Category Archives: Shropshire

Autumn in Shropshire

We’ve been enjoying  a lovely autumn in Shropshire. I’ve been taking the opportunity to take lots of lovely dog walks in the woods.

Purslow Woods, which you can walk to from Hopton House, but I tend to cheat and drive the 2 minutes up there, is looking magnificent. It’s full of sessile oak which has the most amazing coloured leaves right now. A lot of them have fallen, but in a few weeks time, when all the leaves have fallen, there’s a thick carpet of them to kick through.

We have  lots of availability for the rest of the autumn. The autumn duvets are on the beds and each room has completely controllable heating, so you won’t go cold. Book now for a late autumn break!

Here are some of my favourite autumn photos

a collage of autumn photos including apple pancakes, chickens, a butterfly and lot s of leaves - bed and breakfast shropshire

 

9 Things to do in Shropshire this autumn

9 Things to do in Shropshire this autumn

Shropshire is an undiscovered county sitting on the edge of the West Midlands between Birmingham and Wales. Here at Hopton House we’re just 6 miles from the Welsh Border and only 1/2 mile from Herefordshire.

It’s not on the main UK tourist trail but one thing is certain; when travellers accidentally come across Shropshire, normally driving through it to get somewhere else or visiting a food festival, they invariably fall in love and return many times.

I love Shropshire for its wonderful countryside; dramatic hills, valleys and woodlands but it’s more than just countryside. There are a few things about Shropshire you might find quite surprising and  many things to do and places to visit. Here are a few of my favourites.

1. Home to the first successful food festival in the UK

Ludlow, in the South of the county and 20 minutes from us, has become well known in recent years for its food festival. It’s held every year in the 2nd weekend of September and was the first successful food festival in the UK. It’s held in the grounds of Ludlow Castle and in the surrounding town. If you want to avoid the crowds, go first thing on a Friday.

7 things to do in Shropshire this autumn - visit the Ludlow Food Festival

2. Home to royals

Long before Ludlow became known for food, it was the administrative capital of Wales. Arthur, Prince of Wales, and probably better known as older brother to Henry VIII, was living at Ludlow Castle with his wife, Katharine of Aragon, when he died in 1502.  His heart is buried in St Laurence Church. The castle is home to the annual Medieval Craft Fair during the last weekend in November.

3. The Oldest Brewery in the UK

If you like your beer then Shropshire is the place to visit. It is awash with breweries and Bishops Castle is the home to the Three Tuns brewery, the oldest licensed brewery in the UK. There are several beer festivals held through the year, The Clun Valley beer festival is held in October.

4. The world’s industrial revolution started here

Given  how rural it is, it may come as a bit of a surprise that  Ironbridge in Shropshire was home to the industrial revolution in the 18th century. Today there are many museums for you to explore Shropshire’s industrial past. Blist’s Hill is an open air recreated Victorian Town.

5. Amazing geology

The Long Mynd is well known for being one the most beautiful areas in the UK, but it also has some of the most fascinating geology. The most famous Silurian site in the world is Wenlock Edge. A 400 million year old coral reef is now exposed and lots of fossils have been found here.

9 things to do in Shropshire this Autumn - visit and walk on the beautiful Long Mynd

6. Walk in the steps of Keira Knightley

If history, food and geology aren’t your thing and you’re more of a film buff, then Stokesay Court was the country house used in the film, Atonement. It’s open for guided tours once a month.  A special thank you to Tim King for letting me use his photo of Stokesay Court.

7 unusual things to do in Shropshire this Autumn - visit Stokesay Court, where Atonement was filmed

7. Visit the place where the modern Olympic Games all start

If you watched the Olympic Games in London in 2012, you may have wondered why one of the mascots was called Wenlock.  Much Wenlock in Shropshire is home to the Wenlock Olympian Games., which were started by Dr. William Penny Brookes. These games are thought to have inspired the modern Olympic Games that began in 1896.

Much Wenlock is a lovely town to visit and you can follow the Olympic Games Trail.

8. Enjoy amazing autumn colours

Whilst New England in America is renowned for its autumn colours, we also have some amazing displays here in Shropshire on a smaller scale. Last year the colours lasted well into November, which is when I took this picture. The hills turns purple with heather – visit the Stiperstones or the Long Mynd to get the best displays.

