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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 !


July 15, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Children’s Summer activities at Pigg’s Playbarn

2014-07-03, Teddy Bears picnic photoApley Farm Shop is once again offering a programme of children’s Summer activities in Pigg’s Playbarn, for 2-11 year olds every Wednesday. Starting with a Teddy Bears picnic in the woods on the Skylark Nature Trail, followed by kite making, parachute games, boat building & water fighting, the programme will finish with an Alice in Wonderland’s tea party.

For the Teddy Bear’s picnic on Wednesday 23 July, meet at 11:45am at the entrance to Pigg’s Playbarn, with your teddy & wellington boots, before heading down to the woods 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.

In the Playbarn party rooms, there will be 2 sessions of kite making on Wednesday 30 July – 10-12noon & 2-4pm. The best kite & longest flight (if there’s any wind !) win prizes. Free with Playbarn entry.

All children love parachute games, especially put to music, so don’t miss these on Wednesday 6 August at 10am, 11am, 2pm or 3pm, in the Playbarn’s outdoor playspace. Free with Playbarn entry.

Using different recyclable materials – plastic bottles, polystyrene, a raft of twigs with twine, tinfoil  – the children will be challenged to build a boat on Wednesday 13 August. Again, these will take place in the party rooms & prizes will be offered for the best design, best use of materials & the boat which lasts the longest before it sinks ! Free with Playbarn entry.

No summer would be complete without a water fight, so bring along your water pistols on Wednesday 20 August & hide behind straw bales in the field by the Farm Shop’s pumpkin patch. Younger children will be zoned off from the older ones for whom there will be a Capture the Flag competition.  Free with Playbarn entry.

Just before term restarts, join in the Alice in Wonderland tea party on Wednesday 27 August. Meet at 11:45am at the entrance to Pigg’s Playbarn dressed up as a character from this well known Lewis Carroll book. Will you be Alice, The Mad Hatter or the Queen of Tarts ? Walk down to the woods on the Skylark Nature Trail, where you may meet Tweedle Dum & Tweedle Dee. We expect to be back by 1.45pm. The cost is £6.50 which includes a picnic & play afterwards in the Playbarn.  Adults can also order a picnic for themselves for £5.50.

For some activities, places are limited, so booking is advisable. For more information or to book your place please visit or call 01952 730 345. Tickets can be bought online at or in the Playbarn.

July 14, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Apley Walled Garden tour, Tuesday 15 July

2014-07-10, Graham Podmore, Shifnal Society tour (2) 2014-07-10, Graham Podmore, Shifnal Society tour (3)2014-07-10, Graham Podmore, Shifnal Society tour (1) compressedIf you enjoy Apley Walled Garden produce, you may be interested to meet our Head Gardener Phil Allen & tour the gardens.  Especially for July, we are holding one of our last Apley Walled Gardens Open Tours, mid-month, on Tuesday 15 July. If you’re interested, please call or email our Head Gardener Phil on 07746 01 30 50 or the or call the Farm Shop office on 01952 730 345 (option 6) or email Rebecca on  Here are some photos taken from a recent tour by the Shifnal Society to give you a taster.

Meet Phil & Rebecca (our new Marketing Assistant) at the Farm Shop cash till at 10am, pay £5 per person, then drive in convoy to the gardens, in as few cars as possible due to our very limited parking. The tour runs 10h30-11h30 & you’ll be back at the Shop by noon. If you would like to finish with lunch in the Creamery, please book this at 10am with the Café manager, before you leave.

At Apley, during the warmer Summer months, you can now have Apley Walled Garden vegetables direct from the garden via our chiller room to your fridge, in very little time & with very few food miles. To ensure your vegetables last as long as possible, you can request to have whatever you see in the Shop grocery display baskets, from our chiller room (subject to availability of course !).

July 13, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Icecream Sundae, Classic Car Funday – next Sunday at Apley Farm Shop

(05) 29th September 2012 2014-07-08, Panther Kallista 1983

It’s only a week away now until Icecream Sundae & Classic Car Funday at Apley Farm Shop. On Sunday 20 July, we will have a display of classic cars including an MGB Roadster, a 1983 Panther Kallista, a Rover P6 3500 & a a yellow MG Midget fresh off the tracks with 1st & 2nd recent racing prizes.

The Shropshire schools break up at the end of next week, so it’s a lovely way to start the Summer holidays on a Sunday afternoon – with icecream, fun activities for the children & interesting cars to admire in the beautiful Shropshire countryside which surrounds our Farm Shop. 

As well as the classic car display, there will be a juke box, Summer drinks, local Hobsons’ Shropshire beers (they make Apley Ale for us) & a barbecue in the Courtyard, looking prettier than ever with hanging baskets by Phil Allen. The children will be easily entertained with the fairground games, a bouncy castle, trailer & donkey rides, face painting & even a Punch & Judy show.

If you can’t get to the seaside this Summer, you will almost feel you’re there with our icecreams & donkeys. And if an element of your ideal Summer is a tranquil country picnic, bring a basket, fill it with Apley Farm Shop picnic ingredients & take it round the Skylark Nature Trail where there are occasional benches – unless of course you bring a picnic rug.

