Jackie drove me to and from New Milton for my trip for lunch with Norman.
The trains to Waterloo are very cramped. Space has been designed to accommodate people of, at best, average height and girth. Opposite me in a cluster of four seats without a dividing table, a young woman squeezed her legs around a huge piece of airline hold baggage which was wedged against the seat alongside mine, ensuring that no-one would be able to occupy it. There was room for her luggage neither in the overhead racks, nor in the corridors. When she invited me to use her hard-cased pink carrier as a perch for my coffee I remarked that it was impossible to imagine that this line served an airport. She replied that she was travelling all the way to London and was going to work. She said she had been informed at the ticket office that this was a commuter train, and people using the airport, with the consequent large baggage holders, should not be availing themselves of it. Our conversation took place while the stationary train was loading and unloading passengers at Southampton Airport (Parkway) station. I have, in the past, used these same trains on my journeys from London to the airport.
Taking my usual route from Waterloo, and passing Tenterton Gardens allotments on my way from Preston Road to Norman’s, I watched a gentleman tending a rather splendid array of pumpkins. This reminded me of the teenaged Matthew who lovingly nurtured an enormous example of these in his allotment at Cottenham Park in the early 1980s. One morning our son was devastated to find that his prize exhibit had been stolen by intruders overnight. These North London gardeners’ plots are enclosed within a vast and lofty strong metal cage, and can only be entered by use of a key. Would that Mat’s more established facility had been similarly protected.
I have mentioned allotments on several occasions now. Today, for the benefit of those not familiar with the term as used by gardeners, I reproduce the following explanation from Wikipedia:
‘An allotment garden (British English), often called simply an allotment, or a community garden (North America) is a plot of land made available for individual, non-commercial gardening or growing food plants. Such plots are formed by subdividing a piece of land into a few or up to several hundreds of land parcels that are assigned to individuals or families. Such parcels are cultivated individually, contrary to other community garden types where the entire area is tended collectively by a group of people. In countries that do not use the term allotment (garden), a community garden can refer to individual small garden plots as well as to a single, large piece of land gardened collectively by a group of people. The term victory garden is also still sometimes used, especially when a community garden dates back to World War II or I. [This comes from the slogan ‘Digging for Victory’ which encouraged people to grow their own food]
The individual size of a parcel generally ranges between 50 and 400 square metres, and often the plots include a shed for tools and shelter. The individual gardeners are usually organised in an allotment association, which leases or is granted the land from an owner who may be a public, private or ecclesiastical entity, and who usually stipulates that it be only used for gardening (i.e. growing vegetables, fruits and flowers), but not for residential purposes (this is usually also required by zoning laws). The gardeners have to pay a small membership fee to the association, and have to abide by the corresponding constitution and by-laws. However, the membership entitles them to certain democratic rights.’
Jackie had not been idle in my absence. At the entrance to the back drive she had planted a row of flowers on the bank between the brushwood and the gate on one side, and carried out some heavy pruning on the other.