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Karen’s Blog

Welcome to the Shropshire Breakfast Blog

A Healthy B&B Breakfast

Having run the B&B for 4 years I know that one of the reasons people come to an English B&B is to indulge in a full english cooked breakfast. Hardly a day goes by without guests commenting on how different proper local bacon tastes and how the eggs are like nothing you can buy from a shop.

But is it healthy? Well my philosophy in life is everything in moderation and that you shouldn’t deny yourself the occasional treat – especially when on holiday.

Continue Reading A Healthy B&B Breakfast…

Online Booking

I’ve been considering online booking for a while. I did trial it last year and  I decided not to continue for various reasons.

But now I feel it would be useful to potential guests, alongside our more traditional booking methods, so I’ve decided to trial the online booking system that’s included with my availability package. It’s a system that is used by the majority of B&Bs in the USA so I am confident that it is secure.

Continue Reading Online Booking…

Newts and Tadpoles

One of the main selling points of Hopton House for me was the large wildlife pond. I’ve always loved sitting by water and looking out for frogs, tadpoles and newts.

The pond is very wild at the moment and is due a good clearout in the autumn. It is full of bulrushes and flag irises – these are just about to burst into flower.

There is a clear spot for me to watch the wildlife though. In 10 minutes today I spotted one large newt, 2 enormous tadpoles and several large water beetles.

Last summer I was there spotting baby frogs when I noticed several dragonflies emerging from their nymph cases. I spent 2 glorious hours sitting there with a camera and was lucky enough to get some beautiful shots.

A Shropshire Lad Walk

It’s been a busy bank holiday week. 2 guests braved the torrential rain on bank holiday monday to do the Shropshire Lad Walk – a 15 mile circular walk that takes in Clun, Clunton, Clunbury and Clungunford.

The weather wasn’t too bad in the morning and they set off, complete with homemade cheese and tomato sandwiches, at about 10.00, arriving back at about 5.30 glad of their efficient waterproofs.

They enjoyed the walk, despite the rain, and saw some marvellous views on the way to Clun and from the top of Clunbury Hill ( seen below from the barn room). after having a long shower on the way back, they took their books down to the comfy sofas in the sunroom and enjoyed the views ( magnificent whatever the weather ) from there.

The weather forecast looks like the weather is due to improve gradually – so let’s hope summer is finally going to arrive.

What makes a good B&B?

Having worked for British Airways for 16 years we’ve been very lucky to enjoy some wonderful holidays in some beautiful places.

Unfortunately there have been some that we would have loved to go back to but then we’ve remembered a serious flaw that has stopped us returning.

So when I set up the B&B my aim was to create a place where I would want to go on holiday with all the good bits from our previous holiday and all the bad bits corrected!

Probably my favourite holiday ever was a cottage that we rented on a private pebble beach in Maine. It was beautiful and secluded with views over the bay – the bad bit was the bath – you couldn’t lie back in it! You’ll find a bath for 2 in the Paddock and Barn Rooms.

Next favourite was a farmhouse in Lot and Garonne – a beautiful rural area ( very similar to south Shropshire in fact! ) with a balcony from the main bedroom ( we’ve just added one in the Paddock Room ) but the bed was so uncomfortable that Rob and I met in the middle each night ( we’ve had so many holidays spoiled by bad beds that good mattresses are a priority here).

Many a break has been marred by a bad breakfast – what is it with British Hotels? We’ve stayed at michelin starred restaurants with rooms and enjoyed sublime dinners – only to be disappointed at breakfast – ok they probably didn’t have Ludlow sausage and locally cured bacon.

One place we do return to again and again is Kandersteg in Switzerland. I noticed on our last visit that there was no  tea tray in the room. Hopton House guests comment that our welcome tray is the best stocked ever. And the swiss walls were bare – luckily I have a talented artist as a father!

So do we have any drawbacks – well yes – we’re not perfect. We’re a rural B&B that aims for comfort and a bit of luxury. We’re not at all formal but we’re a bit more than a traditional farmhouse B&B. The floors do squeak and there are a couple of holes in the ceilings where the smoke alarms went in. The flower borders aren’t perfect – that would be the chickens and we have no swags or curtain tie backs.

The one thing that is stopping Hopton House from being perfection ( for me at least ) is that the sea is a just over an hour away – but at least it is a very pretty drive.

What do you like to see in a B&B?? Please let me know by leaving a comment.

Omelette for Tea

The plumbers are in busy putting in the pipes for the new barn. They like to leave the backs of their vans open to get easy access to their tools.

Unfortunately the new chickens have decided that a nice safe warm nest box is not an ideal place to lay an egg so are searching for places all over the house and garden.

With sunny days I’ve left the doors open – only to have to remove a chicken 4 times from the house today – one had settled quite comfortably behind our sofa – maybe I should have left it there and at least I would have known where the eggs were.

Not as bad as the day ( before I opened the B&B and environmental health concerns ) when I discovered a chicken laying an egg in a wok in a kitchen cupboard!

So having being shut out of the house the next option was the plumber’s van. A very happy plumber discovered, not one, but 2 eggs in the back of his van so was happily planning omelette for tea.

A note to future guests to please check your car for chickens before you leave.

Maydays

I drove into Craven Arms this morning for supplies and the drive took my breath away. The whole countryside is a mass of vibrant green and frothy white. The hawthorn bushes are in full flower – long racemes of white on those not managed and big blobs of white on those that have been cut. The verges are full of white meadowsweet with the odd bit of colour provided by the red and pink campion.

Everything feels calm and relaxed after a stormy April, just getting ready for what, we hope, will be a long hot summer!

Take time to smell the roses

When I was still working in an office I remember being given a list of motivational sayings written by the latest management guru. It was the usual kind of stuff but the one I remember to this day is “Always take time to smell the roses”.

I never used to like roses but now I can’t get enough of them – the same with olives. I hit my 30th birthday and – ping – turned from an olive hater to someone who can eat a whole jar in one sitting.

Continue Reading Take time to smell the roses…

Getting Up Early

I got up early this morning and took the dogs for an early morning walk to make up for the fact that they would be spending a lonely day in the lounge as I ran a course in the dining room.

The forecast for the day was dismal but I enjoyed some lovely morning sun and was treated to the rare sight of 3 roe deer peering at me from the field next door. Luckily the dogs didn’t spot them so

I got to watch them for the whole walk.

The dogs did spot the 3 canadian geese that seem to have settled in the field. They tentatively ran towards them then veered off when they got close and realised quite how big they were.

It was lovely and cosy sitting in the guest sun/dining room with the rain coming down and some very beautiful but angry looking clouds moving rapidly past. I have a rare guest free day tomorrow so I have plans to spend it sitting in the very comfy new sofas in the dining room with copious cups of tea, a good book and a packet of biscuits.