High five!


I hope this is a taste of ‘allotmenteering’ from the perspective of a five year old. Thanks to my very special and wonderful grandson Toby… you keep my feet on the ground and give life  a more balanced perspective.

( I also had to get this post done soon as I was so pleased with the title… and in a few weeks he will be six!!)


Allotment soup!

20171015_170053[1] Digging for treasure..


…running races.. ( and beating Nan every time!)





entertaining the wildlife…


Crackers and marmite!


Grow your own pumpkin…

and your favourite flowers…

….(black is Toby’s favourite colour – his dad loves heavy metal music – a challenging colour to find in flowers!)



Rugby in the rhubarb…. ( it is a very soft ball…)

…….and planting your first tree…

hanging up holiday memories


Learning about the bees – and the beetles!



Measuring the rain …


…flowers to match the sky..

and of course, the sun…20160922_104741[2]

I love you dearly Toby. Can’t wait until next Sunday morning. 🙂



Stop Press…..


3rd Prize in the allotment awards this year…. his joy is infectious!


Serious thinking


So –  we were at the serious thinking stage..

Not my strong point.

Don’t get me wrong, I do think. A lot. Possibly too much?

But it is not reasoned, or logical, and it rarely reaches a sensible conclusion.

My brain is full of cobwebs and fear….

….with a core of unrealistic hope that if I concentrate hard enough and keep going things will feel ‘better’ in some way.

We can never know , of course, if things will feel better or worse. We can only aim for different….



With allotments, you are sent a grainy, black and white map of the site with your offered plot outlined. Like a treasure map! X marks the spot.

Of course , the  first thing to do is to go and have a look.

The allotments were hard to find. Hmm, a tricky start but useful for future privacy. The offered half plot was right in the centre of the site, opposite the ‘Dig It’ community group.

These two facts nearly stopped me in my tracks.

My instinct was/is to hide away, not interact with a bunch of strangers.

Eeek! One of the buried plots in the corner, over-run with hedges where I could disappear – that was for me…

I gave myself a good talking to. It might be nice to meet new people. ‘Good for me’ to interact with other gardeners. And it is South facing, open… it would be lovely and sunny.

Apart from that, it was of course weedy and neglected. But not unmanageably so. I viewed the plot in January, with the promise of spring around the corner – and an icy, howling wind roaring across the exposed, hill top site.

It was the ‘bottom half’ of a plot –  so no shed or storage. ( the ‘top half’ had two sheds and a lean-to tucked into the hedge, and  I already had ‘shed envy’ before even committing to a plot..!). But there was room to park a car. And it was affordable.


I concentrated very hard.

I wasn’t ready for a plot yet.

I look after 23 gardens for other people.

I have almost half an acre of garden with my house.

( It is a severely neglected ‘wild life haven’ with nettles taller than me.)

I have two large dogs to walk, twice a day.

In short, if it is daylight, I am already outside. And sometimes if it is dark too, with a head torch.

And I am tired.





The yearning for a little bit of space to call ‘my own’  – the level pegging, that all are equal here. The same area of soil, for the same money, with the same rules for all.

The challenge of new soil / different growing conditions.

The neatness of ‘little!’ rectangular plots – a boundary to the wilderness.

Fellow gardeners to commiserate with / contrast and compare and ask advice and moan about the weather with…

All my own sensible advice faded to a whisper.

The cathartic rhythm of digging, the innate satisfaction of clearing land to grow food, the flicker in the brain at learning something new….

The neighbouring plots, ordered, lined out, filled with cabbages and sprouts

and hope……


You already know that we said ‘yes’.

Try it for a year? ( Like the blogging, which came later!)

We paid our insurance at the tourist information centre (?) £5.00

We paid our yearly rent at the council office. £25.00

We were good to go.

Time to oil up that fork…





Why an allotment?

So, how did my allotment learning discovery begin..

Hmm….might have to go back a bit and dredge through my thoughts.

Often I have a dream of escaping the world. Or at least, many of the modern trappings, some of our western ways of living. It occupies a lot of my ‘musing’ time.

