Get a taste of the country: Wild Frost Cafe & Flower Shop

Get a taste of the country: Wild Frost Cafe & Flower Shop

Wild Frost

Saturday mornings are the busiest time of the week for the small market town of Ramsey in the heart of the Cambridgeshire fens. The area’s farmers arrive early to set up a vegetable market and, as the town fills up with local shoppers, baskets and bags in-hand, Wild Frost Cafe & Flower Shop is soon bustling with friends keen to catch up over tea and cake.

As you walk in, the scent of fresh blooms draws your eyes to the far corner from which the owner, Louise Sanderson, runs her floristry service. Next is the aroma of both savoury and sweet treats to choose from – most of the ingredients for which are supplied by Cambridgeshire-based producers, as are, where possible, the flowers. From sandwiches filled with roast beef and horseradish, and artisan cheeses from a nearby specialist deli to creations from Tom’s Cakes, an independent bakery and patisserie in nearby Somersham, which uses free-range eggs, British sugar and locally milled flour. The counter is filled with its temptations, from chocolate and Guinness loaf, and red velvet cupcakes to scones to enjoy with jam and clotted cream – all served on mismatched vintage china.


A hub for the community, Wild Frost Cafe runs themed days such as ‘Toddler Tuesdays’, when younger members of the community can enjoy miniature treats and their parents are offered discounts on refreshments. Similarly, ‘Abbey Hour’, named after the local secondary school, Ramsey Abbey, offers students discounted hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows on their way home.

Wild Frost Cafe & Flower Shop, 18 Great Whyte, Ramsey PE26 1HF; 01487 813339 (Louise also runs Wild Frost Florist, 97 High Street, Somersham PE28 3EE; 01487 741700)

Elegant Orchids

Elegant Orchids

orchids 4

House plants are sometimes tricky. Indoors they often look good for a while when you first get them before succumbing to unsuitable conditions and living on in a state of dishevelment for a long period before we pluck up the courage to chuck them out. Centrally heated houses that are dry and low in humidity rarely suit them and they end up looking sad and stalky or denuded of foliage.


The one that I have consistently had success with is the moth orchid or Phealonopsis. it is possible to keep these elegant orchids going for years. They will flower  several times a year and the blooms can last for many weeks, even months.  This the one to go for if houseplants and orchids have defeated you before. It is pretty easy to grow provided you follow a few basic rules.

Find the right spot – out draughts, away from radiators  and in good ambient light, not direct sunlight. Water once a week by filling a sink with a few centimetres of water at room temperature and place the pots in for 10 mins. Drain away the excess water. Feed once a month when the orchid is in growth by watering with a special orchid fertiliser, available from garden centres, and improve humidity by spraying the leaves with a mister regularly.


Phealonopsis need repotting every few years with special orchid compost – a very free-draining, spongy medium. Finally allow the aerial roots they produce to receive plenty of light and emerge from the compost. Ideally they do best in an opaque plastic or glass pot here the roots can receive light but they will still succeed if you allow plenty of light to reach the surface roots and upper roots. Finally, the flowers last longer if kept well away from a fruit bowl, ripe fruit give off gases which cause the flowers to age prematurely.

For more information on orchids go to orchids info     

Flying the nest

Flying the nest


Our five teenage chicks have now graduated to a grown-up henhouse outside in the garden. The Lone Ranger remains in our dining room but has been promoted to the fledglings’ evacuated brooder. I’m a little concerned that she’ll have some unsociable traits, having lived by herself for around a fortnight now. She’s surprisingly tame, however, even though we don’t handle her (or the others for that matter) as much as we should in order to make them friendly. The other evening, I tentatively placed my hand into the small cage and kept it still for a couple of minutes to get her used to me before gently stroking her super-soft feathers. She stayed perfectly still… To read the rest of this blog, click here

Plant pot recycling

Plant pot recycling


At this time of year many of us are making trips to garden centres and nurseries to invest in new plants to improve our plots and perfect our borders. As a keen gardener – I know how easy it is to accrue a mountain of seed trays, pots and plastic containers of a wide variety of shapes and sizes and in an alarmingly short space of time! Even if you re-use them for potting up and sewing, it is hard not to become swamped after just a few years.

Whilst household recycling has become increasingly easy in the last decade, most local authority collections will generally only accept higher grade plastics – plant pots, made of low grade plastics aren’t included, so they still generally end up  amongst our rubbish and ultimately going to landfill sites.

Due to the success of a recycling initiative ‘Pot To Product’ in recent years, a network of garden centres across the UK will happily take all your unwanted pots, so that they can be re-worked into a variety of robust garden accessories like these below.

AShortWalk Eco Bird Feeder












Go to pot to product website to find out out more details. The site has a map to pinpoint your nearest participating garden centre.

Ready, steady, grow!

Ready, steady, grow!

wide of patch3.jpg

As a nation, we’ve been busy cooking, crafting and converting thanks to inspirational TV series such as The Great British Bake Off, The Sewing Bee and The Great Interior Design Challenge. This evening sees the launch of the next traditional skill to be celebrated: the art of growing your own.


In The Big Allotment Challenge, hosted by Fern Britton, nine pairs of amateur gardeners will be putting their green fingers to the test in a number of challenges, which include growing unblemished fruit and vegetables, cultivating displays of beautiful blooms and, finally, using their produce to make preserves, condiments and floral arrangements. Each task will then be judged by a panel of experts – the RHS-judge Jim Buttress, floral designer Jonathan Moseley, and cookery writer Thane Prince – and, over the course of six hour-long episodes, the 18 hopefuls will be narrowed down and a winning two named cream of the crop.


