September Letter from ‘The Ferns’ chatting about Norbury Junction, Newport’s Food Frenzy & Shropshire damsons

A walk around Norbury

Every month   we go with my  brother & sister and their partners & do a day long walk around the Shropshire countryside. This month we walked  around Norbury. This little village is famous for  there being a  marina on the Shropshire Union Canal. Narrow boats start here; there is a pub overlooking the canal and some very pleasant walks along the tow path. It is about 10 minutes by car from Newport.

We set off on a 7 miles round trip- visiting the 5 Millennium Stones that the parish placed around their borders in AD 2000. These were boulders that are erratics that local farmers had found in the fields and are now placed at intervals around the parish

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A lovely way of celebrating the centenary. These stones will be there for millenia.

Half way around we had a coffee stop at Norbury Junction. Then we moved on to Loynton Moss for a lunch break – a very boggy  place run by the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust

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and back to Norbury Village Hall which is we where we left the car. I have a booklet  available for visitors who wish to walk the trail


Newport’s Food frenzy Sat. 24th September

Newport to get Food Frenzied

This is Newport’s first step into food festivals and it is all very exciting!.  It is being organised by a committee of volunteers from The Newport Town Team.

Chiefly this will be  a street market, but  there will also be  a food theatre, competitions and High Street trader events. The street market will take place in the historic cobbled St. Mary Street, on wider foot paths near the Butter Cross, on the Adam’s Grammar School lawns, and  by the canal nearby.

The Orchard restaurant in Lower Bar is doing wine tasting with canapes in the afternoon and a special dinner in the evening with live music.. Stalls currently booked to take place include Greenfields Farm Shop, Plan B (Newport) Brewery, Weal Ales Brewery, French Flavour, ZainZ Catering, Bim’s Kitchen, and Shropshire Salumi and Newport 21, who are going to do a food utensil swap – you bring a kitchen item that you bought by mistake or no longer us  and you can swap it for something else

I am particularly interested to see our local veggie expert Berni Mccarthy will be  letting you try her  ‘Thank Goodness’ range of nut roasts.


Bernadette says these are guaranteed “easy meals”, especially for those busy times when preparing dinners for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians at the same time; plus it makes  easy eating in a more healthy way

All Bernadette`s nut roasts  use the freshest ingredients. They have drawn great interest from the cookery and vegetarian communities. Antony Worrall Thompson recently declared Berni`s nut roasts winners with 10 marks out of 10 in a vegetarian cookery showdown in the Sunday Express.

Joules’ Market Drayton  beers will be on offer as well as our Newport brewery

There will be food competitions and a variety of street entertainers, so sounds like a really great local event. Lets hope the weather holds up!


I am overwhelmed with damsons , and have been making jams, chutneys and stewed damsons. We get ours- naturally organic damsons –  from my brothers’ in law farm in Shropshire

The first thing was jam, then I went onto stewed damsons, which helps me keep the freezer clear for other things


Stewed damsons

and then damson chutney


Simmering chutney

My recipe is very simple and comes from a ‘Good Housekeeping’ recipe book that I bought when I got married  in 1970. Sorry this is all in imperial weights!


3½lbs damsons       1½ lb brown sugar      2 onions

2½ pints malt vinegar     clove garlic  ½ oz salt

½ lb raisins    ¼ lb dates  ( leave out if you dont like dates, like me)

1 oz ground ginger

Method   Wash fruit. Chop onions. Crush garlic. Chop raisins and dates. Mix all ingredients in a pan and simmer for 1½- 2 hours. Remove damson stones. Pour into jars and cover immediately.



That’s all for this month. The damson chutney will be available for my Continental breakfasters and obviously the jams for everyone.


PS Still got a few more damsons to work on! Now what shall I do with them?