Man vs Pumpkins 

If you’ve been following any of my social media accounts lately you’d have seen that for the past month I’ve essentially been living off pumpkins. As Halloween has now been and gone, and as you are a lovely lot of people who think food waste is baaaad I thought I’d post links to some of the recipes I’ve been using. So here we go. 

1. Sausages and pumpkin roast.

Let’s start with something easy. Delicious.

Sausage and pumpkin roast

2. Pumpkin biryani

This was one of my favourites. Basically because it’s so cool to look at.

Pumpkin biryani

3. Pumpkin and spinach lasagne

My actual favourite. Proper lush.

Pumpkin lasagne

4. Pumpkin falafels

Dead easy to make.

5. Pumpkin topped cottage pie

I’ll come clean, I was a bit pissed when I made this. The leftovers tasted okay mind.

6. Pumpkin and bacon soup

My first ever attempt at making a soup. Not a bad first effort. Probably a bit salty but that was my fault rather than the recipies.

Pumpkin and bacon soup

I also made pumpkin and spinach soup and pumpkin, chilli and coconut soups, which were a lot more successful.

7. Pumpkin cake

I’ll be first to admit it, I am not a baker (well I’m half a Baker, it’s my mum’s maiden name – but I’m not a baker in a literal sense. Although my dad was an actual butcher. Writing this I’ve only just spotted that connection. Weird huh? No candlestick makers in the family that I know of. Anyway I’m digressing). I baked this pumpkin cake and it was as soggy as hell. Tasted okay-ish, and it was fun licking out the bowl of icing. Need more practice.

Pumpkin cake

8. No-churn pumpkin ice cream

Horrific. Again I think this was my fault rather than the recipies as I’ve never made ice cream before. I’d rather eat yellow snow than this nightmare again.

No-churn pumpkin ice cream

9. Pumpkin ale

Yes the recipe is from the Torygraph but don’t hate me lefties. The recipe was simple and easy to follow. However the proof is in the eating (slash drinking) and these bad boys won’t be ready for a couple more days.

Pumpkin ale

I’ve finally run out of pumpkins and have enjoyed experimenting and will definitely be growing them again next year. But until then, if I see another pumpkin meal I will probably kill someone. Enjoy!


Man vs Allotment: Hello again

Hello. It’s been a while. No real excuses for not writing, just work commitments and a bit too much time spent in the pub. This has also meant I’ve not spent as much time up the plot. 

I’ve been trying to get up there at least once a week. But it’s been difficult sometimes. And yes, I feel a bit guilty. The good thing is that all the hard work I did with Monty last summer has paid off and 90B pretty much looks after itself. 

It’s been hit and miss growing wise. Potatoes have been a roaring success. So have my parsnips, carrots, garlic, onions, spinach, jerusalem artichokes, tomatoes, sweetcorn, beetroot, lots of different herbs and bee friendly flowers. Also hops – which are growing over the pub shed, obviously! And I’m on course to have some pretty impressive pumkins. (The gardening innuendos still give me joy. My plums are also impressive this year, and I nearly did myself and injury pulling my parsnip this weekend)!

I wish I could say the same for my peas, runners, kale, broccoli (purple sprouting and regular), salad crops, chillies and courgettes (I had one small courgette – it’s not the size it’s what you do with it). And you can’t win them all.

Life away from the allotment has been pretty interesting too. I’m still volunteering with Incredible Edible Bristol whenever I can and I’ve even joined the steering group. The IEB highlight of the year though, has to be spending four days at the RHS Malvern Spring Show, tending our example beds, spreading the IEB gospel and talking to 1000’s of people about growing in community spaces. I learnt so much that week.

“Supervising” the IEB gang at the Edible Park

I also spent a week volunteering on a market garden farm in the Forest of Dean, learning how to prep, sow, grow, harvest on a larger scale. It was hard work sometimes, but the other workers were lovely, and the surrounding scenery was insanely beautiful. And again I learnt so much.

Ragmans Market Garden Farm

I’m also learning how to make the most of my harvests (we don’t like waste round here) and have started jamming, vinegarring, fermenting and preserving whatever I can. And I’ve made so much wine. So guess what you are all getting for Christmas?

