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September 30, 2015 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Spookley Pumpkin Festival at Apley Farm Shop

Apley Walled Garden squashes & pumpkins

Apley Walled Garden squashes & pumpkins

This year at Apley Farm Shop, we’re holding a Spookley Pumpkin Festival again on 17-18 Oct & 24-31 Oct, to coincide with Shropshire’s school half term. Francis loves it as it’s not at all scary – I’m not at all into the more widely found, commercial, scary Halloweens. Here are the details, which are also on our website. Tickets can be booked online. It’s been very popular in the past, so don’t delay !

For a great half term Halloween experience, climb aboard the Pumpkin Express, when you can hear the Spookley story being read by a friendly Mrs Pumpkin. The Express will take you to the pumpkin patch where you can select your own pumpkin. Once back in the courtyard, you can carve it & enter our daily competition for the best carved pumpkin, to be judged at 5pm on Saturday 31 October when the 3 winners will receive a prize. 

Spookley 2015 table of tickets & prices - PNGOn each ride there will be six VIP Orange tickets available which entitle the holder to first choice of seats on the Pumpkin Express & their own copy of Spookley, the Square Pumpkin book worth £5.95.  Book soon as these will go fast!

For the Pumpkin Express, turning up on the day is OK, but some days were very busy in previous years. Booking will guarantee your place. Just click HERE to book tickets.

As you leave via the Farm Shop, don’t forget to buy your very own copy of the book ‘Spookley the Square Pumpkin’ & even your own soft Spookley toy or DVD film (available from Alley Katz toy shop in the Courtyard). The story book carries a strong anti-bullying message, which is shared with school children across the country.* Pumpkin Carving Cavern does not require pre-booking.

To complete your Spookley experience, pop into the Creamery Café for lunch & select our delicious pumpkin soup in the Creamery Café, served in a mini pumpkin with a pumpkin muffin.

Please note all adults riding the Pumpkin Express must book a place & a minimum of one responsible adult must accompany a child/group of children.

We’re giving away free pumpkin recipe cards, so when you buy a pumpkin in the Farm Shop you can get cooking at home!

There also will be a free friendly pumpkin trail on the Skylark Nature Trail, for all to try out.”

September 28, 2015 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

October events at Apley Farm Shop

2015-09-04, Venetia with long necklace AWG courgette

Venetia with long Bell End AWG courgette

2015-09-24, Apley Farm Shop Cox apples

Apples are in season, so celebrate National Apple Day on Wed 21 Oct

conkers image As Francis & I cycled to school this morning & we stopped to collect our first conkers, I realised it’s very nearly Octoberober & therefore time to share what’s on at Apley Farm Shop:

After School Club – Textiles club – Thurs 1 October, £3.50 includes the club 4-5pm & 30 mins free play 5-5.30pm

This week they’ll make felt needle cases & phone cases. The club will also run on 8 October when the children will blanket stitch fleece blankets, on 15 October to make shoe bags & finally on 22 October to make finger puppets.

Apley Cookery Club – Sat 3 October, 10-12:30pm

Contact Gilly Clayton (who you may have seen demonstrating at the Apley Taste Off this weekend) on or 07837 83 58 54 to book, so she knows how many will share their buffet lunch after her demonstration.

Taster day – Sat 3 October, 12-3pm

Enjoy free tasters in Apley Farm Shop (open 9:30-5:30pm) of some of Apley’s own handmade produce – quiches, scotch eggs & butcher John’s pies.

Apley Walled Garden – Three season gardening course – Wed 14 October

This is the third of the 3 seasons – Autumn.  It doesn’t matter if you haven’t attended the Spring & Summer days.

Taster day – Sat 17 October, 12-3pm

Enjoy free tasters of Heather’s Harvest jams – always great to try before you buy.

National Apple Day – Wed 21 October

Apple trees all over the Apley Estate are loaded with fruit, so I’m sure there will be several varieties to try out to celebrate National Apple Day.

