Thursday, September 23, 2010

Time flies

How time does fly, tis been almost a fortnight since my last post and for this I apologise profusely for my lack of attention to the brave few who do me the great honour of following my blog and putting up with my meandering musings. Ah but if the truth be known I do have a plausible excuse for my remissness (is that a real word?), if any of you fine, upstanding citizens had paid attention to my previous, mournful post you would remember that I was lamenting the fact that I have become disillusioned with my lack of accomplishment with my life of late. So bearing this in mind I have indeed “Got off my lardy arse and done a damn sight more”, which has left little time for tapping away at my keyboard to keep you updated in my world. Also I have been absolutely knackered this past couple of weeks even though my beloved Clare and I have both had a little time away fro the grind.

So what has this rotund little Welshman been getting up to of late? Indeed you may ask for I could weave a tale of journeys long and wearisome and fraught with many a danger, of the mighty quaffing of copious amounts of grog and grand feasts of suckling piglet, mead and vitals. But to be honest that would be stretching the truth a tad, oh alright it would indeed be a post of tall tales and a little bit of exaggeration and yarn spinning, but hey if it wasn’t for my total honesty, ahem, then you’d all be none the wiser.

Ok so here’s the report and run down as it happened, firstly my good friend and work colleague, Chunky Monkey (you’ve been warned previously not to ask) have completed our first attempt at making cider. For us this was a totally new and untried task and to be honest we’re not 100 per cent sure that we’ve done it right (more like 5%). But for those interested here’s how we stumbled through; firstly we collected apples (yes obvious I know), close to where Chunky lives we were fortunate enough to have access at four different varieties of apples all of which seemed ripe enough for the process to begin. Our thinking being that by mixing types of apples we’d have a better chance of producing something vaguely drinkable. After washing the apples we cut them into segments and worked up a sweat pulverizing them into a course mash using a piece of rounded hardwood, this mash was then pressed (in our newly acquired fruit press) to relieve it of its precious juice. The juice was roughly filtered into demijohns, a measured amount of yeast added (well sort of measured) and then stopped with an airlock. Simple eh, taking just a few moments of the morning? – Pah, with all the apples that we’d gathered we were expecting gallons of apple juice flowing into our demijohns with the bare minimum of effort, ha haw naive we were. Several hours of cutting, pulping, pressing and filtering later with some not so inconsiderable Anglo Saxon been emitted we’d fill……. Wait for it….. two demijohns!, yes that’s right two poxy demijohns, we must have sweated more liquid than that. But truth be known we’ve learnt a lot from this attempt, firstly it takes a lot of apples to produce enough juice for just one demijohn (about a gallon of liquid required about 16lb of apples), secondly we need to buy/make a device to pulverize the apples before pressing as this was the most time consuming and palm of the hand blistering part of the process. Worth it? Well in 6 months I’ll let you know, but for the time being watching my solitary bottle bubble away as it ferments brings a smile of remembrance of a day happily spent with a mate, laughing, swearing and looking to the future, so yes very much so worth it. Oh and by good fortune the apples around here are just ripening nicely so we’ll be having another bash soon.

Ah time flies doesn’t it? Barely two weeks ago myself and the bog monster were indulging in one of my favorite walks. It consists of walking down the dried river bed of the River Alyn through Loggerheads Country Park and down to Cilcain. The change in the air around us told us both that autumn was just around the corner. Something deep inside of me loves this season, the change in the air is so tangible it can be smelt and indeed tasted, it brings visions of hearty meals, darker evenings swapping tales around warm fires and walks that have just that little more in the way of pulling you to next horizon, it’s truly a season of change, which indeed goes hand in hand with my present frame of mind. The thing I enjoy about this walk is the different perspective that it gives you of the land around. I know the short trail between Loggerheads and Cilcain well, but when viewed from the dry river bed the walk is a stranger to me, offering a new twist to a much visited and familiar trek. Another thing is that along this ‘trail’ I’m the only person here, with suits me and Lucy fine, meaning that our thoughts are our own and if I want scratch me arse I’m perfectly free to do so without offending a sole. Human company is fine, but the solitude to be sometimes found in our overcrowded isle is pretty much unbeatable (ok so I’m a grumpy so n so).

