Welcome to the Shropshire Breakfast Blog
We’re delighted to say Hopton House B&B is open for business following the recent lockdown. And we’re looking forward to welcoming back all of our repeat guests and meeting some new ones!
As many of you know, we were planning to shut the B&B for good at the end of September. But we’ve extended that to the middle of December to give our guests the opportunity for one last stay ( or more than one stay in quite a few cases )
You can rest assured that we’re taking all reasonable precautions to reduce the risk of anyone catching COVID-19 here at Hopton House. We have a dedicated page explaining what we’re doing here.
We are doing our very best to make sure your stay at Hopton House is as relaxing ( and familiar for our repeat guests ) as possible. There will be lemon drizzle, shortbread and delicious breakfasts.
Probably the biggest change, is that we won’t do interim room tidies whilst you’re staying with us. This is to protect your bubble and to protect ourselves. We will provide you with a box to put any dirty crockery, towels etc and to ask for replacements.
I’ve been spending much of Lockdown working hard on my B&B training Courses. You can find out more here . I’ve also been filling up Instagram with pictures of our amazing countryside. If you’re not already following us, pop over and join us.
As I write this ( Friday 19th June 2020 ), we still don’t have a date for when we can open Hopton House B&B. I’ll update this page as soon as we have a definite date.
It’s been such a glorious spring and a real shame that we haven’t been able to welcome guests to enjoy it. Hopefully you follow me on Facebook and Instagram so you’ve been able to enjoy some of my photos.
I’ve been really very busy for the last few months, creating an online B&B course. I’ve also been spending a lot of virtual time, either on Zoom or Facebook with B&B owners who have attended my course in the past.
We’ve been negotiating all the different challenges over the past few months, supporting each other and sharing best practice. During that time we’ve created The Yellow Duck Collection, which is a map of many of the B&Bs that have attended my courses. We’re over on Facebook if you want to find some amazing B&Bs. Please give the page a like and tell your friends about it!
We don’t have a website yet but that will probably appear sometime down the line. My aim was progress not perfection and to find a way to support my past course attendees to rebuild their business post pandemic
The next challenge for us all is reopening our B&Bs in a post lockdown world. We are being bombarded with guidelines and spreadsheets and webinars, and it’s quite easy to get over whelmed with that we need to do.
What I do know is that every one of these B&Bs is thinking very hard about how to keep guests safe whilst maintaining the essential uniqueness of their property.
Which brings me on to what we’re doing at Hopton House. I don’t want to bombard you with risk analysis documents and a step by step breakdown on how we’ll clean the rooms and maintain social distancing.
If you’ve stayed before I think you know you can trust me to be doing the right thing to keep you as safe as possible, whilst maintaining the whole essence of a stay at Hopton House.
We were due to be closing the B&B at the end of September, but I’m keeping it open till just before Christmas to allow rescheduling of bookings.
Nearly everything is going to be the same but some things are going to be a different and I’ve listed them here. If you have any questions or concerns please do let me know!
NEW CLEANING AND SOCIAL DISTANCING MEASURES
- There will still be lemon drizzle and homemade shortbread!
- We will debit your card with the balance of your stay on arrival. This will be done through our booking system and means you won’t need to use the card machine
- On check in, once you’ve rung the doorbell please stand 2M back from the door. If you prefer you can self check in, we will leave the room key in the door. The upstairs Granary room is on the left and the downstairs Barn room on the right in the annex opposite the main house on the right of the drive.
- We’ve always had very high cleaning standards but we will be extra careful sanitising areas that you are most likely to touch such as door handles etc
- I’m sorry but we won’t be doing room tidies during your stay. We will leave a box for you to put items you want replaced outside of your door
- There will be fewer throws and cushions in the room and cushions/throws that are in there will be steam cleaned after each guest stay. You are very welcome to borrow guest information leaflets, maps and books from the guest dining room
- We are able to space the tables at breakfast so they are 2M apart and will have a separate buffet and toaster for each table. Please use the sanitiser by the door when you come into the dining room.
- You may see some changes like individually wrapped portions of buffet items. But the main breakfast choices remain the same and the bread will still be homemade
- Please keep up with your hand washing and social distancing whilst you are with us. We will provide sanitiser and anti bacterial soap
- On checkout please open the windows ( unless it’s chucking it down! ) and leave the key in the door.
