After seven years on the waiting list, I have an allotment. And what an allotment. I got this particular allotment rather than any other one by serendipity of time and geography. I had actually been allocated the plot next door to his, but by chance met Bill on the site on the day I was to take over my allocated plot. He had come to hand over his key and me to get my new key and plot. As we waited for Ian, the council allotment officer, to arrive Bill told me that the plot I had been offered had not been worked for years, had poor soil and was full of some dreadful weed that would be hell to get out.
An allotment holder for twenty year since his retirement, Bill was having to give up because it had become too much for him. At first I saw only all the stuff that needed to be done. The weeds and nettles have taken over much of the plot. there are piles of old wood, rusting metal, old plastic bottles and rotting netting. But he saw the lovely place it had been. He pointed to his greenhouse, his shed, his tools, his water butts. He told me he had got manure from a friend at the zoo – and the soil is rich and dark and soft. So I became more and more excited about taking on this jungle of an allotment rather than the barren plot that I had originally been put down for. And so our chance meeting became in effect a handover.
But before finally agreeing, I took a couple of days to ake sure that my friend Helen was still up for sharing the allotment with me, and that she felt that the choice of Bills wilderness was the right one. She was and she did. So I signed up.