Ring solstice bells!

We have reached the shortest day. Yay!

December 21st marks a special moment in the year because I know that we are about to turn a corner. It’s not much of a corner I grant. More of an ever so small kink really. But a kink nevertheless. Tomorrow we’ll have a smidgeon more daytime and in six or seven weeks there’ll be enough light to begin to think about planning one’s allotment space.

I became an allotment holder at around the time my daughter left home to begin her university studies. It was by mutual agreement. The two of us who remained in the house agreed that I needed to be in it less.

Well, what a joy! The St Ann’s allotments in Nottingham are the oldest, and the largest, detached town gardens in the UK (possibly the world). They are also beautiful. Their historical importance is now recognised through a Grade 2* listing and rightly so. An elaborate maze of paths and alleyways link some 670 gardens, each separated by growing hedges of privet and hawthorn. The hedgerows and gardens provide a home for all sorts of animals. Mostly this is to be welcomed. It’s truly a pleasure to lean on one’s spade and catch the eye of a robin as it surveys the recently-turned soil for signs of worms and grubs.

The relationship between man and nature can become strained though when whatever is living in and around the allotments helps itself to one’s produce. Slugs, snails, rats, mice, squirrels and pigeons, bloody pigeons, all enjoy a good munch on whatever’s currently available. Of course, the canny allotment gardener develops strategies to deter such wanton theft but no matter how much guile one displays, product yield shrinkage is inevitable.

Hold on, I am getting ahead of myself. It has just passed four o’clock in the afternoon and it’s already dark. Nothing to do in the garden just now. Apart, that is, from picking sprouts on Christmas day morning for Christmas lunch. Sprouts, woohoo! I’m sure that my family will be delighted to know that it has been a good year for sprouts. And the recent cold snap has sweetened the lovely little gas-bombs to perfection!

Over the course of the year I will, I promise, share more allotment news with you. But for the time being it’s time to wish everyone a peaceful and enjoyable time over the festive period and a prosperous, fulfilling, 2018 too!

Oh, and if anyone is wondering about the herd of LED reindeer in the featured image, well each year there’s a spectacular display in a garden in Chavey Down near Ascot. The garden belongs to a family member who, shall we say, is a weeny bit eccentric. Eccentric, but kind-hearted and generous to the core. Here’s to you Mr George!

Merry Christmas everyone!

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