Monday, 14 July 2008

Everyone needs good neighbours

Making a quick dash to the allotment in between rainshowers - we needed a lettuce for our supper, and I thought I would try and fit in a bit of weeding before it started pouring again - I presumed that I would be the only person down there, what with the anti-social weather and all. But no: there, trotting energetically up and down the path was a chap in shorts who was busying himself carrying a pile of compost bags from the gate down to his plot. Even before I got close I could tell that I had never seen him before, not least because my fellow plot-holders are not generally the type to run anywhere, and certainly not with bags of compost on their shoulders: it is not the sort of thing you get up to when you won't see 75 again.
How exciting! A new neighbour! I love it when a fresh face turns up on the allotment: it always opens a whole world of new possibilities. Will they have a lovely plot, full of interesting vegetables in neatly tended rows? Or will it be a mass of weeds before you can say Convolvulus arvensis? (That's the dreaded bindweed, of course). Will they be our friends, offering us their surplus tomatoes whenever we bump into them? Or will we have endless petty rows about whose turn it is to cut the grass on the path between our plots? Who knows what excitements lie ahead.
Nick seemed a personable fellow, though, and a hard worker. The way he dug the compost into the bed and raked it all over quite reminded me of my younger self. Ah, how it brought back memories of when we first got our plot and worked like Trojans every weekend to get it up to scratch. (Actually, Mrs Low points out that my memory must be playing tricks with me, because the way she remembers it I was one for stopping every half hour and asking when it was time for our next cup of tea).
The most interesting point about his arrival, though, was he is part of the phenomenon of dividing up plots which was swept through the allotment world. After lying untended for years the plot was divided in half and let to two different families. Now it turns out one of the people is so busy at work that they have not had time to look after their plot, and so have let one-third of it to my new friend Nick. So he has got one-sixth of an allotment - which, judging by the way he set about cultivating his little patch, he should have no problem keeping under control. And if it is still too much? Well, perhaps he can just divide and sub-let again. This one could run and run.

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