It's been a long cold winter and a chilly wet spring.... and so the very last thing
I wanted was a phone call from the council:
"About the allotment you've recently taken on's been flagged as unattended"... :(

At my end, a momentary silence was followed by a long deep breath, as I mustered my most competent voice and a
few suitable explanations.........
..."ah.... well .... I can explain... weather ... err.... work .... DIY .... ummm....
...we really want it ... honestly ... I know there are lots of people who take on allotments and then don't manage it ... but really I'm not like that ....really... (spoken with great sincerity, although perhaps a little too fast) ..... and the weather has been unbelievably bad you know "....
...and then finally ......and particularly feebly... "well, we have had a lot on ......."

The hesitation at the other end suggested that the allotment officer wasn't particularly convinced, but I think I won her over in the end :)

So off we went on a rapid search to gather up and purchase packets of seeds with "EASY TO GROW" writ large on the front of the packet, and to beg, borrow and buy all the accoutrements of gardening .... which are both varied and numerous....
Of course, when we got there ... we could see her point.... the couch grass had more or less reached eye-level and the thistles well over waist-level .... and both were blowing merrily in the breeze, spreading their seeds cheerfully all around the entire site in the process....
Absolutely unrecognisable from when we had chosen it in February of course.....
"Right ....Oh... Kay" ....... I think one of us remarked, surveying our domain.
However, we remained unperturbed, and, brimming with new-found enthusiasm, began what turned into a very very .... very ...big dig.

Finally we had cleared enough space to begin planting, but then came the raking, the tilling and the sifting.... not to mention the fetching and carrying of water, compost, and all manner of stuff. 'Fish Blood and Bone' for example.

There is something about the taming of the wilderness and the cultivation of the land that demands straight lines and neat edges....
Not least so that one can, in future, determine what is weed... and what is not...
(I think this is a skill that one gains over time:)
Meanwhile, in allotment-land, there is nothing worse than accidentally pulling out what turns a out to be a fledgling vegetable seedling.... well ... there are worse things actually, one of them being slugs.
Cabbages and Kings
And so, astonishingly- in the rush and hurry of trying to chase the unfolding of the seasons - and along with our need to attempt to appease allotment officers: the thistles and the couch grass are now undoubtedly in retreat and we have many reasonably neat rows of all sorts of green and leafy things!
Particularly, for the time being, spinach.
Hence recent search for 'recipes including spinach' - of which, it seems, there are many: quiche.... curry.... dal.... greek pie (spanakopita).... to name but a very few.......

In two or three short months (and a blessed turn in the weather) I have a glut of salad leaves, a large pile of baby spinach and a few crunchy beetroot!
And THAT ........ is just a beginning:) !!
No! Lollo Rosso is King
All the while I have been racking my brains about what my dear old dad would have advised.... and phrases have been popping into my mind like "earthing up the potatoes" and "companion planting", "double digging" and "thinning out" ....

My runner beans have finally germinated, and they have a splendid cane tent-like construction, up which to grow unheeded, and the potatoes we inherited from the previous owner are now indeed earthed up! :)
Potato paradise!
We harvested a large punnet of the most beautiful (obviously) strawberries:) - in time for the men's Wimbledon tennis final .... which were consumed either dipped in cream or sinking into a large glass of Pimm's....

And meanwhile, the onions... the leeks ... and the garlic actually look OK .... above ground at least ... and the sweetcorn is rushing skywards!.
The broad beans however have black fly.
(Handy tip : squirt diluted washing-up liquid on the pesky little mites! - the other allotmenters are full of helpful advice:)

And surprisingly, my courgette plants look like everyone else's! Now that is pleasing:)
It all feels more than a little miraculous.
Courgette queen
On my way to collect water from the water troughs (no hoses allowed) I peer curiously at other allotments, some of which seem to be growing potatoes and cabbages on an industrial scale... whilst others have flower gardens and willow hedges and exotic plants.... there's a nectarine tree in one corner... globe artichokes in another.... rose beds and blackcurrant bushes .... raspberry canes and plum trees .......
... and all these wonderful plants are rapidly becoming the stuff of my dreams!

More to come.
Wish me luck!
PS all tips and recipes gratefully received!