Annie’s Reiki taster day – Sat 24 October

A chance to try out some of her treatments & gift wrap.

Apley Plant Centre – Creative hedging – 24-25 October

Come along in October to see our hedging range, get advice from knowledgeable staff on how to plant and look after a hedge and what varieties will work best to satisfy your hedging needs. As well as having an exciting range of plants and hedging on sale, staff will be on hand to give advice and there will be multi buy offers on a great range of items.” For further information visit

Apley Craft Fair – Sun 25 October, 10-4pm

In the Apley Farm Shop courtyard, several Shropshire crafters display their local crafts. There may possibly also be 1 or 2 craft demonstrations.

Spookley Pumpkin Festival – 17 & 18 October & 24-31 October

Ride the pumpkin express, hear the Spookley story, pick your own pumpkin on the pumpkin patch, carve it & taste pumpkin recipes. Even collect a Spookley DVD & book in the farm shop, to continue to enjoy at home.

Apley Walled Garden Beginners’ Gardening course – Wed 28 October

This is the last of our gardening courses, so find your gardening gloves & wellies if you want to join in (no experience required). You may spot 1 of these fabulous bell end courgettes which Venetia wore like a necklace when Phil delivered to us at home recently.

After School Club – Christmas crafts club – 4-5:30pm every Thursday from 5 November to 17 December

As evenings get darker, colder & wetter, this is a great activity for children aged 2-11yrs after school.

September 28, 2015 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Apley Plant Centre press release

Worfield-easter-3Apley Plant Centre have just shared this press release with me. Their garden centre looks prettier every time I go to the Apley Farm Shop office – it’s well worth a visit, for beginner or experienced gardeners. On the subject of gardening, if you missed hearing Phil Allen, Apley Walled Garden’s Head Gardener, with Paul Shuttleworth on BBC Radio Shropshire yesterday (Sunday 27 Sept, 12-1pm), listen again by clicking here.


Shropshire-based Worfield Plants, a leading trade supplier and producer of high quality alpines, heathers, and perennials to the UK garden centre trade, has expanded its operation by opening a new retail plant centre at Apley Farm Shop. 

The new Apley Plant Centre, which opened in June within the Apley Farm Shop Courtyard, is a boutique outlet on the A442 between Bridgnorth and Telford where gardening enthusiasts can find a wide range of plants, shrubs and flowers, and seek expert advice on plant selection, garden design and plant husbandry.

It also stocks a small selection of gardening goods, such as compost, tools, decorative plant pots and other high quality garden sundries.

The centre is stocked and managed by Worfield Plants, which is a trading division of Albrighton-based Boningale Limited.

Mark Lavers, Sales Manager at Worfield Plants, said as part of the joint venture with Apley, it is planning to test out new plant varieties and different retail ideas, which means customers will have the unique opportunity to buy some exciting products before they reach the wider market.

For example, Apley customers are able to buy Worfield’s very popular ‘Heuchera’ plants in much larger pots than usually available to consumers. If sales and feedback are good, the data will be used to help inform Boningale’s marketing strategy with its UK retail customers and put larger volumes into production next year.

“This is an exciting concept for us because we’ll be able to get informed feedback from a very discerning customer base and our plant experts, who are based at Apley,” said Mark. “It’s a vital area of business to market test ideas and Apley provides us with the ideal environment in which to do it.

“From a business perspective, it’s an interesting idea to use real world testing to report what works and what is less successful to our clients in the retail sector. We will have the data and reporting to confidently tell our customers that their customers will like them.”

Mark adds: “It also means that, unusually, customers at Apley – a very small plant boutique – can take advantage of our entire supply chain. It’s yet another example of how we are thinking differently in the marketplace and we are very excited by the potential for our work at Apley.”

Lord and Lady Hamilton of Dalzell opened the farm shop on the Apley Estate in 2011 and in addition to the plant centre, attractions include a cafe, Playbarn, clothes shop, animal park, Reiki centre and toy shop.