Jams and chutneys
Gooseberry wine (ready for next spring)
Rhubarb wine (ready for Christmas)

So what’s next? It’s starting to feel like autumn now and thoughts are turning towards putting the plot to bed for the winter. I’ll keep a few beds going but I’m planning on covering the rest, either in manure or cardboard.

Something else exciting is happening too. I’m going back to school! I start an MSc in Applied Ecology this month. I’ve decided that office work isn’t really for me and I’mm going for a change of career. A career that will involve standing in fields all day surrounded by nature. Wish me luck!

Man vs Allotment: Books

It’s been a while since my last post. I’ll write a proper catch-up post shortly as there is lots to talk about, including the plot in general, community gardening, rhubarb wine, the RHS Malvern Spring Festival, and a small market garden in the Forest of Dean.

The break in writing this blog is due, partly because of busy-ness, both at the plot and life generally, but mainly because I’ve been writing something else. A book proposal.

Shortly after my episode of Big Dreams went out I was approached by the Commissioning Editor of a major publishing house asking if I’d ever considered writing a book. I said “yeah, obviously” and meetings were arranged. I put together a proposal –  10,000 words of abstracts, chapter structures and example chapters. It was a cool experience. Unfortunately, despite some good feedback, the higher-ups at the publishers decided not to take my book forward. I was a little disappointed, especially as they approached me and the feedback was so positive until now. It’s not a complete dead-end, the proposal is already written and I’ve had an agent recommended to me. Fingers crossed someone else might pick it up.

In the meantime. For your perusal. Here is a draft of what would’ve been the prologue to my book. A lot of the prologue has been mentioned before in this blog albeit in a slightly different vibe. Hope you think it’s okay.



I take another sup of cider and it’s quite possible the tastiest, most refreshing cider I’ve ever had. As a Westcountry boy, this is a big statement.

It’s late September and I’m at the allotment. It’s still incredibly warm. My face is sunburnt and my body aches after hours of weeding, digging and ferrying what seems like a forests worth of woodchip from the allotment car park. Yet as the cliché goes, I think I’ve found my happy place.

I lean back on an old collapsible chair, a leftover from the previous plot tenant, and hope it doesn’t fold in whilst I’m sat on it. I’ve lost weight recently, but not a lot and I doubt the chairs structural capabilities. But it’s okay. Everything feels okay in this present moment. I rest my bottle of cider on the garden table – sourced from the pavement outside someone’s drive with a note saying take me, everything on the allotment is recycled or second-hand – and admire what I’ve achieved so far.

I consider what famous telly gardener Monty Don will make of it when he arrives in two-weeks for his final inspection for this TV show I’ve found myself on. I’m especially worried what he’ll make of the shed, he was certain it would fall down any minute. Yet I’m determined to not just make the shed work, but to turn it into something special – a pub-shed. Bar, dart board, pub stool, Bid D peanuts, everything! The Ross & Crown! Right now though, I decide to enjoy this particular moment and consider all the similar moments I hope to enjoy in the future.

I admire the peas and runner beans climbing their bamboo wigwams, the yellow courgettes, the impressively coloured chard, and the odd looking squashes I’d inherited which I discover later are patty pans. Out of all the crops which are coming along the most successfully, I realise that, apart from the peas and beans, were all started off or donated by friends and plot neighbours. Most of my own attempts at growing had failed miserably. I’ve still a lot to learn.

I admire the view. My plot, plot 90B, commands an awesome view of the Frome Valley, Stoke Park and Purdown. Areas historically used for feeding the city itself. If it wasn’t for a telecommunications tower known colloquially as the ‘Cups and Saucers’ (because of the satellite dishes that used to adorn its sides) the view would be as perfectly bucolic as you could imagine. Apart from the vague hum of the M32 you’d never know you were in the middle of a big city.

An old Irish man joins me for a chat. I’ve never seen him before. We talk about collards for some reason and he promises to drop off some seeds next time he passes my plot. I look the other way for a second and the man has disappeared. I consider to myself that he might have been a ghost – it’s that kind of night. Or it might just be the cider!

