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May 1, 2016 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Specialty Food Magazine article & a flurry of feedback

2016-04-01, Specialty Food Magazine, Sweet Talk page, jpeg croppedSpecialty Food Magazine called me earlier this year, writing this article about the ethics of transparent sugars. How different our world would have been without refined sugars.

In the meantime, we’ve had a rush of lovely feedback from different sources which is very much worth sharing whilst it’s fresh. How fabulous for our very committed & hard working staff to know how much their hard work is really appreciated:

Our farm shop has just had a very good April & the Café & Playbarn just got this great Trip Advisor report:

2016-04-28, Trip advisor 'Pigg's Playbarn & Cafe' 25th Apr

Some local estate agents recently held training sessions in our Corn Loft Conference Room & sent us this lovely feedback: “I am really pleased to let you know that the hire of the training room worked admirably and fits in with my ethos of getting staff to understand the look, feel, and taste for quality and the standards discerning clients expect. The food location and staff service at Apley Farm Shop all met with our expectations. “

On Twitter, we were named one of the top 20 places for breakfast in the Midlands & Shropshire: @mariekreft: I’d add @ApleyFarmShop @urbanjq @dearnfordlake @LevertonHalls | Top 20 places for breakfast in Midlands & Shropshire

April 29, 2016 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Apley Bake Off in the Shropshire Star

In case you missed it, read again the Apley Bake Off articles which appeared in the Shropshire Star yesterday.

2016-04-28, Shropshire Star SS-20-ST jpeg cropped

Thu 28 April 2016, Shropshire Star

2016-04-28, Shropshire Star SS-24-ST jpeg cropped

Thu 28 April 2016, Shropshire Star’s Out & About pull out supplement



April 28, 2016 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Apley Bake Off – win a chance to demo on stage with top chefs

2016-04-20, Bake Off programme FINAL JPEGApley Bake Off programme is right here, so you can plan your day & grab your chance to win prizes in the masterclasses & baking competitions.

Click HERE to see AgWa Media’s film to give you an idea of how wonderful the day will be!

Click HERE & ‘like’ our Facebook page to have a chance of cooking on stage with our chefs on Monday, as they each give their demonstrations.

The press release below details the wonderful prizes waiting to be won:

Great prizes are ready to be won at the Apley Bake Off next Monday, bank holiday Monday 2 May at Apley Farm Shop.

“This will be a rare opportunity to cook on stage with five of the county’s best known chefs & then have a hands-on learning experience alongside them in masterclasses. On top of that, anyone can have fun baking at home & bring in entries for the baking competition on the day“ began Lord Hamilton, Apley Farm Shop owner.

“Children coming along get to take part too – they can have a go making cheese straws & rock cakes with Pigg’s Playbarn staff. Plus, Masala Magic’s Lajina Leal will be teaching them how to make their own samosas.  So I’m sure it’ll be a fabulous cookery day for everyone”, explained Lady Harriet Hamilton, Marketing Manager.

Tina Buckland, General Manager of Apley Farm Shop, continued “There are prizes for the masterclasses as well as prizes for the baking competition. Three prizes (first, second & third) for the baking competition are given for each of the three categories – cakes, sweet tarts & savoury tarts – so there are nine prizes in total there. Anyone can enter all or any of the classes – the more you enter, the greater your chance of winning a prize !“

Each of the five masterclasses also has three prizes (first, second & third), so there are fifteen more prizes to be won. Altogether, that’s 24 prizes waiting to be won by any participant ! The masterclass first prizes are donated by the chef leading the class.

Chefs are all well known, talented & based in Shropshire. They include Chris Burt of Momo-no-ki, Midlands Thai Chef of the Year Suree Coates, Stuart Philips of the Hundred House, Lajina Leal of Masala Magic & James Sherwin who appeared on Nigella Lawson’s ‘The Taste’ TV show. Other masterclass prizes include Delishop vouchers (Apley Farm Shop’s online shop) & Netherton Foundry cookware, used by celebrity chef Nigella Lawson.

There are only ten masterclass places for lucky participants. On arrival, visitors can put their name into the hat of the masterclass they wish to join. Names will be drawn 15 mins before each class starts.  All baking competition entries must be in the display tent by 12:30 on the day (bank holiday Monday 2 May), so that judging can start 1pm & prizes will be awarded by 2pm.

The day runs 10-4pm. For full details, see

April 27, 2016 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Soroptimists International – women inspiring action, transforming lives

Soroptimist logo

Young students walk home from school in the lower Solo Khumbu District.

Young students walk home from school in the lower Solu Khumbu District, Nepal

I recently spoke to a local group of Soroptimists International – women inspiring action, transforming lives. I joined them for dinner before I spoke & they were all fascinating, each member having led an interesting & professional life. Amongst them were teachers, pharmacists, a medical secretary & a social worker – professions which in themselves had been helping others.

