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  • Snowdrops in Northamptonshire

    Snowdrops in Northamptonshire

    24th January 2022

    The shy stars of spring If ever there was a sight to warm the heart on a cold day, it is a carpet of snowdrops on a woodland floor. With their delicate heads poking through the hard ground and nodding in the winter winds, they send an optimistic message that spring is on the way, and that all is well. This month is the perfect time to wrap up warm and enjoy their blooms in one of our beautiful Northamptonshire historic gardens. Luckily, we have an abundance of places in Northamptonshire where we can enjoy these beautiful harbingers of spring. Here are just a few of my favourite places, although there are many more. Please note that you must check the relevant websites to ensure that the gardens are open before you set off, and opening times and dates will vary. Some also require pre-booking. And as snowdrops can’t read a calendar they may decide to bloom earlier or later than expected. However, the last two Sundays in February offer... Read More »

  • A Tribute to Mike Ingram M.A.

    A Tribute to Mike Ingram M.A.

    6th January 2022

    Mike Ingram and I were great friends, fellow Naseby Battlefield Project Trustees, and it could be said that we both have ‘Naseby’ blood flowing through our veins. I can only speak with any authority in the context of Naseby, as we were co-Trustees from 2014 until earlier this year. I know that Mike loved Naseby, and we liked nothing better than to lean on a fence or a gateway on the battlefield and to talk about the battle, the events of 1645, and how the outcome of that battle had changed this nation’s history. Mike Ingram the professional, held an MA in History from Birmingham University and was a Mediaeval Historian, a teacher, an acclaimed award winning author, a consummate battlefield tour guide, the sitting Chairman of the Northamptonshire Battlefields Society at the time of his sudden passing and, until earlier this year, Acting Chairman and Trustee of the Naseby Battlefield Project. It is of course well known... Read More »

  • Chefs Cook Off for Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards 2021

    Chefs Cook Off for Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards 2021

    7th September 2021

    Two exciting cook offs took place recently in the county’s prestigious catering colleges, highlighting just how important chef skills are to our hospitality businesses. The Booker Young Chef of the Year final in the Weetabix Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards competition took place on July 29th at Northampton College. The four finalists, all aged under 24, were asked to prepare, cook and present the judges with a chicken and ham pie using Northamptonshire produce, including chicken from Pastures Poultry, ham from Sauls of Spratton, and Jeyes’ Northamptonshire Sauce from Jeyes of Earls Barton. The young chefs had two hours to complete the challenge in front of the Award judges which included Chris Jackson (Catering Development Manager of Booker, Northampton), Phil Martin (Curriculum Manager for Culinary, Hospitality and Tourism at Northampton College), Mary Laing (Awards Patron) and Charles Banks (Director and Co-Founder... Read More »

  • Proud to Support Love Lamb Week

    Proud to Support Love Lamb Week

    6th September 2021

    The Love Lamb Week campaign runs from 1st– 7th September each year and this time around the campaign has had a focus on the sustainability benefits of sheep farming in the UK, as well as promoting the nutritional value of the meat. The campaign was originally founded by Cumbrian sheep farmer Rachel Lumbley, who wanted to raise awareness of the low market value prices farmers were receiving for their lambs across the country, whilst raising high quality stock for the meat. Sadly, prices are still low and there are increasing pressures on many lamb producers with the shortage in labour, fall out from the pandemic and low domestic consumption of lamb. In Northamptonshire we have an abundance of lamb producers. According to the National Farmers Union, there are approximately 292,000 sheep in the county. Meanwhile farmers farm 77% of the county’s land area and 69% of which is involved in some form of countryside stewardship or... Read More »

  • Stilettos and Space Hoppers – Northampton’s Heritage Renaissance

    Stilettos and Space Hoppers – Northampton’s Heritage Renaissance

    19th July 2021

    I have been waiting with anticipation to write this particular article, and the day is here! Our Northamptonshire flagship museum, Northampton Museum and Art Gallery, NMAG, reopened on 10th July after a long closure for refurbishment. I was invited for a sneak peek preview, and it’s a wow from me! I’m most interested in museums that have a relevance to their audience, those that display object and stories that we can all identify with. Shoes are a great example of something we can all relate to. We all wear them, buy them or need them, they reflect our jobs, fantasies or hobbies, and we might love some and hate others. We all have opinions and stories about our shoes. And of course, Northamptonshire is the ‘boot and shoe county’. If you grew up locally, there’s a fair chance that you once experienced a school trip to the ‘Shoe Museum’. It’s recognised as the largest collection of historic... Read More »

  • Northamptonshire Winemakers Pick Up National Award!

    Northamptonshire Winemakers Pick Up National Award!

    25th June 2021

    Northamptonshire Winemakers Pick Up National Award! A small, Northamptonshire family vineyard is marking its tenth anniversary in the best possible way this week, by raising a glass of its own award-winning fizz to celebrate picking up a top national accolade. Stonyfield Wine, based at Blisworth, has won a gold medal and the Dudley Quirk Trophy for Best Sparkling Blend 2021 from WineGB, the UK body for grape growers and winemakers – an honour usually bestowed upon the country’s larger, southern vineyards. After planting the first vines in 2011 on the south-facing slope of spoil left behind after the digging of the Grand Union canal and Blisworth tunnel in the late 18th Century, Stonyfield partner John Folliott Vaughan says they’re delighted to be recognised in this way just a decade later: “We’re flattered and frankly amazed to be both the first small and only Midlands-based vineyard to receive this national... Read More »

  • Most Awarded Education Programme in England

    Most Awarded Education Programme in England

    26th May 2021

    Most Awarded Education Programme in England The Sandford Award for Heritage Education was awarded last week for the eighth time to Holdenby House, Northamptonshire, making Holdenby the most awarded Heritage Education Programme in the UK. Chris Green from the Heritage Education Trust was at Holdenby to give the award on behalf of the Directors of the Heritage Education Trust. Speaking about Holdenby, Mr Green said, “Such sustained success is a brilliant accomplishment reflecting the outstanding work of sharing this unique and significant house with the community and its schools. The first-hand experiences provided are quite splendid, engineered by remarkable staff and volunteers.” Over a quarter of a million children have now participated in the nationally recognised living history programmes. They include being a servant in a Victorian household, an evacuee in the second World War, meeting King Charles I or Queen Elizabeth... Read More »

