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
Frank Naish (Oldest Cider Maker) have passed peacefully away in his sleep aged 89 5/2/1924 29/11/13
A poem for a man whom I had the pleasure to meet and photograph on a number of occasions. commiserations to all his family and friends
After Apple Picking
My long two-pointed ladder’s sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still.
And there’s a barrel that I didn’t fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn’t pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples; I am drowsing off.
I cannot shake the shimmer from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the water-trough,
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and reappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
And I keep hearing from the cellar-bin
That rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking; I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall,
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised, or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it’s like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.
Michelin, medium bitter sweet with soft tannin
Tagged Apple Orchard., Cider Apple, cider making, Forgotten Fruit, Frank Naish, Neil Phillips Photography, Oldest Cider Maker, Orchard, The Scrumping Project, Willsbridge Apple Day, winter sleep
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
Wrington Scrumping project, date is set for the 13th and 14th Oct, more details to follow soon…
Wrington scrumping Project, 2012
I spent a couple of days last week filming in one of the Katy Orchards for Thatchers cider, and although other cider apples are late this year due to the cold and wet summer the Katy’s were plump, ripe and ready for picking !!
Picking with katy…
It’s lovely to be in the Orchards again on a late summers day, lots more apple picking to follow.
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