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October already- time to blow the cobwebs off the broomstick

Posted on 18 October, 2012 at 12:05 Comments comments (297)
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 (122)
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...

1,000 litres down, 1,000 to go!

Posted on 15 November, 2011 at 4:46 Comments comments (0)
Well, we acquired a second-hand apple press - a twin-bed rack and cloth monster with a mill attached that chews up and splats out up to a whole bulk bin of apples in less than an hour - and, one huge shopping list later (rubber aprons & gloves, flexi tubs, filters, jugs, massive storage tanks, airlocks, bungs .. it goes on ...) we have had a crack at making our own cider, using apples from the national fruit collections.  Two days of slog later, ending each day looking like we'd been barfed on by a party of drunken teenagers, we finally managed to fill one tank to the top and it's now time to let nature take it's course.  Hopefully if the temperature doesn't plummet too deeply too quickly we'll be OK - they say a slow fermentation is best - but if not, cider vinegar anyone??

The sun shines on the righteous ..

Posted on 26 September, 2011 at 5:13 Comments comments (0)
Or as Bernie the new marketing & events manager said, it was the luck of the Irish, but however it might have come about we were all basking in the sunshine once again for the cider festival.  Although this year it wasn't really the cider festival as we have come to know it over the last 12 or so years, as Brogdale's events team have decided to go with more of a family feel and abandoned the old barn for a smart marquee in the showfield.  A bit of a sea change for the regulars who have been coming for years - no more Tiddly Pomme 'fruity folk' bar with its 60 ciders and perrys on offer, but instead professional mobile bar operators offered a handful of local ciders alongside the usual beers, wines and Magners (there was even a Magners seating area), although Biddenden Vineyards did have a stall too.   Add a couple of good bands into the mix, some free face painting for the kids,  a modest number of good local food producers and caterers, and tractor trailer rides around the orchards, and most people seemed content. The sunshine was the star of the show of course!

They tell us there will be no return to the previous format so we will have to look elsewhere to stage our own annual cider bash.  But we will be asking that their 'Great British Food, Cider and Beer Festival 2012' is not billed as the Cider Festival again as it definitely was not that this year, however successful it may have been.

So maybe not our idea of a cider festival, but then we are biased - and the lack of local ciders and perry inside the festival to taste and buy meant they came looking for it at the shop instead so we had a fantastic weekend for sales - sold out Saturday and had to beg our lovely ciderists to give Match of the Day a miss and get more barrels in to us on Sunday morning.  Double Vision's Strawberry was the bestseller of the weekend for us, and as we had nothing to do with the festival bar this year we had a lot less work to do, even if we did miss out on all the fun of what used to be our favourite weekend of the year!  But the big news is, we're going to start pressing our own cider on site again this autumn so watch this space for the big launch event in the Spring..

Where did the summer go?

Posted on 18 September, 2011 at 18:34 Comments comments (175)
Can't believe it is halfway through September.  It's been months since I posted anything here which is very lax of me.  We had time away due to a family bereavement in early July, then took time out to help out with our 'Grow' RHS show gardens at Hampton Court and Tatton Park, with the Kent Show sandwiched somewhere in between.  Spent August catching up with the paperwork and the housework, and suddenly the autumn is around the corner, and the first of the big Brogdale Festivals is this coming weekend.

So we headed off to Somerset for a few days last week to find some lovely new scrumpy ciders for the shop.  Rich's farmhouse cider,

What a beautiful county, and what fabulous cider!  You just have to pop in and try some.  Oh, and also Double Vision's new strawberry cider which is just flying out.  See you soon!