The Best Farm Shops: Heckfield Home Farm

In recent years I have shopped less and less in supermarkets. Instead, I choose to seek out the farm shops, genuine produce markets and artisan makers for those authentic food experiences. Not all farm shops are created equal, however, with more and more becoming glorified delicatessens, offering products otherwise available at the supermarket or online. The Heckfield Home Farm, part of the larger Heckfield estate in Hampshire, hosts occasional markets offering seasonal produce grown on the farm, or made by local artisan makers.

This week I dropped in to the August market in my ongoing search for real food. And I wasn’t disappointed.

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Product review: BOXD nutritional powders

For the past two years, I’ve been optimising my diet. No faddy dieting, but rather good solid nutrition. Like most of us, I’m concerned that the quality of food available generally has deteriorated over the years. Finding an egg or a carrot, for instance, that actually has any flavour is a challenge. I had been cruising along, a happy vegetarian for over 40 years, and feeling pretty smug in all honesty that I had it right. But our bodies and our nutritional needs change throughout our lives. For one thing, we need more (class A) protein as we (ahem) mature. There are only so many times you can eat eggs, cheese or meat in a day, and I’ve been searching for a tasty ready mix to supplement my protein intake.

BOXD ‘natural wellness’ shakes are formulated to specifically meet the nutritional needs of women. I’ve been blending like crazy recently to put these to the test. Read more to find out how I got on in the kitchen.

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New Year’s Resolution: Honesty Group founder, Romilla Arber, says no to dieting!

Romilla Arber began thinking seriously about a bread making business without any experience in food production. Arber began The Honesty Group in 2014 with the aim of producing fresh food ethically and, here’s the thing, while remaining a profitable business. With multiple coffee shops, a farm shop, two country pubs (one with rooms), a bakery and a cookery school, it is certainly a success story. In an unsettled world, does she still hold to her founding principles and what goals has Arber set for 2022?

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Christmas gift guide 2021

You would think that finding wonderful gifts for family and friends would be an easy ask in the virtual ‘shopping mall’ online. The Christmas marketing season is upon us but with so much choice it can actually make choosing the right present more challenging, with hours spent peering at your mobile screen trying to find the best deals.

I’ve gone back over the past year to find the best books I’ve read, foods I couldn’t get enough of and delicious wines you might not have heard of. Here’s the Hashtagtravelling.uk guide to thoughtful and sustainable Christmas gifts in Santa’s virtual grotto.

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Review: Cooking With Heroes

The Royal British Legion is marking 100 years (1921-2021) with a new cookbook featuring recipes by personnel with contributions from, celebrity cooks and chefs.

The first thing to say about Cooking With Heroes is that it’s a very ambitious book at 470 pages. A tome both in terms of content and weight, it requires both hands to hold it up to read. The recipes appear by regions from Armagh to Zimbabwe, Essex to The Gambia, and Hampshire to New Zealand. There are favourites (Hello, Welsh rarebit!) and posh fish ‘n’ chips and other recipes, for instance, potato and apple bread, contributed by Chief Petty Officer John Potts, Royal Navy (Retired). Add to the mix personal stories, snippets of history and stunning photography and the wide appeal of this book will solve many Christmas gift shopping dilemmas. Or add it to your own Letter to Santa.

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Wild Food: Foraging on Cowdray Estate

While man has foraged for food since time began, in the mid 20th century before pre-commerical snacks and fast food had been invented, it was also a given that you searched the hedgerows for juicy autumn blackberries, elderberries, hazlenuts, windfall apples and plums. During my childhood eating nose to tail, and field to plate, was the everyday, rather than the trend. Food tastes so good when you’ve grown it or foraged for it.

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This week… chimney tops, ration books and guardian angels

Every September heritage houses, museums and other buildings throw open their doors to the public. Entry and tours are free despite the work of many of these organisations being independently funded, so a donation is welcome. The nationwide Heritage Open Days festival closes today and I took the opportunity take a peek behind the scenes over the nine-day event in Winchester. Here’s what I discovered.

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These are a few of my favourite (autumnal) things

The early mornings are now cooler but by late morning the light mists burn off to reveal the atmospheric, pale autumn sunlight. The leaves on the trees are just beginning to turn colour, with a promise of blazing reds and burnt oranges soon to come. In the UK you need to pace yourself though because spring is a long way off. Celebrating the changing seasons is a form of mindfulness or meditation. Taking things slowly, enjoying the simple daily pleasures of changing landscapes and seasonal food, autumn is a time of year to truly indulge the senses.

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This week… olives, growing, buying and cooking

There are a few basics in the kitchen that are really not worth stinting on. Single-estate coffee, honey and olive oil being in the top ten. The cost may be a little higher but a little goes a long way and quality over quantity is the rule. This week a common thread in my inbox has been olives, growing them and eating these delectable little fruits.

One of the first fascinating facts about olive trees is the remarkable age they are able to grow to and especially compared to mere human beings. It’s awesome.

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Purition Protein Shakes

Food is a big part of travelling. Trying new foods and restaurants is hugely enjoyable and it’s always interesting to find out about locally grown products and how they are prepared, and taste.

Sometimes though it’s a good idea to carry a few favourite foods with you for those times when what you need simply isn’t to hand, for one reason or another.

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