June letter from ‘The Ferns’ veggie B & B chatting about our artisan bread shop, fruit in the garden & food festivals in Shropshire

New bread  shop in Newport – The Cook Shop Deli

cookshop deli1The Cook Shop now do artisan breads, ice creams, quiches, gluten free products, unusual teas, oils and a wide range of deli products.

cookshop deli2

Hannah ( pictured )and Sue  know all about their products and are ready to help with any queries. We have tried  our local Mr Moyden’s Wrekin Blue and  individual quiches such as leek quiche, which were beautiful. Interestingly they had a thin layer of tomato on the base, which is  unusual and I’m sure enhances the taste.

The bread section is currently on sale on Fridays and Saturdays and comes from an artisan Shropshire baker. Here I am buying a baguette and Sue packing it up for me.

cookshop deli3

We have tried their olive bread, chilli  & coriander bread, granary and ‘Shropshire brown’  – an unusual very brown almost chocolate  coloured brown bread. Everything is lovely, I  have ordered the wholemeal for visitors next weekend. Although we have another more standard baker in Newport – ‘Jaspers’  – who bake their own bread from scratch, I shall be torn between choosing between them. I shall have to  have some bread from one and some from the other. The Continental style breads from the Cook Shop’ will obviously suit my continental breakfasters.

Fruit in the garden

Has just been looking round the garden for what’s ready and what’s not, for my B & B visitors  Black currants  are almost ready blackcurrants

Raspberries – because I cut down  my sticks in a certain way – I have early fruiting berries and autumn fruiting from the same stock. Some thing I devised myself , which I am quite proud of. Here you see the currently fruiting plants at the back, and the  autumn fruiting  just with their leaves in the front. They wont be ready for fruit for another month or two.


Artichokes are just coming into flower. We don’t tend to eat them because they are so fiddly, but we do love seeing the bees visit them


My peaches have a good way to go before ripening, but notice how the peach leaf curl has pretty much gone. This is due to covering the tree up before the leaves came out (see  my March and April  blogs). Mind you it’s a good job that it’s not a large tree!


Food festivals in Shropshire

We are blessed with great food   – cooks, restaurants and markets in Shropshire. The chief food festival,  which is an hour from here, takes place in Ludlow. This festival takes is on  8th – 10th September. Unfortunately the ale and sausage trail is for meat-eaters only. It  is lovely to walk around the town anyway and sample some of the delis.


Then we have closer to home Telford’s  Telfood Feastival on 2nd — 3rd September at Southwater  / town park. Not keen on the bug eating bit, but, with the town park


next door, should be a fun-filled event for families in particular.

Then we have our own festival on September 23rd with demonstrations, beer and food stalls including our very own Newport success “Thank Goodness” nut roasts



Lets hope for a lovely day as it was last year. We dawdled down the High Street, which was closed for the day and sampled cuisine from Shropshire to Africa. We bought items that then became Christmas presents. We have our own microbrewery called New Brew in Newport and they had a stall as did Joules brewery of Market Drayton. Lots to eat and drink!

Food frenzy1


food frenzy4

Whatever the weather, we have lots to interest our visitors in Newport.

Have a lovely summer


May Letter from The Ferns veggie B & B chatting about Marmite (again), tomatoes and Newport Show


I am a big fan of Marmite. It has lots of  vitamins and minerals in it. It also tastes brilliant My sister and I stayed at Barmouth, Wales  last week at a self-catering flat and when we  sat down for our breakfasts, what became immediately obvious…… can you see it? or them?


Would you believe it –  we had both brought our own Marmite. How often do you see two Marmite jars on one  breakfast table! I think I shall have to Tweet to Marmite and publicise it some how. It’s not a particularly good photo I took it with my phone on the spur of the moment.


