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Saturday, 17 April 2010

Love is in the air

I've just come back from the allotment. It was like Brighton beach on a bank holiday Monday. You couldn't move for gardeners digging this, planting that. Others were in their string vests with a handkerchief tied round their heads puffing on a Player's Weights and downing a bottle of Pale Ale. That's how it felt: the sun comes out and all the fair weather horticulturists find their way to the allotment; which hasn't seen hair or hide of them during the Arctic Chill that was our winter. 

So much to do! What can they expect - unattended weeds; soil which has been frozen, sodden and baked into something approaching tempered steel. A fork won't touch it; forget the spade; a couple of pounds of gelignite is the only thing to break the surface. Experienced, war weary elders tut and suck their teeth as novices, all eager eyed an hour ago,  crumple under the strain and disappointment. That cabbage  patch, the row of broad beans, the regiment of onions, which seemed within their grasp, is locked up in the unyielding soil.

Meanwhile older heads, with a wry smile, gently till their patch and contemplate the joys of winter sown onions and broad beans. Opening  up their green houses  they reveal sparkling trays of joyfully sturdy seedlings all ready to take their place in the regimented ranks of drills. Chitted potatoes literally leap into the ditches prepared for them, well manured of course, with carrots, beetroot and early salad leaf just waiting for the word to begin their journey from soil to kitchen table.

But what's this? A robin, its mouth full of grubs, is stationed outside our shed. It looks left then right, at me and a small gap in the shed, between the window and roof and darts into the hole created there. A moment later it re-emerges over the door and flies off. In the shed I'm potting away when there he is - his mouth full of wriggling goodies. He appears at that same gap enters the shed and sees me. For a while he studies my actions hops to one side and thinks better of it retreating through the same exit over the door. And as I am about to leave the allotment, I see him once more, sitting on a fence beside our shed. And in he flies through the gap a diligent husband and father providing for his wife and brood. All silent, silent as the skies.

Nothing can beat it. Spring in full throttle and at the allotment you have a front seat view of a most delightful entertainment.

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