Witley Court by Catherine Evans :: 04th March 2011

Today I visited Witley Court for the first time in over 20 years. Owned by English Heritage, this evocative ruin is a relic of a long gone era. The house, when owned by the Earl of Dudley, was a rake’s paradise, home to lavish parties that lasted for days, a favourite haunt of the Prince of Wales, Edward VII. Partly ravaged by fire in the 1950′s and ransacked by bounty hunters the house is now a magnificent ruin.

 

The gardens have been lovingly restored and the 9 acre lake reinstated, a must see is the Perseus and Andromeda Fountain, firing a jet of water over 70ft into the air, it is only working between 1st April and end of October – today there were men in high viz jackets cleaning it out! I will certainly be returning soon to see the fountain in action.

Handmade Patchwork Quilt by Catherine Evans :: 25th February 2011

I have finally finished this patchwork quilt to go in the Green guest room. A wonderful lady, Marilyn Howells, came and talked to Neen Savage WI in July and really inspired me to start a quilt. Mad as I am I decided on a double quilt which it has taken until now to complete! The patches have been machine pieced but I have hand quilted around each triangle – definitely a labour of love! The back is a bit of a disgrace – Marilyn will not be impressed – but I think the front is great and the colours will look fantastic in the Green bedroom.

Hedgelaying by Catherine Evans :: 18th February 2011

After attacking (sorry – pruning!) the shrubbery at the front of the house, John has now decided to lay the hedge between the paddock and the big field. This is a long overdue task as the hedge currently resembles a line of straggly trees. Hopefully laying it will encourage new growth and provide more ground cover for birds and insects. The only downside may be that the paddock is more windswept – it certainly was today when I took John a well deserved cup of coffee!

Spring Bunting by Catherine Evans :: 08th February 2011

I have spent the last few Tuesday evenings making bunting for the Severn Hospice Shop in Cleobury. A group of friends have been meeting throughout the winter to quilt and Jayne volunteered our services! First we made yards of red bunting for the Valentine’s Day window display – see it in the shop now!

Next we were asked for Spring colours for the 1st anniversary party at the shop on April 9th so this is the result of our labours – I must say we think it looks fantastic – come along on the 9th to see it up! (Crooked Steeple Morris are also dancing to help the celebrations!).

Hello 2011! by Catherine Evans :: 06th February 2011

I have finally found something to blog about this year! I always like to offer guests a selection of cereals, local yoghurt from the Dairyhouse at Weobley and this morning fresh fruit salad, all laid out on the dresser. A new touch for this year are the sparkley lights a la Nigella Lawson! I put them up for Christmas but they look so good I have decided to leave them – it brightens the room!

Boxing Day Walk by Catherine Evans :: 28th December 2010

After a very enjoyable but lazy Christmas Day we headed out for our annual Boxing Day walk. This year we took the easy option and decided to walk along the lanes as the ground was still very snowy. At the Ford we came across John’s brother and cousins who had been checking out the river. The River Rea had frozen completely upstream of the Ford and they had been testing the ice – it was possible to walk under the bridge – not something to be recommended and something I wouldn’t have attempted except for the tractor and the fact that it had already been tested! However I got quite a buzz from saying I had walked on water!

A Tasty Christmas by Catherine Evans :: 07th December 2010

Here at Broome Park Farm I am planning the tastiest Christmas ever! Yesterday I travelled through fog and ice to Denman College, home of the WI to see Mary Berry demonstrate tried and trusted Christmas recipes with a twist, I will definitely be trying her mincemeat galette – shortbread, mincemeat, marzipan and apples. Today the weather was glorious (but very cold!) and I travelled to Strefford Hall Farm Shop for a Discover Local Tasty Christmas event. We walked around the farm, looking at the beef, sheep and hens they keep to supply the farm shop then retreated to the warmth of the farmhouse kitchen for a delicious meal made from Christmas leftovers, expertly prepared by Simon Smith – The Shropshire Chef. After lunch Simon demonstrated how he had prepared lunch and we made bread and butter pudding with left over cake and pannettone and Shropshire Fidget Pie. This is our local dish – a type of pork pie made with cooked pork (we used turkey!), apple sauce, potatoes and crispy bacon – scrumptious!

Broome Park Farm Apple Juice by Catherine Evans :: 26th November 2010

I am now able to offer our own apple juice all year – or as long as my stocks allow! Last week I took bags of our apples to a nice young man in Bewdley who has pressed them and pasteurised the juice. I collected 104 bottles today and couldn’t wait to taste the juice – it is delicious – not too sweet but not too sharp either and a lovely pale golden colour!

I have had some labels printed and I must say the bottles look very smart, together with the oversize postcards and fridge magnet calenders I got free with the order!

Off to the first of our Christmas band gigs tonight with our new Musical Director – Looking forward to lots of mince pies!