Today, 14 days later, we traveled the same trail once more and from the pictures you can tell that it was the woodland paths that our feet pounded and not the broken limestone bed of the river. A few days of heavy rain, and what at one point seemed to be an ever dry water course was singing away in full voice once more, all the plants that seemed to have taken a permanent hold over the last few months had been washed away in an instant.

One good thing thought, the evening’s rain meant that myself and the bog monster had the trails to ourselves, one bad thing though – guess who decided to play the ‘spook game’ and guess who fell for it once more?

And of the rest of the time, well Clare and myself have be spending time together, this is precious for us for at times we hardly see head or tail of each other when the long shifts of work conspire to leave us we only what seems as the barest glimpses of each other. It’s now, when we’re off together that we feel that in some ways we’re just getting to know each other all over again. It may seem strange that after 18 years of marriage this should be the case, but work and everyday living does keep us apart in many ways so that this time off together is made the most of to reaffirm the bonds which bind us together in our lives with one another.

Of course I’ve been out on the trails with the phantom of the slime pit; So here's a few photo's of what the autumnal season is bringing us as me and old smelly tread ever further afield in search of rarely trod upon pathways:


We’ve been checking out a couple of new fishing venues which I’m sure will lead to some interesting adventures to regale you with, the garage has nearly been rewired by yours truly and also the prep work has well and truly been restarted upon Carp Diem, I also planted some late beetroot and leaks in the corner plot (as it’s now called) of my back yard. So all in all a busy but rewarding time, I’ll try and be more constant with my musings in future, but for now thank you for taking the time to read this far.

Your friend,

John

17 comments:

CDGardens said...

Ah, what experiences you have brought to us your blog readers. Loved hearing about your cider experiment. Will be looking for updates on the finished product. Great pictures!

Gorges Smythe said...

I enjoyed your words and photos. I notice it may be a good year for acorns on your side of the pond, as well as ours. The natives here used white oak acorns for flour, has anyone you know ever tried them?

Dog Hair in my Coffee said...

All you need now for a happy life is a few chickens!
This is a GREAT post, well worth waiting for. Very upbeat, gorgeous, gorgeous pictures that just make me feel happy, and the nicest thoughts about a spouse after 18 years of marriage! I love the picture of the sheep, and Lucy looking puzzled! Have a great week!

Leigh said...

Wow! When you go after something you go after it! Busy Busy Busy! :)
Cant wait to hear how your cider turns out.

Wonderful post.

Wolfy said...

thanks for the enjoyable words John. And remember this - if someone is offended by a simple arse scratching, they aren't worth the time of day anyway.

I love the Fall as well. Take care

Diane-Sage said...

Though you were missed I totally understand and glad you are back writing.
I have never made cider and I give you kudos for doing so.
I love your pics...it reminds me of Oregon in many ways. I hope someday to live there again or similar environment.
Can't wait to hear about the fishing, eh?

Murphyfish said...

CD,
It’ll be next June when the first of the cider is due a sample, apparently though it’s at its best when the apples are ripening upon the trees once more. I’m looking forward to next year’s apple pressing whilst quaffing this year’s produce.

Mr. Smythe,
Glad that you enjoyed the post my good man, I’ve heard of acorn flower but I know of nobody that has tried, anyone else out there who has?

Laurie,
Funny enough the sheep picture is my favourite, they were spotted somewhere most unexpected and were off in an instant, the picture was literally point and click and it’s one of my favourites todate. Truly pleased that the post has lightened your day, makes the musings worthwhile me dear.

Leigh,
Mmmm busy n knackered me dear, but tired in that warm happy way when you look back and smile at what has been accomplished. It’ll be a long wait for the cider, hopefully you’ll all be still here reading about mine and sharing your worlds.

Ah Wolfy my friend,
I thought that if any it would be you that would pick up on the arse scratching, when you got to scratch….. Take good care my friend.

Diane-Sage
Thank you for your kind words, if my pictures remind you of Oregon then that’s a place I’d love to follow the trials in. There should (hopefully) be some fine fishing tales to share over the next few months, plans are afoot!

To all,
Thank you for your words and the time given in writing them.

Your friend,

John

Shoreman said...