I remember what it was like six months ago. When I took it on, this little patch of land – around 82 by 16 foot if you like knowing such things – it was overgrown and overrun with bindweed and couch grass and god knows what else. The shed was roofless and falling down. I was told I had good soil, which was nice.

There are now seven beds – all being used in one way or another. There are wood-chipped paths, a small leaky pond, a functioning shed (the soon to be re-imagined pub-shed – the Ross & Crown, because who doesn’t enjoy a forced pun), there are compost bays, and what I think might be the most terrifying, yet sexiest, scarecrow ever to have existed, although the birds seem nonplussed by her.

But when I took it on the plot on the previous March it was in a right state. Six months ago, a lack of knowledge, experience and confidence meant that I’d often just stare at the plot, shrug, and go home despondent. Now it’s almost a thing of beauty. Almost!

The plot wasn’t the only thing in a right state. I take another sup of cider and consider where my life was the winter before.


Following the loss of my job and a relationship breakdown, I found myself homeless. I had spent six weeks in various shelters and hostels, living out of a large blue rucksack and lugging a sleeping bag around the city whilst trying to figure out what to do, despairing at how life could’ve gone so wrong. The threat of violence and substance abuse was rife in whatever hostel I slept and wherever I ate. As a safety precaution I hung around with this guy called Simon, a recovering heroin addict. He was huge, believed in Norse gods and looked like a Viking. Nobody would mess when he was about.

The day would start at 6am and finished at 2am and the daylight hours were spent commuting from agency to agency hoping for news of a more permanent, safer roof over my head. It was an exceptionally cold January and any down time was spent in the library, looking for work and trying to keep warm. Applying for jobs seemed a pointless endeavour. The kind of work I had experience in, and not to boast, would normally walk into, usually entailed being smartly dressed. Difficult to achieve when you are living out of a bag. The hours from late afternoon to late evening were spent in a queue hoping for a bed at the night shelter. At the time there were only eighteen beds for the whole city. You had to get there early to be guaranteed a bed and be prepared to wait. The whole experience was terrifying and exhausting. It did nothing for my mental health, which has always been a bit ropey at best. But this felt like rock bottom. That’s because it was.

I had been homeless for around five weeks and spending the previous few days sleeping underneath a pool table in the common room of a Salvation Army building when I finally had an interview with the Council’s Private Renting Team. I was not eligible for urgent accommodation as I was not a drug user or an alcoholic and my mental health problems were not considered significant enough. At my first appointment the woman working with the Private Renting Team advised that I could get somewhere tomorrow, or it could be in a years’ time – they couldn’t say when and definitely couldn’t promise anything. However, within ten minutes of my appointment ending I received a phone call and was offered a viewing of a flat close to city centre. I saw the flat the next day and accepted immediately. After a brief interview with the landlord I was told I could move in the following week. The flat, although not social housing, is rented from a social housing provider so no deposit was needed. This was a lucky break.

My new place is located above a funeral directors, so at least it’s quiet. After moving in I received a council tax bill addressed to both myself and the previous tenant – a Mr Dracul, I had a smile and hoped it was just an ironic coincidence. Although the way my luck had been I wouldn’t be surprised if I found myself as tea for a hungry bloodsucking creature of the night. It was a studio apartment and surprisingly spacious. The living room and bedroom were one and the same but it had a separate bathroom (with bath) and kitchen. The only downside was that it was unfurnished.

Once I’d settled in, sourced some furniture and made it a bit more homely, I was able to reflect back on the past couple of months and then I broke down completely. I think I was finally going into shock at the sheer magnitude of recent events. The worry of homelessness had distracted me from grieving over the loss of my job and partner. It didn’t take long for that grief to catch up. I was also exhausted – both mentally and physically. I spoke to a GP, and like all the GP’s I’ve seen, she prescribed me some anti-depressants and told me to try and get more exercise.  Have I been unlucky or is that just the generic response everyone gets?


