I know we can, I am very sure we can.
If not why not? I truly believe we need less barriers to living this sustainable and very sensible way. What could possibly be said to be an opposing thought for it. I tell you it doesn’t always make that much sense to me. Why not?
So it is finally time to tell my allotment story. It’s not an epic one. It’s not a crazy long one it just is one. So here we go!
I can’t remember a time that I didn’t think ‘ooh I would love an allotment’, a little piece of land to call my own. To do what I wished and to set in motion the fundamental things that I deem important in this life. Living sustainably. I mean in eco and ethical ways in just as much as I mean living with a healthy mind and enjoying the simpler things in life.
We talked when we were younger as a family of moving to France to live in a gite and live the kind of life where you have your own land, you buy your baguette and you drink local red wine. Well unfortunately that never quite happened (well not yet, there is always still time) up to now but it stuck with me for all these years. I was like yes that sounds like a magnificent idea. That is definitely happening one day!
In my grown up years I had taken more of an interest in anything like that such as gardening. The only thing is that my idea of gardening has always been a little off beat shall we say! Wild and untamed as many would describe it. Unruly and untidy as others have said. Being a destroyer of neat lawns is something I am immensely proud of, well now I am anyways.
So I always knew that I was interested in creating something on land, using what we have around us to live a better life, the good life, a more meaningful life. Perhaps even look after ourselves better because of it. Being at one with nature and using it to assist us and work as one to create something.
I have certainly always loved the idea of building my own house or property to live in, on such a piece of land. Over the years I have searched high and low for the perfect bit of land/woodland/meadow to do something with. The perfect dilapidated old building to make into the most serene thing, the most mirror image of me and everything I stand for.
With that all being said I have attempted growing my own vegetables, plants, herbs and the like in gardens, pots and gone to the edge of each one and been left wanting. Nothing ever really fulfils me in the right or needed way and it frustrates me to my core. But nevertheless this craving to work the land and be in harmony with nature on an ’allotment’ has never left me.
So I find myself finally in February 2019 with a potential of actually having my own allotment and it is super local to me, like if I get it, it is on the road round the corner from where we are currently living and that feels super exciting. Anyway still waiting for the final word of having it first but fingers crossed.
I got the call and we are in, I am keen to sign up and get started. I am finally living my allotment dream. Unfortunately by myself, on my own and although that was never my plan I have got to go with it as that is just the way it is. The dream of biking along to the allotment with my basket and my apron with my husband beside me ready to go pick some stuff, ready to work the land. Well that just aint a reality so I better get over that and get cracking on it. There is too mucho get done. Best thing in the real reality of the world, funnily enough is doing it on my own, which if I am honest I was very nervous about. I get to choose exactly what I do with that space, I get to pick what to grow, what not to grow and it is then everything I want it to be and that is just perfect for me. Well very much hard work for one lone soul but best not complain, the moment is finally here. Let’s go live the dream…
Well sort of…
Look I knew it was going to be hard work I really did. I didn’t go into it lightly but heck I put my back in to it. A bit too much some times through the first couple of months. So did my dad too. The kids had a really good go at it too. We made okay progress during those first few months as the plot we had been given was in a pretty dire state. There were some products already established and in full flow like the rhubarb and the yellow raspberries but apart from that it was in a bit of a state now I come to think of it. When I say a state what I mean is there were a lot of overgrown areas with enough weeds to finish me off!! It is all okay though as we took each section by section and slowly started to see progress and even started to plant some of our own produce. A bumper crop of onions and potatoes were grown and we did pretty well considering.
Unfortunately though at times my mind had different ideas and I was thrown into a little disarray as those of you that follow the In Pursuit of Life blog will know that the previous couple of years for me had been a bit rough and tough and tumble and I was very much finding it hard to move past, move on and literally move myself. We had made the gut wrenching decision to sell my house, my Grandmas house my life had been there, my thoughts for the future all the dreams I had had as a kid could have played out perfectly there. That house unfortunately totally tainted and for my own personal survival reasons I just had to get out and go. When that house sold, our lives changed even more dramatically than they had before, they got easier but they changed and I was struggling to cope. Truly struggling to focus on life and how to keep it together. We moved in to a rented property that would see us through the winter. This would be the house that was round the corner from the allotment, not far from the school and was still near to family and friends. It’s just it never felt like home. We were safe and happy in there. We even spent our first proper Christmas just the three of us in there and it was good. It felt like I was finally free. Finally able to breathe and settle in to my new life. The new life that had been forced upon me.
And that place did see us through the winter and in to the spring and so we had just got started at the allotment and it was then that it hit me that I wasn’t actually doing so well. A couple of incidents and weird stuff that occurred triggered me to realise that I was still in a very bad place and needed to escape even further. Further away from myself, reaching out to give us the best chance to survive this pile of poo and to genuinely be able to say to those loved ones that asked that I was actually okay. Honestly at this time, that was of grave concern to me.
