Caught by the River

Richardson in Zanderland

John Richardson | 19th November 2010

‘Words on Water’ illustrator, John Richardson, has upped sticks and moved east. Here’s how he’s getting on:

A letter from Zanderland: Apples and Pears.

Although it’s November there are still apples to pick in the orchards: Bramley, Discovery, Michaelmas Red – looking just like early Christmas decorations, Spartan, Queen Cox, Jonagold, Jonared and the best Golden Delicious I have ever tasted.
Hundreds of acres of orchard have been ripped up over the years to make way for more profitable arable crops and vegetables, the trees becoming fuel for winter fires.
The majority of the remaining orchards are used for personal supplies of fruit throughout the year and small scale retail sales. From massive factory production levels of fruit they have become havens for wild life. Walking through the orchard in the early morning we have seen hares, rabbits, foxes, wrens, robins, fieldfare, redwings and sparrow hawks, hedge and house sparrows and finches. Curiously though there is no sign of any mistletoe.
The Golden Delicious are apparently un-saleable because they aren’t ‘green’ although the name seems to be a bit of giveaway about the way they should look. Other varieties have come and gone through the summer and early autumn: Cox’s Orange Pippin, Worcester and many varieties I have never heard of. Next year should be interesting watching the orchards right through a season.
An apple a day, more like four!

The pears are pretty well finished, although there are some truly juicy specimens still hanging on the trees; not beautiful to look at but delicious to eat; particularly when picked early in the morning while walking the terriers, although our dogs are more interested in the hares and rabbits.
I think I feel a cider making experiment coming on next year.
On the fishing front no zander have been caught yet but then they haven’t been deliberately fished for but plenty more beautiful roach, rudd and perch to around the pound have been caught and some nice pike too. Oh, and the good old gudgeon as always around. They are mostly caught in the hour before dusk and into darkness.
Oh, the joy of having a river a couple of hundred yards from your house!


Click here to read previous letters from John.
The Two Terriers Press.