Wednesday, 19 November 2014

I Miss My Allotment.

About twenty years or so. I told my work mates that I was going to get my name down for an allotment.  One lad piped up:

"When are you getting your purple rinse Dave?"

I laughed.  It was great to have banter and a laugh and a joke.  Things have changed so much since then.  For one thing I believe there are waiting lists for allotments now in dear old Blighty.  I suppose wonderful ideas like GIY, Landshare and the National trust have made people able to grown their own and, build their allotment shed - "escape from the missus" - castle.  Also councils selling them off to build houses that are nothing more than designer rabbit hutches.  Not every body wants to buy their vegetables from Aldi for 39p.

No I miss my allotment.  You would always meet people to talk to, tell you what you are doing wrong, extract the urine and it was even somewhere to grow your vegetables.  Today I have a smallholding in County Cork, Ireland.  We have a vegetable plot and we keep some cattle and a couple pigs.  We can do what we want and grow what we want and there is nobody telling us what we can or can't do.  But some how it's too isolated and you never see anybody to put the world to rights and have a laugh and a joke.

I have even toyed with ploughing a field and making a few allotments for rent for people who wanted one.  But we are several miles from town and there is no public transport.  Plus they would probably use weekiller or use it for their own private tip and top soil collection service.  I dunno?

I am starting to think smallholding is too isolated. I need to talk to people not just cattle.  Do you think smallholding life is far too isolated?  Do you have allotment waiting lists near you?

21 comments:

  1. my family on the coast have 4 allotments between all the families. My parents have had theirs for years 30+ years I think. My BIL is as keen as mustard on growing food. When he came out of the Marines the first thing he did was get an allotment.

    There are waiting lists here at least 3 years. I used to love the allotments. I would run back and forth with the wheel barrow and fill everyones watering cans from the stand pipe. I learnt lots from the old men who really were hiding from their Wives. I learnt all about tying up, grafting, ground cover in the way of old carpets. mixed with that and all the holidays at the Farm I think I was mostly kept out side when not in school! lol

    My Nephew spent the weekends lambing with us on the farm, this year. he was glued to his ipod or phone what ever it was facetiming his friends. lol I laugh now but there was a bit of shouting on my part, I always told myself as a kid I wasnt going to be one of those shouty adults. I find kids now dont have the attention span. Where as my cousins boy, who is a year younger was in there, and could see the spasms and stamping and was immediately moving that ewe into a stall. Bloody sheep are so stupid sometimes they all decide to go into birth all at the same time. My Gran said she thought it was a hormone released into the air and they all got wind of it breathing it in.

    He also didnt like it when I had to put a ewe in to the stocks to accept anothers lamb. we lost the mother, I cant remember the last time we lost a ewe lambing. weve had lamb rejections and prolapses. but never a ewe dying. We wont be taking my great nieces. My niece doesnt want them to...

    On your allotment idea - If that was here in England people would travel. you could have it that you say no weed killer or ground clearance chemicals. especially if you have well water.

    do they have that club in Ireland something about men and sheds...?

    oh here you go I found it. http://menssheds.ie/

    no age limit. I wish they did a ladies version. Although my luck it would be full of yummy mums.

    wow long comment sorry.

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  2. Thanks for writing that, Sol. I love allotments and I think they should have preservations orders place on them, like they do in Denmark, saving them for future generations.

    The ramshackle buildings and the canvas of the allotment is living art. Allotments and farms fed the nation when Germany was sinking merchant ships during the two world wars.

    Your grandmother was right about the birthing hormone being released into the air.

    I don't like weed killer near vegetables Sol. Think you're also right about the well water. We have a well that runs to the fields and the farm buildings. Ireland is only very small in terms of population - 3.5 million and we live 60 miles from the nearest city - Cork.

    You would easily find a smallholding in Ireland. A lot of smallholdings are far less than England's prices.

    Yes I know of mensheds.ie. There is one in Bantry.

    You will have to start a ladies version near you, Sol.

    Thanks!

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  3. I think you might need some vitamin D or a week in the sun Dave at Castletownbeara - it is always sunny whenever I visit the place and O'Sullivans do a great pint or even Mc Carthy's a favourite place of that alcoholic nun !!

