Blog Articles

Grandmother's Footsteps
Most mornings I manage to take Mack for a stroll around the field in front of the house but at the moment we are playing a game of cat and mouse with the ewes currently grazing the field! Although Mack is pretty good and doesn’t usually bother about them the sheep persist in following us! At the start of the walk I carefully survey the field and decide our route based on the location of the flock, always trying to keep the biggest gap between us and them! But no, as soon as we enter the field along they trot, in some misguided belief I am going to feed them and we start our game of Grandmother’s Footsteps – I walk, they follow; I turn, they stop! Hopefully at this point Mack has spied a pheasant or squirrel in some distant corner of the field and has...
Happy New Year 2015!
I can’t believe it will soon be 2015! The year seems to have flown by and since my last post we have had a lovely few days in Southern Spain, although I must report it was no warmer than sunny South Shropshire! Mack certainly enjoyed his walks over the festive break and loved lording it over the rest of the world from the top of this big bale! We have had our first lambs at the main farm, so long nights in the lambing shed for John! We probably won’t have any lambs here at Broome Park until March when the bulk of the ewes are due to lamb. Wishing everyone a healthy and prosperous New Year!
Flounders Folly
Today we visited Flounders’ Folly, an imposing stone tower, 16 foot square, standing 80 feet above Callow Hill, near Craven Arms, South Shropshire. The Folly is a landmark that is visible for miles around and in particular from the A49 between Church Stretton and Craven Arms. Built in 1838 by Benjamin Flounders (hence the name), it marks the point at which three parishes and four major estates meet. Curiously, Benjamin Flounders never had a house on the Culmington estate and generally chose to stay at the Angel Inn in Broad Street, Ludlow on his twice-yearly visits to Shropshire. The Folly fell into disrepair in the 20th century but was restored in 2004-5 by the Flounders’ Folly Trust. It is now open to the public one day each month so people can climb to the...
A Slow Harvest
This year our harvest seems very stop/start! When the weather was perfect at the first part of July nothing was ready to combine and now the crops are ready the weather is changeable. It is a constant dilemma – whether to harvest the crop when it is slightly damp then dry in the shed or wait for the optimum moisture level and miss the opportunity due to the weather. Ideally corn is harvested when the moisture content is around 14 – 16% and we use a meter to test a sample of the crop before starting to combine. If there is a weather window and we need to get on then we will combine anything up to 20% and then dry the crop in the shed or corn bins. Obviously this incurs additional cost so this is used as a last resort. The next problem has been breakages, fortunately...
Burwarton Show
We were pleased to sponsor the Scarecrow for the Severn Hospice stand at Burwarton Show today and were thrilled to be visited by Mary from the Dairy whose Grandsons had told her about her resemblence to our scarecrow, Clarrie! All together there were 72 scarecrows on various stands around the showground and young and old were invited to buy a map of the Scarecrow Trail then tick them off as they enjoyed the show. You may recognise Mary as she is often at the Cleobury and Ludlow Local Producers markets with her butter churn making delicious traditional butter pats.
Summer Shows
One of the best things about the summer is the shows! They range in size from the local village fete to national events but all celebrate our traditions and rural communities. The first and biggest is the Royal Welsh Show which is on from 21 – 24th July at the Showground in Builth Wells, a couple of hours drive from here but well worth it! This year the next show will be Tenbury Show on the 2nd August, only 8 miles from here and always on the first Saturday in August. This is a real local affair featuring livestock, horses, horticulture, food, arts and crafts. It also hosts the annual national Young Farmers tug of war finals! Unfortunately this year it clashes with Chorley Show which is a small local show run by volunteers, the highlight of which this year...
Hobsons New Visitor Centre
I had a great evening last Thursday as I went along to the launch of the new Visitor Centre at Hobsons Brewery. There was a real buzz to the evening and lots of beer samples to try – my personal favourite being the Stout! Delicious food was provided by Four C Sons catering and stone baked pizzas fro the Fabulous Cob Oven Company. In keeping with Hobsons ethos the building is built sustainably using local wood and stone and sits on the edge of the Brewery site, overlooking fields and the town of Cleobury Mortimer nestling below. On entering the builing there is a small retail area, selling bottled beers and merchandising, then the bar stretches out on the left and wooden tables and benches along the right hand wall. There is also a galley typekitchen area where it is...
Not so woolly jumpers!
Late May or early June is when the sheep are sheared. As the weather gets warmer they no longer need their woolly fleeces and if left on can result in health problems. Shearing is definitely hard work as every sheep has to be man-handled into position and held whilst the job is done. This year the commercial flock were shorn in just over 3 days with help from a nephew and his friends! We only have 6 ewes here at Broome Park and that is enough for John to shear on his own! Fortunately he managed to do them on Sunday and they are looking very slim out in the field, we just need it to warm up a bit! The fleeces are all bought by the Wool Marketing Board and currently they are worth about £1.40 each, not much more than the cost of having them sheared!
