I am now officially in love with Yeo Valley. Not just because of the creamy goodness of their delicious product, not just because of the ethos behind their company which means I have bought that product for years, but now because they are really nice people with a GORGEOUS garden!

I was invited along to the Yeo Valley organic gardens as part of a food bloggers visit but this ticked so many of my personal happy boxes I was like a pig in mud! Organic food, gardening, sweeping views of the countryside, lovely people AND, the following week, Shakespeare in the garden with my gorgeous girl! This place is my blog in a nutshell (or maybe a yoghurt pot…yoghurt pots which I use for crafting, pen storage and for growing plantlets in!) I got some crafty ideas for the garden as we wandered around.

The organic gardens have a little bit of everything I love. (If you like the look of all this gorgeousness, I have a ticket giveaway down at the bottom!)

We began with a stroll around the gardens starting in the kitchen garden moving on through woodland, meadows, shady watery spots, the gravel garden, ending gazing out at the view over Blagdon Lake which the herd of cows enjoy as they chomp on organic pasture. Not a bad place to be a cow!

Next a brief tasting session of the Yeo Valley product. It was a real treat to try all the varieties and I realised I had become a bit entrenched in my purchasing habits…Blackcurrant and Elderflower is definitely on my shopping list now and rhubarb was my absolute favourite (a muffin warm from the oven with a dollop of this on the side would make for a perfect afternoon tea!) Knowing that the milk which goes into these yoghurts came from the well looked after cows we had seen outside or from one of the small group of farmers with equally high standards who work with Yeo Valley makes it taste so much better. Bonus Boy is a total yoghurt addict and I am more than happy for him to scoff this down, strengthening his bones with no hidden nasties and giving him a yoghurty smile!

There is a real feeling here of a family and the people working for them all singing from the same song sheet. Although this was a blogger event I didn’t feel marketed at or swamped as I have at many previously, it was low key, relaxed and all the people we met were warm and welcoming.

Lunch in the tea rooms was prepared for us by Head Chef Jaime using produce from the gardens or sourced as locally as possible.

I came away with a little pot of sourdough starter and a recipe for his delicious cheesecake. Jaime showed us how to make the cheese for the cheesecake by simply straining vanilla yoghurt overnight…in the morning you are left with vanilla flavoured cheese, simple! You can use any flavour to do this so the possibilities are very exciting and I shall be experimenting!

A chat about composting with head gardener James meant I left with a top tip to improve my comfrey tea. Put the leaves in a water butt without water, they rot down, you turn the tap on and out comes the liquid gold my plants adore. I normally steep my leaves in water which makes me very unpopular with my family – if you haven’t done it, it REALLY stinks! Doing it James’ way reduces that pong dramatically!

An introduction to the kitchen garden with Will, a man who clearly loves his job (he left IT recruitment for gardening – who can blame him?!) followed by tea and scones, fresh from the oven ended my idea of a perfect day.

The following week I was back with my daughter to watch Shakespeare in the garden brought to us by  Bristol Old Vic and Company of Angels, in association with The Theatre Orchard Project. Performed by Jimmy Whiteaker these adaptations of  two of Shakespeare’s most popular plays were, quite frankly, brilliant. If you get a chance to see them, on any of their remaining tour dates throughout June in  the glades and woodlands of North Somerset, do – I promise you a good night.

I Peaseblossom takes one of A Midsummer Night’s Dream’s minor characters and twists a tail both hilarious and heart breaking. Jimmy Whiteaker worked the audience brilliantly. My Darling Girl was delighted to be picked as a crucial part of the show and various other audience members were equally delighted/totally terrified. It was VERY funny.

I Caliban focusses on the ‘monster’ left alone on Prospero’s island at the end of The Tempest. It is deeply poignant and very moving dealing with injustice, sorrow, loneliness, drunkenness and a ‘monster’ who misses his Mum.

I would love to see it again and will be looking out for more from Jimmy and from writer, Tim Crouch.

Over the summer Yeo Valley opens the gates to the garden on Thursdays (10-5) and the first Sunday of the month (2-5) until September. It is well worth a visit and I will be taking my brood for a meander there very soon.

Also, starting on 29thJune, Yeo Valley are offering a series of full day tours which will provide visitors with an insight into the organic world of the Yeo Valley family farm. The farm tours will be led by local expert Les Davies MBE while the garden tours will include a special chef food demo on how to create the best-tasting dishes with organic produce. If you fancy improving your knowledge of organic farming or gardening, want to learn more about sustainability or simply see how it’s done this is a perfect opportunity to pick the brains of the experts and see organic farming in action. Each day costs £30 and includes lunch (I can vouch for the deliciousness of the food on offer!)

I have two tickets to a farm or garden tour of your choice (subject to availability) to give away! Just pop over to their website, have a bit of a look around and then leave me a comment below telling me that you’d like to enter. All the dates are on the site, I think it is a site you will enjoy – I love it over there!

The Boring Bits

1. Giveaway ends on 30th June 2012 at midnight

2. Winner will be drawn at random using an online number generator

3. Dates are subject to availability

4. There is no cash alternative, the prize is two tickets to a Farm or Garden Tour at Yeo Valley in the summer of 2012 on one of the dates outlined on their website, subject to availability.

Disclosure: I have not been paid to rave like a loon about Yeo Valley, its products and its garden, I attended the events as outlined above and loved it. I’ll be back!

Edited on 2nd July 2012 to announce….AND THE WINNER IS…

Well done Julia, I’ll pass your details on to Yeo Valley and they’ll be in touch!

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