apples and mistletoe

Yesterday we returned from a winter weekend in Herefordshire which was spent mostly underneath a blanket of cold fog. It was a time for roaring fires, mulled apple juice and some time looking inwards.

I love the slow disintegration and sparseness of this time of year. At Croft Castle we saw apple trees pruned hard, their branches reduced to gnarled stumps, yet still bearing rough-skinned, golden eating apples with soft sweet flesh. We picked a bag of fresh windfall walnuts, their green cases leaking deep brown dye onto our fingers.

Mistletoe is everywhere in Herefordshire. I love its bare shape, the palest creamy green colour of the berries and its ancient magic and symbolism. It grows in the most perfect balls like ethereal baubles high up in the trees.

Or sometimes low down in the trees, low enough to kiss under.

Piles of prunings surrounded the orchard trees. This is a time for trimming, tidying and sweeping and then leaving things alone to rest quietly for the short cold days and long dark nights.

This is the cottage we stayed in for the first part of our honeymoon in June 2007. It was the wettest summer in living memory and like many others in the country we were flooded out and forced to relocate. You can see pictures from that summer here.

These apples were waiting to be pressed for cider, although they did look a bit grubby. But I expect that all adds flavour. Their sweet heady smell in the fresh afternoon air was wonderful.

One of the things I read while we were away was this astonishing article about the painter Sargy Mann. It is a remarkable tribute to the human spirit and the force of creativity and I found it a tremendous inspiration.


Vintage Tea Time said...

Lovely to see pics of Herefordshire - where I live! It's a beautiful area - sorry it was so foggy this weekend for you! Yes the apples go to Bulmers for cider and I've often noticed that they looked pretty grubby and bruised when you see them in trailers on the backs of tractors, but the cider seems to end up pretty clear! That article re the blind painter is fascinating.

rossichka said...

Hello! I am astonished by the green in November! And the mistletoe - looks so beautiful and its colour is really "milky" green! I have never seen it here, at least not in my town. Herefordshire seems to be a beautiful and quiet place, full of history. I like all the photos, especially the stone figures and all the details you have "caught" - the telephone(!), the bricked window, the cross to look through...
The life story of that blind artist is unbelievable and so touching! I really like his paintings and just wonder how is it possible to draw such compositions!
Have a nice week!x

PG said...

...sniff trying not to feel too envious and enjoying the gorgeous pictures...

Jackie said...

I hadn't realised you were such a recent bride!
We spent our honeymoon in a tent in Brittany 33 years ago, via a night in an old hotel in Stow on the Wold.
Did you stay in the same cottage this time? It looks os beautiful. I had yearnings for Herefordshire in September and October, but couldn't fit it in.
I went to Bromyard festival a couple of times, years ago, tents again, and it was all woodsmoke and cider.

Frances said...

Sue, I guess I will have to add Herefordshire to places I must see. What beautiful colors in your pictures! The cottage is dreamlike.

I imagine that you may have been getting some inspiration on this time away from home. Perhaps the fog actually helped to cast a spell.

Best wishes.

Jane said...

Gosh you did choose a foggy weekend - it was very thick here just over the Worcestershire border.
I love the mistletoe we have everywhere here - a friend has a cider orchard on her farm and the apples are being picked now, later they gather the mistletoe for a big Christmas market.
Glad you had a lovely time.

marigold jam said...

Lovely evocative photos. Did you see the cider making on The Edwardian Farm last week? Dirt and all goes in and probably adds to the flavour.


Sue said...

Rossichka, Jane and Frances (you are all 'no-reply-ers' so it's not easy to respond personally): thanks for your lovely comments. You are right that Herefordshire has a quiet, timeless quality that makes it really special. I think the fog did cast a bit of a spell... it was really magical. Jane, you are so lucky to live where you do, I am envious!

A Time to Dance said...

I fell in love with misletoe in france one spring where is hung in huge balls in the tree tops it was magical...hope you are well...H

Chrissie said...

What a romantic setting: mists and mulled cider, mmmmmmm

Dan said...

Lovely pictures from Herefordshire.
Sorry to hear you got flooded out on your honeymoon (I love Grr and the Sleeping Dog from your pics!)
I never realised that they got the 'tail end' apples for cider!

sea-blue-sky & abstracts said...

Hi Sue

I've really enjoyed this post - the link to Sargy Mann, the article and his paintings and your lovely photos of November in Herefordshire, especially the mistletoe. Thanks. Lesley

Gilly said...

The dirt that goes into the cider is,of course, sterilized dirt!

Your writing is so evocative, beautiful and dreamy!