Monday, 29 October 2012

Apple Day @ St Werburgh's

Apple Day at Boiling Wells

Before moving to Bristol, I had never before heard the notion of Apple Day. A swift Wikipedia search tells me that it’s not just a Gloucestershire thing but it’s certainly true that Bristolians don’t need an excuse to celebrate the humble apple in the form of cider.  It falls on October 21st each year and this year, my first, I headed to Boiling Wells for the St. Werburgh’s City Farm Apple Day festivities.

Toffee apple
The 2-acre site on Boiling Wells Lane is just around the corner from the main farm buildings and includes a wooden amphitheatre, which was alive with kid-oriented folk music and twirling toddlers (“This song’s for anyone who loves dinosaurs! Who loves dinosaurs?” elicited a cheer from me). Upon arrival, my friend Adam and I realised we were pretty much the only people without at least one small child in tow – the Apple Day event was perfect for those with children and under 5s went free (admission was £3).  We skirted around the jingling folksters on the stage and passed an impressive-looking wooden press with a gaggle of people eager to press their own apples into juice, making our way towards a large wooden shed with glass bottles incorporated into the gables. The merry tinkle of Morris dancers shifting on their feet (we’d just missed the dancing) mingled in the air with smoke from the griddles where burgers were being hurried on towards hungry mouths. The queue for piping hot mulled cider began to snake through the clearing as the air was crisp and I paid 50p for a toffee apple: the taste of childhood fairgrounds and autumn excitement.

Apple bobbing to find a spouse!
Scattered about the hillside were various games and activities: an apple shy, a quiz for children to do, workshops and apple bobbing. The only form of apple bobbing I had encountered previously was the sort you used to play at hallowe’en as a child: screwing up your eyes as you plunged your face into a bowl and tried to catch a floating apple with your teeth, but this was different: apples dangled on string from the boughs of a tree. Both kinds of bobbing are a Celtic legacy which was originally looked upon as a sign of future marriage. I didn’t make any attempt to sink my teeth into a twirling apple – I’m happy without a husband for the time being!

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