It’s not often that I hear birdsong – I’m the first to admit I’m not very good in the mornings but when I was invited by our fruit and veg supplier to join them on a little trip to a herb farm I really couldn’t resist.

The alarm was set and I was up at 5.30am (I usually see this from the other side as I am often on my way home late from events) and on time to be met at 7.00am at the required central London destination point. Others in the group included many chefs from 5-star hotels and Michelin starred restaurants so was great to hear all about their side of the food world!

The journey on the coach offered a chance to have a coffee and breakfast and before I fell asleep, we had arrived at our destination – Westlands!  It has been 80 years since the company’s beginning in the Vale of Evesham (their namesake originates from a region in western Netherlands).  They are the largest British speciality grower of Microgreens, Inspired Leaves & Edible Flowers, ‘Taste of the Sea’ coastal vegetables, and Speciality Tomatoes.

Everything is grown in huge glasshouses carefully monitored for heat and light all year round using clean hydroponic growing methods which are soil and peat free, with a focus on product quality and technical assurance.

I discovered varieties I didn’t even know existed, the industry is developing so quickly and products are now being specially developed for colour, size and taste! A cucumber flower with the tiniest cucumber ever seen, popcorn shoots with such a sweet intense taste of corn, it really was mind-boggling. I even tried the electric daisy or buzz buttons but wish I hadn’t for 20 minutes afterwards – woah – not sure how I am going to work those into a menu any time soon!!!

Many thanks to Smith & Brock for their hospitality and to Christophe, our account manager for inviting me, it really was a fantastic day.