• The Oldest Vine in the World,Mirabor , Slovenia and the World Heritage Festival of Ringing Sheep, Ptuj We were in Slovenia in March. Guinness links the  two items in this post. The Oldest Vine in the world ,recognised as such by the Guinness Book of Records, at some 400 years old, is in Mirabor, second city of Slovenia.   The vine adorns what is now a visitor centre where,  five days before their annual pruning festival , we spent a pleasant afternoon checking the quality of the wine  and being privileged to receive three cuttings,  in advance of the big day, to take home for planting in Wales, we think the first time its found a home here.  It can’t be illegal to export it, other countries have had cuttings,  but it felt like it as we secured it inside our violin case for the journey home .   The Guinness flowed freely, for the musicians anyway, at the Hotel Mitra in Ptuj as a proud father teamed up with son, Will,  for four days of music,  as the hotel  acquired  an Irish themed bar for the annual sheep festival. We also walked in one  of the processions and hung out with ‘sheep’ , up to 700 of them on one day, clanging their cow bells around the town. A  UNESCO world heritage festival , its  authenticity was certainly compromised by the appearance of two ‘irishmen’ from Bristol and Wales but that’s what they wanted. And the trays of Guinness were served with the speciality of the town- apricot filled doughnuts!    
  • A lovely lady A few years ago we had the pleasure of hosting, Ann Roberts Rockefeller, it was her 8oth birthday,  along with two friends. She is the daughter of Nelson Rockefeller, republican Vice president from 1974-77.  She was charming company, completely without snobbery or  artifice and taking great pleasure in the simple things of our house and the places we took her to. She enjoyed the garden, picked nettles for her breakfast, offered to produce a plan for its restoration, danced to my fiddle on her birthday.  On an unexpected extra day,  we took her to Druidstone which she loved and saw a concert with Harry Bird and the Rubber Wellies who she loved.One of our trips ended up at the Transition cafe in Fishguard which interested her very much. She was also interested in our biomass system, a short time after her visit it was reported that the Rockfeller Foundation( built on the wealth of Standard Oil) had removed all but 1% of investment from  fossil fuels.  The Roberts name  came from her maternal grandmother- Elizabeth Roberts Clark.  Her mother being a Roberts had welsh ancestors and hence Ann’s visit. They had settled in the Welsh Tract in Pennsylvania , Pencoyd ,Bala Cynwyd. She comes  to mind again with two recent events. Here is her acceptance speech  (  for the  James Parks Morton Award presented in June 2017 for her personal philanthropic fund, Fund of Four Directions.She talks about her great grandfather not  caring about the money but wanting a simple life with no cloth on the table and a bowl of porridge and that  the wealth was only to avenge his  wife’s family who abandoned and shamed her for the marriage to “Wild Bill” Rockefeller, pedlar and philanderer. The speech perfectly captures her philosophy and character. The second item that recalled her visit  was in May 2018,  her Uncle,  David  Rockefeller , sold his art collection which  yielded £614 million, the largest auction total in history. The collection being the legacy of David, the last surviving grandson of J.D. snr, and brother of Nelson, and his wife Peggy. Most of the proceeds went to charity, though you’d think they might keep back the odd  £10m or £20m for the kids .
