I like riding my bike, watching cycling and writing about cycling. But the news is I'm not all about cycling!
Every so often a cycling friend of mine may find themselves out of action due to injury and is unable to ride their bike for a few weeks. At that point they lament about what they're going to do, how are they going to spend their day, life will be dreary.....Sometimes after spending 3 weeks following the Tour de France folks say that they feel at a loss for what to do in the evening.
I definitely don't fall into that category! I enjoy cycling but if I didn't have to do it again there'd always be a few things queued up behind waiting to get done, or even just new hobbies that I've always wanted to try.
One of those things is horticulture. Funnily enough I never grew up being mad keen on gardening. It might have been because I used to get forced to do it by my dad.
But since I moved into a house with a garden it has got me thinking of things to do to make it look pretty. I have also learned to appreciate how the benefits of colour on wellbeing. So right now I have a burst of orange and yellow marigolds, plus sunflowers in my front garden. I look forward to having fuchsia-coloured nasturtium blooming as well.
The other thing I have done is to acquire an allotment. I thought it would be a long complicated process including a 2-year wait. But I got it pretty much on the spot. When I approached the secretary of the Beck Lane Allotment Society he did look me up and down a bit saying "Are you sure you can do this? Have you got a garden? You know you can't just turn up once every couple of months. You will need to put in a lot of work." I pitched my case convincingly, and I got it in late May.
I must admit, I am no expert at all, and I have spent a lot of time on the Royal Horticultural Society website and also on BBC Gardener's World. There have been many trips made to the plot in the early mornings or late evenings to dig, weed, plant things, and a lot of watering over this dry summer in London. At last, I am pleased to see that after a few false starts where seeds were planted but then nabbed by worms, slugs and birds, it now looks like I may have something to harvest this year. My pumpkins have grown!
My target had been to cultivate 25% of the plot by the end of the year, and with the beetroot and carrots I have also planted I will be managed that.
My allotment neighbours are friendly, and it provides a different view on life. It's a way of escaping all the pressures of daily life, and is a place to relax. (It is a mobile phone-banned space for me.) Allotment life is the perfect antidote to thrashing around on your bike or feeling the pressure to perform at races or be Queen of the Mountains on Strava!
Furthermore, there is a really satisfying feeling about eating stuff you have grown yourself. I look forward to eating some delicious pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie later this year.
Cyclist turns to crochet