  • Northamptonshire’s Top 20 Hotels

    Northamptonshire’s Top 20 Hotels

    11th May 2021

    Northamptonshire’s Top 20 Hotels, Bed & Breakfasts & Self-Catering 1. Bragborough Hall The Bragborough Hall Estate comprises three period holiday lets renovated to the highest standard and owned and run by the Phipps Family. Take in magnificent countryside views, enjoy walks over the working farm with beef cattle and arable crops, and wake up to the serene surroundings of the surrounding landscape and fresh country air. The day belongs to you so, relax in front of the log burner, play table football in the Tack Room, or use the tennis court within the beautiful walled garden. Bragborough is within walking distance of some great pubs so round off your day at the nearby canal-side Admiral Nelson, Braunston. Traditional countryside luxuries sit alongside modern facilities here, so your stay will be comfortable, spacious, and private. A complimentary hamper will be waiting for you on arrival. Bragborough Hall itself has... Read More »

  • Going back to Boughton

    Going back to Boughton

    10th May 2021

    May is with us! That most delightful of months when the natural world seems to explode into life in full technicolour could not be more welcome after being cooped up for so long. I was delighted to learn that Boughton is opening its gardens for both the bank holidays this month, and I can’t wait to revisit. One of the reasons I love the outside at Boughton is that it blends together of some of the best ancient and modern garden styles. Seemingly simple green and graphic lines created several hundred years apart work incredibly well together. Vast lawns, expanses of water, ancient trees, and glorious formal and informal bedding make Boughton something truly special. These gardens owe everything to the vision of two father and son teams. The ‘ancient’ elements of the gardens at Boughton were developed by the 1st and 2nd Duke of Montagu over 55 years, beginning in 1684. The ‘modern’ restoration and innovation... Read More »

  • Celebrate Springtime at Castle Ashby

    Celebrate Springtime at Castle Ashby

    23rd April 2021

    The world is starting to reopen, and Spring is on the way! We can all now safely enjoy some of the most spectacular historic gardens in Northamptonshire. One of my absolute favourites belongs to Castle Ashby, the ancestral home of the seventh Marquess of Northampton, Spencer David Douglas Compton. It has a great story.  The history of Castle Ashby reaches back to Saxon times at least, but the building of today’s Castle Ashby was begun in 1574 by Baron Henry Compton. He was a royal courtier, and one of the peers who attended the death of Mary Queen of Scots at Fotheringhay. The house was shaped like an ‘E’ to flatter the queen, and it was built as a showpiece, a ‘prodigy house’ designed to show the taste and wealth of the family, and large enough to host the Queen and her courtiers on the summer progress. The building was continued by Henry’s son William, and the flattery worked. The Queen visited... Read More »

  • Northamptonshire in Lonely Planet Guide’s UK Top 10

    Northamptonshire in Lonely Planet Guide’s UK Top 10

    15th April 2021

    Oundle in Northamptonshire has been recommended by the Lonely Planet Guide as one of the UK’s best places to visit post- lockdown. Tom Hall, Vice President of Experience at Lonely Planet, said: "London has always dominated tourism in the UK, and for good reason, but the entire country is overflowing with historic sites and natural wonders. The pandemic caused us all to pause and re-evaluate how we travel, and I think now is the perfect time to update that bucket list with some of these under-the-radar places you might have overlooked in the past.” The full list is available here: https://presscentre.sony.co.uk/pressreleases/travel-inspiration-post-lockdown-top-10-destinations-you-would-not-believe-are-in-the-uk-3085027 Read More »

  • Northamptonshire’s Top Spots for Camping & Glamping

    Northamptonshire’s Top Spots for Camping & Glamping

    9th April 2021

    Northamptonshire’s Top Spots for Camping & Glamping Where to Stay Locally When Restrictions are Lifted April 12. 1. Castle Farm, Fotheringhay This idyllic small site on the Nene is surrounded by quiet farmland. The field sweeps down to a peaceful bend in the river which is a wonderful spot for wild swimming, canoeing, wildlife spotting, or simply sitting end enjoying nature.  There are just 10 pitches here, so the site never feels crowded, the perfect place for ‘wild’ camping as the site has been left relatively untouched; a freshwater tap and portaloo are the only facilities. An extensive network of public footpaths lead to surrounding Nene Valley villages, a welcoming pub at the Falcon (reopening April 12) and Oundle is a 5-minute drive away; rated by Lonely Planet as one of the top 10 under the radar places to visit in the UK this summer. https://www.fotheringhaycastlefarm.co.uk https://www.thefalcon... Read More »

  • Top 20 Outdoors Attractions

    Top 20 Outdoors Attractions

    25th March 2021

    Northamptonshire’s Top 20 Outdoors Attractions for April. Where to Visit Locally When Stay at Home Restrictions are Lifted March 29. Prior to visiting, we recommend checking websites and social media for any possible adjustments to opening times and additional details of open days and special events. 1. Brampton Valley Way This much-loved family friendly 14-mile walking and cycling route is built on the former Northampton to Market Harborough Railway. Home to Northampton & Lamport Railway, which reopens May 23rd with a Teddy Bear Weekend, much of the route is suited to off-road and hybrid cycling. When pubs and restaurants reopen, combine your visit to the Brampton Valley Way with lunch at the Hopping Hare or Brampton Halt. Walk 20 on the Northamptonshire Walks website takes in the Bramptons and Brampton Valley Way: https://northamptonshirewalks.co.uk/about/walk-20-a-short-stroll-around-the-bramptons-the-brampton-valley-... Read More »

