One of my friends lives in a block of flats overlooking the Olympic park and I was very excited to get a glimpse of the new allotments being created on the site now that the Olympics has gone away.
Everyone gets their own shed – good. However, at the moment the site looks a bit like a scene from the never made film The Stepford Allotments. There is something a bit unnatural about an allotment that looks so uniform. No doubt this will change when the plot-holders move in. I hope they paint the Stepford Sheds bright colours. Maybe they will be influenced by the history of the site and be hyper-competitive.
Dan uses an accordion to sing comedy songs about growing vegetables. But our friend Paolo from Seeds of Italy has gone one better by actually using accordions to grow veg. Above is a picture of his fantastic Accordion Garden at Hampton Court Flower Show. Not only has Paolo planted up loads of accordions but he has decorated his garden with parody songsheets like “It’s A Chard Day’s Night”, which makes this garden even more perfect for Dan because he loves parody songs more than any other kind of song.
Looks like I am set to have a bumper crop of plums this year – goldengages to be precise. This is definitely a first for me seeing as last year I got a grand total of three. I imagine I will end up making jars upon jars of goldengage jam, which is what everyone will be getting for Christmas.
Another first is the fact Dan and I will be playing at the Green Man Festival in Wales on August 16. We’ll be in the Einstein’s Garden zone doing some songs from the show in the afternoon on the Solar Stage. In the morning we will be doing a carrot recording-making workshop so do come and see us if you’re planning on going to the festival.
This is me startling some children with some comedy Morris dancing as part of our performance at the Horniman Museum Gardens Festival on Sunday. They did not know what had hit them.
We had a lovely time at the Horniman, including running one of our biggest ever carrot record-making workshops. We think that every single one of the scores of children who attended went away with a working carrot recorder, which is a big achievement given how tricky they are to make.
We’ll next be popping up at the Green Man Festival in Wales. More details soon.
Here is Dan posing by a sign during our visit to the BBC London studios earlier today. I don’t know why he is pulling that face. Anyway, we had a jolly time with presenter Jo Good who doesn’t have a garden attached to her small London flat or even room for a piece of damp paper on which to grow mustard and cress, she claims. Dan showed Other Jo how to make a cucumber trumpet and she later had a go at playing it and seemed quite good at it off air but just as we were leaving we heard her attempt it again live on air and she wasn’t as adept. Nevertheless, a good first attempt. If you want to listen to us on the show then you can here. We’re on about an hour in.
This is my latest guerrilla gardening effort. I have planted some spare marigolds and some nasturtiums that I grew on my allotment around this tree. The black thing emerging from the ground at the back is not a scary cobra or alien worm, it’s the watering tube for the tree. It’s quite a new tree, you see. Anyway, this may not look like much now but if the nasturtiums take off like they have at my allotment then soon the whole street will be swamped with them and everyone will either be delighted by the beautiful jumble of brightly-coloured blooms or hate me. I have also done some gardening in a hole in the pavement a bit further round the corner but I didn’t take a photo because an ant, or possibly a horrid human, has snipped off most of the flower heads.
Dan and I will be popping up at the Horniman Museum’s Gardens Festival on Sunday. We’ll be doing a 45-minute performance in the bandstand from 12.30pm and then running a drop-in carrot recorder-making workshop on the bandstand terrace from 2.30pm to 4.30pm. I hope the weather is good.
The event is part of the fabulous Chelsea Fringe and we’ll be chatting about this on BBC Radio London tomorrow afternoon on the Jo Good show just after 4pm. When I told Dan that Jo Good is like a mini review of me, he showed his disgust at this feeble attempt at a Jo Ke by not saying anything. We’ll also be doing a song live on air.
Here is an arty picture of me pretending to be one of the gardening experts on Gardeners’ Question Time although no self-respecting panellist would show as much cleavage as I am doing here. Yesterday Dan and I took part in the recording of the show’s special programme from the Chelsea Fringe including performing a NEW Gardeners’ Question Time song, which Dan had written especially for the occasion. Listen out for us in the show that goes out this Friday at 3pm and is repeated on Sunday at 2pm. This makes us only the second ever comedy act to appear on the programme since it started in 1947 after ourselves – we were the first ever comedy act to feature when we appeared on the show last year. It was all very exciting as we got to meet our gardening idols Eric Robson, Matthew Wilson and Bunny Guinness again and met lovely Anne Swithinbank for the first time.
Even more exciting was the fact the programme appeared to have been tailored to my needs with questions about maintaining a small and patchy lawn (I have one of those), pruning or rather not pruning acers (I have lots of those and was not sure how to maintain them), and planting a cottage garden in a space that is sunny part of the day and shady for part of the day (my garden). I found out that I may have planted my sweet peas all wrong so they will not create wonderful cascades of sweet smelling flowers as planned but you live and learn.
My allotment neighbour John – who is immortalised in song in the show – has another side to him, I discovered today. We were discussing the bark chippings that we get for free and the fact that I have been renewing my paths – trundling back and forth to the chipping mound in the far corner of the site. The conversation started – as always – with John saying that he hadn’t seen me at the allotment for six months. I hit back by saying I hadn’t seen HIM at the allotment for six months. Pleasantries over, John said I could expect a fine crop of mushrooms from the chippings. I wondered if I’d be able to eat them – the mushrooms, not the chippings. Then John suggested I might be able to dry them in order to experience “hallucinogenic effects”. It seems John may have an exciting past – hitherto unsuspected by his fellow allotmenteers.
This is a shot of my beloved globe artichoke bed, which has started sprouting artichokes by the dozen. Globe artichokes are my favourite vegetable of all time so today I planted even more. I have only just started getting to grips with my plot after a slow start this year, having been banned from digging. Next Saturday I have duped a bunch of friends into coming along to help out with the weeding. I tried to make it sound more enticing by describing it as “weedkend fun” but I doubt anyone was fooled.
Dan and I have been rehearsing for various exciting engagements that we’ve got coming up including the Gardens Festival at the Horniman Museum, part of this year’s Chelsea Fringe. The event is on Sunday, June 8. We’ll be doing a set of songs from the show in the bandstand. The programme also includes guerilla gardening and herbal cocktail making – both right up my street (providing there is alcohol in the cocktails and not just herbs). We’ll also be doing vegetable instrument making workshops so if you’ve ever wanted to make a recorder out of a carrot then come on down.
On Sunday we were in the Norfolk village of Wood Norton for another fun show. As you can see, Wood Norton has an exciting Scarecrow Weekend. It’s on my list of things to do to make a scarecrow for my allotment. I have got some sacking and old clothes under my bed that are just waiting to be fashioned into an approximation of me. It is vain/weird to make a scarecrow that looks like yourself? Well anyway, that’s my plan.
After the show I was chatting to one of the ladies who’d been running the bar and she said: “You really remind me of someone.” I was all ready with my I’m-delighted-to-be-compared-to-Miranda-Hart face – a half pleased, half surprised kind of grimace – when she continued: “Yes, you really remind my of my friend Julie from the village.” I don’t know if Julie would be pleased or annoyed with this comparison but it certainly made a change.