November 2016


The new optic fibre network finally reached Manor Holding this week, as the BT Openreach workmen battled their way tree by tree through the tangled branches along the forest edge, against all my advice to place it either underground through our fields or away from the branches along the shelltered forest track.  I give it 6 months if we are lucky, before the wind in the branches snaps it.  But for that 6 months, broadband speeds at Manor Holding should be like lightning! A world away from the previous 1Mbps!

June 2016


Paradise Lost by Verity E Milligan

Photo courtesy of Verity E Milligan Photography

When you tire of Paradise, try the Wyre Forest and get away from the madding crowd to calm tranquility among wild flower meadows and ancient orchards, in a land where history still lives. Log in now at, and step further back in time.


May 2016


Geochache hunting is a new craze imported from the USA and now sweeping Britain and the rest of the planet.  Based on the old fashioned children's party game of treasure hunting, it utilises modern mobile phones with GPS capabilities.  Like twitching bird watchers, participants can get quite obsessive about finding and ticking off their next geocache location or clue.  According to the official website, there are currently 1,771 active caches scattered within the wider Wyre Forest area, all within easy cycling distance of the cottage! There are many hundreds within walking distance. Lack of roads precludes the use of cars in finding most of them.  How many can you find?  They can be up trees, in hedges, hidden under furniture; but cannot be buried, or on private property without the owners' permission, or anywhere with an entry fee. To join the hunt log on to, happy caching!

April 2016

Spring Blog

A little earlier in the year before the young leaves opened, I disturbed two Muntjac deer (or conceivably the similar but rarer Chinese Water Deer) in our lower orchard on my first day at the cottage after returning from holiday.  Both species are expanding their ranges in England having both been imported from China and released (illegally) to the wild in the south of England.  (Chinese Water Deer are apparently now endangered in China, where they live along the Yangtze).  Both are very ancient species with the Muntjac apparently native in Europe around 15 million years ago, but now widely considered an invasive pest by farmers and foresters.

The bottom of our orchard is also a favourite spot for Fallow deer, which lie up during the day hidden in a broad dry ditch between orchard and forest.  We deepened this ditch in January and incorporated it into a new small scale flood prevention scheme to protect our neighbours in the valley below, using stone riffles and dry catch pools to slow the water runoff; while carefully retaining the historic banks alongside and their ancient trees and ground flora. These coppiced oak trees are thought to be up to 600 years old and many were probably used to mark the manorial boundary in Tudor times.

March 2016

Random Thoughts Musing on Human Nature

Question. Why do humans always court disaster?

Answer. It is fundamental to our place at the crest of the wave of evolution.

The Law of Entropy (2nd Law of Thermodynamics) holds that the outcome of all actions tends towards chaos.  But The Law of Conservation of Energy (1st Law of Thermodynamics) requires that for every action there must be an equal and opposite reaction.  Chaos therefore throws up the occasional wave of adjustment, a peak rising above the flat monotony of the universal ocean.

Life constitutes such a wave, and we are currently surfing its crest.

We have only achieved this through risk taking, and to continue riding the wave we must continue to push the limits between the known sea of woes behind us and the unknown void before us.

The trouble is, that most waves eventually subside back into the scum on the ocean surface, or crash into a rocky reef or shore.

Few lap on a tranquil sunlit beach.


The River Severn, the longest river in England, boasts a regular tidal wave that can be ridden by those sufficiently skilled for over 7 miles (7.6ml current record standing up).  Somewhat further upstream lies Shropshire, birth place of Darwin and of the industrial revolution.  On its southern border, astride the river, stands the Wyre Forest, a haven for wildlife and humans, from the stresses of life at the edge.

For inspiration on where your wave could take you, consult this website,

December 2015

Another set of weather records smashed by this astonishingly hot December! The fig tree in our yard is full of young fruit untouched by frost.  Sweet fallen apples litter the orchards tempting squirrels and birds from the trees.