  • Toasting More Stars of County’s Food & Drink Sector

    Toasting More Stars of County’s Food & Drink Sector

    24th March 2021

    While 2021 still offers the county’s culinary sector little for which to be thankful, more of its finest are enjoying a well-earned reason to celebrate after picking up top accolades in this year’s Weetabix Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards. The competition, now in its twelfth year, is run by the sector for the sector and is aimed at publicly applauding all that is great about local produce and drink, recognising excellence within the county’s dining venues and rewarding those who work so hard to ensure the sector’s continuing success. The Awards year usually culminates in a glittering celebration staged at Northampton’s Royal & Derngate but, owing to social distancing rules, the results in six of the categories were announced online back in November, while a further three category results were revealed in February during another specially-recorded virtual ‘second course’ celebration,... Read More »

  • The Gretton Charity Sportive

    The Gretton Charity Sportive

    19th February 2021

    Now a firm fixture for cyclists, The Gretton Charity Sportive is back on 12th June 2021 and promises to be bigger than ever. Recognising the increased number of people who have discovered cycling in the past year, organisers Wild Dog Events have added a third distance to open up the popular event to more riders who want to enjoy the beautiful countryside and fantastic views of the Welland Valley. As always, cyclists will be very well catered for whether they choose to ride the 20km, 50km or 100km route – there will be well-stocked feed stations including one at the popular cycling café Spokes, a sweeper van, finishers medals and barbecue and bar at the finish line. As in previous years, all profits from The Gretton Charity Sportive will go to The Travers Foundation.Book before the 5 April 2021 at wilddogevents.com to benefit from the early bird discount. About the Travers FoundationThe Travers Foundation is a volunteer-... Read More »

  • Armchair Northamptonshire

    Armchair Northamptonshire

    18th February 2021

    Northamptonshire's naughty nuns, and other stories. Our beautiful county is filled with hidden histories and untold stores, and there is still lots to discover without leaving home. Right now, in February 2021, the weather, and COVID precautions make staying indoors and exploring the county through video, websites, social media and good old-fashioned books very appealing. I'm taking the opportunity to draw up a hit-list of places to visit later this year, and to top up my understanding of Northamptonshire's place in our great English story. One of my favourite-ever telly programmes was Time Team, a Channel 4 production hosted by Tony Robinson. The likeable archaeological crew descended upon a potential site of interest and gave themselves three days to explore, investigate, dig, and recreate their idea of what the past looked like. There was drama, disappointment, thrills and amazement, and genuine discoveries that increased knowledge... Read More »

  • Snowdrop Days at Evenley Wood Garden

    Snowdrop Days at Evenley Wood Garden

    11th February 2021

    Evenley Wood Garden have reopened for Snowdrop Days From Monday 1st February to Monday 1st March, giving those communities that are local to this wonderful 60 acre private woodland the opportunity to take daily exercise and enjoy the different Galanthus species. For those who regularly visit during the snowdrop season there have been new areas planted, along the avenue and down by the stream garden. Look out for the beautiful snowdrop showcase by the pavilion where you can note your favourite species or see if you can find them all in the garden. Uncle Geordie's Shed will be open every week from Tuesday - Sunday serving takeaway hot drinks and cake to keep the cold at bay. Read More »

  • Update from Fermynwoods

    Update from Fermynwoods

    9th February 2021

    BEST GALLERY IN NORTHAMPTONSHIRE Citing the organisation’s “ingenuity and hard work” SME News has named Fermynwoods Contemporary Art as Northamptonshire’s Best Contemporary Art Gallery as part of the 2020 Midlands Enterprise Awards. Fermynwoods finds innovative ways in which the arts can reach non-traditional arts audiences, in particular rural or disadvantaged communities. They regularly work with members of the public, schools and young people not currently in mainstream education to ignite an enthusiasm for learning through the arts. This experience served them well in 2020, enabling positive response to new challenges, whilst navigating the trickiest periods thanks to the adaptability and innovation of artists who continue to be devoted to supporting life through art. THE PHONE BOX GALLERY The latest lockdown has forced the closing of art galleries across the nation, including a recent Fermynwoods exhibition... Read More »

  • BB, a Northamptonshire Countryman

    BB, a Northamptonshire Countryman

    28th January 2021

    When I was a bookish little girl, I found a tatty old cloth-bound book in a library. The outside was unappealing, but the inside was filled with beautiful jewel-coloured illustrations, and black and white images of the natural world. The stories were quite magical, about little men, gnomes, who lived in the countryside, living their lives alongside us bigger humans. Their survival relied on their knowledge of the natural world, and their fellowship with each other. The book was called The Little Grey Men written by the mysterious sounding ‘BB’, and I never forgot it. Now nearly sixty years later, I was thrilled to discover who ‘BB’ was, and to learn that he was a Northamptonshire man, from Lamport. ‘BB’ was the pen name for Denys Watkins-Pitchford. He was born the elder of twin sons to the Rector of Lamport and his wife in 1905. Their home was the gracious Queen Anne rectory, set on the edge of the village... Read More »

  • Future Olympians continue training at Adrenaline Alley

    Future Olympians continue training at Adrenaline Alley

    25th January 2021

    As we persevere through yet another national lockdown, sport and leisure facilities throughout the county remain closed for public use. This leaves us facing the disheartening reality that coronavirus is preventing us from participating in so many of the sports that we love. However, at Adrenaline Alley in Corby (Europe's largest urban sports venue), the wheels of BMX bikes continue to spin. Although restrictions prohibit this world-class facility from opening to the thousands of urban sport enthusiasts that would usually be visiting from all around the UK (and beyond), elite athletes are legally exempt. This means that behind closed doors and with stringent coronavirus measures in place, the Olympic hopefuls of the British Cycling BMX freestyle team can use Adrenaline Alley as their main training centre. Team GB member, Charlotte Worthington, left her home in Manchester to live in Corby so she could train at the facility daily. She comments... Read More »

