I visited Thatchers cider farm last friday to photograph Martin Thatcher and his family and found the place a hive of activity, echoing with the sound of a million apples, tipped into huge pits, with an energy that would surely shake any remaining apples from the branches of the surrounding north somerset orchards.
Later, I called into see Frank Nash and to present him and Paul Chant with their copies of the naked guide to cider making (in which they feature). It’s always a pleasure to watch them work together. Paul trundles around in circles, sweeping up fallers with his petrol powered machine, while Frank waits patiently, either sitting on the sacks of apples or picking up individual apples which have escaped Paul’s efforts. He then tips the apples from their containers with an energy that belies is 80 odd years, This goes on all day until the grey laden skies turn to black and it’s time to jump onto the back of the tractor for the short journey home.
I was also able to drop into Wilkins Cider, where pressing was in full motion, and the barn was stacked high with lumpy sacks of cider apples. I had the usual warm welcome from Roger and his daughter, who was helping him press on this day. I was quickly filled in with tales of recent visits from Oz Clarke (who drunk 5 pints) Jamie Oliver, (drunk 8 pints and turned up with a crew of 46 staff) and Hugh Dennis (drunk nothing and was grumpy !). It’s like the ‘Kings Rd’ of Somerset in there sometimes (though not when I visit) but generally and thankfully nothing changes.
I also had the pleasure of photographing the enigmatic Dr Hugh Tripp down at his organic orchards in the lanes of East Pennard. The traditional cider maker is about to launch a delicious Sparkling wine to the world. Next week he will start the cider making again using his gigantic old press, so I’m planning on another visit very soon.
Above and below are a selection of images that I took during my visits. I hope you like them. More to be published soon.
I’ve posted pics also at http://www.orchardeye.com