The Wrington Community Field.

Even though it’s been a tough year, the Field has had a very successful one. We’ve all had more time to get outside, to walk and breath in the fresh air. The field has been a great place to head for, to get out and about and to do something useful and fulfilling. So since last March with bit of social distancing and diary organisation members and visitors have spent more time, preparing the ground in Winter, planting in spring, weeding and tending in the summer and Harvesting in the Autumn.

The old apples tree were pruned back, as was the young avenue, which helped to produce a healthy crop, though we we’re careful remove most of the apples so improve growth. The Apple trees are my main area of interest. Unfortunately, out of the 30 trees we planted, one tree did not make it. I’m really not sure why ? But after reluctantly uprooting this tree I was left with a small area in which to plant whatever I fancied. It was too late in the season to plant another tree, so I decided to sow some wild flowers and make a small log pile, to encourage more bees and bugs into the Orchard. This seemed a sensible and practical thing to do as some of the trees had suffered from Aphids the previous year. I figured a more diverse orchard would encourage predators such as Bees, Ladybirds and other bugs to hopefully help naturally clear the Aphids away. With Phil I also made Bee Hotels which we dotted around the Field. The Wild Flowers lasted well into the Autumn and the Bee Hotels are already becoming occupied, putting in place a healthy eco culture which should benefit the Field now and into the future. The Harvest is still being enjoyed, Sprouts, Kale, beetroot and herbs are still being collected as well as a sheds worth of onions.

The Apples from the larger Trees were pressed at the end of September a mixture of Discoveries and Katy Apples which tasted fresh and sweet. The Bramley’s have been used widely in pies and crumples and also blended into my Cider to add some acidity and sharpness to the Yarlington Mills and Dabinetts that I collected from the Orchard day near Keynsham, and a small amount of Lambrooks, that Thatchers kindly let me have (from couple of old inaccessible trees that are no longer picked from). Of course we’ve had no local events this year to sell our apple juice from, but that leaves more for members to enjoy and a steady supply of empty bottles are constanltly being returned for recycling. The Cider has more or less fermented out, though one of the barrel’s seems to have stuck around 1010 SG, so I may need to give that a stir to get it going again, or perhaps bottle it (crown caps for safety) and see how it developed. So far it all tastes fresh clean and rather pleasant so here’s to enjoying the cider this summer.

So, I’m currently pruning while dodging the rain storms and mud, keeping a keen eye on the cider while the other ‘Fieldies’ are clearing and preparing ground for planting. Unsurprisingly we all seem to have time on our hands, so I get the feeling that it’s going to be another great summer in ‘The Field’.

Here are some photos of the past year.


Thatchers Cider Open Day

Hey ! we managed to sell out of Juice at the Thatchers Cider Open day on the 14th Sept. It’s always a great event which seems to get bigger and better with every passing year.  and this year not only were we pressing lovely juice from Thatcher’s superbly sweet and tasty Katy apples but we were selling juice from apples collected from along the Strawberry Line. With extra donations we’ve managed to raise £40 for The Railway Children charity.

Some pics below.

Thatchers Open Day 
 14th Sept 2019

Gathering Steam…

A few days ago I did an apple pick on Winscombe, a couple of hundred yards from the old line, so you could say that the project is ‘gathering steam’ (lots of Railway Puns to come I’m afraid ! )


The apples turned out to be lovely Discoveries and the juice flowing from the pressed apples was a lovely pale pink colour. The juice is deliciously sweet. like sucking on a pear drop (if you remember those sweets ?)

Myself and my friend Phil also pressed apples from the ‘la Avenue des Phillippe’ in Wrington with a few Katy’s mixed in for good measure.

Apples On the Strawberry Line


Since I Started working for Cider makers as a freelance photographer back in the 1990s I’ve development my love for the world of Apple Orchards and have looked for ways of being involved in some way. For around 15 years now I’ve made apple juice and cider, hosted apple days, planted an orchard and started The Scrumping Project, which on a much smaller scale, mirrors the Wasted Apple venture. 

For Apples on the Strawberry Line’ project I’ve decided to make Apple Juice using apples that have only been picked along the Strawberry Line, i.e the Old Cheddar Valley line. This line ran from Yatton to Shepton Mallet up until the 1960s, and gained the name due to the transportation of fresh Strawberries from Cheddar during the summer months. Of course the line no longer exists, but the spirit of the line lives on in the form of the popular Strawberry Line Cycle Way, where you can explore the rail museum at Sandford Station, as well various old railway buildings and tunnnels as you take a leisurely ride past the old Cheddar Railway Station, taking in impressive views of the Gorge. The Line also connects with the East Somerset Railway which still runs weekly Steam Train and Diesel Train rides from Cranford throughout the summer. 

