We kick off this weekend with snowdrop walks. Picking a date in the autumn seems so straightforward but as the time approaches it becomes a case of will they/won't they? Each year snowdrop flowers peak at a different time and in early January it looked as if they would be very late indeed following our December brush with the arctic. We chose the same weekend as last year when we were only just in time. But now, like a miracle, they have caught up and are coming into flower, just in time. Some on the northerly sheltered slopes are still coming out, but the displays are there to cheer us up despite the grey Shropshire weather. We are open on Saturday and Sunday afternoons (1.30-4pm), serving teas in the Victorian kitchens until 5pm. The kitchens rely for heat largely on the old kitchen range which was lit today for the first time in weeks and we held our breath to see whether it would smoke out the room. To everyone's relief the smoke went straight up - and out - of the chimney. My dream is one day to restore the range and see it working properly again - with the price of oil it might even become economical to use. So, keeping fingers crossed for a fine(ish) weekend, a warm welcome awaits you ....

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