Ne’re cast a clout ‘till May be out and the very good news is that May will be out for our next beef collection day on FRIDAY 5th June and everyone can cast around for beef instead. We will be ready for everyone with fresh coffee and cake from 10.00am and with luck the sun will shine and the conversation will be lively. We have the most wonderfully sociable and charming customers and there’s always plenty to discuss.
Our 10kg family beef bags are waiting to be ordered and we will have plenty of Hampton Herbies and Hampton beef bangers. Our 100% beef burgers are now packed in handy trays and just add a couple of steaks and a rack of short ribs and the barbeque will be humming. We even have a really good source of local Surrey charcoal made in the traditional manner which will give all your meat just that little bit extra. The 4 to 5 kg sacks cost just £5 each and you will be burning good Surrey timber (in the form of charcoal) and enjoying the fantastic aromas of sizzling prime local beef.
Alternatively if eating rather than cooking is your thing the good news is that Hampton Special Beef Pies are back on the menu for June. A family pie feeds four and an individual pie surprisingly feeds one, but all are packed full of Hampton steak, herbs from the walled garden and a good bottle of red infusing the lot.
So what’s happening on the farm? The calves are all galloping around the park, then look a little embarrassed that they’ve lost their mums, so roar back to them and drink masses of milk giving their noses a sloppy looking white hue. After which both mum and calf have a bit of a sit and potter off to contemplate either the lake or the shade of a parkland tree. Not a bad life really. The bull is on an extra special diet to gird his loins (quite literally) as he has work to do when he is reintroduced to the herd on June 1st, and we have 5 cows still to calve and they seem set on keeping us guessing, a little like The Duchess of Cambridge but minus the cameras.
The hops in the hop garden at Puttenham are growing well. Our Eastern European helpers have spent two weeks training them and now each string has two hops growing up it. The discarded young hops are a great delicacy, especially in Italy, where they are sold in local markets as an asparagus equivalent. This is a market we have yet to develop! In the meantime our plans to expand the hop gardens with more Fuggles hops are taking shape. Over 600 hop poles were cut out of our chestnut coppice this winter in preparation for the autumn and new hop plants have been ordered. They are predominantly seeded female plants but we also need males for pollination at the rate of six per acre. The autumn will be busy.
At The Manor Farm Craft Centre we are sorry to say goodbye to the indefatigable Janice Midgley who has run the Tea Rooms with aplomb for the past fifteen years. She has decided to retire and we all wish her well as she will soon have time for her myriad interests. Following a competitive marketing campaign her successors have been chosen and will putting their own mark on the tea rooms from 1st June.
And on the day before, Sunday 31st May we will be holding our annual Ride in the Park here at Hampton. The drives are open for nervous or inexperienced or simply learning cyclists, scooterers, rollerskaters and skateboarders. The garden is open, the ice cream van is open and tea is open. The whole day starts at 2pm and parking is in the field towards Myrtles Courtyard. Access is from the Cutmill end of the estate and there is something for every age group.
Do order your beef, pies and sausages for Friday 5th JUNE when we will also be sausage tasting, and Bridget and I look forward to seeing you., or on Friday 3rd July the following collection day.