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July 27, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Apley’s supplier of the month – Halfpenny Green Vineyards

2013-11-23, AFS Christmas Food & Drinks Fair 39Halfpenny Green Vineyards - imageEvery month, I try  to profile one of Apley Farm Shop’s suppliers, but sometimes other more time-sensitive events need mentioning & rather take over ! This month, my chosen supplier of the month is Halfpenny Green Vineyards, whose wines we’ve been successfully stocking since we opened. They’re one our more pro-active suppliers who take the time to come to the Farm Shop to promote their products & chat to our customers – the effect is positive all round.

Halfpenny Green Vineyard have a licensed restaurant, tea rooms, winery, shop & deli in South Staffordshire, where they produce over 12 excellent English wines including whites, roses, reds, sparkling wines & sweet wines. It’s all produced on over 30 acres, making it one of the largest in the UK.

For an impressive 23 years (since 1983), they have consistently been awarded prizes for their wines, including international national & regional recognition.  Using the traditional method to produce their sparkling wines, their grapes are all handpicked & processed. In line with Apley’s local philosophy, there are absolutely no food miles in their wine production.

You can participate in a guided vineyard tour & wine tasting, including visiting the winery where they produce their own wine as well as contract wine making for other UK vineyards. They also have a self-guided vineyard trail, craft centre & coarse fishing.

Halfpenny Green Vineyards, South Staffordshire, DY7 5EP, 01384 22 11 22,

July 26, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Apley harvest & hay making

2014-07-26, AWG veg & sweet peas in trugWhilst Gavin (Lord Hamilton) went to speak at the Cosford Food Festival (Phil Allen, Head Gardener, also spoke), the Apley farming team were busy making the most of the recent hot & sunny weather. They have harvested the winter barley & oil seed rape (though, amazingly for the UK, the oil seed rape became too dry to harvest – its water content must be within a certain range). They’ll do the wheat, Spring barley & Spring oil seed rape (we don’t grow oats). They work incredibly long hours at this time of year, sometimes only sleeping a few hours a night, working long into the nights with headlights on the tractors & combines, floodlights on at the grain store.

Here’s a link to a 45 sec film I made. As the combine goes up & down the field, straw comes out of the back of the combine & the grain is stored inside the combine until it’s full. Then a tractor & trailer come alongside & the grain is transferred via a spout from the combine harvester into the trailer. The trailer then goes to the grain store, where the grain is kept or sold – for food (flour), seed for next year’s crop or animal feed.

The Apley Harvest Festival on Saturday 27 September will be a celebration at the end of the 2014 growing season with great selections of local fruit & vegetables to taste & buy, including Apley Walled Garden produce. We always aim to provide at least 1 free recipe with each item.

2014-07-26, paddock hay baling, HarringtonThis morning the children made some flapjack for them (like breakfast bars) to keep them going, then this evening, when we got back from a show jumping competition, they were baling hay from one of our paddocks. We had too much grass this year, so had to either get a local farmer to graze his sheep or borrow a small baler (Apley only has big bales) to make it into hay. The children ran out (Venetia in her pyjamas) to help load & unload the hay onto the loader & into the barn.

Jumping, 2014-07-26, Sybilla on Scout, Pre Novice Area, Netley (4)We’ve had almost every meal out in the garden this week, eating delicious fruit & vegetables from Apley Walled Gardens, like this trug full here which includes 4 types of unusual potatoes – Pink Fir Apple, Apache, International Kidney & Purple Majesty (navy blue when cooked).

Cosford Food Festival continues tomorrow, Sunday 28 July – a great day out for all the family.


July 25, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Apley apricots – low food miles

2014-07-24, Apricots

DSCF1664 IMG_1467The lowest food miles at Apley Farm Shop are for our home grown apricots from our Courtyard. Now on sale for £4.90/ kg, it’s our second crop off this plant & all thanks to good siting, pruning & gardening care. Some which can’t be sold if they are too blemished have come to our home, where we’ve all been eating them for breakfast, lunch & supper !

For the Bridgnorth Carnival on 28 June, the Apley Estate farms loaned a trailer to Parish Churches of Bridgnorth for their float – photographed here in preparation & on the parade.

July 24, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Cosford Food Festival this weekend – 26-27 July 2014

Cosford Food Festival - GGH with box of fruit & veg food festival2013-150x132

Come & see Apley Farm Shop’s stand at the Cosford Food Festival this weekend – 26-27 July 2014. Last year, it was a great family day with lots of Shropshire food & drink suppliers offering fresh, local & handmade food to buy & free tasters. Other attractions include live music, children’s activities, a flypast & cookery demonstrations. Whilst there, why not take the chance to visit the RAF museum at the same time.

This photo is Gavin (Lord Hamilton) with Apley Walled Garden vegetables.

For ticket prices & more details, see



July 23, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Apley Farm Shop holiday activities – Teddy Bear’s picnic today !

2014-07-23, Teddy Bears' Picnic song imagePigg’s Playbarn at Apley Farm Shop have a programme of summer activities every Wednesday for 6 weeks, starting today with a teddy bears’ picnic, followed by kite making, parachute games, boat building & water fighting & finishes with an Alice in Wonderland’s tea party.

Our children pretty much know the words to this lovely Teddy Bears’ picnic song, which may be heard today down on the Skylark Nature Trail. If you’re in need of an adventure today, why not bring your children to Apley Farm Shop. Meet at 11.45am at the entrance to Pigg’s Playbarn, with your teddy & wellington boots, before heading down to the woods (Rookery Coppice) on the Skylark Nature Trail. We expect to be back by 1.45pm. The price of £6.50 includes a picnic & 2hr play afterwards in the Playbarn.  Adults can also order a picnic for themselves for £5.50.