We always have our own tomatoes  available for guests breakfasts. You can see that the greenhouse is full of tomatoes at the moment.

tomatoes may 2017

Some are in the ground, some are in pots. Bottom right – rocket, which provides us with well, yes, rocket, for all of the summer. The planting trays on the left are tagetes and I always plant tagetes between the tomatoes because they ward off whitefly, which I have had a lot of in the past.

I bought a galvanised watering can about ten years ago thinking that it would see me out, but it now leaks. You would think that some thing like this would last forever,.I keep trying to mend it will paint and gunk.

Newport Show and the Great British Bake Off

Hot on the tail of the winning Nadiya of series 6  of the Great British Bake Off, who came to the Newport Show not long ago. We now have Candice Brown coming again to the Show on Saturday July 8th .  


She was taught to bake by her nan, and strives to emulate her bakes aiming to be “even half the lady she was.” She loves everything vintage and though she usually bakes in her PJs, she has been known to break in a new pair of heels whilst baking too.

Probably be best to prepare her wellies though.

deer park 2


The show is set on a lovely piece of land – a deer park on the edge of Newport with an escarpment for views  at the top and a lake at the bottom. its not all just farming, there’s lots to see and do for everyone. From here, the walk would be about half an hour through the town. A great day out!

Have a lovely summer,   Linda




Letter from ‘The Ferns’ veggie B & B chatting about pollinators, St Georges day, my peach tree update and Vegan, Vegetarian and Coeliac Fair here in Newport


I am determined that everything that I plant in my garden from now on will help the bees, the butterflies, the birds and hedgehogs.  I am concerned about how wild life in my garden has deteriorated in the last 20 years despite my best efforts. So I am making a concerted efforts and hope you will too. I will try every month to make an efforts to plant beneficial flowers/ shrubs, or make some sort of hideout/ nest etc for animals and birds , I shall tell you how I get on in future blogs.

This month I have planted hyssop seeds. The seeds are very fine so I simply  put a fine layer of sand on top of them as I didnt have any pearlite available


hyssop seeds

With a bit of luck I shall have lovely blue flowers like this this summer


Generally speaking  blue flowers attract bees.. I have read that hyssop is  one of the top ten bee attracting plants.

One of our Newport local lads has made a famous career in entomology – Dave Goulson. He is now a professor of Biological Sciences at Susses University and studies especially  bumblebees. I have just bought his book  ‘A Sting in the tale’

a sting in the taila sting in the tail 2

Dave Goulson is the founder of the Bumblebee Conservation trust. A ‘Sting in the Tale’ was published in 2013,  and was the BBC Radio 4 “Book of the Week”.
He details the life of bumblebees and tells us the fascinating research into the effects intensive farming and what this meas for our bee populations and on the potential dangers if we are to continue down this path.

St George’s Day in Newport


St George and the dragon

We have great fun on the nearest Saturday to St George’s Day in Newport. This years its the 22nd April. Fun starts at 12 noon.


St George with the town crier

Peach tree update

For those of who who read last month’s letter, during which I related that that we covered up our peach tree in early spring as we had read that it would help prevent leaf curl. You will see peach tree leaves that – for now – the peach tree has no leaf curl! Brilliant!

Vegan, Vegetarian and Coeliac Fair

cosy hall

This is a Newport event happening on Saturday 13th May at Cosy Hall from 10.30 – 2.30.

Map another

Organised by A Very Vintage Events

My friend Berni will be there with her ‘Thank Goodness’ range of nut roasts and pies, which I have reviewed and raved over in previous blogs. Delish! I shall be there with a few of my fliers to  support the cause, and maybe nick a piece of roast on the side!luxury-handmade-nutroast-small


Hope to see you all there!!

Best wishes for Spring.


March Letter from ‘The Ferns’ B & B chatting about peaches, O’Joy in Shrewsbury and my granola recipe


We have a peach tree growing on our south wall. It is only a small tree, but when  the fruits are ripe,  my B & b visitors may be lucky enough to have peaches for breakfast.