One lady’s (I hope she won’t mind me sharing this!) first career was in computer programming, then she had 2 sons & decided to retrain as a lawyer, so worked nights, studied full time & then picked up her children from school, then went back to [night] work … That must have been incredibly difficult – I so admire that determination.

About a year ago, they asked me to speak on how my life had changed since becoming Lady Hamilton – which surprised me initially, then it seemed a very sensible question & certainly one which I’d never really comtemplated. I included things & concluded on ways I didn’t expect myself to. Mixing my work & family has at times been comical – holding a pony in one whilst typing on my laptop with with my other hand !

Most importantly, Soroptimists (soror = sister in Latin + optima = the best) which means ‘the best for women’ was set up in Calfornia in 1926. They improve the lives women & girls all over the world through their ‘educate, empower, enable‘ programme. They fundraise £millions every year, through their 80,000 club members in 132 countries. I felt truly excited by what they are achieving – especially as the mother of 3 girls (not forgetting Francis too, of course!) & loved this photo of 2 girls off to school in Nepal. There’s a quite chance a charity worker for Soroptimists International will come across Operation Orphan – the other charity I’ve got involved with earlier this year. Apley Farm Shop is a collecting point for any old blankets & winter clothes.

April 26, 2016 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Pigg’s Playbarn – Creative Tuesdays & Apley Craft Fair Sunday 1 May

2015-09-27, Craft fair (8)

Apley Craft Fair, Sun 1 May

Pigg’s Playbarn has a new programme of Creative Tuesdays, starting Tuesday 24 May.

Our first 2016 Apley Craft Fair is this Sunday (1 May). I’ve just received some more detail on it:

“Apley Craft Fairs are the perfect occasions to browse handmade Shropshire crafts & chat with the crafters themselves. Discover your new favourite piece of jewellery or find the perfect unique gift. Held in Apley Farm Shop’s beautiful courtyard 10-4pm, it’s the perfect way to spend a weekend afternoon. Whilst there, treat yourself & your family to breakfast, lunch or Afternoon Tea in the Creamery Cafe. We’re renown for our delicious & excellent value roast Sunday lunches! More details from or 01952 730 345. 

April 25, 2016 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

St George’s Day at Apley Farm Shop

2016-04-23, St George's Day - Tina's flags

St George’s Day – Tina’s flags

2016-04-22, Foraging Fox ketchup logo

Foraging Fox, free tasters Sat 30 April in the farm shop

2016-04-10, Gluten free Nairn biscuits

Gluten free Nairn biscuits

2016-04-22, asparagus display 1

Local asparagus from Quatt

2016-04-22, Foraging Fox ketchup

£3.89 per 225g bottle – Taster Day, Sat 30 April

Lots of snippets of Apley Farm Shop news: St George’s Day (Saturday just passed, 23 April) at Apley Farm Shop looked gorgeous – our General Manager Tina had scaled a ladder (with help !) to hang these fab England flags. The Apley butchers made special family sized Beef Wellingtons, one of their specialities – we adore them at home.

Local asparagus arrived last week from Quatt – hoorah, 2 bunches for £6. Wild garlic is in the woods – we’ve made our first pots of homemade soup with it already.

Recently in the shop, I spotted these gluten free Nairn oatcakes – more & more customers are after gluten free products, even if it’s just to accompany someone else in their family who has to follow a gluten free diet.

Sat 30 April, Foraging Fox are coming to give free tasters. Here’s a bit about them “Born from a glut of garden vegetables, the ketchup recipe uses naturally sweet beetroot & apples together with a magical mix of spices. When Frankie left her career in the City to spend more time with her children, she wanted to pass on her knowledge of where food came from. They started by finding & growing things to eat in their own garden &, in the process, exploring ways to preserve their produce. The Foraging Fox Beetroot Ketchup started out as a kitchen project with her kids to find a way to use their bumper crops of apples and beetroot! £3.89 per 225g bottle. ”

We’ve just taken a big order for corporate hampers, for a local house builder. The wicker hampers arrived a few days before they were needed, so Kris put them in the farm shop. Very quickly, a customers had bought half the [empty] hampers & filled them with £100 of delicious food & drinks. So we had to quickly order yet more hampers … Hoorah – photos just coming.

Cake kits are on sale in the farm & there’s still a whole week before the Apley Bake Off, plenty of time to get baking & win some great prizes.

