The new owners of an award-winning vineyard, located on Shropshire’s border with Wales, are celebrating their first harvest.
Husband and wife Russell and Janet Cooke are delighted to have brought in their first harvest, after purchasing the Kerry Vale Vineyard, near Churchstoke, earlier this year.
“'The last few months have been incredibly busy, but also very exciting,” said Russel. “Taking on a vineyard and cafe, especially during these difficult economic times, has been a challenge.
“However, being able to bring in the harvest to make our own wine, makes it all worthwhile. Harvest has been successful and our café is busy, so we really couldn’t ask for more.”
Although hit by a late frost in early May, the fine weather has led to good growing conditions for British vineyards, which bodes well for these new wine-growers and their first wines.
The vineyard has three grape varieties - Rondo, Phoenix and Solaris - each of which ripens at different times, meaning that they were harvested over two weeks.
This small, family run vineyard relies on volunteers to bring in the vintage and they were thanked for their help. “We really couldn’t have done it without them,” said Janet.
“We had a fantastic couple of days and it’s such a satisfying feeling to see your bucket filling up with grapes as you pick. If you have an interest in wine, it’s a great way to understand how the process begins and how the grapes are grown - it’s also very social and ends with a glass of wine.”
To try the vineyard’s wine, visit the cellar door shop and café or visit their website, www.kerryvalevineyard.co.uk. Alternatively follow them on social media to see how the grapes they picked get turned into wine.
The vineyard is a member of MWT Cymru, an independent organisation representing more than 600 tourism and hospitality businesses across Powys, Ceredigion and the Meirionnydd region of South Gwynedd.
Janet Cooke, joint owner of Kerry Vale Vineyard.
Russell Cooke, , joint owner of Kerry Vale Vineyard.
The company, which has sales centres in Shrewsbury, Machynlleth and Stourport-on-Severn, has distributed well over 250,000 copies of the guide since it was first launched more than 30 years ago.
Salop Leisure’s sales and marketing teams have worked closely to rewrite the colourful and information-packed guide to reflect the five-step journey taken by most customers when purchasing a holiday home.
The journey begins with identifying their dream park before then selecting a holiday home best suited to their pitch. Salop Leisure’s experienced sales team is there to help customers with every step of the way.
More than 170 of the finest caravan holiday home parks in the Heart of England, Mid Wales Inland and the Mid Wales Coast have advertised in the guide, with icons showing what facilities they each offer. There is also a listing for parks that have not advertised but work with Salop Leisure.
The guide divides the Heart of England, Mid Wales Inland and Mid Wales Coast into subsections which allow extra focus on what make each area special.
The Heart of England has four subsections, including the Peak District and East Midlands for the first time. The others are Shrewsbury, Chester and Cannock; Bridgnorth, Worcester and Evesham, and Bishops Castle, Hereford, Ludlow and Tenbury Wells.
Mid Wales Inland’s subsections are Lake Vyrnwy, Bala, Oswestry and Betws Y Coed; Churchstoke, Llanfair Caereinion Welshpool, and Machynlleth, Llanidloes and Newtown. Mid Wales Coast focuses on Borth, Aberystwyth and New Quay; Tywyn and Aberdovey; and Harlech, Barmouth and Dolgellau.
Each subsection has information about the area, featured parks, a testimonial about the area special, the top five things to see and do and a colourful, illustrated map created by Michelle Holford.
“We have placed huge emphasis on the new subsections and strong imagery that we hope will capture people’s imagination,” said Max Ball, Salop Leisure’s digital media controller.
“One of the reasons for including the top five things to do in each area is to add more value to the customer’s visits to parks. We identified 50 tourist destinations we think customers should visit and contacted them to provide imagery.
“This is the fourth buyer’s guide I have worked on at Salop Leisure and it’s definitely the most detailed one by far. It has taken a lot of teamwork from our marketing department, sales managers and designers to create this powerful marketing tool that helps our customers on their journey.
“We are confident it will help to generate crucial leads for parks over the next few years.”
For a free copy of the guide call Salop Leisure on Tel: 01743 282400.
Tanya Bebb, Max Ball and Nikki Jardine from Salop Leisure with the new Buyer’s Guide.
The Andrew Logan Museum of Sculpture, located in the village of Berriew, near Welshpool, has put together crafting kits based on the museum’s popular workshops.
The kits contain everything needed to make an Andrew Logan inspired work of art, including full instructions and the all-important glitter! They may be ordered from the ‘Events’ section of the museum’s website - andrewloganmuseum.org/events - or by calling either 01686 640689 or 07907 767 839. A kit costs £6.50, plus £3.99 postage and packing.
Andrew will be choosing his favourite creations from photographs sent to the museum, with an annual museum family pass the top prize and goodies for the runners up.