Lovely peaches from our garden

 We do have a lot of leaf curl on it.  Mike read  in a gardening magazine – that if the tree was covered in the spring, it might prevent the leaf curl. Apparently the spring rains stir up the fungus and infects the new leaves.

peach tree

peach tree2

So we have covered it with a plastic sheet. We do try to be organic and try alternative  methods rather than fungicides.  It will be interesting to see whether this ploy works! Watch this space.

 O ‘ Joy Bistro, 81 Wyle Cop, Shrewsbury

Last week we went into Shrewsbury on the bus. A nice ride via the villages of Edgmond and Tibberton and over Haughmond Hill into Shrewsbury This was a recce for a history society summer trip to St Marys church, but we decided to take in the  relatively new O’Joy vegan bistro. This bistro is partly owned by Nick Knowles of DIY SOS. See below owners Becky and Nick.

Becky and Nick at relaunch night, Feb 2016

It is open Monday — Thursday 9am — 4pm.

Friday — Saturday 9am – 5pm then 6pm — 9pm

Sunday 10am — 4pm

Mike had the ‘burger of the day’ –  Beetroot and Barley with a great kimchi (pickled cabbage)  and sweet potato chips.


Looks like someone’s tongue is hanging out of it!

Mike chose this, but didn’t find it flavoursome enough for him except the  kimchi. However, it wasnt the regular burger, so we shall have to go again and try the regular burger. I had the  chickpea & beetroot pasta with rocket and cashew pesto and garlic bread. Looked like home-made pasta. This was very tasty and filling. My garlic bread and Mike’s roll were obviously made locally and were beautiful.


The ambiance of the bistro was smart. There were a variety of wines and bottled beers – most of them quite unusual  – mostly organic.

We enjoyed  being able to go into a bistro that was right in the town centre – no  out-of-town or down an alleyway, which is often the case with veggie or vegan restaurants.


Looking out to the front of the bistro

And so nice to be able to recommend this to my vegan B & B’ rs, for whom the Newport  area is a bit of a waste land…


My Granola recipe

Quite a few people have asked me about my  maple syrup granola recipe,

Lindas granola

So I am now selling my granola recipe to  B & B visitors. These will be on the fireplace in the breakfast room. I shall be selling the recipes for  Newport History Society, who are in dire need of funds!


Well the weather  here is cold and windy, but the bulbs are flowering and so is the peach. The sparows are nesting in the roof next to our house and it is interesting to watch them making their nest, so it must be spring!

Best wishes



February letter from ‘The Ferns’ veggie B & B chatting about poaching eggs, veggie eating at The Red House, Lilleshall and RAF Cosford

A new way of doing poached eggs

I always looking out for ways of poaching   eggs – not just for me but for the followers of my blog. Jamie Oliver came up with a novel way of poaching eggs the other day, and I thought I would try it. There was no demonstration, so I just had to experiment

I  put a piece of cling film on top of a small dish – such as a ramekin. Plopped the egg on top and twisted the cling film before putting it in a pan of boiling water.


However, I found that I couldnt see when the egg was done because the cling film obscured  my view. The second  egg – I left the top open so that I could see better


The result was quite good. No quite as free form as a poached egg floating freely in boiling water but pretty good.


Eating at The Red House, Lilleshall ( on A518)

This old inn has an unusual erratic on the corner at the front. Erratics  came down with the glaciers in the Ice Age and are often found at ancient crossing places. They became marker stones  for prehistoric travellers before sign posts.

After the history,  what about the food? The Red House is now all painted  grey. It has recently changed management and the food, while not having a very large choice for vegetarians,  is very  good.

We have been there three times since it changed hands last year. On an ordinary day ( Mon – Sat)  the choice is veggie burger or a butternut quash risotto made with pearl barley, which is in itself very unusual. Mike found the risotto a little bland, but I enjoyed it. The veggie burger made of beans and cream cheese was really delicious. Plus the  onion rings  look like home-made (bottom left); what a nice surprise

I have to say that the flatbread as a starter was poor but the inn is certainly worth visiting for some of the other offerings.

