In 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?
Our new shed is installed. The old one survived the storm, but with cold and wet weather likely to feature over the next few months, we decided that a shed large enough to sit out weather in was needed. My brilliant allotment neighbour built me a 7’x8′ shed out of pallets (for a very reasonable fee) – it even has a reclaimed window in it to offer some light during the darker months. I have always felt that the allotment should be a place where we reuse and recycle and it really pleases me to know that the shed is constructed from such materials – I think we’ll continue that theme when insulating and decorating it.
My other allotment neighbour persuaded us that we should also invest in a little wood burning stove for the shed. It’s a bit of an expense; but one thing I’ve learnt over six years of having an allotment and a family, is that if your children are happy and comfortable at the plot, then it means you can get lots done on your visits. Also, I find the allotment the place where I can relax the most, and I’ve been dreading not being able to visit due to the weather. Having the stove and a snug shed should help me to continue to enjoy the peace if he plot – whatever the weather and life throws at me.