The last bottle is being drunk. Four half-litre bottles came as part of a Christmas hamper that also included an assortment of cheeses and crackers.
Harry’s Cider comes from the orchards of Harry Fry in the village of Long Sutton in Somerset. Having been baptised in the parish church, it is a village dear to my heart. It is a place of memories and continuity.
Harry’s Cider has the taste of the cider I remember from my younger days. ‘Medium and sparkling’ says the label for the Applemoor variety.
Its taste is far removed from the gaseous liquids found in most pubs. The taste is full and crisp. The gentle aroma evokes times in cornfields under August sunshine, it evokes the laughter of teenagers sat outside the pub of a seaside town, drinking the pints of sharply dry cider bought for them by indulgent parents. It evokes the apple time, the orchards of trees laden with red fruit, the scents of autumn beginning to fill the Somerset air.
Harry’s Cider is also far removed from the scrumpy drunk with bravado by foolish teenage boys. Rough cider made in local farms, with no hygiene, no quality control, and no idea whatsoever of the alcohol content, it could have a detrimental effect both on head and on the gut.
Raising my glass to my lips, I recalled a story told me by an Irish farmer who spent years working on building motorways in England.
There was a Saturday when I lived in Brierley Hill when some of us went out for the day. We went to this cider house, a place full of these huge wooden barrels; strong stuff. We sat and ate our lunch and drank cider from the barrels. ‘Don’t be drinking too much’, said the man.
I had three pints and when we were leaving I stepped outside into the sunshine and didn’t feel well. ‘I’ll sit on this wall a minute’, I said to the man with me.
‘What wall are you talking about?’ he asked. There was no wall there.
We got back to the boarding house and I told the landlady I didn’t think I would be down for tea. I crawled up the stairs and slept till Sunday dinnertime and, even then, woke up feeling drunk. The man with us had drunk six pints and had driven us home. I stayed off cider after that.
One half-litre bottle of cider is quite enough for me.