9 things to do in Shropshire this autumn - enjoy beautiful autumn colours

9. Visit Stokesay Castle

Just 6 miles from Hopton House, visit  the finest and best-preserved fortified medieval manor house in England. Stokesay Castle was built in the 13th century by Laurence of Ludlow, who at the time was one of the richest men in England.

9 Things to do in Shropshire - visit Stokesay Castle the finest fortified manor house in England

Discover Shropshire for yourself. Hopton House is perfectly located to visit all of these places. Check availability and book online today!

9 things to do in Shropshire this autumn | visit English Castles | enjoy amazing scenery and autumn colours | visit the home of the modern Olympic Games and the industrial revolution

 

 

Great Shropshire Books

Three great Shropshire books to plan your visit

Shropshire is still something of an undiscovered county. This is great if you’re visiting. There are far fewer people here than in more popular British tourist destinations.

Of course,once people have visited once, they can’t understand why it isn’t more popular! Many first time visitors go on to become repeat guests at the B&B, having fallen in love with the county.

If you’re planning a visit but aren’t sure what to do when you come here, I thought I’d recommend some books for you to get a taste of the county.

Of course, if you want to wait for your stay, we have all these books available for guests to read here at Hopton House. They also make great gifts to take away or remind you of your trip to Shropshire.

Another idea would be to package up one of these books with a gift voucher for a stay at Hopton House – what a great Christmas or birthday present!

Click on the picture of each book to buy direct from Amazon.

Slow Travel Shropshire


Marie Kreft is a local author who has long been in love with Shropshire. She has written this wonderful guide on Shropshire for Bradt Travel Guides.

She moves around the county describing things to do in the countryside and towns, places to eat and stay. The emphasis of the book is on Slow Travel, taking time to enjoy local food, characterful places and leaving the car behind where you can.

A Year in Shropshire


Just released is this lovely book from the Hayward Family, filled with photographs of Shropshire throughout the year. John and his father, Mike Hayward, fill my social media streams with the most wonderful images and have now produced this great book.

It would make a great gift for any fan of Shropshire.

A Shropshire Lad


For the poetry lover in your life, this beautiful book combines A.E. Housman’s famous A Shropshire Lad poem with some glorious images of the local countryside.

If you look North out of both the Granary and Barn room you’ll see Clunbury Hill, immortalised in Housman’s poem:

“Clunton and Clunbury
Clungunford and Clun,
Are the Quietest places
Under the sun”
Great Shropshire Books - 3 books to help plan your visit to Shropshire England. They would also make great Christmas or Birthday gifts. #shropshire #travel #christmas #gifts
 
Please note that this blog post contains affiliate links. For each book you buy via Amazon I receive a small commission. I only ever recommend products I use and like myself. All funds received go to the dogs’ vet bills!

 

Pumpkin tomato soup

Pumpkin tomato soup

It’s approaching that time of year when soup becomes a staple lunch item on my B&B courses. Debbie, who provides the lunch, always brings along a soup made with fresh ingredients from her garden.

Here at Hopton House, I also make soups for mine and Rob’s lunch, using whatever produce someone has donated to me. Sadly, I seem to have run out of time to grow my own again this year.

I’m not a huge fan of courgettes, pumpkins etc in their natural state but I do like them when they’re combined with tomatoes in a soup. Tomato soup can be a bit thin and acidic when it’s just made with tomatoes, but by adding a pumpkin or courgette it mellows and thickens the soup.

This is probably the easiest soup in the world. And it’s very low calorie. I calculated about 70 calories per bowl, assuming you’ve got 4 bowls out of this recipe.

I make it with tinned tomatoes but you could use fresh if you have a glut.

If I have a large pumpkin, I’ll chop all the flesh up and portion it into 200g bags and just pop them in the freezer. You can then make more soup later on with the pumpkin straight from the freezer.

This also works well with courgettes and marrows.

Add 1/2 tsp dried red chilli flakes if you like a bit of heat!