- We will leave plates and cutlery in your room if you want to bring in takeaway food, if restaurants and pubs remain shut. There is a small silent fridge in each room if you want to bring your own in room picnic! We can provide a platter for £30 for 2 people. Please book this at least 48 hours in advance
- If any of your party have COVID 19 symptoms prior to your visit please don’t travel to Hopton House.
If you need to postpone your stay because you have COVID 19 symptoms or have been told to self isolate, please let us know as soon as possible. We will either refund your deposit or move your stay to another date if you prefer.
If we need to close the B&B due to government restrictions, or because we need to self isolate, we will contact you as soon as we can. Your deposit will be returned in full or we will move your stay to another date if you prefer. We will also try our best to recommend a similar property locally provided they are also allowed to open.
I would love to be writing a lovely blog post about newborn lambs, daffodils and the warm spring weather. And I promise I will get onto that soon! But my immediate priority needs to be letting you know what we’re doing here during this crisis.
I am very sad to say that we have the made the decision to close Hopton House B&B until the end of June.
As you’ll be aware, the government are advising against non essential travel and asking us all to social distance. An increasing number of local NHS doctors are also asking tourists to keep away to avoid over burdening local NHS services. For this reason, we believe that closing is the right thing to do.
We were planning to close Hopton House for good at the end of September. But we have decided to keep it open till the end of the year to allow our guests who want to move their bookings more flexibility.
If you have an existing booking with us in April, May or June
If you’ve paid a deposit or a non refundable, it would be really helpful to us if you could move your booking to a later date. The online booking system is up to date with all our current availability until Christmas 2020.
If you’d like your deposit refunded, please let us know and we will aim to do that as soon as possible. Please email at firstname.lastname@example.org rather than phoning if at all possible
If we haven’t heard from you 2 weeks prior to your booking, we will get in touch with you to discuss what you would like to do.
I hope that you and your loved ones stay safe, and hope we will be welcoming you to Hopton House before the end of the year.
The winter is always a quiet time here at Hopton House B&B, so I spend it resting, recharging and shawl knitting! Because Ralph joined us in October, I didn’t get to do any knitting before Christmas. However since then I’ve been knitting like a woman possessed.
My favourite knitting is shawls, cowls and scarves. No need to worry about swatching and sewing up seams, or spending hours knitting a jumper just to find out it doesn’t fit or suit me!
I’ve never been particularly brave with colour, sticking with blues, greys and black in my clothes. However I’ve recently discovered mosaic knitting and got into colour in a big way.
I only taught myself to knit 5 years ago, using YouTube videos. The Timehop app has just been reminding me of some of my first attempts, like a huge pink infinity scarf made of cheap acrylic wool. None of the items I knit are particularly complicated so if you fancy giving them a go, but are new to knitting – go for it!
Some of my finished projects have been proving very popular on Instagram so here are 5 of my favourite shawl knitting patterns, with links to buy the yarns I’ve used and the patterns.
If you’re new to knitting, Ravelry is an amazing resource for knitters and crocheters. You can search for patterns, then see what yarns, colourways, needles etc other knitters have used to create the project. I’m on Ravelry as KJT1966. Here’s the link to my project page.
Some of the links are affiliate links, which means I get a small percentage if you buy the yarn through my link. It helps contribute to my serious yarn buying habit!
I can’t tell you just how much I enjoyed knitting this shawl. The colours are rich and so vibrant and the yarn I used, Malabrigo Rios, is a joy to work with. The beauty of this shawl is that you can really make it your own with endless potential colour combinations. It’s simple knit, using knit, purl, M1R ( make one right ), M1L ( make one left ) and slip stitches.
