Monday, 7 August 2017

Pete Brown's The Apple Orchard

It's taken me a while to get round to reading this book - I went to see the talk about it at the Winter Hay Festival, and got a signed copy, and then stuff (and other books) happened.
However, now I've finally read it, and it is delightful.
I already knew I liked Pete Brown's writing - I've read all of his books on beer - and now he admits to getting obsessed with apples, which is ironic because he can't eat them. He's terribly allergic to them.
But it's the history, and the magical feeling of actually being in an orchard, that hold the interest. He even goes to prune apple trees at an orchard very close to Glastonbury Tor, the Arthurian Avalon, or Island of Apples, as part of a year he spends learning to do everything needed in the orchard. He also learns a lot about the fine balance between the healthy apple and all the predators and diseases it can be subject to.
When asked about his favourite ciders, he admits that he goes straight for ones from Herefordshire, even though Somerset is the county most identified with cider drinking, and orchards across Herefordshire feature heavily in the book, along with Herefordshire cider makers. He mentions the Marcher Apple Network, and that wonderfully illustrated book the Herefordshire Pomona.
And he also takes the story all the way back through the mythology to the very first apple, in Genesis - or was it an apple at all?
It's a wonderful book, and it made me appreciate apple orchards a lot more than I had before.

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