The Apple Man Cometh

We have had quite a good apple harvest this year

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apples smaller than usual, because of the drought, but quite plentiful

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We did more juicing than previously

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We have a good store of Worcesters

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Howgate Wonders

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and Egremont Russets

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among others.

But…

…every November there is a toot at the gate announcing the arrival of The Apple Man.

For fifty years he has been filling his van with orchard apples and bringing them to all corners of Wales. (His father before him used a horse and cart but probably did not range as far)

This year he brings more Howgates

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bigger than ours

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Plus

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and trusty Coxes

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He muses that for twice the cost of our purchase he filled up his van for his first run … and bought the van. Then he continues on his way.

This winter we will be fuelling ourselves with apple pie, baked apples

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and other fortifying creations.

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(Oh, and he brought pears too)

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November…. Brrrr?

Today’s headlines:

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“Records were also broken in Scotland, where the mercury hit 19.1C in Lossiemouth, and Northern Ireland, where temperatures reached 17.4C in Magilligan. Wales was the only UK nation where daily temperature records were not broken.”

humph, why are we left out?

“The record-breaking daytime temperatures came after another set of temperature records were broken overnight, with Northern Ireland and Scotland recording their highest November minimum temperatures, at 14.5C and 14.6C respectively.”

Well:

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our minimum last night was 12.5 degrees, and we are at nearly 1000 feet.

The Saffron Crocus is meant to flower at this time

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But these dandelions

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have just appeared

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The Aubretia

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obviously thinks it is Spring and the Campanula

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is joining in.

The Welsh Poppy

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is cheerful whatever the weather (obviously).

Transhumance

The moon is getting bigger.

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Full in three days when it is sometimes called the Frost Moon. Last year we had two nights of frost in November (down to minus 2) and the year before just one (minus 1) – all at the month end – so we don’t hold out much hope for it.

However, it is time for the rabbits to leave their summer camp

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and say goodbye to their neighbours.

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Being rabbits, they are not too sure of change

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and would prefer to put their heads in a bucket

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The hedgehogs have already moved on and no longer visit their night time buffet

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The rabbits pass their new neighbour Dora, who lives in the sanatorium

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and enter their winter quarters.

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They cheer up when they view the facilities

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Kitchenette with Radio 4 and additional heating

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Fridge full of rabbit food

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and start to settle in.

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Getting use to indoor play

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with just an occasional wistful look outside

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Press Gang

Having a couple of grandchildren spare we decide to set them to work

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collecting the windfalls

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Chopping them up

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Setting up the press

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and screwing it down

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We even let them taste a little of the result

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The Inbetween Times

It hasn’t really felt like full on Autumn yet. One or two misty mornings.

Many flowers still keep going

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We grew a lot of annuals from seed this year and it seemed to take months to get them to flowering stage. But now they have arrived they are slow to leave

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Lots of sun around

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Lighting up the colours

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from a distance, the trees are only tinged with colour. Needs a closer look to find the glow

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More apples to pick

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Once the Hydrangea gets going it sits in the wood and glows for months

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So we enjoy this inbetween time

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and keep one eye on the future

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The Red Flag is still flying here

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Daylight is dwindling, swallows are leaving, apples are falling but down at the “Lake”

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Hesperantha coccinea, the Major Crimson Flag, continues to hold up its head.

It flies as a finishing flag

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Last call for our bees to gather nectar

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Last call for the Rudder Darter to pause and soak up warmth

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Last call for the Lily to squeeze out one more flower

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It does not seem long ago we were fretting about low water levels but now the Lake is full

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and reflecting the blue skies

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Whatever the season, it is a place of striking shapes

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and ever-changing reflections

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Sweet October

Today the sun shone

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and our bees ventured out.

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Time to go on a hunt.

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We grew Sweet Corn for the first time two years ago, starting with a mini variety which we planted in the polytunnel. It was so lovely we went for a a bigger type last year. We still used the tunnel thinking it was a delicate species, rather foolishly as large fields of the stuff are grown commercially not far from here. The cobs were not good and the plants nearly pierced their way through the roof.

To this year, more sensibly, we planted outside

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and this wilted tassel is a sign or readiness.

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The Hunter’s Moon is nearly full

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and we are pleased with our Sweet Corn hunting.

Tree to Glass

It is apple harvest time

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We inherited a small selection of apple trees and have added some ourselves. Each Autumn the Apple Man arrives with his van full of boxes from the orchards of England. It was he who named our inherited stock and today we made a start on the Norfolk Royal tree.

We filled one box with large unblemished fruit worth storing but we also had a lot of grade two apples

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So we set to work

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Chopped up

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In for a quick scrat

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Broken down

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Into the press

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Trickling out

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The apples were quite hard but a 25 litre tub of fruit yielded about ten litres of juice

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On the tree this morning, in our glass this evening

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Tomato Testing

It is that time of year when we look at some of our tomato crop

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and decide which varieties are worth growing again.

This year we did some research and tried to identify some tomatoes which have a low number of “days” – the time from flowering to ripe fruit. Even so, it has not been a good year for our crop, both the amount of fruit and the degree of ripening have not been the best.

We had to track down the seed for Crushed Heart on eBay as it does not seem to be available commercially

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We will grow this again (from our own saved seed)

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Another new find we will grow again is Costoluto Fiorentino

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because they are an exciting shape, if for no the reason.

Another visually exciting variety is Tigerella

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He haven’t grown many large varieties in recent years but Black Russian we will sow again

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Black Cherry

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we are not so sure about. They have not properly ripened even though they look exciting.

Other varieties from this year which will grow again are

Black Opal

Brandy Boy

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Ildi

Matina

Red Cherry

Roma

Sungold

and Sweet Aperitif

while, after growing it for several years, we are giving up on Ailsa Craig.

Any suggestions for things to try are very welcome…