The shift cowl ( pattern available to buy here ) is the baby sister of the Nightshift. It’s seamed at the back which makes it easy to wear. I’m currently knitting my third in the original yarn, Spincycle – Dyed in the Wool. This is the most expensive yarn I’ve ever bought. But you can make it very effectively with cheaper yarns. The pink one was made with 3 balls of Drops Delight, which is just £2.30 a ball in the UK at the time of writing. The blue/green was made with Malabrigo Rastita, which personally I don’t like that much as a yarn. It’s lightly felted. But as an alternative, the most popular yarn to knit it with on Ravelry, after the Spincycle, is Malabrigo Arroyo
One of my favourite things to do when travelling is to find local yarn stores and spend a while discovering yarns I can’t buy in the UK. There’s a lovely shop in Portland, Oregon called Knit Purl, where I spotted this shawl ( pattern available to buy on ravelry here ) made up in the shop. The yarn is a pure alpaca, Galler Yarns Prime Alpaca, and comes in a 227g skein. The shop wound it into a cake for me and I was able to knit it for the rest of my trip. With just knits and purls and increases, it was the perfect travel knit! You can’t buy the yarn in the UK but any alpaca DK or Aran/worsted weight would make a great substitute
This is another beautiful knitted shawl, that looks really effective but is oh so simple, just lots of knit rows and increases. We had a long drive down to Devon, and it’s a perfect travel or netflix bingeing knit. I knitted it in the same Malabrigo Rastita that I knitted the Shift Cowl in above.
This is a lovely lightweight shawl and would be perfect for summer evenings or weddings.
I’ve knitted this wrap 4 times now, using 3 different yarns. It’s a simple pattern just made up of knits and purls. As a shawl, it’s very wearable either as a big chunky scarf or draped round your shoulders in the evening. My favourite yarn to knit it in has been this WYS Croft in this glorious orange colour. The yarn is available here and the pattern here.
4 weeks ago we welcomed Ralph to our little family here at Hopton House. He’s another rescue dog, a 9 month old golden retriever crossed with a border collie ( probably ). If you’re on Instagram, you can follow the adventures of Saffy and Ralph here.
Like Saffy ( read more about Saffy’s arrival here ), he loves meeting new people. So he’s always available for a cuddle. But we know not everyone likes dogs, so guests only get to meet the dogs on request. Our garden is split into 2 and our dogs stay on their side. And the dogs can’t go near the guest rooms, which are both outside in a separate annex.
Saffy, our German Shepherd / Rough Collie cross is beside herself and loves having someone to play with. So our main problem, apart from pulling on the lead, is trying to stop her from constantly nagging him to play! For a 9 month old puppy, Ralph is actually very calm.
Unfortunately, because he still pulls quite a bit on the lead, I have to walk Saffy and Ralph separately. This means I’m getting lots of exercise, walking up our lovely lane and enjoying the autumn colours. Luckily Ralph is very keen to please, and also very fond of roast chicken, so he’s learning quickly.
If you want to bring your own dogs to Hopton House, we have one ground floor dog friendly room, the Barn Room.
If you like to walk your dogs in the woods. We have both Hopton Woods ( about a 6 minute drive to the car park ) or Purslow Woods ( less than 5 minutes drive ) from us. For on lead walking ( or very well behaved dogs ) our daily walk is along the lane to Hopton Castle.
Heart of Wales Line Trail Accommodation
The Heart of Wales Line Trail is a new long distance walk that weaves its way along the beautiful Heart of Wales railway Line. This 150 year old rural railway, mostly single track, starts in the the Shropshire Hills. It then passes through green valleys, past wooded hillsides, over viaducts and finally ends on the South Welsh coast.
The new trail starts at Craven Arms and ends at Swansea. At 141 miles long, it would take you about 10 days to do the whole walk. Or you could use the train to access sections of the walk. If you don’t want to do the whole trail, read more about other walks from Hopton House here
Why Hopton House B&B is the perfect place to start your journey
- We’re just a few minutes walk from Hopton Heath Railway Station
- Pre order a supper platter to eat in your room after a days walking (£30 for 2 people – can be made vegetarian/vegan/pescetarian on request)
- Packed lunches provided on request ( £6.50 each )
- Water bottles refilled from our filter tap
- Homemade lemon drizzle cake and shortbread biscuits waiting in your room
- Fully controllable heating in both rooms
- Large baths and separate powerful showers
- Shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and soap provided
- Forget me not box of essential items you may have forgotten
- Comfortable 6 foot wide beds and sofas and chairs to chill out
- Heart of Wales Line Trail guide book and local maps to borrow
- We can wash and dry clothes on request
- Boot trays and outside hose
- One ground floor dog friendly room
Find out why one Guardian journalist fell in love with the Heart of Wales Line here.
