Time to Dig

As the first frosts hit the plot, its time to clear away the final signs of a summer of growing. The ever-growing nasturtium have wilted under the frost and the courgette plants have long given up producing their fruits. With the weather dry and bright, if  a little chilly, I’ve taken the opportunity to clear and dig over the big bed at the front of the plot.


I always used to hate digging, but recently have found it to be a very therapeutic activity. First of all its a good workout; apparently you can burn 600-700 calories in an hours digging, and even three hours of general gardening burns a similar amount of calories. The active part of having an allotment really helps to clear the head and increase motivation, but I find that the very nature of turning over soil to start again is a useful metaphor for trying to forge a new balance and direction in my life.

I also took the opportunity to add some organic material, manure, to the soil. Although we’ve been improving the soil since taking on the plot, it still benefits from the addition of some well rotted manure to loosen and aerate the clay soil. Hopefully the winter frosts can help to break up the soil and lead to a fertile start to next year.


A Haven of Calm and Solitude

20131114-125530.jpgIn my role as a teacher I was constantly talking, or listening to others talk. A typical day involved me spending virtually no time on my own. I was also working in a stressful environment. Teaching is not an obviously stressful job – it’s not like a heart surgeon or an air traffic controller. The stress is in the desire to do the best for the children, to give them the best start to life, to ensure they can access the wonderful world of learning.

Since starting my sabbatical I’ve discovered silence and the power of solitude. I’ve come to realise that one needs to have space to think, to do what you want, to just be. The allotment is a vehicle for this. Yes, the plot is hard work to maintain, but there are no targets or pressures from outside. Also, I can go there and do nothing. Just sit, listen and think; and that’s the beauty, I can choose to do something or not. It allows me to control my time and if I want just enjoy the haven of calm.

Where is your haven of calm?