Monday, 2 October 2017

Star-studded stay at The Swan for Dark Skies Festival

We’re offering star gazers the chance to stay during Exmoor’s first Dark Skies Festival from October 19 to 29 this year (2017).

Being located on the Devon side of Exmoor we offer easy access to some of the key astronomical events taking place in the National Park during the festival.

Exmoor National Park is Europe’s first International Dark Sky Reserve. It’s a brilliant place to stargaze whether you own a telescope or not as the lack of light pollution on the moor means there’s plenty to be seen with the naked eye. We’re delighted to be supporting this star-studded event, which will raise invaluable awareness of this part of the world and the beauty of the night sky.

We all spend so much time looking down these days with all the technology linked to our daily lives and there is something wonderful about switching off from the outside world for an hour or so, and just looking up for once and contemplating the universe.

Exmoor’s international dark sky designation means it is one of the best places in the country for stargazing, as it has very little light pollution and is often cloud-free. Fewer than 10% of residents in the UK can see a natural night sky with stars above them, according to the Campaign for Dark Skies.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

We’re doing a demo at Taunton food & drink fest

We will be hosting a free cookery demonstration in Taunton this month (September, 2017) as part of the 2017 Feast Taunton event.

We’ll be at The Castle Hotel in Taunton on Saturday, September 30 at 12.30pm to take part in the food and drink festival.

Feast is a wonderful celebration of the Westcountry’s best homegrown, reared and produced food and drink, as well as featuring some of the region’s top chefs who use these fantastic ingredients in their cooking and we’re delighted to have been asked to be involved.

The event, which runs from September 29 and October 1, is designed to help raise the profile of everyone involved in the industry from livestock farmers to the area’s microbreweries and vegetable growers.

We hope lots of people turn out for our free demo and, also, for the daily workshops. There will be lots of topics to get expert advice on and skills to learn. Our cooking demo will include some great tips and recipes for you to take home too.

There will be something for all the family at Feast including activities for children scheduled throughout the Saturday and Sunday. There will also be two very special dinners featuring some of the country’s top chefs including Michael Caines on September 29, followed by the Great British Menu chefs’ feast on Saturday evening featuring Jude Kereama, Josh Eggleton, Dominic Chapman and Emily Watkins.

To find out more visit www.feasttaunton.co.uk.

Photos by www.davidgriffen.co.uk

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

British eggs are brilliant


People don’t realise how often eggs are used, where they can be used and that they aren’t just an item for the breakfast table. We’ve been sourcing our free range eggs from John and Mandy at Exe Valley for more than 10 years now and they provide a fantastic, tasty product combined with a great service.

We strive here to champion local producers and we’re keen to let our diners know where their food comes from and how they are also supporting the areas’ farmers when they eat with us. We’re also keen to involve children so they understand where their food comes from and how easy it is to make homemade food from scratch. So, we’ve popped a simple, fun recipe together for a light sponge below, using eggs and it’s below for you to download, and try at home with your kids and grandkids.

New research published in June’s issue of Complete Nutrition says that, as well as containing high quality protein and fatty acids, there are a number of key nutrients found in eggs – including vitamin D, B vitamins, selenium, iodine and choline – that are not present in many other foods, and in which many population groups are known to be deficient.

The report’s author Dr Carrie Ruxton explains: “The evidence is pointing to a specific role for eggs in health, as nature’s very own multivitamin. This may mean that health professionals could be justified in actively promoting the consumption of eggs.

“As recent government data shows, eggs are a veritable natural pharmacy of vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and protein, putting them on a par with most of today’s so-called ‘superfoods’. Yet eggs are much more affordable and versatile.”

Now we and Exe Valley Eggs are planning to do more to publicise the benefits of eggs. We hope to have a collection of recipes available for people to download in the autumn to link with British Egg Week 2017 from October 9 until 15. 

Monday, 21 August 2017

Eggs are ‘nature’s multi-vitamin’


We have joined forces with an egg producer in the area this month (August, 2017) to help highlight the benefits of eating British eggs.