April 24, 2016 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Spring’s here – gorgeous nature photos

2016-04-13, Holland Park bluebells


2016-04-13, White cherry blossom 2

Cherry blossom

2016-04-13, White cherry blossom

White cherry blossom

2016-04-14, Kensington Gardens white daffodils

White daffodils

2016-04-15, White cherry blossom

White cherry blossom

2016-04-24, New leaves lime green

New beech leaves – bright lime green

I love the Spring months of March April May, as everything begins to warm up & summer is ahead. Here are some of the nature photos I’ve been taking over the last month. They’re not my best – taken whilst on the go… My favourite is the bright lime green of new leaves. Although it’s still chilly, I can’t believe we’re only now a month away from 1 June. All over the Apley Estate, the grass is getter greener, the trees are coming into leaves, dandelions & daisies are on the verges, even cowslips line the motorway embankments. Calves & lambs are out in the fields – soooo funny the way they skip & jump together. Birds are singing & nesting – from a barn roof at home, annoyingly, some manage to pull out some of the roof insulation – which obviously makes great nest lining !

Phil Allen, Head Gardener Apley Walled Garden was on BBC Radio Shropshire last Sunday morning, Gardeners’ Question Time. His production levels increase at this time of year as temperatures rise & everything grows faster again.

April 23, 2016 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Open Farm Sunday – 5 June

2016-04-21, Open Farm Sunday leaflet FINAL JPEG 2 reverse2016-04-21, Open Farm Sunday 2016 logo dated2016-04-21, Open Farm Sunday leaflet FINAL JPEG 1 frontAfter the Apley Bake Off on Monday 2 May, it’ll be time for Open Farm Sunday again, on Sunday 5 June, 10-4pm at Apley Farm Shop. Organised by LEAF, Linking Education And Farming, it’s a nationally organised event when farmers all over the UK welcome the public, giving them the opportunity to get to better understand food & farming, particularly where it comes from & how it’s produced.


April 22, 2016 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Great prizes at the Apley Bake Off

2016-01-29, Momo-no-ki-logo

Momo-no-ki – [also!] Chris Burt

2016-04-18, Apley Bake Off baking competition prizes 2016-04-19, Apley Bake Off masterclass prizes flier These are the chefs who will be kindly donating their time on Monday 2 May for the Apley Bake Off. Here are the great prizes we’ve got lined up for participants of the masterclasses & the baking competition.

James Sherwin, House of the Rising Sun

James Sherwin, House of the Rising Sun

One of our chefs Lajina of Masala Magic, will be on hand in the Children’s Cookery Corner after her demo & masterclass, to teach children how to make samosas using flatbreads. Click HERE to watch a short film of her making when she came to practice with Francis & Venetia – teaching children is requires special techniques !



Chris Burt logo, Havana Republic on wood

Havana Republic – Chris Burt

House of the Rising Sun logo, HOTRS logo

House of the Rising Sun – James Sherwin

Hundred House logo

Hundred House – Stuart Phillips

King & Thai logo

King & Thai – Suree Coates

Masala Magic logo

Chris Burt image jpeg

Chris Burt


Lajina Leal image jpeg

Lajina Leal

Stuart Philips image JPEG

Stuart Philips

Suree Coates image JPEG

Suree Coates



April 21, 2016 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Deep cleaning in Pigg’s Playbarn & Apley Farm Shop news

2016-04-19, PPB deep clean Amy

Amy, Playbarn manager, deep cleaning

2016-04-19, shop move around 2

All change in Apley Farm Shop

2016-04-19, shop move around 3

Lora restacking shelves

2016-04-19, PPB deep clean 1

Brenda deep cleaning

2016-04-19, shop move around 1

Shop move-around

Artisan Grains - nut loaf

Artisan Grains – nut loaf

On Tuesday this week, Pigg’s playbarn was closed for deep cleaning whilst shop staff changed the arrangement of Apley Farm Shop.

I’m sure Lora will have it looking lovely again in no time at all.

2016-04-10, Grate Britain savoury biscuits

Grate Britain savoury biscuits – great for snacks

Last weekend, I picked up some delicious new savoury biscuits by Grate Britain (great for snacks) & nut loaf by Artisan Grains.

Lora told me 1-7 May is National Hedgehog Awareness week!, so she’ll have available in the shop the popular 9 pint party kegs (£19.99), Old Prickly bottled beers by Hobsons & Old Prickly Gift Packs (two beers & a glass).  We will also give out 24 free Hedgehog pint glasses to give away when anyone buys a party keg!

Also new on Deli counter, finally Eden Ivory cheese has arrived, for sale at £2.79 per 100g. Click HERE to read more about it.

For St George’s Day this Saturday, John & Craig have made their delicious Beef Wellington – £3.95 for individual ones & £30 for a family size one (approx. 1.2kg, to feed 4-5 people).  Plus in the Creamery Cafe this weekend (23-24 April), there will be roast rib of beef from Apley Estate British White cattle.

English flag cupcakes

English flag cupcakes

2016-04-21, Queen's 90th birthday cupcakes 2

Queen’s 90th birthday cupcakes

In honour of the Queen’s 90th magnificent birthday today, Lisa made these fabulous cakes – as well as these for St George too.


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