It’s a Secret

p20160507124057Many of you will toss from one side to the other during the night, plagued with the uncertainty of your forthcoming Easter Sunday Walk. 

I have good news for you!

We prepared a splendid self-guided walk along the Hanwell & Norwood Green Orchard Trail. You can download the brochure right here and find printed versions in some local shops and public houses.

It’s not very far, it’s not very hard. It has options to cut short, to extend, to pause for a pint and to finish with another. I mean, seriously. What’s not to like?

Best of all, if you aren’t familiar with the orchard trail yet, is the fact that it takes you along some of the most beautiful and some of the most unknown little local nature treasures.

Osterley Lock Orchard emerged from a vast mass of Hawthorn, brambles and nettles like a phoenix from the ashes. Elthorne Terraces still struggle with ashes from illegal BBQ fires but are certainly a beautiful area. Elthorne Triangles is beginning to emerge from a life governed by Hemlock, brambles, nettles and, unfortunately, Japanese Knotweed. Next are the Piggeries, resurrected from overgrowth hiding behind a building site fence, now featuring a dozen of fruit trees, over 100 m of fruiting hedge and a pond with newts! St Margaret’s Orchard impresses with lushness inspite the heavy clay soil. On the other side of the canal, the Hanwell Meadows of Trumpers Field, Jubilee Meadows and Blackberry Corner offer an oasis of tranquillity unknown to many. The trail continues through Tree Bridges Park and Glade Lane Canalside Park to Top Lock, eventually ending at Bixley Triangle in Southall.

Enjoy your Easter Sunday walk!

Just don’t tell anyone. We prefer to keep our little secret secret if you don’t mind. It’s pretty precious to us.


Wrinkly and Limp

baked-custard-apple-cakeThe apple trees are coming into bloom right now!

It’s the perfect time to rummage around the cupboard and find the remaining apples from last year. Wrinkly and limp but still tasty, perfect for a cake!

Here’s my quick and simple apple cake with baked soured cream custard, tried and tested and approved on many occasions, and dead easy to make.

Butter a 24 cm wide deep two-part baking tray, one of those where the sides and bottom come apart one way or another. Set aside.

Whip 75 g soft butter with 100 g sugar and seed from half a Vanilla pod, or an equivalent amount of extract. Add 2 whole medium sized free range eggs, which should be at room temperature, 100 g regular white wheat flour, 50 g corn starch and a good teaspoon of baking powder. Mix this well until the mix is smooth and silky.

Spread into an even layer in the baking tray.

Peel apples, cut into quarters, remove the core. You need enough to cover the baking tray in one layer. Sprinkle the apple quarters with lime juice if they don’t bring much acidity or use a sharp variety such as the versatile Braeburn or the most excellent (and quite sharp) Stormer Pippin.

Press the apple pieces slightly into the batter.

Bake for 30 minutes at 180 C.

Mix 300 ml soured cream, two heaped tablespoons of sugar (40..50 g) and two eggs (medium sized, free range, room temperature, you know the drill), adding an additional egg yolk for extra luxury. Pour this over the cake and continue to bake for another 30 minutes or until the surface has just the right colour: deep golden with light brown patches.

Remove from the tray after cooling down a little, then let cool down completely on a cooling rack. Finish with a good icing sugar dusting and enjoy with a nice cup of tea or coffee.

Springtime Activity

dsc00297_1We are promised perfect spring weather conditions for our extra tree planting

Tomorrow, Saturday March 30th

We’ll meet at St Margaret’s Orchard at 10 o’clock and plant about 6 new fruit trees in Blackberry Corner and Jubilee Meadows. You can help planting the trees, help with mulching, label replacement, raking and gathering recently cut nettles and hemlock. There are other light tasks as we go along, and you’re most welcome to simply go along.

Join us today for a delightful spring day out in Hanwell’s finest meadows.

We hope to be done in the early afternoon and will probably conclude business with refreshments at the Fox Inn from 1 or 2 o’clock.


P.S. Psssst! Tree Tending Tuesday re-starts this coming Tuesday April 2nd. Join us for light work, light banter, light rain and light refreshments! See volunteer email announcements or the Status and Schedule page close to the date for detail.


Walkabout with James

_mg_9310The rangers are leading a series of guided walks round the borough this year, looking at the history, wildlife and other features of interest while picking litter along the way. The walk takes two to three hours and ends in expert separation of recyclable items and waste.

The rangers will supply all equipment and make provisions to properly dispose of the collected items. All you need do is bring yourself, wrapped in sensible clothing and sturdy shoes.

Join us Saturday March 16th, 11:00 o’clock, St Margaret’s Open Space.

This event is organised by Ealing Park Rangers.

Extra Edition

Last year, with the help of Ealing Rangers, we created some EXTRA space in our oldest orchard….. This winter, we were given some ‘EXTRA’ fruit trees by the ranger of Horsenden Hill …. Now, we have all the ingredients we need for an EXTRA planting day at the end of March.
Please join us!

