill, Llanddeusant, giving a fascinating insight into Pre-historic life.

  • 31st May – 6th June 2010
  • 19th July – 30 August 2010
  • 25th -31st October 2010
  • Wednesday and Sunday 11:00/12:00/2:00/3:00

I’ve seen the Round Houses and they were bigger than I expected, about 10metres in diameter, and beautifully built according to archeolological information. They are reconstructions of buildings inhabited on Anglesey about 3000 years ago; of timber construction with wattle and daub walls and, in order to be truly authentic, the thatch for the roof was imported from the Continent.

With Llynnon Mill on the same site, built in 1775, and the only working windmill left in Wales, there’s a lot to learn and enjoy. And when you’ve absorbed enough history, there’s also the tearoom!

Dorothy Russell

29th May 2010
pMonday, Thursday and Saturday 11:00/12:00/2:00/3:00

Graham Mills Landscape Artist

Watercolour by Graham Mills  'Bangor Pier'

Artist Graham Mills and his wife Rosie, from Milton Keynes, stayed at Coed y Berclas during the second week of the Easter holidays. They had beautiful weather for the whole week, which gave Graham the opportunity to produce a series of watercolour paintings of the view from the Cottage Orchard, looking over the Menai Straits and Bangor Pier towards the mountains of Snowdonia. We thought you might like to see some of the resulting images. We chose two of our favourites. Graham says next time he stays here he’s going to bring acrylic paints and really let rip. We look forward to putting photos of some of those paintings on the blog too.

This is what Graham and Rosy wrote in the Visitors’ Book:-

‘We had the most fantastic time, we pre-ordered the weather so that we could sit and enjoy the amazing views. We were able to sit out every morning and night (6 days of sun). Everything about the stay was great, fantastic warm genuine welcome, the website which is excellent does not convey the reality, it would be impossible to.

We both enjoyed painting the views from the terrace, I ran out of paper, will not make that mistake next time. There is much to do and explore on the Island, we enjoyed the artists open studios, if these are not open then look around the cottage at Dorothy’s work. We will be back with more paint and brushes, enjoy your stay, tell all your friends but not for the week that I would like it next year.

Just relax and float into the landscape.’



Berclas Blog 28th March 2010

daffodils on the upper lawn at the cottage

Today we woke up to the first official day of British Summertime. I don’t mind losing an hour of sleep as it feels so positive: the run up to long warm Summer evenings spent in the garden or sauntering along the lane after an evening meal. Have you ever noticed how many more people you meet as friends and neighbours come out of Winter hibernation, drawn by gentle warmth and longer hours of daylight?

The birds definitely know it’s Spring; the dawn chorus is wonderful and there is song and activity throughout the day. The bird feeders in the oak tree are a delight to watch as lots of small birds avail themselves of an easy meal – I’d rather the jackdaws stayed away however, we call them the ‘football hooligans’ as they descend in gangs, raid the feeders and even manage to fling them to the ground. The small birds return immediately the vandals have flown off and seem unhassled by the whole performance.

Rabbits are also much in evidence, with some small ones already running around the lawns. They save us a lot of fuel for the lawn mower by keeping the grass short but, unfortunately, they won’t eat weeds! I wasn’t happy last Summer however when one of their number ate every single fruit from my little fig tree – I had no idea they could reach it – I’d been watching them ripening with much anticipation but I obviously wasn’t alone because one day every fig was gone! I hope the guilty little perisher had a tummy ache!

Up on the ‘daffodil lawn’, just above the Cottage, the flowers are in full bloom now – it’s a picture every year, with all those sunny yellow heads nodding gently in the breeze – and the hyacinths and camellia are looking so lovely around the garden. It won’t be long before our woods are carpeted with bluebells again.

I really love the arrival of Spring here at Coed y Berclas but I must start making plans to protect my figs this year!


Waitrose at Menai Bridge

New Waitrose at Menai Bridge

If you’re coming to Coed y Berclas for a holiday, you can do your shopping here and save the suspension and the fuel consumption on your car – we now have a wide choice of supermarkets, a farmers market (once a month), Llangefni market (twice a week ) and a selection of independent shops in Menai Bridge and Beaumaris.

There has been a little excitement hereabouts; the Co-op in Menai Bridge has closed and after fairly extensive alterations the building will soon be home to the new Waitrose in Menai Bridge. Hopefully this will reverse the shopping flow across the bridges and the mainlanders will be heading to Anglesey to divest themselves of their hard earned cash. The new store will open on Thursday 25th March 2010.

Today Daf and I went to a Waitrose promotion day which was, of course, well attended. There was lots of information and a few tasty morsels of Welsh produce to try. The new manager was there to meet and greet and we were shown a scan-it-yourself system.

