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




July letter from The Ferns talking about Veggie Pret a Manger, local artist Carole Baker and the restoration of our canal

Veggie Pret a Manger


Pret opened its Little Veggie Pop Up shop on Broadwick Street, Soho on 1st June. It has been almost a year in the making. The objectives were to give our chefs a turbo-challenge to come up with delicious new veggie and vegan options and also to ask our customers what they would like to see end up on Pret’s shelves permanently. We predicted our Veggie Pret shop would see sales drop by up to 30% and the project was expected to be an investment (i.e. a loss maker).It has been so successful that it has been reported the coffee and sandwich store is likely to open more meat-free shops.The chefs created 45 plant-based dishes for the pop-up store in Broadwick Street, and the eight top sellers are all vegan.

Bosses decided to trial the project, called ‘Veggie Pret’, after sales of vegetarian products doubled in 2015.  In the three weeks since it opened  takings are up 70 per cent

Carrot – Pret Veggie Pop Up

Well done Pret a manger!

Carole Baker – local artist and teacher

Quite a few of my guests come to Newport to take part in  painting courses run by Carol Baker She lives about 5 minutes drive from Newport town centre in the countryside at Weston Heath , and several of my guests have enjoyed  and been inspired by her venue and her  exciting  paintings. . She is inspired by the landscape, bold, vibrant colour and texture fascinate her and she strives to create exciting and evocative paintings. Here are three paintings that Carol has allowed me to feature in my blog

 Below Title ‘Woodland Walk’
Acrylic on box canvas 50x50cm
Inspired by one of the many walks close to my studio –  backlit trees at The Lizard

Below Title ‘Bathed in Light’
Acrylic and collage on box canvas 80x80cm
Inspired by a walk from Newport to Gnosall along the railway track (Shropshire)

Linda says “so atmospheric”

Below Title ‘Floating High’
Acrylic and texture on box canvas
Walking at the Stiperstones in Shropshire with the Long Mynd in the distance


Linda says:  I feel as though I’m there – so very high up!

Carol is a busy person: teaching painting workshops, travelling around the country for both inspiration and to take part in exhibitions. She was elected Member of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists in April 2008. Carole regularly exhibits there and in prestigious art fairs and galleries throughout the UK. She is gaining international recognition following articles published in ‘International Artist’ magazine . She has contributed to a series for The Artist magazine on practical painting techniques in acrylics.

Carol says of her courses  – that they are

•    Friendly and individual tuition.
•    Daily demonstrations and critiques.
•    Course fees: from £65 including all tuition and refreshments.
•    Workshops limited to 6 people unless otherwise stated.
•   Studio based – Full day, 10am – 4pm
•    En Plein Air – Full day, 10am – 5pm
Ideal if you wish to
•    Find fresh ideas and powerful new direction for your work.
•    Recharge your artistic batteries.
•    Meet like-minded artists.


Carole’s workshops are aimed at people who want to ‘loosen up’ and be freer. Carole paints in such a way as to draw the viewer in, to let them decipher certain elements, and therefore, lots of detail need not be laboured over…. just a suggestion of what is there is often all that is needed, making the finished work more exciting, evocative and bold.

She has  her studio open for visits from 28-31 July 2016 .Open 10am-5pm each day
Must go and have a look!

Newport Canal

Image result for newport canal

What used to be the old town marina

We are fortunate in having a canal through our little town. It doesn’t go anywhere – it was chopped off in the 1960s, and the local Canal restoration Society are trying to link it up again with the Shropshire Union at Norbury Junction.

Image result for newport canal

Restoration work going on

The Shrewsbury and Newport Canals Trust are aiming to raise a huge amount of money  in order to get the rest of the canal watered and useable again. A mammoth task. if you can  help by supporting them with money or  volunteer work, well worth it.

The canal is not just a wonderful place to walk – so peaceful, but we also see  ducks, swans and herons  when we walk there.


Here is a photos that I took fairly recently on the canal. Lovely!

I feel a walk coming on . . .Have a lovely summer




March Letter from ‘The Ferns’ veggie B & B chatting about Percy Thrower, Mediterranean nutroast and Spring

Percy Thrower

Here in Shropshire Percy Thrower has a special place in our hearts. The first TV gardener and the person responsible for garden displays in Shrewsbury’s Quarry  by the river Severn. He moved to Shrewsbury in 1946, as the Parks Superintendent, becoming the youngest parks superintendent.

percy thrower

.He was also Shrewsbury Flower Show’s chief horticultural advisor and lived in Quarry Lodge  while parks superintendent.

Percy’s daughter, Margaret,  will be appearing at a lunch and fund-raiser for our Newport Cottage Care Centre on Sunday 17th April 12.30. Her talk is entitled “Three Generations of Gardeners”. It cost £12.50 which includes lunch.  See website

cottage care

From a historic view-point, the Cottage Care Centre is quite unusual. Lady Annabel Boughey, a local landowner from Aqualate Estate,  gave the money in 1914, for building a hospital for the town. It didn’t get built till 1930, however, it is a lovely building. It is chiefly now a day centre for the elderly but the NHS still uses it for X-ray work and physiotherapy.  Very useful for the town not to have to travel all the way to Wellington to our nearest hospital.  I myself have had the benefit of the physiotherapy unit-  and its only 100 yards down the road. Excellent!

Mediterranean Nutroast

And now here is my regular feature on ‘Thank Goodness!’ products.mediterranean-nutroast ‘ This month I tried the Mediterranean Nut roast

Bernadette, whose brainchild this company is – and who lives in Newport –  suggested a novel way of serving the nutroast as a stuffing for Mediterranean peppers. The ingredients in this nutroast include:  cheese, onions, courgettes, cashews, Brazils, peanuts, eggs, olives, tomato purée, sun dried tomatoes, red peppers, quinoa, gram flour, garlic, butter, basil, mushrooms and herbs. Don’t those ingredients look interesting?

It was dead easy to cook the stuffed peppers. For two people I used two peppers  –  Romano this time. I had never tried Romano before, but   an unusual shape which is something of a talking point in itself.romano pepper


I cut the peppers  lengthwise and took out the seeds. Divided the nutroast mixture ( defrosted but not cooked)  equally . Added  a little Cheshire cheese to the top- optional. Brush peppers lightly with olive oil and bake at 190C for 45 – 50 mins.



I served it with a rice, pea and leaf salad with lemon & lime dressing. The  texture was crunchy which went well with the rather soft  peppers. I could see pieces of olive in there. The olives and tomatoes gave it a tangy flavour. The recipe was easy and very impressive. Will certainly do this again.

stuffed peppers3

How to get your Mediterranean nutroast? If you live near to Newport Shropshire, go to Greenfields Farm Shop at Donnington. if not,  have a look on the internet at  the ‘Thank Goodness’ website, where stockists all around the country can be found.

Well done Berni! Healthy, full of goodness and tasty.


Well, Sunday was the first day of spring. We have blackbirds nesting in our  evergreen honeysuckle bush and frog spawn in the pond. The broadbeans are coming up in the greenhouse, and I am trying to get Mike to dig up the rest of the  Pink Fir Apple potatoes before they start to sprout again. They are a lovely potato – very knobbly  so you can’t peel them. Just  wash them.



Is a this  a  sign of global warming?  For two years running I have had English marigolds surviving the winter Here they are in the garden on Sunday.


Best wishes, Linda