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Ancient cider ways

James Crowden studied civil engineering at Bristol and anthropology at Oxford, joined the Army, became a mountaineer and travelled widely.

But for the last decade - of which this book is a reflection - he has been returning to his roots, indeed all our roots, and has earned his living from shearing, night-lambing, cider-making and a woodman's varied tasks. - From the Foreword by John Fowles

In Blood, Earth, Medicine, 1991, Crowden evoked an ancient way of life, tipping toward the modern.


Full circle stillness returns to the land
In fits and starts, acorns and beechnuts fall
Sheep are dipped and fat lambs sent for slaughter.

A time for drawing in and a time for gathering
A time for orchards and a time for cider.

There in the barn dark, layer by layer
Inch by inch, gallon by gallon
The steady inquisition begins
The confession extracted bit by bit
As the press pushes home, and the life blood
Of the heathen apple flows ever more freely
Till the stout cheese is dripping
Ruddy brown and golden like honey
A river in flood, a hive of fruit
Whole orchards, pulped and crushed
The never ending tide of trailers
Ebbing and flowing, acres deep and rounded
The mounds of apples, tipped and spewed forth
Like long barrows, the farmyard filled to bursting
Lagoons of red and yellow.

Brown Stout and Chisel Jersey
Dubinett and Porters' Perfection
Stoke Red and Kingston Black
Bloody Turk and Yarlington Mill
Lambrook Pippin and Tremlett's Bitter
Thom Putt and Royal Somerset.

Their ransomed juice pumped to distant vats
Vast in their yeast brooding
Potent and powerful, broad in the beam
Fecund and fattening, their froth-fermenting bellies
Bound with oak and straps of iron
Barrels, giant and gargantuan.

A Norman trick this drink from apples
Distilled and fiery
A hint of orchard on the tongue.

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