29th December 2021, and its been ages since I last had my hands in the soil. Ages too since I wrote anything aside from Christmas cards and correspondence. There hasn’t been a new blog post since July. And yet, here I am, tucked up at my desk with two hot water bottles (one tucked inside my blanket, the other wrapped in a tea-towel on the footstool in just the right place to rest my socks on; it smells of a mixture of my Nan’s home, talcum powder, and old rubber.) alternating my gaze from the screen to the grey window and back. The refuse collectors have just emptied the recycling wheelie bins and clattered back down the lane. The postman shoved a couple of late Christmas cards through the door as I sat down. A neighbour trudges past the window. Smatterings of wood pigeons momentarily fill the bleak sky before connecting with the trees, likely disturbed by a winter game shoot further down the lane. Life continues in its rhythm, but I feel separate, wrapped and cocooned by the quiet of the empty room. A few days now with no social engagements, a few more after that before I am due to return to work. I listen to the steady tick of the mantle piece clock, mindful for a moment of the texture of the blanket on my lap and the strains of robin song that drifts through the rooms from the pyracantha outside the back door. Old wooden frames and single glazing means the outside is never entirely shut out; something I’ve grown accustomed to and I find it strange to feel the isolation that fills other peoples homes, noticed in that moment that hangs between them shutting the front door and offering a cup of tea.
I glance out the window again. The twigs of old cherry on the green are not smooth, but dotted all along with thickening buds. Across the lane too, the sycamore and the ashes hold fat triangular tips; some of the ash wont open and they’ll likely be felled this year, and the sycamore will take advantage of the space without hesitation.

It’s a regular pattern that I find myself here at this time of year; maybe writing is a way to make sense of the year gone and straighten out my thoughts ready for the new one, or perhaps its simply a way to pass the time whilst I wait for the rain to stop so I can go out for a much needed walk. And to procrastinate on the washing up.

We have decided to leave our allotment. The Cutty Garden where I have spent 5 years tending the ground and growing flowers and vegetables and myself, has reached a turning point where it it time for its custodianship to change. I’ll miss it, but there are reasons that I wont, also. Work needs to be done over the next few months; plants lifted and brought into containers at home, rubbish cleared, generally making good ready for the new tenant.

The rain is easing a bit but it’s turned into that sideways sort of drizzle that gets down the back of your collar and soaks through the thighs of your trousers. I don’t think I’ll be getting out for that walk today.

I received a cookbook and a novel for Christmas, and a DNA/ancestry testing kit. Lovely gifts, perfect for this grey home-binding weather. Although I’d’ve been just as pleased with them if it had been bright, sparkling and frosted outside. Or snow, snow would’ve been exciting.

I planted some Lilly of the Valley ‘bulbs’ (I’m not sure, are they actually technically tubers… or corms perhaps?) in the last days of autumn. I hope they flower in the spring. That’ll be something to look forward to.

The Cutty Garden, late summer/early autumn; brassicas under netting, dahlias in flower, calendula going to seed.

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