Posted by: hencorner | April 23, 2015

Celebrating 5 years of Hen Corner!

Don’t just count your years, make your years count.‘*    *George Meredith

Spring Postcard Front

‘I need a logo for the chutneys that I’m making as Christmas presents’ I said back in December 2009…

And that, I guess, was the beginning of this exciting journey which is gathering pace year on year. My husband, Andy, helped me with the name, well, we just kept hens then and lived in the house on the corner of the street. My brother-in-law, Richard, chose the red chicken and another friend, Alex, encouraged me to blog. ‘You’d like Twitter‘ said Andy and little did he know how many followers we’d attract…
I bought the domain name for this website and wrote the About page in April ’10, by May ’10 the Observer Food Monthly had contacted me asking to include us in a feature about Urban Farmers in London!
CL Theatre with Ruth & FrancineIt’s good to look back on anniversaries, every year there are new things to celebrate, so what have our highlights been over the past 12 months? A big one for me was contributing to the Country Living Spring Fair, I was asked to give talks on both bee keeping and chickens from the beautiful Spring Garden at the entrance to the Fair, I also did a food demonstration cooking griddled asparagus with poached egg and hollandaise sauce. The event programme also included a series of talks and interviews in the Country Living Theatre and it was a pleasure to be interviewed with the Telegraph’s Francine Raymond by Features Editor Ruth Chandler.

Macy at HornimanWe have been delighted to work with several new schools this year, either taking our chickens into the classroom or welcoming groups to visit our home, we’ve even taken a small flock of hens on the road to the Horniman Museum and Gardens for their Chirpy Chickens event at Easter.

Back in September, our honey harvest was the biggest so far and we were thrilled to sell half of it to BAFTA, I hope the bees do us proud again this year.
So what are the things that we can look forward to in this next year?
Our wonderful new kitchen is so nearly finished and will be perfect for all our new food courses, we have more schools visits lined up and Bunty is broody and is sitting on 12 fertile eggs, hopefully, we shall see the chicks in a few weeks time… All of this alongside our usual harvesting from the garden; the peaches were pollinated well and are already starting to develop. As the quote says at the top of the page Don’t just count your years, make your years count.and that is exactly what we are trying to do!

Bread sweet and savouryComing up at the Corner – 20% off all courses booked by end of April

If you’d like to visit us here in London, we have courses running right throughout the year. Next month brings Intro to Bee Keeping, Bread: Sweet and SavouryPerfect Pasta and a new course, A Day at Hen CornerWe have many more courses available, both in the garden and the kitchen, and the promotional code SPRING15 will give you 20% off all bookings before the end of April – Book in now to save some pennies…

Other News:

  • Andy has designed some fantastic cloches to protect the raised bed from the chickens when they are out free ranging
  • We’ve been having the outside of the house painted as well as our kitchen & conservatory projects – all nice for our visitors
  • Eggs galore! We’ve got more than we can eat, so do pop by if you are local – £2/half-dozen

Jobs for this week:

  • Keep an eye on Bunty, I hope that she’s careful with those fertile eggs
  • Water some Nemaslug into the raised beds, this should significantly reduce our slug population!
  • Prepare the garden to welcome course guests, a schools visit and a group of local cub scouts

Have a good week yourself…Hen logo good

Join us on the Journey!

Posted by: hencorner | April 10, 2015

Buzzing Away…

image‘Life is the flower for which love is the honey’*
*Victor Hugo

Those who read our last post will know that we’ve recently been to Cornwall, staying in a lovely Safari Tent with Classic Glamping

Whilst we are living the country life in London, when we do venture out on a rural holiday, we love to see reminders of home; this time it was honey bees – everyday. Our hosts Erika and Mike have a couple of colonies in a new orchard that they have planted behind their house, then it was off to the Eden Project to discover these beautifully painted hives on top of the bank as you enter the project. ‘I wouldn’t like to harvest honey from up there, would you?’ said Andy as we looked up to the tall hives balanced on platforms. I must admit, whilst they are positioned well out of the way for the public, regular inspections may be a bit precarious. The Eden Project are partnering with others on the B4 project (Bringing Back Black Bees) working to promote the qualities of the native black honey bee, Apis mellifera mellifera, to beekeepers across the south west peninsula encouraging them to use the Cornish strain and strengthen the local stock. Back home, one of our queens is pure black without a stripe, I wonder if her parents originate from the West Country?
 image
Our third bee encounter was on a day trip to Tintagel. As we walked along the main street towards the castle I noticed a small shop simply called Tingatel Honey, it was a delight to see a whole shop in prime position dedicated to the produce of predominately one bee keeper. The store was run by Katrina McTaggart, partner to bee keeper Grant McTaggart, and their delights included Creamed Honey, Cut Comb, Runny Honey and a beautifully fragranced Heather Honey. Katrina explained that they had to be careful in selecting which colonies to move to the heather each year as this is usually done at the end of summer after the main honey harvest and is therefore instead of the annual thymol treatment against the varroa mite. Some of their jars are displayed around the familiar red certificate confirming first prize at the regional honey show; it’s great to see a bee keeper successfully make a business out of the craft. When I explained that I was also a bee keeper, here in London, Katrina’s response was ‘Ooh, I’ve heard that London honey is really good.’ my reply was ‘We all think our own honey is delicious, don’t we?’

