Firstly, an apology to my seven readers for my recent absence from these pages. I would like to be able to say that this was due to a near-fatal illness or my role in a major undercover operation rooting out Russian spies, but sadly it is just down to laziness and incompetence. Anyway, better late than never. And on the upside, it’s an allotment, so stuff doesn’t happen that fast. It’s not as though you missed an episode of The Bodyguard and will be hopelessly confused for the rest of the series as a result.
Anyway, I wrote ironically a couple of months ago about missing the Llama. Well now it’s not ironic. We really do miss the Llama, because in its absence the deer which turned up to nibble a bit of gooseberry bark has become a regular visitor, and now it brings its mates. While the result is not quite on a par with a plague of locusts it does amount to a steady degradation of a variety of allotment produce. In particular, we had virtually no autumn raspberries this year and the canes of next year’s summer raspberries are looking in a pretty sorry state already.
Nor is it clear that there is a great deal that can currently be done about this. Evidently the deer can clear the existing allotment fence. The council obviously have no money whatsoever to help out with the building of a higher one and its not clear that the allotment holders themselves have the means to step in and pay for one. I wonder how much it costs to buy a Llama?
Summer not, apparently, being over, Andrew suggested another barbecue. Despite there being no established precedent for holding two barbecues in two weeks, the general consensus was in favour, perhaps spurred on by the thought that it is 42 years since the last summer like this one and that for most of us hoping to be around in another 42 years might be considered a touch optimistic.
Barney and Linda were back from their travels and Nick, Vilma and Jessica came along, so we were more than quorate. Vilma even brought her own travelling barbecue kit (!). It came in flat metal box of the kind you usually see assassins assembling their custom-designed sniper rifles from in movies and was received with a combination of respect and fear (from the males who usually do the barbecuing who suddenly realized they were going to be under the scrutiny of a professional).
In the event, Vilma couldn’t have been nicer, and politely kept whatever she thought about our barbecuing skills to herself. Indeed there was a great deal of ‘after you Claude’ and careful avoidance of getting on each others toes around the barbecue as she, Andrew and I got on with the cooking. Vilma’s only practical concern appeared to be wasps, though as we kept pointing out, the things she was worried about were actually hoverflies. I’m not sure we convinced her though.
After a while, possibly prompted by some observation about contributions to the barbecuing effort, Kirsty announced that she and Sam would now take over. Sam was sober enough to recognize this as being a bad idea and sought to object, but Kirsty won the day. We were consequently granted 15 minutes of them taking selfies and complaining about the injustice/unwisdom of menopausal women going near barbecues while the last pile of sausages were cooked (more or less).
A good time, in short, was had by all and we finished off with a slice of delicious redcurrant cake produced by Linda as part of her ongoing project to work out what to do with the great mass of redcurrants that this summer has thus far produced.
Happily, it was a Sunday, so when the wine ran out we just went home.
During Wednesday afternoon there was a ruffling of feathers.
“Kirsty. Do you want to be on the telly?”
“Channel 5 have contacted Linda. Can you go down to the allotment at 10 o’clock tomorrow to talk about the hosepipe ban?”
“Well, I will if they want me to. I’m no expert though.”
Beeeeeeeep Beeeeeep. Alarm fantastic. 8.30am and some brain fug going on. Why is my alarm set during the school holidays? Oh yes, I quickly remember. I search through my sadly woeful array of clothes that are suitable for the allotment and then remember: the corporate T-Shirt.
I arrived at the allotment at 10 am prompt (those who know me may be nonplussed by this). I hurriedly checked my emails to make sure that Linda hadn’t duped me into turning up in order to complete allotment duties without due consent. Within minutes Bernie turned up sporting the corporate T-shirt and then all my fears melted away. Except they didn’t. Sunglasses or no glasses?
It was hot. A sunflower coloured Minnie turned up with camera/sound man Adam. They introduced themselves and then they did a reccy (I believe that is the term). Me and Bernie drank water and felt hot and then were introduced to the beds we would need to dig over on camera. They were heaving with mini frogs.
We watched Linda being filmed and we laughed. She did really well, though, it has to be said. The 999 call really did it for them. Bernie and I dug over two beds. Unfortunately on the telly it looks like I’m tickling muck.
I was rewarded with Kale and courgettes. As we left, a lady from the neighbouring estate asked what the green stuff was. I told her it was Kale. She said “Being Vegan is the way forward.”
I walked home.