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August 17, 2016 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Apley Walled Garden progress

2016-08-16, AWG progress (1)

Moon over Apley Walled Garden

2016-08-16, AWG progress (13)

Patty pan squash

2016-08-16, Apley cucumbers

Apley cucumbers

Apley Walled Garden is a heavenly place to spend an evening at this time of year – if you can NOT focus on how weedy it has all become. Tomorrow, Apley Farm Shop will have patty pan squash, globe courgettes (great with tops sliced off & stuffed with minced beef & rice), Apache potatoes (the pink & white patchy ones), borage & viola flowers for salads & dozens of Yellow Pershore plums (the weight of the fruit even broke 1 of the branches).  As I picked the plums (& ate 6 myself!), the heat I felt emanating from the walls was as if the boilers were working again.

I had delicious roast tomato soup in a very sunny Apley courtyard with Natasha, catching up on her day of marketing & mine. I met with the butcher to run through marketing for the next quarter, up to & including Christmas (can you believe it), then did the same with the head chef. Really glad to have met with them both & to cover so much ground.

Cheese of the week is Godminster £2.27 per 100g – great news there, thanks to Lora, we’ve been listed as one of the UK’s top 10 (out of 100) cheese counters by the Guild of Fine Foods. So well done to Lora & her team. Sausage of the week is caramelised red onion £5.95 – anything with caramelised onions is bound to be good !

August 15, 2016 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Snippets of Apley Farm Shop news

2016-08-10, Cake of the week, Lemon & Elderflower sugar syrup soaked sponge

Cake of the week, Lemon & Elderflower sugar syrup soaked sponge

Octavia picking Octavia raspberries

Octavia picking Octavia raspberries

Combine being fixed by the John Deere engineers

Combine being fixed by the John Deere engineers

Apley Park tractor & discaerator

Apley Park tractor & discaerator

We’re limbering up for Pigg’s Playbarn Sports Day – Wed 17 Aug, 10-12noon. It’s free with the usual playbarn admission prices. Francis has lined up the whole family & friends, doing time trials on the lawn, ready for the big day (I came 4th (by 0.56 seconds) rather depressingly!).

Our combine & its accompanying tractors & trailers, have been working very early & very late on these lovely hot & sunny August days, harvesting wheat & barley. They’ve started using the discaerator already, which leaves slits in the soil to begin breaking it up before ploughing).

Bit by bit (tricky, as it has to be done in the evenings, as we’re open 7 days a week, with staff onsite approx 8-6pm) we’ve been smartening up the Apley Farm Shop offices at last – a lick of paint, carpet cleaning, picture hanging … all makes it a more pleasant environment to spend the day in!

Lots of the Apley team wished a very fond farewell to Lora who’s been a fab playbarn manager then farm shop supervisor over the past couple of years. She’s off for a holiday to see Brenda who’s been so helpful at Apley Farm Shop for the last year, but who’s now returned to Spain.

Natasha & I are finalising our next event, the Apley Harvest & Craft Fair, 24-25 Sept, 10-4pm. It’s a free event as usual, with free tasters from Shropshire’s finest producers. Many just love to see what the crafters have been making. Others are more food-orientated, heading for the tasters. It’s always a lovely Autumn event.

I’ve been looking at marketing strategies in each department – what we need no longer do, what we’re not doing which we should be doing, what works well & not quite so well, targets for the next quarter, improving the functionality of our website & preparing for Sept, Oct, Nov & Dec as well as 2017 (it’s just round the corner !)

Meantime, in the farm shop, we have new, branded insulated bags especially for customers shopping on these hotter days. Our branded deli wrap is now in use on the Delicatessen & Butchery counters.

We’ve developed an Afternoon Tea (gets increasingly popular) cheque book. Tea includes sandwiches, scones, Lord Hamilton’s [loose] tea blend & cake of the week, which this week is Lemon & Elderflower sugar syrup soaked sponge.

August 13, 2016 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Children’s activities next week at Apley Farm Shop

2016-08-13, Big Little Things kids' flower workshop (1)On Wednesday 10 August, Big Little Things, the florist & gift shop in Apley Farm Shop’s shopping courtyard, held a children’s workshop & sent me this feedback:

The children enjoyed doing something creative that was more unusual from regular kids everyday crafts. The parents seemed genuinely blown away too with the finished flower arrangements created by their children. 

We still have a couple a spaces on next Wednesday 17 August workshop. It runs from 10.30am to 12.00pm and is aimed at children between the ages of 4-12 years of ages. The cost is £12.00 per child which includes all materials, light refreshment and the finished flower arrangement to take home.”

