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July 28, 2015 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Taster days in August at Apley Farm Shop

Bennett & Dunn rapeseed oil

Bennett & Dunn rapeseed oil

Masala MagicLudlow Nut CompanySalop pickle works 22015-06-17, AFS handmade labelsThere’s a run of Tasters days coming up at Apley Farm Shop every Saturday in August, where you get the chance to taste delicious local Shropshire food & drink & meet the producers.

1 Aug – Apley handmade – our range of handmade products on the Delicatessen counter including John Collingwood’s award winning pasties & pork pies made onsite

8 Aug – Bennett & Dunn rapeseed oil

15 Aug – Masala Magic – Indian cuisine

22 Aug – Ludlow Nut Company (their wasabi beans are amazing, but look out, they’re hot !)

29 Aug – Salop Pickle Works


July 27, 2015 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Apley Dog Show schedule

2015-07-27, Applying UV films to Apley Farm Shop windows

Apley Dog Show is raising funds to help dog rescue charities & research into canine cancer. So get ready to enter your dogs in one of the very varied classes – there’s even a class for the dog with the waggiest tail !

Today has a been a busy Monday at Apley Farm Shop as we prepare for August. We’re constantly evolving, so no day is ever the same there, which keeps us all on our toes. The Window Film Company have spent all day applying UV films to the farm shop windows to reduce heat from sunshine by 70%. We beautifully converted the barn in winter 2010 using glass & oak, but the lovely sunshine has sometimes caused us overheating problems! We have used half mirror reflective film (on the higher windows) & half solar control film which you can easily see through (on the lower windows).

2015-06-16, Apley Dog Show schedule of classes - jpegPhil Allen, Head Gardener of Apley Walled Garden, was again on BBC Radio Shropshire’s Gardeners’ Question Time yesterday, Sunday 12-1pm. To listen again, click HERE & start at 01:07:49.

July 26, 2015 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Cosford Food Festival & caterpillars

Shrewsbury Food Festival

Shrewsbury Food Festival – Julie & her daughter Alison

2015-06-27, AFS's Shrewsbury Food Festival stand - beetroot 1

Shrewsbury Food Festival – Apley Walled Garden beetroot

2015-06-27, AFS's Shrewsbury Food Festival stand - veg stand

Shrewsbury Food Festival – Apley Walled Garden strawberries, Spring onions, apache potatoes & Apley honey

Apley Farm Shop had a stand at Cosford Food Festival this weekend, the 3rd food festival we’ve attended this year (Shrewsbury & Newport being the other 2). It went very well, considering the damp British summer weather. Our children tell me the only difference between summer & winter is in summer the rain is warmer! – :) Next, we’ll be at Burwarton Show on Thursday 7 August (our girls are also coming, to show jump one of our ponies) & Beckbury Show on Saturday 12 Sept.

Meantime, I met with a friend to fundraise for a local RDA (Riding for the Disabled Association) centre. Then I had a marketing meeting after-hours with our great Creamery Café staff – we covered a lot & they came up with some great new ideas. They’d just coped with a upset group who’d discovered a caterpillar in their lettuce. Earlier in the day, I’d been listening to Phil Allen of Apley Walled Garden on BBC Radio Shropshire answering all kinds of gardening queries. Keeping all butterflies away is practically impossible when produce is grown outdoors in natural conditions (sun & of course rain!). About 5-10 yrs ago, when I found a slug on my lettuce during a long-haul flight, I asked the air hostess for another salad portion. She was horrified when she saw the slug, but I told her I didn’t mind as it was, after all, just one of those things one expects from time to time in salad crops – no matter how many times British Airways washes its salad ! The Creamery Café does always of course also do its very best to avoid dishing up caterpillars & is very quick to apologise, if ever one is found lurking !

Sorry, no photo of the caterpillar in question, but Francis’s holiday pet / carefully-cultivated-caterpillar is turning into a chrysalis as we speak. It’ll be a red Cinnabar moth soon.

July 25, 2015 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Apley harvest has begun

Apley Walled Garden veg box for Cosford Food Festival

Apley Walled Garden veg box for Cosford Food Festival – Cuca melons


Summer show jumping – my 2nd job – horse trailer driver !


When pony meets laptop – Combining my Apley work & horse trailer driving job to training & events

Apley harvest began last week & before I managed to get out & photo the first fields being combined, the rain began – so when it stops, I’ll be out there with my camera. It’s a real favourite time of year – I especially love the chance to canter round the stubble fields before they’re ploughed up for 2016’s crops to be planted. I noticed on my way home from yet another horsey event that some farmers had found time to bale immediately, removing the fresh straw from the forecast rain.