A day at Hencorner

Coming up at the Corner – 20% off all courses booked by end of April

If you’d like to visit us here in London, we have courses running right throughout the year. Next month brings Intro to Bee Keeping, Bread: Sweet and SavouryPerfect Pasta and a new course, A Day at Hen CornerWe have many more courses available, both in the garden and the kitchen, and the promotional code SPRING15 will give you 20% off all bookings before the end of April – Please pass it on!

Other News:

  • We had a fantastic time taking the chickens to the Horiman Museum and Gardens, we set up an enclosure on the hill over looking central London and could see the Shard from our high point
  • The new kitchen is starting to take shape, I can’t wait to christen the new Rangemaster
  • Easter Monday was a beautiful day to plant and sow in the Kitchen Garden, we now have potatoes, strawberries, carrots, onions and selections of brassicas and legumes all starting to grow in their snug new beds

Jobs for this week:

  • Follow up local schools as they return back after their Easter break, do you know a school that might like us to help them?
  • Cycle over to Kew Gardens to check on their honey bees
  • Design some sun shade sails to hang up in the conservatory, keeping our training area cool for our new season of courses

Have a good week yourself…Hen logo good

Join us on the Journey!

Posted by: hencorner | March 30, 2015

Spring Safari….

image‘In all things of nature there is something of the marvellous.’*
*Aristotle

As the Easter holidays begin and the clocks have sprung forward to usher in the longer days, we were delighted to have been invited to review the Campion Safari Tent at Western Meadows Glamping…

We try to live life to the full here at Hen Corner, a little bit of country life in London, and have discovered how to get the best of both worlds for a spring break in the West Country. We were definitely looking forward to the fresh air, fantastic views and farm animal noises (it was sheep and chickens this time) and the opportunity for our children to run, jump, read and explore in a screen-free zone was also a big pull. But camping? I hear you say…
imageDo not fear, as this is Glamping, glamorous camping, that has become so popular that Classic Cottages have developed a sister company, Classic Glamping, especially to help you find your perfect match. Whilst I loved the look of the Shepherd’s Hut and Airstream, for our family this Safari Tent was perfect. It was spacious, with three double/twin sleeping areas, private bathroom with hot water and double shower and a kitchen area equipped with fridge freezer, power sockets, overhead lighting and all the cooking equipment you might need for your stay. This truly brought together meadow camping under canvas with the home comforts that allow rejuvenation on your holiday.
Within minutes of our arrival, our host Erika was baking delicious fresh scones for our welcome cream tea and our children were deciding who would sleep in the double den bed. Andy lit the wood-burner, which not only heated the tent but also had a large hot plate for our breakfast bacon and a spacious oven that effortlessly warmed a casserole that I’d brought with us. Throughout our stay, Erika’s husband, Mike, kindly ensured that our wood basket was regularly topped up and any treats or necessities could be collected from the on site Honesty Shop with the bill settled on departure.
imageWhilst it was wet and windy outside, evenings were cozy in front of the stove as we played cards by candlelight, then off to our big warm beds, drifting off to sleep to the occasional bleat of a sheep and a distant hoot of an owl. Our days were filled with all that Cornwall has to offer; we visited the Eden Project, Tintagel and had pasties in Port Isaac. On our final day, we drove back to London via West Bay at Bridport and stopped for a cone of chips in the harbour and a quick stroll on the beach at the feet of the most amazing Jurassic Coast cliffs.
Western Meadows was certainly a home from home, they even had their own chickens and bees, and did I mention the big comfy sofa in the tent?

 

Perfect pastaComing up at the Corner – 20% off all courses booked by end of April

If you’d like to visit us here in London, we have courses running right throughout the year. Families, Feathers and Fun is the next session coming up. Closely followed by Intro to Bee Keeping, Bread: Sweet and Savoury and Perfect Pasta. We have many more courses available, both in the garden and the kitchen, and the promotional code SPRING15 will give you 20% off all bookings before the end of April – Pass it on!

Other News:

  • We’ve said a sad goodbye to Sapphire, our beautiful old grey cat, she would have been 19 this month
  • Our new kitchen is starting to take shape, the stone floor has been laid through into the conservatory
  • Essential Surrey have written a piece about our courses for their 9 regional magazines, they are out next month

Jobs for this week:

  • Gather the chickens and head off to the Horniman Museum for their Chirpy Chickens event
  • Buy some HenPower Easter Eggs that support creatively engaging older people
  • Probably painting the plastered walls in the new kitchen during the Bank Holiday weekend…

Have a good week yourself…Hen logo good

Join us on the Journey!

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