This summer's been a piece of work, hasn't it? Today I decided to man up and stick on a waterproof rather then stay stuck in doors and headed to the allotment to survey my patch of heaven. Three canvas bags at the ready to harvest something... anything.
I sowed a lot of optimism earlier this year primarily in the shape of squashes (Crown Prince, Portimarron, Uchiki Kuri). All destined for autumn horticultural show glory now all gone, spirited away overnight. Honestly it's rain streaking down my face, not tears.
2012 has been a never ending arm wrestle between man and slug - backwards and forwards, swaying this way then that - slug pellets and a little sunshine, beer traps and bands of copper just nudging things in our favour, then a deluge washing the advantage away.
From May the rain has been relentless. As unforgiving on the fruit and vegetables as it is on my mid 30s hairline. Darlisette strawberries rotting in situ, Allgold raspberries (below) becoming just a little too sodden to hold their shapes when picked, broad beans keeling over, heritage potato foliage buckling under the pressure and turning brown and the peas just not really feeling motivated enough to put on a show.
The Dill's Atlantic Giant pumpkin (below) has, however, finally decided to get on with it. Stunned into inaction at first by a lack of sun it's been like a shopper waiting out a downpour in a store. Only now it's decided to yank up its hood up and make a dash for it as things show no signs of getting better. It'll never reach show standard but I won't tell it that.
Other successes? There were a handful of gooseberries the colour of a good red wine, multi-coloured radishes in rude health, some nasturtiums looking jolly and determined to enjoy things like Brits in a Wimbledon queue and Golden Nugget sweetcorn (below) on the verge of glory but it could just as easily choke at a critical moment.
So what to do? The gooseberries are destined for a small bottle of flavoured vodka (thanks to @cotsmallholder on Twitter for the recipe inspiration), assorted nasturtium flowers and leaves will work their magic in a salad along with some thinnings of purple basil seedlings and slices of Bright Lights radishes. Broad bean survivors will become a deep green hummus and the golden raspberries are just scoffed as nature intended. Little spots of colour brightening up the grey cloud of summer.