Visitors and Residents on the Allotment

The visitors list includes myself, the thieves who broke into my shed and stole my fork, spade and rake (to be no doubt sold for a pittance at a car boot sale), then there are the more welcome kind, birds like Robins, Blackbirds, Blue Tits, Goldfinch and the occasional Greenfinch all pop in. And the big fat Wood Pigeon who sits in the tree and as soon as my back is turned flies down to see what I’ve planted and what is on today’s menu.

Also on the visitor list are the bees that I watch buzzing about their business. Come summer I’ll hear crickets in the long grass and hover flies helpfully pollinating. There are signs of visiting Badgers (they have a penchant for sweetcorn) and Foxes, Mice and Rats no doubt hide away up here, the occasional surprised Frog, and a few local cats who like nothing better to prowl and pounce around in the long grass or to doze in the sun on a shed roof.

The residents side of the equation includes some special native species – Slow Worms and Newts. I’ve been looking for them this last few days knowing that as it is warming up they will emerge from their winter hiding places. On the day I discovered the theft I saw my first Slow Worms of the year, a welcome sight and resident – they are fond of snacking on slugs and snails, a true gardener’s friend!

They inhabit the long grass and love nothing better than to hide under rocks or, as in the case of my allotment, under the tarpaulin that covers my manure heap. Nice and warm and cozy. I disturbed a couple of them the other day, I’ve come across nests of them in previous years.

So plenty of reasons to be cheerful – I have a Britsih protected species living on my plot (I haven’t seen the newts yet this year), they help control the slug and snail population, and occasionally I get to see and snap one.

All I have to do now is find replacements for my tools – do you know how hard that is turning out to be? It seems I am fussy about my tools, particularly my fork, it has to be the right weight, size, and most of all feel right in my hands. The search is on, and when I do find a replacement I’ll be etching and writing my details clearly onto them, and then finding a sneaky hiding place for them. And no I’m not about to divulge that on my blog :)

If you want to read more about Slow Worms then the article in Wikipedia is a great starting point, they are fascinating creatures.

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74 thoughts on “Visitors and Residents on the Allotment

    • You are right Celia, they are often mistaken for snakes, but we only have grass snakes and adders here so it’s easy to distinguish :) And thanks for your kind words, hope you have a super weekend!

  1. So sorry to hear about your robbery – how infuriating! Urgh!! What fascinating creatures slow worms are – had I been asked, I would have said it was a snake.
    Happy searching for your new tools. :-) Mandy

  2. Oh no Boo to those thieves. How dare they!
    I don’t find it surprising that you are being particular in buying new tools. You are going to use them a lot, they have to do what they are supposed to and also last a reasonable time therefore you are right in being fussy.
    Liking the other nicer visitors though. Slow worms and newts. Wow maybe you need to contact someone and get your plot designated as a site of speciall scientific interest…..

  3. Sorry to hear about the theft, Claire. It is hard finding replacements for tools that we have gotten used to…new ones are designed so differently.

    • Thank you Karen, garden tools are particular to each individual aren’t they, and it isn’t until we use someones elses or some new ones that we fully realise.
      Hope you have a super weekend!

  4. That is one cool critter…you’re so lucky!
    (Though I’m sure there are folks who wouldn’t see it that way… ;) )
    Good luck with your tool search. I wish companies would stop “improving” their designs. Offer the old ones as Classics, or something…

    • I think I’m very lucky to have these critters, until I got my allotment I hadn’t seen them, so I kind of feel special, and I nee dto make sur eI keep the plot how they like it – long grass, compost heaps, stones etc for them to live under :)
      And don’t get me started on “new and improved” designs………

  5. Sorry to hear about those rotten thieves! Good tools are hard to come by.

    I’d never heard of slow worms before. Fascinating! The other day I found a toad in my plot. I’m hoping he sticks around.

    • Hi Kate, toads are ace! We have them in the garden, and I love watching them on a summer’s evening criss-crossing the garden in the semi-dark, off for a tryst or a feed. And thanks for the kind words :)

  6. Vile people – honestly, they cause so much hurt and inconvenience for the sake of a few pounds they can earn (probably, as you say) at a car boot. Hope you find some good replacements. We just bought a Spear & Jackson fork (here, can you believe it!) and we´re really pleased with it, quite light but very strong and comfortable to hold.

    • Spear & Jackson are good aren’t they. I’ve got a replacement for now for my fork but I think I’ll keep looking for a permanent replacement. In fact I remember seeing Spear & Jackson tools on sale in France…. who’d have thought it :) And thanks for the moral support, I’m starting to feel a little less grumpy about it all now!