Trying to find a balancing solution to life…

There are of course many things I appreciate – light and warmth and protection from the elements are particularly useful!

But houses? Not so much. They take an enormous amount of striving for.

Be it rent or mortgage, there will always be a lot of effort involved to keep a house going.

Electricity and gas and oil. Logs and coal and chimney sweeps. Insurance and telephones and internet. T.V and washing machines, fridges, freezers and cookers. Floors and lighting, wall coverings and furniture, curtains, vacuum cleaners,….ornaments!

Then of course – dusting and washing up and hoovering  – cleaning and mending and decorating. Repairing, building and re-making.

IF you are lucky enough to have a garden, add on lawn mowing and weeding, sheds and garages, dustbins and storage. Compost heaps!

…(and if you can include lofts or cellars – or both! on your list then you have even more of my sympathy…)

If the house looks too clean, you can always add in pets – cats and dogs, cages and rabbits,…or chickens seem to be all the rage?…walks and more cleaning…

There. Now we are all isolated in our tidy little boxes and if we are lucky we might have time to sleep in them. If we work very hard we might be able to go on holiday to get way from them!

You get the picture. Well, most of you are probably living the picture, like me. It is easy to get sucked into it.

As a supposedly intelligent species, how did we end up here?

So… a long winded way of saying that I can’t help realising- fairly often – DO I REALLY NEED ALL THIS STUFF!

I think long and hard about possible alternatives.

I have tried living in a tee-pee…..

I think I would love to try living in a camper van… ( erm.. except perhaps in January)

I dream and long for a little cabin / shed  / hut somewhere remote and peaceful, where no one can find me.

I considered squatting in a beach hut…

….( other people watch ‘Grand Designs’ on TV. I drool over George Clarke’s ‘Shed of the Year’ series.)


(..made for me?!!)

In amongst this muddle of thinking and dreaming, planning and hoping, one factor kept resurfacing. How would I manage without a little bit of soil to call my own? Nowhere to plant stuff?

It was suggested, by an eminently sensible person, that I could find out about allotments.

So I investigated the subject. And I discovered that there was, in our area at least, an eight year waiting list for these much coveted plots.  That they are relatively cheap to rent. That they can be challenging ( especially if you ‘inherit’ a very neglected patch  –  which is likely! )In discussion with my son and his growing family ( who are lucky enough to have a garden but it is fairly small…) we added out names to the list. After all, so much could change in eight years……

After a while,  our local council mounted an offensive to reduce the waiting time. Allotments were  becoming all the rage…

Some plots were divided into two. Some people, who didn’t seem very interested anymore, were asked if they would like to pass on their allotments.

The upshot was – that after only eighteen months…..

……….we were offered a half plot.


Time for some serious thinking.


Chin up, petal…

If your skies look like this…


Try this….





I know that I am supremely lucky to have gorgeous flowers like these.

But find something. Anything.

Preferably yellow.

Dandelions are good and I think you are allowed to pick them?


Or if that is not possible cut a flower picture from a catalogue…


…or from a piece of wrapping paper…

or draw one with chalk..


……..knit one?


Make one out of a vegetable?



This is getting silly now. And my photography is getting steadily worse.

Any way. Flowers are good. Yellow flowers are even better. Shut your eyes and ignore the grey sky.


…PS nobody told the roses it was autumn!  Late little surprise, lovely

Warm beginnings…


I didn’t want to write a miserable greenhouse post. I love my greenhouse.

And so recently, I had a slightly sad / slightly cathartic day……clearing out the bleached cucumber stems, the almost naked tomatoes..

Rescuing the drought ridden scented geraniums… ( I took my eye off the ball on the watering front –  forgetting, in my autumnal self -pity, that there were still a few plants in there which needed me!)

…..picking smelly (in a nice way!) leaves to dry – lemon verbena, rose geranium, mint..



….finding small, hidden late summer gems among the drying foliage… still glowing with summer colours.


Eventually it was swept – and clean-(ish)  –

and looking rather bare.


