I spent Tuesday in London meeting my publisher. Now that’s not a phrase I ever thought I would utter. I still have to pinch myself when I’m in a meeting with my editor chatting about gardening that this is actually happening. None of it feels like my natural habitat. For a start I always feel like a country bumpkin when I visit London. The noise, the traffic and so many people is such a contrast to where I live that I tend to find it all a tad overwhelming. I love the amazing choice of shops and restaurants, the incredible architecture (the old buildings and not all those glass monstrosities) and excellent museums but I generally feel like a fish out of water.
Then, on top of all that I get to have a glimpse inside the world of publishing and I feel like a whale out of water. I was pretty nervous meeting my editor for the first time. Strangely more so than the day I went to London to pitch my idea for the book. My entrance to the office was pretty ignominious when I couldn’t even grasp how to open the door, someone inside saw me struggling and had to open it for me. Defeated by a security keypad didn’t feel like the best entrance I’d ever made but at least I wasn’t wandering around with my skirt tucked in my knickers. It has happened before.
I suppose for some, publishing doesn’t hold much fascination and I’m sure there are boring bits and frustrating elements just like any other job. But for someone who went to a school where the words ambition and creativity didn’t really exist, it does feel exciting to get the opportunity to see into this world. My careers teacher did nothing to show us the world of opportunities out there. There was a handful of brilliant teachers but, on the whole, you either went to work in a local factory or, if you were able to get to university, you would become a teacher. Now there’s nothing wrong with either of these occupations, it’s just frustrating that the expectations were so restricted. Wellyman read this quote on twitter recently from the philosopher Alain de Botton, ‘Most of us still caged within careers chosen for us by our not entirely worldly 18-22 year old selves.’
My natural habitat though is in my jeans and wellies, in the garden or on the allotment. It’s where I feel most comfortable, but the weather recently has meant I haven’t been able to get much done. Nearly three weeks of no rain has allowed the ground to dry out but the bitterly cold wind and freezing temperatures have driven me indoors where it’s warm. I’m aware though that time is moving on and whilst the garden may have had its spring clean the allotment has been in need of some attention.
Last Friday we spotted a pile of chipped bark left behind by the council after a spot of tree shredding. The paths on the allotment were in need of a bark top-up and so on Saturday morning we were gathering bark chippings and filling green waste sacks and rubble bags. Fortunately we didn’t have to make as many trips as we did the first time round.
Then I spent yesterday weeding, edging paths, trimming back autumn raspberry canes and generally making the plot look tidy again. I have to admit a certain degree of vanity has crept in, with regards to the plot, as it will be featuring in photos this summer and I want it to look good. I’ve also joined the allotment committee so I need to be practising what I preach. I can hardly complain about someone else’s plot if my own is a mess.
Inevitably, at this time of year, my body isn’t used to the sort of exertion needed to keep the plot in shape and so there are very few bits today that don’t ache. Signs of buds breaking on the blueberries, shoots of new raspberry canes and the first flowers appearing on my stocks are so exciting though, they make the pain worthwhile.
Despite the generally mild winter the recent cold spell has made a big difference. I know it’s only the first day of March and St David’s Day but my ‘February Gold’ daffodils haven’t flowered yet. Even after the recent severe winters they still flowered in February. It certainly looks like it is going to be a slow start to the growing season. I’d love to know if plants are late to show in your gardens too or is it just mine?