Monday, 8 November 2010

Harvest Home

Yesterday was the final apple picking session of this years cidermaking season. Fittingly the orchard was bathed in Autumn sunshine, and whilst not exactly warm, it wasn't a bad way to finish things off considering the way the weather has turned today. It was a day of high emotion for me. I'll certainly miss the time we've spent in the orchard this year and I don't mind admitting that a small tear rolled down my cheek as the day progressed. That's stinging nettles for you! When exactly do these devils stop stinging?

Karen and Paul helped things along nicely, which was just as well really, as it turned out to be a very hard weekend's work. Recent gales had shaken virtually all the ripe apples down onto the ground. Not normally a total disaster, but the mild weather has encouraged the grass to continue growing, covering the (mostly greenish!) fruit and making the job several degrees harder. Oh, our aching backs & arms.... and knees & toes!

The haul included around half a ton of Yarlington Mill, some Dabinett, Sweet Alford, assorted Sweets and Sharps for blending, and enough late-season Perry Pears to fill the press one more time. The fruit is in very good condition, but rather too full of grass and leaves for my liking. This will make an already difficult job that much harder as we hand wash all the fruit which goes into our ciders and perrys. Sleepy Middleton will once again ring with the sound of loudly cursing cidermakers. It's becoming a bit of a tradition actually...

It wasn't all work, though to be fair, it mostly was! There was time for a spot of R&R, shopping for the ladies, refreshing lunchtime pints for the menfolk. I even found the time for a quick trip over the border to Gloucestershire for an old favourite, the New Inn at nearby Willersey. This is a Donnington Brewery pub, perhaps not the most exciting ales in the world, but the tied pubs are generally unspoilt classics, and rarely disappoint for local charm. The New Inn is no exception, buzzing with Sunday lunchtime trade, including the wellys'n'tweed of the local shoot. Donnington B.B. was pleasant enough, and a Cotswold-tastic £2.35 a pint, no wonder the place was heaving!

So that's it for another year. Nowt but pressing to do, and quite a lot of that to be sure. As raindrops freeze on the brim of my hat, and the cold seeps ever deeper into boots and gloves over the next few weeks, I'll be able to think back to warm sunshine, and cool English ales, in Gods Very Own Country, the glorious Cotswolds.

2 comments:

Ray and Gail said...

I do like the colour-coordinated buckets and tarpaulins...

Rockingham Forest Cider said...

What's not so obvious is that Karen accidentaly colour co-ordinated her hair with Pauls Sweatshirt...