  • Lockdown Life - Pocket Parks

    Lockdown Life - Pocket Parks

    25th January 2021

    Under the new lockdown rules announced in January we still have access to outdoor exercise with members of our own household or one other person. The guidelines don't give a time limit for how long we can exercise for, but it should be kept to once a day, and undertaken locally e.g. in our local neighbourhood, village, town. Neighbourhood streets, parks and the countryside, public gardens and grounds (whether or not you pay to enter them) and outdoor playgrounds are accessible to us all, as are the county’s lesser known pocket parks. For inspiration we have included a link to the Northamptonshire Pocket Parks. All of these Northamptonshire Pocket Parks are looked after and cherished by their local communities, for peaceful enjoyment and the protection of wildlife. Stay safe everyone. Read More »

  • The Fall and Rise of Fawsley Hall

    The Fall and Rise of Fawsley Hall

    23rd December 2020

    Travelling to Fawsley Hall is like journeying back in time. Leaving modern roads, one encounters a timeless rural landscape, with farm buildings and fields full of stock animals. The single-track lanes lead past large pools edged with ancient trees. One is more likely to encounter an equestrian than another vehicle. And then silhouetted against the rolling sky, lies Fawsley Hall, a remarkable survivor of changing fortune over the last millennium.   The settlement of Fawsley is known to predate the building of the hall by at least 1000 years. Burials dating back to the 6th Century suggest an established settlement in the locality. The area was recorded as being an Anglo-Saxon Royal Manor, used as an administrative centre, and favoured for hunting. By the time of the Domesday book in 1086 the population was numbered at 50, and the village seems to have grown rapidly until the arrival of the Black Death which claimed the lives of nearly... Read More »

  • Support Local: County's Tastiest Treats under one Roof

    Support Local: County's Tastiest Treats under one Roof

    14th December 2020

    From pies to pickles, bread to beer, some of the county's favourite treats and tipples are now on sale under one roof at Rushden Lakes, thanks to an exciting new 'Support Local' partnership launching this week. Made In Northamptonshire has teamed up with East Northamptonshire Council to offer visitors the opportunity to take home amazing produce that's all been lovingly created in the county. The opportunity to showcase some of the county's artisan producers in one place is a dream come true: "When we launched MIN in January 2011, the aim was to lend our backing to our fabulous producers, helping raise their profile, finding stockists and promoting their wonderful wares to more people" explained Rachel Mallows, Director. "Now, thanks to both The Crown Estate and East Northamptonshire District Council, we've found the perfect way to celebrate our ten-year anniversary with our very own shop, where buyers can come in, try some of the treats... Read More »

  • Phone or Click & Collect – shop local during lockdown

    Phone or Click & Collect – shop local during lockdown

    13th November 2020

    Northampton's Town Centre Business Improvement District (BID) is offering shoppers and town centre businesses a ‘Phone or Click & Collect’ service during this month's lockdown.  The collection point will be at number 64 St Giles Street, Northampton. This Phone or Click & Collect service enables people to continue to shop locally and safely in Northampton town centre, despite the closure of businesses during lockdown. It also enables businesses to continue trading – despite most having to close to customers. Customers should contact businesses directly to shop, order and pay. Once they have placed their orders customers collect their orders within 48 hours from the BID’s ‘Phone or Click & Collect’ collection point. More info here: https://www.discovernorthampton.co.uk/phone-or-click-collect/ Read More »

  • Wellies Optional

    Wellies Optional

    14th October 2020

    Autumn is now well and truly upon us and, as we change our walking routes with the seasons, this week we have been thinking about opportunities to explore our wonderful county without carrying lots of mud around on your footwear. Visit the ‘Northamptonshire Town & Villages Walks’ tab on the county’s walking website www.northamptonshirewalks.co.uk. Here you’ll find 22 walks on hard surfaces, lots of town history and fun facts. You might think you know a village.. but have a read and go explore. Did you know Rushden has its own ‘Blue Plaque’ Walk? Walk 96 is a great 3.5 mile stroll, taking roughly one hour, and includes the stunning hamlet of Brockhall, the abandoned village of Muscott, the canal and a chance for a tea room stop. All of that in one hour. Did you know that in World War II Brockhall Hall was used by the American Office of Strategic Studies, an early predecessor of the CIA?  It... Read More »

  • New Hotel Opening – The Falcon, Castle Ashby

    New Hotel Opening – The Falcon, Castle Ashby

    2nd October 2020

    The Falcon - a Grade II listed Coaching Inn built in 1594 - has been lovingly transformed and completely reimagined by Lord and Lady Northampton.  Now a country retreat with 22 bedrooms and a destination restaurant, the Falcon opened this week (Monday September 28th) creating a haven for those in need of rest and renewal. Drawing upon Lady Northampton’s professional experience as a psychotherapist, counsellor and yoga teacher; as well as their joint personal lifestyle centred around physical and mental wellbeing, they have created a space that marries mindfulness with activity and close links with nature. Guests can unwind in peace whilst benefiting from special access to the nearby Castle Ashby Gardens (designed by Capability Brown) as well as wild swimming, yoga, cycling and designated private nature walks.  Under the direction of Chef Mark Lawton, the hotel’s new Restaurant ‘Eyas’ (meaning a young... Read More »

  • Walking Whatever the Weather

    Walking Whatever the Weather

    26th August 2020

    As I sit here writing this recommendation it’s 8pm, the light is fading and autumn is fast approaching. Autumn is my favourite season, as the trees put on their magnificent show of colour, the hedgerows prepare their winter berry offerings for the birds, and the light grows softer from the lowering sun. So, with another storm forecast this week, thoughts start to turn away from walking across muddy ploughed fields towards where I can still go for a walk whatever the weather? Last week one of my followers told me about a change to my Walk 59, a 3.75 mile circular walk from beautiful Kislingbury. Until now part of this walk followed the brilliant Nene Way long distance footpath, but the massive housing development that’s underway in Upton means that this is no longer possible. What’s great news though is the path now follows the newly updated hard surfaces of the redesigned Upton Country Park. This means it’s always... Read More »