Here at Manor Holding we have escaped the devastating floods that have hit the North.  We've had a few rainy days to be sure, but interspersed with dry spells and even sunshine, and the balmy breeses have quickly dried out the ground underfoot.

Work on the grounds and buildings continues intermittently, with a new sunny terrace now available for use by guests, and newly planted fruit trees including Cherry, Pear, Plum, Peach, Nextarine, Mulberry and Walnut in the orchards.

The Byre has been attracting the slightly more adventurous, young and old, looking for somethinga little different from the norm.  And it has not dissappointed them; many of its bookings this, its second year, have been returning guests!  Last week I prepared a delicious traditional roast Christmas dinner complete with all the trimmings, in the compact but practical, Byre ktichen.  The sage for the stuffing picked fresh from just outside the door!

The roaring wood fire in the Cottage however trumps everything on cold, wet winter eveings!


Mid Summer 2015

Basking in the heat of a sunny afternoon, a gentle breeze ruffles the leaves, while the freshly shorn sheep jostle for shade to keep cool.  The garden is alive with the buzz of bees harvesting nectar and the chatter of fledgling birds competing for mother's attention.  The meadows a sea of vibrant yellow fringed with the dark green of the forest under a cloudless sky.

The distant sussurant murmur of the forest blankets the balm of silence, drowning out the jarring disonance of of the wider world of strife and conflict.

Step back in time, cast off your cares, heal yourself at Manor Holding, hidden in the wilds of the Wyre Forest, in sleepy Shropshire at England's heart.


Summer 2015

The Severn Valley Railway Society (often called the SVR), dedicated to the saving and restoration of historic trains, and the historic railway line along the idyllic Severn Valley south of Ironbridge Gorge, celebrates its 50th anniversary this summer.

Founded in a local pub on July 6TH 1965,  by a group of amateur railway enthusiasts, with an initial membership fee of one Guinea, the Society sought to combat in their own small way, the disastrous consequences of Dr Beeching’s “cuts” to the united Kingdom’s railway network, published a couple of years earlier.  Whose wider effects still bedevil Great Britain’s transport system today.

The Society, or SVR, has grown, with 15,000 volunteer members, into one of the world’s most popular heritage railway attractions, with 16 miles of track linking Bridgnorth  via several smaller restored stations, to the national rail network at the recently completed but Victorian designed,, Kidderminster “Town” station.

However the line has yet to be reconnected to the World Heritage Site of Ironbridge, due to resistance from new owners of the intervening track bed.

Despite this the SVR is now bidding to achieve UNESCO World Heritage status in its own right.

The mournful distant “toot” of the steam train whistle, can sometimes be heard across the forest at Manor Holding.


April 2015

Special offers from participating visitor attractions in the Heart of England available to all guests at Manor Holding.

February 2015                                                       

Silently the deer flit away over golden carpets of yesteryear, following ancient forgotten hollow-ways through the cathedrals of the forest.  Past moss covered ruins of medieval mills by the clear tumbling waters of the brook.  Rain drops sparkle in the sunshine.  Carpets of snowdrops brighten the dark shadows.  Slowly the forest begins to stir, life quickening in the warmth of spring.  Fresh buds and shoots foretell a glorious summer to heal the wounds of winter.

Today the lambs celebrate their new year here as in China.

Why not awaken your muse at Manor Holding in the ancient forest of Wyre?


Waving not Drowning – February 2014

Well what a wet winter!  But how amazingly warm!  Hardly a frost all January!

Not that frost is a problem, when one is snug inside with a roaring fire in the log burner!

Our first guests to stay in the Byre, found refuge from the icy blasts of their native Canada, where the temperature when they left was minus 32 degrees.  Arriving here to a “tropical” plus 10 degrees, and immediately rushing out to explore the wildlife in the surrounding fields.

Sitting high and dry on a hill, the strong winds have been more of an issue for Manor Holding, than any excess water, but apart from one ancient hollow orchard tree festooned in evergreen mistletoe, our trees have all stood the test of the storms unscathed.  Those trees that did fall across public roads elsewhere in the district were swiftly cleared away by landowners and highway authorities. 