For a full description of the route and links to the timetables on the Heart of Wales Line, visit their website here
If you’re planning to do the whole walk, then Hopton House B&B is perfectly situated to start your journey. Being just a few minutes walk from Hopton Heath Station, you can easily get the train to Craven Arms. Stay here as an overnight stop between Craven Arms and Bucknell or you could stay a couple of nights. Take the train up to Craven Arms on your first morning and walk back , then walk onto Bucknell the next day.
For those of you who just want to do sections of the walk, we’re obviously in the perfect location to do that. With maps and and copies of the Heart of Wales Line Trail guidebook to borrow, you can plan your trip.
We’re heading into one of my favourite times of the year here at Hopton House Bed and Breakfast in Shropshire. The trees are beginning to change colour and the nights are drawing in. But there are still lots of things to do in Shropshire this autumn and winter.
Hopton House B&B is perfectly situated to explore Shropshire, Herefordshire and Powys. Check availability and book securely online here.
It’s time to take long walks in the countryside, explore local market towns for unique Christmas gifts and then come back to a long bath and an evening in front of the fire at a local country pub. Take a look at my suggestion for 5 walks in the Shropshire Countryside blog post for some ideas.
Or, if you prefer not to go out in the evening, you can order one of our platters to enjoy in your room. Then spend an evening curled up on one of the sofas in the room, reading, knitting or just watching some TV.
There was a time when the countryside shut down over the winter, but not anymore. There are many fairs and events to enjoy. In fact far too many for me to blog about here. I’ve added a few to my Hopton House B&B Facebook Page here.
Hergest Croft Gardens
Hergest Croft Gardens are a 35 minutes drive south of us at Kington in Herefordshire. Our favourite drive down there weaves along the welsh border, via Knighton, with beautiful views to the West. And now is the perfect time to visit with the spectacular autumn colour. They are open daily from 12 to 17.30 until Sunday 3rd November. Dogs are welcome on leads.
To quote their website
“Hergest Croft Gardens extend over 28 ha (70 acres) with more than five thousand rare trees and shrubs. Described as “one of the finest collections of trees and shrubs in the British Isles”, the Gardens hold the UK National Collections of Maples, Birches and Zelkovas. The six distinct areas are Hergest Croft, the Azalea Garden, the Maple Grove, the Kitchen Garden, the Park and Park Wood”
Another must for the autumn months is Arley arboretum, which sits on the banks of the River Severn at Upper Arley, and is one of the oldest and most spectacular arboreta in the country. It’s about 55 minutes drive from Hopton House and dogs are welcome on lead. You could combine it with a day out on the Severn Valley railway, which has a stop at Arley. It’s open 10-5, Wednesday to Sunday until 3rd November.
NT Croft Castle
Croft Castle is one of our favourite places to visit with Saffy the dog. It’s just 25 minutes south of us. There’s lots of lovely walking in the parkland and woods, including a walk up to the top of an Iron Age Hill Fort, with magnificent views. There’s a lot of deciduous trees there so the autumn colours will soon be very special there.
They also run lots of events during the autumn and winter, including an Ancient Tree Walk om 19th and 20th October. This is a guided autumnal walk through the parkland. From the 16th November, the house will be decorated for a 1940’s Christmas. And on 7th and 8th December they are running Christmas wreath making workshops. More details of all their events here
Powis Castle is beautiful at any time of year, but the gardens take on a very special beauty in the autumn and winter months.
Dogs at Powis
Dogs aren’t allowed at Powis Castle in the summer months, but from October through to March they relax the rules. From October through to December, dogs are allowed in the gardens on Thursdays and Fridays, then every day from January through to March. So, this is an ideal time to visit if you like to come away with your four legged friend
Christmas at Powis
From 30th November you can step back in time and experience a 1940s Christmas.
From 6th – 22nd December on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 17.00-21.00, “explore the Formal Garden, Terraces, Orangery and Courtyard which will all be spectacularly lit in a rainbow of colours and glittering with festive cheer.”
