05 February 2015

Stories of apples.

"Never again would sweethearts be separated by that river."
Tall tales, fantastic fables and local legends....
This week is National Storytelling Week.

Years ago both Niall and I used to offer story telling as part of our freelance education ranger services. Telling not so tall tales of ghosts, ghouls, hobs and witches from our rich local folklore mainly to school children to but also to adult community groups. Niall took his own portable witches post to repel 'witch' Anthea's unexpected entrance half way through, I relied on a large very dribbly, guttering church candle and a flair for the dramatic to get the audience gasping. It obviously worked and we both got lots of repeat bookings! Maybe one day we'll write them all down….
 "And remember, never go hunting with a black dog"
(quotes from the stories of Beggar's Bridge in Glaisdale and Nanny P in Goathland)

It's been a busy week with what with story telling, Candlemas day on Monday (it was dull and drear so winter should have gone for another year… um not sure about that it's snowed all week), World Wetland Day (that one was in the news headlines, more here) and the launch of this year's British Wildlife Photography Awards (that was in Monday's blog, read it here and watch out for more updates in the coming months). As it that wasn't enough it's also been Bramley Apple Week.

blossom on the bramleys - hopefully it will be just as beautiful this year
The bramley is a venerable old variety, first grown from pips planted in 1809 by Ann Brailsford, in her garden in Southwell, Nottinghamshire. The house changed hands and while local butcher Matthew Bramley lived there a a local nurseryman, Henry Merryweather, asked if he could take cuttings from the tree and start to sell the apple. Bramley agreed, but insisted the apple should bear his name - hence 'Bramley's Seedling'
For me a cooking apple just has to be a bramley. The house we lived in when I was a small child had three large bramleys in the garden, there have to be three because they're odd plants having a triploid chromosal pattern meaning they require not one but two other pollinating trees. We made chutney, apple pies, apple crumbles, stored a few and froze a lot. When we moved the new house had lots of cordoned eating apples but no cookers, but the trees were not doing well and eventually were felled leaving the victoria plum standing alone. However a few years ago having done a little bit of a redesign we had space for apple trees again and of course top of the list was a bramley, not having as much space as the previous garden we've got a crab apple as a pollinator. They did well for a few years but I fear we're not meant to have apples here, the house next door changed hands and they took down the garage totally altering the wind patterns. Both trees got thrown and although have been heavily pruned and pulled back up right they are struggling and we've not had a crop from either for a couple of years.

And we're not done, we're scribbling along tomorrow...