I have recently acquired a bit of an ‘allotment.’ To cut a long story short, I was offered part of an allotment, as it’s current owner was unable to maintain it. This is a rather British thing. Basically, you are allotted a piece of land by your local Council (usually Parish Council), where you plant vegetables, flowers or effectively whatever you like (within reason!). You then place a small shed on your ‘plot.’ What I have discovered recently is that the shed usually also contains, full cooking and tea making facilities, radio, small TV, magazines (ahem!) and a myriad of other home comforts that enable you to carry out all ‘gardening’ duties required. It is amazing how inventive some of the guys are. One shed has a full patio and covered area, another has a four-foot deep carp pond and all seem to have full seating and table areas. Most of which have been fashioned out of old wooden pallets. A small grass ‘path’ that is no more than about eighteen inches wide separates each allotment. Collectively all the allotments cover an area about half the size of a football pitch. It is also well away from houses and accordingly well away from wives and partners!
I introduced the hounds to the allotment recently. I was initially fearful that the buffoons would flatten some bloke’s prize leaks or mooch over some newly sewn flowerbed. Bizarrely they both stick rigidly to the small grass paths that criss-cross the whole area. Lewis is of course completely baffled by this. He wanders off making right angle turns till he finds himself at the perimeter fence of the allotments. He stares at the fence apparently unable to comprehend that he will have to turn around and manoeuvre himself somehow back to where I am. Conversely, Monty has of course completely ‘sussed’ this and uses it completely to his advantage. He runs around the perimeters deliberately leading Lewis to dead ends. Lewis sits staring at the fence until he once again realises that he has to turn around. The constant right angle turns at speed is like watching a life size Basset Pac-Man. Thankfully neither tries to eat the other, although Lewis does stop occasionally to lick a dead mouse or fox poo.
Lewis and Monty are of course very friendly ‘happy go lucky’ hounds. In my head this makes up for their complete lack of obedience. People wander in and out of the allotments all day long. Lewis and Monty greet them all usually followed by both hounds exploring each new shed as they are opened. They do of course respond immediately when I call them back to me. They respond immediately by completely ignoring me:~
Me ~ “Oi, you two HERE NOW.”
L ~ “ What did he say?
M ~ “ Summat like, oi, you two, have a mooch in this blokes shed.”
L ~ “ That’s all right then…”
Me ~ “HERE ……NOW”
L ~ “ What’s he shouting now?”
M ~ “ He said. Sit in this blokes shed and look gooey eyed at him, make him think we are regularly underfed and mistreated and we will get a biscuit….”
L ~ “ No problemo for me……”
The hounds have quickly calculated who has what and react accordingly. Two charming old ladies speak to the hounds but do not stroke or otherwise move toward them. I think they are worried about being physically bowled over by them. They never offer the hounds biscuits or indeed any foodstuff.
The only entrance to the allotments is via a metal gate that closes under its own momentum. It makes a distinctive ‘clang.’ Lewis and Monty treat this like a school dinner bell. Every ‘clang’ may mean food and they will immediately turn wherever they are, to see who has come in.
“ Clang.” The two charming old ladies enter…
Lewis ~ “Who is it Monty?”
Monty ~ “ Its them two old birds who never have biscuits…”
Lewis ~ “Oh yeah I see them now. Shall we run toward them and scare them?”
Monty ~ “ Nah, can’t be bovvered somebody will be in with biscuits soon.”
That somebody is usually ‘Bob.’ Bob is a wonderful man in his late eighties that looks about 65. He is on his allotment everyday and has been there longer than any other allotment holder. I call him “The Don.” Whatever Bob says goes and I for one will not argue with him! Bob has always had dogs and although does not currently have one , he regularly cares for his daughter’s. Bob also always has pockets full of tasty small dog biscuits. The hounds sense Bob approaching from about 17 miles away. Forget the ‘clang,’ they have a sixth sense for Bob. They also become Crufts obedience champions whenever Bob is about. They sit, lie, turn around three times, make tea and effectively do anything at Bob’s bidding. Flippin’ mutts.
Lewis ~ “ Monty, its Bob….!”
Monty ~ “ Quick walk over there with me and sit at his feet in perfect unison.”
Lewis ~ “ Shall we do that thing where we take a bow at his feet?
Monty ~ “ Yeah deffo…..works every time.”
Lewis ~ “ What about Dad?”
Monty ~ “ Just do what we normally do….”
Lewis ~ “Ignore him?”
Monty ~ “Yep.”
I am however, looking forward to fresh vegetables in the Autumn. Lewis and Monty are looking forward to fresh biscuits. I have to go…the Hounds have just finished washing up for Bob…..