Richard and I are fortunate to live in the picturesque area that we do. We're on the outskirts of London, with lots of green open spaces nearby, and the enchanting towpath of the Grand Union Canal just at the bottom of our road. A long established cast iron canal marker informs us each time we pass that it's 92 miles to Braunston. I often wonder the importance of Braunston, and one day I'll do a Google...
Downstream, four locks or a few miles away depending upon whether you're travelling by canal boat or legs or wheels, is the entrance to the tidal River Thames. At this point a turn right and upstream will take you to Hampton Court Palace, Maidenhead, Windsor and onwards into Gloucestershire. Heading left and seawards takes you past the Houses of Parliament, Tower of London, Greenwich Old Naval College and eventually into the North Sea. From here the water that has flowed along the banks of England's longest river, including some that has travelled by the side of the Community Gardens and allotments, starts a very different and saltier journey.
The Community Gardens sit alongside the Grand Union Canal, whilst our allotments, a short distance away, cuddle the banks of the River Brent. Over decades, centuries even, the river has flowed and flooded, leaving rich and nutritious detritus in its wake. It is this sediment and soil which makes up the earth on which the allotments sit. For years nature has been enriching this fertile growing land, and with a shifting of the riverbend several years ago, it is now down to plot holders to maintain and encourage the richness of the soil that we tend. It is very, very rare now that the allotments flood, and even when this does happen it's usually just an area that is now set aside as conservation woodlands on our site.
Many people have said that we're lucky to live in such an area. I like to think that we're fortunate, rather than lucky. It is down to the choices that we have made, both individually and as a couple, that we live where we do. However, these choices have largely been ours to make, rather than a necessity thrust upon us under life's duress.
We both still do have an itch to move on, though it is no longer as itchy as it was a few years back. At the moment, I think we are generally content. When an opportunity arises that we think is right, we will then make the choice that we do. Until that time comes, there are many seeds to sow and plants to tend.
A Guernsey Gardener in London, Day 17
It's not exactly the colour of the shed that we want, though it is the colour of the shed that will do for now.
As you may remember, we've inherited this shed on our new plot; the plot next to our first plot at the allotments. We've been growing on a second plot further down, about 100m away, though moving to this rather untidy plot will save time in the long run with watering and in numerous other ways.
This plot wasn't going to come with a shed, as the then incumbent of the tenancy was going to dismantle it and move it to a new plot that he has moved to. Then, after a number of delays and setbacks in us taking over the tenancy, the previous tenant suggested he leave the shed in-situ; a suggestion that was gladly agreed to! To be honest that was a great relief as I'm not sure we'd have got around to getting a shed this side of the busy spring sowing season.
So, as you may have seen in our November plot tour (which came right at the end of the month!) the shed is in pretty good nick. It's dry inside, especially given we've had lots of rain recently, though the outside did look a bit worn and forlorn. It's certainly had a lot of wear and tear over the years from the ravages of the great British weather.
Another of the useful items left by the previous tenant was half a large pot of green shed paint. On opening it it was all good to use, so on Friday I set to, halfway through the afternoon as the sun was going down and the temperature was dropping! Now, painting is not something that Richard normally allows me to do. I'm more of a 'splosh it on' type of person and not one that gets the edges straight and creates no visible brushmarks. However, on this occasion, with winter really beginning to set in now and our nights touching 0°, it was best to get some paint on the shed to protect the wood over winter than just leave it for another for 5 months. And before anyone says it, I know this isn't the perfect weather to paint a shed, though it was the perfect time to paint it so paint it I did!
Richard hasn't seen it yet, and I know he's looking for a much lighter sage green than this rather murky green, so this will do as an undercoat until Richard can sort out all the design styles and features of this (his?) new shed.
He did suggest in the November tour video that maybe we could raise the roof... I thought he meant opening a bottle of champagne which I thought a terrific idea... then I realised he did actually mean raising the roof of the shed, as he couldn't stand up straight! Now, I'm not a great one for hammers and nails either, so in my head raising a shed roof is akin to the challenges of raising the Titanic!
However, as in all things, time will tell...
A Guernsey Gardener in London, Day 16
...long term partners.