20 Aug 2011

There and Back Again

~ Chamomile growing in clumps on the pebbly beach ~
Well that's this year's holiday jaunt over (and the reason it's been oddly silent here). I've been to the seaside for a lovely peaceful week which was a world away from the riots both in nearby Camden and Croydon, the route I unwittingly chose on my way there. It's a week I look forward to as 4 generations of my family gather together without putting undue strain on any one household but, as I invest more of my time in the veg garden, I can't pretend that it's not a wrench to leave the garden behind, even for a short time.

As I see it, there are two main issues in a summertime community garden:  ensuring the veg get the right amount of water and to hope that veg and flowers are harvested as appropriate - which, actually, is what we all worry about, isn't it?  I asked neighbours to help themselves to courgettes, carrots, beetroot, onions and please keep picking the sweet peas;  the beans had not yet flowered and the tomatoes were still green so those would wait for my return.  It's best to designate one person to oversee watering so that the plants aren't deluged morning and night - or forgotten entirely - but, apparently, it rained almost every day while I was away so that task was taken care of by kindly Mother Nature. (The copious plants on my Edible Balcony were taken care of by a trusty friend.)

The picking of produce was another matter entirely. It seems that my time in the garden has earmarked the space as being my own and (most) people are loathe to help themselves for fear of being seen to overstep the mark. (On reflection, this is probably good.) Despite cutting several courgettes before I left, and telling folks to help themselves, most were still there when I returned, as were a few handfuls of raspberries still hanging on the canes and other veg untouched.

After a (blustery but dry) week away, my first thoughts after unpacking were to pop down to the garden where I found plenty of weeds, beans covered in purple flowers (hurrah!), radishes ready to eat (3 weeks after sowing), beetroot needing lifting (some about to bolt which I'll leave for seed), recently sown peas clambering half way up the netting - and a 20 inch courgette which made a nice 'baked and stuffed marrow' supper!

The sweet peas, sadly, have all but died off with just a few Cupani left.  As the weather has been chill and overcast in the last week, this somehow seems symbolic of the slow gentle slide down into autumn - although surely mid-August is too early for this?

And where did I go for my fresh sea air?  To Littlehampton, a small harbour town in West Sussex, located between Chichester and Brighton and now plying a fine, but not overwhelming, tourist trade. It's an old fashioned town where, I've since discovered, the tiny cinema is in an old windmill on the seafront. More obviously, the harbour is full of brightly coloured fishing boats and ice cream shops, fresh fish is sold on Rope Walk (the quayside) and you can sit overlooking the Blue Flag beach on the longest bench in the world. This seating continues along the seafront and was installed over the last couple of years at an eye-watering £1 million.

Beach huts at Littlehampton

A week goes so quickly so I missed seeing the Art Deco shelters in the award winning municipal gardens, but I did manage a hike along the seafront towards Rustington where the now-pebbly beach was studded with marine vegetation. What could better?

Sea cabbage
Rustington seafront


  1. Glad you enjoyed your break and that the garden wasn't in too bad a state on your return. I try to time my holidays around the garden so as not to put too much strain on my relationship with my neighbours who look after it for me. We are off again mid-September, by which time the garden will be winding down. Nice to have you back.

  2. Elaine, I'm still tied to the school holidays but there always seems to be something to do in the garden as I still have plans to develop it, so work is ongoing!

  3. Hi caro, your break sounds lovely! How cute are those beach boxes!!

  4. Hi Mrs B, the break was indeed very lovely and over with a bit too soon! Beach huts are a favourite of mine - I especially liked the colour combo of these flowers growing by the turquoise huts.

  5. A welcome holiday and back to plenty of vegetables all sounds good to me!
    I've not been to Littlehampton for many years but it's nice to know that it has retained its old fashioned charm. Flighty xx

  6. Hi Flighty, although the town retains it's charm, last year's empty shops were this year's Costa Coffee, etc; I hope the need for progress won't spoil it. I'm glad to see the over 50s café is still well used though! Caro xx

  7. Sounds like a great break Caro, glad you missed the riots. I must admit I have never enjoyed stuffed marrows - not from courgette plants anyway - so they tend to get composted if I miss them. Wonderful beach huts with what looks like great planting in front.

  8. Hi Janet, the flowers by the beach huts were a random creation of nature but I agree it works very well! We'll have to agree to differ on the stuffed courgettes, I find I almost prefer them eaten like this! x

  9. I always wish that I could pack garden and allotment and take them on holiday with me - himself does not understand. Usually my worries are unfounded and everything flourishes without me:) Littlehampton looks a lovely place - hope that you have come back refreshed and raring to go.

  10. Anna, I find that I'm still pottering around even when I'm supposed to be ready to go and in the car! Very frustrating for everyone who, like your hubby, just don't understand. After all our hard work, I think we deserved to be indulged just a little! x


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