The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Off colour

Photo: Cloudy Sky

Photo: Cloudy Sky

“Why don’t you spend the day in bed if you’re feeling off colour? The Min Pins would love it. I’ll bring you a hottie and breakfast in bed in half an hour.”

These past few days I’ve been feeling really odd. Light headed and detached. Not wanting to go to work and longing to stay under the capacious duvet.
“I was planning to get out into the garden.”
“But it’s pouring with rain!”
So I finished the fascinating book I’ve been reading this week. What The Animals Tell Me by Sonya Fitzpatrick. She’s a real life Doctor Doolittle, born in England and living in America.

When I read the last page and closed the book, sunshine suddenly burst through the window. So I dressed quickly as sped down to the garden.

I’ve been digging the bindweed from the fruit cage borders beside the chicken run. Just 45 minutes when I return early enough from work. Now that the clocks have changed to British Summer TimeI can spend an extra hour in the garden. I finished digging over the fruit cages, planted two rows of shallots in the kitchen garden and as I started to tackle the main herbaceous border, I was entertained by the sonorous carousel of the annual frog bacchanal. I finally came into the warm kitchen when it was too dark to see a weed. Feeling clear headed and far more positive.

Gardening is a truly therapeutic activity. Particularly when you are growing your own food and flowers. I read a book three years ago written by a man who was suffering from depression and started to tend an allotment with his friend. The book is good. You see the man’s life gradually opening like a flower. Yet this  is a gritty belt and braces book,  describing the challenge of taking on an allotment with little gardening experience. Allotted Time by Robin Shelton  literally inspires  me every time that I want to retire to under a warm duvet and withdraw from the world.

If you would like to win my copy of this book, leave a comment on this post.  You could be the owner of a hardback book that I found inspirational and that has really helped me tackle my blacker moments.

  Leave a reply


  1. Ruthdigs

    With the change of the clocks we can all look forwards to getting out in the lighter evenings more and pulling ourselves out from under the winter blues. Beautiful day here in Devon today, I look out of the window and see trees blossoming, squirrels scampering and the daffs nodding their mellow heads in the breeze. My fingers are itching to get in the earth after work and plant something – quite possible white sprouting broccoli!
    I own the Allotted Time book already and agree it’s an inspiring read. Try ‘Diggers Diary’ by Victor Osborne for a gentle ramble through his plot, complete with recipes and laughs. It inspired me to get my name on the waiting lists and I have now had my plot a year. Therapy it ceertainly is although I have to work to ensure the depredations of the slugs do not disturb my calm too much!
    Glad the bright weather enticed you outside. Keep it up! Best 🙂

  2. Sorry to hear you’ve been feeling off-colour, Fiona … but everything gets easier to bear when the clocks change – all that light when you want it. And this post is a good reminder that gardening is one of those activities that improves every aspect of life …. I seem to have forgotten this over the past couple of rainy summers (no point in pretending to be anything other than a fairweather gardener!)

    All the best

  3. I’ve been feeling exactly the same for over a week but I think I’m finally winning the battle.
    I have not been sleeping too well and feel so tired when the alarm goes off that I just want to stay in bed! My thought wander to selling up and living on a house boat although thats probably linked to corronation streets current story line!

    We have a velux window right next to the bed that does not have a blackout blind on it so it lets in a fair amount of light during the night, that coupled with the new lamp post that has been erected right outside the house has added to the problem. So for the last 2 nights I have been wearing an eye shade to help me sleep and hopefully bring me out of the gloom!

    I’m looking out of the window this morning whilst I’m writing this and the day looks like it just may be a bright and cheerful one!

    Prehaps Fiona, by tackling the bind weed in your garden you theraputically cleared it from your head.

  4. Allotment blogger

    Allotments are therapeutic indeed – except they don’t work as marriage guidance! Fortunately himself is as committed to ‘the plot’ as I am so we spent the whole weekend there, but I heard several allotment holders bemoaning that their other halves had wanted them to do something else that weekend …

    I find that the clock change really messes up my sleep for a few days, so your post was a reminder that getting out and doing something is a better therapy that wallowing in misery.

  5. Isn’t that wonderful how spring comes to renovate nature and we are all part of it. Each time,year after year,to participate to this awakening is a new adventure!

  6. Who could resist posting a comment after an offer like that, it certainly sounds like an intriguing book. Glad you are getting out in the garden and benefitting from the spring sunshine. Our snow actually started to disappear yesterday in great quantities and we can see patches of rather miserable looking grass now here in Latvia

  7. I know how you feel about the warm duvet – I’ve got a allotment plot full of bramble roots to try and tame!
    Even when the sun is full and the birds are twittering, sometimes it’s just ‘easier’ to do something else.
    I will do some digging today. I will do some digging today.
    I really will!

    How wonderful that you have frogs to sing you into spring, I’ll bet it sounds marvellous.

  8. May spring paint your days with sunny colours!

  9. Kelly the City Mouse

    I know those days too well. Rainy days just seem to bring out the need to burrow away. But lucky that sunshine came and gave you a productive, pleasant end to your off color day!

  10. I started following your blog a couple of weeks ago and you’ve inspired me to make my own bacon and to finally tackle my bindweed problem. The book sounds great but you may not want to send it to NZ if I was lucky enough to win.

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