  • Another fantastic weekend of fiddle inspiration, thanks Mairi Campbell Some feedback on the fiddle weekend – held in November -what a privilege to be part of this. ……Most recently we saw Mairi Campbell on 10th Nov.  We hadn’t come across her music before, and were absolutely blown away by its beauty. We have been coming to Pembrokeshire for over 40 years, and we never get tired of it.  It is the most magical part of Britain, and it has really enriched our experience of the area to have discovered Cuffern Manor!   (Andy and Mary) 1. The relaxed but focussed (some of the time!) atmosphere with the presence of the pendulum in the corner ( I really hope you can bring Pulse to Wales Mairi )The mix of tunes which I really loved and what we learned through looking at playing them so thoughtfully – for me a lot of physical awareness.Has to be Trevor and Terry waltzing with each other before breakfast as we tried to remember the steps of Ffarwel i’r Marian!!  It was a great weekend, thank you to everyone especially Mairi,Jules and Jayne.I’m still on a high after the weekend. It was just great sharing, creating and supporting each other.  (Caroline) My recent Wales trip  Mairi Campbell I’m just back from a fiddle retreat in Pembrokeshire, Wales. It was a hoot. Everyone brought a Welsh tune for us to work on together. Scottish and Welsh tunes seem to have a similar history; difference versions of the same music. The folk scene is much smaller in Wales, but it’s rich with people really passionate about the music. At the evening concert, Nia Harris, an old pal, played cello alongside me, which was lovely. We played Smile or Cry together and Nia played some Bach. Thank you also to Jules and Jayne who hosted the event at their hotel. If you’re looking for a fab place to stay in Pembrokeshire check out Cuffern Manor. I’d love to bring Pulse to Wales and tour it around. We had a little session in the pub at the Druidstone, a great big atmospheric old house on the rocks overlooking the sea. I’d love to go back there and play a concert. If anyone knows of any opportunities then please do get in touch. Likewise in Scotland and further afield. I’m still feeling Wales in my bones!  What a special place.  I got home fine, after visiting the Pricilli hills briefly.  It was too dark to find a stone when we got there but Stefan the stone man will now bring a stone to Scotland.  It was great to meet you all and spend time sharing around music.  Your openness and willingness to go with my notions was much appreciated.  I hope you found something new and interesting and a bit of juice for your music in the months ahead. I just wanted to say a huge thanks for having me down again and setting up such a lovely course.  It was great to see everyone again and meet new faces too. Hello everyone and thank you for your lovely company at the fiddle weekend!  I came away with a long list of things I need to work on and happy memories of making and sharing music and dance together – although Trevor wasn’t much of a waltzer! My three memories among many are….- Mairi’s beautiful voice,- waiting for you lot to get back from the pub ( must have been a good sesh!)- Stefan’s tune, the banks of the allen.   It’s a beautiful tune and I have 12 months to get up to Stefan’s standard before the next fiddle weekend :)Thanks also to Jane and Jules for the warm welcome and excellent foodDiolch i bawb! (Terry)      Singing and dancing to one of Trevor’s Italian tunes. 2. Terry and Caroline singing Myfanwy at the session on Saturday. 3. The trip to the beach. It was a brilliant weekend, with generous people, an excellent venue and a talented, inspirational  teacher. (Lynn)
  • We had to post this review. + “The Manor was superb. A friend and I  stayed three nights in a twin room with washbasin; shower and loo were  along the passage. A common space on the landing provided a large TV and  a better than usual selection of hot drinks. Very attractive sitting  room and library downstairs, where I was able to write with my laptop on  a wet afternoon. It was how a B&B should be: one felt like a  real guest (though one left undisturbed by one’s host except at  breakfast), not a commercial customer. Beautiful garden too. We moved to  a more run-of-the-mill establishment for the South Pembs part of our  trip, and definitely noticed the contrast! (The S. Pembs. one – where  one would NOT have wanted to spend a wet afternoon – was more expensive  too!)”      – No criticisms at all. 
  • Springwatch special from Pembrokeshire March 25th 2016 Watch the special Springwatch programme on Friday on BBC2 – includes film from Skomer Island , Stackpole and Freshwater West. We are fully open now and almost sold out for the easter weekend but plenty of opportunity next week for a visit to Pembrokeshire.
  • Evacuees to Cuffern Manor – their story You can read about their revisiting  of Cuffern Manor in August on the “History” page  
  • Summer Concert -Gwyneth Herbert – in the Walled Garden Wednesday 19th August Wednesday August 19th   7.p.m.   Gwyneth Herbert with  Ned Cartwright (Piano)   £10 ( in advance only) Gwyneth Herbert returns to Pembrokeshire. Two gigs -Druidstone July 30th and Cuffern Manor  August 19th Its five years since she last performed to great acclaim at Cuffern Manor. Arriving in London from university in Durham she was soon playing in the top jazz clubs and released her debut CD – very soon afterwards (with Will Rutter, guitar and Jamie Cullum), then a national tour with Jamie and Amy Winehouse supporting them) then a contract with Universal Records for the second CD, followed by some more independent and adventurous outings, one of which secured her a signing by Blue Note Records- the first British artist so signed for 30 years. Her career since then has blossomed into many unexpected directions: a west end musical about the lady who wrote the A-Z of London, singing Peggy Lee with the Buck Clayton Legacy Band, a multimedia installation at Stratford Station celebrating the life of Joan Littlewood, a residency at Aldborough producing a CD –The Sea Cabinet (which also had guestings from Harry Bird and the Rubber Wellies), a tour of Kenya with the Sunshine Boys, a multi-media work on the relationship between Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore. The there’s Elizabethan ballads and chats with Kenneth Clarke about Fats Waller, on Radio 4. So what to expect in these two shows????  Jazz, Folk, Music Hall, Whimsy? – Gwyneth is an artist who is impossibe to put in a single category. One thing only is certain : Gwyneth is a supremely talented singer, writer and performer and this is a standout opportunity for us. www, You Tube link
