We’ve been beavering away in the background since September, preparing to launch our first ever online sales forum, DeliShop. You can buy over 100 of Apley Farm Shop’s products, to which we’re adding all the time (eg. today hopefully, my favourite MacNeil’s smoked salmon & gift vouchers which are so useful as pressies). The range includes items from the Apley butchery counter & the Apley Delicatessen counter as well veg boxes.
Apley Farm Shop products (this Apley beef & Apley cheese are of course 2 of my favourites) are only currently available for Click & Collect from the shop itself. But we also sell some products directly from other suppliers, ie. non Apley Farm Shop items, which can be delivered to your home.
It was set up by Charlie Turnbull of Turnbull’s Deli (drop in when you’re next in Shaftesbury, Dorset) who we met in early September at the Specialty & Fine Food Fair in London. We’re developing it all the time & Steve Watts of A Decent Exposure will be improving some of our photos.
Here’s a bit about DeliShops which sums up their philosophy: “As an industry we need to do more online, but locally. DeliShops are about independent businesses offering more products and better services, increasing local trade with local people and benefiting from the growing Bricks & Clicks evolution of online retail. DeliShops uniquely offer the range and flexibility, affordably and easily, for independent food shops and suppliers to get online and get ahead. Just like the big boys do.”
Just click HERE to take a look !
Just as a PS.: Tomorrow, we’ll be getting fully into the festive season with our Apley Farm Shop Christmas Food Fair – free tasters & a fabulous programme of free cookery demonstrations 10.30-4pm. Photographer Steve Watts of A Decent Exposure will be snapping the occasion & AgWa Media will be beginning our winter season film. So if you missed seeing Agata’s fabulous Autumn film earlier in the month, click HERE to enjoy it now. Then on Sunday 29 November 10-4pm, we’re holding the Apley Christmas Craft Fair (instead of being on 6 Dec).
I am very excited to see this Saturday’s programme of free cookery demonstrations at Apley Farm Shop. Running from 10.30-4pm, alongside our Christmas Food Fair (10-4pm) where over 20 local producers come & offer customers free tasters. I know our staff have been really busy this week getting the looking ready & delicious food prepared. Plus on Sunday, it’s our Christmas Craft Fair, 10-4pm, so it’ll be a fun weekend. Short biographies of our demonstrators are below. Here’s tomorrow’s line demo up – including award winning Thai chef Suree Coates who uses Apley Walled Garden vegetables, Grown to Order by Phil especially for her:
Short biographies of the demonstrators:
I love hearing the latest news from all the shops in the courtyard at Apley Farm Shop. The latest to join us, Sarah & Fran of Big Little Things, have just sent me this update, as we make final preparations for our annual Christmas Food Fair with free cookery demonstrations from 10-4pm. This coming weekend (Friday 27th, Saturday 28th, Sunday 29th November 2015) Big Little things are offering an additional 10% off all floristry purchases & orders. (Just mention this blog to claim it.) The 10% discount applies to any purchase of floral arrangements & as well as off forward orders for Christmas door wreaths. Big Little Things have got some wonderful Christmas gifts ideas, personalised hessian Christmas sacks fabulous Christmas decorations. Drop in on & see! Apley loyalty card holders continue to receive a 10% discount off all purchases simply by presenting their loyalty card.
PS. Hot off the press – click HERE or on the picture to see our December slideshow which will be showing on our in-store TVs by Friday. It’s a great summary of all that’s going on this Christmas at Apley Farm Shop.
Our Apley butchers have just won awards for 2 of their varieties of sausage this weekend at the Staffordshire & Birmingham Agricultural Society awards held at the Staffordshire County Showground.
John Callinswood & Craig Whitehouse won a gold award (97/100) for their traditional pork sausage & a silver award (94/100) – Pork, Stilton & Spring Onion sausage – just 1 point off another gold award.
We’re all obviously delighted with this outcome. I know they love preparing for & serving Apley Farm Shop’s customers, using locally sourced meat & local ingredients, so this is a real reward for all their hard work. It’s not the first time John has won awards for his work: In the past, John has won the best pork pie in the Midlands. Of course, we hope John & Craig will be entering many other similar competitions in 2016 – it’s a great way of always raising one’s own game, always improving, developing new products & methods.
