Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Sunset at the allotment, New Year's Eve

While everyone was busy playing football in the garden yesterday I popped out to the recycling centre and to pick up a couple of groceries.  And while I was at the supermarket, I couldn't resist a quick trip over the road to the allotments.

The sun was about to set, I had the whole site to myself, and honestly it was a magical moment.

This is my plot, from the marker down to the green shed and the hedge at the bottom.  And how different (and manageable!) it looks in deepest winter.  Everything is stripped back to the bare bones.  I stood for a while remembering what it was like in midsummer.  The first area there, with fruit bushes and raspberry canes, was almost inaccessible.  Where has it all gone?!

I was thrilled to see that the elephant garlic had come up.  It's fairly expensive, and last time I was down here there was no sign of life.  It was an ebay purchase, grown on someone else's allotment, and I only have three cloves, so I'm glad it's looking good.  I've not tried it before, but I think it's supposed to be fairly mild.

Just up the path there was an upended fruit cage.  The weather's been fairly stormy here, with high winds and driving rain.  I'm not sure where the cage came from, so I left it where it was.  I wasn't really wearing allotmenting clothes either!

Sunset.  It was so still and peaceful.  A million miles away from noisy New Year's celebrations and crowds and stress and traffic jams.  I didn't forget to be thankful.

This is the boys' and my favourite shed.  So pretty!

It's like a little house.

The last of the sun was hitting the stone wall at the top of the site.  A good shed, a water butt, a rusty out-all-year chair.  Allotment perfection.

I like how close everything is in our little town.  You can just see the church from the top of the site here, to the left of the big evergreen, a short walk away down the high street.

On the way out I saw this amazing plot.

Lovely isn't it?  Neatly terraced, as the top of the site slopes quite a bit, and absolutely immaculate.  Someone's put in a lot of work and is enjoying a well earned break I think.  One of these days I am going to have to put on my wellies and do some actual work on my plot, instead of just wandering vacuously around with a camera on my way to Tesco...

Just as the sun was setting, in the top of a nearby tree there was a little bird singing his heart out.  You can just make him out.  I think it was a finch of some kind.

Whenever I see this scene in winter it reminds of Thomas Hardy's poem, "The Darkling Thrush".  It was first published at the end of December 1900, and was originally called "The Century's End 1900".  Some of the lines are so utterly beautiful, and as always with Thomas Hardy he perfectly captures the details of the English countryside.  I thought it might be just the thing to share today.

I leant upon a coppice gate
      When Frost was spectre-grey,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
      The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
      Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
      Had sought their household fires.

The land's sharp features seemed to be
      The Century's corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
      The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
      Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
      Seemed fervourless as I.

At once a voice arose among
      The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
      Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
      In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
      Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
      Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
      Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
      His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
      And I was unaware.

Wishing you all much happiness and contentment in 2014.


  1. Absolutely beautiful post - I was there with you at those allotments yet at the same time back in time to when we too had allotments 20 years ago and how I used to like to go there and be by myself sometimes enjoying the views (and thinking of how hopeless it all would be to try and get a plot like the one you saw!) and to finish off you post that wonderful poem which brought a lump to my throat at the thought of that little bird with not a lot to sing about caroling his little soul out. As I said absolutely beautiful. Hope 2014 will bring forth many lovely veggies and much time spent on your plot enjoying the peace and quiet too!

  2. What a lovely site you have. Love the little house too. Our elephant garlic is just shooting it seems to take longer than 'normal' garlic ours is from cloves grown last year too..

  3. What a simply beautiful 'shed'!
    Have a very Happy New Year CJ. And a great veggie growing season.

  4. What a most enjoyable post and terrific pictures. I can see why that shed is a favourite as it's the sort of one I'd like to have. That's a wonderful poem. Flighty xx

  5. Happy New Year to you and your family, I love all of these photos, so beautiful and peaceful.

  6. What a beautiful post CJ. Such lovely photos and the poem was wonderful. I have never read that before. Happy New Year to you and your family - may it be a year of new beginnings. Julie xx

  7. The allotments looks so pretty and well looked after, I love the little green shed. Wishing you all the best for 2014.

  8. Happy New Year CJ... what a lovely post and I can see why that shed is a would be mine too! :o)

  9. Wonderful words and picture to end the year as the sun goes down. Hope you have a successful year in the allotment.
    Sarah x

  10. happy new year to you, may it contain many contented allotment days x

  11. Lovely post, CJ. I really look forward to more allotment visits on your blog, it captures my imagination every time. I so wish we did this here, especially in the desert where I live. Think of the water that could be saved. Thank you for sharing the poem too, it had been a long time since I'd read Hardy and it was great to have a refresher.

