Getting messy with it: allotment love-in



Well we had a lovely Easter holidays, and one of the things that I was thinking about at the end of it is how ridiculously lucky we are to live here in mid-Sussex in terms of fun child-rearing opportunities.  We had a brilliant afternoon in the mud kitchen at Wakehurst, a day jumping in the hay bales at Middle Farm, a fantastic day at Chartwell (had never been but one of my absolute faves), an Easter egg hunt at Borde Hill, and plenty of playing in the local parks and woods and, with my much-used National Trust membership and my slightly more extravagant Borde Hill Membership (we love it there and so nice to be able to take the dog too), none of it cost an arm and leg.  Plus the mornings lounging in our pyjamas watching films and NOT doing the school run didn't cost anything at all!

So the big topic in our family at the moment really is the allotment.  It is my new happy place. I LOVE it!! It is so peaceful* and pretty there and I love the feeling of being amongst all the different plots that people have put so much work in to, packed with lots of fresh fruit and veg and flowers.  I have become a total allotment geek. And the good news is that the kids are on board (so far - for no more than an hour at a time, and with at least a week between visits)! Sam in particular loves to dig and as our plot has been untouched for three years there is a lot of it to do.  We take fold up chairs down there so that anyone that gets fed up can just sit and colour/snack/shout abuse at the rest of us but actually generally they are all really enjoying pottering around/digging/searching for worms/throwing earth at each other. We have planted carrots, onions, beans, sprouts and sweetcorn and have got big plans for raspberries once we have dug enough of it over.  The fact that I have now got Gardener's World on series link and that I sometimes TAKE NOTES WHILST WATCHING IT says a lot about my swift transition from general loser to specific allotment loser and I am embracing it wholeheartedly.

*Obviously when I say peaceful I mean until the five of us (plus dog) come trooping in shouting and crying and howling and dragging tools (and that's just me and the husband) and in general shatter the lovely calm lives of all the lovely (and very accepting and supportive) people that escape down there to do some gardening and get away from it all.

We haven’t read any new books that have stood out over the last couple of weeks so I will recommend an absolute favourite of ours for years now, which is the Kitty Lacey series by Abie Longstaff.   My friend Susie gave Nancy 'The Fairytale Hairdresser and Sleeping Beauty' for her 3rd birthday and it was an instant favourite. We have collected all of them over the years (Eeek! Just looking on Amazon and they have got a Princess and the Frog one coming out soon) and Nancy and Sam both love all of them completely.  Kitty is a hairdresser in a world populated with all the fairy tale characters, who approach her for hair styling and answers to their complicated life problems, which she inevitably solves with kindness for a happy ending (i.e. princess getting the prince) all round. 'Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls' it is not, but it is packed with lovely colourful pictures that the kids like spotting the different fairy tale characters in and the stories are cleverly woven around the old ones the kids know by heart.  We often give them as birthday presents on my kids suggestion because we enjoy them so much.