For further information

For further information visit

September 27, 2015 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Apley Craft Fair TODAY

4 Aug 2013, Craft Fair 6

A wide variety of high quality local Shropshire crafts

2015-09-25, Kelsall, Sybilla, BE90 (16)

Sybilla came 10th in her section at her first BE90 event

2015-09-26, Apley Taste Off 2015 photos (23)Apley Farm Shop’s monthly craft fair is TODAY ! Another gorgeously sunny, Autumnal day. Many of our visitors who enjoy our craft fairs, combine their visit with Sunday roast lunch in the Creamery Café or an Afternoon Tea. Or if you prefer to eat at home, take advantage of the Apley butcher deal “5 items for £35” – just look for items with the yellow cow label.

I’ll won’t be at the craft fair myself sadly as I’m taking Octavia show jumping in a national schools competition, representing her school. On Friday Sybilla came 10th (in her section & 17th out of 250) in her first affiliated BE90 (British Eventing) competition – she was thrilled. By chance, we parked next to the her pony’s half brother – what a coincidence !

September 26, 2015 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Glorious Autumn sunshine for the Apley Taste Off

2015-09-26, Apley Taste Off 2015 photos (43)

Having picked the windfalls, Sybilla helped Francis reach an unblemished apple !

2015-09-26, Apley Taste Off 2015 photos (31)

Gavin rolled up his sleeves to promote the Apley Walled Garden squash, pumpkins & green tomatoes

2015-09-26, Apley Taste Off 2015 photos (26)

Lajina of Magic Masala demonstrated curry making with Apley pumpkins

2015-09-26, Apley Taste Off 2015 photos (3)

Curious Apley cattle block the drive

Apley Farm Shop’s 2015 Taste Off (harvest food festival) was blessed with glorious sunshine today. Local producers chatted with local customers & offered them free tasters of their local products. Alongside, the Apley cake baker, Apley butchers, Apley delicatessen & Apley Walled Garden all put on fabulous displays. For the first time at Apley, we organised a programme of demonstrations which were well attended.

I began the day filming in Apley Walled Garden with AgWa Media, to begin shooting footage for our Autumn film. It’s so much fun being so creative & Agata’s always a delight to work with. I’ll look forward to Karen Hartnell-Beavis’s photographs of the Taste Off as I hardly had a moment to take any myself. It was truly a family affair today, as I’d recruited the essential help of our 2 eldest daughters who got some great hands-on experience. The survey they did is always so helpful – it’s always a pleasure to meet & chat with our customers. Before going home, Gavin, Tina & I had a speed meeting about the end-of-year decorations which I’m keeping as a surprise !

To prevent our ponies eating the windfall apples in the orchard, we all enjoyed the very last of the sunshine together collecting them, before having a TV supper to watch the rugby world cup game at Twickenham of England vs Wales. We all watched, exhilarated (watching any world class sport is always amazing, isn’t it), even though we all ended up feeling all rather disappointed !

Tomorrow, Sunday 27 Sept, is not only our September Apley Craft Fair, but also the day to tune in to BBC Radio Shropshire 12-1pm, to hear Apley Walled Garden’s Head Gardener Phil Allen answering questions on Gardeners’ Question Time.

September 26, 2015 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Apley Taste Off (Apley Harvest Food Festival) – TODAY – It’s here at last !

out2015-07-14, Apley Taste Off, Harvest Food Festival (456x640)

September 25, 2015 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

World Cup Sausages at Apley Farm Shop tomorrow

2015.22.09, Pumkin & Squash harvest fest

Apley Walled Garden – 10 different varieties of pumpkin & squash

2015-09-24, Rugby sausage Tina & butcher (2)

English vs Welsh sausages play-off ! (Tina & Craig)

John & Craig, the Apley Farm Shop butchers, have just emailed me this photo of their end-0f-year pies (aka Christmas pies, if you can manage to think that far ahead !), turkey (which he’s sourced from Richard Botterill in Leicestershire) & his Three-bird roasts. He’s great at sharing his passion with our Apley Farm Shop customers & visitors to the Apley Taste Off tomorrow can hear him give a short demonstration & talk about his work. There is a programme of talks throughout the day, which also includes our Head Gardener Phil & venison expert Jason. Phil has just sent me this photo of the 10 different varieties of pumpkins & squash he’s been growing !