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  4. I live about 30 miles from Castletownbeare, Heron. I have read Pete McCarthy's brilliant book - McCarthy's Bar. The drinking nun is on the front cover. I have also read the book by the landladies relation 'A Doctor's War'- Aidan McCarthy. It's an incredible tale of a doctor who survived the dropping of an atomic bomb. Have you read it?

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  5. I knew a Dominic Bere long ago he wrote one of the Rainbow Songs called 'Rainbow Warrior let light be your guide'
    Wonder if he is one of the famous Castletown beres do you think ?

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    1. I don't know, Heron. That new Paddington Bear film looks a good laugh. Doesn't Bere mean Bear?

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  6. Is there a GIY group near you Dave, if not why not put up a few notices to see what interest there would be if you set one up, details are on the web site of how to go about it.
    I think the life of a smallholder can lead to isolation if you don't network with like minded people. Are there any groups in your area that you could join, craft or painting or archaeological, anything that you might have an interest in or would like to learn. Do you have a farmers market near you, always a good place to meet new people even if you are not selling, you get to know people and have a chat.

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    1. Hi Anne.

      Good ideas. Years ago before the EEC. I use to come to Ireland for my holidays and every body seemed to grow something. I wish we had some public transport and a community centre and a pub near us. I don't think have got a community without these things. Thanks!

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  7. I found that when I had an allotment I'd get nothing done as everyone kept talking to me! I enjoyed having it but prefer the piece and quiet of my own patch of land.

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    1. Hi Kev. I know what you mean not being able to get things done. But there isalso there camaraderie and knowledge and moans and groans and laughs and jokes that make allotments so wonderful. They are full of characters. I think smallholding life is too isolated when you can go days not seeing anybody but your immediate family. Thanks!

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    2. I think I kind of use the blog for that kind of chat now. You guys help me with my gardening and keep me motivated.

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    3. Like wise, Kev. I always see to the livestock and then check the blogs I follow.

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  8. We started an allotment off a few years ago, but Lester felt crowded by the close proximity of everyone else. He is South African born and raised so needed to have a lot of space around him, so the allotment only lasted a month or so! I do understand your sense of being isolated though. In winter it can be fairly quiet here as well. Thank goodness for blogland buddies!

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    1. Hi Vera. The countryside seems to be empty of people these days. I don't know if it's mechanization of agriculture or people travelling to the towns and cities for work to pay their mortgages. But you just don't see people about any more - especially during Autumn and Winter. Totally agree with you: Thank goodness for blogland buddies!

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  9. Hey Dave !
    Do they still have the Bantry Market in the central town square , used to be a regular Friday market, with a even larger one first Friday in the month or was it the last ?

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    1. Yes they still have the Bantry market and the big one on Fair Day. It's often very busy with far too many cars these days. They don't charge for car parking. So it can get very busy with tourist and local traffic. I prefer car boot sales. Believe there is a great one on a Saturday in Kilkenny, have you been to it?

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    2. A 160 km round trip ! You are joking aren't you :) ?

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    3. Ninety nine miles isn't far. We often go to Cork city or Country Kerry and back in a day in the summer time.

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  10. Last had an allotment 40 years ago, only got it because the old guy that had it moved too far away to look after it, and nobody else wanted it. It only lasted 2 years then the whole area was slum cleared and everybody was re-housed too far away to attend every day. There were 3 rows of about 20 each, a few with chickens and a few with pigeons, and the inevitable allotment architecture of corrugated sheets, re-purposed doors and home-made greenhouses; they're all under a small industrial estate now.

    There's not so many left now, and long waiting lists to get one.

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  11. That is so sad, Cumbrian. Allotments to me are working class art. Especially the shanty town allotment with the 22 Acacia Avenue front door for a gate and lots of corrugaated iron, lumps of concrete to hold the shed roof down and onions drying in the ASDA supermarket trolley. It saddens me that there are waiting lists when there is so much rural land doing very little. I wouldn't like to guess how many derelict farm dwellings there are here in Ireland. Thanks for telling us about your town, Cumbrian!

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