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Erddig National Trust

A couple of weekends ago Mr Rigg and I, dog-less and fancy-free decided to take a day trip to Erddig house, a National Trust property near Wrexham that is renowned for its portrayal of the upstairs downstairs life.  It is a truly fascinating and beautiful place, one that I would recommend for a day out.

As well as the house, there is a lovely garden and stables with working horses, but I wanted to share what I was most interested by, which is the ‘downstairs’ quarters and the plain country living that I think is so beautiful. There was only one ‘upstairs’ room that I liked enough to photograph, and that was the nursery and adjoining (if I remember correctly!) bathroom.

You enter the house through the sculleries and kitchen, which happened to be full of things that I have collected from car boots sales – I should have very much liked to have a ‘supermarket sweep’ if given the opportunity!

Downstairs living

Historic scullery

Broom hooks

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Perhaps I am averse to change or becoming a bit of a fuddy-duddy, but I didn’t like the new version of Masterchef that hit our screens last night.  It might not be fair of me to pass judgement when I switched off after the first contestant was handed his apron – so you’ll see I’ve hardly watched any of it, but I just didn’t enjoy those first 5 minutes.

Did anyone else feel the same?  The first thing that turned me off was the new sleek kitchen – the dark finish, clinical feel, and row after row of kitchen stations – it felt so unfriendly! 

And where has the good old fashioned invention test gone?  In the few minutes I saw John and Greg, who I think are great, seemed very staged…”One minute,” says Greg, “this decision has to be unanimous.”

It felt like X-Factor for food.  I miss the old friendly, bright white kitchen, the invention test with, those embarrassing moments when someone has come up with something truly awful and had you shouting at the telly, “How did they get through the auditions?!” 

The ‘new’ Masterchef feels unfamiliar and for me less enjoyable.  It seems they have created a new TV cookery competition, but called it Masterchef, when it really isn’t. 

What do you think?  Did it get better after the first 5 minutes?  Should I make myself sit down and push through everything I hate about it to get to the good stuff?  Or do you share in my sadness?

Now this is all a bit misty-eyed and looking back at the ‘good old days’ through rose-tinted glasses…but I’m totally in love with the recent BBC series of Just William.

I love everything about it.  The beautiful vintage kitchen where Mrs Brown makes the family a decent breakfast every morning.  I love what the boys wear and I love what the adults wear.  I love that the children always look smart even when muddy and grubby.

What I especially love, is Mr and Mrs Brown and the way they ‘deal’ with their children and teenagers emotions.  I aspire to be a mother like that one day.  Ah…to dream…

Today I drove the many miles southward to Hanbury Hall – a National Trust property near Droitwich, just south of Birmingham.  I went to interview the Head Gardener for the sustainable food bulletin I edit as part of my volunteer role for the National Trust.

Hanbury Hall is possibly one of the prettiest Trust properties I’ve ever visited.  The formal gardens are immaculate and full of colour – lots of orange and purple. 

The house is very similar to my local Dunham Massey, but a little bit fancier and with more detail. 

They have an Orangery and a Mushroom House (where mushrooms were grown for the Vernon family back in the 1860’s), and a large orchard full of ancient apple varieties. 

But I was there to see the Walled Vegetable Garden.  Down the end of long walkway, surrounded by high Yew hedges (very Alice in Wonderland!) are two old wooden gates set into a high red-bricked wall.

Inside was an idyllic scene of a beautiful working kitchen garden.  There were chickens picking happily at the grass, neat row of vegetables – cabbages, Rainbow chard and lettuces to name but a few, bee hives and polytunnels (one bursting with a stunning display of colourful pumpkins and squashes).  Sorry – I didn’t take any pictures inside the garden!

Hanbury Hall’s vegetable garden not only supplies the tea rooms with a bounty of fresh produce, eggs and honey throughout the year, but visitors can buy vegetables direct from the garden – simply ask a gardener for a celeriac, and they will go and pull one up for you right before your eyes, or maybe you’re after ruby red forced rhubarb – they can pick that for you while you watch.

How cool is that?! 

After having a tour of the kitchen garden and doing my interview, I said goodbye to Neil, the Head Gardener and went for lunch in the tearoom. 

In the tearoom you are greeted by a counter full of cakes (like most National Trust tearooms), but here at Hanbury they are quite different – perhaps you are tempted by a slice of their rich and moist Chocolate Beetroot Cake (I certainly was!), or their Parsnip and Caraway Seed Cake, maybe it’s their Honey Cake or my favourite a Victoria Sponge?

What’s special about these cakes is they feature vegetables and ingredients from the Walled Garden – beetroot, parsnip, caraway seeds, honey, eggs, and homemade jam (made with their own fruits, of course).  I was also told their made courgette cake and even potato cake!  All sweet.

In addition to my slice of Chocolate Beetroot Cake (which I didn’t eat first, I promise!), I had a bowl of vegetable soup with vegetables from the kitchen garden, and an apple and blackcurrant juice from a local producer in Worcestershire.  The cake defeated me – I couldn’t manage the last mouthful – shameful, I know!

What a lovely visit and a delicious lunch, and a big thanks to the friendly staff at Hanbury Hall. 

If you’d like to visit Hanbury Hall you can find more details here: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-hanburyhall.

*Photos taken with camera phone – not looking too bad!

I have had a thumping headache all day, so feeling sorry for myself.  Thought I’d try and cheer myself up and share with you another of my favourite foodie website. 


Image: Design Sponge

Design Sponge may not immediately seem like a haven for fantastic recipes, but they do a great feature called ‘in the kitchen with…’ and as a result have a fab and varied selection of recipes. 

This recipe for Homemade crumpets with fruit curd from Rachel Khoo just sound divine – I have always wanted to try making homemade crumpets and seeing this recipe at Design Sponge has reminded me that I must make time to have a go.

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Eat the Earth

I love food, especially locally grown and seasonal food. This is my place to share my food finds and the food I like to eat.

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All pictures are my own unless stated. I would kindly ask that you don't use them elsewhere unless you ask permission first. Many thanks x

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