Spring is a special time in the orchards, and you prey for long sunny days and blue sky. What you don’t want is heavy rain and strong winds, exactly what we suffered today. Our recently built wooden garden Gate has been blown off it’s hinges, so lord know what apple blossom will be left, if any. Luckily, it’s still relatively early for blossom on cider apple trees (only the ever so keen Katy Apple trees may of had their young but strong branches whipped by the winds) so fingers crossed for a rise in the temperatures and a reappearance of Somerset blue skies.Below is another extract from ‘Then and Now’
Even after all these years Martin Thatcher is still
bowled over by the sight of an orchard decked in apple
blossom, and he’s not alone. To many people, the
coming of spring in cider country is one of Britain’s
wonders – nature and humankind working together
to create a marvel. Few sights compare to the beauty
and magic of trees suddenly covered in white or pink
flowers, yet it is not only a visual experience. A walk
in an orchard at blossomtime is as much about the
scent of the flowers and the drone of bees, the feeling
of warm sun or a cool breeze – and a sense of magic.
To the cidermaker, though, blossom is much more
than just a thing of beauty. For the trees to produce
apples the flowers need to be pollenated, and the
blossom doesn’t last for long. If you’re unlucky, in fact,
it can disappear overnight.
Nothing makes a cidermaker quite as nervous
as the prospect of a late frost, which can devastate
a whole orchard in one night, and in times past
fruit growers came up with some ingenious ways of
keeping temperatures above freezing at this crucial
time of year, such as burning oil in ‘smudge pots’ to
warm the air and keep it mobile. On one 19th century
Gloucestershire fruit farm the foremen slept beside
alarms connected to thermometers, which would
sound when the temperature became dangerously low.
But they were probably growing fruit varieties
that were not native to the area. The beauty of the
Somerset cider varieties is that they have evolved over
the years in the same climate, so that most blossom
after the worst danger of frost is over. Thus although
Somerset Redstreak is classed as an early bittersweet,
it flowers in mid-season, that is in the middle of May,
after all but the most freakish frosts. However, that old
renegade Tremlett’s Bitter indulges in rather riskier
behaviour, often flowering in late April when freezing
conditions are still a distinct possibility. It is still
essential, as it always was, to pick the right site for a
Posted in Then and Now
Tagged apple blossom, apple Harvesting, Apple Juice, Apple Juice making, apple pressing, autumn, Cider, Cider Apple, cider making, cycling, Katy apples, Katy Cider., Neil Phillips Photography, Neil Phillips Weddings, Thatchers Cider, Thatchers Gold
On 6th Oct we held the 2nd annual Wrington apple day on the village green outside the pub.
Myself and a bunch of friends from the village helped to organize this ramshackle day, which we do for the love of orchards, the making of fine pure juice and of course the drinking of cider. Everybody mucks in, the sun always shines and we go home tired but very happy.
Wrington photographer Bob Bowen kindly took a selection of images which are on the slideshow below. Enjoy
Posted in Oct 2013
Tagged Apple, apple day, Apple Juice, apple pressing, Apple trees, Cider, cider making, Forgotten Fruit, Neil Phillips Photography, North Somerset, Scrumping, Thatchers Cider, The Plough, The Scrumping Project, Wrington, Wrington Apple Day
Finally managed to post the video online. First half of the video is from the picking day and second half from our pressing day. Hope you enjoy it. Neil
Tagged Apple Juice, Cider, Forgotten Fruit, Neil Phillips Photography, North Somerset, scrumpy, Somerset, Thatchers Cider, Thatchers Gold, The Scrumping Project, Wrington, Wrington Apple Day
Wrington Apple Day poster
Apple Day Poster 2012
I’ve just managed to obtain a copy of the double page spread that the Bristol Evening Post (as it was called then !) ran on our apple pressing day, help back in October 2011. Photographer Jon Kent came out to photograph us and captured all the colour of a beautiful autumn day, with the apple presses at full steam.
With this years apple blossom slowly revealing itself through the April showers, It really puts me mood for lots more apple juice and cider making this year.
2011 Apple Pressing Day
A big thanks to jon for sending this through,
Happy scrumping !!
Take a look at this fantastic film by local photographer and Film maker Graham Trott.. Shot in in 2010 it’s an invaluable document on traditional cider making in Somerset. The footage is of Frank Naish aged 86, who with his brother Harold has been making cider all his life in East Pennard.
It’s a beautifully shot and poignant film of Frank cider making and reflecting on life.
Tagged Apple, Apple Juice, Apple trees, Cider, cider making, East Pennard, Frank Naish, Graham Trott Photography, Neil Phillips Photography, Orchard, Scrumping, scrumpy, Somerset, The Scrumping Project, Winter
I’m very pleased to announce that I’ve been commissioned to shoot a year long video documentary on Thatchers cider.
The Sandford based cider makers have given me and my cameras unlimited access to all areas of the cider making process including full access to it’s Somerset based cider mill as well as all it’s beautiful orchards in North Somerset.
I’m very excited about this project. I’ve been photographing the cider making business for many years, documenting the orchards during the changing seasons so it will be wonderful to capture the planting, apple blossom, and autumn harvests on film
I will also be filming in the company’s historic ‘oak vats hall’ as well as their new state of the art bottling plant.
I started shooting 2 weeks ago with the annual Wassailing Ceremony. This was a stunning event to capture, with all the colour of the Wassail queen and king, the green man dancing around the apple trees, roaring fires and spilling of cider to welcome in the new year and the blast of three shotguns to ward off the evil spirits !
Check out this site for updates and excepts from the film.
A still from this years Wassail.
Tagged Apple, Apple Juice, Apple trees, Cider, Mendip Morris Men, Neil Phillips Photography, Sandford, Scrumping, scrumpy, Somerset, Thatchers Cider, The Green Man, The Scrumping Project, Wassail