We are working with John and Mandy Widdowson from Exe Valley Eggs near Stoodleigh to promote the use of free range eggs.

Eggs contain a wealth of vitamins and minerals and are one of the best sources of high quality protein. There are only around 80 calories in a large egg, which means they are great if you’re on a diet or want to eat healthily.

Also new research out in June’s issue of Complete Nutrition, highlights the growing scientific literature linking regular egg consumption with tangible outcomes such as muscle function and vascular health. Its unique combination of high quality protein and essential vitamins and minerals means it could be called ‘nature’s multi-vitamin’.

Exe Valley Eggs sells to retailers, restaurants, cafés, pubs and hotels across Devon. The family-run farm supplies eggs laid by hens that roam freely during the day in fields above the Exe Valley. The farm is inspected to RSPCA welfare standards by the organisation’s independently certified farm assurance scheme.

The business was established more than 25-years-ago as a partnership between John and Mandy and John’s in-laws Brian and Gay Grimston. The entire family, including the Widdowson daughters Nicola and Lucy, have played their part in the life of the farm, but John, with the backing of a dedicated workforce, now has day-to-day responsibility.

John says: “We were one of the first farms to recognise the benefits of providing hens with overhead outdoor cover, which gives them the confidence to range more freely. This provides them not only a healthier lifestyle, but a chance to enrich their diet from natural pasture.

“We initially planted more than 5,000 trees and the immediate success of our project was such that it led to the creation of a specific brand of Woodland Eggs now sold by a major supermarket.

“When the hens do go indoors they have the best of feed and facilities including large, straw-strewn scratch areas where they can continue to do what hens like best. They live in five separate flocks spread across the farm which also encourages them to enjoy the natural life.”

Check out our next blog for a handy recipe and more info on the benefits of using eggs.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Walk on the wild side in Devon’s heartland


Mid-Devon may not sound an inspiring location for walkers but it’s a wonderful place for amblers and ramblers alike.

This area of mid-Devon is often overlooked as people drive through it to the North Devon coast, but it’s a great place full of hidden challenges for ramblers and somewhere off the beaten track for walkers of all abilities to explore.

Anyone keen to find somewhere that the hoards have yet to discover should head this way.

http://bampton.blogspot.co.uk/?view=classicThere are still vast expanses of moorland here where you won’t see another soul when you’re out walking.

Our pub is a wonderful base for walkers. We think we’re pretty unique too, as we provide top-notch accommodation and award-winning, seasonal food, as well as help and advice regarding particular walks for those staying with us. It’s a haven for walkers here and a foodie heaven all wrapped into one.

Our part of Devon and this side of Exmoor is perfect for walkers of all abilities. There is plenty to see and do and miles of easily accessible footpaths. Not far from us is the 117-mile Two Moors Way, which traverses the whole county, coast-to-coast, from Plymouth to Lynmouth.

We’re also close to the Devon bit of the South West Coast Path, which has wonderful, breath-taking views. There are lots of circular walks here too, perfect for all abilities.

Guests very often treat themselves, at the end of a long day walking, to a meal before settling into one of our guest rooms for a good night’s sleep, before continuing with their outdoor adventure the next day. We also welcome walkers just wishing to stop off for lunch too.

Bampton is also on the Exe Valley Way walking route and on the West Country Way cycle route. It boasts easy walking around the town, including a ‘Town Trail’, and in the summer, it has floral displays for visitors to see too.

To find out more, please call us on 01398 332248 or visit our website: www.theswan.co.

Thank you to Steve Lee for the image of Bampton. 


Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Recipe for sea trout



•    1 sea trout pinned and scaled approx. 1.5 – 2 kilo
•    250g sea salt
•    250g caster sugar
•    100ml gin – we use Wicked Wolf from Exmoor
•    50 ml of white wine vinegar
•    one good tablespoon of dried Cornish mixed seaweed optional (can be bought online from www.cornishseaweed.co.uk)

You will also need some grapefruit segments or almond flakes.

