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August 19, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Pigg’s Playbarn news

2014-07-23 Teddy Bears Picnic 2 2014-07-30, Kite Making (1) 2014-08-14, Francis tennis course 2014-08-14, Norton village playground photoDue to the uncertain weather forecast, Pigg’s Playbarn’s water fight has sadly been changed to loom banding tomorrow 1-3.30pm. Last Wednesday, the children built boats & earlier in the holidays, kite making. Next Wednesday, the last Summer holiday activity at Pigg’s Playbarn at Apley Farm Shop will be the Alice in Wonderland Tea Party. To book & for more details, call 01952 730 345 (option 3).

Scotty’s have Peppa Pig coming at 11, 1 & 3pm on Friday 22 August to meet & greet their Animal Park customers. For details, call 07816 38 53 19. Their Teddy Bears’ picnic on Friday 8 August went really well with 26 children attending with lots of great feed back from parents & childcarers.

I have some favourite companies & places in Shropshire, one of which is the Telford Tennis Centre at Oakengates, as it has gorgeous indoor & outdoor courts. Francis has been there all last week, enjoying a mini tennis course. Call 01952 38 28 10 for details of their tennis courts & courses. One evening last week, we popped into the Norton village playground – a lovely place to go after an Apley Farm Shop visit, if your children still have any excess energy to burn off. Norton is in the centre of the Apley Estate & the playground installed last year by the parish council committee, providing a much needed community facility.





August 18, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Apley Honey at Apley Farm Shop

2014-08-14, Apley honey on display for the first time 2

Be a honey & pick up some 2014 honey at Apley Farm Shop ! The Great Little Honey Company has some hives around the Apley Estate so we’re delighted to be selling our own 2014 Apley Honey. Delicious, very clear, with our own Apley labelling, we’re already half way through our first pot at home !

Beekeeper Richard Lindsey was featured last week on the BBC News talking about the decline of British bees. The decline has been linked to the use of neonicotinoid insecticides & there’s now a call for an EU Wide ban.

Our local hayfever sufferers will be delighted, as eating local honey is said to relieve hayfever. Honey will ferment if left open to the air and/or stored in a warm place, so ensure it is kept cool & the jar’s lid is firmly closed. The crystallisation of honey is a natural process (when it goes hard). It’s very simple to bring it back to a clear liquid – just warm it gently on a radiator or in the microwave on defrost for 1 minute at a time.

Honey is of course a totally natural product made from flowers’ nectar & collected by honey bees. The flavour, texture, colour & sweetness of the honey depend on the type of flower from which the nectar was collected. See if you can guess what type of flowers the Apley bees were predominantly visiting !

Try the BBC’s recipe – Sticky chicken thighs with lemon & honey. Apley’s butcher Mark Lowe always has excellent local chicken in stock.

PS this is my 700th blog !

August 11, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Pony for sale

2014-04-27, Apley Park fun ride, VS&O jumping in triplets on Simon, Ben & Henry2014-08-07, Burwarton Show - VS&O riding (4) SybillaOur daughters are moving onto competition ponies (show jumping here at Burwarton last week), so we have a lovely pony for sale (on the extreme left of this photo). He has just come back today from being on loan.

This is not my usual type of blog I know, but if you know anyone who many be interested & I’ll send full details & more photos – just respond to this blog below.

August 10, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Chocolate courgette brownies recipe

Chocolate courgette brownies recipe image

My mother-in-law, Corinna, Lady Hamilton of Dalzell, has just emailed me this delicious recipe for Chocolate courgette brownies & says no-one would ever know there were courgettes in it !

125ml veg oil

300g caster sugar

1 egg

2 tsp vanilla extract

250g plain flour

40g cocoa powder

1 ½ tsp Bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp salt

250g grated courgettes

60g chopped walnuts


Pre heat the oven to 180c/gas 4, Aga oven 2

Grease & flour 22x33cm a baking tin

Mix the oil, sugar, egg & vanilla

Then mix together & add the flour, cocoa, bicarb & salt

Finally add the courgette & walnuts

Bake for 25/30 minutes

Cool & cut into squares

Happy baking !



