Squirrels on Anglesey

A squirrel on Anglesey by Duncan Rose

Duncan took these superb photographs of red squirrels while staying at Coed y Berclas. Reds squirrels are native to the British Isles, Grey squirrels are not. As Anglesey is an island it made it easier to remove the greys squirrels and allow the red squirrel community to thrive.

We have seen red squirrels in the grounds at Coed y Berclas, as have our neighbours. Reds are much more attractive than the greys which threatened their existence and are now increasing in number on the Island. We love to see them.

A squirrel on Anglesey by Duncan Rose

At Coed y Berclas, even when they haven’t been seen them for a while, we have evidence they’re around. There are little oak and hazel trees growing around the garden. As they are well away from any parent trees, the only explanation is that they were red squirrel stores which were forgotten. We will plant the trees in suitable spots where they can grow and supply food for later generations.

RAF T2 Hawks flying over Anglesey from Valley

Duncan also sent us an amazing image of two T2 Hawks at RAF Valley, which is towards the north-west of the island.

RAF Valley is a fighter pilot training base. It was placed on Anglesey because of the consistently clear weather. Sometimes we see jets flying high above the Menai Strait. We have even enjoyed the sight of the Red Arrows Display Team flying up the Nant Francon Valley towards us, weaving sky patterns and leaving coloured trails behind them.

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, was based at RAF Valley as a helicopter pilot on Air Sea Rescue duty.

What a special photographer! Thank you, Duncan.

20th May 2016

Christmas Day on Llanddwyn Beach, Anglesey

Christmas day on Llanddwyn beach

Following the wild weather across the UK before Christmas, it was a relief to awake on Christmas Day to the lovely morning which had been promised by the Met Office.

It was an easy decision to go to Newborough Warren and Llanddwyn which is only a short drive away from us, at the south western tip of Anglesey. When we arrived, the car park contained quite a few vehicles already. We put on coats and boots to keep us warm and set off to walk through the woods towards Ynys Llanddwyn, but we stopped by the entrance to the car park, enchanted by the wooden ‘totems’ standing like sentinels: they had been designed by local school children but there was nothing to say who had carved them. They depicted the creatures of the woodland around them.

totems at Llanddwyn beach
totems at Llanddwyn Beach

I always find walking through the woodland at Newborough Warren relaxing and quite wonderful – although I’m still waiting to see my first red squirrel there! The trees are a mix of deciduous and conifer, growing in sand-dunes which always remind me of camel humps. The sun was streaming through as we wandered along, greeting walkers we met along the way. We dropped down onto the beach and walked past the amazing pillar lava rock formations, across the causway and onto Ynys Llanddwyn – Dwynwen’s Isle.


Dwynwen is the Welsh patron saint of lovers and her story is on a board beside the ruins of the little church dedicated to her, to which many pilgrims trecked before Henry VIII intervened. Also on the island, which is a nature reserve, there are two lighthouses and a row of pilots’ cottages, which date back to the time when pilots were required to guide large ships across Caernarfon Bar and into the Menai Strait.

Pilots Cove at Llanddwyn island

There is a beautiful sheltered bay, Pilots’ Cove, with a sandy beach – now a delightful play area: in summer, yachts and power boats moor just outside its mouth. Even in the depths of winter people take pleasure in the tranquility and sense of history the island gives.

gate at llanddwyn island

Leaving the island just before high tide, we walked back along the long stretch of sandy beach, with wonderful views towards the mainland and down the Lleyn Peninsula. There were a lot more people walking towards us and because it was near high tide we were all restricted to a narrower section of the beach, so, for once, it felt a little crowded. We even met our neighbours and their house guests! Normally, even if the car park is full to bursting, everyone spreads out through the woodland and over the long stretches of sandy beach and there is never a sense of crowding. It is a wonderful place, in all weathers and at all times of year, and we islanders are very fond of this special area.

Dorothy Russell

26th December 2013

Wholecloth Quilting at Coed y Berclas

I had fun working with two sisters, Tracey and Shelly, who stayed at the cottage for a few days with their husbands, John and Patrick. For Shelley’s birthday, her family treated her to a day of Wholecloth with me, so she and Tracey designed a 16” block, transferred it to fabric, layered it and started quilting. By the end of the day you could see how good they were going to be – and each totally different from the other.