The difficulty is that you don’t know what its going to be! In respect of the other possible dishes, it is difficult to work out from the web sites what  will be on. There are two web sites (http://www.redhouselilleshall.co.uk and http://www.redhouseinn.co.uk).  On the first  site we have a  ‘winter menu’ pdf. This has   Cheese and Broccoli Bake  and Mushroom & Spinach Penne Pasta.  On the second site we have Slow cooked Vegetable Casserole ( which would be excellent for vegans)  and on the burger section, the veggie burger. Last time we went in on a weekday the vegetable casserole was not on the menu. This is all very confusing. Also, on a Sunday it is different again – mushroom risotto.  This really needs sorting out. Howverm the food is interesting  and pretty good; a chief experimenting maybe?

RAF Cosford


hangar 1 viewing platform

Hanger 1. Image courtesy of RAF Cosford website

RAF Cosford – about a 10 minute drive from us – has an international air show in June, but what does it have for the rest of the year? The museum  is the counterpart to Hendon. it is a national museum and as such now has ‘free’ status. Apart from the huge array of old aeroplanes, it have a wide range of special events and exhibitions

Black Hawk flight simulator

Black Hawk simulator

From 24th march to 30th April there is an exhibition on Sir Alan Cobham’s Flying Circus.

Sir Alan Cobhams Flying Circus

Always popular is the Open Cockpits Evening – Saturday 20th May 2017 commences at 6:00pm on Saturday 20 May with a wide range of aircraft available for closer view

We have seen the Large Model Aircraft Rallies and they are brilliant.  This year its on 15th – 16th July 2017. Hundreds of scale models of iconic aircraft will be taking to the skies at the annual Large Model Aircraft Rally.

and surprisingly many car clubs rallies –

19/03/17 – Ultravaux
09/04/17 – Swedish Metal
09/04/17 – Rolls Royce Enthusiasts Club
23/04/17 – Donmog Centre – Morgan S
23/04/17 – Jaguar Drivers Club
07/05/17 – Club Lotus
14/05/17 – Scammell Register
03/06/17 – Soviet Auto Luxury Tours – SALT
04/06/17 – Shropshire Morris Minors
25/06/17 – 300ZX.co.uk
09/07/17 – Jaguar XJ40 Owners Club
05/08/17 – Scirocco Register
13/08/17 – Capri world
27/08/17 – Volvotuning.net
17/09/17 – The Mercedes Benz Club

Something for everyone!

We are so lucky to have this  venue our doorstep. In addition, I have a link with this museum. My dad’s cousin -Arthur


Arthur when he first joined up

Dunn – died in an RAF plane crash at Shawbury in 1918, and I gave them a picture of him in uniform and a letter from him to my dad’s brother saying what a great time he was having. He was only 18 when he died. They gave me a lot of information about his training and his accident. I am hoping to visit his grave in Manchester Southern Cemetery in 2018, and lay a wreath on his grave – one hundred years on.

Moving on from that rather serious note, my tomato seedlings are starting to emerge – the start of a new growing year, and I am looking forward to it already

Best wishes




January Letter from ‘The Ferns chatting about vegan sausages, being a snow warden and Newport wildlife

Vegan sausages – taste testing

I did a taste testing some time ago  February 2014 which was for a variety of veggie sausages  (veggie and vegan) with a friend. I have been aware of the  Italian sausages from


Tofurkey for a while, and so decided to trial them for my B & B. There are many ways to cook these but I fried them gently. However,  you can boil or grill them as well.The main ingredient is tofu. I get them from Holland & Barrett. The brand  comes from the USA.

Vegi deli is the next product, and I am looking at their Lincolnshire Sausages.  I tried Vegideli before – the sage and marjoram – but this time I tried their Lincolnshire sausages Main ingredients -wheat gluten and soya protein. Vegideli are a UK company.

