I was invited by Linda & Alan to join them in crushing and pressing apples for cider. There was also some mention of sampling last year's product, so off the Medstead I went!
The first stage of the process after collecting the apples was to chop them into manageable pieces for the crusher. This was a manual process involving large kitchen knives and a significant risk to the fingers.
The result was a crusher full of apples but not (we hope) fingers.
Next came some hard work for Alan, turning the crusher handle to crush the apples into a pulp. It was backbreaking work - and I was only watching!
The apple pulp was then transferred to the press, where every last drop of juice was squeezed out. The whole process was then repeated until we were worn out or there were no apples left.
Then came the best bit! Samples were imbibed of last year's wine and cider, and the apple juice we had just produced.
It had not escaped my notice that Linda & Alan's home in Medstead was close to the Mid-Hants Railway, which is operated with steam locomotives. So on my way to Medstead, in return for ten minutes spent by the lineside I was rewarded with the sight of a train in each direction, each hauled by a big black engine.
For the technically-minded, the first engine (two pictures) is a LMS 5MT 4-6-0, which was colloquially known to railwaymen as a "Black Five". The other engine is a British Railways 9F 2-10-0 heavy freight locomotive.