Not only does Scotty’s Donkeys & Animal Park re-open tomorrow, but I’ve read about the Shrewsbury Museum Egypt exhibition – more details on 01743 258885 – apparently it’ll really be worth a visit, opening Monday 16 February, in time for half term.
Here’s Francis last year feeding the lambs. If you want to do the same, drop in tomorrow at 11am & 3.30pm at Scotty’s Animal Park at Apley Farm Shop.
If you feel romantic, hang a message on our Valentines tree & pick up a present – the shop’s Valentines display looks lovely & we’ve had great bookings for the Valentines Afternoon Teas in the Creamery or our [quieter] function room which has been beautifully transformed especially !
All children are home for the half term & I’m struggling with my new laptop – it’s always an awful time, changing PCs – like being asked to do everything with my left hand & of course nothing is quite where I expect it to be ! Lots of meetings on the Estate & at the Farm Shop, as well as the children’s activities, so it’ll be a busy but fun week.
At last & half way through February, click HERE to see a small film / slideshow showing what’s on at Apley Farm Shop.
Whilst there, why not pick up some Apley Walled Garden leeks & try out these recipes.
Check out these generously large heart shaped, chocolate covered shortbread biscuits, handmade on site by Julie. As we know The Creamery Café can get busy, just for Valentines Day this Saturday, we have decorated our function room where you can enjoy quieter Afternoon Teas. Booking is recommended – just call 01952 730 345 – option 2 for the Café or 6 for the Office.
Our cheese of the week is Gruyere – not very local, I know, being Swiss, but appropriate for the February half term when the ski slopes get so busy !
“Gruyere cheese, named after a Swiss village, is a traditional, creamery, unpasteurised, semi-soft cheese. The natural, rusty brown rind is hard, dry & pitted with tiny holes. The cheese is darker yellow than Emmental but the texture is more dense & compact. Slightly grainy, the cheese has a wonderful complexity of flavours – at first fruity, later becomes more earthy & nutty”.
The children are making pancakes 4-5pm today in Pigg’s Playbarn Cookery Club – drop in & join them – £3.50 per child.
Last week we employed a 17yr old called Chloe Braithwaite as a placement student from Reaseheath College, Nantwich where she is studying Business & Events Management, currently in her first year. She sent me this summary:
“I plan to stay on for the second year to then hopefully graduate onto Harper Adams University to study Rural Events Management. As a career after my studies I aim to organise and run rural and agricultural events …
I thought Apley would be the perfect place to do my placement as it’s a well-known farm shop in the area that has a wide variety of events on their calendar that I see as benefitting my aims and aspirations in my future career.
As well as events management, I am also interested in marketing and advertising which I see as an important role to play in any successful business.
The placement at Apley has helped improve my knowledge of how the business is run, the importance of events that run throughout the year and the advertisement of these events. I have learnt that new and inventive ideas are always welcome and these are important in keeping up with fellow competitors in the same market area.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my placement at Apley and it has helped me to gain more knowledge on business and events management to help with my studies, as well as meet new lovely, welcoming staff and customers here. I have most enjoyed working on the May Day event, which I have been planning. I would like to thank all the Staff for being so friendly and welcoming at my time here, and I have felt part of the team! “
Thank you for all your help Chloe !
My new year’s resolutions never go according to plan, but my marketing ideas for 2015 are going ahead steadily. Rather than listing them all here & not being able to bring them all to fruition, I’d rather tell you about them as they happen. Alongside the usual regular marketing tasks, I’ve been placing online digital adverts instead of hard copy, ‘paper’ ones, plus compiling slideshows, summarising what’s on in a particular month or department. They’ll be shown on the in-store TVs & across our Social Media platforms. In the meantime, AgWa Media have created our latest Pigg’s Playbarn promotion film. Click HERE to take a peek. There will be more films to follow, for each of the Apley Farm Shop businesses.Whilst on the Pigg’s Playbarn topic, I must add that happily, more & more children are joining in our Thursday after-school clubs. Annabel, our Playbarn manager, told me “We have regular children who enjoy coming to the Playbarn’s afterschool clubs, allowing them to learn something new, get messy, have fun & also encourages children’s independence”. The last children’s Cookery Club is this week on Thursday 12 February, learning to make pancakes, just in time for Shrove Tuesday on 17 February. It’s excellent value at £3.50 per child, which includes all the ingredients, the equipment & a 30 mins play afterwards in the Playbarn.
Nicky, who also works in the Playbarn, came up with the next club idea – Science. So after February half term, our children’s Science Club will begin, making learning & experimenting fun. It’ll run from 26 February to 26 March. It’s worth booking your child’s place now, as if you book for all weeks, you get one week free !
Personally, I much prefer to give someone a physical present which I can enjoy wrapping up & presenting to them myself, but on the other hand, I never give something unless I’m 100% sure it’s exactly what the recipient wants. So vouchers have their uses somewhere in between. So on that note, Rebecca sent me these details about the Apley Farm Shop vouchers, which are great for all occasions – St Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day & Easter.
