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Let me be utterly honest with you guys. The moment I saw my new allotment for the first time, I wanted to turn around and walk away! Had I gone there on any other day, maybe that would be the case.
By now I am convinced though, that everything happens for a reason. The reason why I went to see the plot on that particular day and time was to meet my angel - Violet. I mean... even her name is that of one of my favourite flowers!
I arrived at the closed gate of Coxford Allotments with 'Keep this gate locked at all times' warning on it and waved at her to come closer. I asked if I could come inside to view the allotment I was offered, as this would save me an extra trip to the city centre to pick up the key from the city council. She was not only happy to do this, but also walked around with me, to find No 14A.
This was the second time I was offered allotment this year. I waited over 2 years for this to happen and I received the letter in January, while I was lockdown in Netherlands. By the time I got in touch with allotment department, my plot was already offered to somebody else. I was a little disappointed, but I also believe in divine time and order. Everything happens just when we're ready for it and the full picture can rarely be seen from where we stand.
Next letter found me when I was back home and struggled to find a good reason to get out of bed in the morning. Can't argue with perfect timing.
So here I am, walking with Violet along beautifully organised allotment plots, nice colourful sheds, cute little ponds, fruit trees and tables with chairs. I get all happy and excited just by looking at all this.
Finally we arrive at the end of the plot, where trees block a lot of the sun and the most overgrown little corner, with thorny blackberry rumbles covering two thirds of the space is where No 14A is located.
Like I said... I almost walked away. Violet must have seen the panic on my face, as she's instantly by my side.
'Don't get yourself overwhelmed girl, you don't need to do this all overnight, it's a long-term project' she says. 'This is how you do it (...)' she adds, as she shows me how to cover pieces of land with dark fabric or plastic to exclude light, which naturally kills everything growing underneath it. 'Then you wait a few weeks or months, after which you can start digging the ground. Do a little bit at the time and enjoy yourself. What you see on my plot is a result of 3 years of work.' she adds before continuing on her own story of how she got her allotment and all the challenges she experienced.
I can feel the truth when I hear it... usually I get goose bumps all-over my body. I also know, that this lovely Lithuanian women is going to be an important part of this new journey I already decided to embark on. She also liked the fact that I was Polish. A fellow East European seems to be always welcome :)
Apparently it's a nice group of people on this particular allotment plot. Unlike in other places where people steal from each other! Nobody likes that. I remember being a naughty child, stealing a few cherries from trees on peoples allotments too. Not very proud of it, but children do many naughty things and later they grow out of it. But adults stealing from their neighbours is not cool. I'm happy to have this place. I hear they have plan a party at the end of the season too if covid regulations allow. Well, I'm planning to attend it :)
'See you next time' I say, as I walk outside and get on my bike.
'I very much hope so' she says, while staring me right in the eye as she locks the gate after me. I liked this a lot. An honest, heartfelt look of this woman reminds of one of the reason why I applied for an allotment in the first place. That is to learn how to grown my own food from people who've been doing it for a while already.
Both my nans had gardens/allotments too. Both lived around 300km away from where I lived with my parents and brother. We would spend every summer holiday up to the age of 10 at either of their places. Together with my cousins I would run to the garden to pick carrots, parsnips, cucumbers and tomatoes for the dinner/supper. Some years we would arrive early enough that strawberries were still plentiful, so I could also stuff my face with them. We would also go foraging in the abundant forests surrounding nana's house. I joked that she lived at 'the end of the world'. These days I look at it as a green lungs of Poland, where there are many more butterflies than in any other region.
I was never there for the planting/digging part of the gardening journey however. I didn't learn about crops rotation and organic ways of discouraging the pests from eating our crops. So now it's my time to learn and I know that I have already found one teacher, Violet. I smile a lot while cycling back through a small patch of woodlands between my house and allotments, where birds are chirping happily. It takes me less than 5 minutes to cycle there, but any reason to get on a bike is a good reason for me.
Once I'm back home, I started looking for the previous letter about the allotment from January this year. Seen the plots now, I'm very curious to see which one was I offered before. Guess what...
It was plot 14A!
It went to somebody else, who probably also thought it was too much of a hard work and eventually returned it back to the council. I kid you not - I had exactly the same experience, when I was buying the house I live in right now. I offered a price, someone else offered more and I was soaking for a few days. Then I got an email from the agency, saying that the buyer changed their mind and I could put another offer.
'What's for me, will not pass me' is another quote I live by. Allotment No 14a and I are meant for each other!