Method
  • Place clingfilm over a tray and lay trout on it.
  • Give the mixture and good stir and cover all the trout with it. Wrap up tightly in the cling film and place in a fridge for 24 hours. The longer you leave it the drier and firmer the trout goes.
  • Wash the trout and wash of all the salt and gin.
  • Pat dry and its ready to go.
  • Slice thinly using a very sharp knife and garnish with ruby grapefruit segments. The addition of grilled flaked almonds is rather good as well.
  • If you’re lucky and you have a friend who’s a trout fisherman, this recipe works just as well with river trout and lake caught trout. 

Photos by www.davidgriffen.co.uk

Monday, 12 June 2017

Make us Muddy winners this week!

Just when you thought the elections were over…there’s more voting to do, this time of a foodie nature!

Due to a technical hitch on the Muddy Stilettos website last week, voting for their awards was hampered BUT we’ve now been given extra time to get as many votes as possible in for us. Can you help?

So far with your assistance, we’re finalists in the Best Destination Pub category. However, we now need you to vote again to ensure we win outright.

Voting has been extended and now ends at midday on Friday, June 16. Winners will be formally announced on the Muddy Stilettos blog as soon as the votes have all been verified.

Muddy Stilettos is the UK’s leading regional lifestyle blog, with more than 100,000 readers and a social following of 50,000 across 18 English counties, so to win in this category would be quite something for us.

So, if you love what we do here at The Swan, please vote today and ask all your friends and family to vote too. Thank you!

If you’ve already voted for us – thank you very much!

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Bampton’s a buzz with parachuting bears & a duck race!

Visitors to Bampton next Saturday (May 27, 2017) are being invited to bring their bears to have a go at teddy skydiving or try some duck racing.

The town’s Spring Fest, which is on May 27 this year, includes races on the River Batherm and furry friends will be launched from the church tower just behind us at The Swan.

The event includes lots of wonderful activities and it really gives the town a buzz. It’s great fun for all the family and a good time to come and visit if you have little ones.

With the teddy parachuting, don’t think this is just a children’s event, people of all ages bring their bears to take part. Some of the teddy bears we’ve seen in previous years have been more than 60 years old! Afterwards, each bear gets his personal bravery award.

The event from 10am until 4pm also includes a Blue Cross dog show, classic cars, a street market, music, crafts and a dog agility event, as well as free parking.

Bampton is an idyllic, historic, market town, which still boasts a vibrant high street with a traditional butcher, baker and greengrocers. The area is hugely popular with visitors.

During the event, we’ll be celebrating the very best of our local suppliers. Our ethos has always been to provide good food, sourced locally wherever possible, while supporting other businesses in the community too. Among our list of suppliers is the butchers in Bampton, which is owned by nearby farmer John Westcott.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Melt in your mouth chocolate brownie recipe

Not sure how to entertain the kids in the coming half-term break? Why not make our chocolate brownie? This recipe can be great fun to whip up with kids of all ages and as most love chocolate you’re bound to be a hit…

Ingredients
•    400 grams of good plain chocolate
•    300 grams of unsalted butter plus a little extra for greasing the tray
•    250 grams of castor sugar
•    4 free range eggs (med size)
•    100 grams of plain flour
•    1 teaspoon of baking powder

Method

•    Set oven to temperature 180°c or gas mark 4
•    Lightly grease a 20cm square baking tray and line with baking parchment
•    Melt half the chocolate in a heat proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and keep the other half of chocolate back. You will need to cut the chocolate into small lumps.
•    When the chocolate has melted add the butter and stir until it has all melted.
•    Remove the mixture from the heat and add the sugar and beat in the eggs to the chocolate mixture until its really well mixed in.
•    Sieve the flour and baking flour into a large mixing bowl and slowly fold in the chocolate mixture.
•    Add the rest of chocolate pieces and if you wish, add some hazelnuts or peeled pistachio nuts too.
•    Pour the mixture into your baking tray and bake for 25-30 mins until it feels firm.
•    Leave it to cool and then turn out on to a wire rack and allow it to fully cool down.
•    Cut it up into squares and, bingo, you have brownies.
•    If you prefer to eat yours warm, when they’ve cooled down just place into a warm oven for 5 mins.           

