I’m a 50-something translator and mad keen gardener/cook/allotmenteer. Originally from Cheshire, I’ve also lived in the Peak District in the charming village of Rainow, in Rhu on the West Coast of Scotland, where I had a 2-acre woodland garden with superb peaty loam and a perfect Gulf stream climate (oh, and the joy of midges) and I’m now on the borders of Sussex and Kent, with a lot more sunshine (usually – it hasn’t stopped deluging for the past three weeks!) and heavy clay soil.
When we moved down from Scotland just over ten years ago, we were following my then husband’s job and bought a lovely house in the little village of Mark Cross, some 6 miles south of Tunbridge Wells, with a 2-acre garden complete with beautiful views extending up to the North Downs. The garden had been lovingly landscaped and had huge scope for my dreams of an extensive vegetable garden and orchard, but it wasn’t to be: said husband waltzed off with his secretary three months into the Southern dream and it was soon apparent that neither the mortgage nor the huge garden was sustainable on my own! My teenage boys, then aged 11 and 14, did their best with the tractor mower on the vast expanse of grass, and my green-fingered parents helped as best they could, but we were fighting a losing battle, especially as I now had to gradually increase my previously part-time work load to full-time, albeit still from home.
Fast forward fifteen years and I’m now divorced, living in a much smaller 30’s semi in the nearby village of Wadhurst, with a tiny courtyard back garden, marginally bigger front garden and an allotment to pander to my grow-your-own needs. My elder son is now married with a baby of his own, while the younger one got married last year and now lives in Boston with his American wife – and a community garden (allotment!) of his own. I’ve now been recording my thoughts on gardening/food/allotments in general for the past five years, and it’s been a genuine labour of love – as well as an excellent recipe file/gardening task/plant reminder for me and my family. I love my job with a passion, but the gardening/cooking is what keeps me grounded throughout good times and bad – not forgetting my faithful helper Leo, of course…. Sadly, I lost Poppy the springer earlier this year at the good old age of 13 1/2, but her soul lives on in my garden and in my allotment.