“We are delighted to be able to offer an activity for everyone at home, and especially something physical,” said Anne-Marie Pope, museum manager. “All the packs have been put together under risk assessed safe methods.
“If you’re looking for an activity for the whole family, you can order your Half-Term Home Heroes crafting kit now.”
Other museums across Wales are preparing online workshops, talks and activities, broadcast to homes. ‘Museum at Home’ will be one of this year’s key festival themes.
As well as bringing museum content to homes, the festival will also be helping people to explore their home as a museum. There will be plenty of fun activities to help make half term as interesting and exciting as possible.
Funded by Welsh Government, the festival is an annual event presented by the Federation of Museums and Art Galleries of Wales, the strategic body for museums and galleries and those working in the sector.
The federation represents more than 100 unique, accredited Welsh museums which are a treasured resource for learning, exploration and knowledge about local and national identity, and how people have lived here in Wales since the dawn of time.
The festival is a blend of physical and online events for all ages and many are free. Full details are available on the festival website: www.museums.wales
An example of the artwork that could be created with the crafting kits.
In time for the autumn and winter, they have launched a series of offers for customers. When two people book a pottery experience taster day in the studio, the second person goes half price - £142.50 instead of £190. If three people book together, the saving is £100.
This offer runs until December 31 and vouchers purchased by customers are valid for a year.
The pottery is open seven days a week from 10am to 5pm and taster session may be booked on Tel: 01982 552854, 07443 875016, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or online at alexallpress.co.uk.
The business is also offering ‘pick ‘n’ mix Christmas vouchers from £40 to £100, which can be used to purchase ceramics, pottery school taster days or a combination of both.
“We think it’s a great gift and experience idea for this autumn and winter season,” said Blue. “People can stay warm by the studio wood burner and buy their loved one a once-in-a-lifetime gift of a voucher that has no downside.
“They can spend however much they want and can use it for a taster session on the potter's wheel, buy themselves a mug or bowl or combine both. We are encouraging people to support the #buylocal ethos this Christmas with Welsh makers and crafters who have been having such a hard time during the pandemic.”
In his pottery school, Alex teaches individuals, couples, multi-generational family groups and team building corporate groups how to be creative on the potter’s wheel.
He believes the offering is particularly attractive to staycationers, as an increasing number of British people opt to holiday UK during the pandemic rather than jetting overseas.
The couple’s pottery adjoins a pretty, three bedroomed cottage that can be let with or without a pottery course. The cottage is decorated with handmade art, photographs and, not surprisingly, pottery.
“People want to have unique, creative experiences,” explained Blue. “They want to be involved in and part of the experience, rather than watching someone else or staying somewhere that they can’t take home with them.
“People come to Alex’s Studio and are made to feel special when they have a lesson and then make what they want. A lesson can be flexible, from two hours to a half day or a full day.
“Throwing a pot is like magic, watching that ball of mud clay turn into something special and wonderful that you have created with your very own hands.”
Alex has noticed that customers buy the experience for someone special, for a family reunion, multi-generational groups or extra special occasions.
I love watching people learn and change as they work,” said Alex. “When they arrive here, they are so tense and stressed out that they want the clay to do what they envisage straight away, but that’s not the way pottery works.
“They change, relax, work hard and enjoy themselves and then, at the end of the session, they have made something remarkable. It’s wonderful to be a part of it.
“A pottery is a special place. People are looking to make that perfect bowl but what they come away with is a feeling inside that is so good.”
Their business is a member of MWT Cymru, an independent tourism company representing more than 600 businesses across Mid Wales.
Alex Allpress at work.
20/10/20 Update: The National Cycle Museum will be closed from Friday 23rd October for two weeks as part of the national lockdown in Wales.
The museum is open on Tuesday and Wednesday this week from 10am-4pm and on Friday from 10am-2pm.
The museum, which has received various donated items since it reopened in August, is open Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10am to 4pm and Fridays and Saturdays from 10am to 2pm, subject to current Covid-19 rules.
From October 19-31, one school age child will be allowed into the museum free with each paying adult. Children are asked to bring a pencil, paper and board with them if they would like a rare chance to sketch a Penny Farthing or an unusual American Eagle cycle, which are two of the most popular displays.
The museum would, under normal circumstances, supply the drawing items, but Covid rules stipulate that it’s safer for children to bring their own.
The Automobile Palace, an ornate, Grade 2 Listed, Art Deco building, was built for Tom Norton senior in two stages, beginning in 1911. The building was originally known as The Palace of Sport.
To donate to the charitable trust, the finances of which have been impacted by Covid-19, send a cheque to the National Cycle Museum, Automobile Palace, Temple Street, Llandrindod Wells, Powys, LD1 5DL.