Also on next week is:

  1. Monday – Scotty’s Monday animal encounter on Mon 15 Aug
  2. Wednesday – Sports Day organised by Pigg’s Playbarn staff on Wed 17 Aug 10-12noon. (as well as the BLT workshop, mentioned above)
  3. Thursday – Scotty’s pet encounter on Thurs 18 Aug
  4. Friday – EKO 24hr sleepover on Friday 19 August
  5. Saturday & Sunday – Scotty’s beach weekend 20-21 Aug

In between all that, don’t forget to enjoy an Apley picnic on our FREE Skylark Nature Trail & watch the combine harvesters gather in this year’s crops. Get creative for an hour in Paint & Create, painting pottery – it’s so therapeutic, relaxing & satisfying!

We’ve got the summer holidays covered – something on every day for the children indoors & outdoors. Stay for a snack or meal in our Creamery Cafe or pick up a delicious ready made meal option from our Apley Butcher & Apley Delicatessen counters.

August 12, 2016 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Apley Walled Garden overflowing with produce

2016-08-09, Rename (1)

Homemade warm raspberry & strawberry coulis

Walnuts not quite ready

Walnuts not quite ready

We’ve spent yet another team family early evening last night in Apley Walled Garden harvesting the abundant fruit & vegetables ready for the weekend. The fruit cages have been cleverly planted to avoid gluts & famines. So now the raspberries are nearly over, the gorgeous loganberries are ready. We’ve missed the gogiberries & seem to have lost the blueberries, but blackcurrants were perfectly ripe, following the red currants last week. Within a month, the cultivated blackberries will be ready as well. The artichokes are over, the patti-pan squash are perfect, sweet peas & courgettes too. we’ll have to wait a month or more for the hazelnuts & walnuts.

Best of all is the huge harvest of cucumbers in one of the old greenhouses, restored with plastic roofs. Gavin pruned the tomato plants, as the first tomatoes are becoming available. I love the smell of tomato plants & the warmth (23 degrees there this evening) of the greenhouses. I’ve forgotten to mention the carrots & radishes – so much fresh, local & basically ‘organic’ produce (it’s very bio-ethically produced, but we’re not registered with the Soil Association).

The Apley Harvest & Craft Fair at Apley Farm Shop is this year being held over two days 24-25 Sept in our shopping courtyard. Visitors will enjoy free tasters from local food producers & meeting face to face with local Shropshire crafters. It runs 10-4pm on both days & is under the cover of marquees in case of Autumnal showers ! It’s free entry & always a fun day out for all the family.

On my way to catch up with colleagues in the farm shop today, I passed our farm manager Adrian who’s very happy with this lovely dry week for harvesting, though he needed these John Deere engineers to fix a belt on our combine harvester. Some fields have already been baled & disc-aerated.

August 11, 2016 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Activ8 at Apley Farm Shop

activ8 finish 2Just got some great feedback for Activ8, who have been running a 3-day holiday club at Apley Farm Shop’s Pigg’s Playbarn again this week. They’re back again tomorrow (Friday 12 August) & again 24-25-26 August. Just call Dan Wilson on 07904 944 833 or email him on, even if it’s very last minute. Francis loved his day with them today too – first in Pigg’s Playbarn then down on our Skylark Nature Trail, across the fields from the combine harvester, harvesting more wheat.

“Hi Harriet it’s Nik – just wanted to let you know jasper came to Activ8 today and had a brilliant time! Its a godsend as I’m not getting anything done in the holidays and didn’t want to put him into standard daycare, plus he’s only 4 so too young for the other sports clubs despite being very energetic so just wanted to say a massive well done as you’ve definitely got this one right too🙂 A big thumbs up from myself and Jasper 👍👍”

August 10, 2016 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

New pasties from Apley butcher

2016-08-10 Ham & Cheese pasty 3

Apley Butcher’s ham & cheese pasty

Dashing off to an evening riding competition, we’ve just tried these new ham & cheese pasties from Apley butcher. Perfect for lunches on the go, £2.50.

Cake of the week is Lemon & Elderflower for £2.95 per slice. Made by Willow in our Apley Bakery, it’s sugar syrup soaked sponge, filled with lemon butter cream & topped with elderflower icing.

Big Little Things held a Veggie Animals workshop this morning & the Activ8 holiday club (on Francis loves it!) 9-3pm are back at Apley Farm Shop tomorrow & Friday. We’ll be there!

August 8, 2016 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Olympics at Apley Farm Shop


Pigg’s Playbarn outdoor play area – after use, so a little untidy! Pink tables, pink carpet – providing shelter from the sun or rain throughout August


Our bicycle tyre Olympic rings

We’re celebrating the Olympics at Apley Farm Shop with these 5 old bicycle tyres & daily activities for children throughout the school holidays. There’s a marquee in  our outdoor play space ready for entertaining children in all weathers.

