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Strangely warm ...

Posted on 16 January, 2014 at 11:46 Comments comments (165)
...for the time of year, and I'm busy ordering stock like a woman with no arms.  
Don't usually worry too much about restocking in January, as long as we've got some good stuff in time for Valentine's Day, but the milder weather is bringing people out so we're a bit busier than usual this month - not complaining!  And after a very busy December the shelves are looking a bit gappy in places.   

It's lovely to see actual people in the marketplace, not tumbleweed, and to have humans to talk to instead of the farm cat, whose visits are shorter and less frequent now he's found another three sources of grub among the farm tenants.  Being dog people ourselves we're used to huge shows of gratitude at feeding times, not this stalking in, yowling, chucking bits of food everywhere (the poor old boy is a bit short on teeth)  then stalking back out, without as much as a please, thank you or kiss 
my ***.   God love him.

This time last year we had 6 inches of snow on the ground of course, and those of us that braved the elements were busy clearing paths and chucking salt and grit everywhere in the hope that some intrepid souls would make it this far along Brogdale Road.  Like Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, we worked on the basis of 'if you build it they'll come'. ( I don't think many did, but you have to keep the faith.)

Time to put the kettle on and see if there's still some leftover shortbread knocking around under the cash desk, fingers crossed :D

Must stop moaning about the weather ...

Posted on 10 June, 2013 at 8:26 Comments comments (99)
But it IS ridiculous.  I know they say 'ne'er cast a clout 'til May be out', but I'm still wearing scarves and hats to walk the dog on the beach and it's June.  Flaming June apparently.  Too right!  A tiny glimpse of watery sunshine sees me flinging all the shop doors open, only to shut most of them half an hour later after we've all donned thick cardigans and scarves, and the wind's blowing a hooley around the shop picking up leaflets and signs in it's wake.   Then again everyone got sunburned (windburned) at the weekend working on the Grow stand at the WealdenTimes Midsummer Fair in Rolvenden, where it was 23 degrees and gorgeous.  Only 30-ish miles away.  That's where the summer is hiding folks.  Seems the sun really does shine on the righteous :)

Can't feel my fingers ...

Posted on 2 December, 2012 at 18:33 Comments comments (144)
... or toes, ears a-tinglin' with the sound of bell-ringers, nostrils a-twitchin' with the whiffs of mulled wine, hot dogs and popcorn.  Can only mean one thing - the annual Tankerton Christmas Fair in and around the lovely Whitstable Castle and grounds.  Fast becoming one of my favourite gigs of the year, helped by it being a) only 3 minutes from home, b) a chance to catch up with friends and neighbours (including those we were out on the razz with in Whitstable only last night!) and c) full of the kind of traders that I would happily work alongside every day of the week - fun, funny, helpful, and happy to share their hot drinks and home-baked bread puddings :)  The whole day was bright, crisp and even, the frost staying put on the bowling green right through till dusk, blimmin freezing cold but no doubt added to the atmosphere.  Helped along by the actual, genuine (he assured me) Whitstable-dwelling Father Christmas and his Hoodeners, paying a visit.  

So, that's the last of our 2012 off-site stalls now over. Time to get properly stuck in to the run-up to the Festive season in the shop.  Sarah McLachlan and Diana Krall Christmas albums handy, mulled cider at the ready, taster bottle of Brandy and Butterscotch Liqueur on standby for mid-afternoon tots in the coffee; stocked up with cat food for when the farm mog comes a'callin each morning (who then spends the rest of the day curled up in front of the heater behind the cash desk).  Not wanting to go too bonkers with the decorations but adding to them slowly on a daily basis, so the place looks like Santa's Grotto by Christmas Eve.  Wondering how come every year (and this is our sixth) I spend £££s on decorations, lights etc and it never looks enough... and why the solar-powered led lights I got for a song on Groupon still don't work (maybe the clue is in there somewhere ..).  And of course ordering far too much stock in a panic mid-way through the month and still looking at most of it (and the invoices that came with it) at the end of January.  At which point the dulcet tones of Ms Moira Stewart kick in again, reminding me that - yet again - I've left our tax returns to the last minute despite last year's good intentions.  Gosh, where DID 2012 disappear to???

Muck and magic

Posted on 1 November, 2012 at 14:37 Comments comments (177)
They say that where there's muck there's brass, so if the amount of clarts on the apples we've been sorting for pressing today is anything to go by we're in for a premium Woolly Pig Vintage 2012.  But hey, what's a bit of mud between friends?  No doubt the soil underneath the National Fruit Collection apple trees is full of good nutrients, so it can't do any harm to lob a bit into the mill with the fruit every now and then.  I mean, pregnant women crave it, toddlers munch on it.  Ok, Ok, I'm just looking for an excuse not to have to wash it all off first... one less back-aching task has to be a good thing.

The pigs (and piglets) are having a fantastic time disposing of the pomace, although I'm a bit worried that they don't get through it all before it starts fermenting. If you're in the vicinity and hear grunting that sounds suspiciously like rugby songs, and spy some Mangalitzas and Gloucester Old Spots staggering about in their cups, then you'll know who to blame :-O

Pressing Times

Posted on 31 October, 2012 at 22:14 Comments comments (106)
Well, after a bumpy start at the beginning of the week, when it seemed unlikely we could get enough apples to get going with Woolly Pig 2012, we  now have the first 1,000 litres in the bag with the next 1,000 well underway. 

