I am beginning to realise that it’s getting to that time of year when suddenly the allotment goes from “I’ll do it when I’ve got some spare time” to “I have to do it first and then fit everything else in my life around it”. Unfortunately the aforementioned ‘everything else’ part is currently quite large. I’ve been aware that I was beginning to miss some planting deadlines, so I decided on Sunday that Monday I WAS going to go down the allotment, however it had already been planned that I was going to take Boy Lacer to see my friend* first thing Monday morning, however I thought, it won’t take long, I can fit in both and I could have done, easily, however I needed some more plant labels and before I knew it I’d ‘popped’ into town for most of the day, sigh. But I thought, “never mind, I can go tomorrow, straight after I drop the kids off at school”, but then Mr. Lacer (who’d got home before me and the kids, as me and the kids were having ANOTHER trip into town) rings me up “When you left, was the water ok?” he goes. I have immediate visions of me having done something stupid and there was now a cascade of water in the bathroom or something, as it turns out it was quite the opposite, there was no cold water in the bathroom at all. I immediately put two and two together and come up with ‘upstairs have a plumber in, it’ll be something they’ve done’. Some consultations with the neighbours later and it turns out they are replacing their boiler and that old water tank in the roof they don’t need any more has been turned off, now hang on a minute, we need it, as we’re connected to the same water tank. Cue an evening of having to flush the toilet with a bucket and brushing your teeth with a mug of water from the kitchen and out goes my plans to go to the allotment first thing, as I need to talk to their plumber.
Tuesday rolls round and I have words with their plumber, emphasising the fact that we kinda need that water tank to be a) switched back on and b) stay exactly where it is (upstairs wanted to remove it). Lots of blustered surprise from the plumber and both me and (I could tell) Mrs. Upstairs (we have fairly thin ceilings) were having to consult husbands (which feels so 1950s that, I think there’s a very fine line between working as a team with your partner and having to run all decisions past the ‘man of the house’). And in the end the two men of the house ended up calling each other direct, but I’d already been sweet talked by the plumber that if he connected our bathroom to the mains supply, it would be ‘good for our boiler’ (hmmmm) and we’d have better water pressure so our shower would be actually usable (ok! where do I sign up?).
So, all very civil but not quite, being kept from my allotment day I decided I could at least go and plant some seeds in some pots in the garden (catching up with some of those planting deadlines), I start work at the table on my patio, I can hear drilling from upstairs but they’ve been doing that all morning, so I think nothing of it. Suddenly the drilling noise gets louder and bits of masonry, some bits not that much smaller than my fist, are pinging their way around my garden. First time I’ve ever had to run from my garden in literal fear of getting injured. I point this out when the plumber comes down from the upstairs flat a few moments later, apparently he ‘didn’t see me’, hmmmmm.
So, anyway, worried that more holes may be drilled through walls any moment and I wouldn’t be ‘seen’ again, I retreat to one of my favourite and far more safe spots in my garden, the back doorstep, I carry on planting my seeds. A little while later someone upstairs throws a bucket of water out of their back door, right over me. God I screamed (and it wasn’t a girly scream either by the way, it was more a scream of “I have just about had enough of this!”). But luckily it was all getting a bit too much like a 60s slapstick comedy, Carry on Plumbing or something, so I could see the light side of it. Needless to say though, I was now totally banished from my garden by our upstairs neighbours and although I never ever normally do this, I potted my seeds in the living room instead, having to sweep and Dettol everything afterwards, as I’m a messy gardener and I always get soil everywhere.
I’ve planted peppers, aubergine, two types of squash and because I am a rampant chilli seedling murderer, more chilli seeds (Boy Lacer took one of the chilli seedlings to school and it was adopted by school, lucky chilli seedling, it’s gone to a kinder place).
I then, now negotiations had been completed for the moment, managed to sneak up the allotment for an hour before pick up. I’ve been so busy I hadn’t been for a while (as you could tell from the amount of weeds), but there were some more pleasant surprises to (although something had found my first flowering tulip before me).
And not a very good photo (I only had my iPhone with me) but look, apple blossom buds! Hopefully all those buds will equal apples later. I have no idea how good that apple tree is, as when I inherited the plot in late August, the tree wasn’t looking too good and there was one moth eaten apple hanging from it. Maybe this year it’s feeling happier.
(I’ll be bringing my proper camera to the allotment next time).
There were some more confusing sights to though, now I’m not totally sure this is all salad . . .
(I can’t remember if I said or not, but my salad seedling planting did not go well, I think a mix of my Nigel Slater planting technique and some frost).
Anyway, I didn’t remotely have enough time to do all I wanted / needed to do, but I had just enough time to dig over the area where I wanted to plant apple tree no. 2 (when I got the plot I asked the kids what they wanted to plant there and Boy Lacer had very specifically said an apple tree).
I then went straight to school to pick up Boy Lacer, came home for a little bit, learnt that all our water was about to be turned off and then went out again to pick Girl Lacer up from choir, we then all went straight back to the allotment to plant the apple tree. As it was Boy Lacer’s tree, Boy Lacer dug the hole and together we all filled it in again. We then planted a butterfly mix around it’s base (I know, probably, that I should keep the space around the tree clear but that would be impossible with my plot and I figured some flowers may be better than some invasive weeds). The kids then mucked around with the kid fork and spade set I’d bought the other day, whilst I sat contentedly watching them. A blissful way to spend the afternoon after school, I can see us doing that more often, now the clocks have changed.
*My friend is a speech therapist and she very kindly agreed to assess Boy Lacer for me and chase up his actual speech therapist, after the school professed some concern. My friend did the assessment and for pretty much the first time someone actually sat down and explained what exactly was the problem with Boy Lacer’s speech. He is apparently doing cluster reduction, which is missing out the second sound in words, so snake is sake, snow is sow, etc. etc., he also has trouble with s, sh, ch, j, basically sounds with the similar mouth shapes. My friend suggested things we can do to help with the cluster reduction and the actual speech therapist is coming to the school tomorrow!