Monday, 13 December 2010

Wreath making... and spiced apple cake!

Last week the Barn Cafe was awash with holly, berries, ivy, flora, fauna, and oasis rings... the winter wreath making class had arrived!

The half day event, which was held over two days, had everyone really putting their heart and soul into it. Jane, our Plant Centre Manager, was a great host and never seemed to tire of helping people make decorative bows. Vicki from the garden also helped with her infectious personality and love for the garden. It was a definite success, and there were even some second-timers to give advice to the green wreath makers!

Christmas music was played, lunch was enjoyed, and the second best loved thing about the event (besides the wreaths, of course) seemed to be the apple and sultana cake. We had quite a few requests for it, and Sarah our Chef has graciously given the recipe for you to enjoy. Enjoy!

Apple and Sultana Sponge (makes 1 large)
This can also be made gluten free, just replace the self raising flour with rice flour.
1 springform pan, lined and lightly greased
6oz. self raising flour
6oz. sugar
6oz. margarine
3 freedom food eggs
1/2 tsp. mixed spice
1 large cooking apple, large diced
2oz sultanas

In a large bowl, beat the margarine and the sugar until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour and mixed spice, then the diced apple. Pour half of the mixture into the springform pan, then top with sultanas, then add the rest of the batter. Bake at 180' for about 25-30 mins. If you're cooking in a fan oven, reduce the heat to 160'-170' depending on your oven.

Sprinkle the cake with sugar (if you wish) and serve with fresh cream. It will last three days - if you don't eat it first!

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Courgette Cake

We've been getting lots of enquiries recently about our new courgette cake, so here's the recipe...

3 free range eggs
130ml sunflower oil
150g golden caster sugar
225g self raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
275g courgettes

For the topping you'll need;
200g cream cheese
1/2 lemon
100g icing sugar

* Preheat the oven to 200oC or gas mark 6
* Beat the eggs with the sugar and oil until nice and creamy
* Using a sieve add the flour with the bicarbonate on soda and baking powder and stir to mix
* Grate the courgettes coarsely and stir into the mixture
* Turn into a greased tins and bake for between 25-30 minutes until golden
* Cool on a rack

For the topping;
* Mix the icing sugar, juice from the lemon and cream cheese together and spread over the cake
* Swirl the icing with a fork and decorate with borage flowers

Now sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labour!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Special Visitor

A very special visitor has recently been spotted soaring high in the sky above Hidcote. A red kite, more commonly seen in Wales, central Scotland and central England has been delighting visitors with aerial fly-pasts. Those dedicated 'birders' who braved the early start at our dawn chorus walk were also rewarded with a rare glimpse of our new feathered friend.

Here's some fascinating facts for you. Red kites can live up to 20 years and have an impressive wing span of two metres! They're renowned for their distinctive forked tail and striking red chestnut coloured feathers. It is reported that they became so close to extinction that in 1977 the entire population of kites emanated from just one female bird!

We've all got our fingers crossed that our red kite likes the Cotswolds and stays a bit longer.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Supernatural Signings

We're delighted to be welcoming the renowned author Diz White on Saturday 26 June. She'll be here signing copies of her new book - aptly titled 'Haunted Cotswolds'. You'll be able to meet Diz and get an exclusive signed copy of her book anytime between 2pm and 4pm.

As the name suggests, Diz has gathered together spine-chilling tales of ghosts and the undead from every corner of the Cotswolds, revealing in heart-stopping detail our region's unexplained events that lurk beneath the rolling hills and beautiful visitas.

British-born Diz, together with her husband Randall Montgomery whose photographs illustrate the book, divides her time between a career in Hollywood as an actress and screenplay writer, and her cottage in Gloucestershire, which she uses as a base for writing books about the Cotswolds.

Monday, 31 May 2010

The Great 178!

Another Bank Holiday weekend has just come and gone and for the most part the sun shone down on us making for perfect garden weather.

The Garden Restaurant set a new record this weekend serving the most lunches we have ever served. On Sunday between 12 noon and 2.30pm we served 178 freshly made lunches. A new Hidcote catering team record and a day that will go down in the memories as the day we served 'the great 178'

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Pig Power

We'll soon be using a pair of rare breed pigs to help clear the next plot in our rapidly growing Kitchen Garden. The ten week old Berkshires, reportedly our oldest breed of pig, are arriving this week - much to Glyn's growing excitement!

As part of our ongoing restoration, the pigs will be helping us to revive an age-old tradition of clearing the land ready for planting. They will be rooting out vegetation and clearing the grubs from the soil. And as Glyn says, they're also adding fresh, nutritious fertiliser as they go!

Here's a sneeky peek of our new piggy additions to the garden. Why not come and see them for yourself and you'll even be able to have a go at feeding them too.

Ready for All Weathers

A sudden down pour won't dampen your spirits anymore. We now have a healthy supply of emergency ponchos to give out to unsuspecting visitors should the heaven's open. They're free and can be picked up from the visitor reception. So don't let the Great British weather get the better of you this summer - get out and about...and stay dry!

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Almost Time for Tennis

Yes, at long last our clay court will soon be ready to welcome its first tennis players of the season. The new surface has arrived and - weather permitting! - will be laid on Monday.

Hurrah for Handkerchiefs

Well it would seem that despite the freezing winter, the cold temperatures have actually had a beneficial effect on the garden. Not only have the magnolias had their best year in over a decade, but it looks like our Chinese Handkerchief Tree is about to follow suit! Give it another few days and the typical white bracts will be looking amazing and giving our courtyard a real spring lift.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010


I can't believe it's only been two months since the turfing contractors dug up the Red Border and Old Garden! New drains and a modified soil (which Glyn reliably informs me is used at Old Trafford) were laid. The mini diggers did cause a bit of a talking point amongst early spring visitors but the experiment to toughen up the soil to allow greater access does seem to be working. It was thought that both areas would be closed for the whole season as the soil and turf settled and established, but on Monday the Red Border was open to visitors to see how it stood up to the patter of feet. So far so good. Although upon further inspection, we feel that the ground needs a little longer before we can open it up more regularly. However, it shouldn't be closed for the whole season as we first feared. Watch this space....

It's Tulip Time

No sooner have the magnolias finished their incredible display, then it's the turn of the tulips. The lovely sunny weather recently has really made a difference. The tulips are looking great - especially in the Old Garden and Red Border. So there should be plenty for Glyn to talk about in his tulip tour this afternoon!

Friday, 16 April 2010

Pink Clouds Return to Hidcote

We all breathed a big sigh of relief this week as the magnolias finally began to flower - albeit several weeks later than usual. They are not disappointing our Spring visitors. The pink flowers look absolutely stunning in the Stream Garden and Winter Border. But be quick if you want to see them. Cold weather is forecast next week. I even heard that there was a possibility of snow!

Monday, 12 April 2010

Wedding bells are ringing at Hidcote

Saturday 27 March was a very exciting day for us here at Hidcote, it was the day of our first wedding ceremony.

Lawrence Johnston's chapel was primed and ready to go (decorated with some stunning flowers from The Bay Tree at Campden) and there was a bustle as guests awaited that arrival of the bride in the courtyard.

The sun was shining, the birds were singing and the bride was a vision in white!

All went off without a hitch and the newly married couple set off into the sunset for their honeymoon!