Pumpkin tomato soup ingredients

  • 200g roughly chopped pumpkin
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves if you like
  • 1 tablespoon sundried tomato paste
  • 400g chopped tomatoes
  • 1 litre of vegetable stock ( I use Marigold bouillon but I’ve also just used water with salt added when I’ve run our of stock )
  • black pepper to taste

Method

Put all the ingredients in a large pan. Bring to the bowl, then simmer over a low heat for 45 minutes. Puree with a stick blender. Check seasoning.

If you like you can serve with creme fraiche or soured cream and toasted pumpkin seeds.

Serves 4

An easy and delicious pumpkin and tomato soup recipe | very quick and easy to make | only 70 calories per bowl | can also be made with courgettes or marrows | try it today!

 

 

9 things to do in Shropshire this autumn

9 things to do in Shropshire this autumn

Shropshire is an undiscovered county sitting on the edge of the West Midlands between Birmingham and Wales. Here at Hopton House we’re just 6 miles from the Welsh Border and only 1/2 mile from Herefordshire.

It’s not on the main UK tourist trail but one thing is certain; when travellers accidentally come across Shropshire, normally driving through it to get somewhere else or visiting a food festival, they invariably fall in love and return many times.

I love Shropshire for its wonderful countryside; dramatic hills, valleys and woodlands but it’s more than just countryside. There are a few things about Shropshire you might find quite surprising and  many things to do and places to visit. Here are a few of my favourites.

1. Home to the first successful food festival in the UK

Ludlow, in the South of the county and 20 minutes from us, has become well known in recent years for its food festival. It’s held every year in the 2nd weekend of September and was the first successful food festival in the UK. It’s held in the grounds of Ludlow Castle and in the surrounding town. If you want to avoid the crowds, go first thing on a Friday.

7 things to do in Shropshire this autumn - visit the Ludlow Food Festival

2. Home to royals

Long before Ludlow became known for food, it was the administrative capital of Wales. Arthur, Prince of Wales, and probably better known as older brother to Henry VIII, was living at Ludlow Castle with his wife, Katharine of Aragon, when he died in 1502.  His heart is buried in St Laurence Church. The castle is home to the annual Medieval Craft Fair during the last weekend in November.

3. The Oldest Brewery in the UK

If you like your beer then Shropshire is the place to visit. It is awash with breweries and Bishops Castle is the home to the Three Tuns brewery, the oldest licensed brewery in the UK. There are several beer festivals held through the year, The Clun Valley beer festival is held in October.

4. The world’s industrial revolution started here

Given  how rural it is, it may come as a bit of a surprise that  Ironbridge in Shropshire was home to the industrial revolution in the 18th century. Today there are many museums for you to explore Shropshire’s industrial past. Blist’s Hill is an open air recreated Victorian Town.

5. Amazing geology

The Long Mynd is well known for being one the most beautiful areas in the UK, but it also has some of the most fascinating geology. The most famous Silurian site in the world is Wenlock Edge. A 400 million year old coral reef is now exposed and lots of fossils have been found here.

9 things to do in Shropshire this Autumn - visit and walk on the beautiful Long Mynd

6. Walk in the steps of Keira Knightley

If history, food and geology aren’t your thing and you’re more of a film buff, then Stokesay Court was the country house used in the film, Atonement. It’s open for guided tours once a month. On the 3rd September this year there’s a special open afternoon to celebrate 10 years since the film was made there. A special thank you to Tim King for letting me use his photo of Stokesay Court.

7 unusual things to do in Shropshire this Autumn - visit Stokesay Court, where Atonement was filmed

7. Visit the place where the modern Olympic Games all start

If you watched the Olympic Games in London in 2012, you may have wondered why one of the mascots was called Wenlock.  Much Wenlock in Shropshire is home to the Wenlock Olympian Games., which were started by Dr. William Penny Brookes. These games are thought to have inspired the modern Olympic Games that began in 1896.

Much Wenlock is a lovely town to visit and you can follow the Olympic Games Trail.

8. Enjoy amazing autumn colours

Whilst New England in America is renowned for its autumn colours, we also have some amazing displays here in Shropshire on a smaller scale. Last year the colours lasted well into November, which is when I took this picture. The hills turns purple with heather – visit the Stiperstones or the Long Mynd to get the best displays.

9 things to do in Shropshire this autumn - enjoy beautiful autumn colours

9. Visit Stokesay Castle

Just 6 miles from Hopton House, visit  the finest and best-preserved fortified medieval manor house in England. Stokesay Castle was built in the 13th century by Laurence of Ludlow, who at the time was one of the richest men in England.

