Letter from The Ferns, Shropshire: old keys, rainwater and oatcakes

 This is my September blog fromThe Ferns’ Vegetarian B & B in sunny Newport, Shropshire.I needed another key for the main bedroom for my Vegetarian B & B. The dilemma was that I had the original old key to the room – but only one, and I need to be able to refresh teas & coffees etc and tidy while my visitors are out for the day.  I didnt want a modern Yale lock on the door, so I tried to find someone who would make a replica. The local locksmith looked at it, took a sharp intake of breath, and said I would need to go to Willenhall and find a locksmith to make one up – it would cost about £100. However, I went to ‘The Period Shop’ in Shrewsbury and they said they could do it; creating a handmade key in Ludlow.

Can you tell which is the original and which the duplicate?

The Period Shop wanted me to take the whole of the lock in as well, so that they could make sure that the key would work properly, but I didn’t want to try getting off a lock  that had been there for at least 150 years. So I just gave them the key and hoped that the new key would work; and it does! It only cost £12.50. Well done ‘The Period Shop’ in Shrewsbury!

August saw my first visitors and some huge storms which left a stain on my guest bedroom ceiling.  Investigations in the loft revealed that two old tiles had broken, slipped down into a gully, and rain had been coming in. Mike and I managed to repair it, but three layers of insulation are still drying out in the loft. I have also bought a stain sealer which I hope will stop the brown stain from showing when I repaint the ceiling. Watch this space in October, to see if it has worked!

I have managed to find an excellent oatcake supplier. They are Poveys oatcakes and I get them from Newport market on a Friday or Saturday. Unfortunately, the only place I can get them is the butchers stall, so I  try to look the other way when I buy them! Oatcakes feature on my vegetarian breakfast  at my B & B. I call this dish my ‘Staffordshire Borders’ breakfast, because  we are only one mile from the Staffordshire border and this really is a Staffordshire delicacy: you don’t get them anywhere else in the country.  They are like a very  thick pancake, and warmed up with Stilton with a poached egg on top. Our recent vegetarian guests from the Middle East certain appreciated them and had them two days running!  Although my breakfasts are vegetarian I’m sure that any meat eater would find my breakfasts as hearty and  delicious as any carnivore breakfast.

Just to finish, below are peaches from my garden, which we served to guests in August. I find that our homegrown peaches are more furry that bought ones, but when they are stewed, they are perfect.

Lovely organic peaches from the garden! Yum!


Until next time