Letter from The Ferns Vegetarian B & B chatting about Newport Nocture, fruit trees, coffee and National Vegetarian Week

Newport Nocturne

Some of the country’s top cyclists will return to Newport for the biennial ‘Newport Nocturne’ cycle race. The racing starts  in the evening and goes on until the main event which takes place on the floodlit streets of Newport. This is a huge event for Newport and attracts about 15,000 visitors. The event usually takes place in September but it had to be squeezed between the Tour of France and the Tour of Britain this year. The  date has now been agreed with  British Cycling , and this will be Saturday 30th August. There will be both mens and women’s races; in the last race Wiggo’s wife took part in the inaugural ladies race.

Here are some images of the last race which was in 2012

The winner 2012

The winner 2012


Winners also  win their weight in beer

The winner also wins his weight in beer

The race is commentated on by the famous cyclist, Hugh Porter, and you can always see with him Anita Lonsbrough, his wife. She comes and helps

The end of the mens race

Taking a lap of honour, 2012








One of the competitors from the ladies race

One of the competitors from the ladies race

My fruit garden

I always have fruit from the garden on the breakfast table. Sometimes soft fruit, sometime ‘hard fruit’ – it that the correct term? I think I’m making this up as I go along! Anyway, here are some of my fruit trees; taken today

Williams pear April 2014

Williams pear april 2014

Many of my  fruits are cordons, which work well down my garden path.  Above is the Williams pear – flower are now past their best. This tree is getting better and better – a good fruiter every year these days This – along with my peach – are my earliest flowerers.

apple russet april 2014

Apple Russet April 2014

The Russet cordon, above, always does well. The James Grieve, below, is a martyr to codling moth. I have tried grease bands and sticky tar but to no avail. This year I have bought a pheromone trap – so we’ll see if that works. We have also had dieback on this tree.

james grieve apple april 2014

James Grieve apple April 2014

This tree isn’t a cordon. Because of the  die back we have had to be severe with pruning  – as a result it looks  rather strange.  The apples are very useful. They are the first of my apples to ripen, and initially we use them as ‘cookers’, then as the fruit starts to turn yellow/red, they become succulent eaters – almost like I should image a cider apple would be.

I also have cherry, peach and fig trees, but they don’t look very attractive at this time of the year, so I won’t show you pictures of them!

Our Coffee

The last topic I  was intending to chat about today was our coffee. We always use ‘Fairtrade’, and because we just love the Co-op Italian  for our everyday  breakfast coffee, this is what I brew up for my guests.  I have been learning that ‘Italian’ is simply a style of coffee. The coffee beans that the Co-op buy are from Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Costa Rica  and  Tanzania

For  more information see https://www.co-operative.coop/Corporate/PDFs/Coffee%20Report.pdf

This particular webpage  – “What a difference a penny makes”  – is a joint project from The Co-op,  Fairtrade and Oxfam.


We lived for three years in Papua New Guinea, where we were able to buy Papuan Arabica coffee. It was interesting that the ‘nationals’ were really not interested in the ‘cash nexus’, and, if there was a local disputes  in the villages, they could happily leave the coffee crop to rot while they went on a rampage. Oh dear!  Occasionally, when I see  PNG  coffe,  I will buy it, to help support their growers, but you don’t see if very often.

I am supporting Vegetarian Week 19th – 25th May and visitors here then will get a 10% reduction.

We look set for another lovely summer, lets hope so!

Best wishes, Linda









December Letter from The Ferns Vegetarian / Vegan B & B chatting about the garden, Christmas in Newport and Christmasy biscuits


Cotoneaster berries

Holly tree in the back garden

The garden

Well its a sign in the garden that we have had a lovely summer. The holly and Cotoneaster  are loaded with berries.

The quince is heaving with fruit as well ( time to make quince cheese again see my Blog last January) Normally at this time of the year the blackbirds have eaten all my holly berries and generally, although I have a big holly tree, there are very few left by the week before Christmas. This year it is still loaded, so we shall be having lots of holly in the house this year.

Because it’s been quite warm, the two annuals –  Bacopas –  by our front door are still flowering. You can tell when this was taken because the fern is turning brown – yes I took the photo last week!

A Bacopa by the front door

A Bacopa by the front door


Newport Christmas decorations are now turned on, and make a bleak time of the year very cheerful!

Near the Shakespeare Inn

Near the Shakespeare Inn

Jewelled Slice

I have made a lovely Christmas fridge cake from a recipe in the Co-op  Magazine for December. They have a ‘Make it of fake it’ section; you can buy the product or make it yourself. This time they had  a Festive Jewelled Chocolate, Fruit and Nut Slice. It was a so easy to make and so delicious, hope some of you may try it!

My version of the Jewelled Slice

My version of the Jewelled Slice

Ingredients: 200 gm chocolate ( milk or plain)

200 gm butter  ( or marg might be a possibility)

5 tbsp golden syrup

1 tbsp cocoa power

20  plain biscuits ( digestive, rich tea)

100 gm glace cherries, 60 gm dried mango, 75 gm dried cranberries ( or similar – to the same weight) I didn’t use cherries but did try some dried apricots.

a few brazil nuts and other seeds

100 gm dark chocolate to drizzle on top

Method: 1. Line a  tin with  parchment paper.