If you have any more ideas for things to do in Shropshire this autumn please let me know! Check availability and book soon if you want to enjoy autumn at Hopton House B&B Shropshire.
I’ve tried quite a few granola recipes in my 15 years of running a B&B. And this is one is our favourites. Our guests love it and it’s what Rob has every morning for his breakfast, on top of chopped banana and natural Greek yoghurt.
This granola recipe is full of healthy nuts and seeds, as well as heart friendly oats, healthy oils and no refined sugar. If you make it with gluten free oats, then its gluten free. I make it with maple syrup, so it will be suitable for my vegan guests. But you could easily substitute the syrup for honey.
You don’t need to be too exact with the ingredients. If I find I’m missing some of the dry ingredients ( with the exception of the oats of course ), I just leave them out. And speaking of oats, it really works best with jumbo rolled oats. If you’re in America, you might find them called rolled or old fashioned oats.
I make a big batch of granola and store it in a couple of large kilner jars. It never lasts more than 2 weeks here, before being eaten, so I can’t guarantee how it long it will stay fresh. But I’d say about a month at least.
- 400g jumbo rolled oats
- 100g chopped brazil nuts
- 100g chopped walnuts or pecans
- 100g flaked almonds
- 100g sunflower seeds
- 100g pumpkin seeds
- 25g chia seeds
- 75g milled flaxseed
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 125ml sunflower or coconut oil
- 125ml maple syrup or honey
Preheat an oven to 160 degrees celsius
Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Warm the sunflower oil and maple syrup together, add the vanilla extract and then pour onto the dry ingredients. Mix really well.
Line a large baking tray with baking parchment. The baking parchment needs to hang over all of the edges of the baking tray, so you can easily pick it up and pour the finished granola into you jar once it’s cooled.
Pour the granola onto the baking tray and put into the oven. It will probably take about 30 minutes. Stir it a couple of times during the cooking time and make sure it doesn’t get too brown.
5 Best Breakfast Recipes
I’ve been running Hopton House Bed and Breakfast here in Shropshire for 15 years now. I have no idea how many breakfasts I’ve cooked, but it’s quite a few! Here are the top 5 breakfast recipes.
Guests often ask me for my recipes, thinking they may all be secret. However, I’m always happy to share and have written nearly all of them up here and on another blog. I thought I’d link back to the 5 Best Breakfast Recipes in this blog.
Each morning, at the B&B, I load the buffet table up with freshly squeezed orange juice, local apple juice, homemade nut granola, homemade white and granary bread to toast, natural Greek yoghurt, freshly prepared fruit, a fruit compote such as blueberry and lime and some sort of baked good, such as banana bread or muffins.
To start their breakfast, my guests can also order porridge, which I slow cook in the bottom of the AGA or bircher museli – oats soaked overnight in apple juice with Greek yoghurt and grated apple ( recipe below ).
It’s rare that guests then don’t go on to have some sort of cooked breakfast. Of course, there’s the full English but I also offer lots of breakfast specials such as Eggs Benedict or Buttermilk Pancakes. If I know in advance that guests are vegan, vegetarian or can’t eat some foods, I also offer a few extra options.
These recipes are some of the favourites that my guests enjoy. I’ll be writing another blog post soon linking to some more.
Apple and Blackberry Pancakes
This recipe is perfect in autumn when the hedgerows are heaving with blackberries and the apples are just ripening. The recipe uses my favourite pancake recipe and adds a blackberry and apple compote.
Healthy Breakfast Bowl
I’ve converted a lot of my guests to bircher muesli over the years. It’s a fabulous healthy but delicious breakfast recipe, which you can make several days ahead. If you’re too busy in the morning to make breakfast, it’s great to have sitting in the fridge ready to eat or take it to work with you! It’s full of all the foods that are really good for you like heart friendly oats and apples and tummy friendly natural yoghurt.
I like to put some baked goods on the breakfast buffet table. One of my favourites and probably the easiest is this banana bread. It smells wonderful, keeps getting better for several days and uses up those overripe bananas!