Just click on this link to book tickets or call 01952 730 345 to check availability:


July 22, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Apley harvesting

2014-07-21, Harvest (3) 2014-07-21, Harvest (2) 2014-07-21, Harvest (1)Near home (towards the most westerly side of the Apley Estate), the Apley farming team were harvesting 1 field out of the 1400 acres they have to do this harvest season. It was winter barley, so called as it’s planted in the winter. It’s ‘cebada’ in Spanish (we have a Spanish au pair helping this summer), so rushed out to watch. Venetia & Francis find it all very exciting – which it is. It’s the culmination of a year’s work of our farming team. If you knew how much work & commitment goes into producing 3 tons per acre of barley, you’d never waste a crumb of food again ! The lovely warm evening (rather rare in the UK), the mix dust & sunshine, the noise of the huge machines. The children race the ponies between the lines of straw, something I have so well remember doing myself when I was 6-16yrs old. I spotted a huge fat rat running for his life away from the combine towards the safety of the hedgerow !

This is our second new combine in 2 years as last year’s combine burned to the ground & was replaced by this one. In this photo Ivor (retiring this year) is removing a pile of corn flattened by the recent heavy rains, which block up the combine ‘header’. Ivor & Bill drive 2 tractor & trailers alternately alongside the combine when it’s ready to offload its load of grain through the spout / tunnel. When the grain container is ready to be emptied, the tunnel moves out from the combine automatically. Then they drive it away to 1 of the Apley grain stores where it’s kept until it’s sold for animal feed, for seed or for flour.

All the time, in the meantime, straw is coming out of the back of the combine, laid in neat rows, ready for the baler to come along & make it into bales of straw. This barley straw is particularly useful to us as it can be used as cattle feed in the winter months.


July 21, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Icecream Sundae, Classic Car Funday – some photos

2014-07-20, Icecream Sundae, Classic Car Funday (3) shop side 2014-07-20, Icecream Sundae, Classic Car Funday (4) BBQ 2014-07-20, Icecream Sundae, Classic Car Funday (5) Jo Coles 2014-07-20, Icecream Sundae, Classic Car Funday (6) Barrow 2014-07-20, Icecream Sundae, Classic Car Funday (7) Shop front 2014-07-20, Icecream Sundae, Classic Car Funday (9) Storytelling 2014-07-20, Icecream Sundae, Classic Car Funday (10) row of red MGs 2014-07-20, Icecream Sundae, Classic Car Funday (11), joint winner2014-07-20, Icecream Sundae, Classic Car Funday (18) - grey jaguar joint winnerThe car park at Apley Farm Shop yesterday was overflowing with some of Shropshire’s classic cars, for Icecream Sundae, Classic Car Funday. These photos speak louder than any words.

Lord Hamilton of Dalzell (Gavin) & our youngest daughter Venetia, judged the cars & chose joint winners – a red 1949 MGTD & a grey jaguar.

Gavin said he was especially impressed with how much work they had done on their cars themselves & their knowledge of the history of the cars. The jaguar’s owner even had a press release showing it had been used in a bank robbery in the 1960s ! The owner of the MGTD had a photo of their car when it was only 2 yrs old, participating in a Welsh car rally in 1951. They each won a 6-pack of Apley Ale.

Churchfields allowed visitors to create their own icecreams & offered free tasters all day – handed out by Jo, photographed here on the bicycle.

Apley Walled Garden vegetables were displayed in our new barrow at the entrance. Clare of Scotty’s donkeys ran storytelling from her gypsy caravan whilst Matt ran a delicious barbecue in the Courtyard.


July 20, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Bring a friend vouchers at Apley Farm Shop

Bring a friend image 2Apley’s marketing team have a great voucher for the Summer – Bring a friend to shop at Apley & enjoy a complimentary tea or coffee & cake for two in The Creamery Café, when you spend £40 or more in Apley Farm Shop, Lottie’s Fashion, Elizabeth Beckett Skincare. Valid until 30 Sept 2014. T&C apply. Just show your receipt to a member of staff in the Café.

2014-07-07 Fruit & veg display2014-07-15, Salad Special OfferIn the Farm Shop itself, we’ve currently  got a special offer on – 5 vegetables for £3.99, fresh from Apley Walled Gardens whenever possible.





July 19, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Pickling ingredients in Apley Farm Shop

Pickling image2014-07-15, Pickling & Sarson's vinegarAre you ready for pickling this year ? Apley Farm Shop has pickling ingredients ready for you to get started ! It’s a great way to extend the vegetable growing season, especially when you have a glut of something. All you need is salt, vinegar, herbs & spices, available from Apley Farm Shop.

If you don’t have time for pickling, get the Soup Bible & freeze concentrated purees ready for winter lunches.

In case you’re in a pickle on this subject – pickling means preserving food by anaerobic fermentation in brine (salty water) or vinegar. The resulting food is called a pickle which is salty or sour in taste.





July 18, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Lottie’s Fashion @ Apley Farm Shop – sale now on

2014-07-15, Lottie's Summer Sale 3 2014-07-15, Lottie's Summer Sale 4 2014-07-15, Lottie's Summer Sale, SeaSalt welliesThe sale at Lottie’s Fashion @ Apley Farm Shop has just begun & continues until 31 August. The sale includes items from Joules, Seasalt wellies, Ness coats & Lazy Jacks gillets.  Pick up some of these essential wardrobe items for this Autumn at bargain prices, ready for the colder months.

Plus, if you Like Lottie’s on Facebook or follow them on Twitter, you have the chance to win a £100 Lottie’s voucher. Go to the Facebook & Twitter links at the foot of their website

If you ‘ve been out & about in Shropshire this month, you may have recently seen Lottie’s at the Bromyard Gala (5-6 July) & at Newport Show (12 July).



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