9 Things to do in Shropshire - visit Stokesay Castle the finest fortified manor house in England

Discover Shropshire for yourself. Hopton House is perfectly located to visit all of these places. Check availability and book online today!

9 things to do in Shropshire this autumn | visit English Castles | enjoy amazing scenery and autumn colours | visit the home of the modern Olympic Games and the industrial revolution

 

9 things to do in Shropshire this autumn

Lemon Drizzle Cake Recipe

The best easy lemon drizzle cake receipe | based on a recipe by Mary Berry but made even lighter with buttermik | All my B&B guests love it | click through for the recipe and bake it this weekend!

Every guest who arrives at Hopton House Bed and Breakfast  has a whole cake waiting for them in their room to enjoy during their stay. Usually, unless I’ve had a special request, this will be a lemon drizzle cake.

This lemon drizzle cake recipe is based on one of Mary Berry’s, though I’ve adapted it to fit into 3 1lb loaf tins rather than making it up as tray bake. I’ve also upped the temperature which gives a nice cracked top to the cake which I like.

Replacing Mary’s recommended milk with buttermilk makes this lemon drizzle cake recipe even lighter and fluffier

Lemon Drizzle Cake Recipe

You need 3 1 lb loaf tins – I line mine with ready made paper liners.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees ( for fan oven )

Ingredients

For the Cake

285 g (10 oz) self raising flour
225 g (8oz)  caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
225g (8oz) softened butter ( I normally just use a whole pack of butter which is slightly over 8 oz)
5 Hopton House eggs ( which is about 4 large eggs )
4 tablespoons buttermilk
grated rind of 2 large lemons

For the Drizzle

175g (6oz) granulated sugar
juice of 2 large lemons

Put all of the ingredients into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 2 minutes.

Divide the mixture between the 3 loaf tins.

Put in the oven for 30 minutes – check after 30 minutes to see if the cake is firm on top. You will probably need longer but only allow 5 minutes at a time. You want just cooked.

Take out of the oven and leave for 5 minutes. Prick all over with a skewer ( I use my meat lifting forks – creates 4 holes at  a time – how lazy is that? )

Mix the sugar & lemon for the drizzle and pour over the cakes. After another 10 minutes take out of the tins & place on a wire tray – this is where is really helps having the ready made paper liners because it keeps any of the drizzle that has fallen down the sides in place.

This will keep for several days as it’s so moist and they also freeze well.

If you’ve enjoyed making this recipe, have a look at my recipe blog for more recipes from Hopton House B&B

Free Knitting Patterns

I’ve become a bit addicted to knitting over the last 2 years since I taught myself to knit again. A lot of my original creations are still around but I’m pleased to say I am very gradually getting better.

 

Knitting is brilliant for so many reasons and becoming increasingly trendy.

Knitting does have its dark side of course. I’ve become a yarn addict and most of my spare cash now goes in secretive yarn purchases. Mr B&B’s heart sinks when I spot a new yarn shop when we’re out and resigns himself to spending an hour in a local café whilst I indulge. I have even started planning excursions when we’re on holiday around new and exciting yarn emporiums.

The other downside is that I have stopped racking up so many steps on my Fitbit. I have solved this by perfecting my walk’n’knit technique.

Knitting also has lots of surprising health benefits, some of which are described here in the New York Times

If you’re new to knitting or want to improve your skills, the internet is full of great knitting resources. I taught myself from videos on YouTube. There are lots out there but I recommend Very Pink Knits

If you want to buy yarn then check out your local yarn shops ( LYS ) but you can also buy some fantastic wool online ( sorry non UK people this is a bit UK centric ).

My very favourite is Loop in London – I paid an in person visit there a few weeks ago – oh my.

Otherwise I like Love Knitting.

Here are some free knitting patterns to inspire you!

