At the ripe old age of thirty three I have had more than a few ribbings from the city boys and girls at work when I tell them I recently took over an allotment.
You see I am a city boy too. Born, work, breathing in but now commuting from the Las Vegas of Essex - Sarfend on Sea.
You will never hear me put our great capital city down either. I love London with all its history, commerce, pace, wealth and energy which draws in its millions of young vibrant subjects from around the globe "and Essex" striving to succeed in the arts and commerce. I am extremely proud to be part of this.
So you may wonder why somebody like me would have wanted a patch of dirt not turned over since the days when Anglo Saxons of Prittlewell inhabited the lands. Covered in brambles and weeds with tree roots as thick as a Halfords customised exhaust pipe "Much loved by the local boy racers". The clay earth so caked from heavy machinery ripping through the overgrowth that it would give a pneumatic drill a run for its money. Full of half buried treasures like fence posts, barbed wire, mesh, glass fragments and London bricks.
My reasons where simple, with weight gain being right at the very top the pile. Working long hours staring at a screen, drinking beer on all the social nights out, watching too much of the idiot box on the evenings in and trying to be the best FIFA 2007 player in the world on the PS3 far too long all contributed to me becoming what is commonly known as a fat arse. I hate the Gym, I'm in the bottom half of below average at football. The swimming pool is always full of screaming oiks and you can never do lanes.
I do enjoy trying not to kill green things with some success in the garden. Apart from applying five years of grass feed in one go a couple of years back turning our lovely green garden into a scorched death patch for the rest of the year I have had many a happy day cutting, chopping and planting in our little garden. Having two sons though means they need their play space and cultivating anything in the garden short of the few borders and shrubs we have would take valuable playing space away from them which wasn't an option.
Spending time with the boys where you can really communicate with them and teach them to listen and learn is really important. So a combination of several reasons brought me to the romantic notion of contacting the local council and signing up for project Lotty in April 2008.
So on the Friday of May 11th 2008 when I got the calling to say I had a chance to take on an allotment it dawned on me that there would be blood. On Saturday I armed myself with a book on the subject at hand and bought half the seeds at Homebase. Sunday morning came I took my six year old over to the plot equipped with a wheelbarrow salvaged from a skip which went sideways. Loaded into the wonky wheelbarrow went the fork, spade, a rake, two cans of diet coke and a huge sheet of tarpaulin.
The adventure began.........