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A Festival of Apples, well, just the one Apple, really.

A festival celebrating an Apple

Last weekend saw the annual Bramley Apple Festival, held in Southwell and centred on the wonderful Minster. This has been going for as long as I can recall but I have never managed to get along, despite my love of the Bramley. Prompted by a comment on this blog by Celia Steven (née Merryweather), we took a drive over on a very grey and miserable Sunday morning.

festival sign

The story goes that in 1809 Mary Anne Brailsford planted a wild pip in the garden of her cottage in Southwell. From this pip grew an apple tree, which still stands today some 200 years later. Mathew Bramley who later bought the cottage gave Henry Merryweather the rights to sell the apple commercially (as long as it retained his name). The Bramley is probably now the queen of cooking apples, is the basis of many local puddings, ciders and pies, and I have a box of them  right now in my garage, hand-picked by my father from his Victorian, and still glorious, tree.

starkeys

As an aside, if you’re feeling a bit thick-headed on your Sunday morning – let me advise you on a pick-me-up. Rather than a stiff espresso or a bucket of cappuccino (why do they serve them so large, never finished one yet). Try this Starkey’s Bramley Apple and Blackberry juice. Good Grief, I like a sour juice as much as the next woman, but this is something else. Once I had got through the initial pain threshold though, it was wonderful.

southwell

This year’s festival also welcomed Prof Kazuhiro Matsumoto from the Hirosaki University in Japan, a lovely man with a phenomenal passion for (and expertise in) apples and pears. (I am sure there is a scientific term for this!). It was a joy to meet both him and Celia.

So …apples – take your pick!

apples  apples

How wonderful that we should celebrate this one simple fruit, in all its varieties, flavours and incarnations. This table groaning with hundreds of wonderful apples reinforces just how bland our supermarket fruit offerings are. I am not knocking them, reliable, healthy  and plentiful supplies of apples are a good thing, but with so many wonderful native grown varieties just how much are we missing out on? I am fortunate that we have an old Victorian orchard in the family with at least 6/7 varieties of apples, 3 of pears and 5 of plums still producing fruit. Bring me a Russet over a Pink Lady any day.

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