Saturday, 20 September 2014

A Visit to Stokesay Castle an English Heritage Property

Stokesay Castle is one of my favourite historical places to visit in Shropshire. An English Heritage property who's great hall dates back to 1281, it also has a rather beautiful gatehouse built in 1641. Conservation of the property was completed by the Victorians and today's English Heritage, I have to agree with their description of it being 'a medieval jewel'.
Gatehouse at Stokesay Castle
It must be a few years since I last visited Stokesay Castle and English Heritage have made a number of improvements to the visitor experience:-
  • More seating within castle grounds, from what I can recall from my previous visits there is now more benches to sit and enjoy the surrounding views of Shropshire or a nice cup of tea from the tea room.

  • Lady Acton's Audio Tour, I do remember an audio tour previously, but not told from the perspective of Lady Acton. Many heritage properties now give visitors the option to hear its history in this way. This is one of the most engaging audio tours I have experienced, Lady Acton really does set the scene and help you experience the atmosphere of the medieval period. I must agree with Lady Acton's choice of favourite room in the castle, I am sure you will too.
Stokesay Castle Tea Room

  • Stokesay Castle Tea Room, well lets face it, no historical property is complete without the modern visitor essential - a tea room. I must say Stokesay Castle have done a fabulous job integrating their tea room into the visually appealing gatehouse. The tea and cake both received a thumbs up from my sister and I, the jam in the Victoria sponge was particularly tasty. There was a very good array and cakes, bakes and hot food available from within this Tardis like kitchen, majority of which is homemade.

You can expect steps and uneven surfaces in a property of this age, so you will need to watch your footing. I would suggest a phone call to the property if one of your party is in a wheelchair as there is limited access.

During my visit I even managed to purchase a few Christmas presents during my visit, oh yes I am not afraid to use the c word in September.

Gatehouse garden at Stokesay Castle
Essential information

  • Entry to the property is free if you are a member of English Heritage, otherwise your should check the admission charges on their website.
  • The tea room is open April to October.
  • Car parking costs £1
  • Stokesay Castle is located near Craven Arms, Shropshire and is well signposted.
English Heritage Stokesay Castle

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Garden memories of Geraniums or is that Pelargoniums?

The Pelargoniums cuttings have been a real success this year, a mild Winter ensured that most of them survived. They have obviously embraced the wonderful British weather of the last few months, all have flourished. 

Pelagonium and garden memories
Twenty years ago I would never have envisaged I would be so interested in gardening, my parents had never really shown or had much time for gardening when I was growing up. I was bought up with your average front lawn with a garden path, although we did have a rather exotic looking large Yucca plant at the front of the house. My time visiting my maternal grandparents was mostly spent out in the garden, my grandfather loved gardening and there was always an abundance of flowers and vegetables. He also had an aviary in the garden, which housed many Budgies and Finches - I would spend many a visit happily helping top up their food and water.
Garden memories
I always remember come wintertime every windowsill in my grandparents house would be occupied with Geraniums, smelling them the moment you walked into a room. Geraniums have such a distinctive scent, something I have only acquired a liking for recently. It was not until earlier this year I found out from my mother that my nan absolutely hated Geraniums not just the smell but how they occupied her windowsills during Winter.

Scented Pelargonium
Geraniums are not the only plant that remind me of my grandparents others include Lily of the Valley and Snap Dragons. I remember a large bed of Lily of the Valley under the lounge window, not a flower you see as often in gardens today. Then of course Snap Dragons, I distinctively remember my brother and I picking the flowers heads and running around the garden with the flowers in our fingers making the little dragons snap away. Not sure today whether my granddad would of approved of our early attempt of deadheading.

Do you have any special memories triggered by a flower or plant?

Geraniums and Pelargoniums garden memories

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Halloween Baking Giveaway

Who wants to do some Hallowen Baking? I am having a giveaway to celebrate reaching 700 Facebook followers. 

I am offering one of my blog readers the chance to win 

  • Halloween cake cases 
  • Halloween muffin cases 
  • Halloween themed candles 

Perfect to make some scary Halloween bakes. 

The competition closes 14th October, this allows plenty of time for me to send the winner their prize ready for Halloween. Giveaway is open to residents in UK and Ireland, you must be aged over 18 years.

How to enter
To be in with a chance of winning this lovely prize confirm your entry using the Rafflecopter widget, for extra entries complete the additional tasks. If you can not see the Rafflecopter widget below, you may need to refresh your page using F5. For more information on how to enter you can watch this Rafflecopter video or visit fellow blogger Super Lucky for a simple guide on using Rafflecopter. 

Remember if you enter the competition by tweeting be sure to include the link to your tweet. If any of the links are not working on the widget leave me a comment or tweet me.

Closes 14 October 2014. Winner must respond within ten days of being notified, after which time a new winner will be selected. UK entrants only. For Terms and Conditions click the link on the Rafflecopter widget.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, 5 September 2014

Free Trex Recipe Calendar 2015

Who wants a free Trex Calendar?  There are 10,000 calendar's available from the manufacturers of Trex. I was successful in getting one of these calendars last year and along with plenty of room for you to write down those important appointments there are also some fabulous recipes. They really are a good quality too, my calendar for 2014 also included a Trex discount coupon - bonus! 
Trex Calendar 2015
photo credit Princes Foods Limited
Just complete your details on the Trex website and share with them a baking tip or memory, then keep your fingers crossed and wait for the postman to deliver your lovely free Trex Calendar.

September 2014 recipe - Harvest Fruit Cake

My 2014 Trex Calendar
This is not a sponsored post, just me sharing this great offer with you all.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Benthall Hall National Trust a Day Out in Shropshire

Not far from where I live is the National Trust property Benthall Hall, near Broseley, Shropshire.  A property I confess to having never visited before, an impromptu visit by my sister and I for tea and cake was called for. I am quite sure I checked the time they opened before we left but still managed to arrive twenty minutes before they opened!  

Benthall Hall Rose Garden
Benthall Hall is situated above the gorge of the River Severn, not far from Ironbridge. It is a stonehouse built in 1535 and part of the house is occupied by the Benthall family today.

It was a cooler and rather cloudy day and we did have to dodge a shower or two. We explored the garden first, there is a walled kitchen garden, though my favourite area was the Rose Garden with topiary trees and shrubs. A great location to sit and enjoy the flowers and history of this property. Next to the walled garden was the Elizabethan skittle alley, something for both children and adults to enjoy.

Beautiful raindrops on roses, sadly no whiskers on kittens
Benthall Hall's Magical Front Door
Entrance into the house was through this delightful front door, I felt as though I was about to step into a fairytale. There were some rather nice pieces of china in the house and you get a sneak peak at the wonderful floor tiles hidden and protected by the wooden flooring.

Benthall Hall National Trust in Shropshire
The tearoom is situated inside the house on the ground floor,  the call of tea and cake was too great and we decided to break up the tour of the house with a tearoom pit stop. The tearoom it self was in a plain room in the house, the service was polite and efficient with tea served in vintage china. I think I am rather spoilt by the tearoom at Sunnycroft which truly has to be one of the National Trust's most beautiful tearooms.
Carrot Cake and a cup of tea
There are two walks around the Benthall Estate to enjoy, the Woodland Walk and the Parkland Walk possibly not for a rainy day though. The standout area of the property was the Rose garden, a very picturesque setting  and definitely the jewel of this National Trust property.