Saturday 30th of March is our 2019 EXTRA Tree Planting Day

We’ll meet at St Margaret’s Orchard at 10 o’clock and plant about 6 new fruit trees in Blackberry Corner and Jubilee Meadows. You can help planting the trees, help with mulching, label replacement or other light tasks as we go along, and you’re most welcome to simply go along.

We plan to finish the job with refreshments at the Fox Inn between 1 and 2 o’clock in the afternoon.

The Winner Takes it All

dsc00284_1We received so many wonderful photos taken at the 2019 tree planting activity! Thank you, James!

Many immediately asked for a caption competition. Who am I to deny such a desire?

I chose a subset of the photos submitted to make this manageable, and captioned each with a boring numeric caption. (If you can’t see the captions, use your mouse to hover over the image.)

Leave a comment with your chosen caption in reference to that number, and you might be on to a winner!

Just imagine the honour you’ll receive, the pride you’ll feel, and the thanks we’ll give you when you buy us a round! We look forward to it, captions, round of drinks and all.

Never Enough Goodness

IMG_20190209_105427We thank everyone who came to help plant the 2019 trees last Saturday: Thank you!

A good time was had by all thanks to the low-effort planting of just six trees. A little digging here and there, some snipping, some planting, a light luncheon, more talking, more walking. That’s the life!

There’s never enough of a good thing, though. Whether you are now enthused to plant even more trees or if you missed the opportunity, here’s another chance for late-comers and die-hard orchardists alike:

Our friends the Southall Orchard Project are tackling phase four of their project, to plant an orchard at Spikesbridge Park, West Avenue, Southall UB1 2AR, on Saturday 9th March 2019, from 12:00 to 14:00.

Why not lend them a hand?
For full detail please refer to their flyer right here.

In The Nick of Time

dsc00290_1It’s not too late to join us for a spot of tree planting and general orchard care

Today, Saturday February 9th, from 10 o’clock

We’ll meet at the Piggeries, then work our way down to Osterley Lock, then up through Elthorne Waterside, back to the Piggeries around lunchtime, then up to Blackberry Corner, hoping to conclude with refreshments at the Fox between 2 and 3 o’clock.

We’ll provide all the tools and even a light snack, a lively discussion and a great little walk along the orchard trail. All you need is yourself and sensible clothing.

What’s not to like?

To Plant a Tree

IMG_20180210_120943686_HDRTo plant a tree is a dream for many. We will make your dream come true!

Saturday February 9th is our 2019 Tree Planting Day

We’ll meet in the Piggeries Orchard at 10 o’clock and plant a grand total of just 6 new fruit trees from Osterley Lock to Blackberry Corner.

You can help planting the trees, help with light winter pruning, label replacement or other light tasks as we go along, and you’re most welcome to simply go along.

And yes, you may swing the big stake walloper if you want!

We plan to start with Osterley Lock and Elthorne, return to the Piggeries for a snack around mid day, then plant the remaining trees in Blackberry Corner and finish the job with refreshments at the Fox Inn between 2 and 3 o’clock in the afternoon.

Please join us if you can. 10 o’clock. Piggeries. Saturday 9th.


Alternative Apples

Egremont_russett_02Many of you will first think of the Californian company with their shiny white and silver high-tech apparatus upon hearing the word Apple, but most of you will undoubtedly think of apple as the fruit of a species of genus malus in the family of Rosaceae, typically in reference to the domesticated species, Malus domestica. In other words: an apple.

Did you know that the fruit of the cashew tree (Anacardium occidentale) is also called an apple? The cashew apple is the fruit attached to the cashew nut and can be eaten fresh or cooked, preserved and fermented into vinegar or alcoholic beverages. That qualifies for being called an apple in my book!

Some of you might know of the custard apple and may recall the rather large and pointy sugar crystals embedded in its flesh. Custard apple is the name of the plant and its fruit alike (Annona reticulata). They do sometimes appear in local shops and can be found in markets of popular holiday destinations. I know they can be eaten (to varying degrees of excitement) but their use seems otherwise limited.

Did you know that tomatoes were initially called love apples? The connection between romance and tomatoes, or between apples and tomatoes, isn’t quite obvious to me, but each to their own…

May apple (Podophyllum peltatum), oak apple (a gall commonly growing on oak trees), rose apple, thorn apple, wax apple and hedge apple are other kinds of apples. And there’s of course Apple Daily, a newspaper in two editions from Hong Kong and Taiwan, or the Adam’s Apple which we all carry around in front of our vocal cords.

I did of course not mean Adam’s Apple, or Pomme d’Adammo. Every child knows this is a variety of Citrus aurantiifolia, a pear-shaped citrus fruit!

You’ve gotta love Wikipedia.