The day was overcast and I had been outdoors since 9:00, my son had been playing rugby at a tournament. Now it was 2:30 and we were heading to Mansbridge, to take part in the Apple Day Picking and Pressing event.
I’m pleased to say that the Southampton Woodcraft Folk have taken an active role in the Mansbridge Community Orchard; this event was planned and organised by them, but open to all.
We arrived, slightly late and the scene was one of tremendous animation and bustling activity. There was a big tent, lots of tables and benches, two presses, a fruit mill or scratter and loads of apples and pickers.
Everyone was doing something; bodies were crowded around tables and children were scurrying about everywhere. There was even a group of people knitting, jointly weaving a strange and interesting article (Possibly a Christmas jumper for an oddly shaped child).
After brief greetings and introductions, we recruited a small group of friends and children and set off into the trees to fill our large bags and buckets with apples.
As we picked and collected, various other participants were ferrying the vast amount of apples back to the base camp in the containers.
Back at the trestle tables, a smoothly run sequence of events was being meted out, processing the apples into juice...
The fruit was first fleetingly washed. The cores were removed and the apples sliced, by deploying a cunning little kitchen instrument that did the job in one swift action (I must get one of these).
The chopped apples were tipped into the scratter, which was powered by strong and enthusiastic children. The pulp was then emptied into the press and the screw turned down by many keen helping hands and the delicious fresh juice flowed out into waiting receptacles.
Finally, the remaining apple mush, minus the precious juice, was taken back into the trees and left to nourish the ground and wildlife.
It was a lovely, friendly event and even when it started to drizzle about 4.00, most people seemed oblivious to the weather and carried on with the communal fun.