It is a warm, sunny summer’s afternoon with a whisper of a breeze, just fresh enough to cool the blood and dry the sweat and tears of my labours.
I am at our allotment erecting canes and planting runner beans – bought that morning at the Bonfire Society fundraiser – and some cauliflower and marigold seedling given to me by fellow allotmenteers as surplus to their own requirements.
The work all done, time to lean on my spade and I watch a noisy bunch of gulls mob a coal black crow, while high above their raucous racketing a Goodwood Spitfire heads for the coast.
An idyllic afternoon in almost every way but this one marred by the bees swarming close by and the sight of a dead rabbit baited fox trap partially hidden in nearby bushes, a particularly cruel practice in this the breeding season with cubs no doubt being weaned somewhere close by.
Still, every silver lining has a dark cloud and the overall delight of having an allotment plot is a very real and happy experience and we in Littlehampton who have them are very privileged.
The town council provides five sites, with others pending, offering around 353 individual plots – currently all taken with 33 on the waiting list.
Total running cost to the council is a little over £100 per plot but, given that usually two people work a site, it is not a great deal to spend on the benefits gained through good exercise and a healthy lifestyle.
Allotmenteers are indeed a healthy, hardy and – in most cases – a good-natured friendly lot and in no way ungrateful for the effort put in by the town council staff who ensure a fair and supportive operation.
This month I happily tip my Stetson to the folk who make allotments possible and such a worthwhile amenity.
To paraphrase the Bard, ‘we few, we happy band of brothers and sisters’ say thank you.
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