“If you are struggling for a Valentines present for your favourite person, then why not pick up an Apley Farm Shop voucher. Our vouchers can be redeemed in Apley Farm Shop, Pigg’s Playbarn, the Creamery Café or Apley Walled Garden’s Gardening Courses. There are various values to offer to suit all pockets. Collect one in Apley Farm Shop today or if you would like to make it more personal with a message please contact the Farm Shop office on 01952 730 345. You can collect it in person or we can post it out to you.
These are a great present ideas, as they are perfect for couples who might like to enjoy Afternoon Tea in the Creamery Café, or young families who will enjoy a day out at Pigg’s Playbarn or for anyone who would like to spoil themselves with indulgent treats in the Farm Shop – it’s brimming with some lovely items this February.”
In a hotel meeting room this afternoon, we had another great meeting about filming at Apley this year. Now there is some great music around (I share our teenage daughters’ playlists), so it baffles me why I often still hear 1980s music being played, usually in hotels like the one we were in today. But then I heard 2 old favourites – Didn’t know I was looking for love (Everything but the girl) & Love is contagious (Taja Sevelle, but better by Nina) – both of which are great listening with Valentines Day coming up !
I hope our customers will like these wooden hearts down the front drive of Apley Farm Shop, hanging in the avenue of lime trees. I’m 100% sure everyone will love Julie’s heart shaped shortbread biscuits (shortbread is my absolute favourite). They’re on sale in the Farm Shop, but will also be served in the Creamery Café Afternoon Teas.
The children in Pigg’s Playbarn Cookery Club last night made these stained glass window shortbreads, which I think look very professional & delicious. Next week (Th 12 Feb) is the club’s last week & they’ll be making pancakes, as Shrove Tuesday is just round the corner on 17 Feb.
If you’ve already made your Seville orange marmalade & pancake day isn’t quite here, why not warm up February filling your home with wafts of homemade cakes, especially heart shaped ones ready for Valentines Day. So get baking & enjoy 10% off Billington’s golden caster sugar, Matthews Cotswold self-raising flour, sprinkles & pretty cupcake cases. For good quality baking you need good quality ingredients & Apley Farm Shop is the place to find them. Pick up your baking essentials today & catch the cupcake fever !
Every year, I’ve try to record a year in the life of one field. So I begin, then the record is never quite complete 12 months later. So instead, I asked our farm manager Adrian Joynt to double check my attempt here at explaining the crop timeline / crop cycle which we see taking place in the fields around us:
“After August, when 2014’s crop was harvested, the fields were cultivated up by ploughing them & breaking up the soil with metal disks (discerator, carried on the back of the tractor like most other farming equipment). Seed for the 2015 crop is then planted between August & October. The first shoots appear as quickly as 1 – 2 weeks later, which are 10 cm tall by March 2015. Those shoots will be 20 cm by April, 30 cm by May & ready to harvest by July/August depending on the crop. Straw will be baled up & stored in our straw barns for livestock winter bedding (ie for cows to lie on) from November to March. We keep them inside as they’d make the fields too muddy if they were left out. Sometimes the straw is ploughed back into the soil to provide organic matter. Some of the grain is kept for seed to resow at Apley. If not kept to sow, it’s sold for a variety of uses – for animal feed, for milling flour (for bread & cakes etc), for starch extraction, for industrial uses. Other seed is used for bioethanol processes – turning the starch in the grain seeds into ethanol which is used in bio fuels”.
This year, I’m delighted we’re offering a wide range of romantic & special Valentines Day present ideas in the Farm Shop as well as delicious lunches & afternoon teas in The Creamery Café. So earlier this week, our Marketing Assistant Rebecca updated me with this:
“As you walk in to Apley Farm Shop you are welcomed by the wonderful aromas of fresh flowers including Jasmine, Narcissus, Helleborus & Hyacinthus. Our potted plants & bulbs are grown locally at Worfield Nurseries. We have lots of potted plants that can be bought on their own or for an extra £1.50, you can have it beautifully hand wrapped with hessian – leave the hard work to us & let us gift wrap it for you!
We have plenty of indulgent delights to give as presents including truffles, chocolate lollies, English sparkling wine from Halfpenny Green, hand carved wooden bowls, spoons decorated with hearts, heart shaped chopping boards & cheeseboards made by Neill Mapes & available in the Farm Shop.
Whilst you are selecting your Valentine a present, why not write a romantic message & hang it on our Valentine tree. Perhaps you’ll even see a reply on your next visit !”
Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and the way to anyone’s heart is, of course, chocolate!
We have Louis Barnett, Staffordshire based chocolatier in the Farm Shop this Sunday 8th February, 10.30 – 3.30pm, offering free tasters of his chocolate. We will also be stocking his beautifully decorated chocolate selection gift boxes.
“[We now] do boxes that are suitable for men, which no one [else] seems to do. We have 24 truffles in the boxes & also our very special liquor shot truffles made with 80% proof alcohol” Louis Barnett explained to us. What a great idea for men !
In addition, we’ll have Holdsworth hand crafted truffles from Derbyshire that come in beautifully decorated boxes (aren’t they lovely), perfect to add to a hamper or to give on their own. These hand crafted chocolates have been made in Bakewell in the Peak District since 1988. Each individual chocolate is a masterpiece in itself!
Perfect for all your chocolate lovers!