August 8, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Special product for keen gardeners

Lou's poo 1 Lou's poo 4

Apley Farm Shop has a new special product for keen gardeners – dried alpaca manure ! It’s cleansed, bagged up & packaged by Lou Archer, a Shropshire farmer & gardener, collected from her own herd of alpacas. It’s a serious, nutritional product for serious gardeners. 

Lou lives on a smallholding high on the Shropshire hills above Ludlow, close to Cleobury Mortimer. She hand rears lambs, breeds sheep, raises rare breed chickens & runs a herd of alpacas. She is obsessed by gardening & hence her fascination with alpaca poo & its properties !

For more details, call Lou on 01746 718760 or 07879 401629.

August 7, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Apley Farm Shop – how it was in 1948

30bI’d never been before to Burwarton Show in Shropshire until today & when I arrived at 7h15 (rather early !) ready for show jumping classes with our 3 daughters, I realised why it is one of the UK’s premier agricultural shows. The diversity of classes is huge & its a real celebration of everything relating to the countryside, livestock & farming.

Ivor Richards received a long service award in the main arena for his work on the farms over 36 years for the Apley Estate. I blogged him on 17 Feb this year. Apley Farm Shop’s stand in the Food Hall area was very busy & sold out.

After the show,  got on with finalising the Third Apley Archive Exhibition, which will be launched on Wednesday 27 August, 6-7.30pm in The Creamery Café at Apley Farm Shop. It’s free & open to all. Like the first 2 exhibitions, it’ll run for approximately 3 months to mid November. I may hold a 4th exhibition for which I already have enough material, but by November, an Apley Archives website may take over.

Whilst sorting through some images brought along & scanned during the launch of the last exhibition, I found these pages from a 1948 copy of Sport & Country (now Country Life), belonging to Tony Scott of Scotty’s Donkeys. They include photos taken at Stockton Buildings, where Apley Farm Shop is now sited ! The bottom left photo on page 115 is the building in the centre of Apley Farm Shop’s courtyard, which now houses Lottie’s [fashion].


August 6, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Apley Walled Garden tours

2014-08-06, Dudley Inner Wheel tour photos (1) 2014-08-06, Dudley Inner Wheel tour photos (2) 2014-08-06, Dudley Inner Wheel tour photos (3)The last 2 Open Tours of Apley Walled Gardens will be on 2 September & 7 October after which we’ll only be running privately booked group tours. This year so far, Head Gardener Phil Allen has hosted 10 out of 11 private tours as well as the monthly Open Tours.

Phil’s available to talk to local interest groups, mainly in the winter months. Just call the Farm Shop office 01952 730 345 or text / email Phil directly on 07746 01 30 50 or

Here are some photos of today’s tour. It’s a Patty Pan Squash Phil’s  holding ! It’s a flat yellow courgette which is delicious boiled, then stuffed with bolognaise mixture & baked with grated cheese on top. You can alternatively cook both the squash & the meat from raw.

Today’s group enjoyed lunch after their tour & raised £54 for a local Hospice at Home service for life limited & life threatened children of Dudley, from a veg box hamper we donated.

We’re principally supplying the Apley Farm Shop, The Creamery Café at Apley, the University of Wolverhampton & depending on availability, also some local restaurants. His Crop Report this week shows we have available:

  • Artichokes – Globe & Romanesco
  • Beans – French & Runner
  • Beetroot – Chioggia, Detroit & Golden Beet
  • Cabbage – Bison
  • Carrots – Chantenay & Mixed Colour
  • Chard – Rainbow
  • Chives
  • Courgette – Defender
  • Cucumber – Femspot
  • Fennel – Sweet & Romanesque
  • Leek – Zermatt
  • Lettuces – Little Gem
  • Mint
  • Parsley
  • Potatoes – International kidney, Apache & Purple Majesty
  • Radishes – Tarzan & Malaga
  • Rocket
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Spring onions – Ishikura, White Lisbon & North Holland
  • Sweet peas
  • Thyme
August 5, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Hope House Hospice Zip Wire event at Apley Farm Shop, Sunday 12 October 2014

hope-house-logo Hope House zipper

Take a leap & fly high this Autumn at Apley

I’ve just caught up with Sarah Johnson, Area Fundraiser for Hope House Children’s Hospices who are running a zip wire event at Apley Farm Shop on Sunday 12 October 2014.

