Feels odd to be parked in a farmyard, hooting my car’s horn. Rude. Bad-mannered, even. But that’s what the sign says to do. I’d got lost, as I always do when avoiding the motorway, and made the best of the situation by following a crudely-painted notice for ‘real cider’ that i’d seen on the A358 south of Taunton. A lady appears and beckons me into the barn. “Come far?” she says. “North Devon. I’m on my way back to London”. “Ah, that’s a distance. Would you like to try some? It’s meant to be very good today”. Thinking of the miles still to cover I decline, wondering what the cider was like yesterday, or will be like tomorrow. The lady taps off 2 litres for me. ‘We’ve been at Ashill for thirty years, and these barrels were at least 30 years old back then. Well, good day to you. Safe journey, now.’
The cider was horrible, by the way. Absolutely reeking of pear drops. Whether it was meant to be like that, I have no idea. They had no shortage of custom, so I’m prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt. And just look at that label, it’s a masterpiece.