Well, after the frost had thawed came Christmas and then a visit to family up north, and then New Year was followed shortly by colds for both of us (which had been lingering about for a couple of weeks already by then) and now we’re covered in snow. It’s probably a good job there isn’t much to do on the allotment at this time of year.
So after a browse in my local bookshop, I’ve been keeping warm, drinking lots of tea, and reading about allotments instead.
The Adorable Plot is by Suffolk-based artist Tessa Newcomb. This is her collection of paintings and sketches of English allotments, along with her musings about the people and their plots. She has captured the quirky, slightly chaotic and sometimes outright wild side of allotment plots. She paints the weeds, the tumble down sheds, the cheap plastic water butts, the bird scarers (in various forms), the slightly torn netting and the snaking hosepipes, along with the vegetables and their owners. So it’s a ‘wart and all’ view of allotments, but that’s what I love about them. They are like little shanty towns and often a reflection of their owners. Some are old fashioned and traditional, some are regimented and ordered, some are more organic and colourful, some are a sorrowful mess, while others are immaculate. Mine is usually somewhere in between. Her writing is lovely too, little snatches of conversation or words thrown her way while she paints, or just her own little wry observations that make you smile.
Reading this book has inspired me to think about and plan my little patch of earth, long for warmer weather so I can get started down there, but it’s also inspired me to maybe do some plot paintings of my own. It’s made me realise that neither the plot nor the painting have to be perfect in order to be interesting. Far from it.
I think a little bit of allotment reading and dreaming are such important tasks!