The Apple Orchard

_mg_8113I discovered Muriel Stuart’s lovely poem when researching last week’s article, but I also found and bought a book by Pete Brown: The Apple Orchard: The Story of Our Most English Fruit.

I am only about half way through the 326 pages at the time of this writing so there is no risk of me spoiling the fun by giving away the end, but I thought I’d share this discovery in this time of desperate need of ideas for presents.

I find it delightful, insightful well-written and entertaining, and I love that I am unable to put a label on it. It is neither fictional nor is it factual; it is a collection of anecdotes and thoughts, musings and ramblings, all related to orchards and apples in some way, some more directly than others. I won’t be surprised if I find Muriel’s poem in the remaining half.

Just remember: I have one already 😉

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In The Orchard

dscn2213With Tree Tending Tuesdays and Orchard Love Saturdays in hibernation and the evenings drawing in, it’s perhaps a good time to recall our most recent fruity book recommendation.

Blimey! It’s been over two years!

There’s of course Chekhov’s famous Cherry Orchard. Our contemporary Joanne Harris expresses a particular preference for fruit with Five Quarters Of The Orange, Peaches for Monsieur le Curé and Blackberry Wine, which I all recommend.

Then I stumbled across this wonderful piece of orchard poetry by Muriel Stuart (1885-1967):

In The Orchard

“I thought you loved me.” “No, it was only fun.”
“When we stood there, closer than all?” “Well, the harvest moon
“Was shining and queer in your hair, and it turned my head.”
“That made you?” “Yes.” “Just the moon and the light it made
“Under the tree?” “Well, your mouth, too.” “Yes, my mouth?”
“And the quiet there that sang like the drum in the booth.
“You shouldn’t have danced like that.” “Like what?” “So close,
“With your head turned up, and the flower in your hair, a rose
“That smelt all warm.” “I loved you. I thought you knew
“I wouldn’t have danced like that with any but you.”
“I didn’t know. I thought you knew it was fun.”
“I thought it was love you meant.” “Well, it’s done.” “Yes, it’s done.
“I’ve seen boys stone a blackbird, and watched them drown
“A kitten … it clawed at the reeds, and they pushed it down
“Into the pool while it screamed. Is that fun, too?”
“Well, boys are like that … Your brothers…” “Yes, I know.
“But you, so lovely and strong! Not you! Not you!”
“They don’t understand it’s cruel. It’s only a game.”
“And are girls fun, too?” “No, still in a way it’s the same.
“It’s queer and lovely to have a girl…” “Go on.”
“It makes you mad for a bit to feel she’s your own,
“And you laugh and kiss her, and maybe you give her a ring,
“But it’s only in fun.” “But I gave you everything.”
“Well, you shouldn’t have done it. You know what a fellow thinks
“When a girl does that.” “Yes, he talks of her over his drinks
“And calls her a—” “Stop that now. I thought you knew.”
“But it wasn’t with anyone else. It was only you.”
“How did I know? I thought you wanted it too.
“I thought you were like the rest. Well, what’s to be done?”
“To be done?” “Is it all right?” “Yes.” “Sure?” “Yes, but why?”
“I don’t know. I thought you were going to cry.
“You said you had something to tell me.” “Yes, I know.
“It wasn’t anything really … I think I’ll go.”
“Yes, it’s late. There’s thunder about, a drop of rain
“Fell on my hand in the dark. I’ll see you again
“At the dance next week. You’re sure that everything’s right?”
“Yes.” “Well, I’ll be going.” “Kiss me…” “Good night.” …
“Good night.”

We do not endorse a whole range of activities in orchards and elsewhere, but we do like a nice piece of poetry.
More of Muriel’s work on Project Gutenberg.

Mangement Speak

dscn2923_kindlephoto-227171838Let’s talk about management strategies today!

I am of course referring to urban scrubland management in general and our orchard trail in the Grand Union Canal corridor in particular. No hollow phrases or Powerpoint slides in this management speak!

Research of biodiversity in urban environments confirms that biodiversity depends on habitat diversity.

By cutting back scrubland in selected areas in the Grand Union Canal corridor while leaving large areas of scrubland undisturbed, we add pockets of habitats through the introduction of open areas with small meadows and new trees, encouraging fauna and flora to complement the life hidden among the mostly thorny and stingy world of London’s wild west.

We have no biodiversity statistics for the area but personal observation shows that the area is rich in small mammals, amphibians, songbirds, bats and larger birds such as the heron, cormorant or the occasional green woodpecker and plenty of waterfowl. Oh, and the insects regularly introduce themselves in abundance, including the occasional nest of wasps or wild bees.

Perhaps you have photos documenting biodiversity in the area of the orchard trail?

We’d welcome contributions! Please submit photos to hanwell orchard (in one word) at gmail dot com including your full name, a short description of the variety or species shown, and where and when the picture was taken, and we’ll create a public photo gallery documenting biodiversity along the Grand Union Canal corridor between Osterley Lock and Bixley Triangle.

Can’t wait!

 

State of the Orchard Nation

DSC_0404This is to confirm that we held our third annual general meeting on Tuesday 14-November-2017 with thanks to our hosts for the evening, Hilary and Clive, and with thanks to  everyone who joined us for this important event.

A summary of the past year’s activities and an outline of our plans for the future was presented and discussed, much appreciated all around. Many thanks were extended to individuals who helped throughout the year with general orchard care, extensive scything and other tasks.

