RG 2007 January

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8289401_8cd6453906_s.jpg This page is part of The Cidermaking Year by Rose Grant

January , 2007



Now that I'm back 'on air' again I must bring followers of the Dorset cider scene up to date, well at least with the cidery happenings in my little corner of our beloved county.

Last Saturday we held our village wassail in my orchard. I really thought that it would have to be cancelled this year The incredibly wet weather had made the footpath to the orchard almost impassable. The corner of the field next to the gate into the orchard had been churned up by the cows that had been sheltering against the hedge there. It had been their refuge from the from the westerly gales of the last week or so. This corner had become a muddy pond, through which people would have to wade to get to the orchard.


Fortunately my friends who live in the house between my orchard and the village road, came to the rescue. Not only did they allow all the wassailers to troop through their garden and paddock, they also marked a path through the paddock with a series of candle lanterns. We also put the same little lanterns on as many trees as possible in the orchard. The effect is magical as it brings the darkened orchard to life. It looks like a nocturnal fairyland and I love to see it every year. The first year we just had 'night lights' in jam jars but the wind blew nearly all of them out. After that we invested in 50 of those little black metal garden lanterns with glass windows. They also hold the night light candles but it is rare for them to be blown out and they really look the part.

There had been heavy showers throughout the afternoon but luckily the sky cleared and our ceremony was performed under the stars. Our musicians did not want to risk their instruments outside this year but the wassail songs were sung with plenty of gusto just the same. I was relieved that it all went so well, having feared the worst!

This was our fifth wassail. Word has got round and more people turn up each year, ( may be due to the free cider on offer!). This year I limited the invitations to our village but we still had about 80 people crammed into the cottage for the mulled cider after the orchard part. However it did go well and was great fun. The musicians fiddled merrily in the sitting room and the wassail songs were sung again, more heartily than ever. Ashen faggots were ceremonially placed upon the fire. Plenty of mulled cider was drunk. When this had gone a good deal of my 2006 blend was imbibed. I had been surprised to find that it is already drinkable even though not fully fermented. so I siphoned off ten gallons for the event. I think the residual sweetness ( at pH 1010 ) must have allowed it to have wider appeal. Certainly quite a bit disappeared!


Wassailing is a very sociable and thoroughly amiable activity. It was especially nice this year to welcome back Derek and Marilyn who had lived here for many years and were famed for their amazingly boozy Burns Nights. Sadly for us, they moved to another village about 15 miles away but I had recently been delighted to hear that Derek had taken up cider making. Now a full convert to the Craft, here he was, complete with shotgun to assist in the ceremony and some of his cider for sampling thereof! Very nice it is, indeed. I'm drinking some to help this writing along. Can't you tell!

Derek told me that he enjoys reading ukcider so I explained how to join. I hope we will be welcoming him on here soon.