Cider Apple Picking

When we first moved into the village the noise of apples being dropped into buckets was, as much as Robins singing at dusk, one of the defining noises of autumn. Then the cider factory up the road stopped taking local apples and the orchard fell silent. Since when, though, inspired by traditional local cider makers like Hecks and Julian Temperley we have formed a village cider co-op. We now make an invigorating cider we called Bullbeggar, after our local spirit (every proper village in Somerset has a ghost). With Hecks’ help we bottle some for sale locally and in London, and sell the rest in the barrel at local fetes and festivals. The process starts with harvesting the apples, on an afternoon either on or close to the official Apple Day. Ern’s orchard is proper kit – a really nice mix of traditional cider varieties – so interesting to work in. The weather is aways glorious, as is the gossip and the tea. Community, local history, local food, habitat. Fantastic.

At The Bath and West Show

I had a great if knackering time at the Royal Bath and West Show last week. There were a few highlights on the stand, not least meeting Sophie Wessex, who seems genuinely interested in establishing a meadow at Bagshot Park. Hurrah! I enjoyed chatting to friends who this year included BBC Somerset’s Emma Britton, Graham Langford the Poll Dorset man, Andrew Hecks, Martin Snell our Large Black pig breeder, Bernie “The Choirboy” Perkins, and various folk from the village. I met some nice new folk too, including local herbalist Zoe Hawes (author of the excellent “Wild Drugs”) and the man from the impressive Bees Abroad. Thanks everyone for popping by. Apart from a brief visit to Orchard Pig I stayed clear of the cider tents this year, but had a lunchtime pasty and pint of Bath Ale’s Summer’s Hare – a lovely drop. As usual though the stars of the show were the animals…

Too many pints of Summer's Hare

Cider for the connoisseur

Press at Hecks
We had a barrel of 2008 Bullbeggar left over, so we thought we should bottle it before the 2009s arrive. Hecks of Street have been hugely helpful throughout our community cider project, and didn’t let us down today.
Perry on tap
What nice folk and, furthermore, Perry producers, who are buying some extra trees with us from the liquidators at Scotts. We picked our way through tonnes of apples and barrels piled high in their impossibly crowded yard to bottle and pasteurise 350 bottles of Bullbeggar and see the old vintage out. These will be available to the lucky burghers of Castle Cary at our village stall on Saturday, gales permitting. Some say that if Parker ranked ciders, the 2008 Bullbeggar would be a 95.