With so many factors involved, it was always going to be a difficult job, planning the Mansbridge CommunityOrchard Apple Day. Of course, the most important consideration for an outdoor event, the weather, could not really be planned for at all.
After finally arriving at a day when most people would be available, the wind, rain and the impending storm Jude (ironically the patron saint for hopeless situations) all looked like they wanted to contribute to the party.
I spent the morning watching my son playing a Mini Rugby tournament in unsheltered and windswept New Milton. Several of the event shelters and tents at this event had to be dismantled before they turned into supersized kites.
On our return journey, we passed through a massive rain storm and I began to wonder if there would be any survivors by the time we got to Mansbridge but we were relieved to see the stalwart Woodcraft Folk resolutely pressing away in the field. We quickly unloaded the hefty Community Orchard press, apple scratter and fruit pickers and joined the celebration.The children all enjoyed milling the fruit and turning the screw of the press and there was certainly no shortage of apples to process. Juice was soon pouring into containers and being glugged back like nectar by all present. More apples were constantly arriving, from the pickers out amongst the trees, while the pressed remains were being shipped back to the woods, to nourish the roots for next year.
After an afternoon of fun and exertion, the light began to fail: as twilight grew near, we started to pack the equipment away, all the while wondering if Jude was about to arrive. I had to hose down the press in the dark, back at our house. There was still a great deal of fruit remaining in the trees when we left but I don't know how much of that endured the storm, to survive the 80 mph gusts during the night.