Odd Event Reviews... The Brogdale Cider Festival 2003

Keith Dunn reviews the drunken orgy

The story starts many months ago with an E-mail from Jean.

"Brogdale farm is on again this year if you are interested?"

Am I interested???

Of course I'm interested!!!

Is the Pope catholic? Do bears carve interesting little wood cut objects about the futility of life, the misery of death, the necessity of birth control and the impotency of soft toilet paper in the woods?

Anyway, I asked around for whom else would be interested in this pilgrimage to all things that go "Hic!", "Burp!" and Hee, hee, hee". To which Jeze and Karen (the wife, center of my being, mother to my children, keeper of my heart or 'er indoors) said they would be interested, having never gone before. So I made a note on the works' outlook express schedule calendar, (You see, Adam? Microsoft can do something even if its only to remind myself of useless bits of trivia, though why "Mr. Gates" wants to know when I'm getting drunk is beyond me) and promptly forget about it. (You forgot the best feature of M$ Lookout Distress - the direct access to the core of your PC for viruses! ed/Adam)

The months creep by until we reach the beginning of September and we get Mr. Simpkins' well meaning but hostilely received text (See Andy's review of the beer festival).


The computer screen started blinking at me.

"What is it, my little box of spare part chicanery?"


"Woo hoo!"

Make arrangements for kids to be looked after by the in-laws (Pete & Kath I salute you, they're going to Woban don't you know?) and waited with bated breath for Friday 26th September.

Which duly comes. Work all day, rush home at 5, shower, change, pack essentials, change of clothes, toothbrush, book and tankard (Yes I know but a tankard is very essential at these things) and a couple of cheeses. Have got into cheese recently (No Tony, not literally. That would be messy. And not a little suspect...). Then wait for in-laws to come down from Aylesbury. They didn't reach us to about 8:30, traffic was terrible. Saw the kids off with promises to be good (they made you and Karen promise to be good? Heh, I always said those kids were smart...ed/Tony) and to let Granddad play with the robots (don't ask). We set out to get the train to London Bridge; from there to Abby Wood and Jean's place

Saturday morning; mission to get to Favesham station and then Brogdale before 11:00 otherwise we loose drinking time. Bill (Jean's other half) checks train times on the Internet (and surprisingly there are no engineering works!) then Karen leaves a sweet massage on the Staggering forum. (That's what you call it, is it? I see....ed/Tony) We head out, uneventful journey reading articles from the papers that wouldn't seem out of place in the pages of everyone's favorite hack rag, (No, not the Crawley News, the other one), The News Of The Universes. Arrive at Faversham at (horror of horrors) 11:15. Rush out of station onto free bus.

Now Brogdale is no Victorian hall but a working apple farm so the cider is served in a cow shed, (clean, but a cow shed none the less). Tables and chairs are set up and a make shift bar is erected with the ciders lined up behind it.

Order myself a half of Parwsley Farm mulled cider. I manage to ground myself for another year, balance has returned to the Force. (Quite! ed/Tony) It's like drinking apple pie (Its all the nutmeg and cinnamon that's been added to the fermented apple juice).

As I have found myself, (must...resist....comment....aiiieeeeee, ed/Tony), return the favor to Andy and text him. Message I get back is;

"very good look forward to the review "

Review! I have forgotten my camera! (hit head a couple of times on the table), (Encore!! ed/Tony), Finish Cider. Get another one.

Bill brings out the 'Stinking Bishop'. It is the Dairylea of the mirror universe. It wrapped in wax paper, two carrier bags and a Tupperware tube and you can still smell it! It clears the table in less than three seconds; I choose this moment to look around the place.

This year it was sponsored by Sainsbury's, they had a wine tasting tent, a live band not too close or loud that you couldn't talk, burgers, hot dogs and a whole pig on a spit. (Pig on a spit? That always looked very undignified to me, the sort of way you'd expect Tory MPs to die! ed/Adam)

Now the down side. It was a lot smaller than it has been in previous years. This is my fourth year and its been getting smaller every year. (Well, cider can do that to you, Dunn....ed/Tony). I could count the ciders on one hand (sweet, dry and medium) Biddingtons, Western's, Old Rosie's, Double Vision and Gobbledegook. Plus, there was no craft fair this year; I like looking through shiny things, it's apples to my magpie instincts.

But still, I would recommend it, if it's there next year. The object of the day is not to drink yourself silly, but to sit there and enjoy the day, talk to people you have never met before and quite likely never meet again. (Or, to be frank, remember, if the cider is as good as you say, lol...ed/Tony)