Trust those in the Big House to foil such a brilliant plot

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While that hasn’t always been the rule at Chez Clement, it applies now because I’ve fallen off too many ladders to play those sort of games any more. On one famous occasion I foolishly let Herself write this weekly offering, with consequences that still reverberate around The Shed whenever she sees me glancing at our young neighbour sunbathing on her lawn wearing little more than a couple of handkerchiefs, as the little woman succinctly put it.

But the general rule still applies, and so it follows that matters horticultural are very much in Herself’s domain. Which might explain why buying her Christmas and birthdays presents gives me no problems – gardening gloves and the occasional new pair of all-singing, all-dancing secateurs are always gratefully received.

Of course, special anniversaries merit something more significant, which goes some way towards answering the question posed recently by a nosey (and much less attractive than the aforementioned) neighbour who was asking how much the new wheelbarrow cost. But I digress.

The point I seek to make is that, just like our Freddie from Planning, I suspect, we are blessed with a garden large enough for any manner of things. Firstly, it provides a home for The Shed -(my few square yards of peace and tranquillity), but almost as important, it allows Herself the opportunity of growing fruit and vegetables, which she does with consummate ease and a good deal of skill.

As she says, what she saves by this grow-your-own policy more than pays for the occasional shopping forays in Southampton and places further afield a couple of times a year. Indeed, when the occasion arises I like to cheer her up by saying that it also goes some way towards financing our twice-yearly examination of the calvados trees in Normandy, although with the pound the way it is against the Euro, thanks to Brown and Co, that’s getting more and more expensive.

But others are not as fortunate, and I think particularly of the thousands of families who live in flats who would give a good deal to have a patch on which to grow their own fruit and vegetables.

There is a wider benefit to such an opportunity also, because although I perhaps joke about Herself doing all the work, I happen to believe that working together strengthens family unity, and what better, for those who have children, than to involve them in growing what is put on the table.

That is why I was delighted when the idea of 60 allotments in St Lawrence was first mooted ,and utterly disappointed, but not really surprised, when those who know better at Planning turned down the scheme.

It beggars belief that in an age when all informed opinion – unlike the issue of climate change – bangs on about healthy eating, our government can reject something like this.

What re-enforces my view is that the land is in the ownership of the Royal Jersey Agricultural and Horticultural Society.

Ministers come and go and so do their pinstripes and advisers, but for what must be close on a couple of hundred years the RJAHS has resolutely existed as, among many other things, guardians of our countryside.

I just can’t envisage a time when this proud organisation would put forward any scheme that might even remotely be considered to be harmful or even questionable in relation to rural Jersey. It simply just could not happen, and to be honest I would far rather entrust the guardianship of the countryside to bodies like the RJAHS than a barrelful of planners.

Indeed, I’d go further and say that if that lot in the Big House want to really wake up to what the public want, instead of running around like a bunch of attention seekers intent on doing little more than examine their own navels, they should enact legislation making it compulsory for every parish, including St Helier and the other semi-urban ones, to provide allotments for their residents. Heaven knows, the way things are in farming these days, those in the industry wouldn’t mind getting a few bob for land not suitable for growing early Royals.

I remember years ago there was an allotment scheme in Grouville – I think it was in a lane near Les Maltières – and I can’t recall the honorary police constantly complaining about cars parked in the area. It really is a matter of common sense, but of course when it comes to governments, common sense is about as thin on the ground as are poor Jersey lawyers.

While on the subject of growing, and having referred to Jersey Royals, I was interested in the letter from Susan Syvret of Bury St Edmonds, who compared samples of the crop sent to her and her neighbours direct from a Grouville farm with some bought by one recipient from a supermarket in that town.

In short, there was no comparison, and Ms Syvret appeared to blame the loss of traditional farming methods for the difference. I’d suggest to Ms Syvret that the difference is probably more to do with what happens to the crop after it leaves these shores than anything else.

AND finally … like Barbara Corbett, I too raised an eyebrow when I read that the next Health Minister will be the fourth to ‘serve under’ the department’s head pinstripe. True to form and no surprise there, then.

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