Lemon Drizzle Cake
Ok, this isn’t strictly a breakfast recipe, but this is the cake waiting for my B&B guests when they arrive. It would actually work well as a sweet breakfast cake. This recipe is based on Mary Berry’s Lemon Drizzle Cake, but I’ve tweaked it a bit to make it my own
Gluten Free Oat and Banana Pancakes
If you’re avoiding gluten, these gluten free banana pancakes are really nice. They are quick to prepare with just a few ingredients and they taste really good, even for the gluten eaters!
I have lots more breakfast recipes on a separate blog here http://shropshirebreakfast.blogspot.com/
5 Walks in the Shropshire Hills
We are lucky to enjoy the most amazing countryside here in the Shropshire Hills and the best way to get out and explore it is on a walk. As Shropshire is still relatively undiscovered, the countryside is perfect if you want to escape from the crowds. I’ve put together 5 walks in the Shropshire Hills that you can from Hopton House B&B.
There are walks of all types, from short circulars to long distance trails. The most exciting new walk is the Heart of Wales trail, with walks from one railway station to the next on the lovely Heart of Wales Line.
1. Heart of Wales Trail
Hopton House is a couple of minutes walk from the station at Hopton Heath. It’s a request stop, so you need to put your hand out to ask the driver to pick you up!
You’ve got a couple of options. You can walk to one of the next stations, then get the train back or get the train and walk back. You can either travel north to Broome or Craven Arms or south to Bucknell or Knighton.
It does need a bit of careful planning as there are only a few trains a day. The timetables are here.
The trail is described here. We do have ordnance survey maps and copies of the trail book that you can borrow.
We don’t normally offer one night stays at Hopton House, but if we have availability mid week and you’re walking the trail and just need 1 night, please drop me an email and I’ll see if we can fit you in.
There are no pubs or restaurants within walking distance, but we do offer platters to be enjoyed in your room. You can choose from a local cheese, ploughmans, smoked salmon, vegetarian or vegan platter all served with homemade granary bread. The cost is £30 for 2 people and needs to be booked in advance.
2. A short walk to Hopton Castle
We’re about 25 minutes from the castle at Hopton Castle. This is the walk a lot of guests enjoy when they arrive to stretch their legs or in the morning to work up an appetite for breakfast. It’s mostly up a fairly quiet lane but part of it can be across fields. The castle is open to the public with no charge. It was featured on Time Team a few years ago. You can watch the episode on YouTube here.
Since that episode was filmed, a lot of work has been done to make the castle safe to visit, including installation of information boards and a car park.
3. Shropshire Lad Walk
The poet AE Housman wrote a small volume of poems called A Shropshire Lad. It was very popular and sold in it’s millions at the beginning of the 20th century. This walk is based on the section:
‘Clunton and Clunbury,
Clungunford and Clun
Are the quietest places
Under the sun.’
Christopher Sommerville wrote up the walk and described it here. He starts the walk in Clun but we’re very close to the mid section of the walk, so you can walk it from the house.
The pubs or tearooms in Clun are a good place to stop off for lunch or I can do a packed lunch if booked in advance.
4. A Walk to Purslow Wood
Purslow Wood is one of my favourites to take Saffy for a walk. It’s lovely at all times of the year, but particularly lovely in October and November when the red oaks are at their most magnificent.
I tend to drive up to the woods and park up at the entrance. It’s about a mile from us ( turn left out of our drive, past the first road to Hopton Castle, then turn left by the farmhouse and the entrance is just on your right up the hill )
However if you want to walk it, the Bucknell Walking Group have described it from Hopton Castle here. I wouldn’t recommend walking on the road I drive to it as there are no verges.
5. The Long Mynd
Church Stretton is called Little Switzerland. It’s a beautiful part of the Shropshire Hills with loads of walking opportunities. A few years ago it was featured on a stamp as one of the most parts of the UK. It’s 12 miles from us and is about a 30 minute drive.
It is particularly stunning in Autumn and Winter. Church Stretton has lots of restaurants and cafes and is a dog friendly town.
You can get the train ( or a combination of bus and train ) from Hopton House to Church Stretton if you didn’t want to drive. Again it takes careful planning as there aren’t many buses or trains a day.
If you fancy trying any of these 5 walks in the Shropshire Hills, Google maps is a great way of planning your train and bus journeys from Hopton House.