By 3pm I was sitting in the lounge terrace of the Harbour enjoying coffee and overlooking Harbour Beach. I suddenly realised that about 30 surfers were out in Newquay Bay catching waves that broke on Towan Beach, on the western side of the famous rock, named The Island; they were achieving runs of around six seconds. Exposed rocks made the entrance onto Great Western beach too treacherous for the surfers. I glanced through the newspaper, Newquay Voice dated from the previous week, Wednesday 4th March and was treated to a review of Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit which was playing at the Lane Theatre. By 4pm I calculated that the tide was coming in and thus reducing the runs of the suffers down to three seconds. Eventually the Atlantic met the rocks, leaving the few surfers that remained no exit onto the sand to finish their run.
Aaron arrived in the lounge to talk about ethnobotany. He told me that his tiny orchard of one apple and one pear tree fruited earlier than most, we could see the black branches below from where we sat and talked. When he first experimented with the apples he had found that they had an almost savoury flavour because of the salt from sea spray. The flesh had very little pectin and was dry, almost powdery; this put me in mind of cider apples. He said the apples made great crisps. The thin slices stayed white and attractive for eating. It was a lot of labour to pick and prepare them but Harbour Beach apple crisps could extend the late summer season with a festival for the harvest. Juice from the pears of Newquay though, Aaron thought, would need the enthusiasm of a local winemaker to convert to sparkling perry.
When I’d made perry, I harvested fruit in August, which included windfalls, too. To pick from higher branches I had used a sock on a long pole. I ripened the collected pears in an outhouse for an extra week. Then fermented just one gallon in a glass demijohn for a month before bottling. Impatient, I tried the perry in early November but it was practically undrinkable and still very cloudy. On New Year’s Eve, though, my neighbours told me that the bottles I had given them were delicious and the wine a clear, very pale gold, thanks to careful pouring. The complexity of the pear, with its malic acid needs a second fermentation, it seems. The pear’s extension to Newquay’s season, then, would be not in the autumn but in March, the very time that I was here, to celebrate the uncorking of the winter perry. Tourism is created because the town’s artisan perry production is restricted in both time and place. We have to travel to the perry in its own season. Local producers must keep their nerve and not pasteurise, nor filter, not add sugar to preserve, not refrigerate nor move but wake and work and wait.
Look out for Fistral-3 to complete the story …