Think old people wearing wellies and fleece jackets. Think wheelbarrows spades and trowels.
As a child, this used to be the image I had of life on an allotment, probably not helped by the fact that our local one was bang smack next door to my dad’s bowling green! Another old person’s hobby!
So, when my (now ex) husband announced that he had taken on an allotment, I couldn’t help but wonder did this mean we were getting old before our time?
Saturday mornings soon became ‘allotment time’, then extending to Sunday mornings and then ‘just popping to the allotment’ on most weekdays. And when ‘Gardeners World’ became Sunday essential viewing, replacing ‘MOTD’ I knew he really meant business!
It was a hobby that he enjoyed so much and he really embraced it. I would join him occasionally, helping with a bit of watering although I drew the line at hard core grease inducing elbow work. We would have the odd barbeque (much more my thing) but despite this, the hobby remained his and I was happy for him to have it.
He would bring home his hard earned wares, the never ending potatoes, beetroot, countless runner beans, strawberries that never seemed quite ripe enough, and so on. And they tasted good. (except of course the strawberries). It seemed he had found his niche and for the next couple of years the allotment became a big part of his life.
When we split, I remember sitting at that allotment with my sister and sobbing my heart out. The overgrown plants, the weeds, the dried patchy grass, it was heart breaking. Who would have thought that this would have such an overwhelming effect on me, but here I was, in pieces. He no longer wanted this part of his life and for me, it was devastating.
And at that moment, I decided. I would take it on myself.
A big challenge for the girl with not so much as a hint of green in her fingers, but I was up for it!
Now, six months later, I could not be happier that I did just that. Blending in to my single life seamlessly, it has given me a space to call my own and somewhere I can go and forget the world and gather my thoughts, especially in this lockdown madness. It has helped keep me sane.
I take immense joy from seeing my creations come to life, and despite my lack of gardening know how (I seriously need some education in weed identification), I love it. My peas are delicious, my onions massive and everything seems to be coming up roses, including my roses. And once I’ve worked out if my carrots are actually carrots or hibiscus, then I’ll really feel like I’ve made the gardening grade.
And best of all? I’m no longer feeling old about it, in fact it’s something that’s helped keep me young. My great nieces love it too (ok, I admit – the onions are Mollie’s), and, I hear the Funky Fifty Female ‘man of the moment’ is partial to the odd blueberry or two. Well Phil, you’ll be excited to hear they won’t be long now, and when they are ripe enough, I hope you’ll savour every lovingly hand grown moment of deliciousness!