Saturday, 23 November 2013

Apple Festival!

The City of Ely hosts an annual apple festival. David and I stumbled upon it by accident in 2011 – I’d just returned to England with my new visa and a daytrip to Ely was our big date after nearly a month apart. Needless to say, I was really excited to be heading out to it again and was especially looking forward to experiencing it with our little apple-munching-monster.

Still trying to get the apple stains out of his shirt collar...
The day was grey but the weather held (David credits my prayers). There was a stall outside of the Cathedral where a Christian group was giving away free coffee, tea, & Jesus-prayer tracts. We took advantage of their hot drinks although I had a mild qualm of conscience about participating when I already knew the drill. Then I thought back to my childhood and figured that as I’m now Catholic I may no longer count as Christian to certain other Christians, and therefore I’m still open game for evangelisation, so I could drink the tea without feeling that I was stealing it from the mouths of lost souls.

Once we’d warmed up with our hot drinks, and once the liquids had decreased enough that I could safely push the buggy without spilling tea everywhere, it was time to check out everything apple. David & I split the festival monies so that we could each pick out treats for an afternoon feast without feeling the need to negotiate. So, as soon as I spotted the booth I was hoping for, I ran off to buy some Wobbly Bottom cheese. They make their cheese primarily from goat & sheep milk and have a great range of flavours. Goat cheese with nettle is my favourite (a certain friend brought me some a present shortly after Walter was born), but this time I went for a log of soft goat cheese with garlic. Delicious! The garlic & cheese combo was sweet, nutty, and creamy. Certainly satisfied this little Ukrainian’s constant need for garlic.

While I was busy ‘negotiating’ (ie trying to break through a sea of Angles who suddenly all needed cheese right away) the crowd at the cheese counter, David & Walter were busy checking out an apple display at a booth set up by the Ely Farmer’s Market. The woman who was manning the booth was busy feeding Walter samples of different apples, and he was busy thinking he was in paradise (pre-fall, post-snake perhaps). David also squired Walter off to check out some birds of prey (owls & falcons), although Walter was too little to hold them.

He'd totally have won any competition for how much apple one could cram into their mouth...

cheeky monkey
There was an apple shy (like a coconut shy, only with apples) with the money going to the Christmas Light Up, so David decided to take part in a show of town spirit. He managed to knock down a couple giant bramley apples and won four sweet apples as a prize. He presented them to Walter who seemed unable to quite believe his good fortune of Papa handing him four apples at once.

Sharing one of David's prize apples
We toured the rest of the festival, picking up treats for an afternoon feast – apple & blackberry crumb cake, apple cider, Cambridgeshire honey, and a kilo of fancy apples (egremont russet, michaelmas red, & orange pippin). Then us adults chowed down on some pork & apple burgers while Walter tried to convince us that he was old enough to enjoy the same treat (ha – he wishes).

It was only a short part of our day but it was really fun. We came home and had a feast of local foods, watched a few episodes of Seinfeld, and just enjoyed being together as a family. I am so grateful that we live in a community that always has little things like this going on. It’s fun going out and experiencing this aspect of English life – with the Town Crier dressed up & clanging her bell, with Morris Dancers congregating in the street, and with other families just out with their kids on a Saturday morning. Days like this go a long way to making up for the sacrifice of living so far away from home.

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