Whether you’re gardening or digging deep up on the plot, horticulture is thought of as a healthy activity. After all, not only are you exercising and breathing in Mother Nature’s finest O2, but you’re growing healthy foods to eat and enjoy. It’s perfect! What could ruin this ideal relationship? Well my friends gather close, as I tell a dark tale that will shatter your dreams and leave you in a restless slumber. This is a saga of late that I wouldn’t wish upon any of you fine allotmenteers. It’s a story of heartbreak, tragedy… and a whole lot of itching.
A few weeks ago, after a vigorous digging session on the plot, I returned home nursing a sore shoulder. To my annoyance, it would seem I tore the muscle. But after some much-needed rest and bedside attention from my loving wife, who I’ve now named Nurse Betty, I was soon back in action.. or so I thought.
Two nights ago, I managed to get home from work a little early and saw it as a prime opportunity to spend some quality time in the garden; those cucumbers won’t water themselves you know! With plants watered, cucumbers and lettuce harvested, I ventured inside to show my organic trophies to Nurse Betty. Nevertheless, within ten minutes my arms, legs, back and head were inflamed in a stinging rash. Turns out there was a posse of midges lurking in the lavender waiting for me. I never saw them coming, they were swift, professional and merciless. Thankfully they left me my wallet, but they also left me in a lot of pain.
At work the next day, I quickly realised my fingers had taken on a new form, they were now resembling large sausages. And to accompany them was a set of swollen knuckles and puffy wrists. To complete my new look, I soon became aware that my lips, tongue and ears were taking on new exaggerated dimensions. No longer was I of the chiselled jaw, strong nose and a cheeky glint in the eye (I should stop reading Mills & Boon), but I had adopted the look of something form a Star Wars set. And it wasn’t the dashing Harrison Ford (damn that Mills & Boon!)
I made a quick call to Nurse Betty who urged me to come home. I immediately left my colleagues dazed and confused as I ran from the building hunched and yelling ‘Don’t look at me, I’m a monster!’. Getting through rush-hour London is never easy, but trying to do so with your facial features dragging along the floor is a whole new challenge. Once home, Nurse Betty speedily drove me to the hospital.
On arrival I was clearly a source of amusement, as the nurses and staff looked on at the whimpering monster, throwing peanuts and encouraging me to ‘dance monkey boy, dance!’ Would this be how I’d end my days? Roaming the abandoned allotments of Hertfordshire in search of peace and a quiet place to grow potatoes?
Of course I’m making light of the situation. Truth is, the staff were brilliant and soon got me back to my normal self, although the ego was slightly dented.
So although the shoulder is once again hurting as I type, the face tender and I’ve just discovered several large insect bites where the sun doesn’t sun, the allotment is bursting with produce, as you can see, so I must be doing something right.
Love your garden, love your allotment but most of all love yourself. Take care on those muddy beds out there, don’t overdo it. Wear sunscreen and make sure you always carry a large axe for any insect posse looking for an easy target. Otherwise, you could end up looking like me.