If you can tear yourself away from the TV, watching what’s happening in Rio, you’ll find lots going on at Apley Farm Shop: It’s Scotty’s Monday Encounters with Animals today. This Wednesday, it’s painting morning 10-12noon in Pigg’s Playbarn. £1 face painting, suitable for 3-11 yr olds, free with playbarn entry. Big Little Things are running a Veggie Animals morning also on Wednesday, 10:30-12:30pm, £12 per child (booking essential). And Activ8 are running a 3-day holiday club (join in for any or all of the days) Wednesday, Thursday & Friday, 9-3pm daily. On Saturday, it’s Shrewsbury Flower Show where you’ll see a lovely Apley Plant Centre stand.

August 4, 2016 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

This week’s favourites at Apley Farm Shop

2016-08-02, Peter's Yard Knacks, crispbread bites, image

Cake of the week: Strawberry shortbread

Cake of the week: Strawberry shortbread

2016-08-03, Prawn Cocktail DOTW, £7

Prawn Cocktail, Dish of the Week, £7

Peter’s Yard Knacks, crispbread bites £3.95 are one of my latest favourite foods being stocked in Apley Farm Shop recently.

Dish of the week is a great value prawn cocktail for £7 & Strawberry shortbread is our delicious & seasonal cake of the week.

Sausage of the week is chicken & pork masala with coriander £5.95 per kg. Cheese of the week is Cheddar Gorge.

On Sunday 31 July, we offered a free barbecue pack to the winner of our prize draw. It was so popular, we’re running it for a second month until 31 August. Just drop in your business card at any of our cash tills to have a chance of winning.

Click HERE to see a film of our butcher preparing British sirloin beef.

August 3, 2016 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Bronze award from the Guild of Fine Foods Great Taste Awards


2016-07-29, Apley butcher, Pork terrines

Apley butcher, Pork terrine

2016-06-25, Apley smoked back bacon

Apley smoked back bacon – Great Taste winner 1-star award from the Guild of Fine Foods

2016-04-10, Oxtail2016-04-10, Staffordshire gammonLast week, we were delighted when we found out that we had been awarded a bronze award for our Apley smoked back bacon in the Guild of Fine Foods Great Taste Awards. Hoorah for the Apley butchers! Great Taste, the world’s most coveted blind-tasted food awards, celebrates the very best in food & drink.

Judged by over 500 of the most demanding palates, belonging to food critics, chefs, cooks, restaurateurs & producers as well as a whole host of food writers & journalists, Great Taste is widely acknowledged as the most respected food accreditation scheme for artisan & speciality food producers like Apley Farm Shop. As well as a badge of honour, the unmistakable black & gold Great Taste label is a signpost to delicious, tasty products, which has been discovered through hours & hours of blind-tasting by hundreds of judges.

Recognised as a stamp of excellence among consumers & retailers alike, Great Taste values taste above all else, with no regard for branding & packaging. Whether it is bread, honey, salami or cereal being judged, all products are removed from their wrapper, jar, box or bottle before being tasted. The judges then savour, confer & re-taste to decide which products are worthy of a 1-, 2- or 3-star award.

There were 10,000 Great Taste entries this year & of those products, 141 have been awarded a 3-star, 878 received a 2-star and 2,520 were awarded a 1-star accolade. The panel of judges included TV chef & author, Valentine Warner; MasterChef judge & restaurant critic, Charles Campion; fifth generation baker, Tom Herbert from Hobbs House Bakery; & Great British Bake Off winner, Frances Quinn; food buyers from Harrods, Selfridges, Fortnum & Mason, Harvey Nichols & Waitrose. Chefs included James Golding, chef director of THE PIG Hotels & Kevin Gratton, chef director of HIX Restaurants.

Photographed here are a couple of other products to look out for on the Apley Butchers’ counter – this handmade pork terrine, Oxtail & Staffordshire gammon.

August 2, 2016 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Apley Farm Shop’s August newsletter

2016-08-02, August 2016 newsletter JPEGHere’s a very useful summary of all that is going on this August at Apley Farm Shop. Next up tomorrow is a Pigg’s Playbarn Wednesday, on Thursday we’ll have a stand at Burwarton Show & on Friday, EKO (Educating Kids Outdoors) are holding a nature / forest school session 10-12noon on our Skylark Nature Trail – & the weather forecast is looking good! Call 07876 658 467 or for more details or just drop in at Pigg’s Playbarn.

Click HERE to see a film summarising what’s on this month.


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