May Madness
May is the traditional month for Morris dancing, starting with today, May Day, when the stomping of feet and clashing of sticks is said to represent the battle between good and evil, and the triumph of summer over winter. After dancing last Saturday at The Sun Inn in Leintwardine to celebrate St George, Crooked Steeple Morris are off to Upton Upon Severn’s Folk Festival this Sunday. We start with a procession through the Town, starting at 12 noon, about 40 different sides are taking part this year (although I’m still not sure where Belly Dancers fit into the Folk scene!). We end up dancing outside one of the pubs on the riverside and even have a show spot this year at 3.30pm – if we think we are good enough! The following Monday evening (12th May) we will be...
Early Lambs
I have my first bottle fed lambs of the season. We always start lambing soon after Christmas although this year the ewes were slow to get going, meaning a last minute rush towards the end of January. These 2 are a couple of weeks old and have been named Dior and Chanel (as one lamb has No. 5 on it’s side!). They are bottle fed twice a day and also eat a dried food, like muesli. I am always happy for guests to help with feeding. At the moment we have sheep in every nook and cranny as the wet weather means it is too miserable for the early lambs and ewes to go out in the fields, cold and frosty weather would be much better! We have also had to bring in most of the expectant ewes early as the fields are so muddy the grass isn’t growing and it is difficult to get...
Vintage Tractor Rally
This photo was taken early in October when the local Vintage Tractor Rally passed the bottom of our drive. On this occasion there were over 100 tractors and they could be seen snaking along the lanes into the distance, quite a sight to be seen! (Although not so popular if you are stuck behind them perhaps!). Over the Easter Weekend the National Vintage Tractor Road Run is taking place in and around Bridgnorth when over 400 vintage tractors are expected to participate. As well as enjoying meeting up with like minded people from around the Country and sharing their passion they also raise money for a local charity, this year the County Air Ambulance, a very worthwhile cause.
Boxing Day Walk
It is traditional in our family to take a walk on Boxing Day. This year as the ground is so wet we had to find a route that avoided the fields so decided to head for Catherton Common, a circular walk of approximately 2 hours duration. The weather was fantastic and the views from the Common are stunning, my photograph doesn’t do it justice! We were lucky enough to see 3 buzzards and a red kite circling above the Common. The Common has fabulous birdlife. Skylarks, linnets, meadow pipits and yellowhammers – birds that were once common everywhere but have vanished from many of their old haunts – can still be found on Catherton Common, singing from sky and tree. A vast pesticide-free area, it’s also a haven for bees, dragonflies and many other insects. The Common...
Best friends Forever
Mack has a new friend, although I’m not sure how long they will remain friends as he has already removed both his ears and eyes! Now the days are drawing in Mack is happy to relax in his basket next to the wood burner and I seem to spend hours replenishing the log pile! There is something special about a roaring fire and there is a small wood burner in the guest living room for cosy winter nights! This week we have been walking in the Wyre Forest which has different woodland trails to suit all levels of walking, from strollers and wheelchairs to longer routes for seasoned walkers. If you are feeling more adventurous there is also a treetop Go Ape course!
Yarnbombing in Cleobury
Strange happenings were about last Friday night when people in dark jackets were seen attaching woolly items to posts, benches and buildings. As dawn broke people woke to the news that Cleobury had been Yarnbombed – a curious phenomenom where everyday items are covered with wool! The highlight was this bike which was placed at the entrance to the High School where a Classic Motor Bike Show was taking place. Benches, trees and lamposts on the High Street where festooned with woolly flowers and the War Memorial was draped with garlands of poppies. Everyone was going around with smiles on their faces, trying to track down the culprits! A clue could be found at the Severn Hospice shop where a beautifully decorated wheelchair sat outside and the ladies inside were...
Vegetables from the Garden
There is nothing more satisfying than picking and cooking vegetables straight from the garden! Today I am cooking a vegtarian evening meal for one of my guests so have gathered this wonderful selection! So, I fried a red onion, already harvested and stored in the outhouse, added the yellow courgettes and a red pepper (from the local greengrocer!). Next went in carrots and chopped french beans, along with some diced beetroot that I had parboiled and mushrooms. Finally I added a tin of chopped tomatoes, some tomato puree and herbs and seasoning. After simmering for about 15 minutes to let the flavours meld I transferred to an ovenproof dish and sprinkled with breadcrumbs. If the guest hadn’t requested a low fat meal I would have combined the breadcrumbs with grated...
Time out in Bridgnorth
Bridgnorth is a perfect destination for a leisurely day out. The town is in 2 parts with Low Town straddling the banks of the River Severn and High Town on the cliffs above. The two are connected by a cliff railway, £1.20 for a return journey! Bridgnorth is also home to the Severn Valley Railway where a trip can be taken back in time to a bygone era of steam! The line runs along the Severn Valley to Kidderminster with pretty stations and breathtaking views of the river. Highley is a must do stop with the Engine Shed where vistors can get up close to a range of rolling stock. Travellers are always surprised to see rhinos and elephants alongside the line as the train passes through the Safari Park at Bewdley! There are often themed weekends for all ages – check out...
