Category Archives: October 2009

Willsbridge Mill Apple Day

I had a great day on sunday promoting the Scrumping Project and displaying my orchard images at the Willsbridge Mill Apple Day . The weather was kind and the event was very well attended. It was great talking to Sally Pattison, Wildways Project Officer, (thanks for helping me set up the projector ) and to  apple genius Keith Goverd who was selling his Quality English Apple Juice. He  gave me invaluable advice on cider making as did the chaps from the Bristol Ciderworks.

Willsbridge Apple Day

Willsbridge Apple Day

Willsbridge Apple Day

Willsbridge Apple Day

How to spoil a nice picture !!

How to spoil a nice picture !!

Bristol Cider Works, Bottled cider

Bristol Cider Works, Bottled cider


A Pressing Day

The apple juice flows

days as

aromatic as

apples fermenting,

as strong as

sweet new


the autumnal

embrace of

harvest and decay

intoxicates me,

makes me join

the finite pageant,

dance the last dance

faster than any before,

a mad nymph

in the temple

of Bacchus,

before darkness

wraps me in

its unyielding arms

kisses me to

eternal sleep.

september 2005

copyright Ulrike Gerbig

Cider Making – The forgotten art

With 22 sacks of prime cider apples collected (about a ton) we arrived at Grimsbury Farm, Warmley in great anticipation of a productive days pressing . After a few tweaks to the Press, i.e working out the most efficient way to build the cheese, it was put to work with glorious results. It did take a while, but once  the juice started flowing it didn’t stop . It was actually quite  emotional watching the juice pouring from the hessian sacks, flowing river  – like into our steadily filling containers .

washing the cider apples

With enthusiastic hearts, great teamwork and (with) the scratter chewing up the apples as fast as you could roll them in, time flew by as we busily worked our way through the sacks of apples. We tried to mix the different types of apples as much as we could, the theory being to ensure each container held an optimum blend, hopefully giving our cider the best chance to be a quality craft product. Martin, our resident scientist  kept us informed of the all important Sugar content of our Cider -10.60 according to the hydrometer which is  (i.e) very good. We ended up making over fifty gallons of juice.

It was great to see families getting involved, the children washed the apples, fresh apple Juice was handed around  and the cider making process was explained to the visitors

All hands to the press

As mentioned, it was a very special day for me but it wouldn’t have happened without the help of Peter Davies and The friends of Grimsbury Park Farm who made available their sturdy Press and fantastic facilities. The team does fantastic work for the community. Also, thanks goes to John Morris from South Glos Council who has supported the Orchard group all along the way. Special thanks also to ‘CiderPunk’ Martin, who turned up on the day and give invaluable advice and assistance. The Orchard Group salute you all.

The happy team after pressing over fifty gallons of cider.

Over the years I’ve wandered around many of the south west’s orchards/cider farms and have been swept away and enthused by the dedication of the traditional cider makers that I’ve encounted . The artisans inspired me to first, photograph them, second, talk to them  and third (and with great resolve) to taste their cider. It was these experiences that inspired me to try and recreate that process in my county and over the past couple of weeks I believe we have gone a long way to achieving that.

Now the difficult part, how the blooming heck do you brew decent cider ? !

Scrumping Days

Picking only the finest fruit

Picking only the finest fruit

noble (if backbreaking) work.

noble (if backbreaking) work.

…Heav’n’s sweetest blessing, Hail

Be thou the copious Matter of my song

And thy choice Nectar, on which always waits

Laughter, and sport, and care beguiling wit,

And friendship, chief Delight of Human Life.

An extract from Philips’ ‘Cyder Poem‘.

Taken from ‘Ciderland‘ by James Crowden

A good day

A good day

The week leading up to our pressing day on Oct 18th was spent scrumping for apples in and around the south Glos region. Blessed with fine weather and  armed with buckets,sacks, sticks and a hearty flask of coffee, we set off to various corners of the county to collect cider apples. We had great success around Oldbury in Severn, collecting from various roadside trees and stumbling upon a number of old forgotten orchards that slowly revealed themselves from over the tops of hedges. The children had  a great time collecting from a small orchard in Oldland Common and myself Tim and Duncan had a hugely productive morning at Jean Grudging;s Orchard in Tytherington, where we were treated to an elevenses, of tea, homemade cake and a glass of Matthew Riddles cider. As you’d  imagine this sent us back to the Orchard with a spring in our step  and all in all we collected over 20 bags of prime Cider Apples.


The picking begins.

Myself and fellow scrumper, Tim, started our first picking day at Oldbury Orchard near Thornbury where we were shocked to find that there were practically no apples to pick ! This indeed was a fallow year for the Orchard, after a bumper crop last year.

Undeterred, we drove around the Oldbury area and found what we were really looking for. Old forgotten apple trees with fruit just begging to be picked. We happily scrabbled around roadsides and ditches picking for half an hour or so before discovering another old Orchard on land belonging to farmer Stephen Clark, whose family had been farming on that site for more than 3 generations. He was very happy for us to pick cider apples including –  Somerset Blenheim – from his orchard, as every year they were going to waste. Stephen even got involved, shaking the trees from his ladder. His Old Orchard probably only had about 20 apple trees let but we’ll be passing the information on to ‘The Orchard Survey’. We also identified other small orchards in the area which we hope to go back to.

Sunday Was spent displaying my Orchard eye images and promoting The Scrumping Project at the annual Orchard Harvest Day at Winterbourne Medieval Barn. It was a fantastic day with over 700 visitors. I’ve posted some pics below but you can see many more at

Recording ‘Autumn Response’

Mark, Guitar Wizard recording 'Autunm Response

Mark, Guitar Wizard recording 'Autunm Response

I spent friday night with Wizz guitarist Mark, recording our composition ‘Autumn Response’ for the Orchard slideshow etc. We are really chuffed with it, it’s alittle rough at the moment (mainly the parts that I play on ) but i’ll be posting it on my website soon. All we need now is a Cellist, Violinist, flutist (that can’t be the right word) and a female folk singer, preferable with some according playing experience.

Forgotten Fruit.

During a short drive between photography jobs (2-3 miles at most) I managed to taste some delicious Russet’s plus two other types of eating apples, some pretty sharp Cider apples and some wonderfully ripe pears all plucked and going to waste on forgotten fruit trees, littering the ground around our highways and byways and all otherwise going to waste.

Forgotten Fruit Trees, the ring road.

Forgotten Fruit Trees, the ring road.

winterbourne Medieval Barn

winterbourne Medieval Barn

I’ve had a busy couple of days getting ready for my Audio Visual ‘Orchard Eye’ exhibition at Winterbourne Medieval barn and making final plans for The Scrumping Project Weekend. Firstly I spent yesterday afternoon with Mark (just realized I don’t know his second name) who is composing a piece of music to play along with my Orchard slide show. He is a brilliant Guitarist’s and I took my guitar along hoping to play along. This idea came to an abrupt end as while tuning my guitar I broke a string. Ahem, probably just as well as Mark sounded great on his own. We hope to finish the piece on Friday in time for sunday’s Exhibition. I’ll post it on my main website soon.

I next met Peter Davies from the Friends of Grimsbury Farm to discuss our apple Pressing day. All is now in place for sunday the 18th Oct. The press is looking fantastic, we have lots of volunteers, we  just need to make sure that we are able to pick enough apples!

Today I visited the Winterbourne Medieval Barn to check out the logistics for for Audio Visual Show. It’s a fantastic Building, built in ‘1342’  and with it’s stunning roof structure remaining largely intact it’s a pretty inspiring place to show images.