It wasn’t intentional. And no, she wasn’t conceived at the allotment.
But a couple of weeks after giving birth, I discovered my daughter shared her name with a humble spud. Well, more of a speciality potato to be precise.
Unfortunately, so too did Mick on the next plot.
‘Are you going to stick her in the ground then?’ he joked triumphantly.
The first time I laughed (just.) The twentieth time, I felt like sticking him in the ground.
I’m not sure if Mick has short term memory issues, or if he just likes winding me up. I suspect maybe the latter. Either that or he finds his own jokes so hilarious he has to keep repeating them.
He’s what you’d call one of the ‘allotment characters.’ I don’t think I’ve ever been to the plot when he hasn’t been there. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a pull down bed in his shed, along with a battery-powered teasmaid and wind up TV.
There are times, lots of them, when Mick is more than just a little distracting. There are times when I envy his weed free plot, his ruler straight lines of carrots, his finely hoed soil.
I know more about Mick’s parsnips than I do about his family, but I do know that he rarely sees his grandchildren, half of whom live on the other side of the world. No wonder he spends all his time at the plot. Allotments aren’t just about food, they’re communities. Mick’s eyes light up when he’s sees J, and particularly D. She’s taken to following him around. Soon, he’ll be picking her strawberries.
There are times when I crave just an hour’s solitude in which to sow seeds, pull weeds, gaze at Spring taking shape. But then I see Mick: a perfect plot and no-one to share it with. And I feel infinitely blessed to have a family to trample over my hard grown produce.
Ironically, I don’t grow potatoes. I don’t see the point when they take up so much space and are cheap to buy. They don’t even count as one of your five a day.
Mick grows King Edwards. He’s always grown King Edwards. But this year he’s growing Anyas. I’m strangely touched.
And here she is.