Cotswold Life

Sea­son of change

In a year that’s been topsy-turvy to say the least, could au­tumn be the new spring?

- Gloucester · Stroud · Quedgeley

Since I last sat down to write this col­umn, it feels like the world has done a 360. I had promised my­self that I wouldn’t men­tion the ‘C’ word in this is­sue but it’s hard to ig­nore when there’s an ele­phant of that size in the room (or on the page!).

Who can forget spring, usu­ally so full of prom­ise with its abun­dance of as­para­gus and straw­ber­ries, that in­stead, this year, blinded the world with bleak­ness, silently mor­ph­ing into sum­mer be­fore we had chance to say Hol­landaise. Newly masked, we emerged and now we’re tee­ter­ing on the edge of au­tumn. Usu­ally this is a time to hun­ker down, but in­stead, there’s a real buzz in the air. Res­tau­rants, pubs and shops have wel­comed us back and school chil­dren across the coun­try are gear­ing up for their first term back in over six months. This year, there’s none of that dreaded ‘back to school’ feel­ing that Septem­ber brings – we’re all rar­ing to go, hop­ing to find a new sense of nor­mal­ity.

Maybe then, this year, au­tumn is the new spring. The sea­son of hope and change. Cer­tainly, from a lo­cal pro­duce point of view, it’s one of our best times of the year. Usu­ally, we’re all too busy wor­ry­ing about the slow de­scent into win­ter to prop­erly cel­e­brate our au­tumn har­vest, which leaves our fan­tas­tic fruit – the plums, ap­ples and pears – rather im­pov­er­ished in PR!

So, my thoughts are that we need to

rave more about our au­tumn fruit. Af­ter all, we do straw­berry sea­son with such thun­der and noise; well this year, it’s the turn of the ap­ples.

Ap­ple or­chards have long been associated with tra­di­tional Glouces­ter­shire coun­try­side, yet many old or­chards with full-sized trees have dis­ap­peared. Along with them, many va­ri­eties of her­itage ap­ple – some that are only found in our county – have also dis­ap­peared. Thank­fully though, we have a hand­ful of lo­cal pro­duc­ers who are al­ways hugely ex­cited about their au­tumn crops and are not afraid to tell us.

If you’ve ever vis­ited Stroud Farm­ers’ Mar­ket on a Satur­day morn­ing, you can’t miss the Day’s Cot­tage ap­ple stall. For many years, David Kas­par and He­len Brent-smith have been passionate­ly en­cour­ag­ing vis­i­tors to ex­plore the de­lights of their home-grown English ap­ples. They grow over 200 va­ri­eties of ap­ple, some on trees that are over 100 years old. Not only is this good for bio­di­ver­sity (in­clud­ing cre­at­ing habi­tat for the en­dan­gered Noble Chafer bee­tle), it also saves some of our na­tive ap­ples from be­com­ing ex­tinct. Day’s Cot­tage ap­ples are good from Au­gust through to Fe­bru­ary but you can still en­joy each in­di­vid­ual flavour all year round in the sin­gle va­ri­ety ap­ple juices, ciders and per­ries.

In Winch­combe, Martin Har­rell of Hayles Fruit Farm is qui­etly con­fi­dent that, af­ter the warm spring, this year’s au­tumn crops will be full of flavour. Martin grows 12 va­ri­eties of tra­di­tional ap­ple, which, he says were orig­i­nally bred for flavour, un­like su­per­mar­ket ap­ples which tend to be bred for shelflife. For over ten years, he’s been us­ing sur­plus crops to make sin­gle va­ri­ety ap­ple juice and ciders so you can en­joy your favourite ap­ple ev­ery day of the year.

It may feel counter-in­tu­itive to feel hope in au­tumn, but this year has al­ready been turned on its head. So, I’m go­ing to prop­erly cel­e­brate and seek out our lo­cal au­tumn fruit; af­ter all, you know the say­ing, an ap­ple a day...

Lo­cally-owned com­pany Warner’s Bud­gens have six stores in the area Bid­ford-on-avon, Broad­way, More­tonin-marsh, Quedge­ley, Tewkes­bury and Winch­combe. More in­for­ma­tion at warn­ers­bud­gens.co.uk

Days Cot­tage: the Pit­mas­ton Pineap­ple is a sweet lit­tle yel­low ap­ple with an un­usual pineap­ple flavour. Or try the Ash­mead’s Ker­nel, a rus­set ap­ple bred in Glouces­ter in 1700 that’s full of flavour, crisp and juicy, and a great storer. Buy from Stroud Farm­ers’ Mar­ket or di­rect from Day’s Cot­tage in Brook­thorpe, dayscot­tage.co.uk

Hayles Fruit Farm: one of the nicest ap­ples is the first of the sea­son, the Dis­cov­ery. Don’t pick it too early – the flesh should be tinged with pink and the flavour in­tense. Fol­low that with a Spar­tan later in the sea­son, with its deep red skin and crisp, sweet flesh. Buy from lo­cal farm shops or di­rect from Hayles Fruit Farm in Winch­combe, hayles­fruit­farm.co.uk

 ??  ?? Days Cot­tage prop­a­gates old and un­usual va­ri­eties of ap­ple and pear trees
Days Cot­tage prop­a­gates old and un­usual va­ri­eties of ap­ple and pear trees
 ??  ?? One of Hayles Fruit Farm’s sin­gle-va­ri­ety juices
One of Hayles Fruit Farm’s sin­gle-va­ri­ety juices
 ??  ?? Early-morn­ing sun streams through the branches at Days Cot­tage’s or­chards
Early-morn­ing sun streams through the branches at Days Cot­tage’s or­chards
 ??  ?? The or­chards at Hayles Fruit Farm
The or­chards at Hayles Fruit Farm
 ??  ?? Pro­duc­tion line in op­er­a­tion at Hayles Fruit Farm
Pro­duc­tion line in op­er­a­tion at Hayles Fruit Farm
 ??  ?? ABOVE AND RIGHT:
ABOVE AND RIGHT:
 ??  ?? David Kas­par and He­len Brent-smith of Days Cot­tage
David Kas­par and He­len Brent-smith of Days Cot­tage
 ??  ?? Martin Har­rell of Hayles Fruit Farm
Martin Har­rell of Hayles Fruit Farm

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