The allotment part of this began on holiday last summer. I said to the lady of the house that I was fed up with the pap that the Supermarkets offer us instead of vegetables – she agreed. I said that I was also fed up with our veg-box supplier who is clearly well-intentioned, but just ‘aint cutting it, and she agreed with that too. We decided together that there was no prospect of growing vegetables at home. Our garden isn’t big enough and sits on top of a limestone hills which means that two inches under the grass sits more rubble than my back is up to moving – digging the flower borders nearly killed me. So I said that the obvious answer was an allotment. She was clearly delighted but also became the first in a long line of people to tell me that I won’t have the time and that I am mad.
After some hard work on the internet and telephone with more layers of local Government than I previously knew existed, I found myself wandering around parts of our nearest big village with one of the little darlings looking for an allotment site which I hadn’t previously known existed. We tracked it down next to the cemetery – good for the soil, I guess, and found the Parish Council office by asking at the Post Office. It feels appropriate to the tradition of allotments that a journey into working one begins with me finding my way around the local community. I took the advice when they said that half a plot would do fine to start with but felt that they were being rather soppy and underestimating me. I paid my annual rent – £5 – and from September 2005, the thing was ours.
I began by digging it. It felt very big at this point. I felt rather foolish when my hairdresser said that the ‘no dig method’ would have made life easier but felt that my purist approach was more admirable. I made some grand plans and rather disappointedly left it in peace for the winter.