  7. I cannot fathom someone just taking your tools…I’m sure your right that they are to be sold for next to nothing, yet cause you major disruption in your own gardening routines! It’s just not right! But in return you’ve had this great visit by an Anguis fragilis…I threw that in to show you I most definitely had to go to Wikipedia! I’ve never heard of a slow worm, and I’m fascinated. I thought your picture was of a snake! And it is so interesting to me that it’s been granted protected status. I’ve never seen a badger either…except in the zoo, so keep the pictures and the stories coming! I’m fascinated. :-) Debra

    • Hi Debra, I’m loving your response, it seems quite a few people checked the link out :) I’m so pleased like them too. On forst glance they do look like snakes, it’s not obvious at all, and people do mistake them for snakes. As for Badgers, they tend to be night creatures, we sometimes see them – if I do get a shot I’d DEFINITELY be posting it!
      And thanks for your thoughts and support – it’s a total inconenienece, an expense and …. I’d better stop there ! Claire

  8. Hmmm.. must have been a gardener to take those.. or someone taking them to gift their mother for mother’s day.. low life! On a bright note, the images of your other visitors are in my mind now and I’m sure it’s such a peaceful place to be!

    • The allotment is definitely a peaceful place to be, I think that’s why I love it so much.
      On the mother’s day thing – I’ve discovered, this year and thanks to blogging, that the US Mother’s Day is much later than ours – See I keep learning :)

  9. Such an inconvenience to lose your tools just when you are busy in the garden. I do hope you find suitable replacements soon and find a means to secure them — perhaps a locked cupboard where they are invisible.

  10. Sorry to hear that your tool shed was raided, Claire. Money aside, it’s such an inconvenience. I’m sure you’d rather be working in the garden rather than shopping for replacements. Good luck with the search and thanks for the link for info about slow worms. I’d no idea.

    • In a nutshell John! I’ve spent a morning and an afternoon looking for replacements. But at least there was no damage to the shed. And I’m pleased you like my helpful residents, I know you don’t like spiders, ooops should I have mentioned them :)

  11. I know just how annoying it is to have your things stolen, Ive even had my greenhouse stolen. I also know what its like to have the right fork, If my fork was stolen I think I would be devastated, my fork is the most important tool on my plot and the most used. I have tried to use other peoples forks when asked for a favour but I can never get on with them I’ve always had to go back to my plot and get my own.
    You are so lucky to have slow worms, they are great. I dont even think I have ever seen one, in real life anyway. We have plenty of rats, mice, cats, slugs and snails, thieves and vandals but not slow worms, sad really I guess the cats and rats eat them. I have big fat pigeons that rob my crops when my back is turned but the other day one of them was taken before my eyes, a hawk came from nowhere and took him straight out of the sky and landed on the path about 6 feet away from me – sad really I was in two minds whether to shoo him off but I guess he was hungry and has babies to feed, its the survival of the fittest and I guess he wasnt as fit or fast as the hawk.

    • You had a greenhouse stolen?! Bloody hell!
      You are so right about the fork – it’s the one tool I can’t garden without, it gets used for everything, and is particular to me. I’ve bought a replacement but to be honest I’m going to keep looking for the perfect replacement…. it may take a while……
      The Slow Worms are special aren’t they, and I hadn’t seen one before I got the allotment, nor Newts for that matter.
      Watching the hawk come down and take the pigeon must have been fascinating but a bit disquietening. I watched a blackbird have a massive tussle with a newt, and like you I didn’t know whether to interfere or not, but then I’m already interfering with nature as I’m gardening! I think on reflection the newt should be saved as there are always worms and bugs for the blackbirds

    • Yes believe it or not I wasnt the only person on our allotments to have their greenhouse stolen. I guess its for scrap but how much would they get for it? probably about 30p. I was really very angry because not only did they steal that, they smashed up my fig tree and Kelsea onion seedlings that were over wintering in there. They dont realise or care just how much heartache they cause its not as if we are rich people who have allotments so they are knicking off their own really. They are the lowest of the low.
      Alot of people I know make graves on their plots and keep their tools etc in there. I hope you know what I mean when I say that.
      As far as stealing greenhouses and drain covers I blame the scrap yards because who has several greenhouses and a whole load of drain covers lying around in their property it is so obvious they have been stolen so if the scrappy were to report the thieves and not buy their loot then perhaps things wouldnt get stolen. I think the scrap yards should lose their licences for buying stolen goods.
      Maybe you should pay a visit to your local car boot and see if you can find your loved tools. I think I would.
      Have a great weekend, I only hope it stops raining.

