Monday October 2nd
Off to the National Fruit collection at Brogdale. Typically for this weekend, it started to pour as we got there. Took in my punnet of mystery eater apples, gave them a cheque and noticed it gave me a free tour which I was going to take anyway. Saved me a fiver! Paid for P. then found we were the only ones going. I ended up feeling very guilty as it was rotten weather and even a golf brolly didn't help much. We started off in the pears, and I was given an oriental pear, more like an apple in shape and very firm, but wow so juicy. Then to the quinces :) and medlars: the latter are great fun but I'm not sure I'd want to let one rot so it was edible... Moved onward through the rain to the beurré pears (smoother texture) and then finally to some wild ones, before passing through the bare area where some trees had been before being dug up 4 years ago. Because all common UK tree fruit (apples, pears, quinces) are of the rose family, they suffer from replant syndrome and so the area is now fallow for some years. Into the apple area, P. gave up and went back to the car after getting the shivers, leaving me to carry on asking questions. There were thousands of trees. This was definitely the time to visit - between the early apples and mid-season ones, as some of the former were still there and the mids were just being picked with the lates not far off. I was given a Groninger Kroon to add to the pear I already had stashed in the bag (and whose name I can't remember!) . We walked round the mid-seasons, seeing some that will root from branches which touch the ground (the original Bramley did this) and discussed cooker-eaters and the possibility that Dad's got a Blenheim Orange. (He hadn't, but I got another sample apple!) I also was shown Coster varieties, which were huge apples often sold by the Costermongers in the East End in the 19th century, and some that were ‘fluff' apples, used for purée. And just as we were leaving the field (after having seen a fraction of it!) I spotted one that looked identical to my tripover. I then had a third sample, this time a Reverend W. Wilks. The picture doesn't do it justice, but the sample I took home is definitely very very similar.
At last we got in and tried to dry off a bit. P was in the car, and came out to have a coffee and some lunch. Typical British cooking - various pies and flans - so I had cheese and potato pie and he had a layered sausage and apple pie, giving us some ideas for things to make. Furtled round the plant sales area and finally decided to get a Quince Meeches prolific (as per label) or Meech's Prolific (as I suspect it should be spelled). It's on a Quince C rootstock, which is slightly smaller than Quince A (should I ever get a pear or two as well). Only just remembered to get a catalogue of varieties for allotment reference in general (and Yvonne/Kate in particular!). I saw one of these - the prolific wasn't a joke... don't think my small tree will be that big very quickly though. It was fun getting it in the car! Ended up through the back seat and the gap between front chairs, with the top leaves on the radio. But it didn't obstruct driving so all got home in one piece. More rain but not as much as going! Got back to discover 8mm had fallen there.