The buds are starting to burst on the apple trees, last autumn’s cider is getting ready to be tasted, and the time is fast approaching for Blossomtime in and around Putley in Herefordshire where the Big Apple has been welcoming visitors for thirty years. Having cancelled this spring event in 2020 and 2021, the community organisation behind the Big Apple is delighted to be able to invite them back again on Sunday 1 and Monday 2 May. “When we were able to hold our autumn event last October, visitors were enthusiastic about the opportunity to enjoy being out and about in the countryside”, said spokesman Jackie Denman. “Our cider and perry community responded so positively when we managed to arrange a delayed Big Apple Cider and Perry Trials in July 2021. Now we can bring it all together again, with a Grand Cider Tasting at Putley Parish Hall, time spent under the apple trees at Dragon Orchard, and one-off events at Court Farm Aylton and Pixley Festival Church. The full programme is available online at www.bigapple.org.uk. We can’t wait to get back!”
As well as opportunities to taste a whole range of entries to the Cider and Perry Trials, cider and perry on sale will include artisan makers Artistraw Cider and Perry, Bartestree Cider, Gregg’s Pit Cider and Perry, Halfpenny Green Cider Company and Pope’s Perry. Highlights include ‘#RethinkCider’, a talk from Jane Peyton, the UK’s first accredited ‘pommelier’ and founder of the School of Booze, and drop-in printmaking with Laughing Betsy, supported by the Elmley Foundation, using ‘kitchen lithography’ and inspired by objects and images on loan from local families associated with cidermaking and apple growing. Three guided walks each day will tell the stories of the orchards in and around Putley – will it be Norman’s Gap, Dorothy’s Delight or Nigel’s Pride? And, of course, there will be the usual delicious lunches and teas (and this time a brunch) provided by local community groups.
Secretary, Big Apple Association Ltd.
Tel. 01531 670544
The apples are ripening on the trees, the presses are standing by, and the time is fast approaching when the Big Apple has welcomed visitors to the Herefordshire parishes of the Marcle Ridge for thirty years. Having cancelled last year’s event, the community organisation behind the Big Apple has come up with a plan that will see all the usual venues in and around Much Marcle involved over the weekend of 9/10th October. “Within 24 hours of asking them, all nine venues had expressed their enthusiasm to go ahead”, said spokesman Jackie Denman. “When we cancelled last year, we had lots of messages of support telling us that we had made the right decision, but also telling us that we would be much missed. So now we’re busy behind the scenes working on our programme, which will go online on www.bigapple.org.uk on Monday 13th September. We can’t wait to get back!”
This annual opportunity to enjoy the orchards, to see, hear and smell cider being made and to taste many different varieties of apples, local ciders, perries and apple juices has become an established part of the calendar for many people. Familiar Big Apple venues will include Gregg’s Pit, Awnells Farm, Woodredding, Lyne Down, Pope’s Perry and Hellens, alongside regular attractions at Westons Cider.
The Big Apple Cider and Perry Trials have taken place in early May each year since 1992 – until last year! Determined not to miss another event, the Committee decided there must be a way to make them happen. In a normal year, Putley Parish Hall would be full of cidermakers jostling with each other to judge their anonymous entries but in 2021 this wasn’t going to be possible. So the Trials were delayed to July and volunteers recruited to run them under ‘hospitality’ rules, outside and with a reduced number of entries. The event took place on Saturday 17th July in bright sunshine in the lovely surroundings of Dragon Orchard, Putley, by kind invitation of Norman and Annie Stanier.
The results of the original peer-judge competition were announced the following morning, to a gathering of entrants, volunteers and the Big Apple Committee and live-streamed online to those unable to be there. Chairman Steve Swaithes thanked David Hewitt – the man behind the camera – for all his work in devising the online system to manage entries and scores. Ragged Stone Cider was crowned Champion Cidermaker, while Dave and Fiona Matthews of Bartestree Cider Company were presented with the trophy for Champion Perrymaker. Lucie Mayerova of Naked Orchards won Best Product in Show for her Draught Sweet Perry – it is just three years since Lucie first entered as a novice perrymaker!
Full results are available at:
The Big Apple is now looking forward to October, when it is hoped to run Harvestime events in and around Much Marcle over the weekend of 9th and 10th October.
12th and 13th October 2019
Harvestime 2019 marks the thirtieth anniversary of the Big Apple, a community event celebrating apples, orchards and cider and all the ways in which they have shaped the landscape in one small corner of Herefordshire.
Nine venues in and around Much Marcle will be offering visitors the chance to learn, taste and enjoy. Cider and perry and making will be taking place at all scales from cottage style to fully commercial, and the producers will be sharing their knowledge and offering plenty of opportunities to sample and buy.
An amazing range of dessert and cooking apples will be on display for tasting at the Feast of Apples at Hellens and less well-known varieties can be purchased in the Apple Market. Marcher Apple Network will be on hand to help anyone hoping to identify their own apples.
As part of the 30th celebrations, there will be two talks at Hellens on Sunday 13th October. At 12 noon, local fruit grower, Norman Stanier, will be delving into the early records of the Woolhope Naturalists‘ Field Club to discover the stories behind the famous Herefordshire Pomona. At 2pm, Professor Paul Hadley of the University of Reading will be talking about ‘Apples in a Warmer World’, ongoing research looking ahead to the possible impact of climate change on future UK apple production.
Marking growing international interest in orchards, sustainability and tourism, the Big Apple is proud to be part of Ciderlands, a network of cider tourism destinations across Europe whose aim is to preserve and celebrate the heritage and environment surrounding cider culture. The Ciderlands 2019 conference will be taking place in Herefordshire this week and what could be more natural for delegates than a visit to the Big Apple?
A full programme of events can be found at www.bigapple.org.uk
Deep in rural Herefordshire, Putley is waiting patiently for the blossom to appear as it prepares for the annual celebration of its orchards, which this year will take place on Sunday 5th and Monday 6th May. Blossomtime in Putley is centred on a cider tasting in the parish hall, based on entries from the Big Apple Cider and Perry Trials with well over 100 ciders and perries expected to be available to taste.
Together with its surrounding parishes, Putley is famous for its orchards. Visitors can walk through the orchards, taste the ciders, enjoy a home-made lunch or tea – and discover for themselves why orchards are such special places and apples matter to us all. Norman Stanier’s great grandfather Harry Taylor could have told you a thing or two about that. He was the overseer on the Putley Court Estate nearly 150 years ago when acres of orchards – or plantations – were established in the parish. On Monday morning, Norman will be telling the ‘overseer’s tale’ and sharing the secret of ‘Thrown Hat’ cider.
Putley will also be welcoming some special guests. On Sunday morning, authors and cidermakers Susanna Forbes, Gabe Cook and Simon Day will be giving their thoughts on whether Herefordshire has more to learn from, or to give to, the New World when it comes to cidermaking. Talks will take place at Dragon Orchard at 11am. There are also visits to The Juice to learn about the secret life of Pixley Berries, and how their pressing machines are being put to use for cidermaking. And just up the road, Helen and Andrew Riga will welcome visitors to Yew Tree Farm to taste their single variety perries under each of the trees which produced the pears. Dancing from Leominster Morris and music from Fiddlers Two add the final touches to a special countryside experience.
Putley Parish Hall will be open for the Grand Cider Tasting and Teas from 2pm–6pm on Sunday 5th May and from 12–5pm on Monday 6th May.
Full programme details are available at www.bigapple.org.uk