On their butchery counter (currently overlooked by a huge glittery Christmas star!) other varieties of sausage produced include Moroccan lamb, beef & horse radish, pork & tomato, pork & apple, pork & leek, pork, honey & mustard, pork & black pepper. They’ll be offering free tasters of their sausages on Saturday 28 November during the Apley Farm Shop Christmas Food Fair, 10-4pm. For Christmas orders, they have free range Kelly Bronze turkeys, free range geese, British White beef from the Apley Estate & Christmas hams from free range pork.
Nearly all their products can be bespoke for customers’ wishes including bespoke game pies from Apley’s own game & bespoke pork pies (eg. an egg & mushroom pork pie). It’ll be handmade at Apley & they’ll have it ready within 2 days, sometimes less.
Over 100 of Apley Farm Shop’s products, including some from the butchery counter, will very soon be available to order online via our DeliShop. It’s a standard Click & Collect where customers will come to the shop to collect whatever they’ve ordered online.
Graham Jones went to Norton school in the heart of the Apley Estate & about 100m from Apley Farm Shop. He has written The Apley Legion: A Parade of Servicemen from a Shropshire Estate & shared with me the pieces which were movingly read out 2 weeks ago on Remembrance Sunday, 8 November.
The congregation heard about the 4 Apley men photographed here (these are all Graham Jones’s photos): Bombardier Charlie Webb – Royal Horse Artillery – Royal Air Force; Corporal Leslie Webb – Royal Engineers; Private Norman Sharpe – 5th Battalion Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders; Squadron Leader Phillip Davies – Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders – Royal Flying Corps & RAF.
Here’s Graham’s piece about Norman Sharpe, who became gamekeeper on the Apley Estate & whose son Edward Sharpe has published his memoirs in Apley Hall: The Golden Years of a Sporting Estate.
“Edward Sharpe and his young family moved from Essex to Apley Lodge in 1902, Norman was five years old. His earliest memories were of woodland and river bank, the perfect playground for any young boy. He followed his father as he went about his duties as head gamekeeper. He learned the ways of the wildlife, pheasant and fox, trout and salmon in the Severn, deer in the park and every bird that nested in woodland and hedgerow. He was determined to learn more so that one day he would follow the same calling as his father, but first he had to complete his schooling. He was restless and it must have been a relief to Mr Davies when Norman left the village school to become an office boy!
This was not the outdoor life he had hoped for but he did get plenty of exercise outdoors. He ran around every street in the town collecting the rent from the many properties owned by William Foster. At the end of the day he caught the train to Linley Halt and ran home to Apley Lodge. The war put an end to this routine.
Phillip Davies had joined the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and appeared in the heart of the village in uniform with all the trimmings. Norman may have been envious because he joined the same regiment in June 1915.
The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders had such a reputation that they were often given the most dangerous tasks. Norman’s record of service showed that he had special skills, ‘sniper’,’ bomber’, and ‘runner’. He never forgot one message he carried to a company of the Black Watch. There was no one to receive it. Every man was dead, victims of a gas attack that went terribly wrong. The lethal cloud intended for the German trenches swept back over them when the wind changed direction.
Norman had an independent streak, at the training camp at Etaples he rebelled. On the first day the Argylls were given bayonet practice. These were men who had first-hand battle experience and did not need any instruction on how to defend themselves. At the roll calls that followed one of his mates answered for him and he spent his days in a railway siding writing letters home.
In the summer of 1917 he was laid low with trench fever- head aches, a rash, inflamed eyes, and leg pains. Usually patients recovered within a week. The cause was a mystery until 1918, body lice were the culprits, particularly active in the summer months.
Private Sharpe saw action in major battles and minor skirmishes. His luck ran out at Dichebusch, a village near Ypres. He was guiding a party of the Royal Artillery to a gun emplacement on the front line. Shells were falling all around them, this was nothing new they were all experienced men. On this occasion the gunners were on the receiving end. A shell fell among them and three were killed and three of their escorts were wounded. Norman was hit, splinters ripped through his leg, his war was over.