      • Thanks for the suggestions – I think I know what you mean by a coffin, if so I was thinking along similar lines, but for now I’ll just take my new fork with me until I get a bit more time to focus on how to secure things.

        It is the damage that people do that is, as gardeners heartbreaking your lovely fig tree and onion seedlings. But you are right about the scrap metal places and to be honest also the car boot sales – we don’t go to them on the basis that a lot of stuff is dodgy! But the ultimate problem in my mind is enforcement – until we start paying for enforcement we won’t get anywhere.

        Let’s hope the sun shines on our plots this weekend!

  12. Loved the slow worm photo and the info about it; like many others, I have never heard of it. We have small garter snakes in the garden, which are great except when they eat the toads. Sorry to hear about your tool theft – hope you find the right replacement!

    • Thanks, they are lovely creatures and I was lucky to have my camera to hand. Plus this one was a bit slow and didn’t wriggle off quickly like they normally do! the only snakes we have here are grass snakes and adders, and I’ve often read about how grass snakes can decimate the frog and toad population. Such a shame as we need them all :)

  13. Sorry about the break in. I can’t understand how people can do that to one another. :(
    And that thing is just creepy. I think I’d faint if I came across one of them.

  14. Being robbed is such an invasion of our personal space – so sorry to hear that. I am however happy to hear you’ve bees buzzing about! Never heard of a slow worm – interesting. My garden is coming along nicely – I’m so happy!

    • Lovely to hear about your garden – mine is slow to start, a) from being away but b) from the cold, we need more sun and warmth to really get going, as do the bees! And thank you for your kind words

  15. I am so sorry about the robbery :( – no one deserves that horridness!
    As for these slow worms, they are craazy cool – I swore they were snakes *sheepish* ;)

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

    • Shudder – real snakes spook me a bit, I’ve seen a few when travelling and they are stunning, but have to admit to being a bit scared! Anyway no it’s not related, the Slow Worm is in fact from the lizard family, and is harmless, or should I say ‘armless :) They only grow to about a foot – 18 inches, and give birth to live babies, which I saw once when I disturbed a nest. They are definitely on the friendly side of the equation :)

      • DH thought they looked like armless lizards! The rubber boas are actually friendly. They don’t try and bite like some other snakes do. I think the longest one I ever witnessed was about a foot long. They look more like rolled up clay than anything. We had a lot of snakes where I grew up, thankfully none were poisonous. Where I live now, there are multiple species of poisonous snakes, but they don’t seem to come into the city.

  16. Claire, I’m so sorry to hear that your shed was burglarized! The creeps! As for slow worms, I’m feeling like one right about now… I had to look up “Bar Steward” and if I wasn’t so tired from working in my garden this morning I think I would have figured it out. ;) I hope you find a good garden fork soon. They are simply indispensable! ~ Lynda

    • Hi Lynda, sometimes I forget and I use colloquialisms, and they can be a bit English-English if you see what I mean. I also don’t, as a general rule swear – except for the odd bloody and bugger, but then I wouldn’t be English if I didn’t :)
      And yes I’ve found a replacement fork (as you say indespensable), it has had it’s first small trial run, and it is ok but as yet it doesn’t feel like it’s mine
      It sounds like you had a good session in the garden this morning if you are nice and tired now, I like that feeling!

  17. What a positive post this is! Thieves actually stole your gardening fork & I can see from your pages you love your beautiful garden, those stunning flowers, but after saying how they stole, in the very next breath you’re onto the beautiful visitors (birds etc)! I just got to say (oh, I came by curious, from MyBeautifulThings page – I love how she can ACTUALLY THINK OF 3 beautiful things EVERY day!!! – I’ve just got to say, this was a very bright post, that could have been a negative rant about why would steal your implements for “a pittance” at a car boot sale…. but no, it was not.

    Great take on life :)

    Noeleen
    http://www.VodkaWasMyMuse.wordpress.com / http://www.WordsFallFromMyEyes.wordpress.com

    • I have to admit to being a bit low and grumpy for a day or so and I knew I wanted to write about it, but couldn’t find the words, that is until I started to wwrite it then it came together. Besides I won’t let the (insert your own expletive here) get me down, if I hold onto the thoughts they will get me down. Onwards and upwards
      I love reading My Beautiful Things – such a great simple idea. Uplfting without being too cheesey!
      And thanks for popping in, it gives so much encouragement to meet others and hear their views, peer into their lives :)

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