The Cider Orchard

The Cider Orchard

Marcus Govier
and his
Cider Orchard in Somerset
The story behind the paintings
that are my


It all started with wanting to paint a picture of a Little Grey Fergie, possibly the most famous tractor of all, but where would I go to find one.Not a pristine restored one, but one that really looked like a workhorse of the farmyard and that was still in daily use.

Well there I was walking down the lane with Gemma our old rescue Greyhound for her daily walk when one chugged past me and on down towards the old cider orchards at the foot of Glastonbury Tor.


Picking Apples

So I followed it round the bend and up through a yard with it's small sheds, barn,workshop and cider house into the orchard where the tractor was now parked under an ancient apple tree, to shade the barrel of water in the trailer on the back from the midday sun.

After a few minutes introducing myself to the owner, not forgetting to mention that I once used to work on Mr Green's farm at nearby West Pennard, he was only too happy to help. Marcus Govier was his name, it was his orchard and  yes I could paint his Litle Grey Fergie.

Lazy Days

I explained that rather than take pictures of the tractor in heavy shade I would like to do it in dappled shadows, with shafts of sunshine coming through the leaves.
"Well,"said Marcus "do you want me to move her out a bit. Or shall we sit here and wait for the sun to move round?'         

Taking one look at the table and chairs under the trees and the barrel of cold water with a flagon of cider cooling in it I decided that there really was no contest.
The resulting picture 'Lazy Days' I hope captures that feeling of a restful summers day when time does not matter a hoot and the word stress has not even been invented.            

A Hard Days Work

But it was not just a picture of a dirty old grey tractor that I discovered in Marcus' orchard and yard but an amazing collection of fasicinating subjects, everywhere I looked I kept on seeing things to paint. Friends said what do you mean, it's just some old sheds,corrugated iron, bits of wood and old junk, almost a blot on the landscape.To me though it was a source of inspiration. In the past I had painted old country buildings, great big old barns and farmhouses but painting Marcus' yard would mean painting a way of life. A way of life so treatened now by red tape and authority that soon such places will not exist.

Now months later I have had the privilege of following Marcus at work and at rest,watching him repairing old barrels for the cider and preparing food for his young calves.I have seen him feeding the young stock before seven in the morning having got up at five to cook his and Peter's morning bacon breakfast.

The Cider Drinker

Marcus' Memories

To accompany the paintings of Marcus' life I have also jotted down some of his memories of his life in Somerset.

"I got a bit of stick in the aga one morning to do the bacon when we heard all this banging at the door.I says to Peter, who's that then, we opened the door and there's no one there. Got on with the bacon and there's all this banging again, I says to Peter I reckon that's the front door. That's not been used for years, there so much in the way of it. So we moved the stuff and opened the door and there is old whats is name the fireman with his big yellow helmet on and all is mates; he says do you know you chimney's on fire Marcus? Bugger that I says, I haven't finished the bacon yet."

Marcus Mending Barrels

"Never had a holiday in my life" he said one day, "don't need to when I got this place do I ?"

Then only a few days later I heard him talking of the best holiday he'd ever had."What do you mean Marcus I thought you'd never had one?"
"Oh yes I did, I had six days in Butleigh hospital, coor proper job that was, when they had a proper matron and had their own vegetable garden for the kitchen, I had roast pork with crackling too, proper holiday that was."

'Ever been to London?' I asked him one day " Yes, twice to the motor show and that was twice too many."

"Have you got one of they mobile phones Mr Cooper?" He once asked me and laughed."When I worked for old Bessie Bull if she wanted you back at the farmhouse she didn't need no mobile phone , she used to go and play a trumpet outside the back door."

One day Marcus siad to me."don't get me wrong I don't want to die but if I was to die tonight, I've enjoyed every minute, Besides it can't be too bad I don't know anyone who's come back."

Yarlington Mill Cider Apple


Marcus has since told me that when I first entered his yards and asked if I may paint his tractor he was a bit surprised, "Well it's not mine really. I gave it to my grandson Peter, and if you were going to give it a coat of paint I didn't know what colour he'd want it done.
I didn't know you were an artist, I thought you were some strange bloke going round painting peoples tractors for them"

This is taken from an article I wrote for Farmers Weekly and my visits to Marcus' place at Lower Edgarley at the foot of Glastonbury Tor resulted in over twenty paintings recording this way of life.