Over the years, I’ve managed to pick up many hobbies. These include Cycling, Model Railways ( the railways in general ), photography and music. So in one idea, I seemed to have managed to marry all this passions together, which feels interesting and exciting.

There is a lot of scope for picking apples along this line and I’m currently exploring the area to discover the potential sources of apples and gaining permissions to pick the fruit, and work out pricing or barter structures in payment for the fruit  (i.e apples in exchange for bottled juice).

Once the Juice is bottled and ready I’d love to sell it in some of the cafes and Shops along the way, so of which operate from the old stations. 

For the label and graphics I’ve really enjoyed playing with the iconic GWR posters and logos, mixing in apple and orchard references wherever I can.

The Label is in the style of the GWR Posters that became popular in the 1930s, featuring  striking paintings with idillic and glamorous locations . The poster includes the circular GWR logo, which subtly changed to GWA  ( Great Western Apples ! ) 

GWA Logo

The label below features a 1930’s steam train passing through Sandford Station  surrounded by overflowing Apple Orchards, on the way to Cheddar, to pick up fresh Strawberry’s during the summer months, to be then transported to the tables of the City of Bristol, Bath and London (amongst many others) .

Sandford Express smaller002

The label represents a hectic, busy and vibrant time on the line, which will hopefully be reflected in the fresh healthy and tasty apple juice. 

For the wider project the Label can be changed to represent individual Stations or areas that have supplied the apples. In this case it’s the Katy Apples that can be found beside their Cider Mill in Sanford.  I’m currently commission a painting of Cheddar station which will be a generic illustration of the project.

As I said, I love the idea of mixing together British Rail/GWR graphics and mashing (for want of a better word ) them up with related apple/cider wording and phrasing. The typography is so simple and clear, originally designed to quickly guide travellers in the right direction and was the same on every station.

2019-08-20_0001I’ll also talk to people along the route to gather apple information and train memories, as I want the Project to be a part audio visual and the website to be full of voices and sounds, As a photographer and Filmmaker I want to gather mix together train and environmental recordings, images and memories. If i can get the correct funding I’d like to also commission Poetry and Music.

Through this project it would be great to support Strawberry Line Cycle Way Group, to support the cycle route extension plans, so the idea of the juice has a forward thinking feel. I would also like to support and raise money towards the wonderful ‘The Railway Children Project’

Linking my love of Juice/ cCidermaking, Cycling, Trains and Model Railways this project ticks a lot of boxes for me, so I’m putting a lot of energy into the project and in turn, it’s giving me a lot of pleasure. If it’s a success, I’d like to do the same thing on other old regional lines, so if anybody knows of any unused apples lying within a tooting distance of a railway line, please get in touch, any help or advice is gratefully received. 

Claudia at copmuter


Wassail Season

I can recommend the Wassail at Barley Wood Orchard this evening, A few pics from last nights event. Lots of Fun and fire and cider ! Wassail starts from around 9.30pm, Drinks and music all evening 🙂



It’s been very stormy few days in North Somerset recently. Here is a view of a wonderful old Orchard that is situated just outside of Wedmore, taken just after a storm had past.

Autumn Colour 10th Nov 2018

Apple Day and Cider Apple Picking



After a very successful Wrington Apple Day last weekend, ( see lovely bottle of juice and beautiful label above ) not to mention great coverage in local paper, and a great pic of Wrington’s finest groovy band Ghost Weed (see below 🙂 )

IMG_3747 2

The apple day ( 7th Oct) was bathed in a milky warm sunshine which brought out families and made for some perfect apple pressing weather. In contrast, Cider Apple picking day was carried out on the coat tails of Hurricane Cullum, and although the wind had died down a little, the rain did fall, oh boy did it fall. After a recommendation from Brislington’s finest cider maker Martin Camplin, I visited Elm farm in Compton Martin to pick a small amount of Cider apples. There I was greeted warmly by Philippa, who pointed me in the right direction to pick from a variety of cider apple trees including Browns, Dabinett, Michelin, Harry Chisel, Yarlington Mill . During the the morning there were somewhere between 10 to 15 pickers, each dressed like a North Sea Trawler Man to keep the rain at bay, heads down, in the wet grass, tossing apples into a variety of sacks, looking very much like well soaked dogs on a truffle hunt. I was very happy to join them. I’m only attempting to make a small amount of cider but this seemed like a pretty good mix to me, the Browns providing a percentage of Bitter sharps amongst the Bittersweets.  Anyway, 2 hours later, thoroughly soaked through I’d picked 6 healthy sacks of apples and look forward to pressing for cider this weekend, when hopefully the sun will be shining.