  • Reflections on a Northamptonshire Lockdown Part 3

    Reflections on a Northamptonshire Lockdown Part 3

    30th July 2020

    So that’s our third section of the Jurassic Way completed – 14 or so miles yesterday, including one of the great viewpoints of the Northamptonshire Uplands, Honey Hill near Cold Ashby.  For those who have yet to discover it, the Jurassic Way is an 88-mile trail almost entirely within the county’s northern and western boundaries, but starting from Banbury in Oxfordshire and ending at Stamford in Lincolnshire.  It follows the line of Jurassic rock strata where they reach the surface and its warm, often iron-stained, limestones and sandstones are the vernacular building materials for many of the local villages.  Stones found in the ploughed fields – and even the building stone used in the villages – can contain the visible remains of shellfish, laid down in sea beds perhaps 100 million years ago.  Over the last couple of weeks we had completed the two previous sections, also both around 14... Read More »

  • Harlestone and The Firs

    Harlestone and The Firs

    30th July 2020

    Lockdown has motivated us to explore more locally and discover what this beautiful county Northamptonshire has to offer. So much so, the wonderful ‘Northamptonshire Walks’ blog (link at the bottom) has had more than 130,000 views in recent weeks. This week’s stunning 4.5-mile walk starts off in beautiful Upper Harlestone. In fact, some walkers simply want to stop there as it’s so pretty. From here we cross to Lower Harlestone. Both villages are thought to date back to Saxon times. Harlestone is known for playing a minor part in history. In 1745 Bonnie Prince Charlie was marching south through England, intending to fight his way to London and claim the throne. When he learned that the Northamptonshire regiment was amassing at Harlestone, he turned around and marched back to Scotland. The result was the Battle of Culloden and the end of the Stuart dream of gaining the throne. Harlestone House was once... Read More »

  • 10 of the best pub gardens in Northants to enjoy this summer

    10 of the best pub gardens in Northants to enjoy this summer

    30th July 2020

    We're finally going out out and it's going to be an absolute corker. Bring on the sunshine so we can soak it up with our fave tipple in one of these gorgeous Northants pub gardens. The Tollemache Arms, Harrington It’s just around the corner from the Warner’s gin distillery, so we know what we’ll be guzzling at the Tolly this summer with our fave tonic. There’s an extensive menu here, from sharing platters to handmade pizzas, salad bowls and pub classics, so something for everyone. Plus, the spacious garden is perfect for watching the sun go down across the picturesque Northamptonshire countryside.   The Kings Arms, Farthingstone Everything about the King’s Arms is a bit bonkers, from the chintz sofas to the Northamptonshire skittles room. Nothing about this place fits a slick, modern mould, but spit and sawdust it ain’t, you’ll get outstanding food including fresh fish straight from... Read More »

  • Daventry Market

    Daventry Market

    29th July 2020

    As a historic market town, with a rich history, Daventry is proud to hold a chartered market every Tuesday and Friday. Along the high street, bedecked with flowers, the market stalls have been rearranged to allow plenty of space for customers to social distance. The road is closed to traffic so the whole street provides space to shop in comfort and safety.  Although this is not a large market there are a number of stalls predominantly selling local produce. Highlights include baked goods and bread, meats, an excellent green grocer with a very wide selection, and a fantastic plant stall.  There is ample free parking in Daventry providing easy access to the market. A number of cafes are open to provide refreshments for thirsty shoppers.  The market trades between 8.00 and 14.00.   Read More »

  • The New Garden Menu at Old Rectory Gardens

    The New Garden Menu at Old Rectory Gardens

    28th July 2020

    In early August, the glorious Old Rectory Gardens at Sudborough will be transformed for the third year running into a pop-up restaurant by Nest for a week. The team from the award-winning London based Nest and Harlequin restaurants will be relocating to Northamptonshire creating their unique and delicious seasonal food, using produce gathered from the Rectory’s Potager. Diners are greeted on the lawn with aperitifs, before strolling the gardens at their leisure, then taking their seats in the tranquil surroundings of The Yellow Garden. DATES: Dinner at 6.30pm from Wednesday 5 to Saturday 8 August 2020 with one sitting per evening and lunches at 12.30pm on Thursday 6 to Saturday 8 August. Early booking is recommended for this increasingly popular annual event. For more information contact Toby at the Nest: [email protected] or Sue at: [email protected] oldrectorygardens.co.uk. To book a table please follow this link: https://... Read More »

  • Unframed arts trail brings out the best colours in Daventry

    Unframed arts trail brings out the best colours in Daventry

    22nd July 2020

    The first ever Daventry Unframed arts festival is set to show Daventry in its true colours this week, by showcasing work from the town's community artists. Eight local creatives whose talents range from illustration, painting, photography and print, to digital art, will be exhibiting their collections in gallery spaces within the shops and cafes. They will be connected by an art trail to encourage visitors to discover Daventry and enjoy the historic town centre. The month-long festival starts this week aligning with the school summer holiday period, and will see each artist staging an exhibition of their work in a local shop for the minimum of a two-week period. Details of each artist can be found in a catalogue available in every venue where the art is being displayed. The art trail is part of the forum's & 'Keep Daventry Weird' mission, to expand the range of specialist and independent retailers in the town, and to build on the... Read More »

  • The Arches at Fineshade Wood Reopening & Good to Go

    The Arches at Fineshade Wood Reopening & Good to Go

    22nd July 2020

    Fermynwoods Contemporary Art's gallery space at The Arches at Fineshade Wood is reopening after lockdown with a brand new exhibition of beautiful artwork by six artists, exploring the push and pull between nature and human presence and the effect that extracting resources from the landscape has upon those living within it. The In Steps of Sundew exhibition takes its name from Sundew, once the largest walking dragline excavator in the world, used in mining operations in Rutland and Northamptonshire between 1957 and 1980. Sundews are also species of carnivorous plants, which digest insects through the glands on their leaves in order to supplement the poor mineral nutrition of the soil in which they grow. In Steps of Sundew retraces the movement of people and resources from the landscape, posing questions about the relationship between the natural and the industrial and how these might coexist whilst avoiding climate breakdown. The exhibition... Read More »