To help you really unwind & have a relaxed Sunday, Jonquil Keen will be offering 10 minute hand & arm massages in Elizabeth Beckett’s Skincare shop in the courtyard. 

Especially for the day, two Shropshire icecream suppliers, Bennett’s Farm of Worcester & Churchfield’s Farmhouse of Droitwich will be present on the day, 10-4pm, offering free tasters of their farm-produced icecreams, as well as selling tubs & cones. Visitors can even have a go at creating their own icecream flavour & choose from a variety of sauces to go with their ice-creams, plus different toppings.

The event will run 10-5pm, but the shop closes at 4pm on Sundays. Parking & entry is free.


July 12, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Hawthorn House fragrances & candles at Apley Farm Shop

2014-07-08, Hawthorn House products

Elizabeth Beckett Skincare, in Apley Farm Shop’s courtyard, is now stocking Hawthorn House fragrances & candles, handcrafted locally at Pattingham, on the Shropshire/Staffordshire border.

Founded by Tami Murray, Hawthorn House creates & captures beautiful bouquets, by combining interesting & often unusual ingredients which are blended to create unique fragrances.

Her publicity states: “Her love of all things British has been a great inspiration – an English rose garden, summer rain dampening freshly cut grass & afternoon tea are amongst the much loved heritage that has found its place in this timeless collection. Taking such powerful, memory evoking scents & pairing them with exquisite ingredients, has resulted in a range of versatile products that not only smell truly beautiful in your home and on your skin, but infuse and energise your soul.”

That sounds as if it’s worth popping in to have a look & smell ! I’m sure her products would be lovely to have in your own home or would make much appreciated presents, when going for dinner or visiting friends for a weekend.

For more information, go to or email Tami on or call her on 01902 700821.

July 11, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Apley bridge renovations continue

2014-07-02, Apley Bridge renovationsBridge repairs 2014All the boards & bearers are being removed to allow the inspection, cleaning, preparing & re-painting of Apley Bridge which after 109 years (built in 1905) is beginning to show its age.

All the deck boards will be replaced as part of this work & those which aren’t too broken or rotten will be re-used in Apley Walled Garden for raised beds & edging of beds.

The bearers, most of which are split (they’re no good if they are split as they won’t grip a nail) or rotten or both, will also be replaced. Those which are in good condition will be kept as spares or used as kerbing on the bridge after the estate team has put a chamfer along the long side.

The bridge is closed to all traffic – whether on foot, bicycle or vehicle – until further notice and is, in any event, always a private bridge with no public access.


July 10, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Ever tried Quilling ?

Andrea GothamShropshire is brimming with all types of talented crafters. Last weekend, on Sunday 6 July, visitors to Apley Farm Shop’s monthly craft fair were treated to quilling demonstrations by Andrea Gotham.

Quilling uses the traditional art of rolling paper around a needle tool. Work using this skill has been found in monasteries to decorate religious pictures. It was practiced by accomplished ladies in the Victorian era & has even had a mention in a Jane Austen book. Andrea uses the traditional methods but put a contemporary elegant touch bringing paper filigree or quilling back to life, it’s been far too long forgotten.

If you’d like to know more or try this yourself, you can contact Andrea Gotham on or 07956 41 57 33. As soon as I can confirm August’s craft fair demonstrator, I will write about it here.

July 9, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

EKO Sleepover 28-29 August 2014

Last year’s EKO (Educating Kids Outdoors) sleepover was so popular, it’s been run again 28-29 August. All details are below. Our children love sessions  with EKO, den building, camp fires, bush craft. Just bring your pyjamas, a sleeping bag & suitable clothes according to the weather forecast ! It’s £25 per child & is suitable for ages 6-13. Bookings are being taken through Pigg’s Playbarn (isn’t that every child’s dream, to sleep in a playbarn !) on or by calling 01952 730 345. I can personally vouch for EKO & that this is will be a great way to end the Summer holidays, whatever the weather- they will have a great time !

EKO Sleepover Final August 2014

July 8, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Teachers’ presents – Apley Farm Shop hampers

For our teachers’ presents this year, I’ve put together some Apley Farm Shop hampers – actually I’ve filled a hessian bag, which is so useful when the contents have been eaten !

2014-07-07, teacher's leavers present £30 AFS hamperAll the parents contributed £2 per child & with 20 children in class, that gave enough to compile a delicious £40 selection. You can obviously select whatever you wish or buy a voucher so the teachers can come & choose for themselves. I put in Wenlock Edge saucisson, Frank’s luxury biscuits, Appleby’s Cheshire cheese, Lord Hamilton’s sloe gin, Nibble Ems (sweets from Market Drayton), Peter’s Yard crackers, Hobsons’ Apley ale, the Ludlow nut company macadamia nuts, Louis Barnett’s dark chocolate & Mike’s Homemade Shropshire pickle.

We do the same when we go to stay with friends, but add the most unusual vegetables from Apley Walled Gardens too, such as our Purple Majesty potatoes.


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