Here's something that might give me some enthusiasm for the plot this year. Rhubarb compote, at 2 quid a pack! One of our favourite puddings is stewed rhubarb over Mackie's butterscotch ice cream. Try it - divine! With rhubarb for the taking at the allotment we've come to take it for granted. The prospect of having to buy it is rather horrifying.
The decision had been made and I was comfortable with it - happy even. We had rationalised that with parental illness on both sides and the need to travel more frequently to help out in house and garden (and both parental houses have large gardens) our time for allotmenteering was going to be even more squeezed. Add to that my husband starting a new job, and our wish to get out of Edinburgh more, and everything seemed to add up to a sensible decision not to renew our allotment lease.
Having made the decision, I tested it out on my emotions when I visited the plot in early December. What pangs of regret would I feel? I tried not to dwell on the 'glad to see the back of', such as the endless battle with couch grass, the heavy soil, the feeling of obligation at spending sunny Sundays at the plot instead of out on the Scottish hills. Perhaps because they were the only things growing, I did feel a pang about leaving the blackcurrant bushes and strawberry plants. But once home again I returned to my calm, settled conviction that giving up the plot was the right thing to do, and began to plan for weekends away.
And then the gales came. We dutifully visited the plot afterwards to check the state of the shed roof. Although we were giving up very shortly, we didn't feel we could hand over a shed that we had let deteriorate through the worst of the winter months. A section of tar paper had blown off, and it was decided that husband and son would return the following weekend to repair it.
They were out all afternoon, returning after dark. A good, solid repair had been carried out, and another decision made. We were keeping the plot for a further year, on the basis that so much investment had been made in infrastructure that we should try to maximise our return.
I sat and thought about the infrastructure. Blackcurrant bushes? Strawberry plants? Two compost bins? Posts for wires up against which to train non-existent raspberries? There is nothing else - no paving, no fencing, no greenhouse, no fancy border edging or raised beds. So I concluded that the only possible 'infrastructure' was the shed, and set about doing a mental U-turn towards planning and sowing. And perhaps hopefully still some weekends out of Edinburgh.