Marcus Bean has created a wonderful cookery school in the Shropshire countryside, housed in a listed barn conversion where the welcome couldn’t be warmer. Courses are highly varied – including full-day, half-day and evening classes, as well as special sessions for children. You can find everything from butchery and curing meat, Indian, Italian and French cookery, to the ‘stylish vegetarian’ – or a foraging day out in the hedgerows, fields and riverbanks. For £300 you can book a bespoke one-on one-cookery course with Marcus himself, which you can design to fit your exact needs. I took a half-day pastry course, where Marcus and fellow chef John Barton guided us expertly through some top-end desserts, including custard tart (a special request from me), raspberry frangipane tart with fruit from his kitchen garden, and a very rich chocolate mousse, which we learned to plate up like pros, complete with mini meringues and biscuit crumb. There were all sorts of invaluable tips, ideal to improve home baking techniques and results. Marcus and his wife also run a farmhouse B&B on site, so you can stay over and enjoy the local countryside – or maybe take a second cooking class the next day. Whatever you do, don’t miss his famous blueberry pancakes for breakfast.