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Paulclem

A Spring Walk to the Allotment

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Two weeks ago on Friday evening, I was riding home on my bike ready for another couple of days of rest when I heard the tell tale shuffle of rubber on metal. Glancing down I noticed that the back wheel, rather than rotating smoothly, was jerking from side to side as it went round. There was no doubt about it: it was buckled.

My second best bike had, the previous year, had the same problem, and, with my third best bike - which I was and still am getting rid of Ė also buckled Ė I had three bikes all with buckled back wheels. My local bike shop doesnít take repairs on a Friday and Saturday, and so, there was no doubt about it, I was walking to my allotment come Saturday.

Allotments were set up in WW2 by local authorities to allow local people to cheaply rent a small piece of land upon which to grow vegetables. They are dotted around towns and cities these days, and had declined in use in the 70ís and 80ís. Now, with the push for more locally grown produce, organic gardening and awareness of the benefits of eating more fruit and vegetables, they are very popular again. So on Saturday, armed with a pot full of young leeks to plant out, I set off to the allotment.



This winter was the worst it has been for 30 years, and this was followed by a surprisingly cold spring. As a consequence, all the flowers were delayed. As I set off, early May still held a glorious display of my Wifeís tulips, daffodils and forget-me-nots in the front garden. The cold, dry spell seemed to have preserved them all together, as it did my neighbour's apple blossom.





Turning onto the stretch of green belt, I passed the elegant cherry with its lush crop of blossom still snowing from the branches. Beyond that the stretch of field, which hadnít been cut yet, hosted a multitude of dandelions, daisies and speedwell which seemed to mimic the near perfect weave of a Turkish carpet. Beyond these, the prominent spikes of the horse chestnut in flower could clearly be seen.





I passed the small stream bordered by various trees, but the fragrance of the Mayflower is what lingered in the sultry air. This year, the Mayflower, or Hawthorne, was much later than its April arrival last year. Small tight buds were clustered next to variously opened flowers in a stunning display, and beneath these the pretty white umbellifers of Hemlock belied their pungent, mouse urine smell by seeming to hover above the undergrowth of the hedges.





As I left the green belt for the road to the allotment gates, I was struck by how beautiful the trees and bushes had turned out in the neat gardens along the way.







The track into the allotment once again took me away from the grumble of vehicles outside and into the tranquillity of the out of the way by-ways in which many allotments are located.



Of course I always knew it was a wonderful walk to the allotment, often walking there for the 20 or so minutes it takes me with my wife. But this day I was almost pleased that had buckled yet another back wheel, and, if it hadnít been for the cost of repairs, I would have said that I was delighted by the misfortune.

Updated 05-27-2010 at 07:36 PM by Paulclem

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Comments

  1. Gilliatt Gurgle's Avatar
    Paulclem,

    I was just about to hit the hay when your blog suddenly caught my eye. The allotments sound very much like the "Victory Gardens" promoted here in the States during WW II. The colors are wonderful as I am sure the fragrance is no less!

    Thanks for sharing this. Perhaps you can employ another war effort technique and attach used shoe soles to your bike wheels.

    Gilliatt
  2. hack's Avatar
    Thanks for the photo journey.
  3. Virgil's Avatar
    Oh how wonderful Paul. That is a wonderful walk. I loved the pictures. Spring is by far my favorite season, when everything comes up and is alive.

    Just a question, why do they call it an allotment if you rent it? To allot implies they are handing out a portion of something.
  4. Paulclem's Avatar
    Thanks for the comments.

    I hadn't heard of that Gilliat. A bike with sole - might be worth a spin.

    I'm not sure why they called them allotments Virgil. I'll have to look it up and post the reply.
  5. TheFifthElement's Avatar
    You have an allotment? Lucky you. They're like gold dust, my Dad waited years and never got one. Looks lovely. Very nice pictures too.

    What do you do to your bikes Paul? It seems strange that you would have 3 with buckled rear wheels. Is it fixed now?
  6. Paulclem's Avatar
    Hi Fifth,

    The bikes get a bit of stick on the Coventry roads, which are a bit more rutted this year than previously. The combination of my weight and the books/ folders I carry doesn't help, and to be honest, the others were buckled last year. I just hadn't got round to getting them fixed.

    My first best bike is now running with my second best bike as a backup. Sorted - for now.

  7. qimissung's Avatar
    The pictures are pretty, and it sounds as though it was a lovely day. How funny and ironic to be forced to do something so pleasurable, but that is the truth of the matter so often.

    How did you get you allottment? And how much is the rent, approximately, if you don't mind my asking? How are they allotted, in general? I think it's a marvelous idea. As usual, we don't have anything like that, although I do think in some cities there are neighborhoods with a neighborhood garden. In fact, I think there's one a few blocks from here.

    All we had to do to get the allotment was go down to the allotment shop and put our names down. We were lucky because the waiting list had begun to grow, but as I went down again, the chap who runs it gave me the next one available. They are run by committees of allotment holders overseen by the local authority. The cost is really low - I've got a half plot and we pay £16.50 a year - is that $30 or so? It's a bargain. It's not a large piece, but mine is about 25 - 30 metres long and perhaps 10 wide. We can grow quite a bit. Thanks for asking.
    Updated 05-28-2010 at 04:05 PM by Paulclem
  8. Paulclem's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Virgil
    Oh how wonderful Paul. That is a wonderful walk. I loved the pictures. Spring is by far my favorite season, when everything comes up and is alive.

    Just a question, why do they call it an allotment if you rent it? To allot implies they are handing out a portion of something.

    Apparently they go back to Saxon times but suffered due to enclosures of common land.

    Local authorities allot parcels of land that are of a standard size. These are then rented.

    http://www.allotment.org.uk/articles...nt-History.php
  9. qimissung's Avatar
    Very nice idea. England and Europe are much more practical in that sense, I think.
  10. Niamh's Avatar
    What a wonderful blog entry Paul! Your wifes tulips are beautiful!

    I think allotments were called burbage plots during the viking period in Ireland and Britain.
  11. Virgil's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Paulclem
    Apparently they go back to Saxon times but suffered due to enclosures of common land.

    Local authorities allot parcels of land that are of a standard size. These are then rented.

    http://www.allotment.org.uk/articles...nt-History.php
    Thanks Paul. I was thinking it had to go back at least to medieval times. In my parent's home town in Italy, people had (and I guess still do) houses in the town but they each had their farming property outside of town. But it was persoanlly owned, not alloted. I think the concept of living in a town but farming outside away from one's home was common in Europe.
  12. prendrelemick's Avatar
    A great blog Paul. Everyone should something like it and post it here.
  13. 1n50mn14's Avatar
    That is a truly beautiful place. Great blog!
  14. Paulclem's Avatar
    Thanks for your comments 1n50mn14 and gimissung. I'm lucky to live where I do.

    Niamh and Virgil - thanks. I learn something new every day. I do think social history is the great neglected part of our heritage. Kings, Queens and politics are interesting, but I'm glad that there's more of a balance towards our commoner histories now.

    I agree Mick. they definately should.