1. It’s not too late to knit yourself some Christmas decorations.

2. If you’re fasting and still want some gingerbread then knit yourself some – guaranteed calorie free!

3. The shops are full of big chunky scarves these days but so easy to knit

4. Is your Kindle feeling the cold? Then knit it a jumper

5. Or a jumper for your favourite 4 legged friend

6.  Welly toppers are a super quick knit and great stocking fillers

7. Is the family expecting a new arrival this year?

8. Want to keep chickens but don’t have the space – knit yourself some

9. Feeling adventurous? chunky jumpers for the whole family

10. Treat yourself to a pretty lace shawl

11. There are lots of things you can knit for charity too

12. I just love this little Miffy rabbit

13. Reading 50 shades of grey on the train – then this knitted book cover may come in useful

14. Some little heart coasters ready for Valentines Day

15. Wash and dish cloths are a popular starter project.

16. I needed an easy knit for a trip abroad that involved lots for planes, trains and automobiles. This cowl was very quick and very effective in a beautiful hand painted variegated yarn

Free one skein cowl knitting pattern

 

Enjoy your knitting and don’t forget you can learn to knit or improve your skills here at Hopton House with WildThornKnitting.

 

Shropshire Bed and Breakfast – October

Shropshire Bed and Breakfast - October Availability

After a very busy summer and September we’re now into October. We’ve been enjoying some glorious weather, with beautiful morning mists and golden sunsets,  and are loving seeing the colours gradually changing in the garden.

We were fairly full for October at the B&B but we’ve had a few last minute cancellations so we now have good availability, including our dog friendly downstairs Barn Room which is normally fairly well booked out throughout. Click on the Book Now! button for more details.

Remember if you’d rather not go out in the evening we can leave a platter in your room; choose from cheese, ploughmans or smoked salmon. This for just £25 for 2 people.

We hope to see you soon!

Karen

Shropshire Bed and Breakfast – October

 

Win a 2 night stay at Hopton House B&B Shropshire

It’s always nice to get January out of the way so that we can start looking forward to Spring. Though I had a very nice January as it was my 50th birthday and I enjoyed some nice quiet celebrations with family.

This year the signs of Spring have arrived much earlier than usual. I was very surprised to find cowslips and blackthorn blossom in the wildflower meadow last week.

The snowdrops are also early this early and we’ve got some amazing displays locally. The photo above is from my favourite field about a mile from us here at Hopton House.

Spring also sees the launch of the Bradt Slow Travel book on Shropshire. It promises to be a fabulous book with lots of ideas of things to do to enjoy this beautiful county.

We’re very pleased to be included in the book. You’ve got the opportunity to win a 2 night stay at Hopton House B&B with Bradt – full details here

But please don’t put off booking your stay just in case you win. We’re getting lots of booking through already for 2016, 75% of those bookings from repeat guests so book soon if you’re after a specific date. If you’ve already booked and you win, I’ll apply the prize value to your booking.

Early signs of spring at our Shropshire B&B

 

Last Minute B&B New Year Special Offers!

As it’s nearly Christmas I’ve got some last minute B&B New Year special offers.

Shropshire is a beautiful place to visit and a great place to recharge after Christmas or enjoy a quiet New Year.

Put on your scarf and mittens and head out for a long walk, explore one of or market towns, stopping off in a lovely café for hot chocolate and cake, or just linger over breakfast and watch the birds, then chill out in your room and enjoy the Hygge! The heating is on all day and there are plenty of books and games to borrow.

If you’d rather not go out in the evening we can supply a local cheese, smoked salmon or ploughman’s platter. There are wine glasses in the room and we can slip some champagne flutes in there too.

Local Shropshire Cheese Platter - B&B Shropshire, Hopton House

Last Minute B&B New Year Special Offers

The winter is always a very quiet time of year here at the B&B, so I’ve created some special offer codes for stays between now and the end of February 2016. Press Book Now on the website and put in your promo code below.

10% off a 2 night stay – use promo code TwoDay10

15% off a 3 night stay – use promo code ThreeDay15

20% off a stay of 4 nights or more – use promo code FourDay20

If you can’t manage to stay with us before the end of February, then I’ve got a special promo code to use. Book your 2016 stay of 2 nights or more and pay your deposit before the end of December 2015 and get 5% off your stay. Use promo code DecTreat

Please note that only 1 promotion code can be used at a time and the discount applies to bed and breakfast rate only, not to any additional items purchased such as platters.

Good News – If you’ve already booked with us for next year, I’ll apply the 5% discount to your stay but please remind me if I forget