Despite these winds we still have a few sweet apples clinging onto one late cropping tree in the top orchard.

The wider forest however has lost several taller fir trees, particularly next to new forest clearings intended to increase the ecological and age diversity of the woodland.  This selective clearance policy greatly enriches the ground flora and fauna, the visual interest and the landscape value of the coniferous parts of the forest, as do the associated broad meandering sunny rides and narrower shady trails. The fallen trees will assist in this enrichment process, which encourages the original native species of this ancient forest to recolonize those areas, where post-war commercial coniferous plantations have usurped the place of the natural deciduous species.

Below us in the Severn Gorge, Bewdley’s new portable flood defences have withstood the Severn’s torrent with flying colours.  Although the multitude of mobile groundwater pumps, brought in to lift surface water from the road gullies into the river, did effectively clog up the town centre traffic; forcing all through traffic to use the bypass.  However the flood defences proved quite a tourist attraction in their own right, as pedestrians took advantage of having the old, Thomas Telford designed, stone bridge to promenade free of motor vehicles.

But now the sun is blazing in a brilliant blue sky decorated with scattered fleecy clouds, and wild flowers are blooming hurriedly before the trees throw a fresh green blanket across the landscape.

Nigel Dobson-Smyth

Manor Holding

Harvest Time at Manor Holding

Mature Shaggy Parasol Mushroom

Young Shaggy Parasols

Autumn giants at Manor Holding - "Shaggy Parasol" Mushrooms

Juvenile Shaggy Parasols

Dry Summer

The summer crop of soft fruit from the cottage garden at Manor Holding starts with Strawberries, which carpet the flower beds, and continues with Gooseberries and Blackcurrants.  This year’s crop, while delicious, was not large; due to the prolonged dry weather. 

Autumn Plenty

Well “the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” has now well and truly arrived; and what fruitfulness we have at Manor Holding this September! 

Sky Full of Apples Apple Tree Laden with Fruit

A Skyful of Apples

Apple Laden Tree

Spectacular varieties of edible fungi including giant “Puff Balls” and enormous “Shaggy Parasols”, have been providing excitement and variety in our meals throughout the month.  A single specimen of either of these outsize fungi can transform a family’s meals for a week or more.

We are also now in the midst of the fruit harvest, busy gathering nature’s bounty from the fields, orchards, garden and hedgerows and turning it into jams, jellies, chutneys, preserves, juices and frozen stewed fruit for the coming year, or eating it fresh from the branch.  Everything seems to be more productive this autumn with the exception of the cherries, which although starting the summer with green cherries thickly clustered on the trees, were badly hit by the summer drought, with the remaining unripe fruit scoffed by the birds before we got a look in.

Exotics and Natives

Our little “Brown Turkey” fig tree has been providing a steady stream of delicious succulent purple figs for the last month or so and looks set to continue into the late autumn.

In the top orchard, our young Apricot tree produced a record harvest of exquisitely delicate flavoured pale fruit.

The Pear and Apple trees are still weighed down by produce, with a few trees shedding major branches because of the weight of fruit.

The pears from the bottom orchard being particularly succulent and tasty, but best eaten straight from the tree, as they do not store well at all.

The rosehips, sloes, and damsons are plentiful, but still not ripe yet, but the hedgerow brambles have produced the best harvest of blackberries I have seen here in 20 years.  Enough to keep us in jam for the next couple of years!


Masses of Blackberries Juicy Ripe Blackberries
Masses of Blackberries Juicy Ripe Blackberries

Summer is here!

Date Posted: 15th July 2013

Enjoying the summer at Wyre Forest

New Website Launched!

Date Posted: 9th July 2013

Wyre Forest Cottage has launched its new website.

Guest Comment

Too short a stay! Lovely, peaceful time. Fire is hot man! :)

A + M ,


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