Adrian & his farming team had been removing rogue oats from the wheat fields, servicing & repairing machinery ready for harvest & building a new cattle handling system at Astol Farm (I’ll pop down there this week to take a photo).

This evening we enjoyed the tastiest cucumbers I’ve ever had ! Phil has been growing these round, pale yellow cuca-melons in Apley Walled Garden & included them in the veg boxes for sale at Cosford Food Festival today.

I love my 2nd job driving daughters to training & events (though I wish I was competing myself!), caught perfectly in this photo of my laptop & a curious pony.

July 24, 2015 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Apley Plant Centre open garden weekend 8-9 August

2015-07-23, Apley Plant Centre launch 8-9 Aug - apley ad 128 x 92 no bleed_Page_1

Apley Plant Centre garden weekend 8-9 Aug

August at Apley Farm Shop will begin with Apley Plant Centre’s summer open garden weekend 8-9 Aug. Here’s their press release with full details: “APLEY PLANT CENTRE TO HOLD OPEN GARDEN WEEKEND

Keen gardeners in Shropshire can replenish their borders with a beautiful free gift when they visit Apley Plant Centre’s Open Garden Weekend, in Bridgnorth, next month (August). 

The boutique style plant centre, which opened in the Apley Farm Shop Courtyard in June, is holding a special opening summer event on the weekend of the 8/9 August. As well as enjoying an afternoon tea and a barbecue, plant centre customers can also take home a beautiful Verbena bonariensis, worth £8, for free*.

During the event, Apley Plant Centre will also be offering an exclusive 10% discount and multi-buy offers across its wide range of garden plants, from small alpines to large specimen stock and unusual specimens. 

All Apley Plant Centre customers will be entered into a prize raffle too, where two tickets to the 2015 Shrewsbury Flower Show are up for grabs.

Lord and Lady Hamilton of Dalzell, who opened the farm shop on the Apley Estate in 2011, said the plant centre perfectly complements their existing attractions, which include a cafe, Playbarn, clothes shop, animal park, Reiki centre and a toy shop. 

Lady Hamilton, Marketing Manager, said: “Customer feedback since the plant centre opened its doors in June has been tremendous, so we wanted to celebrate by holding a summer Open Garden Weekend.” 

The plant centre is stocked and managed by Shropshire’s largest plant nursery, Worfield Plants (a trading division of Boningale Limited), and its enthusiastic, knowledgeable staff will be on hand during the weekend to offer expert advice on plant selection, garden design and plant husbandry. 

As well as plants, the centre also stocks a small selection of gardening goods, such as a range of composts, tools, decorative plant pots and other high quality garden sundries.

*The free nectar-rich plant, which is a stylish perennial that boasts clusters of tiny purple flowers, adding structure and beauty to any border, will be available on a first-come, first-served basis to Apley Plant Centre customers over the open garden weekend with any purchase. 

Apley Plant Centre is situated within the Apley Farm Shop Courtyard on the Telford / Bridgnorth Road.

For further information please contact

July 23, 2015 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Activ8 clients get special offer in Pigg’s Playbarn

Activ8 for kids voucher

Activ8 for kids voucher

Activ8's logoSince last Autumn, Apley Farm Shop have been providing Activ8’s children with free apples. I felt the time had come for a change, so we’ve created this voucher especially for Activ8’s clients to use when they visit Pigg’s Playbarn at Apley Farm Shop: Free admission for the youngest paying child.

Francis (in the top right corner of the voucher, but now 5) absolutely loves Activ8’s holiday clubs which run throughout the year – click here for more details.

Chelmarsh Owls had to delay their visit (planned for 21 July) to Scotty’s Animal Park. They’ll now come on Wednesday 5 August, 10-4pm (free with Scotty’s normal entry prices).

Pigg’s Playbarn are hosting activities every Tuesday & Wednesday throughout the Summer holidays – the Cardboard Box Club is free & held on Tuesdays 10-12noon & 2-4pm. A variety of craft afternoons (also free with normal entry) are planned every Wednesday 10-12noon.

For hotter days, enjoy Churchfields icecreams – the Playbarn currently stock these flavours: chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, toffee fudge, mint & cherry marshmallow.


