Starting up (again)
Blogger Danny Kingston on the trials, tribulations and jubilations of revisiting his allotment after a long, cold winter.
Have you ever been snuggled up in bed all lovely and cosy on a cold and frosty morning and you just know that at some point you’re going to have to get up? It doesn’t matter that your alarm clock lies smashed to smithereens on the floor, this hibernation must end. There are things to do and it’s best you make a start soon, otherwise you will accomplish nothing. It’s just that summoning up the energy to drag your sorry state out of bed is so hard, especially when you know that a tough day lies ahead. And this is how I feel about my allotment, coming out of winter into spring. Oh yes, it’s all fine and dandy reaping the benefits once the season is in full bloom but after a six week break getting started again is such a pain in the backside.
The first stumbling block comes when I arrive at the site early and find that the locks to the gate have been changed for the umpteenth time. I respect the decision of the committee as the allotment is subject to theft and sheds do get broken into occasionally. Although sometimes I can’t help but think that this overzealous regard for security is down to the fact that Bert still thinks that terrorists are after the 10 bags of fertilizer kept in the main hut. After getting someone’s attention by screaming for 10 minutes, I finally get in (the gates by the way must be locked at all times).
Luckily George the warden is at the hut so you can get some new keys although he’s not too happy about giving out more than one key to a registered plot holder. So it takes 10 minutes to haggle and convince Bill that the man next to me is my father who shares the plot with me and will also need a key for access to the site. I wouldn’t mind but my Dad is down there more often than I am.
Having made a successful negotiation, we wander over to the plot, waving at all the other characters, engaging in some chit chat along the way. A lot of these diehards would have still been toiling away through January come rain, sleet or category five blizzard conditions, checking on their parsnips, carrots and January Kings. As such to some of the older chaps, we are in their eyes fair-weather gardeners and come in for a gentle barracking. I often respond through smiling gritted teeth that work and family life takes up a lot of my time but mention they will start to see a lot more of me again and point vigorously to the sky. And off I walk muttering under my breath.
Finally I come to the plot and have a good look around. The last time I was down there was mid-December to have a tidy up before the festive madness. Things don’t look too bad and you almost start to feel grateful that the recent weather conditions have kept the ground in a state of suspension. If you were to leave the plot for the same length of time in the height of summer, it would resemble a jungle. So with a spring my step I wander over to the wooden box where we keep our tools, forks and spades. I also keep my old green wellies in there, so I change out of my trainers. It is only after thrusting my foot in, when I hear a crunch and a squelch that I am reminded that yet again I have forgotten to check the boots for snails.
Trying not to gag, I pull my foot out and brush off the slime and detritus, check the other boot for inhabitants and then start again. I pick up a spade and go to one corner, knowing full well that in half an hour I will be kicking up a sweat and the base of my back will be stiff. Still the sky is clear and blue which makes a change and yes the air is still crisp but the allotment is quiet and peaceful. And all of a sudden, it feels good to be back.