Friday, 5 May 2017

Exmoor’s Outdoor Festival kicks off this month

North Devon and Exmoor’s annual Walking Festival began on May 1 (2017) and this year it has been rebranded as an Outdoor Festival to help attract more people to the area.

The month-long event run by Visit Exmoor includes forestry, coastal and moorland walks as well as routes through pretty hamlets and lots of other outdoor activities are also being encouraged too.

This festival is a great way for people to find out and experience for themselves North Devon’s and Exmoor’s most glorious countryside.

The proposal this year is that all of May 2017 will be known as an Outdoor Festival month, with plans by Visit Exmoor for guided walks, as well as other outdoor activities.

One of the places we recommend our guests visit is Tarr Steps near Dulverton. It used to be very famous and tourists flocked there but now it’s a bit quieter, even on nice sunny days in the summer.

For those who don’t know it, Tarr Steps is a bridge made of stone slabs over the river Barle. It’s the longest of its kind in Britain and was first mentioned in documents in the Tudor times, but is thought to be much older. It’s a truly magical place.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Devon offers the perfect formula for Poohsticks

Families looking for a homegrown holiday this year could indulge in a break playing Poohsticks in the heart of Devon.

We’re offering a cosy base for budding Christopher Robins interested in perfecting their stick launching technique.

We’ve got some marvellous rivers and streams with bridges here in the Westcountry that make great locations for the odd game of poohsticks!

Not so far from us is Tarr Steps and it’s also worth visiting the picturesque Malmsmead, with its Robber’s Bridge, near Oare, which was included in the Lorna Doone story!

Tarr Steps used to be very famous and tourists flocked there but now it’s a bit quieter even on nice sunny days in the summer. We love going there with our Labrador Tansy for a paddle in the river and a walk, and we always recommend it to our guests who stay with us.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Star gazing with pie…

With more stars to see in the night sky above Exmoor than in most conurbations around the world there’s never been a better time to head West for a sparkling adventure.

Combine star gazing with award-winning food and a cosy country inn, then you’ve got all the right ingredients for the perfect weekend away from it all.

Exmoor National Park is Europe’s first International Dark Sky Reserve. The low light pollution here makes it the perfect place to get a great view of the stars.

On a clear night, the sky is simply stunning and many astronomical sights can be seen with the naked eye, or you can hire a telescope from one of the Exmoor National Park centres to see even more! One great location is Wimbleball Lake not far from Dulverton, which is near us here in Bampton.

So why not book in for a meal with us, do some star gazing and then rest and relax in one of our comfy rooms?

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Eating pedigree pork helps keep rare breeds alive


We’re encouraging our diners to eat pedigree pork in a bid to help keep rare breeds being reared in the area from dying out.

Eating porkers such as Oxford Sandy and Blacks, sometimes referred to as the plum pudding or Oxford Forest pig, brings money into the porcine industry and helps breeding programmes develop.

Buying meat from these more unusual breeds who have had happy lives living near us in the heart of Devon is not only better for the diner, as they produce much tastier meat, but it’s also good for the producer as it makes it viable for them to keep these breeds going.

Our ethos has always been to provide good food, sourced locally wherever possible, while supporting other businesses in the community too. We’re hoping that by giving our customers more information on the provenance of the meat they are eating it will help them understand the importance of animal husbandry a bit better and also promote our wonderful suppliers who do such a fabulous job protecting rare breeds. It’s all about awareness really.

You can’t get any fresher or tastier produce than stuff reared nearby and also because we know our suppliers well, we know their animals are treated with respect and have happy and good lives.