  • Holdenby's Historic Gardens to Reopen

    Holdenby's Historic Gardens to Reopen

    20th July 2020

    Like all stately homes, Holdenby House had to close to the public when the lock-down started inMarch. Now, the historic gardens are reopening again every Sunday from August 2 to September 27 and tickets go on sale today (July 20) on www.holdenby.com. For the first time since last September, visitors will be able to take in Holdenby's beautiful Grade I gardens including the working Kitchen Garden, Silver & Fragrant borders, King Charles' Walk as well as the original Base Court Arches from where Charles was taken away in 1647. There will be a simple one way system around the gardens and tickets will only be available in advance, online through the Holdenby website. Hand sanitisers, screens and all other necessary precautions have been taken and Icarus Falconry Centre will also be open, allowing visitors to view their majestic collection of birds of prey. Connie's Vintage Tea caravan will be providing refreshments to enjoy after the... Read More »

  • Oundle Farmers Market

    Oundle Farmers Market

    20th July 2020

    Oundle Farmers Market takes place on the second Saturday of every month in Oundle’s beautiful and historic market place. The stall holders sell a delicious range of fresh food from local producers including fruit and veg, flowers, eggs, cheese and not so local fresh fish which is always popular in a town a long way from the sea. Farmer Simon Singlehurst usually has a hog roast on the go and Ganders Goat sells delicious ice cream flavours made with goats milk to name a few. Do not forget to visit all the local shops and enjoy a coffee and cake in one of the cafes on the streets around the market place. After a pause during lockdown, the market is up and running again with sensible social distancing restrictions in place. There is plenty of free parking nearby. Read More »

  • Going Out is Fun

    Going Out is Fun

    16th July 2020

    The pubs and restaurants are now open again. Mary and I thought we should dip our toes into the water so last Friday night booked supper at the Plough at Shutlanger near Towcester. On purpose we took a friend who we had been seeing on and off the last fortnight and another friend who had not ventured out for two and a half months. We all agreed that if we did not think it was safe we would leave. What an unnecessary precaution. Arriving in the car park we were slightly worried that it was so full but we walked on down to the entrance where we were met as if VIPs by a charming girl who offered us spray, asked us to sign and then wished to know where we would like to sit. Even in this relatively small establishment there were four options - the bar, the internal dining room, the newly erected communal garden tent, and even individual tents. We opted for the communal garden tent where we sat at a very pleasant table some meters away from... Read More »

  • Evenley Wood Garden

    Evenley Wood Garden

    15th July 2020

    The weeks leading up to lockdown were some of the most creative and dynamic periods of our business. Guidance was changing at a rate of noughts, Mother’s Day was looming, one of our busiest days of the year and the sun was shining. Could we just hold on long enough to get through Mother’s Day weekend? Tables were moved out of the café, menus were simplified, takeaway cartons and sanitiser purchased, and staff retrained all in an evening just to get through the weekend safely but remain open. It was exhausting and exhilarating…and then lockdown was announced. We began Monday morning with our regular team meeting. What to do, how would we keep going? Should we keep going! And that is when we decided to do nothing. We opened the gates at 10am as we do everyday but no announcement, no official line, no advertising. The garden continued to embrace spring and we had work to do. Most of our volunteer team insisted... Read More »

  • Where shall we go?

    Where shall we go?

    14th July 2020

    You never realise how much you love something until there’s a risk it might be lost to you. I felt keenly the lack of visits to bluebell woods and to Northamptonshire’s wonderful formal gardens in May and early June. Wide open spaces where you can wander and wonder without getting too close to other visitors are my absolute favourites. I missed that freedom so much, especially as our county has such a rich choice of places to go, either as a paying visitor, or gloriously for free. Since the cautious and gradual reopening in July I’ve been visiting as many places as I can whilst staying safe. The great news is that outside seems to be the safest place to have some fun, either with those in your ‘bubble’, or distantly meeting up with friends whilst a couple of metres apart. And I am rediscovering the joys of eating outside (no calories obvs!) either a picnic, or something from a takeaway café. I&rsquo... Read More »

  • Yelvertoft to Crick Walk

    Yelvertoft to Crick Walk

    10th July 2020

    It's July already. Where did the first six months of 2020 go? What a different place the world seems today, to what it did back then. Whilst restrictions are now starting to be lifted, one thing has gratefully remained constant; our ability to exercise and enjoy our wonderful, local, Northamptonshire countryside. This week’s 5.9 mile ‘easy’ walk is a fantastic example of what a beautiful county we live in. It starts in the quiet village of Yelvertoft, which has connections back to Saxon times. From here we follow a straight line along an old cart track as it rises steadily to give magnificent view across rolling countryside. You’ll also cross the Grand Union Canal twice on the way to Crick. If you fancy a short diversion, Crack’s Hill was created during the last ice age, when melted water deposited material underneath the ice. Once the ice sheet retreated it left a pile of silt and rock behind. The hill... Read More »

  • Filmhouse at Delapre

    Filmhouse at Delapre

    9th July 2020

    Northampton Filmhouse and Delapré Abbey have announced a new Drive-In Cinema for Northampton, running from Thursday 23 July to Sunday 9 August. [email protected]é will feature a bumper season of films, curated by Northampton Filmhouse enjoyed on a gigantic screen against the beautiful and historic backdrop of Delapré Abbey. This fully-socially distanced experience allows film fans to see all their favourite movies as they’ve never done before. With more than 20 films to choose from spanning eight decades, [email protected]é offers a Covid-safe summer of entertainment for all the family. Titles include recent blockbuster hits, film classics ,family friendly titles and the best from Northampton Filmhouse’s recent programme, with highlights such as Back to the Future, Grease, Mary Poppins, Downtown Abbey, Romeo & Juliet, Kinky Boots, Fargo and Parasite. Hot food and a selection of snacks and treats... Read More »

