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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).


July 17, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

National Countryside Week, 14-21 July 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA2014-07-14, Spain (4) - view over valleyApley Farm Shop is set in rural Shropshire, epitomised in this photo. Without viable farms, our countryside wouldn’t give our customers the lovely environment in which they live, which they enjoy seeing everywhere, everyday. This week is National Countryside Week 14th-20th July.

We were in Spain recently, where it’s the same story. Just as in the UK, the countryside is shaped by the farming of olives, oranges, lemons, almonds & rice (hence their national dish, paella). Just look at this amazing view (ignore the big road in the middle !) which we saw as we descended last night from a mountain walk.

The Prince’s Countryside Fund undertakes amazing work throughout Britain to secure a sustainable future for our countryside through tackling the key problems of:

  • Rural Isolation
  • Decline of rural communities
  • Low farm incomes
  • Lack of access to training

Without vibrant & viable farms, the countryside so many of us love is at risk. To be blunt you can’t be green if you are in the red. For instance many livestock farmers rely on tax credits to meet their cash needs as their profits are not sufficient to live on. In the near future under new universal credit arrangements all self-employed people are deemed to be earning the minimum wage otherwise they would go and get another job. But many farmers are not and will lose these credits. We therefore need to do all we can to build more productive businesses that support existing farmers, encourage the next generation to enter farming and enable farmers to provide the environment we enjoy when visiting our most cherished landscapes. One project the Prince’s Countryside Fund supported was the Fresh Start Uplands Academy which provided a mini MBA course for aspiring hill farmers – 4 of the 12 participants from one course now have tenancies of their own .

Do you now feel you want to do something about it ! ? If you would like to support the work of the Prince’s Countryside Fund, we have a friend who is spending 3 days in National Countryside Week cycling through the uplands of Cumbria, Northumberland and Durham with some friends. They will be covering between 50-64 miles per day – well beyond her comfort range over hilly terrain. She’d be so happy if you felt you could sponsor her. It will be a great motivation when she’s feeling saddle sore ! You can give at

July 16, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

It’s National Cherry Day !

Cherry image 2Today, Wednesday 16 July,  is National Cherry Day !

There are endless cake & pudding recipes using cherries – cherry icecream, cherry yoghurt, cherry pavlova, cherry crumble, cherry compote, cherry fruit salad, cherry tarte, cherry sorbet, cherry cheesecake, cherry scones, cherry pancakes, cherry jam, cherry vodka or cherries dipped in chocolate. Have you ever tried pickling cherries ? Why not try the lesser known savoury recipes using cherries such as cherry sauce to serve with duck. Also try pork chops with cherry mustard or pork tenderloin with cherry & chilli salsa. Why not try cherry omelette or cherries mixed into a brown rice salad with apples & walnuts. Personally, I’d enjoy any of those recipes, but best of all is just fresh !

Cherries have multiple health benefits: As well as 10 cherries making up one of your five a day, apparently they are nutritious, helping you fight off illness being a rich source of antioxidants, insomnia, migraines, stress, pain & ageing – sounds worth eating to me ! The Romans first brought cherries from Persia & introduced them here in Britain.  Some even say that ancient roads can be traced from the spots where marching Romans spat out there seeds & caused a new tree to grow ! But over the last 50 years we’ve seen a decline in our cherry orchards which means we now import around 95% of all cherries.

So the main goal of National Cherry Day is to raise awareness about the need to maintain our traditional orchards. If everyone eats one home-grown cherry each, the future of British cherries will be looking up in no time ! Cherries have a short growing season & you’ll find them in most warm climates, peaking in the Summer months, except of course in Australia when they peak at Christmas. Cherry blossom is a beautiful addition to any garden, so why not plant your very own cherry tree & have your own home grown supply. Be quick to get them before the birds though !



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