When I was a child, a cousin of mine (and her 2 younger sisters) lived down a small country lane about 5 minutes walk from our house. She was only a year younger than me, so we were close, and we spent our carefree childhood days in and out of each others houses, especially throughout the summer holidays. Although it wasn’t far to walk down the lane we often took a short cut across a field, and one summer we thought it would be fun to create our own little postbox halfway between our houses. This took the simple form of an envelope nestled carefully in a tree, where we would leave little written notes for each other. We probably should have made something more sturdy because it didn’t last very long, but it was a thrill while it lasted, to skip across the field and see if a note had been left for me, even though I could have just walked a bit further and seen her. Kids are spoilt nowadays with their mobile phones and online chat rooms!
It’s daft I know, but I still get a thrill when I receive a handwritten card or letter from a friend in the post, or even a little note left for me in my allotment shed.
So anyway (there is a point to this story), I’ve been growing lemon cucumbers for the first time on my plot. They were a last minute gap filler bought as plants from a garden centre, as I was intrigued by the name if nothing else, and they’ve been a great success. The first few were eaten, one given away, and then the glut started. After returning from the Lake District – during which time the plot had been deluged with rain – I harvested 10 cucumbers. As delicious as they are, there are only so many cucumbers you can eat in one go. So I decided to offer my surplus up in exchange for some much missed courgettes. There wasn’t anybody around at the time to offer the exchange to directly, so I did this:
The next day we had torrential rain which didn’t want to let up, so I imagined my paper bag of cucumbers had probably been washed out to sea, but on Saturday morning we popped down, and to my delight, the bag was still there … with 3 little golden courgettes inside. Yay! And then a few days later I came back with this lot:
I thought maybe I was being daft, hoping people would take some cucumbers and leave some courgettes, there are lots of newbies on the site who I don’t know very well. But I decided it was worth a try. I now feel really touched and thrilled that it worked. I only wish we could set up a covered box or table somewhere so we could all do this collectively. I have this wonderfully romantic, rose-tinted notion of the whole world swapping what they don’t want or need in exchange for what they do. In reality, there’d probably just be a huge mound of courgettes left to rot!
One of my other allotment neighbours had previously asked my advice about growing sweetpeas and wanted to know which variety I’d grown this year as he’d been admiring them. So when, on my last visit, I discovered the sweetpeas had all gone over to seed, I picked off a handful of seed pods, dug out an empty seed packet for them, and left them with a note tucked into the window frame of his shed, and I returned to a little thank you note posted back into my shed. This is what the joy of allotmenteering is all about for me. Swapping seeds, plants, advice and lots of banter.
Just before our holiday I had also given away some bags of potatoes, onions and garlic to some of our neighbours on the very friendly little row of houses where I live. I’d already received lots of thankyous and a lovely card from one. And then, just this morning, I opened my back door to find this:
A little bag of chocolates hanging on the door handle. My inner child – the one that skipped across a field to see if a note had been left for me in a tree, like Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird – got quite excited by this. It’s the little things in life. Hope I’ve made you all feel warm and fuzzy inside!