It was some 32 years ago, with babes in arms and toddlers tugging as apron strings that a friend and I decided we ‘needed some space’.
Not being ‘ladies what lunch’ nor great shoppers, as funds wouldn’t allow, we embarked upon following our mutual love of gardening and decided we’d have an allotment.
As so many have done before, and have done since we started digging and clearing without having a clue what was involved in our ‘time for ourselves’ and what hard physical work it was.
Allotments were much ignored and neglected in those days so we had a choice of hundreds of plots around the borough and elected on plot 28 (my birthday) on Hampton Court Way Allotments with c 1/10th being tended.
We loved it from the moment we started!
Our neighbours, nearly all retired gentlemen of varying ages looked upon us with a twinkle in their eyes and I reckon thought we’d be here today, gone tomorrow! They were kind and generous in the sharing of their knowledge as well as plants + seedlings. My favourite mentor was George McCrone, who I’ll talk about later.
Kate and I would escape to ‘the farm’ on a Sunday morning leaving our husbands with the little ones and had the greatest time taking out any frustrations with a spade, taking energy from the earth and the sun too. We had some help from our men in erecting a shed as we needed somewhere to pee in private!
It was such a productive time. We grew every vegetable and fruit and learned running but unfortunately, for me, Kate and family moved to the New Forest a couple of years later, leaving me ‘holding the baby’, but not for long.
The networking and friendship of young mothers soon saw 6 of us sharing the plot. This escape became a women’s co-operative and refuge for us all, where we were able to support each other and our experiences of parenthood. Peace was shattered for a while, being the perfect mothers we were, we started to encourage the children to join us in our antics – mine really weren’t that bothered and for most the enthusiasm waned, and we had our space again. We were even interviewed on a daytime TV programme which created a flurry of excitement.
One allotment became 2 and then came the Kingston Beekeepers who took on 2 plots for their group apiary (where beehives are kept) and Yvonne asked if I fancied going to learn to keep bees – never, ever had I been much aware nor interested in bees and my immediate response was ‘yes why not?’ and that’s how it started….