Tuesday, 1 July 2014

A weekend in Somerset

This last weekend was a weekend without running but instead filled with the delights that Somerset had to offer.

Friday was a journey down to Taunton on the train and then an afternoon drinking cider in The Plough Inn which has held the recognition of being CAMRAs Somerset cider pub of the year. 

With all that drinking some food was required to soak up some of the alcohol and what better than a delicious pieminster pie?! I opted for the beef and Stilton option which provided a nice combination of rich meatiness and creamy cheesiness. The pie was served with an accompaniment of mashed potato, minted mushy peas and onion gravy and the meal was enjoyable and fulfilling. 

Friday evening and off to the main entertainment of the day, cricket action with the T20 blast game SomersetvEssex. Although the game was delayed by rain and interrupted and cut short through bad light it was still a pretty entertaining game and good contest between the teams with Essex coming out on top which made the trip down to this away game more than worth the wile! 

Saturday was then a visit to some of the attractions you only really find in Somerset, cider farms! As a cider lover my first visit to a cider farm had the potential to be an almost religious pilgrimage experience. I managed to contain the gravitas of the situation and met the prospect with my usual excitement and exuberance.

Our first visit was to the Burrow Hill cider farm in Martock where their rustic farm shop was decadently laid out with an abundance of cider and apple related products beautifully laid out for sale. A strong mental disposition was required to overcome the inherent urge to splurge money on every pretty shiny bottle containing sweet apple tasting goodness. 

The farm and the shop was very traditional and rustic and gave away little to suggest that their cider making process had developed much since their production began some 150 years ago despite advances in technology and increased demands due to the surge in popularity in cider. 

After much deliberation and quite a few tastings to try to help make my mind up I eventually settled on a 4 litre bottle of medium cider to take away with me. A large bag of their own brand salt and cider vinegar crisps as well as a bottle of their renowned cider brandy completed my purchases and I was glad to beat a hasty exit form the shop without inflicting any further damage to my bank balance. 

Luckily we had managed to avoid the frequent showers that kept recurring throughout the day and we were able to take a walk around their orchard to get more up close and personal with their prized crop. 

The walk also gave a good view of the burrow hill, an unmistakable local landmark of a one tree hill peering out over the local landscape. You can just about make it out in the centre of the following photo, as you can also see it unfortunately wasn't the most pleasant of summers days. 

Next it was on-wards to Perry's cider farm in Ilminster which is in contract a more commercial and visitor friendly operation containing a small museum as well as a shop and Cafe and eatery. 

The museum although small is completing crammed with old farming and cider making artifacts as well as information on cider apples and cider production.  

The shop is where the magic really happens though and is again a place where your bank card could come in for some real punishment. 

The large barrels below contain the different varieties of ciders Perry's produce in an almost try before you buy fashion. The shop is slick and sharp country farm type shop full of not only a wider range of Perrys merchandise and products but also a comprehensive range of all kinds of products from other suppliers who follow the same natural ethos that Perry's adhere to. 

After helping myself to a more than a fair and acceptable amount of cider its a good job there was some food on offer. The onsite Cafe and Eatery served up a great tasting lunch of locally produced and naturally prepared food. I opted for the special which was a Perry's Platter which was a generous serving of cold meats, cheeses, salad, chutney, pickle and fresh bread, needless to say this was all washed down with generous amounts of cider!

I would recommend a trip to Perry's for anyone visiting the area with a passing interest in cider or even an interest in freshly produced natural produce. 

Once again my visit to the West Country has provided a great weekend, it must be something about consuming large quantities of cider that makes for a great time!