Because I do Sausage Sandwiches for my B & B guests, I tasted these sausage as sandwiches.


Here are the two types of sausages cooking. Too be honest, now that I am looking at them a couple of weeks after the testing, I can’t tell which is which product!

I added sautéed onion, red pepper and mushrooms to the sandwiches and the result is a nice moist, tasty sandwich; these are on granary bread.

sausage-sandwichnewMike and I then. Here’s me doing the tasting


The result was that the Tofurkey won hands down. It’s an expensive product – but the taste is so flavoursome and intense; chiefly chilli and tomato – a lovely combination. The main ingredient is tofu which really is so good for us (high in protein & calcium) and amazingly, although an American product, it had no GMOs ( genetically modified organism)

Sorry, Vegideli sausages again not able to compete except perhaps on price – you get  double the number of sausages in the Vegideli  pack as in the Tofurkey.

Pity about the Tofurkey name   its a bit silly really, but their sausages were great!

Being a Snow warden

I am really looking forward to the snow, because I am now a volunteer snow warden. I have had delivered my salt, my hi-viz vest, my shovel and gloves. I have  been given instructions about warming up first ,  not getting too cold,  where to put the snow and how to  spread my salt – very thinly apparently!

I broke my ankle 8 years ago and I go very gingerly on snow and ice these days, so I thought that  by clearing the snow and ice from the pavements outside our house I will benefit, not only  people walking into town but myself as well!


Just need the snow!

Newport Wildlife

We are very fortunate to have a canal running through Newport, and every time we walk along it we see a variety of wildlife. These are some of our photos from 2016

The robin (top left) was  on the path last week. He was very brave, standing on a small twig only about a yard from us. We have swans nesting every year ( top right) and this is this years brood, and a heron ( bottom) whom we suspect catches baby ducks as well as fish. Oh dear!

Well that’s it for now.

Just waiting for the snow so that I can demonstrate my snow shovelling skills. Watch this space, there may be more pictures in my February letter.



December Letter from ‘The Ferns’ veggie B & B chatting about mincepies, Christmas lights and The Bridge Inn @ Newport


My visitors always have biscuits provided as part of their tea/ coffee tray. However, in December I shall be putting  mince pies out as well, as a special treats for Christmas. I have found mincepies at our local Budgens shop that are veggie /vegan.  Have tried them and they are very nice!


 Christmas Lights at Haughton

Although our Newport lights are very nice, if visitors want to be totally amazed, just go down the road ( about 10 minutes in the car )and visit Haughton. Switch on was Saturday December 10th.

Haughton Lights have their own web  just look for Haughton Staffs – they are just over the Staffordshire border.

There is also going to be a Santa Run  on 14th December at 6pm leaving from Haughton St Giles primary school.

These lights attract hundreds each night

Here is a utube video


Eating at The Bridge Inn, Newport

We went to se what the Bridge Inn had to offer last week. This is a local inn at the far end of the High Street. It has a lovely terace area at the back in the summer time.There is a huge range for meat eaters and two or three  dishes for veggies. We started with humus and pitta bread


This could be a main for vegans if they opted for olives and chips to make it a main course.

The veggie main courses are very cheese orientated. One was  wild mushroom risotto with cheese


and a halloumi burgerhalloumi-burger

They did have a spinach and chick pea curry on the menu, but had run out of it which was a shame as we both would have preferred this to the rather  high calorie burger and usual mushroom risotto . The food was very pleasant but not exciting.

Two other issues with The Bridge, are that they don’t have a web the site so you cant check on the menu options, and they’re not open on Mondays and Tuesdays. However, it is a  very nice venue – this is the oldest continually licensed premises in Newport dating back to the 1690s!

Avast there me hearties!

Linda’s pantomime theme…. Just for a bit of fun I had my photo take at  National Maritime Museum  at Greenwich a wek ago. I was playing the part of a varmint! Can you find me? I’d have made a good pirate. Arghhh! Happy Christmas!! Linda