Shortly after I’d moved in I realised that something inside me had changed – something fundamental. Although I couldn’t really put my finger on what it actually was. It felt like my factory settings had been reset and I wasn’t going to reload the computer with the same old apps. I knew I no longer wanted to go back to my pre homeless life – which wasn’t terrible, per se. I was lucky in many ways, I am educated, healthy and I can be terrifically motivated when I set my mind to something. But I was deeply unsatisfied with the way my working life had gone and my social life was based almost entirely around the pub. Most of my friends had very young children so I couldn’t really rely on them for kinship anymore. But I didn’t know what I wanted to do, or even could do to rectify this situation. All I knew is that I wanted something which would keep me busy, keep me fit and healthy, get me out of the flat, learn new skills and help to meet new likeminded people. Not much really.


Prior to now, if you’d have suggested to me that not only would I have an allotment, I would actually love it – and even be writing a book about it, I’d have laughed out loud, and quite possibly in your face. I always thought I was an indoors, urban, city kind of man. The fact I tend to dress like a lumberjack, beard and all, was just a ruse. I liked pubs, comic books, telly, films and video games. As the son of a butcher I wasn’t even particularly fond of vegetables. Yes I enjoyed the occasional walk in the countryside, and even did a bit of running, but I always looked forward to having a pint at the end. The destination was always a pub! Even after running the London Marathon in 2014 the first point of call was the pub. My general thinking used to be – working outdoors and getting dirty? Well, that was for other people wasn’t it?!

I applied to the Council to take on an allotment plot on a whim. The thought first occurred to me around eighteen months earlier whilst I was doing a bit of temping. Half the people in my team had plots, and full disclosure here, they were all quite cool and all pretty good-looking. My opinion on what a stereotypical allotmenteer was had changed. I used to think old, bearded, male and fusty. I’m doing my best not to describe Jeremy Corbyn here. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – it’s just not how I saw myself. I mentioned it to my ex, and I promised myself that I’d look into it but never really got round to it. The idea was shelved indefinitely.

The allotment idea reappeared as I was thinking about ways to keep myself busy on an evening and weekends. I was bored, lonely and had been through a major life trauma. I was looking into doing a bit of volunteering, something to keep me busy and take my mind off recent events. I had also been doing a bit of labouring and discovered that a bit of manual work could actually be quite enjoyable. I was vaguely aware of an organisation called Incredible Edible Bristol and thought I’d get in touch with them.

Incredible Edible are a group of community gardening volunteer’s commandeer unused/unloved patches of land and grow produce that anyone could then pick and eat. They seemed to tick a lot of the following boxes:

  • It would keep me busy;
  • Keep me fit and healthy;
  • Get me out of the flat;
  • Learn new skills; and
  • Help me to meet new, likeminded, people.

I had been speaking with their formidable leader, Sara Venn, on social media about attending one of their work parties and promised myself I’d attend the next time a weekend work party took place.

I was in the pub thinking about Incredible Edible when the light bulb in my head went off. Get an allotment as well you mad fool! So I applied there and then thinking that it might be a few months, even years, before I heard anything back. You hear stories of people being on waiting lists for a plot for years. And in an alternative place like Bristol, with its fair sized population of hippies and hipsters (again with the generalisation) I thought it would be forever before I got an offer. Plus, if I didn’t enjoy the Incredible Edible experience then I wouldn’t take on a plot and I wouldn’t have lost anything.

The first site I applied for was situated along the River Frome and close to my flat. But shortly after my application was made the allotment flooded after a particularly heavy downpour caused the river to burst its banks, spilling brown, shitty smelling water over the well-tended plots. Needless to say I decided to apply to another site. I thought somewhere slightly away from the river would probably be best. My next choice was the allotments at Thingwall Park, which seemed to have a shorter waiting list than all the other sites in the area.

Within a couple of days I was surprised to get a phone call from Irene, the site rep at Thingwall Park Allotments, offering to show me around and look at the plots that were available. So much for the lengthy waiting list! I was surprised at how excited I felt about this. It was weird. I’d definitely changed.

Thingwall Park Allotments, with nearly three hundred plots is the largest allotment site in Bristol, and only a twenty-five minute walk from my flat. I was offered a choice of three plots. My first choice was a plot that had been dug over recently and I could get stuck straight it (I was so naive back then). But an admin error revealed that it had already been offered to someone else. I was allowed to choose a new one. My second choice, Plot 90B, needed a bit of work, but not too much work I thought. I reckoned I could start planting pretty quickly. I later discover how much of an idiot I was to think this. There were also the bones of a shed that I could use for storage. Yes, it didn’t have much of a roof left and one side seemed to be missing, but I didn’t have a car and figured that having onsite storage was a must. Irene said she’d inform the council of my intentions to take over the plot, and gave me her spare key until my official one arrived.

