Sunday, June 15, 2008


First, some of the fifteen hats, sweet as slices of Battenburg, knitted for the Save the children appeal publicised in "Woman's Weekly", that ancient home of the knitter. The premise is that new-borns lose heat rapidly so hats will save lives. Let's hope it is so. I was less convinced by the injunction to attach a label to each one berating Gordon Brown for his failings. In some world weary corner of my mind,I wonder if that, rather than the knitting, was the point of the campaign.

Next, gooseberries from our allotment. We planted four bushes, thinking of jam, sturdy and reliable producers They are certainly that: unlike tenderer fruit, they overwhelm us with their bounty each year. This is a small proportion of what one bush has produced.

Finally, the green house on our plot. This is the ancestral greenhouse which we dismantled in Ealing and transported to Essex. Months of restoration followed. Then we realised that, although useful as a store and as a shelter, it did not work for plants as it easily became too hot and they dried out.

One day in 2006, we visited the plot after a dreadful storm to find no greenhouse, but shards of glass and splintered wood everywhere. A weaker man might have called it a day at this point, but not my husband; this was his grandfather's greenhouse after all. Weeks of toil saw it restored to its former state, but with several cunning additions; metal stakes in each corner to anchor it and nylon rope over the roofridge lashing it to its breeze-block base. And both of us thoroughly enjoyed the shared project: simple physical work in the open air, re-using old materials, holding on to the past.