Welcome to the Shropshire Breakfast Blog
It’s getting to that time of year when the wild flower meadow is just about at its best. It changes every year and, this year, we have more ox eye daisies than ever before. We also have masses of knapweed ready to pop. There’s a bench right at the end where guests love to sit with a glass of wine and just breath in the view and maybe chat to the cows.
It’s baby bird season here at Hopton House. A pair of sparrows have nested in an open fronted box right next to the guest dining room window. Guests have been lingering long over breakfast watching the parents feed the birds.
We’re racing into Summer here in Shropshire. Jess came home from London for the weekend and couldn’t believe how green it was all looking.
Well spring has definitely sprung here at Hopton House, and we appear to be racing into Summer.
We can’t move in the garden without disturbing a nest. A few weeks ago I went to the greenhouse to retrieve some pots and discovered a robin was nesting in them. So the greenhouse was declared off limits.
I’ve been trying to find a new pair of wellies for a couple of years now. My old pair – £10 from Tuffins supermarket 10 years ago- had lasted me well but had developed a tiny hole, which managed to let in a surprisingly large amount of water.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.