  12. What a beautiful alloment site, it is so lovely to see all the little details that people have added, those terraces and the lovely little green shed are just divine. I hope that the elephant garlic growing goes well for you. Happy New Year. xx

  13. What a beautiful spot to have all to yourself. Garlic on Ebay - who would have thought! I'm more of the solitary type and would prefer to putter around in my grubby clothes by myself, but the allotment plan is a really nice idea for building community and giving people the chance to provide for themselves a little bit.

  14. What a lovely site, those benches at the side are in the perfect spot for a bit of quiet contemplation. Everything looks rather bare in winter but it will all be springing back in to life again soon enough. Love the sheds, the one like a little green house is so cute.

  15. All the allotments at your site look so well tended, CJ (at least from what I can see in your photos!). I drive past allotments on the road to Brent Cross and at least a quarter are overgrown and unkempt - such a shame when there's a waitlist! The terraced allotment you show is awesome! It will be interesting to have a peek later in the year to see what they grow there!
    I often like to just have a little wander round my veg patch, camera in hand; I tell myself I'm making a mental note of the work that needs to be done! A lovely post, as usual - wishing you and yours all the best for 2014, and thanks for your brilliant posts. Caro x

  16. I wish we still had our allotment it was such fun - good luck with yours and happy New Year x

  17. You have reminded me I haven't got my garlic in yet, gulp still time......thank you for the lovely tour around your patch. Happy new Year!

  18. Happy New Year CJ! Interesting plot. I love the little green house. Have a wonderful year and wonderful allotment

  19. Idyllic! (I like the "immaculate" plot best of course!). Nice poem too. Must have been a shock to have to go into Tesco afterwards...

  20. Happy New Year CJ! I love reading about your allotment. It really looks magical at all different times throughout the day. It's nice you can stop by it and find peace even if you only have a few minutes.

  21. Replies
    1. Thank you Stephanie, and thanks for visiting.

  22. There is something special about allotments. Yours looks wonderful. I miss mine. An allotment is such a wonderful community with everyone helping each other. Have you come across the allotment paintings of Chris Cyprus? They sum up the magic of an allotment. I wish you much joy on yours for 2014.

    1. I hadn't seen his paintings, but I've looked them up now, and they're wonderful. I do love pictures and photos of allotments, I'm not sure why, but I just adore them. Thank you for your good wishes.

  23. Allotment love abounds here.
    Lovely pictures. Thank you

  24. Over from Flighty who mentioned you. What a lovely post and gorgeous piccies. I love the allotments and it's always nice to have them to

  25. Happy New Year, CJ!!! What a wonderful way to bring in the new year, surrounded by nature and the quiet peace that comes with long winter walks. I always love wandering around the allotment with you and can just hear that bird singing out to serenade your trek. Hope this is a wonderful year!!

  26. I adore your shed, the other shed is very pretty but there's something about yours that makes me smile. The whole allotment looks very well worked which is lovely to see. I love visiting mine on quiet days, heaven!

    Happy New Year x

  27. Allotments are such lovely British things, and I think they are brilliant! To make an effort to grow and to nurture nature. I admire that.
    Everything is green year around in England, I love that about your Island, everything often goes brown here when it's cold or the sun scortches it! But I love seeing the grass so green, green is such a comforting color.
    Much love to you CJ, I wish you peace, happiness and health in the New Year, for you and your family.
    Tammy xx

  28. Hello! Thank you for visiting me! I love allotments with there patchwork of vegetables and the marvellous, inventive people who care for them....Happy 2014! :) xxx

  29. Your allotments are just gorgeous friend!!! The colors still inspiring during this time of year and the feeling of hope and newness is present. I really like how you mentioned that you didn't forget to be thankful. You get it and I feel so blessed to have connected with you on this blog journey! I look forward to sharing growing stories this season! All the best to you and yours! Nic.

  30. That is a lovely poem ... I haven't read any Thomas Hardy in years. He does always seem to have his finger on the pulse of country life.

    The allotments look beautiful - the more so because they have green grass. (We haven't seen grass for a while now and it will be a few months more before we do.) That terraced plot is amazing. And how exciting to see the elephant garlic sprout - yes, it is much milder than regular garlic. Good luck with it! :)

  31. Oh wow, this is on beautiful allotment, no wonder you love it so much. I look forward to reading your garden stories in the summer and wonder how the elephant garlic will fare. I love all things garlic. Cx

  32. That has always been one of my favourite poems too :)

    I can feel the peace of the allotments on a late winter afternoon absolutely radiating from these pics. Enjoy this quiet sleeping time, spring will soon be keeping you busy there again x

  33. Thank you for sharing that wonderful poem with us, I didn't know it. Your sunset photos are so evocative, I can just imagine the cold and silence. What a lovely thing to do on New Year's Eve. x