There’s one thing you can rely on when you’re camping in Wales. Bwrw glaw. Or as we call it in England, rain.

Our first holiday as allotment novices

Bwrw glaw

Last week, as Mr MS and I sat in various Welsh fields watching water pour glutinous down the windows of our camper van, it was with a strange mixture of feelings that I looked back to the long hot hours I’d spent the week before, carrying water to parched ground over considerable distance.

I may not have mentioned how long the walk between the allotment tap and our plot is. It’s 250 yds. In allotment-speak that’s seven greenhouses, two sets of goats (one set pygmy, one full-sized) three sets of chickens, two rubbish dumps, one twenty foot hedge topiarised to look like the Arc du Triomphe and the sight of three allotment holders on the established bit watering their engorged produce with hosepipes.

The chore is made worse by being a solo job, as Dad doesn’t walk easily over rough ground, and Mr MS doesn’t walk anywhere if he can help it. A tactical error on my part has contributed: the watering cans I bought are not the standard 2-litre, stout plastic sort in forest green. They are diddy pink ones with black spouts. Well, I liked them.

Dad and Mr MS could buy their own watering cans, I hear you reason. True. But our family doesn’t run on reason: Dad, though having money to spend, won’t spend it (his last purchase was a plastic rake from Poundland, and even then he negotiated a discount because it was missing a tooth). And Mr MS, although he would like to spend money on all sorts of things, can’t because he hasn’t got any.

To be fair to Mr MS, he has done the watering with the pink cans more than once, prepared to risk being called a ladyboy for the sake of the rainbow chard.  Far from damaging his reputation, one lady allotment holder offered to fill his cans with her hose.

Dad, Mr MS and I have only got a few  plants in on our plot anyway, pushed hastily into ill-prepared soil in that first heady week and not hoped to come to much. For once, the low expectations of life we share are a blessing. A cup of berries? God bless you, squire.

My first crop as an allotment novice

A cup of berries

Other people in the new bit are assertive, and the air fair bristles with a sense of middle-class entitlement, despite the fact that no-one has paid a penny yet and won’t have to for 2 years. But then, it isn’t really about money. People are investing time and effort. So they have been demanding to know when the council plans to install the promised tap.

Consequently, the men with metal detectors have been out again to find the  water main. And they’ve found it on the plot next to ours, where they have dug three deep rectangular holes and put a red and white stick in one of them.

Water comes to our Yorkshire allotment

No tap there yet

There’s no tap there just yet, mind.

So I suppose there was one advantage to all the rain last week – the allotment got thoroughly watered without anyone having to lift a can of any hue.  I must say it was hard to focus on this benefit in Wales, while living at close quarters with a sodden beast (I’m talking about Dog MS here by the way).

There’s one thing you can rely on when you’ve finished camping in Wales, however. Heulwen. Sunshine. The ground is already drying out again.

So for the time being our neighbour will have to go on filling large plastic drums with water and rolling them to his plot. Another will continue digging a ditch, hoping to expose the underground beck. Mr MS will go on reflecting on the nature of civilisation and how, over history, humankind has always endeavoured to move water away from the places they don’t want it and towards the places they do. And Dad, who would like to tell the council to stuff their tap, and the £17.50 a year they propose to charge for it, will go on researching a water pump to dredge the river that runs infuriatingly close to our plot. So far, including generator and groundworks, the project cost stands at £2,500.