Many years ago we passed through Ceres on our way to Sutherland via the Tankwa Karoo. It was apple-picking season with tractors and picking bins everywhere. So we turned off and went looking for someone who could give us permission to buy a bag of freshly picked apples. Eventually we found a farm manager, who looked rather incredulous, but nevertheless gave us a bag of apples straight out of a picking bin.

I could not have been happier munching through the bag of fresh apples while driving through the arid moonscapes of the Tankwa Karoo.

Last year I remembered this bit of forgetting. I convinced a friend to go with me, and we headed over the Franschhoek Pass to Grabouw and Elgin looking for fresh apples. The goal was to buy farm-fresh apples. It did not take long before the expedition started to feel a little like the wrong end of a quest to find the Holy Grail. Well, we did not find fresh apples, but bought fresh kimchi and met very wonderful and entertaining people.

So, a few days ago I travelled with Belgium friends to Elgin for lunch. And then I remembered what I had forgotten. Apples. Orchards filled with glossy red apples. Trees bending over with an abundance of apples. After lunch I cornered the restaurant’s owner/manager and confessed my obsession. I was both disappointed and delighted to hear that they did not have fresh apples (yet), but the picking season was at hand, would I mind coming back in a week’s time. What a question!

Update: 15 February 2022

At last, a basket of fresh Royal Gala apples. Perfect in every way and a supremely satisfying conclusion to my obsessive quest to find a place where I can buy fresh apples during the picking season. Bye-bye CA apples that have spent the best part of a year in cold storage!