July 22, 2015 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Teddy Bears’ picnic at Pigg’s Playbarn

Teddy bears' picnic

Teddy bears’ picnic

2015-07-22, Teddy bears' picnic (3) 2015-07-22, Teddy bears' picnic (16) 2015-07-22, Teddy bears' picnic (21)Today was the day the teddy bears’ had their pic-nic. They went down to the woods today & they didn’t go alone .. More tomorrow ! Next Teddy Bears’ picnic at Pigg’s Playbarn is Wed 26 Aug, 11.45-1.45pm – Child tickets are £6.50.

July 21, 2015 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Apley Walled Garden – Summer produce available this week

Apley Walled Garden courgettes, fennel bulb & smoked garlic, with vegetarian tagine

Apley Walled Garden courgettes, fennel bulb & smoked garlic, with vegetarian tagine

Francis (5) with rosettes at his first Junior Pony Club camp

Francis (5) with rosettes at his first Junior Pony Club camp

As our farm manager prepares to harvest 1300 acres of winter barley, oil seed rape, winter wheat then spring wheat & oats, coming into Apley Farm Shop from Apley Walled Garden this week is a huge range of very local fruit & veg including Apache & International Kidney potatoes, artichokes, purple & green broad beans (just had some for supper – Francis eats them raw, straight out of the pods), spinach, beetroot, lemon basil, spring onions, white & red cooking onions, cucumbers, mixed lettuce heads & lettuce leaves (Little gem, new fire red, roxy, saladin, lolla rossa), calabrese, radishes, garlic, sugar snap peas, thyme, pea tendrils, borage flowers, nasturtium flowers, viola flowers, calendula flowers, mint, baby leeks, fennel bulbs, raspberries, gooseberries, strawberries (just had some for supper), tayberries, courgettes (had some last night with bulb fennel & smoked garlic), coriander, cabbage, red, black & white currants. Heritage tomatoes should be ready very soon too.

Gavin came home with a delicious chocolate caramel sauce by The Cotswold Pudding Company as a treat for the girls who are just home from 3 days camping (& feeling rather tired !) to accompany your Apley Walled Garden raspberries – look no further !

In Pigg’s Playbarn, staff have been preparing activities for the school summer holidays. Cardboard Box Club began today 10-12 & 2-4pm & tomorrow will be the first of 2 Teddy Bear’s picnics on the Skylark Nature Trail, 11.45-1.45pm. The Cardboard Box Club is free with normal entry to the Playbarn & the Teddies’ picnics cost £6.50 as they include a packed lunch (childcarers cost £5.50).

July 20, 2015 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Rare breed pork at Apley Farm Shop

img032Shropshire Star April 2015I bumped into the butcher yesterday & will blog photos tomorrow of their handmade pies & sausage rolls. John & Craig, the Apley butchers, are busy developing new lines & products for our Apley customers.

In the meantime, Apley Farm Shop’s butcher stocks meat from the rarest breed (the Large Blacks) of pig in the UK from Cherrington, Shropshire. Back in May Jane Banks wrote to our General Manager a very pig orientated email !: “I have received a very rare litter of British Saddlebacks – from the Colleen line is very, very rare – there are only two sows in the UK now & my friend (who is in his 80s) & I have the last remaining sows.  The Saddleback Society have brought a Grand Duke champion boar to her & we are eagerly awaiting the litter. Also I have the large black Dorothy line which is rare & she is also waiting to pig. My old friend has also gifted me a Diana Large Black & they are even more rare than the Dorothy. ” More on this tomorrow when I’ve chatted with our producers.

July 19, 2015 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Over 75 cars attend Classic Car Sunday at Apley Farm Shop

Summer holidays camping begins

Summer holidays camping begins

2015-07-19, Rename (2)

Classic Car Sunday – Gavin presenting 1 of the prizes

2015-07-19, Rename (22)

Evelade Chic opened Sat 18 July

2015-07-19, Rename (23)

Bumble bee nest disturbed

The third Classic Car Sunday at Apley Farm Shop today was a great success, with over 75 cars on site by 9.30am. At 8am there was drizzle & very low cloud & I couldn’t believe it was going to become a magical English summer’s day. Gavin chose 4 very different winners – a Delorean, a Schwimmer & Wolsley & another – more details tomorrow.

Evelade Chic furniture opened on Saturday (18 July) & have had 2 successful first days’ trading. Their shop in Apley courtyard looks lovely.

We’re now looking forward to our next event, the Apley Dog Show on Saturday 15 August. Before then, the Apley Plant Centre will officially open 8-9 August.

I took the girls to pony club camp this morning, so in their absence, I tried to move the last bales of 2014’s hay. Two bales initially seemed stuck together, so I pulled harder to expose something I’ve never seen – a bumble bee nest – with huge yellow eggs, the size of my little finger nail.


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