  • Oundle International Festival

    Oundle International Festival

    9th July 2020

    While we may not be able to meet together this year in real space and time, that will not stop us being in virtual space and time to enjoy the 2020 Oundle International Virtual Festival! This five-day long online event will feature recorded and live material showcasing the range of work we normally present. Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous supporter, I have been able to commission some of our performers to record videos especially for the Virtual Festival, while others have generously provided new or existing recordings for us all to enjoy. Every day during the Virtual Festival, we will post new material. The videos are all around 5-10 minutes. After their initial posting they will remain on our website for you to enjoy again and again! We will also be presenting The Price of a Bed for the Night, a speciallycommissioned mini-series. Accessed via our website, at 4.30pm every day during the Virtual Festival, storyteller Jo Blake... Read More »

  • Silverstone's new museum to reopen on 20 July

    Silverstone's new museum to reopen on 20 July

    2nd July 2020

    The Silverstone Experience, located at the Home of British Motor Racing, will reopen on 20 July, giving motorsport fans the chance to get their racing fix after months of lockdown. Visitors will be able to get close to cars and bikes from seven decades of motorsport history and experience the Ultimate Lap – an immersive cinema show.  The museum team has prepared for a safe and fun experience for all visitors, and has achieved the Visit England consumer mark ‘We’re Good to Go’. Built in a restored WW2 RAF hangar, The Silverstone Experience is a huge indoor space naturally allowing for social distancing. Timed entry tickets will be limited each day.  This family-friendly interactive museum is perfect for a family day out, and is located in rural Northamptonshire with ample free parking.    From 20 July, the museum will be open daily from 10:00 – 18:00, with timed tickets available... Read More »

  • Made at Home & Beyond

    Made at Home & Beyond

    30th June 2020

    On March 14th we took the heart-breaking decision to cancel an event we had been working towards for over 18 months. Back then, as UK cases of COVID-19 were beginning to rise, we sensed that change was coming but had no comprehension of the devastating effect it would have on the cultural sector. Like so many other businesses and charities, over the last few months our entire delivery model has changed. We started with Made at Home, a 6-week programme of artist-led online video tutorials for people to follow at home. Local households joined us in a photo scavenger hunt, making story cubes and dancing around their living rooms. These resources are all still online. Some activities have flourished during lockdown – the residents of Kingswood and Hazel Leys in Corby have been busy writing poetry for a book to be published in the autumn, Corby Community Arts have delivered creativity packs directly to the doors of local families,... Read More »

  • Reflections on a Northamptonshire Lockdown part 2

    Reflections on a Northamptonshire Lockdown part 2

    23rd June 2020

     …A green of all colours, yellow brown and dark grey While the footpath all darkly goes winding away… John Clare   Thanks for all the positive feedback for my previous post.  I have succumbed to the walking bug several times since then and my enthusiasm for the county’s many surprises continues to grow! Our canal paths offer the walker a whole new side of life, not only things not seen before but also completely different angles on landscapes and places otherwise familiar.  Lockdown has pretty well paralysed the leisure industry and apart from the small band of permanent boat-dwellers, users of canal amenities have been few.  Busy locks, normally accompanied by the sound of rushing water, are silent and the system has been calm and still, left to the natural world. One expedition, tracking up the Leicester arm of the Grand Union brought me to the flight of seven locks at Watford.&nbsp... Read More »

  • Local is for life, not just for lockdown

    Local is for life, not just for lockdown

    19th June 2020

    Fast forward to Christmas and the conversation over the turkey is unlikely to be stuffed with many good things to have come out of the current crisis. However, if there’s one positive to have emerged, it is surely the surge in demand for buying local, as customers have switched crowded supermarkets for smaller independent shops and producers. Now, as the lockdown rules are relaxed further, the team behind the Weetabix Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards, the annual competition run by the sector, for the sector, is urging consumers to remember those county bakers and brewers, pie and pickle-makers  – and the local venues that stock them - who have stepped up to the plate to best serve their communities when they were most needed. Among those to have gone above and beyond, ensuring that their virtual shelves have been packed with some of the county’s fabulous food and drink, is The Good Loaf in Northampton,... Read More »

  • Nassington Circular walk

    Nassington Circular walk

    19th June 2020

    This week’s walk (7.7 miles) is in the far eastern part of the county and includes a visit to a rather special monument. It takes in some of Northamptonshire’s most beautiful woodland and countryside so listen out for some great birdsong. We heard a fabulous cuckoo… We start at the church in the lovely village of Nassington, which has existed since Anglo Saxon times, before passing into open meadow with wild flowers and butterflies.  The route then enters Old Sulehay Forest, part of the ancient Rockingham Forest, a former royal hunting forest. From here we move into Croker Wood to finally emerge on a bridleway through Kings Cliffe Industrial Estate that will take us to the monument. Hidden away in a corner of the forest is the concrete floor of a former World War II aircraft hanger and at one end is a plinth marking the exact spot where American Big Band Leader, Glenn Miller conducted his orchestra in their... Read More »

  • Farm Shops & Delis Now Open

    Farm Shops & Delis Now Open

    18th June 2020

    We are liaising with Made in Northamptonshire to bring you up to date news of the county’s wonderful farm shops and delis, now open and at the centre of our 'shop local’ revolution. If you have details to add or update please email: [email protected] Business Town Ashley Farm Shop Ashley Beckworth Emporium Mears Ashby Bell Plantation Towcester Bliss Lane Nursery & Farm Shop Flore Bosworth Garden Centre Burton Latimer Canal Turn Farm Shop Whilton Creaton Village Shop Creaton Daily Bread Co-operative Ltd Northampton Dovecote Buttery and Farm Shop Newton Glebe Farm Kettering Hamm Tun Fine Foods Long Buckby Limes Farm Farthinghoe MIN Onlyne Local produce online New Creation Farm Nether Heyford New... Read More »