Hey John. Everybody seems to have covered everything. The only thing I can add, is that your "cidering" kind of falls into my formula for remodeling. The time you think it'll take, times 2, times 3. That should cover it. Also applies to effort spent.

Mark

Damn The Broccoli said...

Lawks, someone has been a busy bunny.

I shied away from cider this year but I let slip to someone I had a fruit press and they want me to help out so it may happen yet.

It's relatively simple to make a much bigger press from some good solid structural timber and a 2 tonne bottle jack, when my little one ceases to be useable I intend to make a bigger one.

Can't wait to hear how it goes, I'll join you in a sip of homemade grog! I jsut added another forty pints of ale to the spare room, when you listen at the door you would think there is some mad scientists lab behind it!

Take care my friend, I hope you are feeling recharged.

Frugal Life UK said...

hello dearest - we cheat and make ciderish kind of stuff you can get pleasantly sloshed on from Lidl apple juice some yeast and the demi john air lock thingy. it's quite nice for what it cost xxx wher'v y bin murph>????

Casey said...

Hi John - Love to see that you are staying busy. In fact, that is one of the steps to regaining emotional stasis per Dr. John Schindler - "Always be planning something." Which it looks like you are doing a grand job of. Stay sane! (I don't think otherwise of you - don't be thinking that!)

Love the cider experimenting! I need to be starting my brewing here very soon! Damn!! And it's good to do new things, like Bob Dylan says -

"He not busy bein' born, is busy dyin'."

Stay well and take care -

Casey

BeMistified said...

Magnificent photos! Just gorgeous. The bee and the flower, I ♥.

I also ♥ cider, which is one of many reasons why I ♥ this time of year. It is cool enough to drink it, well of course if you like it hot! Rawr. Haha!

Mr. John, I absolutely ♥ your blog and what you bring to it. You don't make it frilly, you don't make it shout "here I am!" not that there is anything wrong with doing that, to each their own.

For this I have given you a blog reward found here: http://bemistified.blogspot.com/2010/09/bloscar-aka-blogademy-award.html

You don't have to follow the non-sense that comes with "accepting" the award, I just thought I needed to let you know that I appreciate what you write.

Thank you.

Murphyfish said...

Hey Mark,
Funny enough me thinks that next time I’m going to work out time required I’m going to square it then double it!!! Cheers for dropping by.

Hi Damn,
As we were pressing the apples in our shiny new bought press we decided that next year bigger and homemade was the way to go. I may take you up on that offer of a sip (or two) of the old gut rot, may well make for n interesting evening sometime. And yes batteries fully recharged but still dreading ‘the grind’ next week, best thing is though I’ve booked the next rota off – just seemed like such a good idea yesterday ;-)

Good evening Madame Frugal,
Ah now then, working for a soft drinks company I happen to have a potential supply of apple juice concentrate (god I hope my bosses aren’t reading this!), and using this in a similar way to which you describe has indeed passed my mind (not a long journey). I shall keep you informed of developments me dear.

Hey Casey,
I’m that busy at the moment that I have no time for madness! Me thinks that you best start brewing soon, as there’s notes to be compared my friend. Take care of you and yours matey.

Bloody hell BeMistified you don’t half know how to make a fella puff his chest out with pride! Thank you so much for your kind words my dear, I’m truly gobsmacked.

Thank you one and all once more, the days are far better for knowing each and all of you.
Your friend,
John

Poppy Cottage said...

Hello, found your blog through Jenny at Milkweed. You really write so well.

We used to use a garden shredder to pulp the apples when we made 'very rough' cider.

Good luck.

Murphyfish said...

Hello Poppy Cottage,
Welcome to my humble blog and thank you for the kind words, Mmmm garden shredder, cider production may well escalate.....

charliegizmo said...

Mr Murphyfish...

Wonderful post here and love the attempt at making Cider. Quite apt for myself as I will be documenting my attempt to make Real Ginger Beer over the next 5 weeks. Beginning soon with the "Ginger Plant", this weekend hopefully.

Don't forget to let us know how the cider comes out!

Charlie

Murphyfish said...

Hi Charlie,
Thanks for dropping by and for the kind words, hope that you'll continue to tag along, funny you should mention ginger beer....
John