Our greatest and oldest friends Terry, Maureen and Nick made the 330 mile journey from ooop naarth to give us a hand (maybe with a more romantic notion of cider pressing in mind than the dusty, sticky, back-breaking slog it really is) and have got truly stuck in this week, lugging 11kg boxes of apples around the orchards and the barn, scrabbling under trees knee deep in mud and rotten fruit to scrump what we could when stocks of picked fruit ran low, wheelbarrowing piles of pomace around to feed the woolly pigs. Copious numbers of ibuprofen have been downed to numb aching feet, knees and elbows, Cottage Foods have been stripped of pasties and biscuits to keep the carb levels up, jumpers, jeans, wellies and shoes have been splattered with pulp which once dried takes about 18 months to get off, and much tea (strangely not cider) has been imbibed.

Now we're down to our last few polypins of Woolly 2011 we're hoping for a sunny spell to get this lot a-bubblin, and with luck and a fair (warm) wind we'll be racking off soon after Christmas.  With a new home to move into - the old jam factory on site - and Christmas around the corner there's plenty to keep us old duffers on the go.  What are the odds that the plans to submit our 2011/12 tax returns before the 31st Jan deadline for a change will go awry?  

October already- time to blow the cobwebs off the broomstick

Posted on 18 October, 2012 at 12:05 Comments comments (298)
Oh heck, what with twittering and facebooking I keep forgetting to blog.  Doesn't help that I get the evils from Neil for drinking tea and tapping on the laptop when he is left with 100s of boxes of books, cards, gifts, wines, beers and liqueurs to unpack for the imminent apple festival,  Brogdale's biggest gig of the year (although the cider festival this year broke all box office records).  So, we've spent the last few days ordering, unpacking, pricing and shelving lots of fabulous stuff, anticipating that people will choose this weekend to start their Christmas shopping (apologies for using the C word when there's still over two months to go).
But the big man has done a runner in a westerly direction to deliver some cider for another smaller festival this weekend, so the kettle's on, mug at the ready, not a customer in sight, so no more excuses for not bringing the website up to date - how embarrassing to find I still had the link for the groupon deal for the cider festival up on the front page - yikes!!  What a slacker.
The weather is looking like it will be mostly kind to us this weekend, so if you are in the vicinity rock up, even if you haven't got time to do the whole festival we've got wine and liqueur tastings on both days (Nip from the Hip on Saturday and Lyme Bay Winery on Sunday), plus apple and pear juice and extra cider tastings, all in the shop and there's no charge for coming to the marketplace on festival days.
What's new in the shop?  New design leather mini doorstops, moles, foxes and owls - the original versions continue to be bestsellers... lots of great books including some lovely children's bargain books, fab new 'gifts in a tin' from Apples to Pears (Alan Titchmarsh's product lines), and a return of the old favourites, the led animal keyrings that double up as torches with sound - frogs 'ribbit', cows 'moo', ducks quack, owls hoot, cats miaow.
And Neil complains loudly when he comes back to the shop and I am still tapping away on this thing ... best go and start doing some proper work.  Hope to see you at the weekend then :)


Posted on 14 September, 2012 at 6:36 Comments comments (129)
Well that link didn't seem to work IN MY LAST BLOG, which is annoying, so here it is again


Posted on 14 September, 2012 at 6:30 Comments comments (0)
Check this out folks - it has to be the best deal ever!  Even if you don;t bring the kids, two adults getting in for less than a tenner is a fantastic offer...

Woolly Pigs Do Fly

Posted on 23 June, 2012 at 8:22 Comments comments (165)
Yes they do, in 2 and 4 pint containers out of the shop door, and we can't seem to rack this little beauty off fast enough (note use of technical term here).  Pop in for a taste and let us know what you think.  Young and fresh, just like the people who made it lol.
Six polypins have gone up to the Beer and Cider Fest at the Robin Hood pub in Blue Bell Village, along with an arm-stretching 33 others we supplied this week. 
The festival runs from 22nd June to the 1st of July, with great bands and hog roasts and fabulous local beers and ciders. If you're in the vicinity it's definitely worth a visit,

Happy New 2012!! And hello again Moira Stewart...

Posted on 7 January, 2012 at 7:12 Comments comments (173)
Well, you can tell the festivities are over when Moira's dulcet tones start interrupting our Classic FM reverie to remind us (more accurately, me) to get on with our blimmin' tax returns.  Seasonal felicitations to you too HMRC.  Having spent the last two days catching up with nearly three month's accounts to get a VAT return in on time, finally transmitted at 7.29pm last night, I hoped for a brief respite... but sadly it's not to be.
Apart from us all having the lurgy over Christmas, and the dog eating a whole brandy-soaked Christmas cake and a full box, both layers, of chocolate brazils, all was comfort & joy in the TP household.  As in we managed to not get on each other's wicks too much (all the cabin fever angst was aimed at the dog, who I'm happy to report suffered no serious ill effects from all the brandy, fruit, nuts and chocolate, just drank gallons of water and threw up a lot).  The tree's now down (for the fourth year in a row, our fabulous tree from Grow at Brogdale was still looking brand new with barely a needle missing on 6th Jan, seems a shame to chuck it out for the recycling!) and the cards are in a pile ready to be cut up to make next year's gift tags.
To be honest, and as much as I like Christmas, like lots of people (I guess women of a certain age, mostly) it's quite nice when it's all over, the house is quiet and reasonably tidy, but there's a pile of goodies, a load of great books and DVDs to get started on.  Not a bad way to spend January.  Plus the weather's lovely today - bright, no wind for a change - and the shop's quiet after all the mania in the run up to Christmas, so there's time for a bit of early spring-cleaning. 
Not too much though eh!!  Just put the kettle on first ..
Happy New Year everyone!