• ....and this is where those apples go

    Down to Oliver's Cider and Perry at Burley gate this morning with some of the last bags of apples from our orchard for this year's cider. Thought you might like to see a bit of what goes on although the true magic comes from the skill of the cider maker and the mysterious goings on in those big fermenting tanks.

    Boxes and boxes of apples of many different varieties still waiting to be processed as well as some of the later perry pears.

    The main piece of kit consists of an integrated washer, crusher and press. The large green machine on the left is a washer for the really grubby apples (not ours, which are beautifully clean). Apples are fed into the hopper, washed, sucked up into the crusher and then fed down on to heavy duty rollers which press the juice out. This is then syphoned off, via the white pipe on the floor, and stored in huge square polypropylene tanks before being decanted into the fermentation tanks. It looks a big step away from the traditional image of the horse walking the big stone wheel around the stone race, crushing apples, and then the boards and hessians used to build the 'cheese' in the cider press, but the principle is just the same.

    To find out more about their products go to www.oliversciderandperry.co.uk



  • Another year, another apple harvest....done

    The annual apple harvest is all part of the annual round in our orchard. Depending upon which trees are bearing well it can be massively variable. This year many of the younger trees that I've planted within the last 20 years saw fit to put on an impressive fruiting. Lord Lambourne, Adam's Pearmain, Court Pendu Plat, Keswick Codlin and Sturmer Pippin have given their best. Many of our older trees - mainly cider fruit - are beginning to struggle. I put this down to age, expanding colonies of mistletoe and a need for another round of pruning (they responded very well after the last session some 15 years back). The Bulmers Norman (as ever) cropped well, as did some of the singular trees whose variety names we've never identified. The Yarlington Mills have been very poor this year, but that seems to have been the case in many other orchards.

    Anyway after eight days of sporadic apple bagging, often through the persistent drizzle, we've managed to get 2.5 tons away to the cider makers. Our lower backs are thankful for the respite.



  • Found for a Pound (and pretty nifty for fifty)

    With the onset of November most of the car booting fraternity, buyers and sellers alike, tend to head into hibernation for another year.

    The last session on Sunday did turn up a couple of gems however.

    Regulars to Found for a Pound will already know about my penchant for old glass and so, although they are not particularly rare, the opportunity to buy a pair of late Victorian green wine glasses at £1 for the pair just couldn't be passed up. Full of wonderful swirls, bubbles and inclusions in the glass these were cheap and cheerful in their day, but I now value them precisely for that rustic character.

    Jan spotted a real gem in this superb early C20th Geographia map of Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and SE Wales. Upon close examination it features a very strange array of place names. Yes, all the major cities, towns and villages are there, but interspersed with random houses, farms or landmarks such as standing stones. Sort of halfway to Ordnance Survey, but not quite.

    Just as we left I dived into a box of mucky old bits of rubbish and right at the bottom unearthed this porcelain plate bearing a superb painted image of apples. It's in perfect condition and has some impressed pottery marks which I have yet to decypher, but I believe it to be early C19th and just possibly late C18th. Quite a steal at 50p I reckon.



  • Discovery of an ancient stone implement.....I think

    Jan was busy digging in the garden yesterday and unearthed this small stone flake. The stone certainly isn't of local origin and is extremely hard although it isn't flint. Gave it a gentle wash under the tap and, upon examining it with a magnifying glass, it does appear to have been worked around the edges and made into some sort of cutting or scraping implement. It really is quite sharp. Is this wishful thinking or could it really be some sort of neolithic artefact? I will seek some expert advice and report back, but any helpful comments gratefully received in the meantime.



  • Wild Service conundrum

    What's going on here then? Out in High Wood near West Malvern a couple of days back and noticed this distinct variation in leaf shape between two wild service trees a couple of hundred yards apart. The bottom four look like the more familiar wild service shape, but the top three with the deep indentation towards the leaf stalk look very much as if there's some influence of rowan in there. Could this be a hybrid? We know they exist as a tree was recently discovered in Hampshire that was almost certainly a hybrid. On the other hand this may simply be a manifestation of genetic diversity in the species. Interested to hear any thoughts.


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