Last year Hope House Children’s Hospices held a Zipwire Challenge in Shrewsbury, raising an amazing £27,000 with over 100 participants. This year’s Zip is being held at Apley Farm Shop and is once again very kindly being sponsored by Select a Skip.

A crane lifts participants 120 feet into the air from where you’ll get great views of the surrounding countryside. The zip line is 700 feet – so it’s quite a thrilling ride !

It costs £20 to register plus £80 minimum sponsorship. By registering you are committing to raise the minimum sponsorship and pay this to Hope House within 28 days of the event.

There’s no maximum age limit but participants must be at least 12 years old and all under 16s must be accompanied by a parent or guardian on the day. This person does not have to descend the slide. The zip slide carries a 17 stone or 107kg weight limit. 

To register, complete the registration form (available in the farm shop/café) call 01691 671 671 or online at

Click here to go to the What’s On section of the Hope House website.

State whether you’d like a morning or afternoon slot, then as soon as Hope House receive your registration, you’ll be sent a time.

August 4, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Pancetta & pepper piperade – BBC Good Food Magazine recipe

2014-08-11, BBC Good Food Magazine, Pancetta & Pepper Piperade - Bacon, tomato & eggSince Apley was featured last month in the BBC Good Food Magazine, we read the issue & enjoyed reading, so have now subscribed & found this recipe which we tried last night with friends from Brussels. We made it with bacon (lacking pancetta), tomatoes (lacking peppers & having nearly too many tomatoes in the vegetable garden) & eggs. It’s a totally delicious & new way of having eggs. Whilst we were in Paris, I found another egg recipe which is essentially a bed of [hot] crushed potatoes with 3 eggs broken into 3 nests on the top surface, then topped with cheese & grilled.

PS a piperade is a Basque dish of onions, green tomatoes & sautéed tomatoes – reflecting the colours of the Basque region’s flag – white, green & red.

August 3, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Self Esteem workshop at Apley Farm Shop, 25 Sept

2014-07-24, Dianne Smart self esteem courses - A5 leaflet jpeg (2) 2014-07-24, Dianne Smart self esteem courses - A5 leaflet jpeg (1)

Local Life Coach Dianne Smart will hold a Self Esteem workshop entitled ‘Step up, make that change’ at Apley Farm Shop on Thursday 25 September, 9.30-12h30, but in the meantime, here’s a bit about her & her courses.

‘Step up, make that change’ is a workshop specifically designed to help people currently experiencing low self esteem gain confidence & understanding of their thoughts, feelings & actions. It can equip them to gain knowledge & practical skills that can not only enable them to make changes to their current situation but skills that they can take with them & use for the rest of their lives.

Her background is in community mental health. Up until last year she worked in Bridgnorth at the Community Mental Health Team as a Mental Health Practitioner. She also ran community groups & did a weekly clinic at Shifnal Surgery. After much consideration she decided to start her own practice. She is a fully qualified coach (member of the Association of Coaching) as well as having Mental Health qualifications & is also a registered Social Worker.

In her coaching capacity, she supports people to work through any issues they may have with reaching their full potential. This may be with any project or goal they wish to achieve; it may be a life changing decision or a small area of their life that they are not satisfied with. The key words here are potential & satisfaction a must if we are to feel fulfilled with our lot !

She offers a flexible service & if necessary will see people in their own homes or at a place of their choosing. She also offers a Walk & Talk service for those with busy & full lives. In addition to the above she offers group coaching & supports them to & and improve how they currently work allowing them to question alternatives.

To book a place on the 25 September workshop at Apley, call Dianne on 07896 95 59 11, visit, find her on Facebook (dismartlifecoach) or tweet her on her Twitter account @Di_smart.


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