Ok, so where is everybody, huh? Two big, beautiful blue sky days and it's just me and a couple of allotment elders getting on with it.
I fell out of love with allotment this year and am assuming others have too (rain, slugs, blight, sweetcorn thieving foxes etc). I walked past plots en route to my own and I counted the amount who have given up judging by the over grown mess - it's about 50/50 I'd say or maybe 40 per cent have downed tools.
If you're prone to melancholy (and occasionally I can be persuaded) this time of year on the allotment is... if not sad, then poignant - the gardening year is coming to a close, most things are dead, or dying. The scraps of carpet and tarpaulin are rolled out and the whole business is put to bed. It's left to the pages of seed catalogues to inspire and by mid November vegetable growing becomes an imaginative pursuit rather than a physical one. (Sure you can plant broad beans in the winter, but why would you? For something tastier, maybe.)
I heard from a fellow allotmenteer that there is no longer a waiting list for plots and they admitted they've given half of their own patch away too. This saddens me because it seems the Grow Your Own revival, kick started four five years ago, is spluttering to a halt.
It felt quieter today. More than it should for this time of year. No bustle of getting last things planted, like garlic and onions (or am I too early?) or tidying up before the cold kicks in. Those over enthusiastic allotment types, once so passionate they wanted to advise you on what to grow where and when and how, now can't summon the enthusiasm to visit even their own plot, let alone advise on mine.
I hope by spring the enthusiasm grows back or perhaps it was just an off weekend, it was certainly an off year.
Meantime garlic ordered, onions too. Flirted with the idea of forcing hyacinths again. Amazing what a couple of sunshine filled days can do.