For more information, visit http://www.cyclemuseum.org.uk.
Children drawing a Penny Farthing at the National Cycle Museum.
A replica of the unusual American Eagle cycle.
Rowland Rees-Evans, who heads MWT Cymru, appealed for a united, balanced approach during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic to support tourism and hospitality businesses and communities across Mid Wales.
His appeal follows negative social media comments in response to media interviews with international travel journalist Simon Calder and celebrities Stacey Solomon and Joe Swash last week.
Appearing on ITV’s This Morning show, Mr Calder said Mid Wales is a great place to visit, referring to Machynlleth, the Centre for Alternative Technology and Barmouth. Solomon and Swash revealed that they had enjoyed a visit to the Elan Valley near Rhayader.
“It’s a great shame that high profile travel journalist Simon Calder is castigated for suggesting that Mid Wales is a good place to go on holiday,” said Mr Rees-Evans, a director of the family-owned Penrhos holiday, golf and leisure park at Llanrhystud, near Aberystwyth. “Mid Wales is open for business and is a great place to visit on holiday or to take a short break.
“It is very disappointing that such a positive story for tourism in Mid Wales, which gave a much-needed boost to our region in these difficult times, resulted in negative comments on social media channels.
“Whilst it is understandable that a small minority may wish to project their fear and anger online, some of these people do not even live or work in Mid Wales. The resulting negative media coverage has the potential to impact our reputation as a warm and welcoming destination and could even affect the speed of our recovery following this crisis.
“We all need to be aware of the unintended consequences of online comments which could be putting our independent businesses in imminent risk of closure, negatively impacting jobs and livelihoods.”
Mid Wales - Powys, Ceredigion and the Meirionnydd - covers more than 42% of Wales and is not currently subject to any lockdown restrictions. The region relies heavily on tourism, which supports thousands of jobs directly and in the supply chain.
“The region has one of the lowest Covid -19 rates in the UK, which is a reflection on who we are in Mid Wales, the way our visitors, communities and businesses have all pulled together to protect our fragile economy whilst keeping everyone safe,” stressed Mr Rees-Evans.
“Our businesses have invested in all the necessary Covid-secure measures and have worked so hard to safeguard their employees, visitors and local communities since the start of the Covid-19 crisis.
“Mid Wales business owners are doing their very best to keep themselves and their families afloat through very difficult times. They are protecting jobs and livelihoods whilst keeping families and local communities safe.
“With a long winter ahead of us, and virus infection cases rising in all parts of the UK, it is more important than ever that we all pull together to help each other through this difficult time.
“Our fantastic visitors love coming to our rural region to stay, relax and experience the great outdoors. They take in our peaceful countryside, visit local shops, independent restaurants, attractions and frequently comment about our warm and welcoming communities.
“This is the Mid Wales we all know and love, and it’s important that visitors who are planning future visits see this reflected in balanced media coverage and online commentary.”
He stressed the difficult task facing MWT Cymru in navigating the delicate balance between promoting the region, encouraging people to visit safely, supporting member businesses and reassuring communities that all possible measures have been implemented to minimise any potential risk.
“As a tourism membership organisation, we have never felt closer to our 600 plus tourism and hospitality member businesses and have worked incredibly closely with the Welsh Government and officials,” he added.
“Everyone has worked tirelessly over the last few months to enable our sector to re-open safely following months of closure. Since re-opening in July, our members have reported that visitors to Mid Wales have been respectful and understanding of the situation, they have followed the rules and been vigilant.”
Rowland Rees-Evans, MWT Cymru’s chairman.
An example of the beautiful autumn landscape awaiting visitors to Mid Wales.
A popular coastal hotel overlooking Cardigan Bay in the picturesque Mid Wales seaside fishing village of Aberdyfi is celebrating a notable double success in the Good Hotel Guide Editor’s Choice 2021 awards.
The Trefeddian Hotel won the Family Hotel and Golfing Hotel awards to add to its long list of accolades, which includes AA Hotel of the Year for Wales in 2018 and the Best Hotel Award at the inaugural Mid Wales Tourism Awards last year..
The 59-bedroomed hotel, which has been run by four generations of the Cave family since 1907, appears in the Good Hotel Guide 2021 print edition and website, https://www.goodhotelguide.com/. The hotel was first fully listed in the guide in 2005.
The hotel’s review in the guide states: “It may have a four-star rating, but there is nothing too swanky about this child-friendly, dog-friendly hotel overlooking Cardigan Bay, across the road from dunes, golf links and white-sand beach.
“It has been in the Cave-Browne-Cave family for more than a century and has a strong following among guide readers.”
