This is cider country: undulating green hills cut by narrow, winding lanes lined with newly cut hedges of beech and bramble. Around the higgledy piggledy stone villages, late summer roses hang on to their yellow petals in the warm summer sun, deep purple buddleia attract pale butterflies. And in every garden, there is an apple tree.
On closer look, many of these are cider apples. All farms around here, whether arable or livestock, would have always had a cider orchard, large enough to provide cider for the farm, its workers and the village beyond – wages were traditionally partly paid in cider. This is the root of craft cider making in the UK, going back nearly 400 years.
Our own orchard which sits right up against the shop would have provided for our home farm, Montgomery’s. Taking a walk around it with Jamie Montgomery, is a lesson in identification -the names ripple off his tongue with ease. Stembridge Jersey, Dabbinet, Yarlington Mill and the magnificently titled Improved Dove and Brown Snout.