Hard Landscaping by Catherine Evans :: 08th November 2010

John has finally agreed to cut back some of the shrubs and trees at the front of the house, my preference was for a total replant but at the moment he has reduced everything by about 50% and I will see what grows back in the spring! Hopefully this drastic pruning will improve the views from the guest bedrooms and also has led to the discovery of an extra foot of drive! Already it seems lighter in the dining room, despite the gloomy weather at the moment.

Ironbridge Gorge Museums by Catherine Evans :: 04th November 2010

Yesterday I spent a very enjoyable day at Blists Hill Victorian Town, part of the Ironbridge Gorge group of Museums. The day had been organised to show off the latest enhancements to the town, a living museum reflecting life at the turn of the 20th Century. The pharmacy shown featured on the recent TV series ‘Victorian Pharmacy’ and I enjoyed chatting to the candlemaker in his tiny workshop.

 

There is so much to see just at Blists Hill – children of all ages love to change their money at the Bank then spend it in the shops, particularly the sweet shop and newly opened fish and chip shop! However Blist Hill is only 1 of 10 award winning museums located around this World Heritage site, home to the birth of the Industrial Revolution. The museums range from Enginuity – hands on science for children to the beauty of Coalport china.

Orchard Exploration Day by Catherine Evans :: 27th October 2010

I have had another interesting day today thanks to Jodie at Discover Local. I visited Mahorall Farm to discover how they make cider. We started with an interesting talk about the history of the farm and of cider, including the fermentation process. Next we headed out to the orchards, partly along a designated nature trail around the farm – this is downloadable from thier website. Fortunately the weather was dry and sunny and the views down the Teme Valley and beyond are breathtaking. Our walk took in an established comercial orchard and a recently planted orchard on the farm. Then it was back to the farm to learn the secrets of cider making! I was surprised to fnd it very similar to the process we use for our small amount – we must be doing something right. Finally we got to taste the finished product, ranging from dry still cider (scrumpy) to a very pleasant sparkling medium version – highly recommended!

After that we headed to Nash Village Hall where we enjoyed a tasty lunch prepared by Jane from The Courtyard in Ludlow, who then demonstrated the art of chutney making. Also served with lunch was Tickmore apple juice from Brimfield Common.

Tenbury Applefest by Catherine Evans :: 16th October 2010

This afternoon the Band played at Tenbury Applefest – a celebration of all things apple! There was cider, apple pies, a hog roast with apple sauce and of course lots of apples. We are lucky enough to have Frank Matthews nearby – a well respected grower of all types of fruit trees. They have over 200 different varieties of apples and many were displayed in a huge marquee. I had guests stay with me recently visiting their apple tree that Matthews were trialling due to its tolerance of wet conditions. If successful it will be called Gressingham Lady so look out for it! 

Tomorrow is our annual apple pressing day! I must confess our cider from last year is not much good although Amy and Adrian have supposedly made a quality brew – I hope they bring a sample for us to try tomorrow!

Happy Harvest by Catherine Evans :: 26th September 2010

I love the feeling of satisfaction at this time of the year when all the fruits of our labours in the garden are gathered in! This is the extent of my pumpkin crop – not great considering the number of plants I had but probably enough! There is lots to gather at the moment – damsons, apples, sloes and other hedgerow goodies. I attended a fantastic course on Tuesday organised by Shropshire Hills AONB, in the morning we walked the hedgerows around Craven Arms collecting fruits and berries and in the afternoon made goodies from our bounty. I am now going to make hedgerow jam, butter and ketchup!

Ludlow Food Festival by Catherine Evans :: 12th September 2010

This weekend has been Ludlow Food Festival – one of the busiest weekends of the year! Becky and I managed a couple of hours there on Friday – I am always amazed by the number of local producers in our area, we are very lucky because we can shop from most of the exhibitors throughout the year without travelling far. On Sunday our local country holiday group were manning a stand at the Festival and I had volunteered to organise it! Although I say it myself the stand looked quite smart and there was certainly a lot of interest – maybe that had something to do with the samples of homemade cake and Shaun the Sheep stickers we were giving away! Anyway I am exhausted now!

Cramer Gutter by Catherine Evans :: 18th August 2010

Yesterday evening I joined a walk around Cramer Gutter, organised by Shropshire Wildlife Trust. This is a nature reserve of national importance, being the only place in the Midlands where marsh gentians and sundews still survive. August and September are the best times to see the marsh gentians in flower but we were a little late in the evening and the flowers had closed up – they are a vivid blue in colour. The sundews are a native carniverous plant, catching small insects to survive in the extremely boggy conditions.

Cramer Gutter is a 12 acre site rich in biodiversity and well worth a visit. I am now hoping to attend a bat walk on Saturday evening on Catherton Common, also arranged by the Wildlife Trust, who have recently purchased this expanse of heathland.

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