c August 2015 | Garden, Tea, Cakes, (Books) and Me

A Day Out around Much Wenlock - A visit to Shipton Hall, Shropshire

Moving on from visiting Buildwas Abbey and our tea and cake stop in Much Wenlock, we arrived at Shipton Hall just before the 2.30pm opening time. Shipton Hall is situated near Much Wenlock in Shropshire, it is an Elizabethan manor house, with a Georgian roccoco decor and beautiful Tudor panelling and timber work. 

Shipton Hall Much Wenlock Shropshire

Shipton Hall Much Wenlock Shropshire

Shipton Hall  Gardens Much Wenlock Shropshire
Front garden Shipton Hall with view of stables and Shropshire countryside
The hall is part of the Historic Houses Association, you do not need to be a member to visit the house, although entry is free for members. Shipton Hall is only open for a few hours on a Thursday, so it is worth combining it with a visit to the historic village of Much WenlockTours are normally conducted by the owner. 

Shipton Hall, Historic Houses Association

Along with the hall is a Saxon church, Georgian stables and old walled garden. The flower borders in the garden were looking particularly magnificent, and are the first thing to greet you as you walk to the entrance of the hall.

Shipton Hall Shropshire, Historic Houses Association
Dovecote with view to Shipton Hall
Shipton Hall Shropshire, Historic Houses Association
Who can resist stepping through an open door

Shipton Hall Much Wenlock
A view of the stables from Shipton Hall
It was a fascinating tour with lots of information about the owners that have lived in the hall. Along with their beautiful period furniture and original tudor panelling. Once the tour of the house is finished you are free to walk around the gardens and visit the Saxon church.

The house and gardens did remind me of a local National Trust property nearby Benthall Hall, which is very similar in period and style. 

More information about Shipton Hall can be found on the Historic Houses Association site.
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Common Garden Pests and How to Manage Them Infographic

All gardeners will encounter damage to the plants and crops they grow from insects. But knowing how best to manage this in an organic way can be a challenge.  The infographic below will help you  to identify the garden pest and how best you can manage them, including some handy kitchen remedies. I have used the milk remedy for mildew with some success in the past, so they do work.

Do you know of any other kitchen remedies that work in the garden?

Source: Fix.com
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Zinnia Sprite Cut Flowers - Garden Bouquet #2

Gosh how remiss of me, I have just realised I have neglected to share with you some of the garden flowers I have picked for display in the house this year. I have had some Sweet Peas and Sweet Williams in a vase or too, although the Sweet Peas have put on a poor display, so far. I have purposely grown some new variety of flowers for cutting this year. After a slow start the Zinnia Sprite are putting on quite a display and ready for cutting. I am still waiting to see something special from the Asters, which have not grown as I had hoped. 

Zinnia Sprite cut flowers Sarah Raven seeds

We have had some rather wet weather of late and I knew we were in for some pretty terrible downpours the next day. I thought I would rescue some of the Zinnias before the rain struck. I am so glad I did, what a storm we had in Shropshire yesterday evening - thunder and lightning! I will leave you to enjoy the Zinnias.

Zinnia Sprite cut flowers Sarah Raven
Zinnia Sprite Cut Flowers grown from Sarah Raven seeds

Zinnia Sprite cut flowers Sarah Raven seeds
Zinnia Sprite Flowers

Zinnia Sprite cut flowers
Zinnia Sprite Cut Flowers 
Have you grown any flowers this year? What are your favourite?

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Tea on the Square - Much Wenlock Tea Room

There are some lovely shops in Much Wenlock as well as the Wenlock Priory an English Heritage property to visit. Today however was not a day for shopping. My sister, aunt and I were calling in for a refreshment pit stop, between visits to Buildwas Abbey and Shipton Hall. Once in the village we spotted a new tea room called Tea on the Square. 

Tea on the Square Much Wenlock Shropshire
Tea on the Square  - Much Wenlock, Shropshire
What a delight! Such nice tea, cake and friendly staff. No rickety or modern tables and chairs here. But some wonderful solid wood furniture, which really suited the style of the tea room. There are no tea, scone or cake photos, I was far too busy enjoying them.

It is the attention to detail with the interiors that can make one tea room stand our from another, as well as the cakes of course! I loved the vintage tea tins on the shelves above the windows, along with teacups hanging on hooks underneath. It all fit together rather nicely. I also spotted what looked like the original entrance bell fitted to the door. There is a stunning hand painted wall mural of the buildings of Much Wenlock, with the roof tops highlighted with fairy lights. Absolutely fabulous!