Taking place in the pretty walled garden surroundings of Mapledurham House in Oxfordshire, The Big Allotment Challenge is not only a programme for keen gardeners, interested in picking up practical tips and ideas from the professionals, but is also aimed at novices who just want to have a go. So, whether you’ve got a window box, a garden border or an allotment, tune into BBC2 tonight at 8pm and find out how you can create your own green oasis at home.



Crafting for a good cause

Crafting for a good cause


Year: 2009 Month: 10 Page: 5

Who can resist the combination of doing a favourite hobby and the feel-good factor? Charity Sue Ryder has launched a competition to seek out the best makers across the country. On its just-launched Sue Ryder New Goods Website, there will be a special ’UK Handmade’ category featuring the work of British artisans, from vintage-inspired homeware to traditional children’s toys.

If you’ve a kitchen table talent and would like to try selling your handmade items for the first time, this could be the perfect opportunity to test the water! All you need to qualify is the ability to produce 25 ‘limited edition’ items and supply them at a wholesale price, so that 100 per cent of the profits will be ploughed into Sue Ryder’s work in hospices and neurological care.

What you need to know

Enter by midnight 5 May. The charity is holding a national online vote via its Facebook Page, as entries are submitted, to decide on the top ten products which will then feature on its website as part of the unique collection of handmade gifts. Once chosen, makers must produce 25 of each winning product and submit them by 26 May. Items will then go on sale 1 June 2014

How to enter 

Go to the competition app on the Sue Ryder Facebook page and include:

·         The name of your business or yourself if a sole trader.

·         A high-quality photo and description of the product you are entering

·         A recommended retail price (RRP) for your product (Sue Ryder New Goods will pay the wholesale price of winning products via invoice on a sale or return basis. Please ensure you have this in mind. As a guide the wholesale price is usually around 1/3 of the recommended retail price).

Good luck – and let the Country Living team know if you take part!




Saving grace

Saving grace
St Mary the Virgin, Rutland

St Mary the Virgin, Rutland

Adding to the magnificent national collection of more than 340 unique and beautiful buildings with 1,000 years of history, The Churches Conservation Trust (CCT) has rescued yet another church from decline. St Mary the Virgin is an enchanting Grade II-listed medieval example in Rutland, surrounded by green pastures grazed by a herd of cows, in the small village of Ayston, near Uppingham. As well as improving below-ground drainage, the work planned includes the conservation of medieval wall paintings.

For more than 40 years and with the help of over 1,000 regular volunteers, CCT has ensured that invaluable churches such as St Mary’s have been beautifully restored. The charity’s sites attract almost two million visitors every year while remaining centres for the community. Dr Neil Rushton, Conservation Manager at CCT, says: “The Trust is very keen to bring back the social and community uses that have traditionally been part of a church, such as education, schools, farmers markets and plays.”

Another beneficiary of CCT’s transformative work is St Paul’s in Bristol. This 18th-century gothic building was just a shell when it came into the care of the charity in 1997. Now the restoration is complete, and it showcases original craftsmanship, while having a new and contemporary purpose, as well as hosting a wide variety of modern performance arts, St Paul’s has become a circus skills training centre.

St Pauls Bristol (after restoration)

In a similar way, CCT is hoping to give St Mary’s a practical use while maintaining its medieval charm. The church will be closed for eight months while the restoration is carried out and is planned to open for visitors by early spring 2015. CCT is looking for volunteers to get involved with keeping the building open and used by both local people and visitors from further afield. Those interested in volunteering should contact David Adgar on 07733 108553 or email

Words by Faris Al-Jawad




Get a taste of the country: Garsons

Get a taste of the country: Garsons


Words by Faris Al-Jawad

Surrounded by beautiful British countryside, a village green and duck pond, Garsons is not just worth visiting for the array of homegrown, handmade and freshly baked produce that fills its shop’s shelves, but with a gift shop, garden centre, café and award-winning Pick Your Own Farm, it has all the ingredients for an enjoyable family day out.

Garsons is a family founded enterprise that has been growing fruit and vegetables since 1871. Today, it has expanded to include two sites – one at Esher in Surrey and another at Titchfield in Hampshire. Both pride themselves for the quality of what’s on offer: at Esher, for example, enjoy flavoursome game, pork and beef from the acclaimed Bevan’s Butchers, lobster and swordfish (when in season) from Poulters Fish, and artisan bread from the local Cavan Bakery, which has been perfecting their craft for more than 83 years.


But perhaps the highlight of a trip to Garsons is the Pick Your Own farm, the UK’s biggest. With 150 acres offering crops such as beetroots, asparagus, pumpkins, rhubarb, raspberries and flowers, too – look forward to gathering bunches of sunflowers and sweet peas over the summer months – there’s something to be had throughout the growing year. Head there at the end of May to enjoy the first strawberries of the season.


Once you’ve filled your baskets indoors and out, take a look at the 9,000 different plants and stylish accessories stocked in the Garden Centre, or relax in the spacious, sun-lit restaurant with a delicious selection of cooked breakfasts, lunches and afternoon teas, made fresh each day, using locally sourced and seasonal ingredients.

In addition to the above, Garsons at Titchfield, which opened in 1999, offers a Wildlife Centre with reptiles and fish – sure to entertain younger visitors this Easter.

Garsons Esher, Winterdown Road, West End, Esher, Surrey KT10 8LS; 01372 460181. Garsons Titchfield, Fontley Road, Titchfield, Hampshire PO15 6QX; 01329 844336.