Saturday, 29 May 2010

Beetroot, Body Parts, Blogging Woes... and a Beatification

Well, it’s been a while since my last post – for a number of reasons: And in the meantime, Spring has turned to early summer, the blackthorn blossom has come and gone, the cuckoo is back somewhere down by the Red Hatches (doubtless pushing plenty of unsuspecting young chicks out of their way in their bid to find a foster mother for her own, but nevertheless, we’re always pleased to hear her), we have a brand new government at last and the cows are out in the fields again.

Well, I’m not going to bore you with all that’s happened in the meantime – that would take far too long – but here are the highlights (or lowlights – it’s not been an easy couple of months).

Down on the allotment, the rake’s progress has been mighty slow. The weeds seem to be coming up faster than the things I’ve planted and the Great Beetroot Experiment has all but ground to a halt. And I spent so much time selecting the right day, getting the soil ready and raked, working out when the tides were so I could plant the blighters right at the optimum time.

“But you forgot to organise rain,” said John, whose tiddly crop of beetroot sprouts are hardly bigger than my own.

I knew there would be something.

I came down to the allotment one day a couple of weeks ago to find what looked like several shoots of some exotic pinkish asparagus coming along nicely. Must have been something left over from John D who had the allotment last year – funny, I never had John down as an asparagus man. Closer inspection proves the mystery plant to be marestail – it seems John was very much a marestail man. His perpetual spinach, too, seems to be living up to its name, springing up everywhere just when you least expect it. This year, he appears to be growing tyres.

I tend to tackle my weeds on a need-to-hoe basis, letting a few odd ones sprout up where they’re not doing too much damage. I think it’s important to have a bit of biodiversity, despite the stern looks I occasionally get from other allotment holders who run their plots with military precision. Yes, my potatoes aren’t exactly in a straight line, either, but I ran out of string when I was planting them.

* * *

We were driving back from Cricklade the other day when something that can only be described as a girt big chunk of metal dropped off from under the car, clanking and scraping along the road as we ground to a noisy halt. I peered underneath the chassis to see if it was anything important – it was hard to tell: it was a kind of plate-thing with some holes in, dangling half on, half off and making an irritating sort of dragging noise.

One good thing about breaking down in the country is that you’re never too far from a length of bailing twine, and true to form there was a handy piece, just about long enough, sticking out of a nearby hedge. We managed to hoist up the offending bit of metal and tie it up to the bumper where it stayed just long enough to get us home.

I fervently hoped Richard would declare the car unfit for purpose, thus necessitating the purchase of something new that wasn’t quite so green and rusty, and that I wouldn’t need to park round the corner out of sight when I pick Alex up from school, but as usual he grappled around underneath the car, came out looking slightly sootier, shrugged and said, “well, it’s not as bad as it looks.”

Which is probably just as well, because it looks bloomin’ awful.

* * *

Ah yes, the blogging woes. I’m afraid I had to close my other blog on account of having put someone’s nose out of joint with my forthright ways. It was bound to happen, I suppose. I should be thankful it was just one person excommunicating me from their Facebook page and not the entire town of Melksham or the local Green Party bearing down on Great Somerford with pitchforks and flaming torches. I didn’t actually think what I said was that bad, but I’m trying to take my mother’s advice, as she was so often telling me as a child to “think on”. So I guess I'll probably be thinking on for a while. I don't mean to upset anyone, really I don't.

But on the bright side, I do have some admirers, it seems. I bumped into Miles the other day while I was out walking the dog.

“Have you heard your new nickname?” he asked me.

I wasn’t at all sure I wanted to, but before I could say anything he told me.

“St Jill of Compostella.”

I like it. I like it a lot.

The picture at the top is by my fabulously talented friend and neighbour, Adam Lloyd.


  1. St Jill - suits you, I'm sure.
    I'd love to see your allotment - having read all about the history.
    Don't let the sour pusses get you down. If they don't like what you write, they don't have to read it!

  2. Glad to see a new're doing much better than me! I have spent the last six hours hoeing (yes, I said hoeing). I have an odd collection of pathetic peas but a rather splendid crop of onions, surrounded by potatoes. Not to worry - am now a freelancing student to be! Fancy a cuppa? Love the picture.

  3. Now I'm racking my brains to remember what it was you said that could have put someone's nose out of joint? As Pondside says, don't let the sourpusses get you down. I love the new nickname!

  4. I'm with Pondside; remember there are huge numbers of us who love your honest, elegant and hugely entertaining writing. We had a day's rain on Saturday... but I'm not sure it would have been enough to swell all those dry beetroots, assuming it even got as far as your allotment. There is something to be said for your a car that soldiers on held together by bits of string... I'm just not quite sure what it is. Anyway, to St Jill of Compostella, all power to your rake, but even more to your pen.

  5. That's a real blogging shame. Having had a weekend of negative personal remarks for daring to say a garden at Chelsea could have been better, you have my utmost sympathy.

    Thank goodness we can still take refuge here with you.

  6. I had a negative and cutting remark recently - only the one - but it was disproportionately disturbing. Agree with all that's been said above - do love your take on local life. What a shame we have to bite our tongues and curbs our keyboards. Sigh.

  7. Oh FFS....was going to say wow, you're all grown up and no longer Little, but now cross that you had nastiness levelled at you.
    And figured you needed some serious (((huggage))) re the forthcoming trip. Mine had THE best time ever - in fact, came back and said he would really like to get rested, get some clean gear and then go back again! Which is lovely and right - but, sigh, they're all getting older and more grown-up.