Sep 30, 2009

A Happy Coincidence - Thanks To The BBC

In the same week that I published my post "Castle Ice Cream's Smiling Faces" - a feature about the popular ice cream parlour at Eastnor Castle in Herefordshire - I found myself watching a fascinating BBC TV programme entitled "Saving Britain's Past - The Country House". Focusing on how English country houses, castles and their estates have changed in the last century, the producers had selected one particular castle as the pivotal point for their programme and it just so happened to be .... Eastnor Castle! What a marvellous coincidence.

What's more, thanks to the BBC iplayer there is an online version of the programme for anyone who didn't get to see it. The opening shots of the castle are simply breathtaking and it's worth following the link for those alone. View it here: Eastnor Castle in Saving Britain's Past

One of the most interesting parts of the programme was the story of how the owners of so many of Britain's country houses and castles have had to change the way in which they fund the often, ongoing, specialised and very expensive repair work that these properties demand. Many have opened their doors to the general public as well as for corporate and private entertaining. Eastnor Castle is amongst those and its romantic lake setting has turned it into a popular 'exclusive use' wedding venue.

Reading the Eastnor Castle Blog gives a great insight into this unique country estate, more especially because its owner James Hervey-Bathurst (President of Britain's Historic Houses Association for the last 6 years) actually takes the time to write posts personally and about all manner of things - from features on the castle cat Nutkin to the story of the old 1962 estate works lorry, what the annual Spring cleaning at the castle involves to what it was like giving a keynote address entitled "The Restoration and Redecoration of Eastnor Castle, a Regency Mansion in the Welsh Borders" at the Charleston Art & Antiques Forum in the USA earlier this year. Incredibly varied and interesting posts and testimony to a man's love for his ancestral home. All that AND he encourages his visitors to enjoy quality, local made ice cream served in his own ice cream parlour. Now that's what I call style!

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Sep 12, 2009

Castle Ice Cream's Smiling Faces

I once heard the phrase "A smile costs nothing" and I have never forgotten it. The truth is that a smile only comes from inner happiness, a joy and sense of well being or satisfaction. Seeing a baby smile for the first time is a wonderful experience because you know it is feeling genuine happiness.

On holiday recently we stayed in a hotel where the bathroom mirror had printed around the rim the words "I have never seen a smiling face that wasn't a beautiful one".

In my own memory, I can never recall seeing someone that didn't smile whilst they were eating an ice cream cone or ice cream sundae. They may not even realise they are doing it but it's a natural reaction to a fun experience. Indeed, many of us as we grow older smile more than children when we eat ice cream.

Why is that?

Well, it could be because we feel it's just a little bit 'naughty', indulging ourselves in a special treat, especially if we are watching the calories intake or are dressed in smart clothes that don't need a splurge of ice cream dropped onto them from an ice cream cone!

Take this smartly dressed lady for example on the right, a recent visitor to Eastnor Castle's "Ice Cream Parlour" in Herefordshire, England.

She manages to enjoy a melting ice cream cone without spilling a single drop onto her clothing.

Nicely done!

Her friend (pictured left) clearly could not resist smiling whilst enjoying her ice cream cone. Again she manages to not spill a drop of it onto her clothes!

Even the girl serving behind the ice cream counter is smiling.

That's what I love about ice cream - the sheer fun of it. Whether you are a child or an adult, the magic is the same. It's also an eternal magic that never fades. In my view, as long as you love ice cream you will always be able to manage a smile.

PS. The ice cream these ladies are eating at the Eastnor Castle "Ice Cream Parlour" is, I am told, supplied by a local dairy called Brookes Dairy. Their ice cream range includes both traditional and unusual ice creams including Almond Praline, Cointreau & Orange and Choc American (vanilla with pecans, toffee and cookie pieces swirled with chocolate sauce). Don't they sound delicious! To read more go to Brookes Ice Cream products page. Even HRH Prince Charles has tasted their ice cream - and loved it!

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Aug 28, 2009

Daisy & Poppy - Ice Cream Popsicle Kids

Right now summer is still at the forefront of many people's minds and enjoying ice cream is a fundamental part of this special season - for adults and children alike.

I have just returned from holiday in The Netherlands where I observed people of all ages enjoying ice cream - families out walking eating ice cream popsicles, couples walking hand in hand enjoying ice cream cones and groups both large and small sat in ice cream parlors looking excitedly at the menu, spoilt for choice as to which delicious ice cream sundae they should order. When I returned from holiday, this 'theme' continued when I downloaded some super photos from my friend Sarah who lives in England.

Sarah has long known of my passion for all things ice cream and some time ago she told me about a wonderful ice cream parlour within the grounds of an English castle (Eastnor Castle). However, as the "Ice Cream Parlour" is only open during the summer months for visitors to the castle and its special events, I knew I would have to wait before I could see any photos. Well, the wait was worth it. I have never seen such an array of smiling faces amongst people of all age groups and all of them eating ice cream!

The best one? It has to be of Daisy (Sarah's beautiful 2 year old daughter) and her friend Poppy enjoying popsicles on a lovely English summer's day. The concentration of enjoyment in their faces is a joy to behold.

In England incidentally they don't use the term "ice cream popsicles" ... instead they call them "ice lollies". Now there's an idea for my next post - the history of the "ice pop". Before I digress too much though I will be back soon with more photos of smiling faces from the Eastnor Castle "Ice Cream Parlour".

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Apr 1, 2009

A Spring Wedding Venue - With Ice Cream!

Spring is here and many couples in love will 'tie the knot' and get married in the coming weeks and months. From a recent report I read, April to August is the key time for weddings. Not surprising then that on many wedding menus you will find ice cream. Why is that?

Well, apart from being a refreshing dessert in warm weather, ice cream is one of the most popular dishes for both children and adults alike and with many weddings needing to entertain guests with families, choosing ice cream as part of the wedding celebration meal is a safe bet.

I was privileged to be able to visit a super wedding venue in England called Eastnor Castle. Just two and a half hours' drive from London, it is a magnificent and quite unique piece of archictecture nestled in thousands of acres of stunning countryside close to the Malvern Hills (Edward Elgar country). Its setting is truly romantic - for anyone lucky enough to get married here it must feel something like fairytale.

I was intrigued to discover whilst there that when the castle and its beautifual gardens are open to the public, they have an ice cream kiosk in operation close to the castle's own shop.

It seems that no matter where I go there's always an ice cream connection. Long may that be the case!

PS. If you don't get the chance to visit Eastnor Castle they have a super little online store with some wonderful, exclusive gifts.

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