November Blog

December 12, 2014 at 3:40 AM


My name is Ashley. Simon & Natalie hired me back at the beginning of the summer to help them with their ever growing business here at Frithsden Vineyard. The conversation was actually held over a few glasses of wine (oh how ironic) a year ago while I was preparing to leave for New Zealand for a working holiday- or what my parents describe as "yet another gap year".


I remember meeting the Tooleys for the first time back in 2005, when I was a fresh faced twenty something treading the boards behind the bar at the Alford Arms. I distinctly remember thinking that they must be crazy.... but boy.. how ruddy exciting!!! and here they were telling me they had finally got to the point where they didn't just need another pair of hands they wanted, specifically... me.


So, here I am, working alongside this incredibly  hard working, resilient and dedicated couple and have been asked to take on the writing of the blog and show you a bit of behind the scenes goings on from a 3rd party point of view.

We kicked off November with Tea Pigs free tea day on the 6th which was a brainchild of the geniuses at Tea pigs to celebrate their 8th birthday involving us signing up and then promptly receive a gift box of literature, posters, balloons and of course tea to lavish on our guests. Participants included  offices, play centres, hairdressers and such cafe heavyweights as the Hummingbird Bakery! Some great Twitter banter ensued involving a national boycott on those stainless steel teapots you generally see in roadside cafés. Ill stick to our Heron Pottery range thank you!  It was wonderful to have some die-hard locals come and sit under the heaters and have a great giggle while gorging on my specially made Rose scones.fREE_tEA.jpg

I was lucky enough to be enrolled at bulb school with Helen Reeley. My mother seems to think I have no interest in all things garden, but all she ever wants me to help her with (in her immaculate garden) is the weeding- sure Mum. Before I skipped off to new Zealand last year I planted some chilli and various sweet corn. My parents took delight in sending me photos of the progress of both and then the ultimate feast they had with the resulting produce. Of the many homesick moments I had- this ranked quite high.

So I spent the morning with the incredibly energised Helen learning the anatomy of bulbs, the difference between bulbs, corms, tubers and rhizomes and making bulb lasagne (this possibly isn't a technical term!) We dug up some rough ground and threw some daff bulbs in, hoping to prove that it doesn't matter which way they face- they will always find their way to the sun. I am most excited to see the red, white and blue colours coming out of the bulb lasagne this coming Spring. If you have visited recently you'll see our front bed has been entirely stripped down as we have employed Helen to plant us a cut flower garden and I cannot wait to see what visual delights she comes through with. Her passion and talent runs so deep she can't only just tell you what flower  a bulb is going to be- she can  tell you what COLOUR it will be.

Helen is also hosting  a wreath making class alongside Gilly Flower from Chesham  here in early December. I believe both classes are full. I totally know why.

Having made 12 Christmas cakes for our Christmas shopping event Natalie also gave me a master class in sugar craft for the decorations. I'm pretty sure the palms of my hands were bruised by the end of the day! At some points you have to be pretty rough, then once its rolled anything but a delicate touch will be the ruin of your dainty flowers- how satisfying? I was quite fascinated to find out there is such a thing as edible glue?Sugar_Paste.jpg

Having confirmed the appearance of Dacorum Community Choir for our Christmas lights switch on event, our friend Monki from Funky Monkey Tents came to put some lights up the enormous Fir tree that resides in our front yard. His name is actually Mark but from a young age he was nicknamed Monki simply because if the speed and agility he can climb a tree- you really have to see it to believe it.     


Now, lets get ready for December....


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