They had stunning weather and managed to do a lot of walking.

While we quilted, John and Partick went to Elin’s Tower at South Stack, at the north-west corner of Anglesey, where they could watch the nesting sea-birds on the cliffs below, via cctv.

Elin's Tower. RSPB observation post by South Stack

The lighthouse at South-stack is a beautiful sight in all weathers, sitting on its twisting rock. We love sailing round it, but only in settled conditions! The sea can become quite dangerous there in rough weather, but it’s lovely to stand safely on shore and gaze down on it.

South Stack Lighthouse


Happy Valentine’s day 2013!

Happy St Valentine’s Day, although in Wales we celebrate St Dwynwen’s Day on 25th January.

Dwynwen is the Welsh patron saint of lovers. She was one of the many handsome children of Brychan Brycheiniog. Maelon Dyfodrull fell in love with her but her father would not permit them to marry. (that’s fathers for you!)

Maelon was angry and threatened to rape her (it doesn’t look as though there was much love involved in his side of the relationship!!) Dwynwen anxiously prayed to be saved from his advances and Maelon was turned to ice (that probably slowed him up a little!)

Given three wishes by an angel, Dwynwen wished to be free of Maelon, that she would never marry and that she would be able to help others to find love.

With a sister and a brother, Dwynwen travelled, preaching and establishing Christian churches, finally settling on a little island just off Anglesey, now known as Llanddwyn, Dwynwen’s church/parish.

Dwynwen's church/parish on llanddwyn Island

Llanddwyn is a beautiful place, with miles of sandy beaches, walks through mixed woodland and is lapped by the Irish Sea in all its moods The island is accessible by a short causeway at most states of the tide and is well worth visiting, whether or not you are encountering difficulties in love. Currently, work is being done to maintain the remains of the little church dedicated to Santes Dwynwen on Llanddwyn.

Valentine’s Day 2013

Olympic Torch Beaumaris Menai Bridge 29th May 2012

Flotilla of RAF rescue helicopter and boats accompany the Olympic torch down the Menai Strait

Early this morning, we walked down our lane to the shore of the Menai Strait and waited on the jetty by The Gazelle to see the Olympic Flame carried, on the Beaumaris RNLI Lifeboat, from the town of Beaumaris to Menai Bridge.

Its journey began at Beaumaris Castle; it was escorted through the town to the lifeboat station, by the root of Beaumaris Pier, where it was handed to the Lifeboat boat crew and taken aboard the station’s Atlantic 85 RIB, the Annette Mary Liddington.

The Inshore Lifeboat carrying the Olympic Torch then left bound for Menai Bridge, escorted by a flotilla of small boats, mainly RIBs, with the magnificent Sea King Air Sea Rescue helicopter from RAF Valley flying overhead like a guardian angel.

the armada powered toward us

It was very moving as this mini armada powered toward us, coming from the east as the sun rose higher into a bright sky, and most exciting as it passed between where we stood on the Anglesey shore and the end of Bangor Pier, where more well-wishers stood to wave it on its way.

Flotilla forges on to Menai Bridge

On arrival at Menai Bridge, the flame was carried through the town and across the beautiful Telford Suspension Bridge back to the Welsh mainland, continuing its journey to the mountains of Snowdonia where it was carried to the summit of Snowdon by the climber, Sir Chris Bonington, who travelled, for the first time, on the Snowdon Mountain Railway.

Sunshine, blue skies and birdsong all day long – wonderful!

Dorothy Russell

12th May 2012

Beaumaris Festival 31st May – 7th June 2012

Beaumaris Festival Brochure cover 2012

Don’t the years go by quickly!

It’s very nearly time for Beaumaris festival again – and there is a lot on offer this year. I looked at the concerts and talks and decided I would like to go to everything! Unfortunately time and budget constraints make this tricky so I will be forced to choose.

As well as the formal timetable, there is a Crafts Fair on The Green, an Art Exhibition at the Canolfan and the Woodturners will, once again, be in the Town Hall.

