Saturday 3 March 2012

A View From The 'Author's' Vegetable Plot and Smallholding.

"Oh ye have got a garden!"

That's a greeting I often get when somebody notices yours truly working on my beloved vegetable garden.  In west Cork a 'garden' means somewhere you grow vegetables.  In England a garden means somewhere that you    hang out your washing, grow pretty flowers and VEGETABLES, drink beer on the patio or even play good old football or cricket on.

Have you got a vegetable allotment?  If not, why not?  I believe in faraway places like China, the powers that be allot you a piece of land and tell you to grow food for yourselves.  There is something incredibly satisfying about growing one's own vegetables.

 No artificial chemicals are used in my vegetable cultivation.  I do however use lots of swear words and I tend to drink copious amounts of alcohol after a few hours tending my little piece of Eden.

The picture at top is me holding two leeks.  The picture underneath me is me, myself and I (Joan Armatrading song) this morning toiling and looking jolly pleased with all my efforts.

Do you have an allotment or a smallholding?  Do you write books?  Go on leave a comment or ten and tell us all about them!


  1. Only ever had an allotment once, mid-seventies, I only had it 1 year, then the council threw everybody off them to make way for some development.

    A real camarderie down't allotments, and always, just like yourself, plenty of beer after, listening to the crack. The older guys in the bar were always good for the stories of how they did things when they had their allotments, the crops always seemed bigger, better, heavier, etc, etc.

    Nothing much changes, does it?

  2. Hi Cumbrian. Glad to hear you used to have an allotment. I have my own bit of land now but it's not the same with nobody to give you tips and have a laugh and a joke. I once heard of somebody who won first prize in his allotment show for some vegetables he bought from the local market.

    I believe there are waiting lists for allotments in the UK today. It's brilliant that people are growing their own and making their own little piece of Eden.

    I wish I could win the lotto and buy a little house in a northern village with a real ale pub, allotment and a proper chippy!

    Thanks Cumbrian for all your thoughts!

  3. Waiting lists are years long in this area for allotments.

    They seemed to go out of fashion, there were 3 types of allotment holder:-
    1. Enthusiast, every space growing something, usually a greenhouse as well, not a weed in sight.
    2. Pigeon men, their allotments were for their lofts.
    3. Specialist, the bloke who wants to grow the biggest onion / leek / whatever to win a prize.

    Then a lot of the allotments became a bit derelict, nobody took over when the old boys died or became too decrepit, and the local councils started to move people off to make way for other developments.

    But now like you say, everybody seems to want a little bit of England (Ireland) to grow something.

    Win the big one and you could buy the pub, complete with micro-brewery and employ a brewer, a chippy and employ somebody to run it, and a cottage with enough space so you don't need the allotment. Just let me know I'll help you find it. Need a summer house as well, with a barrel of Guiness and an ashtray to sit and contemplate the sun going down with a pint and a small cigar.

  4. When I started growing vegetables (proper) nearly twenty years ago. A lot of the allotments were overgrown complete with the national Rosebay willow herb collection. You always met plenty of characters though and you could always meet a rat or two and a few supermarket trolleys.

    Seriously. Allotments are working class pieces of art, living lungs and a sanctuary.

    It's weird really having a smallholding. We have animals, vegetables and land but I had far more laughs when I had my humble council owned allotment.

    I will have to start buying lottery tickets again. Morecambe would be ideal. Near the Lakes and a cheap place for a pint of good old northern bitter, roast beef and a proper chippy. We would also have to have a lake full of Crucian Carp and a Carboot sale every Sunday.

    Great ideas Cumbrian!

  5. Yes mate, I like Morecambe too.

    It went downhill for a while, I was told the story of the hard-working hard-drinking oil drillers in Morecambe Bay who commandeered all the guest houses to the extent that family holiday-makers wer frozen out.
    Then the drillers departed and nobody returned, so it looked a bit run-down for a while.

    The last decade seems to have seen a massive injection of cash and rescources, now the prom looks very nice, and the art deco Midland Hotel in the middle has been refurbished to its former glory, it was an eyesore for years. They've even started refurbing the Winter Garden Theatre, a voluntary group, and last time I saw it about 4 yeras ago, they'd evacuated all the pigeons and started on the interior, I bet it's gonna look really good when they finish it.
    Sadly they've destroyed Frontierland, ther's an Aldi there now.
    Yes, another fxxxxg Aldi.

    The old outdoor market is replaced with a nice new indoor market, very well supported, just opposite the massive Morrisons car park (free parking if you buy something in Morrisons)

    There's still some good chip shops as well, and a few nice pubs, sadly under-used probably the same as everywhere else due to high cost of beer (tax) and the non-smoking rules.
    And Morecambe Bay shrimps are a real treat.

    For car boot on Sunday, try Silloth, from easter till about October, weather dictates the actual date. It's on the old Silloth airfield, disused since the war, and very well attended, I buy trays of eggs and sacks of spuds from a regular there, he's a great chap, about 14,000 free-range chickens, we get the ones that don't meet the superstores very high standards.
    Pullet aggs about now, start of season, £1 a tray, very small and ideal for pickling, with a surprising number of double-yolkers.
    But it's a long way from Morecambe.

  6. Thanks for the heads up about Morecambe. I won't tell my Colin Crompton joke about Morecambe.

    All the greats played the Winter Garden Theatre; Thora Hird (she was at home), Frank Randle, George Formby, Will Haye (my hero!) and even Laurel and Hardy.

    Art Deco is amazing isn't it? I have a copper kettle (collect them!) from the 1930's complete with a plastic (Bakelite?) handle.

    Used to go to a disused airfield carboot in Chirk near Oswestry. There's also a massive one in Chelford in Cheshire. I forgot about pickled eggs. I used to my 'Cool hand Luke' impressions in my local boozer. Think it was eight?

    I really miss the carboot sales.


  7. 50 if I remember correctly.

    Be a good question for a pub quiz.

    I think Silloth starts this weekend, if my wife's up to it we might have a run, it's about 20 miles along a very scenic coast road. I'll post a report if we make it.

  8. My record was 8 Cumbrian! Do they still get the Salvation Army selling the War and Cry in the pubs?

    Please do post a report about Silloth. I used to spend fifty quid a week at the car-boots, get loads of books and tools and be skint for the next week. How can you miss a bargain? Think I will post a blog about carboot sales next! Hmm..?


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