During the February I had enjoyed the most exhilarating part of my life and I knew that I was opening up to ‘me’, I was becoming ‘that person’ and it wouldn’t be too long until I found ‘her’ again. It’s just that within this house we were cold and damp and it was great to get all snuggly every night. Great to use our new Christmas present hot water bottles to keep ourselves warm. Most of the time we all slept together in my double bed. Thats what the kids wanted and I just didn’t have the fight that a parent needs to be firm and set those boundaries because I secretly craved it, I probably needed it just as much as they needed to be with me. We had settled in to our roles in that house, we enjoyed our time, we made the most of what we could but I knew I needed more and deserved so much better for us all.
I knew I had more in me than living squished up, not in a job I wanted, not in the house we wanted, not living the way we wanted. So I looked for somewhere else to live and for me in general life the rest is history and the business and the new way of being has all been allowed because I made that bold move, that changed our security, that upscaled us possibly too soon. That single handedly catapulted us into this awesome reality that I believe we are now living (don’t get me wrong not every day is a good day and I very much still have bad ones, but my gosh it is incredible in comparison) that is living, that is life. On the flip side though it meant moving away from the town we had known, that was our safety and yet our biggest reminder to our life the had got totally flipped upside down. It was a double edged sword. It meant we totally moved on, and moved out. Out of the house, out of the town. Out of a street with lots of people to a lane with few. In the middle of nowhere (which was the main reason went) to a place of my absolute wildest dreams. To be brutally honest it literally really was my wildest dreams – it came from reading a book about how to be a badass where I realised I could manifest whatever I wanted and that it was for the taking.
Anyway I digress again. The main thing about all this is that we had to move to get in a good place mentally and with that we moved away from the allotment and the other parts of life that we had just started establishing. So unfortunately at that point something inevitably has to suffer and that was my time that I was able to get to the plot was lacking and it started to suffer because of it. The stress of moving house for the second time in six months had finally taken its toll and I decided that I needed to focus a little on getting us settled in our new life, new home and new regimes before I could invest time upon anything else.
The allotment looked after itself for a bit and then became almost as overgrown as it was when we first started it. Which frustrated me somewhat but I didn’t really have much other choice. In the May 2019 my car decided it would conk out and need a replacement engine putting in it. I mean seriously as if anything else could go wrong!! Anyway that put even more of a limit on our opportunities to get from our lovely little village hamlet in the middle of nowhere to anywhere at all, to school, to all the kids clubs, to the family never mind then finding time and energy to get back to the plot. Which by this time I could only imagine what it could look like!
Thankfully I didn’t lose heart and neither did the kids, we got ourselves back on our feet again (I mean wheels) and then took the opportunity for the summer to plant and pick and cultivate the plot. We did it as a family and as I had been asked about whether I was going to be able to cope with the allotment then I said yes we can it has just been a bit harder recently. One main issue once we could get to the plot after school say was that within seconds of being there in the fresh air one of the children invariably needed to go to the blooming toilets so we had to leave almost before we got started. Well I remembered in the garage from that summer we had put a portable toilet that we had had for a festival and I asked if we could put that in our shed. The secretary was really good and said of course if that will allow you to be there more and help you.
We then were able to spend more time there, investing more than a few minutes a day and although we had moments when we weren’t great at getting there and we arrived back and I had to start the whole process again we kept on trying. We planted lavender down each side of our plot. Bought and planted some dwarf fruit trees along with strawberries and courgette plants. We also had some brilliant tomatoes we managed to grow there. At the end of the summer I planted a batch of bulbs including tulips, narcissis and daffodils. I really wanted some pops of colour and more floral life to be down there. So for me and for the kids we felt like we were getting somewhere. We were putting our best foot forward and put in as much effort as we ever had, whilst they were at school every day, clubs nearly every night for one of them, and me working 3 days a week. It wasn’t easy but we were happy with our little bit of paradise our little bit of space. We made it our own, we made it as much us as we could.
Its just that that wasn’t necessarily good enough. It didn’t feel that right. I wasn’t even sure that we were growing what we really wanted to grow and how we wanted to grow it. So here comes the big changes and the big shifts for me in to how that plot – little old 12b – was to become the centre point and pinnacle to some even bigger monumental changes that I perhaps still would not realise until now, the time I am writing this article.
Although I am sorry to say that I will be saving that little juicy bit for Part 2!
🩲We strive every single day to lead a healthier, happier more holistic way of life. With an allotment plot, permaculture lifestyle in our garden & using eco products or designing & making things out of recycled, reused stuff.
Living a more sustainable life at the allotment… @amiealissadesign
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