All the information you need to enjoy the Festival can be found on the website.


Daf and I got back to Anglesey today, from a very rainy Lancashire, to discover that our guests had been walking in glorious sunshine and had been working on their tans! We really enjoyed our stay in Lancashire, but it reminded us why we love living on Anglesey!

The Giant Wheel will be on The Green in Beaumaris.

Beaumaris is gearing itself up to offer Anglesey residents and visitors to the Island a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the world from a different perspective with the “Beaumaris Eye” which comes to town from Saturday 26 May to Saturday 9 June. These dates coincide with the annual Beaumaris Festival.

Giant wheel at the 2012 Beaumaris Festival

The Giant Wheel, which at 35 metres high and with 24 gondolas each taking six passengers, will open up everyone’s eyes with views across the Island, down the Menai Strait, over to Caernarfon and Llandudno as well as the Snowdonia Mountain Range.

Dorothy Russell

12th May 2012

Anglesey – Island of Quilts ‘Falling into Place’ Exhibition

The Isle of Anglesey is renowned for many things: beautiful beaches, water-sports, lovely walks, stunning views, wide range of specialist produce, history, golf – the list goes on and on.

However one thing you may not be aware of is the strength of Art/Crafts on the Island and one area in particular has a large following: Textile Art, especially in the form of Patchwork and Quilting. In case the only image which just popped into your mind was an old fashioned quilt on a Victorian bed, you will be in for a surprise. Bed quilts are wonderful, of course, but there is so much more, and it’s all happening here on Anglesey.

Anglesey - Island of Quilts 'Falling into Place' Exhibition

Take, for example, ‘Falling into Place’ currently on show at Canolfan Ucheldre, Holyhead. This is an exhibition of work by people of all ages who have attended my Courses and Individual Workshops and I am so very proud of all of them and what they have achieved.

‘Falling into Place’ runs from 7th January to 5th February 2012 at:-
  • Canolfan Ucheldre, Millbank, Holyhead, Anglesey LL65 1TE
  • 01407 763361
  • Open Monday to Saturday 10am – 5pm. Sunday 2pm – 5pm.

If you can visit, I’m sure you’ll enjoy seeing the work.

There are many groups working in textiles on Anglesey and we are very well supported by specialist shops: Tan Lan, Copperfield, Kit ‘n Kaboodle, Siop Eleni,The Sewing Machine Shop. Contacts for all of these are available on my site, www.dotrussell.co.uk. Envious visitors can’t believe we pack so much into one island: they think we’re spoilt – yes we are, and we love it. Anglesey really is the Island of Quilts.

Don’t forget that you can join the fun by having a one to one, or small group, tailored workshop with me while you are holidaying on Anglesey/North Wales. You can even stay at Cottage at Coed y Berclas.

Dorothy Russell

8th January 2012

Royal Wedding on Anglesey

Images from the televised Royal Wedding at Mona showground, Anglesey

Like many other people, Daf and I watched as Prince William and Kate Middleton were married and became the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. We saw the ceremony relayed to huge monitors at the Anglesey Showground, as the Island celebrated with festivities entitled ‘One Big Day’. I was there demonstrating Patchwork and Quilting with members of my quilt classes.

Here on Anglesey, where they live and work, I’m sure the Duke and Duchess will continue to be referred to, with affection, as William and Kate.

Kate has appeared once more, in the newspapers, coming out of Waitrose in Menai Bridge (our local supermarket). It must be very difficult trying to maintain a ‘normal existence’ while being followed everywhere by cameras: perfect hair, make-up and dress, just to pop out for a spot of shopping – sounds like hard work to me! Nice security man to help with the bags though!

Images from the televised Royal Wedding at Mona showground, Anglesey

At the time of the wedding we had a lovely family staying in the cottage. We always have a welcome pack: tea, coffee, milk, butter and homemade Welsh cakes waiting for guests when they arrive. This time the tables were turned: our guests left us a special present – beautifully made chocolate crispies.

Images from the televised Royal Wedding at Mona showground, Anglesey

Thank you very much to Chris, Emma, Tom and Katie – they were lovely and they vanished like a magic trick, one minute they were there and the next they were gone!


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.


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