Saturday, 22 September 2012

The annual allotment show





Three years ago on a winter’s day my Mother came home with a set of keys and declared that she had spent £50 on a 30 x 40 yard bit of land for her and my Father to convert into an allotment. We all stared at her in disbelief.

“But it’s got a Bramley apple tree.” She said.

So we all went around the corner to visit my Mother’s latest shenanigan. She had spent £50 on a jungle of brambles, weeds and grass with an anorexic Bramley apple tree and a few well balanced planks of wood for a shed. I wished my parents luck and made a bet with my sister on how long this allotment malarkey would last. This is my formal apology to my parents for doubting them and their abilities to rectify this sorry excuse of an allotment.

My Father spends most of his days at plot number 150 which now boasts a fruit cage, an obese Bramley apple tree, four raised beds, a shiny new shed and patio area. My involvement in this allotment malarkey I admit has been minimal, but nonetheless it is inspiring how something so dreary has been renovated into something quite spectacular. In the middle of the London suburbs it is amazing how quiet the place is. Peace and quiet is something my Mother has taught me to appreciate so every now and again Betty the dog and I go over to the allotment to sunbathe, read and watch my Father work. This year I even planted some beetroot.

As the summer draws to a close every year, it is time for the grand annual allotment show where the community congregate in the dusty community hall to drink tea, 20p-a-cup orange squash, eat homemade cake and admire the best of the year’s crops. Now being enthusiastic members of the allotment community, my parents enter some of their finest selection of produce into the array of classes. I made no arrangements and booked the day off work for the allotment show day and turned up at 11 o’clock on the dot to meet my Nannie and Grandad and have an egg and bacon brunch party on our allotment. We cooked on the gas stove my Dad keeps in the shed and picked fresh plums from the tree in the neighbouring plot and raspberries from the bush. When half past 2 came it was time to head down to the dusty community hall for a slice of cake and to see where we came in our classes. This is precisely when we found the secret my Father had been keeping from us.

The ‘Heaviest Pumpkin’ class was won with not only a slightly heavy pumpkin, but an incredibly enormous pumpkin that made everyone question whether or not it was real and who the bloody hell grew it. Of course it was my Father and as I stood in awe of the monstrous thing, I felt a huge surge of pride for my Father’s achievements followed by an outburst of laughter. This pumpkin was not something to be taken seriously and my Father being my Father took full advantage of the opportunity for a laugh. Nevertheless I still found myself telling everyone within earshot that “my Dad grew that”.

My Mother came first with her redcurrants in the ‘Soft Fruit’ class as well as gaining second place with her plum jam in the ‘Jam’ class. Their onions and marrow also won first place. The once mini-jungle that was plot 150 is now a distant memory and we basked in all their reflective glory as if we were a clan of vegetable and fruit growing world champions.

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