To North Yorkshire and a trip to the family allotment. It’s the end of the growing season and although the dahlias and gladioli are still bright the fruit bushes straggle across the plot their sweet fruit hidden by ragged leaves.
Each allotment reflects the owner’s personality. On one side of the path a snapshot of 1960’s gardening book perfection – neat row upon row of vegetables, a brushed brick path, a tidy greenhouse – very impressive. Others grow with a wilder vision of the ideal – a clump of Poppies spilling out from a galvanized tank, weeds nurtured alongside cultivated flowers – an exuberant, delightful constructed paradise, although maybe the Allotment Committee have some doubts?
So we pick blackberries for a pie and Clary Sage for a flower arrangement. A train passes on the Scarborough line, a marker of time gently passing, a model railway land, a carriage of smiling Hornby people. It’s a brief moment of noise in what is essentially a landscape with a muffled soundtrack – the gentle sound of the coastal breeze in the leaves and the chink, chink of spades hitting stones.
Finally we walk round the fifty or so plots to see the flowers, vegetables and the strange beauty of vernacular architecture – sheds, shelters and greenhouses constructed from salvaged windows, old wood and local shop signs.
It was a perfect visit in the low autumn sun but, like so many simple pleasures, difficult to analyse the fragments that align to make the whole. So, on reflection, we think it best not to even try………
If you are hungry for a brief history of allotment practices around the world go to Wikipedia. Well, we found it interesting.