September never loses that “back-to-school” feeling for many of us, and this year that seasonal shift has been accentuated for us grown-ups as we gradually move back into more “normal” patterns of living after such a long period of pausing and adjusting to the strange, uneasy days of the last eighteen months.
Of course, many people worked very hard in essential services to enable the rest of us to make those adjustments, working in logistics, delivery services and essential services and we owe a huge “Thank you!” to all of you who kept us in food and resources throughout this challenging time.
After a brief hiatus during the busiest period of building and opening our new shop and café – and accommodation (see more below!) – we are pleased to mark the turn of the season by returning to your inboxes with our long-form newsletter which will now be bi-monthly. We really enjoy visiting with you in this way and receiving your feedback, maintaining our community with those of you who are local and those who live further afield. If there is anything that you would like us to cover in a future edition, please let us know.
Many of you who live nearby have already visited us at our new shop and café. Preparing this space for you all has been an enormous challenge, but hugely enjoyable. Welcoming our customers this summer – familiar faces and new friends as well – has been a huge joy. Sian’s talent in the kitchen is no-longer any secret, with her cakes, biscuits and other sweet delights the talk of the county! She’s been putting that snazzy new coffee machine through its paces, too, with wonderful results.
We are now open during our winter hours – Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10am-2pm – so pop in for an indulgent coffee and cake and browse from our range of locally designed and made gifts in the shop – for someone special or to treat yourself (… because you are someone special too!) It’s also a wonderful way to explore Sian’s own range of knitwear, accessories and homewares, too.
You can come and stay at Ash Farm and holiday with the alpacas
Two lovely self-catering units are now available year-round for your special trip to Pembrokeshire. An increasingly poorly-kept secret, the delights of the county are every bit as special as you have heard – at any time of year. There is always plenty to see, whether down at the shore, walking in the woods, or visiting the many local attractions and delightful towns and villages nearby.
Of course, the rooms are also perfect if you would like to stay to experience one of our many craft workshops, or even to enjoy our famous Winter Open Studio which we are delighted to be restoring this year – look out for more news on that soon.
Workshops at Ash Farm
One of the great pleasures of the summer has been welcoming back our wonderful course leaders with their eager-to-learn participants to our dedicated workshop space. From collagraph printing to plastic-smithing, willow-working to machine embroidery – not to mention Sian’s own machine knitting workshops – it has been a delight to have the space buzzing with creativity, mutual-support and enthusiasm again.
Look out for dedicated emails highlighting upcoming courses (and follow us on Instagram for early-bird bookings and inspiring photographs) and you, too, can join us to learn new skills, eat great food and enjoy wonderful company.
WORKSHOP VENUE: ASH FARM Ivy Chimney Lane, Stepaside SA67 8JU
RESERVE YOUR WORKSHOP PLACE BY EMAILING
Here in Pembrokeshire we have been enjoying a gloriously warm and sunny September after some iffy summer weather and the very special light that has inspired countless artists in the county is getting the creative juices flowing here as well. Cosier days and evenings aren’t quite here for us yet, but the promise of snuggly knits and winter crafts is just around the corner…
As the warmth of the sun inevitable cools and the sea breezes freshen, a cosy scarf serves as the essential walking companion through the autumn. Whether you thrill to the new colour palette of the lambswool scarves or your heart yearns for the natural autumn shades of the Sian O’Doherty alpaca knits, you are sure to find just what you are looking for to accompany you outside in Sian’s shop.
If you are looking for a particular colourway, feel free to contact Sian to discuss a special order.
With longer evenings ahead and fewer hours spent in the garden, many of our minds are turning to getting creative with textiles and yarns. The ladies at our local knit-and-natter group – who meet at Ash Farm several times a month – have definitely inspired us to pick up the needles again. Available in a range of weights and colours, Sian O’Doherty alpaca yarn is perfect for getting started on an autumn project. Why not try Aleks Byrd’s wrist warmer pattern, designed especially for Sian’s Rheydr yarn, for yourself or as a Christmas present… yes, we said it!
Whether your plans are crafty or you are pursuing other seasonal delights, have a wonderful start to your autumn!
Pictured above: New alpaca chunky grey bobble hat with bright pompom.
Working with a local handknitter using our very own alpaca fiber. Finished with a handmade pompom which can be in any of our bright colours … coming soon!! £52 … preorder today.
Who doesn’t love a traybake …
Especially when it is a gluten free carrot cake topped with honeycomb butter icing and walnut brittle … One of the favourite’s in the cafe.
Additional notes – I have used both dairy and dairy free milks and butters for this recipe with great success.
FOR THE CAKE BATTER
150ml sunflower oil
1 ripe banana mashed
125 grams soft brown sugar
2 eggs / beaten
180 grams of Doves Gluten Free Self Raising Flour
2 tsp of gluten baking powder
¼ tsp of Xanthan Gum
1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp of ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground ginger
200 grams of finely grated carrots
75 grams of dates chopped up into pieces
30 grams of desiccated coconut
optional *I also add a small handful of chopped walnuts on occasion to the cake batter*
THE BUTTER ICING
- 130 grams of butter
- 200 grams of icing sugar
- 1 tablespoon of milk
- 1 tablespoon of butterscotch sauce
2 tablespoons of water
50 grams of caster sugar
50 grams of walnut pieces – chopped up roughly
METHOD FOR TRAYBAKE:
- Heat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius for fan assisted ovens.
- Grease and line a 20 x 30cm tray-bake tin.
- Mix the oil, sugar, eggs and the mashed banana in a large mixing bowl until well combined.
- Add all the other ingredients and mix together until combined
- Pour into the prepared tray-bake, leveling with a spatula
- Cook for 25-30 minutes until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the tray.
- Leave to cool in the tin and then turn out onto wire rack peeling off the baking parchment from the bottom.
- Then turn back over onto a chopping board to cut into desired pieces ready to decorate with finished butter icing and praline
- Beat together the butter and milk with a hand whisk until smooth
- Sieve in the icing sugar gradually until well combined and it is a lovely soft whippy consistency.
- Put the water and sugar in to a pan and heat very gently until the sugar has dissolved
- Continue cooking until the liquid turns a pale brown. Beware don’t leave it – watch it all the time as it can change so quickly and you don’t want it to burn!
- Once pale brown take it off the heat and stir in the broken walnut pieces and mix together
- Pour on to a non-stick baking parchment and leave to cool. Once completely cooled you can chop it up into smaller pieces with a knife ready for decorating your individual cakes.