Tea on the Square - Much Wenlock

Cups and Canisters at Tea on the Square
Cups and Canisters 
Ding - service please
Be aware at present the tea room is not open on a Sunday.
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Evolution of the Ice Cream Van - do you remember a Rock Around the Choc Ice Lolly?

All the talk of UK holidays in my previous posts, has made me think of Summertime and ice creams. This fabulous infographic shares some fascinating facts about Ice Cream Vans and our love of them. Who knew there was so much history behind the humble Ice Cream Van. I remember chasing the ice cream van for a Chilly Choc or a Rock Around the Choc Ice Lolly.  Do you remember a favourite? Were you a lover of 99 Ice Cream or an Ice Lolly or maybe a Choc Ice?

Evolution of the Ice Cream Van Infographic

This post is commission on behalf of  http://www.vanmonster.com/.

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Holidaying in the UK...so much to discover including details of a competition

I love holidaying in the UK. As I have grown older I have appreciated there is still so much more to see and do in our own country, that  I have chosen staycations in the UK over holidays abroad. Helped by my love of heritage and a thirst to learn more, there is an endless supply of holiday destinations in the UK just waiting to be discovered or revisited.

Levens Hall, Lake District
Levens Hall, Lake District

I may not have the benefit of some who can walk for miles, but there is always an alternative way to enjoy an area. I have visited the Lake District just the once, yes it is on my revisit list. But I can sit and enjoy the breathtaking views, take in the quiet and relaxing environment. Whether that be taking a boat trip around Lake Windermere or Coniston Lake or a mini bus tour up into their renowned mountains. I particularly enjoyed a tour and stroll around the topiary gardens of Levens Hall, absorbing the history of this fascinating Elizabethan House - at my own pace and of course a cream tea in the tea room.

This got me thinking, when I holiday in the UK there are usually activities or traditions I always look to do. So I thought it would be fun to share what I consider to be my compulsory list. 

Things to do when holidaying in the UK:-
  • At the seaside, eat fish and chips before the seagulls do.
  • Enjoy a Cream Tea as often as you can! 62% of women enjoy a cream tea when holidaying*.
  • Breathe in the bracing sea air, a tip passed on to me from my late grandfather.
  • Skim stones on the sea or a lake.
  • Eat an ice cream regardless of the weather.
  • Stroll along the pier or promenade.
  • Explore rock pools.
  • Eat the local delicacy - Kendal Mint Cake, Cromer Crabs, Eccles Cakes, Welsh Cakes or a Cornish Pasty.  
Cream Tea Devon style - Cream First
Cream Tea Devon style - Cream First
Three years ago I had an amazing holiday in the famous fishing village of Brixham in Devon, with family and extended family, it was a huge affair and lots of fun. But with so much to see and do in the area I never did manage to visit Greenway, the Agatha Christie property now run by the National Trust. It is situated on the banks of the River Dart an extremely picturesque area. It is still on my Wish List of Places to Visit in the UK. Do not worry Devon I am sure I will be holidaying with you again soon.

Brixham Harbour, Devon
Brixham Harbour, Devon

If you want the chance to enjoy Devon or Cornwall then try your luck by entering the fun Summer quiz with Parkdean to win a 3 or 4 night holiday worth up to £499 at one of their Cornwall or Devon parks.

Do you have any fun activities you do as a family when you holiday in the UK?

*a survey recently conducted by Parkdean.

Disclosure - I received a Devon Cream Tea Hamper from Parkdean.
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Create your Dream Garden Room to Win a Summerhouse in this great giveaway by Waltons

Looking for somewhere to escape to, a room you can call your own. But but no extra space at home? Why not create your dream room out in the garden. This dream could easily be within your reach thanks to Waltons, who are giving one lucky winner the chance to win their very own Dream Garden Room.  

For your chance to win a Waltons 10 x 8 Helios Summerhouse, Waltons want you to design your own themed Dream Garden Room. By creating your own Pinterest Board and pinning your favourite images, helping to capture your special dream room. Remember to to include a pin of your favourite Summerhouse from the Waltons website. The prize also includes £250 of John Lewis vouchers to make your chosen dream a reality. Wow what a prize! Remember to follow Waltons Dream Garden Pinterest Board.

First you need to decide the theme your Dream Garden Room will take. Maybe you are looking for some peace and quiet, your own Dream Garden Yoga Retreat Room, or are you a geek loving sci-fi addict looking to create a new Dream Garden Sci-Fi Universe Room. There is a whole host of possibilities.