I had an allotment.

Up until then I’d never had a garden. I’d never done any gardening. No one I knew did much gardening. I was also skint. I’d managed to get a bit of work but any spare money that I’d earned had been spent furnishing my flat. I had nothing to actually garden with is what I’m saying. So I turned to the internet for freebies. I put an advert online asking if anyone was having a clear out of their shed or garage, and also put out a tweet. Soon I’d sourced secateurs, a spade, hoe, trowel, shears, a shed load of books, and even a pair of wellies. My boss at the time leant me his fork.

So I had my plot, I had some rudimentary equipment, I even had some seeds. I also had a bit of hope. The only things I didn’t have was knowledge, experience and the merest inkling of where to begin.


It’s a late September and I’m at the allotment. I’m sat on a rickety old chair admiring my plot and I’m feeling content. I finish my cider, realise that it’ll soon be dark and I make my way home. It’s a busy day tomorrow and it’s less than a week until Monty Don’s final visit. There is still a lot to do and this pub-shed won’t build itself. I get home, a bit tipsy, and sleep like a baby.

Man vs Allotment: Springalingaling

Thank the maker it’s finally Spring! The evenings are lighter. The days are warmer. Things are growing. Only a storm called Doris threatened to put a spanner in the works, and she didn’t stick around for long. There was also the small matter of the allotment and me having our wee moment in the spotlight. 

I don’t “do” Winter. I do Spring though!

OK, the weather hasn’t been great. It seems to have rained more than it hasn’t, which has really limited the time spent up the plot. I’d like to think that I’m not a fair weather allotmenteer but, y’know, you have to have your limits and it ain’t half been wet and windy. However I’m soon to rectify this state of affairs as it’s nearly time to cut up and dig in the green manures that were planted in the autumn. Then it’ll be time to start sowing outdoors.

The Winter really has been a bit shit though hasn’t it? Giving up drinking for most of it and staying away from pubs didn’t really help, but the main reason for the sheer awfulness of the Winter is the amount of time you have to spend inside. The darkness outside the house really emphasises the darkness inside the head. I tried to replace the allotment for the gym, which worked for a bit, but soon got repetitive and therefore boring.

Of course poor weather doesn’t stop you from getting things started at home. My last blog talked about planning, which isn’t the same as growing. Now every part of the flat that gets even the tiniest bit of sunlight has a pot in it, which is a surprising amount of pots. You name it, I’m growing it! I’m happy to report that most seeds have germinated and I’m looking forward to watching them grow. More so than actually eating them.

Not that mistakes haven’t been made. I’m still learning after all. For example I sowed my seeds a bit early. Like at the end of January early. I was so excited after my visit to the Seed Swap that I got a bit impatient. I’ve now learnt that, as a rule of thumb, Valentines Day is probably the earliest you should start sowing. Sowing too early, because of the relative warmth of my flat and the lack of daylight resulted in “leggy” seedlings, as they strain to reach the light of the windows. Hopefully I’ve managed to rectify this error by rotating daily, brushing with hands a few times as day to recreate outdoorsy conditions, and burying the stems a bit deeper as I thinned and re-potted.


Then there was Big Dreams, Small Spaces (watch it here). It’s been more than a week since my episode went out and I’ve been surprised and not a little bit overwhelmed by the positivity it seems to have generated. I was expecting a mix of positive and negative comments on the Social Medias but I’m pleased to say it was almost uniformly positive. Just one mildly negative comment out of the whole bunch, and even that wasn’t too bad. People really seemed to dig (I’m not sorry) my story and if it encourages someone to get out and start growing then I’ll be genuinely happy.

It was a hell of an experience and a real motivator when it came to working the plot.  Would I have got so into the allotment life if I didn’t have the show and all it entailed going on in the background throughout last Summer? Who knows. But it was, and it did, and I genuinely feel grateful for it.

What’s next?


