"Who wants to help pick some apples and make them into apple juice?"
Eleanor, Sam and I headed next door with my longest ladder, a broom and a large bucket to collect apples. We were soon joined by some of the local urchins who were keen to catch the apples I was knocking down, and offer some tips of their own.
"Yes, chucking your tennis racquet into the tree is an effective way of bringing down the apples. I remember from when I was ten. But it runs the risk of damaging the tree, and then the people who live here won't let us pick their apples any more."
I had some strange conversations with my helpers.
"Why are you collecting all these apples? You can't eat them."
"Yes you can eat them. Who says you can't?"
"They're not the same as real apples from the shops."
"They're exactly the same as that"
"But they're not from the shops"
"Where do you think the apples in the shops come from?"
"They come from the shops"
"Yeah, but where do the shops get them from?"
Once we'd cleared that up we weighed the apples with an antique brass spring balance Steph gave me (thanks Steph - it beats standing on the bathroom scale whilst carrying the apples, then subtracting your own weight from the results) and found we'd collected 19lbs (about 8.5kg) of apples.
The urchins joined in with cutting the apples into quarters and tossed them into the crusher. More odd conversation occured at this stage.
"Why do they have sweetcorn in them?"
"Let me have a look - oh, you mean the pips"
Then we had a go at running the crusher, after I had given them a graphic description of what would happen to any body parts that entered the hopper.
The crushed apples then went into the press, and again we took turns at operating the press whilst we all watched the brown cloudy juice run into a bowl.
The labourers were rewarded with a drink of apple juice. Just a small one though as the bulk of the juice went straight in the freezer. They all declared it delicious. With any luck I can scrounge up more apples in the coming weeks until I have enough for a batch of cider. You never know, my own army of scrumpers, armed with tennis racquets, might bring me some.