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Having dug for forty minutes I took a break and gathered firewood, which I carried to the old pigsty on my route to the car. On my return journey I carried prunings that had been dumped and become overgrown at my allotment entrance. I thought they would make perfect pea-sticks and stored them under a tree near to the raspberry canes I had also cut and saved for growing things up. I noticed that I found routes for different tasks. When carrying sticks I went around the fruit bushes not under the trees where I’d risk getting caught on branches, but when entering or leaving the allotment I always bowed my head and walked under the branches. I usually spent a little time walking around the site, to see and feel the bigger picture and avoid becoming absorbed in digging and then overwhelmed at the thought of how much there still was to do. I was sensing the area to decide where to build my shelter. The main considerations seemed to be a need for privacy and security of tools and a general, yet hard to define, good feeling (24th March 2006).

I decided to measure up my allotment by way of resting my back from digging. I made a decision to use my body in taking measurements, in other words a foot was my foot, eleven inches not twelve. I translated that into metres and found that my allotment measured over 500 square metres. I did some research about allotment sizes and discovered they used to be measured in ‘rods’ which are approximately 5metres, so a five rod allotment would be a hundred and twenty five square metres. Mine was roughly twenty rods and therefore considerably larger than average (5th April 2006).

Everything seemed much greener on our return from a trip to Cornwall. I decided I must do some planting, so I equipped myself with broad beans that I had soaked in a jar of water to wake them up a bit, along with my Pentland Crown seed potatoes that I realised were ‘earlies’. I planted two rows of broad beans next to the currant bushes for shelter and then four rows of potatoes (26th April 2006).

I felt I wasn’t making much progress with the digging so continued even though I was aching, which I thought I might regret the next day. I paused to make coffee and decided to sow some seeds in my shed. This was a very pleasant activity. I sowed Anne’s peas, some very old dwarf French beans, some newer French beans, which were surprisingly different and a few out of date sunflowers. I meant to sow tomatoes but my daughter rang to remind me that I’d agreed to take her and her friends to the bike spares shop before it shut at five (2nd May 2006).

I had no car for the weekend so I had to bus it to the plot with Sandy, my dog. I met a couple on the bus who told me they lived on the lane, they pointed out the best place for Sandy to swim in the river. I planted sweet peas in some old peat pots and then set about transforming a third of a patch I’d previously dug into a carrot and onion bed. This was no easy task as the sun had baked hard all the lumps of soil. I resolved from then on to break up the lumps whilst digging. I planted onions and sowed carrots in the rain, which was refreshing after the heat of the morning. Tiny the cat tried to approach us but Sandy made it quite clear that this was now his territory. We left for the bus at half past four, which never came. We waited patiently for over an hour and ended up catching the next one, but in the meantime I had conversations with three people all offering local bus advice. When we finally arrived home I was exhausted, too tired to do the work I had planned for the evening (6th May 2006).

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