Now I am not a ‘hair-vest’ kind of girl; no ‘dry January’ for me, it is simply too dark and a depressing time of year without ruling out any more of life’s little pleasures! So feel-good food has to taste great too and these Nordic crispbreads, ‘Knekkebrød’, hit the spot.

Knekkebrød >>

Knekkebrød are multigrain crispsbreads sweetened with honey and packed full of seeds galore – they fulfill those Omega 6’s, fibre demands, and topped with cream cheese and plum and chilli jelly they satisfy those hibernation cravings. 

Makes 2 sheets; approximately 40 crispbreads – lasts for weeks in a tin.

135g rye flour
135g oat flakes
25g chopped rye/ or bran flakes
80g sesame seeds
60g pumpkin seeds
60g sunflower seeds
45g golden linseeds
1 tbsp honey
Pinch of salt
600ml water


Preheat the oven to 170°C. Cover two baking sheets with parchment.

Chop the pumpkin seeds roughly. In a large bowl, mix the flour, oats, rye, seeds and a pinch of salt.

Mix the honey with some warm water in a measuring jug and then fill to 600ml.

Slowly add the honey water; wait a couple of minutes until the flour and oats soak up some more of the water then use dough paddles to make a wet paste.

Pour half the mix onto one baking sheet and spread evenly to the edges. Repeat.

Place both sheets in the oven and bake for 10 minutes then remove the sheets and cut into rectangles with a sharp knife. Put the sheets back in the oven and bake for a further 50-60 minutes, swapping the sheet positions in the oven half way through.

Occasionally open the oven door to release steam and the Knekkebrød are ready when they are dry and brittle with light browning at the edges. Remove from the oven, break into pieces and cool on a rack. These last for several weeks in an airtight container.

New Year is much like driving >>

A time for both reflection whilst still looking forward. Last year, in response to our lovely customers’ wishes, we increased the number and breadth of our courses to include beekeeping and willow weaving alongside our existing gardening, cookery and floristry courses. The one recurring complaint from people attending our courses is …why can’t they stay the night! So looking forward there are big changes afoot at Linnels Farm: customers’ dreams will come true when The Long Barn is converted into accommodation in the form of two holiday cottages: a two bedroom and a three bedroom which can be rented separately of joined together for big family reunions.

Now instead of just hearing my stories, people will be able to see the badgers feasting on worms down in the meadow on summer evenings, spot Dippers on the rocks by Devil’s Water; enjoy a ‘sundowner’ watching the swallows graceful aerobatics over the duck pond and witness the bats come out to play each evening like clockwork as soon as dusk falls. 

Rich pickings from the garden >>

Comfort food fresh from the garden reigns in coldest February – luscious leeks caramelized in butter and folded through creamy, mashed potato; crispy oven-baked kale or frost-sweetened parsnip bhajis to top hearty winter stews; and king of the brassicas nearly black ‘Cavolo Nero’ taking centre stage within open cheese tarts.


If you are lucky enough to have a greenhouse and invest in a heated bench and greenhouse heater then mid-February, with its increasing light levels, marks the start of the growing year. Chilli and tomato seeds can be germinated for crops ready to pick from early July and some early salad leaves can be sown for harvesting in as little as six weeks.

For flower fanatics: Dahlia tubers can be started to grow again under the greenhouse bench. Just pot up the salami-like tubers in compost and water once then stick under the greenhouse bench and don’t water again until new green shoots appear. Then bring into full light on top of the bench and water when the compost feels dry; this will provide you with dahlias to pick from late May compared to July/August when you plant outside.

If all of the above sounds like too much hard work then simply view your garden with a critical gaze (from a warm seat indoors) to see where gaps have appeared and then go shopping to your local garden centre to check out what is blooming; when plants flower in Jan/Feb they have bewitching scents to attract pollinators to fly in colder weather – much like heavenly scented aftershave or perfume attracting you to someone!


Banish the Winter Blues >>

1 Feb

Relish a day of preserving and baking in a warm farmhouse kitchen with the new season’s Seville oranges. Marmalade with whisky or without? You decide! 

Pruning Masterclass >>

9 & 12 Feb

Maybe you’ve only just purchased your first pair of secateurs or perhaps you’re an accomplished ‘hacker’ but wondered why your plants failed to fruit or flower quite how you’d anticipated, either way this class is for you. Learn the tricks of the trade: when to prune, how to keep shrubs restricted, renovating old plants, and pruning to maximise fruit/flowers.

‘Willow Hare’ Workshop with Phil Bradley >>

14 March

Back by popular demand, Phil will instruct you on how to weave your very own ‘hare’ from willow. Depart with your completed sculpture.             

Natural Perfumery with Michele >>

15 Mar

Under the careful guidance of an International Perfumer, you will learn about the magic of working with natural extracts and how to create your own signature fragrance using natural perfumery ingredients.

Glorious Gluten-free! >>

21 Mar

Trying to avoid gluten and looking for some inspiration? On this hands-on course we’ll master the gluten-free loaf, discover cakes and biscuits inspired by countries that don’t have a history of wheat growing and revel in a day of naturally gluten-free food. You’ll join chef Andy Snell and Karen in the morning to prepare a gluten-free feast for a convivial lunch; then back to your workstation in the afternoon for some gluten-free bakes to take away at the end of the day.

Bread Basics >>

22 Mar

This hands-on course discovers the pleasures of breadmaking from the simplest sourdough through to focaccia, via quick breads and the perfect baps for bacon and egg butties! Depart with recipes and your own warm, hand-made breads.