Helen Browning’s Royal Oak – Newsletter July 2017

Wheat crop trampled by poppy lovers!

Having made the mistake of alerting people via social media, we should not have been surprised when possibly 300 people turned up over the past fortnight to take a close look at our 8 acres of poppies. Not a crop we had planned, to be honest, but as HB says, it seems to be a poppy year. ‘The most amazing display we’ve had here in 30 years’, she says. And disappointingly, several of the 300 decided to walk straight through the main crop of winter wheat to get a better look, rather than going round the boundary. So a bit of a mess really. We too often assume people know how to behave, and occasionally we’re disappointed. Anyway, they’ve all gone now, people and poppies, as expected, and the wheat will recover, partly.
Poppies are one of the millions of benefits of farming this way, organically. They come, they delight and they go. And
you still get bread at the end of it. The Prince of Wales will be thrilled!


We love our bees

and they love us…Flooding our buddleia in our wild parts, swarming over our flower heavy hedges; and look, those oil seed rape growers seem to have decent crops despite the ban on certain insecticides.


Possibly the best honey in the world, says Winnie the Pooh

Those bees we mention above, they’re responsible for the honey produced by our enthusiasts Teo and Gina on this farm. It’s utterly remarkable. The texture of face cream, slightly whippy and frothy and white. Paddington prefers marmalade but Winnie likes the honey. Ask when more is available. Or come for breakfast one day. We serve breakfast 7-10 weekdays, 9- 11 weekends. Fit for kings and queens.


Pig Racing wins World Championship status

After raising £1675 for charity on June 4, the World Pig Racing Federation based in Mississippippippi has granted the Royal Oak International Pig Racing Fiasco World Championship status from 2018 onwards; due the quality of the pig training regime, of course. Trainer Clive Hill, impresario Tim Finney, promoter B Ecclestone, health and safety supremo Dr R Hatch, and bookie Tom Green have also been elected to the Supreme Council of this prestigious organisation. In the meantime, thanks are about to be issued to all the above, plus Richard James (estate agents), Paul Boniface (talented musical leader), Philip Lambert (awkward customer), and all the pig sponsors, for their money and efforts. The money is being split £150 to the village hall, and all being well 50/50 the rest to Prospect Hospice and Swindon and North Wiltshire Deaf Children’s society, assuming Tom Green and Tim Finney, who have competing claims, don’t fall out over this.


Quite a lot of things you might not know about us
  1. fun loving organic farmers and publicans and ha ha hoteliers
  2. we offer lovely simple food at our Chop House restaurant in Old Town, Swindon. Glorious intelligent staff
  3. we are always a safe haven for all anti-Brexit people, who find life elsewhere uncomfortable, occasionally
  4. launched our wonder website early June—you can even book tables online
  5. make bacon the old fashioned way, and you can eat it here, or at HB’s Chop House, or from Sainsbury, or Ocado, or Wholefoods..
  6. same with our sausages-all from our organic pigs, you can buy them nationwide. Look for HB’s orange pig logo
  7. an amazing organic farm, owned by The Church since 1850, farmed by Brownings since 1950, in Bishopstone 8 200 pigs, 700 sheep, 200 dairy cows. Plus 100 badgers, 60 deer and a million rabbits. And lots of hares
  8. exporting organic pork to Germany, and occasionally Italy and Denmark. The EU makes such trade so simple. We dread the future and UK border controls
  9. employing 35 marvellous people, from S Africa, Germany, Romania, Italy, Spain plus our home grown contingent from England and Wales
  10. always things to do at our placeThe Ridgeway
  11. like watching our Italians, De Luca, make mozzarella, from our cows’ milk
  12. or taking a walk on the farm, Ridgeway runs through it
  13. or going on a land rover safari before supper, if you ask and book in time
  14. or enjoying our annual classic car day
  15. or losing money on International Pig Racing day —you’ve just missed it—and watching charities soak up your losses
  16. or coming to one of our sporting suppers at HB’s Royal Oak— cricket’s the next one, June 28, Ashley Giles, King of Spain. And always Rugby when we can
  17. we’re watching the Lions tour of New Zealand in the pub this month, breakfasts start at 8am
  18. eating great cut price organic pork ribs, or supping an amazing bargain organic prosecco on our midweek Chop House deals
  19. and the Chop House Monday supper club, lots of dishes at £10
  20. Dancing girls supplied to parties. Not trueFragrant Orchid
  21. Using Prohides wildlife photography hides on the farm, currently they’re watching little owls and badgers. go to their website and get a full package of photography, hotel and food, and amazing quality 12-24 hours
  22. or just walk and be amazed by the birds of prey, and song birds and wild flowers 
  23. completely lacking a sense of humour everywhere, we’re told
  24. Helen is chief exec at The Soil Association, leaving the rest of us to work inside her small ethical box
  25. which means organic, fairtrade, local, seasonal, decent treatment of staff and animals and it all ends in rather nice food and generous intelligent staff, many of the best of them women of course
  26. come stay at her Royal Oak’s sassy new rooms. Quite surprising in many ways
  27. The Royal Oak kitchen itself has been a Good Food Guide favourite for the past 8 years, the only place within Swindon BC to get a listing
  28. HB’s Royal Oak is part of the Arkell’s brewery business, and they’re backing us massively to improve the place
  29. Higgs Bosun particle found under table five after cleaning error by last cleaner
  30. Land Rover take you home service from the pub, min 6 people, if you ask and book
  31. All designed to help you enjoy yourself, and eat and sleep well.