Archive for October, 2014

Apple pressing days October 2014

The Autumn is the time when the apples are at their best and through the Blackdown Hills Transition Group a couple of apple pressing days were organised this month.  The first was held at Otterhead Lodge, next to Otterhead Lakes.  We had quite a few Bramley apples from when we had to cut down the tree for the builders to dig drains across the lawn, so we took them along.  Neil’s sister Carole was with us too, and she helped in the first stage which was crushing the apples.


We then took the crushed apples over to the presses.  The first stage is load the crushed apple into the bag in the press and then tighten.



As you screw down, pressure is exerted on the crushed apple and the juice comes out the bottom.


The juice is brown in colour as it has oxidised in the air.  when we had pressed all our apple pulp we used jugs to transfer it into plastic bottles that could then go into the freezer.


If you don’t freeze it but leave it out for a few days it will start to ferment and turn into cider.

There was a nice atmosphere at Otterhead, with a camp fire, music,  and food and refreshments provided by some of folk from Stentwood community whose apple pressing day was the following weekend.


So this last weekend was Stentwood’s turn to host apple pressing.  They had several marquees set up in case of inclement weather, but Sunday was sunny and a lovely day.  They were serving their wood fired pizzas, with warm spiced apple juice – delicious!!


They also had a craft tent, a tent where you could try and then buy different types of apples, and live music.


Again a lovely atmosphere and a nice way to wend away a couple of hours.

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Progress on the building front October 2014

Our builders are making great progress on the renovation and building works.  Once all the foundations and underpinning were done, they laid a concrete floor and then were able to put up the rafters for the first floor of the pump room.


The following week they put up the rafters for the 2nd floor.


You could then see what the view will be from the 2nd floor bedroom window.


This week they broke through the ground floor window. The walls were pretty thick so this was quite a job.  The window has to be quite shallow as the bottom will be level with the raised ground in the front garden, hence you can see the plants through the opening which will need to be dug up.


The men have also been rendering the inside walls of the pump room with lime cement render (which breathes), getting ready for the eventual plaster on the walls.  The next job is to “tank” the floor with a waterproof membrane so no water can seep through.


Outside they have piled up the building blocks for construction of the new kitchen extension.  Can’t wait to see this go up.


We just have to pray for some dry weather to let the men get on with the outside work, as it has been horrendous with rain this week, so they have been concentrating on the inside jobs in the pump room.

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Chard Carnival 2014

Last Saturday was the Chard Carnival.  Carnival is big around here, with the biggest one being at Bridgewater.  Carnival clubs spend all year fundraising and building their fabulous floats with music and bright lights and then each weekend go to a different venue for the carnival parades. Each of these large floats is pulled by a tractor and has a fairground generator on the back to power the music and lights.

There were pirate themed floats:-


And this one:-


The people on these floats were singing and dancing on the floats, but then there were others were they made a tableau i.e. they didn’t move, which must be quite difficult all the way round the circuit.


Other floats were slightly less flamboyant, but still colourful:-


There were lots of majorettes from all the local towns:-


And some walking entries.  I particularly liked these ones:



All the money raised goes to charity, so what a great way to support charities and enjoy yourself at the same time.

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The builders have dug out the floor in the derelict section of the house and so took down the wall around the internal well.  This enabled Neil to go down the well and clear out the debris.  I have to say I wasn’t too happy about him doing this, as we weren’t quite sure how deep the well was and what the footing would be like. But he put a ladder down the well and armed with this wellies he climbed down.  I  was at the top holding the light.


We  had the pump on at the same time, continually pumping out water, but it was also continually filling up so Neil was up to the tops of his wellies all the time.  He pulled out sludge and stones and all sorts of things, including an old mining lamp. Even though it was a fairly warm day, Neil said the water was absolutely freezing.


He pulled out buckets of stuff and I was worried about stones becoming loose and falling on his head, but as he said they had been there for a couple of hundred years so it wasn’t really likely.


Anyway after clearing out all the debris Neil added 2 buckets full of sand and this acts as a filter for the water and now the water from the well is beautifully clean, not that we drink this water but of course it was the only source of water for the people that lived here for 230 years and is now used to irrigate the garden.

The men will build the well back up before laying the floor, so this was a good opportunity to clear it out. There is an overflow pipe recommended by the Building Inspector that will let any excess water out into our drains that empty into the woods and the builders have put in a blue water pipe so that the pump can take water to the outside of the buildings and this will be used for irrigating vegetable beds, hanging baskets and pots.


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