2015-09-25, Christmas pies, turkey & 3-bird roasts for tasters

Enjoy free tasters of these Christmas pies, turkey & 3-bird roasts

As it’s the England v Wales rugby tomorrow night, we’ve got 2 varieties of special sausages fighting for pole position ! Pork & leek sausages for Wales & “Scrummy” beef & horseradish sausages for England. I’m looking forward to seeing Tina & Lora’s display in the Farm Shop :). Enjoy 6 Apley Ales for £13 to have with your chosen sausages !

September 23, 2015 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Webbs’ Seed Catalogue 1882 found by chance

Webb seed catalogue 1882, KHB 4

Webb seed catalogue 1882

Webb seed catalogue 1882, KHB 1 Webb seed catalogue 1882, KHB 2 Sometimes, what you find on or in the back pf an old photograph can be as interesting or revealing as the actual photograph itself. Here is a perfect example of that.

On 13 Sept, I wrote about a photo taken of 39 people, centered on Mr & Mrs W H Foster, taken at Apley Park (now often known as Apley Hall). It is large photo on heavy card & was framed, so I had to remove it from its frame to get a digital copy (by our very local photographer Karen Hartnell-Beavis). As I did so, we found this 1882 Webbs seed catalogue had been used to pad the back of the photo. Whoever framed the photo had 1) used Webbs seeds (based not far away in Worcestershire) & 2) had kept that catalogue for 19 years from 1882-1901 !

We have so far found very few historical records relating to Apley Walled Garden, but it’s very possible that in 1882, the Fosters (who bought the Apley Estate in 1867) were buying their seeds from Webbs. I’ve just shared copies of these catalogue pages with Mr Webb, the current chairman of Webbs Seeds.

September 22, 2015 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Feedback for Apley Farm Shop

Trip advisor, 13 Sept 2015

Trip advisor, 13 Sept 2015

I’ve been saving up snippets of super feedback Apley Farm Shop has received recently, on Trip Advisor, Facebook & other feedback forums. THANK YOU to all our customers who give feedback, as it’s of huge importance to us, positive or negative.

It’s always great for staff morale to get a ★★★★★5 star Trip advisor report like this one on Saturday 11 July 2015:

“Love this place. Fantastic locally sourced fresh foods & all those luxury bits you can’t get elsewhere. The sausage rolls are to die for ! The Missus loves the Black Bomber cheese too. Well worth a visit !”

Each department submits weekly surveys as they chat with our customers about how they heard of Apley Farm Shop & how far they’ve come. I also run a survey during all our key monthly events which helps direct our marketing & have a better understanding of our customers’ wishes.

Writing fewer words doesn’t diminish the importance of a review, so it’s worth including these 2 very short ones !:

  • Sunday 16 August 2015 – Lots to do
  • Tuesday 14 July 2015Great beef
  • Sausage rolls cooked to perfection. Best ones I’ve tried and also the homemade beef pasty
  • Absolutely love your food (in cafe and shop). Can’t get enough of it

Of course there are occasion when we get something wrong: we always then work out as quickly as possible how it happened & how we can stop it from being repeated. Being a B-C business (business to customer) rather than a B-B business (business to business) makes our daily work more challenging, especially as we deal with food & children (plus Scotty’s have animals).

Lovely produce in a larger than average farm shop! – Reviewed 12 September 2015

Visited today with my husband daughter and her two children. Our 4 year old granddaughter loved the play barn and we loved the café and toy shop really lovely food. I had Spiced butternut squash soup and bread, really lovely creamy and fresh tasting. My husband had a large ploughmans full of fresh produce, our daughter had veg lasagne , salad and garlic bread and our granddaughter had sausage and chips even though it wasn’t on the childrens menu. Local sausages and fresh homemade chips lunch was really delightful. Recommend you visit.

