Put a bit of 'pep' in the step with a little cider
I have tasted home brews of varying quality and strength, and a few of the drinks I have endured had the capacity to create headaches of extraordinary length and tenacity.
One man I knew even made cider in old diesel cans. He tried to wash them properly but, despite his best efforts, the lingering flavour of oil remained and he ended up sharing most of it with the local postman, who swayed off on his bicycle after his daily visit.
But I have also sampled some excellent homemade beers and ciders and, this year, mostly prompted by the huge crop of apples in my garden, I decided to make use of all those windfalls.
A windfall is usually classified as a piece of unexpected good fortune, like winning the lotto or perhaps inheriting a farm from a little-known distant relative, but the word, of course, originates from the bounty we receive each autumn when strong winds shake our apples to the ground.
Unfortunately, few of us make proper use of them and they often lie uneaten and are scavenged by birds, wasps and even enterprising rats. Most farms have a few apple trees in a corner somewhere and many REPS farmers have planted them as part of the requirements of the scheme, but then not all trees provide abundant fruit.
Some that I purchased as being grafts from old and endangered species are showing just why they became endangered. This practice is encouraged under REPS to help save our ancient varieties but not only do mine bear little fruit, they also have the nerve to get all kinds of diseases and are generously covered in lichens with just a few miserable little apples produced each year.
It must be a bit like rare breeds of cattle and sheep. There are good reasons why they are rare. The majority of them are bloody useless when it comes to competing with the more popular modern hybrids.