Note to self though, I forgot to pick the Bittersharp Browns, darn it.

Twisted Oak Brewery

I’m Lucky enough to have a Brewery attached to the office where I work, hence Friday afternoon can be a little hazy !

Below are some photographs that they commissioned me to take for their website and general marketing. It’s always rewarding photographing people who love their jobs and these people love making Real Ale, who wouldn’t !

Twisted Oak  30th April  2018

The Brewery is a small but beautifully formed micro brewery based just outside of Wrington, North Somerset, on the edge of the Mendip Hills. They specialise in brewing quality real ales using traditional brewing techniques. It’s owned and run by Keith and Deb Hayles of Clevedon and Simon Gait from Wrington.

They are proud of their beers which are all brewed using traditional open-topped fermenters, fresh yeast and the best malt and hops available. The smell of the hops when you walk through their doors is wonderful, notes of Toffee, spice, Lemon and Orange fill your nose, the extra hops that are added after boiling adding to the flavour and aroma.

They never use dried yeast from a packet, always use fresh yeast, harvested from the previous brew. Their mantra is… “If you look after the yeast, the yeast looks after your beer. We are custodians of the yeast!”

Twisted oak 2ndMay, 2018

They are a brewery on the up having recently scooped Gold and Silver Medals at the SIBA Southwest Beer Awards, indeed they have recently opened a successful Micro Pub in Clevedon.

Twisted Oak  30th April  2018

Pop in and say hello to Keith, Deb or Simon, they’ll give you a warm welcome when you arrive, at either their Brewery or Micro Pub, and you’ll probably walk away with some very drinkable award winning Real Ale under your arm…

Twisted Oak Brewery, 4nd May, 2018

Copyright Neil Phillips Photo and Film Ltd

New Cider Barn

New Cider Barn on the Block..

I can highly recommend the Cider Barn at Barley Wood which now opens on Saturday Afternoons till 8pm. It’s based at the rather upmarket Barley Wood Walled Gardens near Wrington, North Somerset  where the critically acclaimed Ethicurerian Restaurant is based. The cider house is set within the beautiful circular building that has a slightly bohemian feel, which fits nicely with the trendy young couple who run the business. You quickly learn that they are passionate about all things apples and and will happily talk to you about their cider, juice and the techniques they use. The Barn houses a couple of wonderfully large old apple presses as well as containers full of well labelled blended cider . Because of the location I was worried that the prices for the cider would be sky-high but the ciders started at £2.50 for a pint of dry or medium. I’m no expert but it was a really present cider, and packs quite a punch at 6.7% . They sell an interesting selection of traditional ciders (see the pics) including Kingston Black, plus if the medium cider is still too strong for your palate you have the option of sweeting it with Elderflower cordial . 

It’s in a beautiful location which has the lovely walled gardens with views across to the Mendip Hills at the centre of the grounds, the eating apple orchard is to your right as you walk down the slope towards the Barn and the Cider Apple Orchard is hidden at the bottom of the hill, which you are free to walk around with your pint. I live in Wrington, half a mile down the road so as it was a lovely afternoon yesterday we cycled up to the barn, and after a couple of pints we wobbled back !. This was a real treat after strimming back the long grass around 30 fruit/ apple trees over the past week. I’m Planning to go back next week, to try the other ciders and vegetarian Sausage Rolls 
I just thought I’d feel you in on this place as I know on the cider workshop there are the occasional recommendations for good cider farms etc to visit in Somerset, and this place fits in nicely between the spit and sawdust of Wilkins cider, the craft of Burrow Hill and the amazing selection of the bigger producers. If you do pop in drop me a line as I only live down the road, and will pop up for a pint with you 🙂
I have no commercial attachment to the Cider Barn , which actually makes me feel little sad as they seem to be doing everything right and makes my little Orchard venture look a little uninspiring 😦 No worries though it’s an inspiring place.

Spring Growth

The Discovery’s are popping out on the Avenue des PhillipesIMG_2614