  • Cuffern Manor receives a Green Key Award Cuffern Manor receives one of the first Green Key awards in Wales. Green Key  is an eco-label awarded to around 2,400 hotels and other sites in 47 countries worldwide We were pleased to visit Tenby on April Ist to receive this award from Richard Hammond (“Not the bloke on Top Gear (though I’ve got used to the disappointment when I turn up to review a hotel and the owners are expecting to meet the TV celebrity and not me). But anyway, here I am, the founder of greentraveller and generally the bloke who looks after the site.I have worked in sustainable transport and tourism media for over 17 years, including writing a weekly column in the Guardian, a monthly column, The Responsible Traveller, for Geographical magazine (the magazine of the Royal Geographical Society), editing the travel section of Green magazine (distributed by the Guardian), and a column, Go Green, in National Geographic Traveller magazine.) Being ‘green’ means different things to different people. In tourism it is easy to see how tourism can destroy the environment that attracts people in the first place. Richard told the story of the person who wasn’t sure if he had been on holiday to The Gambia or The Dominican Republic. We know that our guests want to experience the unspoilt beauty of the coast, the islands and the wildlife,  curated for us  by the National Park.  We know our guests like the fact that our food comes from our own organic garden or from  independent local producers, not just for quality but also because our suppliers spend their money locally as well, keeping our economy bouyant. We also have invested in  green energy through the installation of solar PV panels and a biomass pellet boiler, removing the dependency on oil and most of the gas we previously used. We also value and support the locality  around us through a variety of community intiatives which we hope adds in a small way to the quality of life here. So thanks Green Key and Keep Wales Tidy, who manage the scheme in Wales, for giving Cuffern Manor this recognition. Green Key aims to • raise the awareness of leisure establishment staff and clients, • increase the use of sustainable methods of operation and technology, • run ecologically sound and responsible businesses, and thereby • reduce resource, energy usage Green Key is presently the largest global eco-label for accommodation and has a national administration centre in each participating country.
  • Review of 2014 Fiddle Weekend Review of Cuffern Manor Fiddle Weekend November 2014.with thanks to Caroline Yeates for this review. Imagine a weekend in an 18th century manor house set in spacious grounds within minutes of the Pembrokeshire coast. Imagine good food , log fires and inspirational music making. This was the experience of a dozen or so lucky fiddlers of varying levels of skill, experience and confidence who booked for this weekend hosted by Julian Rutter, himself an experienced folk fiddler, and his wife Jane at their lovely welcoming home last November. Tutors were Mairi Campbell ,leader of the Lismore Fiddle Retreats, performer,,composer,songwriter and teacher,and Angharad Jenkins from “ up the road” in Swansea,fiddler with Welsh multi instrumental group Calan and fiddle/harp duo DnA.Participants were largely fairly local but some had come from Cornwall and Devon. This mix of “ Home and Away” was to be a theme for the weekend. Arrived and settled in on Friday evening we spent time with Angharad getting to know each other and learning traditional Welsh tune “Marwnad yr Ehedydd” ( The Death of the Lark) in the comfortable sitting room. After supper and Mairi’s arrival after an epic journey from Scotland we piled into cars and set off by winding and precipitous roads for the seaside village of Littlehaven for a superb concert ( included in the course ticket) by fiddle, guitar and banjo virtuoso Bruce Molsky in the village hall. Inspired, we made an early start the next morning, initially dividing into two groups, some with Angharad to learn tunes ,some with Mairi for a more improvisational session using movement, singing and playing exercises to free up inhibitions and really look at making sounds. “ Home and away” was the concept of a starting rhythmic or melodic phrase, or just a note or a sound as “Home” and then improvisation round and “Away” from this, always able to come “Home”.We worked in pairs and as a group, watching, listening and mirroring each other. We learned and experimented with songs- Mairi’s own “ The Big Man’s Moving On” and the Scottish “Green Grow the Rushes –Oh” and “The Slaves’ Lament”. So many new concepts to assimilate- this was helped by a walk that afternoon on the wide sands of spectacular Newgale beach. After supper we came together as a group and played and swapped tunes. The next day we decided to join as one group and this was when the magic really started to happen as everybody joined in with more improvisation and the increased confidence of even the least self assured was amazing. We learnt Angharad’s tune “Stranded on Lismore” inspired by her experience at a Lismore retreat when the ferry was unable to leave. A lovely tune which is on Soundcloud and which made us all want to be stranded on Lismore.We also learned some bowing techniques and also “ left hand leading” using finguring rather than bowing to add space and drive. By the afternoon we were very relaxed about our informal performance for a few friends and we played and sang tunes and ended with an improvisation which seemed to spontaneously capture all the elements of the weekend as in the midst of it “ Marwnad yr Ehedydd” just seemed to arrive, full circle back to the first evening. We gained so much from this weekend ,so much more than just a few tunes learned, a different way of approaching music making. And the good news is-another weekend is planned for November 2015. Wherever you are as a fiddler, go – you will go home with so much.
