“My Life on a Hillside Allotment”

I have just finished reading a terrific book My Life on a Hillside Allotment by Terry Walton. My brother David and sister-in-law Lorraine who live in the UK mailed this book to me.  Thanks to you both for your thoughtfulness, it’s a great read.

Terry Walton, the author, has kept an allotment for over 50 years in the Rhonda Valley in South Wales. He was only eleven years old when he took on his first allotment.

Terry lived a quiet life on his allotment until he was ‘discovered’ by Jeremy Vine who had a program on Radio 2.  By then Terry was in his retirement years and he would do a weekly up-date, over his mobile phone, straight to Jeremy’s studio. The program went out ‘live’. Terry proved to be so entertaining (and informative) that he has become a bit of a celebrity in his later years, and much loved by his followers on the radio.

In his book Terry manages to cover his 50 years on the allotment in a very entertaining way.  He is a real character, with a droll sense of humour.  He has a very understanding wife Anthea who he describes as an ‘allotment widow’.  At the altar Anthea knew that in taking on Terry, she also took on the allotment. In the end Terry was cultivating ten allotments. A mammoth task.

I think the other person with a mammoth task is Anthea, she has to cook it all!!!!!!  Actually, not ten allotment’s worth, that went out to his customers.  But Anthea has her own little part in the book as we read one of her recipes for each month of the year.

I loved reading Terry’s book but now I would LOVE it if Anthea would write a follow-up book and give us her side of the story. With the mounds of vegetables Terry dumped in the kitchen, she probably didn’t leave the stove. But she did manage to find the time to raise two sons. What a woman.

I have had this book for several weeks now, and although I am an avid reader I rationed myself to a few chapters at a time, to spin it out. But the day had to dawn of course when the book would come to an end.  And today is the day. When I woke this morning I knew, sadly, that I just had the last two chapters and then it was all over.  But Terry, ever the entertainer, left the best ’til last.

The penultimate chapter was entitled “Pumpkins at Large”. It had me in stitches as Terry took us through his experiences growing massive beer drinking pumpkins which he would use in fundraising for his local charities.

The first year he decided to grow a massive pumpkin was all experiment and his radio listeners followed the success from the moment he planted the first seed.  Jeremy Vine’s program featured serious interviews and the last 10 minutes would be over in Terry’s allotment. By this stage the first pumpkin was fruiting and had one little pumpkin slightly smaller than a golf ball, so it was off and running.

Then disaster struck.

There were two headlines for Jeremy’s radio program that day. In the studio today we will be interviewing ex Prime Minister John Major, and news is just breaking that the slugs have eaten the pumpkin. Maybe it just appealed to my sense of humour but I’m sitting up in bed at 6am today laughing my head off.

I have to go to the library today. I know whatever book I take will be a disappointment ….

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