Cider days

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 CiderĀ 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 CiderĀ 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.

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9 Responses to Cider days

  1. What a great-sounding cider – I’m envious!

    Several years ago, there was a cider made locally, near Heathfield, Sussex, which was known as Merrydown. They did mainly dry and medium ciders, but which both had fabulous flavours and were pretty strong!

    You can still buy it in larger stores, but the original was much better back then! A fruit farmer friend once told me that he picked cider apples with a shovel…

    We did visit the Hancock’s Cider farm a few years ago, and they really were a working farm with a very distinctive, cloudy brand!

  2. Doonhamer says:

    Back in the 70s (1970s) I would often work near to Brissle.
    On the way home to Herts by road I would take every chance to buy scrumpy at farms. I learned to always carry a half gallon container.
    Yes it was flat, but lovely. Always ended up with a pint left. I knew my limits.
    And that was great for soaking pork over night or a day ( posh name, marinading) before grilling or roasting. Wonderful gravy.
    I also learned that nobody near Brissle speaks like wot they do in Casuality or Holby City.
    Malayal is a malarial areal. See, I learned to speak Brissle.

  3. We’ve been making a dry red wine for well over forty-five years, and the recipe is based on dried elderberries and dry cider!

    If anyone ever wants the recipe, it’s one of C.J.Berry’s but I can easily post it somewhere!

    The best part is that with the correct yeast etc., it takes only three weeks from start to finish!

    • Ian says:

      There were a lovely old pair of elderly sisters in our village who made elderberry wine every year. My mother was a hairdresser and used to go to their house regularly to do the required coiffeurial work.

      One day my father went to collect my mother and whilst waiting was offered a glass of this wine. He said it was very potent and declined a second glass.

      ‘Oh,’ said one of the sisters, ‘it’s not alcoholic, is it? We wouldn’t make it if we thought it was alcohol.’

  4. p.s. – Doonhamer, you know me normally as Scrobs..:0)

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