Man vs Allotment: Plotting the plot

It’s been a couple of months since my my last post, and what a rubbish couple of months they’ve been. But the growing season is almost upon us, and not a moment too soon.

It’s only February yet it feels like the allotment season is starting already – thank god. Not the actual growing start obviously, the weather is still quite unpredictable (i.e. terrible – one morning it’s frosty, one morning its torrential rain, and not much in-between). Yet the planning stage has began in earnest.

I was at the Bristol Seed Swap last Saturday. It’s been a couple of months since I’d done anything productive at the plot, but I’ve been thinking about it, well rather the lack of it, a lot lately, so the Seed Swap was the kick up the proverbial that I needed. 

A seed swap, for those not in the know is literally that, a place where you go with your unused seeds to exchange with other growers. And if you have no seeds to exchange then all you need to do is make a small donation. I was amazed at how busy it was and how much cake was on offer, and I had stuffed my pockets and mouth by the time I’d left. I was also amazed that, apparently, I’m the only person who thinks the term “seed swap” sounds a bit rude. I’d probably taken more seeds than I needed, but no bother, there’s another Swap going on this weekend, this time at my allotment.

After the Swap I popped into Wilkos to see if they had any plant labels and was pleased to see that they’ve started selling seeds already and at very competitive prices – starting at 50p a packet. I’m not 100% sure about the quality of one packet of seeds versus another argument that many other growers seem to be, but for those of us on a shoestring budget this seems a pretty good place to shop. So I picked up a couple more packets, my pockets really bulging now (matron), and headed home to investigate what I had obtained.

Pictured: some seeds (not all of them)

With new found enthusiasm I drew up a new plan for my allotment. Due to the effort put in last Summer (thanks Monty) I’ve no great wish to start moving stuff around again so the layout is more or less the same, but the beds will be used for different crops. (Rotation – seeeee, I have learned something).

Talking of Monty, Big Dreams, Small Spaces has already started, and my episode goes out at 7pm on Saturday 24th February on BBC2. And I thought my appearance on Operation People Power was scary enough!! (Yes, this a humble brag).

The Operation People Power experience itself was incredible. Over the course of a couple of days we transformed a derelict wasteland in a rundown part of Bristol into an amazing edible garden. It was effing hard work but totally worth it. And the programme really focused on the power of volunteering and its positive effects on mental wellbeing which can’t be said enough. It’s still up on the BBC iPlayer if you fancy a gander.

Anyway, that was then and this is now and its been a bloody depressing couple of months without the ol’ gardening in my life. Being indoors all the times sucks. Really sucks. But the light at the end of the tunnel is in sight. Can’t wait!


Man vs Allotment: Part 11: Autumn is Coming

An actually short entry – like I always promise, but never deliver. It’s autumn time and things are wrapping up(ish) for the year.

Plot 90B

If I’m honest there’s not a fantastic amount to be said that hasn’t been said already about my little plot and the adventure she’s been on over the past few months. And yes my allotment is a woman – it is mother nature after all (we’ll have no jokes about hoes here either please).

As it’s the start of Autumn the process of putting her to bed for Winter has begun. I’ve sown some field beans already. I’ve done a bit of reading and field beans are great as a green manure as they are winter hardy, good for the soil, suppress weeds well and can be left until Spring, when they’ll just be cut up and dug into the soil, making it all nice and nutritious again.

Although the chance to allot during the evenings is coming to an end I’ll still be popping up for a few hours on a weekend to keep up the routine. Only to tidy up weeds, keep an eye on things, general maintenance – and maybe open the occasional cider in the Ross & Crown (… or mulled cider!!).  I’ll be keeping a couple of smaller beds open as well, just to keep my hand in.

Broad beans have already been sown as to get an early crop, and I’m planning on getting some garlic and/or onions in the ground soon. I’ve also got mizuna, broccoli, cauliflower and rocket all ready to go. I’m a little miffed at myself for not thinking about Christmas dinner earlier, but the other “thing” has been on my mind in a way that, well, Christmas hasn’t been.

I’m also very excited about the prospect of getting a fire on the go to get rid of all the offcuts created during the creation of the pubshed. I’ve never lit a fire in a metal bin before, but it’s something that I like the idea of.

