August letter from The Ferns veggie B & B, chatting about breads, wildflower roundabouts and Heritage Open Day

Breads: Jaspers Newport Cookshop and Waitrose

Although the Co-op closed in Newport, which was where I would get my pastries at 7.00 am for my guests who wanted Continental breakfast, I now have a selection of shops when I  find my breads and pastries. Unfortunately, none of them open at 7.00am as the Co-op did.  So this is a problem to get fresh bread and pastries for breakfast. Sometimes I buy the day before and freeze breads. The croissants and Danish pastries don’t need freezing they keep well in the fridge and I simply warm up at breakfast time

This is shot from today’s Continental breads and pastries offering:



We have croissants from Waitrose (right); chilli and coriander bread from Newport  Cookshop (top centre) and bread rolls (left)  and a pecan plait (centre bottom) from  Jaspers. I hope that I give a fair share to all our Newport shops!

Wildflower roundabouts

We are very lucky to have a borough ( Telford & Wrekin) who decided a few years ago to make most of the roundabouts  bee and butterfly friendly ie most are wild flowers. Here is one from Stafford Road, Newport.



We have one at the end of Station Toad, with a metal sheep sculpture at the centre.



Not quite as pretty but it  reflects our market town status. Usually, at Christmas time, someone decorates them with Xmas decorations which livens  them up a bit!


Heritage Open Day Saturday 9th September

This year we are involved with Heritage Open Day in Newport.  So, any B & B visitors will have to be up early with us, because we shall – well I shall –  be preparing with other members of the History Society and Newport town hall staff to open Newport Guildhall for the public. Normally, the Guildhall is not open the  general public because it is our town hall and council offices all rolled into one – as well as being a 15th century building.



Just taken today  – showing  lovely flowers courtesy of  ‘Newport in Bloom’ group


So we shall be doing guided tours, selling booklets and postcards, having a video showing all day about the history of the buildings, perhaps getting the mayor to sign in with a quill pen and getting involved with a group called Victoria County History Shropshire, who will be joining forces with us to create a new and definitive  history of Newport before long

The Guildhall has a very unusual timber-framed ceiling. Very smart for a little market town!


Anyway the Guildhall will be open from 10am – 2pm on Saturday 9th September. Free entry!

May be see you there! Linda


Our back door. The butterfly isn’t real, but looks good. 











July Letter from The Ferns B & B chatting about mid Wales and, The Hutchison Way and my birthday

Mid Wales


Here at  Newport we are quite close to all the beauties of mid Wales. You could take in Shrewsbury on the way. It takes us about an hour to get to Welshpool. It has  a steam railway.  This is called Welshpool and Llanfair railway and it travels into the countryside to Llanfair Caeirinion.

Image result for welshpool railwayWelshpool is an attractive market town. The indoor market is on every day of the week with a farmers market  once a month. Often you can hear the locals speaking Welsh. Nearby is the National Trust’s Powys castle,  which has wonderful gardens going down the hillside. Only good, really, if you are a good walkerImage result for Powis Castle


We also went to see the ospreys on the Dyfi Valley: two parents – Glesni and Monty and 3 offspring. The site is run by Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust. As well as the ospreys, they have two water buffalo clearing the boggy areas. There are many pools;  one notice board by a pool  took my attention. See bottom left.


It says: It takes three litres of water to make 1 litre of bottled water!

Hutchison Way

200 yards from our house in the start of a shortish- long distance way to Wellington (Shropshire).This is a route linking the two historic towns of Wellington and Newport and the base of celebrated hill the Wrekin via Telford new town; combining modern developments with lanes, trackways, woodlands and open spaces created from old industrial sites.
It was created by Telford & Wrekin council as  a millennium project and named in honour of late former Chief Executive of the council David Hutchison, the original inspiration of the route

It is nineteen miles long, but you can easily just walk to Church Aston (10 minutes)

Image result for church aston newport shropshire

St Andrews church

Image result for church aston newport shropshire

The local – between Church Aston and Lilleshall

or to Lilleshall and the monument to the Duke of Sutherland on top of Lilleshall Hill which has lovely views over the flat countryside ( about 45 minutes)


The monument and trig point

or go to see the Lilleshall limestone workings at the side of the hill. These have recently been restored by a friend of Lilleshall through his own time and money and hard work.


Some of the kilns

Any of my guests who would like to do some or all of the Hutchison Way, just ask me for  walk leaflets.

My birthday

was spent in Borth last week – hence the lateness of my July Blog – at my brother and sister in law’s caravan. My sister brought me a home-made coffee and walnut cake, which was a lovely surprise and very tasty. Mike is looking a bit surprised by it all! DSC05726

Best wishes Linda











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 ( and  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 –
09/07/17 – Jaguar XJ40 Owners Club
05/08/17 – Scirocco Register
13/08/17 – Capri world
27/08/17 –
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