Mani Dhanda stood down as a committee member (Norwood Green ward representative) without replacement at this time. We thank you, Mani, and hope you’ll stay in touch!

Remaining committee members and the finances were approved, and Mirjam van Bentum is now officially and formally elected chairperson.

A good time, a handful of crisps and a glass of wine was enjoyed by all. A rewarding annual general meeting!

The official minutes will be made available soon.

Crumbling Away

applesAn Apple Crumble with custard is never out of season according to the good wife. When the days turn chilly, the nights turn cold and apples are in abundance, what can be a better than this good old favourite?

Let’s get it right this time and make it all finger-and-lips lickingly good and from scratch. From top to bottom, in order of preparation:

Custard

Mix 250 ml double cream with 250 ml whole milk (1/2 pint each), bring it almost to the boil. Mix 100 g sugar, 5 free-range egg yolks (room temperature) and a good helping of vanilla essence or seeds from a vanilla pod. When the milk is just below the boiling point, remove from the heat and quickly whisk in the egg mix. Keep whisking for a minute, then place the pot in cold water and whisk for another minute.

There’s no need for water bath and it will not turn into scrambled eggs if you remember to remove the pot from the heat and whisk vigorously.

Put it into the fridge for at least one hour. This will keep for days, but it won’t last for days. Not in my house.

Crumble

It’s 1 : 1 : 1 : 1. 50 g soft butter, 50 g sugar, 50 g white wheat flour, 50 g ground almonds. Take the hand mixer and whisk it all together, optionally adding a small handful of chopped toasted hazelnuts for extra goodness.

Put it into the fridge for at least 15 minutes. This can be prepared well before serving time.

Fruit

Peel and cut apples, perhaps add a little ground cinnamon, lime juice and sugar to bring them to life with the right levels of tartness and sweetness.

Production

Fill the baking dish or individual portion dishes with a layer of fruit.

Cover the fruit with a crumble layer, then bake at 200C for ~15 minutes until the crumble is slightly golden.

Serve straight from the oven with cold custard and speak no more.

Piggeries Progress

IMG_20170406_114423998Join us today for the final 2017 effort to tidy up The Piggeries Orchard in preparation of… wait for it… in preparation of… drumroll… in preparation of the 2018 Piggeries Orchard tree planting!

We have been working with Ealing Council and Thames Water who identified that problems exist with the drains that deal with surface water in St Margaret’s Road and in the immediate area. We understand that they are looking for a long term solution. However, as less unwanted water has been entering the Piggeries site we infer they may have found a temporary fix that at least reduces the problem, and we are optimistic that we can plant the Piggeries Orchard trees on February 24th. Today, we’ll be preparing the site by removing more bramble and nettle, stones, brick, rubble and metal in our last work Saturday for this year.

Please join us at The Piggeries 11:00.

Wear suitable clothing and shoes, bring gardening gloves and tools such as digging forks, secateurs or trimming hoes if you can. We hope to finish with refreshments at The Fox at around 14:00.

Funny Fungi

dog-vomit-fungusIt’s late in the mushroom foraging season, but with luck you might still come across these funny fungi, sometimes aptly called the dog vomit mushroom.

It’s neither dog vomit nor fungus. You might have been carefully looking away from a slime mould, entirely harmless and natural albeit visually unappealing to most of us. There’s a good chance of finding some around the wood chip and bark used for mulching all along the orchard trail.

Fuligo septica is able to actively move to better food sources! How cool is that! Wikipedia describes it as a multinucleate mass of undifferentiated cells that may move in an ameboid-like fashion. Now it not longer sound quite so cool, but still… fascinating, don’t you agree?

Annual General Meeting

DSC_0412INVITATION & FORMAT NOTICE

Notice is hereby given of the third Annual General Meeting of the Hanwell & Norwood Green Orchard Trail, which will be held at 19:30 on Tuesday 14th November 2017 at 72, St Margaret’s Road, Hanwell W7 2HF.

All members of the Hanwell & Norwood Green Orchard Trail are entitled to attend and vote at the AGM. Please contact us to confirm your attendance. There is no charge for attendance at the AGM.

The complete notice and agenda can be found here (pdf).

Picnic? No Picnic!

_MG_8109We have all been looking forward to this Saturday’s picnic and birthday party in the meadows. We’ve also been monitoring the weather forecast.

With a forecast of pretty miserable weather, storms as high as 48 miles per hour and a severe Met Office weather warning in place, we think it prudent to cancel this Saturday’s autumn orchard picnic.

With the knowledge that it is better to be safe than sorry, we suggest you stay at home, stay dry, stay warm, stay safe.

 

Points Mean Prizes!

picnic-kidsWe must have ticked some boxes with the judges and are now pleased and proud to report that London in Bloom awarded the Osterley Lock Orchard with thriving in the It’s your Neighbourhood category. 

Thriving, we are proud to add, is just one tiny little step short of outstanding.

Our thanks to everyone who encouraged or helped with this fabulous project. Why not come and help celebrate at

Saturday October 21
Autumn Picnic and Birthday Party

in Jubilee Meadow by the sheep, from 13:00.

Bring a friend, a spouse, a child or a neighbour. Bring a drink and something to eat for the sharing table if you like, but please be prepared to take leftovers back with you as we hate waste. You’re also welcome to come empty handed, as there’s always plenty and more to go round.

Most importantly, bring yourself. See you there!