2. Break chocolate into pan and add butter syrup and cocoa. Heat gently until all melted. Remove from heat.

3. Crush biscuits ( but not too finely) and then add to the chocolate mix. Spoon into tin. Sprinkle the fruit and nuts while mixture still sticky.

4. Chill for 2 hours and drizzle the melted chocolate on the top. Cut into squares.

Many thanks to the Coop for their recipe! They suggested having it with  Irish coffee, so I may give that a go! Hope you all have a lovely Christmas and Prosperous New Year!


November letter from The Ferns, Vegetarian / Vegan B & B – chatting about grapes, eggs, Christmas in Newport, Shropshire and stopping Sainsbury superstore swamping our lovely little Newport town


We have had a wonderful year for grapes from our organic grape vine. Visitors have been able to eat them as part of their breakfast menu. We picked the last off  earlier this month. Although  this part of Shropshire has the national record for the lowest temperature in England (1982), because our garden is protected by walls and fencing, we tend to be quite warm here, and  also the grape vine is on a south-facing-wall.

grapes and raspberries


I am always experimenting with items for breakfast. At one stage I was using  local eggs but they seemed to have an unusual orangy colour which I didn’t like the look of. Then I moved to a supermarket free range, but they didn’t taste of much. I am now trying  Co-op organic  free range eggs, and they have a good flavour.  They are just wonderful when the poached eggs are floating  in the simmering water  – you know that they are totally fresh. Delia Smith has some very good information about how to tell if eggs are fresh

poached egg floating on water

Christmas in Newport, Shropshire

Our Christmas lights  switch on is 29th November. Father Christmas will be there. There will be fireworks in the local park and a sing along in St Nich0las’ church.

Newport Christmas Lights

Public Inquiry

We are bracing ourselves for a re-run of the public inquiry that took place last year in respect of the planning application for a Sainsburys Superstore at the end of our road (Unfortunately the planning inspector died and so it has to be run again).

Many local people are appalled at the prospect of losing our local chemists,  independent clothes stores,  electrical goods,  stationery and other small stores , because, you name it, Sainsburys will stock it.  Telford & Wrekin Council have sold a pony field (see below) at the end of our road to Sainsburys for 21 million pounds.

I am representing the History Society and will be giving evidence about the Heritage Assets that will be lost with just this one field. It has been called the Black Butts field  (‘le blak burtes’) since the early 14th century. It has ridge & furrow, a possible Anglo-Saxon boundary ditch ( AD963),  ancient hedgerows, an ancient track way – apart from the loss of natural habitat – how can a frog pond be in a 350 space car park, which is what has been suggested!

ridge  and furrow small copy

Medieval ridge & furrow in the Black Butts field

frog small

A common frog in the pond in the Black Butts field

I have created a T shirt image which I wear round town. This is the front of it. I thought it was quite appropriate!

sainburys  no thanks

I know that people love Sainsburys, but when it is your little town that is being threatened by one of these superstores, who only have allegiance to their shareholders, and they are really not interested in our town or us Novaportans, you really have to stand up and be counted. So I shall be giving evidence at the re-running of the inquiry in January. Do any of you regrets about having a superstore near your town centre?

Have a look at  Blog spot:  Garden, Tea, Cakes and Me  has Naked Bars giveaway . They are brilliant snack bars that are vegan.

Best wishes


Letters from ‘The Ferns’ Vegetarian B & B chatting about raspberries, Halloween events, twitter, beer & breakfast

Dear friends,

Here I am doing my blog on a wet day in late October in Shropshire; Halloween is just around the corner . One of my interests is archaeological field-walking, but recently its been too wet to walk the local fields near Newport, Shropshire, But the garden still looks quite nice. It has been so warm that the we are still picking our Autumn Raspberries for our B & B guests.

raspberries2smallIt seems that everyone is gearing up for Halloween.  Ironbridge Gorge Museums always do a wonderful Ghostly Gaslight Halloween Night in their Victorian Village on Sat 26th October. All the houses and shops will be open and you can spend real Victorian pennies at the shops (provided by the Victorian bank!). You could combine this with a visit to the Iron Bridge  nearby – the oldest iron bridge in the world.  At Weston Park 10 minutes drive away  from here there is a  Phantom Express,  a Haunted Hayride


& joining the Old Hag for a journey with a difference  plus a  Pumpkin Lantern Trail!

I am a twitter fan, and any tweets and re-tweets that I do can be seen on my website.  If you have received this blog via twitter,  please re-tweet, so that I can reach a wider audience! I know that people all round the world are following me – especially Americans so re-tweet and I can tell more people about my vegetarian / vegan B & B on the Shropshire / Staffordshire border.

I am planning to introduce a Beer & breakfast offer in the New Year and am experimenting with organic vegetarian / vegan ales and beers.


My husband always likes to have a beer & breakfast at Wetherspoons pubs, and as  result I shall make this an option. I am researching different brews at the moment.  The Co-op organic ale, above, is just one that we have tried recently: well, my husband is the expert so I will rely on his know-how.  The Campaign for Real Ale has a web page devoted to beer without isinglass finings . So for the next few months we shall try to research several and then offer perhaps 2 or 3  in the breakfast deal.

Paul McCartney‘s looking good and sounding good although he’s 71 . Keep on rocking, Paul!

Best wishes to you all