I have been busy putting my own Pinterest board entry together, I decided to create my Dream Garden Vintage Reading Room. I think it has the right balance of relaxing, cosy and vintage, yet a quiet and peaceful feel to it. A place I can read to my hearts content, yet far enough away from my wi-fi I do not get distracted. You can see my pinterest board below, click on it to see it in all its vintage glory.

Follow Garden Tea Cakes and Me's board My Dream Garden Vintage Reading Room on Pinterest.

Full details of how to enter the competition including the important terms and conditions can be found on the Waltons blog, be sure to follow the instructions to submit your completed entry. You have plenty of time to put your entry together, closing date is 7th September 2015. Who would not want to win such a fabulous prize, go on get pinning and good luck!

If you are not lucky enough to win you can still create your garden room with Waltons the UKs biggest outdoor building supplier, they have an extensive range of Summerhouses available. 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

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A Day Out around Much Wenlock - Buildwas Abbey English Heritage

Visiting Buildwas Abbey an English Heritage property between Ironbridge and Much Wenlock has been on my list of places to visit for sometime. It is a place I pass frequently, but not always open on a date convenient for a visit. Having picked up my aunt, my sister and I headed off on our day out, complete with picnic. The weather did not make a promising start, I had been hoping for blue skies and sunshine, instead it was cloudy with the odd shower of rain. 

Buildwas Abbey English Heritage

We arrived around 11am with just a few cars in the car park, although the car park is small. A member of English Heritage welcomed us from the hatch of her small hut. There is no audio tour for this site, although you can buy a guide book. My aunt already had the guide book, unfortunately it was left at home, still not to worry I had my English Heritage phone app to refer to.  The ruins of the abbey  are on a small site, along with a short nature walk. There are also private garden to tour, however this is only open on selected days. 

picnic at Buildwas Abbey English Heritage

The Buildwas Abbey site contains the ruins of a Cistercian abbey and a unaltered 12th century church.  The intact tiled floor in the Chapter House with its vaulted ceiling was very impressive. To think of the work that must of gone into creating them, they were in good condition considering the age of the site. You could make out different designs and patterns.

  • There are no dedicated paths around the site, as you would expect around an ancient abbey ruin, so it can be a little uneven. There are also a set of steps up to the entrance hut. 
  • They have two portable toilets, one unisex the other a disabled toilet. They were in good condition.
  • Some drinks and snacks along with some limited English Heritage merchandise, are available at the entrance hut.
  • In the grounds there are a number of benches and picnic tables, which we did our best to put to use with our picnic between the showers.
It was at this point we decided to head to Much Wenlock just a few minutes in the car for a cup of tea and cake. Queue sunshine, isn't that just typical. 

I will share with you soon my new tea room discovery in Much Wenlock along with my visit to Shipton Hall.

You can find out more information about opening times and entrance costs on the English Heritage website.
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I Found Cake Heaven at Crystals Cupcakes Shop Telford

If you follow me on social media you will have certainly seen photographs of Crystals Cupcakes. Crystals Cupcakes have amassed quite a following locally and have now opened their very own shop - hip, hip, hooray! Previously these wonderful cakes graced the stalls of  local food fares and carnivals, along with her wonderful vintage caravan. 

Caramel Fudge Cupcake Crystals Cupcakes Telford
Caramel Fudge Cupcake
A few weeks ago I paid my first visit. Themed as an American diner, which compliments the cupcakes, coffee, tea, hot chocolate and milk shakes they also serve. There is an extensive range of cupcakes and layer cake varieties to choose from. I feel regular visits will be required. I particularly enjoy the Lemon and Raspberry and the Caramel Fudge, but I still have more to discover. 

Now I think it time to let the photographs do the talking.
Crystals Cupcakes Telford
Raspberry and Coconut, Turkish Delight, Chocolate Peanut Butter

I do hope that Dawley realise what a treasure of a new business they have acquired to the town. Now they have two claims to fame! Crystal Cupcakes and Captain Matthew Webb, who was the first person to swim the English Channel in 1875, watch out for the film  which is due to be released later this year.  

