First Prize in the Cute-cumber Category

Brookfield Lane Allotment Association (BLAA) had its Annual Show on Saturday, August 18th. and very successful it was too: well-attended by the enthusiastic plot holders and by family and friends. Cups (including one for best newcomers – congratulations, Plot 6B) were presented by the mayor and after the auction of produce and the raffle, a tasty menu of meal choices was on offer to round off proceedings. Thanks to the Committee for an excellent afternoon. Here’s a poem inspired by the afternoon’s competition.

First Prize in the Cute-cumber Category

I can’t let this pass without comment in rhyme

Fly flags. Hang out bunting. Let’s hear church bells chime.

My big day had come. I’d been waiting for years.

I’m feeling emotional, almost in tears.

For Saturday last was the day of the Show.

We hopefuls turned up with our produce in tow.

30 p for each entry, so serious stuff,

and winning first prizes would be really tough.

Whether single sweet pea or trios of veg.,

how would we find that competitive edge?


The morning past quickly selecting our crops,

the pick of the bunch. There’d be no room for flops:

a monster tomato; 3 beetroot; 3 beans;

a white, frilly squash; and maybe some greens;

one pot of marmalade; one pot of bramble;

one rhubarb and ginger (a bit of a gamble).

and one final entry, last but not least,

an arrow straight cucumber, fit for a feast.

On the stroke of midday, the judging began,

Would the afternoon go according to plan?


3 o’clock soon came round. We scurried back in,

eager to see who had managed to win.

Laid out on the tables, the results were displayed.

Had any of my entries made the grade?

Yes, here I’d a third prize, there I’d a second.

That was lots more success than I’d reckoned.

The sponges and scones I sauntered right past

and headed for where the cucurbits amassed

and I swear that this all logic defies,

there was my cucumber sporting first prize.


“Yippee!”, I shouted, though just in my head.

(Showing you’ve triumphed is very ill-bred).

It wasn’t the longest. It wasn’t its size.

It wasn’t its girth that won it first prize,

but somehow it embodied perfection:

most rectilinear in the cucumber section.

Its skin satin smooth, a beautiful green,

a tiny bit shiny which gave it a sheen.

I’m over the moon. I’m chuffed as can be.

Maybe next year, “Best in Show” might be me!



Adieu to the “Yellow Peril”

I’ve hinted in previous posts that the days of my Yellow Orrell bike were numbered. Sadly, it has gone to the bike rack in the sky to be recycled thanks to Andrew Millest’s ministrations. My farewell tribute follows:-

Adieu to the Yellow Peril

We’ve been cycling buddies for more than 10 years.

We’ve been through a lot as I’ve changed through the gears.

You’ve been there for me like a pal I could trust.

I’ve seen the real you through the muck and the rust.

There has been the odd time we’ve gone sep’rate ways

with me on the ground in a bit of a daze

and you ending up in a terrible tangle

mudguards askew, handlebars at an angle.

No fault of yours, chuck, just me being dim,

putting at risk precious bike, life and limb.


Like the time on LEJOG: out of Keswick we “clumb”

My bag caught Dave’s front brake and down we did come.

I’ve skidded on diesel, I’ve bounced on a rut,

escaped with abrasions, bruised hip, the odd cut.

Worse still, with back tyre and ego deflated,

my mates stood around and the outcome debated.

They know I’m quite useless with technical stuff.

Why’s everyone else a mechanical buff?

I’m the exception. I don’t have a clue

and when they’re all watching, I get in a stew.


It will still be great to get back on a bike,

ride quiet country lanes with Stan, Dave, Bill and Mike.

We’ll ride single file when there’s traffic about:

“Car back”; “Coming through”; and such like we will shout.

So as you go past us, allow us some room.

Old geezers might wobble and even Chris Froome

has come to grief in the peleton’s scramble.

Overtake on blind bend’s one hell of a gamble.

The guy on the Orrell may be a right pest.

Just give him a wide berth. He’s doing his best.


Yellow Peril, your steel frame has had its last ride.

No more will you roam with this rider astride.

Your crank shaft is shafted. You head into the sun

and your days on the roads are over and done.

It’s time to dismantle and take you apart.

As you’re recycled, there’s a place in my heart,

a hollow, a void. Call me sentimental,

but when we have cycled in downpours torrential

or baked under skies as in 2018,

saying “Goodbye” is so hard. It’s obscene.