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It’s fair to say that last year we mainly grew potatoes on our allotment – in fact, that’s all we really grew apart from the odd strawberry and some herbs. We have been pretty shocking about keeping it up these past few years, it just seems we’ve had one thing after another pop up in our life and staying on top of the allotment always seems to get pushed further down the list.
Having Tilly now has made me think how much I hope to spend time this spring and summer on the allotment, just her and Buddy during the week, pottering, weeding, sowing, planting. I imagine Tilly laid on a blanket, the dog next to her, and me digging. Or once she is sitting up and shuffling around, eating flowers or dirt.
But for now, our allotment is a bit of a sad mess and empty of all it’s potato harvest as of the a recent weekend. We went down late afternoon, the sun was beginning to set, the trees looked like they were on fire from the sun’s glow and we had three rows of red skinned potatoes to dig up.
I’m not going to dare suggest that it’s too hot in England at the moment. It is utterly beautiful and I’m thoroughly enjoying all the sun and warm weather we are being blessed with. How nice is it to sit in the evenings with all the windows and doors open?
Last weekend a bit by accident we found ourselves spending the whole morning today, dog- and care-free visiting a couple of local markets. It made me realise that we are both guilty of spending too much time doing DIY and don’t make enough time to just go out and do things together.
First we went to our local farmers market at Abbey Leys where we stocked up on local raw milk, grass-fed Welsh beef mince, real bread, and a bunch of seasonal flowers from my favourite garden gate stall.
Next we decided to try out the Artisan Market in Knutsford – it was our first visit and it was fantastic. It’s a huge market with lots of craft, vintage and food stalls, the weather was fab, there was a bluegrass style band playing music, and deckchairs for people to sit and listen.
My favourite stall was a lady selling Transylvanian sweet treats called Chimney Stack Cakes. Her particularly speciality are these chimney stack cakes which are like a spiral of cakey-doughnuty-bread with different flavourings. She won us over with a sample of her cinnamon one and one made it into our shopping bag.
From the beauty of Greece yesterday, to the slightly drearier shores of the UK today. This past weekend we actually got down to our allotment and planted four rows of Charlotte potatoes. We always seem a little behind on planting our potatoes, but were reassured when our local farmer told us he was only just getting his in the ground.
In the process of uncovering the soil Mr Rigg came across a frog. First he thought it was dead, turns out it was just enjoying the heat beneath the plastic that had been covering the ground (at least I think that’s what it was doing).
After an attempt to pick it up it leaped down a hole and disappeared. It made me realise there were a series of ‘tunnels’ that had been created in the soil and I wondered if this was the frog who had made them? Anyone know?
There was also a bit of time for sitting and reading – Buddy was busy on bee patrol…
Last weekend was sunny. That in itself is quite incredible. Before the sun could even consider disappearing, we quickly made our way to our neglected allotment. Thankfully it didn’t look as unkempt as we were expecting, and we feel vaguely positive about getting it into shape this summer. Watch this space!
Mr Rigg covered large sections in old carpet and I mainly made tea. We took our trusty Kelly Kettle and set up a little fire in the base – I can’t help but feel like I’m actually really ‘alive’ when I’m doing basic things like this. Do you find that?
Ok, so I’m trying really hard to get our French trip written up, but there’s so much I want to share that I’m still working on it when I have the time. It will come, I promise. With it very damp and grey outside (and on Midsummer!) I wanted to share our cheerful, warm, sunny evening meal last night which we made and ate on our allotment.
This is by far my favourite thing to do at the moment – cook and eat at the allotment. I wish moments like that would never end. We wanted to recreate a meal we made in France, which was broad beans and beans tossed with crispy ham and loaded onto slithers of fresh bread.
I adore the repetitive but satisfying business of podding peas and broad beans – some might find it mind numbingly boring, but I love it. After they’d all been podded, we blanched them in a pan of boiling water over the camping stove and then quickly cooled them down was cold water. Next I spent ages more slipping the broad beans out of their silvery green coats.
We’ve eaten quite a few dinners at the allotment over the past week, much like our anniversary meal they’ve been utterly blissful.
Before we left I made a quinoa salad with cucumber, radish and dill, which was then finished off at the allotment with grilled fennel – I’d seen the recipe here and it was delicious, very refreshing which is just what you need in this weather.
Mr Rigg grilled some sausages and chicken, and we ate simply but well.
We drank sparkling elderflower from enamel mugs…
Yesterday was our first wedding anniversary, and having spent the previous 24 hours tucked away in bliss at the Inn at Whitewell, and with the gorgeous warm weather, we decided last minute to have dinner at the allotment.
We boiled up some new potatoes, got a barbeque going to cook the sausages and burgers, and Mr Rigg watered the vegetables.
It reminded me of how much I enjoy cooking outside with the challenge of limited gadgets and gismos to help you prepare your meal. It reminded me of sunny evenings cooking market ingredients in the Loire Valley.
We have finally found some time to spend in our garden and on our allotment. Being there is one of the most peaceful times, I find myself with an empty, calm mind and it’s blissful.
We are trying to do little by little at the moment rather than our usual tendency to over-exert ourselves one day and not come back for weeks. We have got some bark chippings down to mark out four beds and have started to plant in some seedlings.
These peas I’ve grown from seed – I’m just hoping the bunnies or slugs don’t munch on them.
Sunday was spent mostly dealing with this beast…
This is a Zucca de Marmellata grown on our allotment, seeds bought from Sarah Raven. After doing a bit of research it seems to be an Italian variety often known as a jam pumpkin – funnily enough for making pumpkin jam.
In total this pumpkin weighed over 20kg – can’t quite believe it! As you might be able to see from the top picture it had started to go mouldy in the centre, so we will have to ‘process’ the other pumpkin we have of this size soon.
So we’ve had two pumpkins in particular that have been steadily growing in size. I can’t quite believe I planted a variety that grows so big, but hey-ho, it’s all good fun.
Tomorrow we’ve got our local Produce Show so we’re going to enter one of them along with some potatoes, possibly some tomatoes, and a few other bits and pieces.