Rents ?

So, not possible to hum and ahem any longer. Time to bite the bullet, make a decision and find some money: the last scheduled day for rent collection.

Another year of allotmenteering?

Seems a wonderfully masochistic time of year to be taking on the tasks again. End of the financial year, traditional labour markets, agricultural workers seeking employment ? (there you go: more procrastination … or was it just simply playing with big words?). But also the time of year at which it may be easier to give up on a plot. You haven’t been up there over the winter, there’s been no need; you haven’t really missed it (have you?) so easier not to begin again ?

That time of year again. In our particular case, however, there is also the background tension brought on by the “boundary dispute” and the lack of definitive action on the parts of the allotments committee – and decisive action by landowners, the local parish council – either they can prove they own the land – or they cannot. (Isn’t it really that simple?). Every time we are on our plots we are confronted by the issue. And the neighbours in the house who put a very credible case. But, as simple plot holders we cannot give them an answer. It is literally out of our hands.

The allotment committee, for their part, seem to be dismissive and altogether too blasé about it all: it isn’t happening to them and it isn’t their responsibility – yaddah yaddah blah blah. Can they not see the wider ramifications of the breach: there is literally no barrier for a good ten metres, a flimsy hedge for a further thirty metres and access to anyone with the gumption/desperation/energy to hop across a lawn to what will be a wonderful picking ground (crops, machinery, vandalism)? With an opposite hedge taken out the way is clear right across to the next road. I imagine someone running away from the police. Up the Wolverhampton Road, quick dodge into Cemetery Lane, whoops a dead end ( see what I did there?), so I’ll leg it across the lawn, on to the wide rolling allotments, get lost among the shed s and compost heaps …

So, until this actual morning I am not sure we were a hundred per cent convinced that renewing the plots was the way to go.

Fast forward. We are up at the site, drive past the (now three) shipping containers that stand for shop/storage buildings at the top of the hill, park at the bottom. Three? There were two (a shop/admin space) and a store for bags of compost (bought in by an entrepreneurial committee four years ago) opposite a sectional concrete garage holding garden chemicals, bamboo canes and the like. The third is for … ? We then walk back up the slope to pay the moneys. And make the points – once again. It really is like talking to a brick wall sometimes. A brick wall? Ironic that; in a few weeks’ time it might be all we have to talk to*!

But also to catch up with those we haven’t bumped into since, er … last October-ish. A real shame the committee didn’t keep up the idea of a fire-pit, bacon sandwiches and a cuppa; which made socialising easier – and kept the hunger away.

Who isn’t paying for another year? Why are we now blessed with another container? What has happened to So-and-So ? I do a bit of horse trading: exchanging four lengths of timber for a couple of blueberry bushes. Mutual benefits there. Find out about the container: it is to store tools in; apparently we have an apple juicer, a patio heater, a strimmer, a marquee available for hire.

We bump into Tadpole Bob. He shows us photos on his phone (amazing that we now take these gadgets for granted) of the damage Storm Doris did to his greenhouse on site. Panes of glass lifted out, carried up to twenty metres away and smashed against posts and sheds: one shard was actually driven into the planking of a shed at about eye level. Good job he spotted it, it could have caused a nasty accident some time down the line. We discuss the serendipity of the lady who – sadly – was killed by flying debris in Wolverhampton during the storm. But he also has a warning about today’s storm (Ewan) which is due to hit at one o’clock. He has some work to do, since, he smiles, he was bracing the glasshouse against westerly winds and these will be from the north east; he has more glass to replace too. We beetle, non-too subtly, away.

We have digging of our own to do. Tidying up. Replanting the fruit bushes (there are three rows of them don’t you know!) that have come from the threatened “disputed ground” and I think it eminently sensible to move them now – before the real growing season starts) and raised beds to weed out. An hour (or so) later we have completed the turning over of the thick, gloopy soil on the plot. Taking out the pernicious weeds, burying the annuals (a native kind of green manure?). It will dressing with lime, and raking out flat and even, but, for the first time since harvesting it feels like we are up to speed. A lot of the plot dug, seeds ready to be planted, the challenges of anew spring heading towards us. Time to plan ahead again.

That time of year …

… and we’ve taken the plunge: still in it!*

 

 

*The house owner plans to build a high wall to replace the mixed hedgerow that currently grows between us.

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