I popped over to my neighbour’s farm today to see her collie dog pups and, after much debating on which pup she would keep for herself, she invited me to help myself from a large basket of apples sitting in her cool dark cellar. The basket was positively brimming with a plethora of apples in all shapes, sizes and colours, so different from the ‘perfect’ modern fruit!

Apparently she had picked them in another farmer’s neglected garden a few weeks before when a whole bunch of locals had done an organised pick and share out; gathering apples by the score from what was an overgrown and ancient orchard.

The snarled and twisted trees loaded with their delicious bounty were planted probably early in the last century, since many of these old English apples are just not around anymore.

The apples I snaffled for myself looked so rosy and inviting that they could have been straight out of the tale of ‘Snow White’.

What was even more surprising though was that the ambrosial flesh of these apples is almost bright pink. The flavour reminded me of apples I used to scrump as a child from my grandfather’s garden. They were almost heady with a rich wine scent and a flavour that lingered long after the apple was eaten.

Now forgive me if I’m turning into a ‘grumpy old woman’ but why the heck can’t we buy proper fruit like that anymore, instead of the bland half ripe, uniformly sized supermarket apples that do little more than decorate the fruit bowl.

We too have some old apple trees but they are mainly cider apple varieties. Maybe this is the year to start making our own cider, seeing as it has nearly priced itself out of our shopping basket. Certainly many years ago, when I stayed in Devon as a child, nearly every small farmer or cottager sold rough cider from their back door. I did try it once and once only. I seemed to lose about four hours from my life which to this day I simply can’t recollect!