Fun few hours – Reviewed 13 September 2015

I love it here and glad I came first thing on a Sunday and even with a birthday party there it was still great fun and not too manic! We paid to see the animals and have a donkey ride and my son was beaming ear to ear! He loved the playbarn too and the drinks and cakes were delicious. Also did a little shopping in the farm shop. Staff are friendly and welcoming and the butcher was talking to everyone and you can tell he is proud of what he does. Thank you for another fun morning

Great selection of local food – Reviewed 13 September 2015

Great farm shop full of lots of local produce and independent companies. Sells cheeses, meats, jams and chutneys, bread, cakes, curry mixes, fudge, you name it! Also has a free to use cash machine inside which can be handy!

September 21, 2015 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Apley butcher news

2015-09-16, Venison sausage cooked

Cooked venison sausages

2015-07-31, AFS kebabs

Beef or lamb kebabs, £2 each

2015-07-31, AFS Guard of Honour of lamb

Guard of Honour of lamb

2015-09-16, Shropshire venison sausage raw - £9.95 per kg

Shropshire venison sausage raw – £9.95 per kg

2015-07-31, AFS Cushion of lamb (2)

Cushion of lamb, approx. £20 – feeds 8

Late last week, I caught up with John Callinswood who works with Craig Whitehouse on our Apley butcher counter at Apley Farm Shop. John, joined the Apley butchery this summer, won 2 gold stars in the 2012 Great Taste awards for his steak, mustard & stilton pie.

Coming up soon on Tuesday 29 September is Michaelmas Goose Day.  So on Sunday 27 September, when we’re holding the next Apley Craft Fair, drop in at the Apley butcher for a free taster of his boneless goose breasts.

On Sunday 11 October, Apley is also entering The Great Yorkshire Pork Pie & Sausage competition, which is the leading national pie competition.

In early November, John is entering a selection (we’re keeping it a secret for the time being!) of our Apley sausages in the Great British Sausage Week (2-8 Nov). Judging will be on Sunday 8 November.

2015-09-12, Apley AWG veg sausages

Cabbage & honey-glazed carrot sausages

During the Great British Sausage Week, we will be organising a big sausage promotion in Apley Farm Shop. Do send us (to your ideas & sausage recipes. John will trial the recipes & award a prize for the winner. More details nearer the time. If we don’t yet make a sausage in your favourite flavour, just ask & we’ll see if it’s feasible. Along those lines, John sent Gavin home with some trial sausages which were totally delicious for Saturday’s lunch. He had made them with Apley Walled Garden cabbage & honey-glazed carrots – see photo here.

John has also been preparing for the forthcoming autumn & winter seasons by sourcing the best poultry (chickens, turkey, geese, duck) from Shropshire & its surrounding counties. He’s hoping to buy in some of Richard Botterill’s poultry. Richard is one of the UK’s premier poultry producers who supplies, amongst others, the Ginger Pig restaurants in London. They rear their heritage chickens on the Belvoir (pronounced beaver) Estate in Leicestershire where they walk the geese through the village every day, which must slow down the local traffic !

If you want to offer an impressive Sunday roast, have you tried the “cushions of lamb” (photographed here) they’re preparing, which cost approx. £20 for approx. 2kg & that will feed 8 people. If there isn’t one of the counter, John can prepare one within 10 mins. The “guard of honour” of lamb always makes an equally good impact on the table.

This week, there will be a delivery of British White cattle from Oldington Farm where the Pennington family farm as Apley tenant farmers, just 1 mile from the farm shop. It who will be hung for 3 weeks, so pop back mid October to try some. It’s a rare breed, extra tasty & grass reared only 1 mile from the farm shop on the Apley Estate. We also sell beef from Hereford cattle & Aberdeen Angus cattle as well as Limousin Hereford cross cattle from Apley’s own herds at the Apley Home Farm.


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