Friday, July 26, 2013

An English Country Garden

More gorgeous summer weather here: long, sunny days, bright blue skies with little fluffy clouds in them, and only a very occasional shower. It's the perfect weather for stretching out on a lawn with a glass of Pimms, or perhaps a cup of tea if it's before 11am.

Sadly, we have no lawn. Nor does most of Saltburn. At least not those of us who live in 'the town' ( the suburban streets that stretch out beyond the town centre are a different story). These terraces all have yards, instead. A yard, over here, is not the grassy area with trees and a white picket fence that Americans might be picturing. A yard is a small, paved outdoor area that is more about utility than leisure. It was a space to house your coal, dry your washing, and even house your outdoor loo, back in the day. Now we have the luxury of indoor plumbing, most yards are probably a more balanced mix of business and pleasure.

Ours is probably fairly typical. Yes, it houses our bikes and our bin. And we use it to hang our washing to dry on 'good drying days'. But we have space for a couple of pots of plants, a barbecue, and a place to sit.
It's a little crowded, but it works for us.

And for those who want more outdoor space, Saltburn has plenty of allotments - little patches of land for rent, to grow fruit and veg, flowers, or just have a little grassed area for chilling out in. I'm explaining it for the benefit of American readers, because I think the closest thing you have there are 'Community Gardens' in cities. But here, most cities and towns have allotments, in many cases a relic of World War II, when people were encouraged to 'dig for Britain'.

There are more allotments here than I've ever seen in a town. Walking out of Saltburn through the allotments it feels as if the allotments go on for longer than the town itself.
Allotment City

Neatly kept and well secured
Allotments are a lot of work, and if you don't keep yours up to a decent standard, the council will send you a strictly worded letter. Or, worse, take the allotment off you. So you really have to be out there once or twice a week, keeping up with your weeding and harvesting your crops.

Last year we rented the most cockamamie flat in London because of its garden - which we then admired through the window all summer as sheets of rain came down and turned the patch of lawn into a quagmire, and fat, rain-happy slugs ate all my peas. This year, I'm perfectly happy with our little concrete patch, our pots of herbs, and a place to sit and sip a beer while TLOML fires up the barbecue.

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