It seems the new staff are being steadily absorbed into the Waitrose way of doing things and I’m assured that to be a front-line, meet the public worker there are stringent rules of engagement.

I must say, I’m looking forward to a leisurely wander through the new store and a relaxed cuppa in the new Waitrose cafe but I think I might just wait until the queues reduce a little.


Improvements at the Cottage

New Oak in the cottage kitchen

We have replaced the kitchen unit doors and drawers in the Cottage with solid oak and I have to say they look lovely – a great improvement – you just can’t beat real wood. Winning ‘Best Self Catering Establishment 2010’ has not allowed us to ‘rest on our laurels’ – on the contrary, it has given us a lot to live up to – I have other improvements in mind for the near future!


Spring 2010

Spring Snowdrops 2010

The snowdrops and crocuses are blooming together here at Coed y Berclas but, as yet, the camellias are refusing to open their buds – the temperatures have been a bit chilly lately, although, as we benefit from the warmth of the Gulf we haven’t had the cold weather suffered by much of the rest of Britain. Today we have a stunning blue sky and glorious, warm sunshine and are looking over at snow on the mountains, which are breathtakingly lovely. Recent guests, on a similar day, sat out in the Cottage orchard enjoying the early promise of Spring.

I’m looking forward to warmer weather arriving, not just because I love being outside on a lovely day but also because I want to be able to look out for red squirrels – I still haven’t seen one and here we are, living in ‘Red Squirrel Woodland’: there are plenty of signs up saying so! Fingers crossed!

Snow on Snowdonia Spring 2010


Cottage at Coed y Berclas has won the ATA Award ‘Best Self Catering Establishment of the Year 2010’

Anglesey Tourism Association award LOGO - Coed y Berclas Winner

Daf and I donned our best bib and tucker to attend the Anglesey Tourism Awards Dinner at Tre Ysgawen on the evening of Friday 29th January – Coed y Berclas was nominated in the category Best Self Catering Establishment of the Year.

It was a fantastic evening, in splendid surroundings, presided over by BBC presenter Rhun ap Iorwerth, with illustrious guests, Deputy First Minister for Wales, Ieuan Wyn Jones, Albert Owen, MP for Anglesey and speakers from Welsh tourism organisations. There were lots of old friends as well as new people to meet and the atmosphere was buzzing.

The perfect high point of our evening came with Coed y Berclas being announced as the winner in its category – Best Self Catering Establishment of the Year 2010. Take a look at the new logo; we’re very proud to be able to use it.

I now feel we have something to live up to and I’m looking at ways to improve what we can offer at Coed y Berclas: in fact, we’re about to replace the kitchen unit doors with solid oak, which feels like a good start!

A huge thank you has to go to Pip, Jane, Jo and everyone else at ATA involved in the organisation of this superb Awards evening.


Kite Surfers at Llanddwyn and European Geopark Status

Kite surfers at Llanddwyn beach

Daf and I had a lovely walk along Llanddwyn Beach in a brisk breeze and lovely sunshine the other day. It was great to get some exercise and blow away the winter cobwebs. Obviously the kite surfers felt the same way; they were out in force, their brightly coloured kites flying high and skimming them across the white capped waves. We just had to stop for a while to watch them: luckily Daf had his camera with him.

The Isle of Anglesey has been awarded European Geopark Status

On my first visit to Oriel Ynys Mon I stood in the history gallery fascinated by a relief map of the Isle of Anglesey which showed its fascinating geological structure. Huge upheavals exposing widely differing strata were evident and here lay the explanation of the environmental diversity across our Island.

Now this special geology has been recognised by the awarding of European Geopark Status. If, like me, you’d never heard of it and have no idea what it means, let me explain: a European Geopark is a clearly defined area with a number of important geological sites which are rare, aesthetically appealing and of scientific interest. They may also have cultural, archaeological and historic interest.

A superb description of Anglesey: there are beautiful examples at South Stack, Paris Mountain, Newborough and Llanddwyn and in many other places around the Island.

We have always known how diverse and beautiful Anglesey is and now we have ‘official recognition’.


23rd January 2010

Beaumaris New Year Fireworks 2010

Beaumaris fireworks over the castle New Year 2010

This Christmas there has been snow on the mountains throughout and we even managed a couple of flurries of hailstones and had ice on the pond here at Coed y Berclas. Daf took some lovely photos of frost patterns which might become inspiration for a quilt at some time in the future.

However the photo which just had to be featured in this blog comes from the New Year’s Eve midnight firework display on the walls of Beaumaris Castle. The night was frosty and sharp with a clear sky and the most astonishing full moon cast silver blue light, creating strong shadows over the landscape. The backdrop of snowy mountains added to the magical feel as the crowd, dressed for the weather, was thrilled by the display. We really enjoy the sense of community this gathering gives.


1st January 2010