A Day out on the Severn Valley Railway
I have recently spent 2 different days at the Severn Valley Railway and had a fantastic time on both occasions! The railway runs from Kidderminster, where the mainline network joins this historical steam railway, to Bridgnorth, snaking along the banks of the River Severn, including a stretch through the West Midlands Safari Park – always a thrill to see elephants or rhinos from the train window! This is photo of me on the footplate yesterday afternoon – I had been helping run a stall in aid of Severn Hospice for the very successful Ladies Day organised by the SVR and my friend Sue very kindly organised for me to stand in the engine! It was so hot – if you are planning to treat someone to one of the very popular ‘Footplate Experience’ days I suggest you go...
It seems as if Summer has finally arrived! The sun is shining and the forecast is good for days to come! Wimbledon is in full swing and the strawberries are just starting to ripen in the garden. It is also excellent weather for haymaking. This field was mown last week and the grass has been ‘bobbed’ – turned with giant spinning forks – a couple of times to help the drying process. Mack is just checking to see if it is dry enough to bale! I think it is and it will probably be baled tomorrow, into small bales that are easy to handle and particularly favoured by smallholders and horse owners as they are easy to man handle. Otherwise, if it is intended for our own livestock it will be made into large round bales which are easier to feed mechanically.
The 17th Century comes to Broome Park Farm
One of the nicest things about running a B&B is the interesting people I meet and the many and varied reasons they have for visiting Shropshire. Judith and Des Thomas (Colonell Granville and Mistress Judith) are historical re-enactors and visit the local secondary school every year to give Year 8 pupils a taste of life at the time of the English Civil War – 1642. I was surprised to learn they are Roundheads, not Royalists and Des explained to me that everyone at the time dressed the same, often reusing clothes and weapons from the battlefield, combatants wore identification features such as tree branches or a scrap of fabric to identify their allegience. For the pupils I think the highlight of the day is the firing demonstration where they get to experience the...
Stokesay Court, Onibury
This morning I have been on a visit to Stokesay Court, Onibury, about 30 minutes drive from here. The house was built in1892 and was one of the first private homes in England to be equipped with electric light. It has a Jacobean facade that hides a magnificent Arts and Crafts inspired panelled oak interior. During the First World War the house was used as an Auxillary Military Hospital for convalescent soldiers and this commandeering of the house by the military means it remains fixed in a time warp, once moved to the Lady’s Wing the family never returned to the main house to live. In more recent times Stokesay Court found fame as the starring location in the highly acclaimed film ‘Atonement’ and the guided tours, offered by owner Caroline Magnus, offer a...
Breadmaking Course
I have had a fabulous day today attending a Breadmaking Course at Acton Scott Historical Working Farm. The course was run by Peter Cook, Owner and head baker at Prices Bakery in Castle Square, Ludlow. We started the day by making a traditional white dough, the key point being to weigh accurately – something I’m not renowned for! The dough was left to prove and we moved on to make a dark ale and walnut bread, using Ludlow Brewery’s Dark Knight ale. Again this was left to prove and we moved on to a third mix – fig and fennel using a malted flour – this turned out to be my favourite, although I wasn’t too sure about it at the time! The final bread we made was an oaty bread with butter and honey in, making for a softer loaf, apparently. Once it had proved for a...
The Shropshire Hills
Yesterday I had a wonderful day showing a visiting Swedish journalist around the County. The only thing against us was the weather! We started the day with a whistle stop tour of Hobsons Brewery , unfortunately it was a little early to sample the product! Next stop was Ludlow for a stroll round the castle and the independent shops, checking out the gourmet restaurants of La Becasse and Mr Underhills. Back in the car for a short trip to Stokesay Castle. I love this romantic fortified, medieval manor house – not really a castle at all! Fortunately by now the rain had cleared and there was a little blue sky! The photo shows one of the many views from the Long Mynd, the sun was just trying to break through in the distance. After touring both the Long Mynd and the...
St Georges Day
Once again St George has defeated the dragon – hurrah! We had a great day yesterday celebrating St Georges Day at the Sun Inn, Leintwardine. The day had started with clog dancing in Cleobury at the inaugeral Farmers Market which had a real buzz about it. Off we dashed to Leintwardine, just enough time for fish and chips from The Fiddlers Elbow, eaten in the Parlour at the Sun Inn, washed down by half a pint of Dragon Slayer ale! A leisurely stroll to the top of Watling Street was followed by the St George’s Day Procession, lead by the Town Crier and his lady wife, then Crooked Steeple Morris and finally St George and a mini dragon. After the ceremonial slaying of the dragon and a few words from the Town Crier Crooked Steeple Morris entertained the crowd!
Vintage China at Broome Park Farm
It was recently my birthday and a very special friend gave me a beautiful vintage tea service. Today it had it’s first airing for guests when I served afternoon tea. This photograph doesn’t really do it justice and we are still searching for a teapot with lid intact! The design is by Colclough, a company that made many different designs, including the ivy leaf pattern which I also have!