Our week that was: Llanerchaeron and National Apple Day

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It’s been a busy old week – one that was full of apples! Firstly, we took a trip to Llanerchaeron, a nearby National Trust property where there’s a walled garden full of different species of ancient apple trees amongst other plants.

As well as admiring them, I spent a fair amount of time picking them, chopping them, shredding them, juicing them and cooking them. After attending an apple event at nearby Hafod, we decided it would be a great idea for our local Women’s institute to hold something similar – so we did!


We booked a day with our dog sitter so that we could get out and do something a little different. We drove to Aberaeron to visit Llanerchaeron, just a few miles inland. It’s a Georgian property, designed by the famous architect, John Nash.

The Trust has decided to leave the house as it was left to them; i.e. with any of the later additions such as furnishings and the art nouveaux/art deco fireplaces. Having said that, much of the ‘bones’ of the house remains remarkably untouched – so there were fabulous 18th century doors & windows, coving and other plasterwork, flooring and so on. This untouched aspect was particularly the case in the service areas – and it was these spaces that we especially loved. The old service kitchen, pantry and cobbled outer courtyard were very atmospheric. There were separate rooms for cheesemaking, brewing, bread proving & baking, butchery, salting, laundry and so on – plus simple bedrooms for some of the staff.

In the grounds were stables, tack rooms, animal pens and the like. Also, lovely, walled kitchen gardens and small ornamental lake that were open to wander around.

We took lots & lots of photos – both inside and out – have a look at some of them below…

Llanerchaeron roof light

Llanerchaeron fireplace

Ceiling in the drawing room of Llanerchaeron

Llanerchaeron service kitchen

Llanerchaeron laundry

Llanerchaeron brewery

Llanerchaeron bakery

Llanerchaeron walled garden

Apple chopping

National Apple Day

A couple of weeks ago, I told you about going along to an apple event at another nearby National Trust property, Hafod. We decided it would be a great idea for our local Women’s institute to hold something similar. The lovely people that we met at the Hafod Walled Garden agreed to allow us to borrow their apple juice making equipment; a shredder and a fruit press.

Apple shredding Apple pressing Apple pomace

Our WI event was planned for Saturday 21st October – which just happened to be designated National Apple Day – completely unintentional on our part! The rain held out for the most part, and we had lots of visitors come to the cottage to enjoy the homemade apple cake, apple cookies, mulled apple juice and other apple-themed delights.

A few of the WI members spent the previous week picking apples in local gardens and orchards… and some of the people who came along brought apples from their own gardens. We had a well-planned and executed conveyor system where we chopped, shredded, pressed and bottled the apple juice… over half a dozen large sackfuls.

Our week that was: Conker detergent, sweetcorn fritters and a riverside walk

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There I was last week, waving goodbye to summer, when a couple of dry, sunny 20ºC+ made an unseasonal appearance! I dug out the shorts and t-shirts and washed & hung a few loads of laundry out to dry in the garden. We even ate our dinner al fresco… it’s almost mid-October!

Natural detergent

For the past couple of autumns, I’ve been collecting fallen conkers from a couple of trees in the village. Horse chestnuts contain saponin, a natural soap. It makes a good, free laundry detergent – although it’s not effective on heavily soiled or stained items.

Remove the shells and roughly chop the nuts. Dry the nuts in a very low oven or dehydrator; I spread them out on a pizza mesh to ensure quick and even drying. Store in an airtight jar or other lidded container. I try to dry and store enough to last me the entire year. To use, measure out around 75 grams of nuts into a measuring jug. Pour about 300ml of boiling water over them and leave to soak for about half an hour. I like to add a few drops of essential oil to the mixture once it has cooled and been put through a sieve. Lavender is a favourite for bed linen – great for restful sleep! Rose is a preferred scent for use on clothing.

Fresh conkers in a colander Fresh conkers in a colander and hand
Conkers dried in the oven Dried conkers in a jar

Sweetcorn rescue

Back in the spring, we planted about half a dozen sweetcorn seedlings on our veg plot. We planted them alongside runner beans and squash in a three sisters formation. They got off to a good start, but then their growth seemed to grind to a halt. By the end of the season, we were left with about half a dozen malformed, misshaped and stunted cobs. I refused to simply throw the vegetable equivalents of ugly ducklings on the compost heap; instead, I used them to make fritters inspired by a recipe by Nigel Slater.

Malformed sweetcorn cob Home made sweetcorn fritter

Coed Maen Arthur

This local woodland walk is where we found an abundance of chanterelle mushrooms a couple of years ago. We were less successful last year, and this year found none at all. In fact, spotting any kind of mushroom this week was a rarity! It’s such a beautiful route, especially in autumn, that it wasn’t the end of the world. We enjoyed a wonderful family walk along the Ystwyth.

Wild mushroom Wild mushroom Top of a wild mushroom

Our week that was: Apple Day

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We’re into October – summer has had her last hurrah – no more unexpected yet very welcome hot, sunny days. Thoughts are turning to what to do on my birthday next month, what we’ll do for Christmas and whether I’ll leave filing our online tax returns to the last minute… again!

This weekend, I attended the 2nd annual Apple Day organised by the Hafod Walled Garden Group. The garden is located within the National Trust-owned Hafod Estate, a place we often go, but never to this hidden area that’s down off the signposted walking routes.

Chopping apples to make juice Barrels of chopped apples going into a shredder

I saw the event advertised on their Facebook group, and organised to attend with a friend from the village. We both wanted to learn how to make apple cider vinegar. We filled a couple of large trugs with apples (many of the gardens in the village are laden) and set off.

Crushing apples using an electric shredder Pomace created after extracting the juice from the apple pulp

Before long we were part of the conveyor belt of people – chopping apples, putting them through an electric shredder before finally extracting the juice with the manual press. All very physical work, but very enjoyable!

Pressing apples to make juice Pressing apples to make juice

When all the apples had been turned to pomace, we set off back home, each with a litre bottle of fresh apple juice under our arm.

One of the Hafod Walled Garden Group members has posted some lovely photos of the day on her Instagram account – you may even catch a glimpse of me in there somewhere!


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Our week that was: Live motor sport and a produce sale

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What an exciting start to the week; on Sunday, we had Rali Ceredigion literally roar into the village! The end of the week was slightly more demure, with a produce sale at the Women’s Institute Cottage on Saturday.

#31 - Ford Escort Mk2 taking part in in Rali Ceredigion 2023

Rali Ceredigion

The day-2 stage start of the race was mere metres from our front door. We could feel the revving of engines and peeling tyres in our chests. We tried to capture the competitors – the first few snaps were of empty tarmac because finger reflexes were slower than the vintage cars whizzing past!

The weather was fabulous and we had front row seats… or deckchairs at least. We’ve put together a slideshow of stills and a playlist of video shorts to give a taste of the sights and sounds.

Home-grown fruit and veg at the WI produce sale

Produce sale

Thankfully, the good weather saw it through to the end of the week, when the local WI held its autumn produce sale and coffee morning.

As my contribution, I made half a dozen jars of spiced runner bean chutney and baked a lemon & ginger ‘visiting cake’ that was inspired by a recipe I found on the NY Times website many moons ago.

Justin provided some potted cuttings of tradescantia, it’s one of the few houseplants – along with spider plants – that thrives in our light-deficient cottage. The event was very well attended and raised vital funds for the Cottage’s upkeep.