This weekend we had the pleasure of a visit from Ray Blockley and Gail Lomax, fellow cidermakers from Hucknall, Nottinghamshire. They came bearing the gift of cider, and after a short visit to the nearby village of Gretton for a pint of our local Great Oakley Brewery's beer, we set-to with a tasting session which went on into the early hours.
Ray and Gail had brought along a generous flagon of their own Torkard 57 cider, a sample of a batch which will be available at the Chesterfield Beer Festival (1st - 2nd Feb). We also tried bottles of our own Rockingham Forest Cider, Hogan's Perry, and finally, Sidra Leartibai, and Zapiain Sidra Brandy, both from Spain's Basque region. All good stuff, and useful (though sadly not tax deductable) research.
Sunday morning dawned rather too brightly for my liking. I seemed to be the only one suffering from a hangover, which was just as well since there was important work to be done, some of which required a clear head and a steady hand. Our sturdy Vigo Rack and Cloth Press, which has served us well over the last three seasons, and which only last September I swore I'd never be parted from, has found a new home in the upcoming 'cider heartland' of Hucknall. Ray and Gail already have a good homemade press, and plan to make a bigger version in the near future, but until then they require a little extra pressing capacity. Luckily for all concerned, we happen to have a little too much pressing capacity at the moment, so a deal was struck, and the press was loaded into Ray and Gail's trailer for the long journey 'up north'. For the first time in several years I find myself without the means to press apples. A slightly strange feeling, which happily should only last the few short days until we collect our shiny new (secondhand actually) hydraulic press (more of which later...)
Pictured here is Ray, struggling gamely with a multitude of bungees, and his 'Boy Scouts Book of Difficult Knots'. Karen and Gail look on admiringly whilst I help by taking photos! We look forward to following the further adventures of the Vigo Rack & Cloth Press, if and when the Torkard Cider Blog ever makes an appearance.