  • Appeal launched to save Wicksteed Park as company calls in administrators

    Appeal launched to save Wicksteed Park as company calls in administrators

    18th June 2020

    Appeal launched to save Wicksteed Park as company calls in administrators and is left “devastated” by job losses The Wicksteed Charitable Trust, which owns Wicksteed Park, has launched a fundraising appeal in a bid to save the park in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Wicksteed Park is the oldest theme park on the UK mainland and one of the oldest in the world. It is owned by Wicksteed Charitable Trust but has been run by a wholly-owned subsidiary company, Wicksteed Park Ltd. Wicksteed Park Ltd has been unable to avoid going into administration, with the loss of 48 permanent staff and 67 part-time and other jobs, due to the huge financial strain caused by the coronavirus outbreak. Backed by the Wicksteed Charitable Trust a small group of employees has formed a new company, much reduced in size, to try and safeguard the future of the park. The decision to call in administrators comes after the government announced... Read More »

  • Farmers Markets

    Farmers Markets

    12th June 2020

    We are liaising with friends all around the county to bring you up to date details of the county’s brilliant, open air weekly and monthly markets. If you have a market to add please email: [email protected] Town When Timings Brackley Weekly, Friday 8am to 2pm. Higham Ferrers Monthly, last Saurday of the month. 9am to 1pm. Oundle Monthly, second Saturday of the month. 8am to 2pm. Thrapston First Saturday of each month (not in January). 9am to 1pm. Towcester Monthly, second Friday of the month. 9am to 1.30pm. Read More »

  • Althorp and the Bringtons

    Althorp and the Bringtons

    12th June 2020

    This week’s walk is a 4.5 mile stroll across glorious countryside and takes in two of Northamptonshire’s most beautiful villages, together with the opportunity of a great view of one of our most well-known stately homes, Althorp. We start outside the church in Great Brington which, once it’s open to visitors again, welcomes visitors with open arms, and contains the Spencer family chapel, where nineteen generations of the family are interred. From here we enter the centre of the village by one of two excellent hostelries on this walk…The Althorp Coaching Inn (well worth a visit for refreshments – again when open). The walk now leaves the village across undulating farmland as it heads towards Little Brington. There’s an opportunity to see lots of flora and fauna and, if you encounter another soul, you’ll be unlucky! Little Brington is another lovely village and, when it’s open, you&rsquo... Read More »

  • Open Air Market in Brackley 

    Open Air Market in Brackley 

    9th June 2020

    It was last Friday, around midday, when I walked slowly along with heaps of fruit and vegetables piled up on either side. Basket in hand I dropped into it a fat, mat-green spring cabbage, a bundle of tort asparagus and another of astringent rocket, then my eye was caught by early peaches on the other side and the piled up early cherries with the anticipation of that sweet-sour taste. No not a meander in a Provencal market but at our very own one in Brackley. Here were also bunches of new carrots, baubles of radishes, lozenge shaped shallots and this year's garlic with tidily gathered herbs lying near the till. The assistant was help itself finding a cardboard box to put everything in which was not already wrapped in a brown paper bag; no plastic here. Whilst paying I noticed some raspberries and thought to buy some as well. I quickly added them to the pile of shopping only... Read More »

  • Reflections on a Northamptonshire Lockdown

    Reflections on a Northamptonshire Lockdown

    8th June 2020

    The one delicious green that now pervades The woods and fields in endless lights and shades… How clever of John Clare, ‘the Northamptonshire poet’, to capture such images of the county’s countryside exactly 200 years ago.  And for those of us lucky enough to have remained healthy during Corona Virus lockdown, what a revelation our daily local excursions into that countryside have been. The restrictions we have lived with have brought opportunities as well, especially for those in rural locations.  Since February some sparkling weather has prompted many people to get out for their fresh air around the ample network of footpaths and byways offered by Northamptonshire.  Rights of way are generally well marked and a variety of stiles and kissing gates help keep you on your route.  They can lead you to stunning views across picturesque farmland, unexpected quiet nooks and woodland teeming with... Read More »

  • Another helping of superheroes!

    Another helping of superheroes!

    6th June 2020

    ‘Not all superheroes wear capes’ – so the saying goes – and you certainly need look no further than the county’s food and drink sector to see a wealth of community champions helping in the fight against COVID-19 who would give any Marvel comic strip character a run for their money. So it is that, while the coronavirus outbreak has put paid to their usual competitive format, the Weetabix Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards are not only continuing to act as a business support hub for the sector, but are also celebrating those who are responding to the ongoing challenges by becoming vital, if impromptu, local food heroes.  Among them is James Peck of Burnt Lemon Chefs in Northampton, runner-up in the ‘Chef of the Year’ category in last year’s Awards, who, with fellow ‘New Local Drink’ finalist Benjamin Jelley of Jelley Distilleries at Brixworth, has created a social isolation... Read More »

  • Supporting our local food heroes

    Supporting our local food heroes

    5th June 2020

    Over the last six years, local breakfast giant Weetabix has supported the celebration of some of our most passionate foodies through its sponsorship of the ‘Local Food Hero’ category in the county’s prestigious annual sector competition. Now, as headline sponsor of the ‘Weetabix Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards’, that role has become all the more crucial as the company not only helps to support sector businesses facing the toughest of challenges, but also honours those which, through their impressive responses to the crisis, have become stalwarts of their communities.  Weetabix Food Company Marketing Director, Francesca Theokli, says recognition of our heroes is vital and indeed, while the awards may currently be operating very differently from their usual format, the company’s commitment to the competition is unwavering: “The Awards were launched twelve years ago to help support... Read More »

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