The hotel’s managing director, Caroline Cave-Browne-Cave, who leads a team of 51 staff, said: “The awards are a great reflection on the wonderful team here at Trefeddian Hotel. We are very proud to have been included in the guide for many years and we pride ourselves on ‘the guest always comes first’.
“Trading conditions have been very difficult this year but returning guests have said that they feel very comfortable and safe with the measures we have taken and still enjoyed the same Trefeddian experience.”
Ongoing investment in the hotel’s facilities and infrastructure has included the complete refurbishment of the indoor swimming pool, spa bath, lounges and dining room and the construction of two luxury self-catering units in the grounds.
Blessed with a stunning location, The Trefeddian enjoys panoramic views over Cardigan Bay and four miles of golden, sandy beach. Located in the Snowdonia National Park and UNESCO Dyfi Biosphere Reserve, the hotel is ideally placed for golfing and activity breaks as it overlooks a links golf course and is within a short drive of Coed-y-Brenin Mountain Bike Centre.
Located ‘Where the mountains meet the sea’, the hotel combines the weight of tradition and family history with freshness and modernity, providing all the comforts needed for a relaxing getaway.
First published in 1978, The Good Hotel Guide is the leading independent guide to hotels in Great Britain, Ireland, Continental Europe and the Caribbean. It is written for the reader seeking impartial advice on finding a good place to stay. Hotels cannot buy their entry into the print edition.
Readers play a crucial role by reporting on existing entries as well as recommending new discoveries. Nearly all the 850 hotels and B&Bs in this year’s guide have been selected as a result of reader or inspector recommendations.
The hotel is a long-standing member of MWT Cymru, an independent organisation representing more than 600 tourism and hospitality businesses across Powys, Ceredigion and Meirionnydd.
Picture caption: The Trefeddian Hotel at Aberdyfi.
The National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth is in a precarious financial position which could result in “damaging measures” to balance the budget, including the loss of up to 30 jobs.
That is the stark message from Pedr ap Llwyd, the library’s chief executive and librarian, who warned that having to take such drastic measures would have “a devasting affect” on the library, Aberystwyth and Ceredigion.
He has called on the Welsh Government for an additional £1.445 million in its Grant in Aid baseline for 2021-22 and the reinstating of the capital grant, which it last received in 2016-17, to maintain the building and secure the health and safety of staff and readers.
He says the library’s “precarious” and “unsustainable” financial position is the result of “systematic, historic underfunding by Welsh Government” which threatens the future of the organisation.
Mr ap Llwyd made his comments in a letter to editors following the publication of an independent, tailored review, facilitated by the Welsh Government, which focused on the library’s efficiency, effectiveness and governance. The review panel came up with 34 recommendations.
“The library has seen a reduction of 40% in its Grant in Aid,” he said. “Other organisations have not. The Covid-19 pandemic has worsened the National Library’s financial situation. This year’s Grant in Aid has already been cut by £200,000 and we may well have to endure further cuts during the year.
“The library fully realises the financial challenges facing Welsh Government as a result of the pandemic. However, the government was very much aware of our perilous financial position before the pandemic appeared.
“If the recommendations of this review are ignored, the current crisis will lead to the implementation of a number of damaging measures to balance the budget in the long term, including the real possibility of having to reduce our workforce by up to 30 members of staff.
“The implications of having to take such drastic measure would have a devastating effect on the library, Aberystwyth and Ceredigion.”
The Welsh Government, library and review panel issued a joint press statement. It said the panel’s report and recommendations, which were welcomed by both the library and Welsh Government, had been published this week.
Meri Huws, the library’s interim president, said: “The National Library welcomes the recommendations of the review. It is a thorough and detailed analysis of the current state of play and of the issues faced by the library. We look forward to working closely with Welsh Government to implement its recommendations and to safeguard the library’s future.
“I am glad the review recognises the importance of the National Library to Wales as a treasury for the nation’s recorded heritage and how it could increase the impact of its services to benefit individuals and communities even further.”
Aled Eirug, panel chair, said: “We hope this report will lead to an effective and productive relationship between the National Library and Welsh Government. We have identified the most critical challenges facing the National Library, including making its services more available to a wider audience.
“We look forward to both the Welsh Government and National Library implementing our recommendations.”
Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Lord Elis-Thomas, said: “I welcome the independent views of the Review Panel and look forward to positive and collaborative working as we address its recommendations.
“This is an important cultural organisation which must have longevity and relevance for the whole of Wales. These findings offer constructive areas of focus for both the library and the Welsh Government.
“Both parties will work together to ensure the library remains robust and fit for purpose in what is clearly a very challenging climate for all our sponsored bodies.”
The full report can be found at https://gov.wales/national-library-wales-tailored-review-national-library-wales
Pedr ap Llwyd, stark warning about National Library job cuts.
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