Potentially last crop of the year 😦
Something else has dawned on me over the past few months. I really dislike office work. Maybe it’s just the offices I’ve worked in (and I’ve worked in a lot) but being outside and working just makes me happier in a way that sitting in front of a screen for eight hours a day really doesn’t. My CV is so office/planning focused though, and my gardening experience is still pretty limited and I don’t quite know what to do about this. It’s something to think about anyway*.

But, I’ll keep working with the Incredible Edible Bristol gang – that should help until I figure it all out.

Please let me know if you have other ideas for what to do with my plot over the Autumn/Winter? Despite the illustrious help I’ve had over the Summer, I’ve still a lot to learn.

*Its either this or selling comic books for a living, which I think is even harder to get into.

In keeping with the half one thing half another thing (see pubshed), here’s wheelbarrow/pottingtable


Man vs Allotment: Part 10: Don gone

The “thing” has finished and Monty Don has Monty gone. What next? This post includes soppyness.

Summer has passed. Monty has gone. The allotment is done. What a stupid thing to say though! An allotment is never done.

The plot yesterday. Not done!
What is done though is the “thing”, and I’m pretty happy with myself and what I’ve achieved. 


The first time I met Mr D I presented my plans to him and he said, and I quote “these are the best plans I’ve seen for the series so far”. He may have just been being polite, but I like to think that he liked them because they were simple, realistic and achievable. 

In fact he advised me to stick to just half of the plan but, because I like a challenge, I only went and did the whole bloody thing, like a legend!

The woodchip drama worked itself out in the end (after a tip off we, er, liberated some from another alllotment site) and the pubshed, now officially christened the Ross & Crown was a roaring success. First cider was poured around 10am. We even had a game of darts using chard as the ockie.

This pic was taken around 10am.

 (The trip to the pub afterwards ended up being quite debauched. Not with the D-man obviously. He’s a pro and had another reveal thing to go to anyway.)

Because this has been for a telly thing I don’t want to spoil it too much (I’ve probably said too much already), however I’d like the opportunity to thank a few people.

Firstly there’s Sara Venn of Incredible Edible Bristol. She’s been my rock (not in a Paul Burrell way, that’s weird) and has always been there to offer advice, support and patience, even when I’m asking the most ridiculous of questions. And most importantly, allotment aside, she has been a window into a whole new world (for me anyway) of kindness and community and for which I will be eternally grateful!

Then there’s my best mate Simon. I’m not going to get too soppy here, because he reads this and yer’know, we’re bloke blokes right, but the support of him, his kids and family has been excellent. Especially since he’s been having a few tribulations himself. And a special shout out to his dad Rex for supplying shelves, bricks and even the name for my scarecrow. Hope your colleagues don’t take the piss too much!

Rex Scarecrow surveys his kingdom.

There’s the TV people themselves. Especially Beatrice, Max and Bob. They’re motivation and encouragement inspired me to overachieve.


  • The guys from Wellesbourne allotments. Thanks for the inspiration guys!
  • Bristol Wood Recycling Project and B&Q for the cheap/free wood.
  • Lucy my allotment neighbour.
  • Foxy for the lift.
  • Bill.
  • Grandad for the gnome.

So what next? Not a lot really. It’s October tomorrow so it’s just a case of prepping stuff for the winter (winter is coming GoT fans). I’d like to grow “something” over the coming months but not sure what or how. Especially things that I can eat on Christmas Day. So any tips would be warmly received.

I’ll also be helping Sara out with a few things over the next month or so, including more Hairy Biker fun – this should keep my fingers green (please Google Incredible Edible Bristol. It’s, well, incredible).

All in all it’s been a pretty decent summer really. And I’m as surprised as anyone in discovering that I might actually be excited about this gardening malarkey. Who knew?

There was one night that stands out though, it involved just me, my plot, cider and sunset, this, I realised, was my happy place.

The positive effects are almost too many to list, so I’ll summarise: having an allotment and doing a bit of volunteering is good for mind, body and soul. It’s made me a better person basically.

This show will be going out next springtime so keep your eyes peeled. In the meantime I’ll keep on bothering you with my ramblings. 

But I’ll leave you with this: a pub shed evolution collage. Four words that have never appeared in a sentence like that before!