I am trying to think of winter as a time for rest, a gentle slowing down for the plants and for me..so convinced myself to plan ahead, create my winter haven.

So a kettle – of course! ..and a spare kettle just in case..


A fire -bliss – and a good store of logs..



A bit of rug (not too muddy yet)



and a favourite armchair – hoping that it won’t get too damp as I love it so.

Which reminds me – make a plan to stop the roof leaking!

A few late blooming summer plants..


They will need to be re-homed somewhere warmer before long. I very often lose my scented geraniums – house is too hot, greenhouse is too cold… so I hope to find a better place for them this year.

And last but not least – a pair of woolly socks and a bottle of wine. 🙂


So here I sit, writing this , in my – at least for now – comforting greenhouse.



So what is it, this dull and sluggish time?


I feel I am an unnavigable river…silted up, trickling slowly through the weeds and the mud.

The wind has gone out of my sails.


I am learning, slowly, to manage these times. I have been shown how to use a boat to stay afloat.


I need more practise with the oars…

……….even so,  I do not drown. Or sink as far as I might have done in the past.


But oh, how I hate it.

How I deride myself for wasting such a good life.

I beat myself up…SHOULD learn faster, SHOULD try harder, SHOULD….

… I don’t know what is possible?


I need a bigger engine.

I dream of a fierce current to wash me out of this complacent puddle, this wallowing in self pity.

Send me a strong wind…

kite 219x219

….. before my brain  forgets how to fly.



…sorry…rather awkward analogies. Or is it mixed metaphores?  Or simply a messy brain…




The taste of sunshine..

Tomatoes. Oh , that wonderful smell on your hands!


Picked in the warm, late afternoon sunshine..


– seasoned generously –


Cooked long and slow for that caramelised touch…..


………drink good coffee while you wait..



For a little while I pretended that I was in Italy.




Note to self; Recently I had a longer ‘gap’ between posts.

It occurred to me, that if and when I  had the time, it might be good to have a couple of small ‘back up’ posts ready.

However I didn’t take into account how seasonal our lives are. Even a light post generally includes something slightly topical or a photograph of the time. So this was written a couple of weeks ago and already, in this rather damp, grey week, the sunny tomatoes feel rather incongruous! I hope a nice reminder?

Likewise, a long post rather moaning about the weather was followed by – Cuba/ Florida news of hurricanes. Those poor people. It put my complaining to shame so I deleted that one…

Also …. while trying to add this post script to the already finished and spell-checked ‘Tomato’post my inept computer abilities managed to delete the whole article. Pictures and all. I was just left with the title.

So much for time saving!!

Back to the drawing board! 🙂















Oh, honestly…!

Sometimes I think that I exist in a parallel universe.

No, wait. That’s wrong.

Sometimes I think that a parallel universe exists within me…


I spend a lot of time with food.

Researching it. Thinking about it…

Growing it…harvesting it…

Preparing it, cooking it, eating it!

Like many people, trying to stay / be ‘healthier’ with it.


I suspect it would be healthier for my mind to simply be more relaxed about it….

So in the mornings I carefully prepare my days meals. Organically grown. Cooked ( and photographed!) with love….

( that’s b***ocks for a start. Mostly cooked with impatience and boredom at this end of the season, and a strong desire to sit down and watch the tele instead…)


Anyway –

In little glass pots and jars, I place in my basket ripe, soft tomatoes cooked with onions and the best olive oil. Snowy stewed apples. Piquant, caraway seeded sauerkraut. Diced cucumbers. Organic, unhomogenised milk. Crisp seeded oatcakes. A ripe banana.

I carry it all carefully to the car to be my good sustenance for the day.


Then I go back inside and eat a supermarket toasted white muffin with a fried egg on top.



Ah, me.

( Sometimes, when I have eaten too much  ‘slightly less than healthy’ food in a day I panic.

-All those lovely vegetables!!

—  All that time growing and cooking!

—   So then I eat as much as I can of that too.)


…..Then I have to go and have a  lie down in a darkened room.



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