As is fitting for Somerset tradition, we were pinching his neighbour's apples. Nick's approach was less stealthy than mine - he told his neighbour first.
Nick had a massive tarp we laid down on the floor under the tree, and we tried shaking the tree in various different ways.
The trick is to figure out a way to do it and not have apples raining down on you. I had a good go shaking it, but I was too weedy and got exhausted after about 20 seconds, so we soon fell into team roles. Rik would climb into the tree and shake it from there, Nick would take the ladder and jab the branches with it, and Pete would alternate from shaking branches and getting rained on, and trying to start collecting apples and...getting rained on.
I held bags open and other useful stuff...Rik started me on a training programme to get me habituated to spiders, working up the grades of hardcoreness. That was in fact the ammended programme, the first one being abandoned after I loudly and angrily explained that throwing spiders at me wasn't going to get me used to them any time soon.
The next bit was the longest most annoying bit. I thought we could just somehow pour the apples straight into bags, but there were as many leaves and twigs as apples, not to mention the spiders and million earwigs per tree. Rik really didn't like the earwigs. He spent as much time trying to kill them as bag apples. Bit like trying to exterminate midges from Scotland.
Apples bagged, it was off to the next tree, carefully selected by me. That was my other job - apple selecting. Like a professional wine taster, only without the horrible wine. Yuk yuk. I got to travel and taste things.
I'm gonna be honest - it was fun for the first...half and hour or so. Then it got a bit old. I wanted to climb trees and stuff like the others! Anytime anyone complained though, someone else would say 'Think of the cider!'
Pete and Rik playing 'Who Can Inflict The Most Pain with Apples'
After 3 hours though we ended it well - it's always fun getting a tractor out. We'd filled around 25 bags which I thought was pretty good going. Don't know how many litres of cider we'll get out of it. Blatently two or something insulting like that.
Rik: 'Arrrgh I HATE earwigs!!!'
Soon we'll take the crop (I say 'we', if Nick doesn't take me I'll be pissed off...) to someone with an apple press, Nick's going to buy a barrel, and I'll finally see cider being made. Unfortunately I won't get to drink it, what with the whole shoving off to Australia thing. But it was nice to do something else genuinely Somersetty before we go.