Now if Captain Webb were to have a cupcake, I wonder which flavour would he choose?
Crystals Cupcakes is located in the High Street, Dawley, Shropshire.
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Creating a Holiday Memory Board Using Your Travel Souvenirs

The memories of my holiday to Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are still fresh in my mind. I wanted a way to capture that moment of thinking about my holiday, without looking at a photograph. I came up with the idea to create a holiday memory board. Hanging in my bathroom was an old picture, I thought I could utilise the frame and glass but replace the contents. 
What better contents than some of the souvenirs I had purchased on holiday, they were handcrafted and reminded me of my favourite places. This was the perfect way to capture my travel memories.
Create a Travel Memory Board
Create a Travel Memory Board
This old picture had been a purchase from Next. It followed me from my previous home, of late I have not given it a second glance. Looking at the back there was a date of April 2004, I would never have thought I'd had it for 11 years. Having depth to the frame, these are sometimes called a shadow frame will allow me again to add physical items to the picture and not just photos or prints.
creating a holiday memory board
Creating a Holiday Memory Board

Once I took the back off I realised I would need to replace the mount and the board, as an excessive amount of glue had been used causing damage. I took some time placing and spacing my maps and souvenirs. 
It is a delight and now it hangs in my bathroom for me to look at everyday and those holiday memories come flooding back.

Make sure the glass and picture frame are clean and clear from marks and dust.

Things you need to create a Holiday Memory Board
  • Holiday souvenirs
  • Old or new picture frame, you can get these from Hobbycraft
  • Old Ordnance Survey maps from a secondhand book shop
  • Coloured cardboard from a hobby/craft store
  • Made to measure picture mount  from my local market stall
  • Clip on picture hanger
  • Craft knife or 
  • Glue
Make sure you flatten the cut out map with a heavy book overnight, particularly if there is a fold running through it.
Create your 3D artwork without the glass in the picture frame. That way you can still touch your souvenirs. Although I would recommend glass for a bathroom because of the moisture.
Upcycle an old picture frame
Upcycle an old picture
Create a Travel Memory Board

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Saving Broad Bean and Pea Seeds

This year I left a few pods on my Pea and Broad Bean plants. Why? Because I was planning ahead for next years harvest and saving myself some pennies. Over the last month or so I removed the majority of plants after harvesting. But, kept one plant each of the Broad Beans and Peas, each with some healthy pods on. Over time the pods have dried and wrinkled, in other words set seed. That is just how easy it is to save Pea Seeds and save Broad Bean seeds.
How to save pea bean seeds gardening tips tutorial
It is not until opening the pods you discover just how successful your seed harvest is. I am very pleased with my supply of seeds for next year, I have left them in the greenhouse a little longer to continue drying.

Store in a paper or cardboard envelope, label with the date and variety. I store all my seeds in a tin, on a dark shelf in my garage.  Think cool, dry and dark for storing seeds. A tin will also protect them from any pesky mice should they be on the hunt for an easy lunch!

How to save pea bean seeds gardening tips tutorial

If the weather is damp and the seed pods still require more drying, leave them in the greenhouse or on a sunny windowsill.

Be wary some pods may turn black, have mold on or inside them when opened. I would recommend you discard any seeds harvested from these pods, you do not want diseased or unhealthy seeds.
How to save pea bean seeds gardening tips tutorial

How to save pea bean seeds gardening tips tutorial
See my other guides on how to collect Sunflower Seeds and Cornflower Seeds.

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Butterscotch Shortbread Recipe

This Butterscotch Shortbread recipe, has just a few ingredients to create a taste of luxury. My basic shortbread recipe is a tried and trusted one, with a simple addition of tiny pieces of fudge. Once baked the fudge turns into small pieces of tasty butterscotch.

Recipe Butterscotch Shortbread
A naughty but nice Butterscotch Shortbread Recipe

Butterscotch Shortbread Recipe


250g (9oz) plain flour
75g (3oz) caster sugar
175g (6oz) butter
fudge sprinkles 1 - 2 tablespoons

Tip - If you can not get the fudge sprinkles cut up a few pieces of fudge into very small pieces.


Heat oven to 160 degrees C / 325 degrees F / Gas 3

Grease or line a baking tray
  • Mix the flour and sugar into a bowl, rub in butter with your fingertips.
  • Sprinkle in the fudge pieces a tablespoon or two will be sufficient. 
  • Knead well to form a smooth paste.
  • Roll out onto a floured surface, so that the dough is around 1cm thick. 
  • Cut out using a pastry cutter of your choosing.
Tip - If you do not have a cutter use a knife to cut your shortbread into rectangles. You may need to adjust the cooking time, depending on the size of your cutter.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until they are just starting to golden. 

After 10 minutes using a palette knife move the Butterscotch Shortbread onto a wire rack to cool.

Recipe Shortbread Butterscotch

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