August Break 5th

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I forgot to make bread so, at lunchtime, was wandering round the kitchen trying to decide what to have.  Result was first harvested shallot from the garden, a pile of which are drying off in the garage before plaiting, two courgettes twisted off the plants, a handful of small early potatoes from the allotment which are a bit scabby but fine nonetheless, chopped garlic (nearly last clove from bought bulb) and half a red pepper sliced.

Chopping and cooking this up was probably the most energetic thing I’ve done today having cancelled this morning’s gardening gig owing to still dodgy knee which made my right leg feel like a tree trunk.

Clear

A couple of weeks or so before Christmas, I’d started to will it to hammer down with rain so gardening work would be called off for the day and was bitterly disappointed when, time after time, it wasn’t.  I would not say I was purely a lily-livered, fairweather gardener but trying to garden when I couldn’t feel my fingers or toes seemed ridiculous.  I felt cross – sometimes cross with my clients for deigning to actually have any gardening work to do but mostly, cross with myself for not organising myself properly and still having gardening work to do.  I’d taken on too much but felt obliged to not let it go.

Salvation came in the form of snow billowing round me as I dug out an overgrown bed and I called Time Out and came home, gleefully watching the snow fall thicker and thicker from the window at the Little House by the Big Wood.  We were snowed in for three days and it was touch and go whether we’d be able to get out on Christmas Eve to restock the vegetable supplies and get smoked salmon but, armed with shovels and garden forks, a concerted effort with our neighbours saw us heading off to Waitr0se.  Once we’d returned home, Joe Brown and I both admitted we’d be perfectly happy if we were snowed in completely over Christmas so family visitations would be curtailed.  We weren’t so they weren’t and it was good.  I have told my clients to not expect to see me until mid to late January.

As well as learning the NPK rate of chicken pellets, I have learned much over this last year, not least about myself and the new year sees resolute intentions forming in my head as to what I’m going to do with it.  Cringeworthy as it may sound but I shall be writing my own Mission Statement as well as five Top Things to achieve.  The word ‘clear’ appears to be the word of the year in all manner of ways – clearing space, clearing lungs, clearing allotment, clearing head.   With clarity, I may see where I’m heading.

Work


“I think I’ll take a walk across and just have a look after lunch” I said possibly over-casually to Joe Brown three or so weeks ago.  I caught a slight raise of one eyebrow before he replied “I’ll come with you”.  There was no-one there despite it being a weekend and a fine day, the high sun casting no shadows on the ground.  I stood for a moment leaning on the fence staring across at what I’d come to look at before swinging the gate open and walking down the narrow path, pointing and calling “I think it’s this one”.  We stood and surveyed the ground, thick tufts of grass covering the area, discussing ways I could clear it before wandering over to check out the well-rotted manure, piled high in a large wooden bin which leaned with age, itself next to a wooden bin of dubious-looking compost.

“It’ll be a lot of work.” said Joe Brown.  “Do you really need that right now?” he continued, asking a fair question.

The answer is no but having meandered across there three or four times in the last couple of weeks and spent time standing at the fence, clicking the gate open and mooching up and down the pathways, watching the way the sun moves across at different times of the day, checking the soil nearby and visibly noticing the couch grass growing higher and higher, I couldn’t let it go – it’s within walking distance, it’s smaller than the average, it gets all the sun it can, it’s next to a field with a couple of ponies, it’s £6.50 a year and someone else might get it before me.  I’ve just got an allotment.

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I’ve attended a recent meeting within an organisation associated with ladies of a certain age which is synonymous with needlework, jam and cake-making.  I haven’t made a cake for years, I have no idea how to make jam and my sewing is atrocious.  I enjoyed it tho’ and I’ll be going again.  My sisters snorted with laughter when I told them and a friend, when I emailed her what I’d done, announced that she felt the need to buy me a Hermes scarf.  No need, I emailed back.  I already own one.  Joe Brown suggested I get some stout brogues and tweed.  He may be sorry he said that.

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The warmth of the soil in the garden can be felt from the depths of my bed and I’m having real difficulty being indoors at the moment, even if the sun’s not shining.  We have a greenhouse full of sprouting seeds, with more hardening off in the mini-greenhouse outside and I’ve planted enough potatoes to keep even a potato head like me happy.  I’ve taken on an ongoing project that I fuss and fret over given that my writing isn’t hiding behind the anonymity of a blog and I’ve put notices up in local shops advertising my prowess with a garden spade.  My horticultural exam will be upon me sooner rather than later and I cannot remember what collenchymatous cells do.