The Argylls had lost many men, Apley men had lost their lives, Arthur Foster had lost a leg. Norman must have considered himself fortunate that his leg was saved. The war ended in four months but it was almost a year before Norman was released. He was awarded Silver War Badge for ‘services rendered’.
Still troubled by his wound he returned to his old ‘office job’. His dream of walking the woods on a keeper’s beat was not realised for four years. At last his father gave him the chance to show what he could do, when Edward Sharpe retired Norman became the head game keeper. This was a determined man who never wavered, in battle or in the pursuit of a dream.”
Apley Walled Garden had a tiny snippet of a mention (but not specifically – just “all grown in nearby Bridgnorth“) in the Waitrose Magazine back in September when the King & Thai restaurant in Broseley won the Midlands Good Food Guide Restaurant of the Year. This is a fantastic achievement for chef Suree Coates, who is coming to give a demonstration at Apley Farm Shop’s Christmas Food Fair next Saturday, 28 November (I hope it’ll be milder than today !). Suree sources some of her vegetables from Apley Walled Gardens. She pops down (it’s not far at all) to see Phil, who marks the rows & plots which are then Grown to Order especially for her. Parts of our garden becomes bespoke for her, allowing her to secure a source of otherwise hard to find, unusual fruit & vegetables. To read a more complete account on LoveBritishFood.com, click HERE.
Head Gardener, Phil Allen, gardens using bio dynamic methods, originally a French concept & now widely used in third world countries all over the world. He combines that with Integrated Pest Management (IPM), using trap crops. More on that & his latest gardening news in more detail early next week. In order to make the garden increasingly self sufficient, he puts an amount back of whatever comes out of [ie. is produced in] the garden, to return the trace elements & nutrients back into the soil. Phil gives guided tours throughout the year & gives talks to local interest groups. Email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s a lovely time of year in Apley Farm Shop as each day, some new preparations are made towards Christmas time, helping to make it an extra special time of year for everyone.
Tina sent me this photo of these lovely wreaths she & Willow have spent hours making together, using Apley Estate foliage of course ! They’ll decorate the Winter Wonderland tent which will contain for Santa’s Grotto.
We have an exciting programme of cookery demonstrations during our Christmas Food Fair on Saturday 28 November, 10-4pm in addition to over 20 producers coming to offer customers free tasters of delicious festive food & drink. The very next day we’ll hold the Christmas Apley Craft Fair (on Sunday 29 November, 10-4pm) when over 20 Shropshire crafters will be offering a variety of local crafts including leather dog collars, jewellery, skincare, soaps, art, textiles, candles, with some demonstrating their craft techniques during the day.
Before then, next week, 23-30 Nov, it’s the Taste of Game week, so be sure to head straight for the butcher’s counter for some free tasters & free recipes ! Combine them with our Apley Walled Garden flower sprouts which is our vegetable of the month – they’re a cross between kale & sprouts.
Look out for our Christmas advert like this one in the Shropshire Magazine, as well as this small article about our fabulous Christmas hampers – talking of which, we’re just fulfilling a 70-hamper corporate order. .
As part of my ongoing Apley Archives project, I recently met again with the 3 children of Mr Gray, the last butler at Apley Park [Hall] to Major A W Foster (they first met when both serving in the Blues & Royals [regiment]). They shared with me not only more invaluable memories, but also one of his original Christmas recipes, transcribed here:
Apley Park Mulled Claret recipe, by Thomas J Gray, 16 Dec 1933
Put into 2 pints of cold water (in perfectly clean large copper saucepan)
- 1 oz Root ginger
- 6 sticks cinnamon sticks
- 1 grated nutmeg
- 20 cloves
- 3 strips of thin lemon peel
Allow this to boil for three quarters of an hour, then strain through fine muslin, put back into saucepan with 1/2 lb sugar, add four bottles of claret& warm up to drinking temperature.
We served this to our customers during our Christmas Launch last Saturday, along with Julie’s incredibly delicious mince pies. Lora in the farm shop is preparing kits containing all these ingredients, so you can recreate this very authentic Apley recipe for your own Christmas celebrations at home. We’re not yet selling butler fancy dress kits, to make it really complete !