Our apples finished a month ago and while I love the stewed apple I eat every morning, I’ve been missing the crunch of a fresh apple. So this morning at the Farmer’s Market I bought five local Lord Lambournes.
A bit later on, waiting for me at choir practice, B had enough time to go for a walk at Aston’s Eyot, a fascinating 30 acres where the River Cherwell joins the Thames. ‘Eyot’ is a local medieval word for ‘island’, as this land was before the Cherwell was diverted in 1844, leaving only a ditch thereafter to separate it from the rest of Oxford.
From 1900 to 1950 Aston’s Eyot was the city rubbish tip, which transformed it from a water meadow into the two-metre-higher mix of land it is now: the expanse of ‘Nettle Plain’ (as a result of the soil having been disturbed by people bounty-hunting old glass and ceramics in the erstwhile rubbish-dump); a 1980s plantation of deciduous trees; areas recently sown with meadow flowers; and an eclectic mix of fruit trees – possibly the remains of an old orchard or more likely self-seeded from dumped unsold market fruit. B amassed a collection of apples and pears from the ground and after I’d recorded the variety for blipdom, we did a taste test so we’d know what to go back for.
The purple/green ones (top left and bottom right) are delicious, sweet and sour and crisp. The one top right is probably a russet, slightly tarter than the Lord Lambourne. The red and yellow ones towards the left are similar to our own garden apples, sweet and soft but with a hint of rose. The little yellow ones are vile. The very pale yellow, almost hexagonal one, middle front, is amazing – it has the taste and texture of melon and I’ve never had an apple like it. It sent me off to the dictionary to check that, as I vaguely remembered, the Ancient Greek word for apple is μήλον" (milon) from which – via Latin – Italian, French and English derive the word ‘melon’.
I need to learn some names for these. They are all so different that ‘apple’ just won’t do and I can hardly start using ‘melon’.