  • Phew! That’s was a summer season and a half… NEWSLETTER: Phew! That’s was a summer season and a half……………, great guests, friends, and events, some hair-raising times and not a free night until now, October 9th. Delighted to meet and host Ann Roberts and her two friends for her 80th birthday in April. Ann is the daughter of Nelson Rockefeller, one time Vice-President of US and presidential candidate. She saw the best of Pembrokeshire with the help of our guide, Andrew Dugmore, from Pembrokeshire Paths. We took her to Christina Shand’s garden, Dyffryn Fernant and to Druidstone, twice, for a feast and a concert (she loved Harry Bird and the Rubber Wellies). And her modest birthday party with us – one cupcake and candle and a fiddle and a dance, to accompany the Happy Birthday! Such a delightful lady who really loved her stay with us and was a very appreciative guest. Julian ventured some politics and enjoyed hearing her forthright progressive views on immigration, the Tea Party and the environment She appreciated our own environmental initiatives here. A few months afterwards the Telegraph reported that The Rockefeller family (wealth built by John. D. Rockefeller on oil) were reducing their investments in fossil fuels to less than 1%, disinvesting some $800m from oil and gas in favour renewable technology. In July David Thomas from Wales via Denmark came with his family and played some great fiddle and subsequently sent Julian his whole collection of Danish music. More fiddling (well not really) came from Jennifer Pike, the youngest ever winner of the BBC Young Musician of the Year, aged 12! Now in her early twenties she was performing Brahms at St. Davids Cathedral festival in July and we were able to listen from below as she rehearsed on a £14m violin – a great privilege. Chris Elliot came in June. He is walking the entire coast of the UK – one week a month and expects to finish in 2022! And another guest, Terry Jacob, was cycling the same in August–his MS not withstanding. The marquee was well used this year – a 40th birthday, a wedding in July, our grandson’s birthday , our festival. The whole Langston family were here for that, so great to have their support still. (previous owners). Some guests return inadvertently taken keys in the post but inSeptember this guest delivered his by helicopter! They were flying around carrying out maintenance for the lighthouses. No harm done so now we know it can be done. In August we had waited, with excited anticipation by the grandsons, peering out of the top windows for hours beforehand, but with apprehension by us, for the landing of Steve Perez rally driver, and founder of Global Brands and driver for the Kick Energy Rally Team. He was driving at Brawdy the next day. But the weather led to the flight being abandoned and the party arriving by car. Hair-raising anniversary. August 19th saw our 10th anniversary of being here and a slight chill in the morning air led us to put the heating on. You remember that last week in august when we put the shorts away, and began to prepare for winter ? Then September was the warmest on record and the heating not to be needed again until October 9th. This must have been the last vibration between two pipes that had rubbed along happily together for the previous 15 years. Water dripping relentlessly onto the carpet at the entrance to dining room. Breakfast ensued for 20 or so people as Julian rushed between the toaster and the small container wedged under the offending pipes catching the drips and filling up every minute or so. It was a trade off between burnt toast and overflowing container. Plumber and builder on site by 9 , all fixed by lunchtime, and we could have a laugh about it, until the bills arrived at least.     Guests have been using the new cottage, called Fiddler’s Cottage, over the summer. Three bedrooms, two en-suites, a great place for families. The final coat of paint added at the end of September and just the new staircase to replace the temporary one, awaited. This is now available to rent, ideal for a family or small group of friends     October 2014