Throughout the course of the year our village pub does a great job in raising funds for the local air ambulance. One of their fund-raising activities this year has been a contest to see who can grow the longest carrot. Last year they had a pumpkin growing competition. It was leeks the year before last and next year they are having an onion challenge.
I didn't enter the carrot contest but my neighbour, Tony, from Plot 24 has taken part. Tony is one of the keenest gardeners in our allotment association. You might catch glimpses of his immaculately maintained plot in some of my photos. His is the plot to the left of my weed patch. Tony has put some real hard graft into his plot. There isn't a single weed to be found anywhere on his allotment and I'm sure that it is not possible to keep an area of over 200 square metres of fine Lincolnshire soil weed-free without regular dedicated hard work. He has deservedly been rewarded with the Parish Council's trophy for the best kept plot this year.
You might recall that earlier this year I posted a photograph on this blog which showed a seven foot length of drainpipe standing in a bucket. That was where Tony was growing his competition carrot. I think the pipe was filled with his own secret formula of sand, soil and compost. A couple of carrot seeds were sprinkled into the top of the upright pipe and the other end was placed in a bucket of water. The theory was that a monster carrot would grow inside the full length of the drainpipe.
The week before last it was busier than usual in our village pub. Thieves had stolen the copper cables which ran to the village from the telephone exchange which is in the neighbouring village. Apparently there is a lot of this going on at the moment. The thieves park up in a van at a secluded spot on a country lane between villages. They then dig up the copper telephone cable and tie it to the back of their van before driving off with the cable still attached. In doing so they will strip hundreds of metres of cable out of the system. The following night they took the lines connecting another local village. This left over half of the homes in our village without telephone lines or internet connections for about a week.
With only the usual rubbish on television and no access to the internet or telephone lines it was not surprising that people went to the pub for entertainment. The pub had an added attraction in that it had not lost its internet connection and the landlord allowed open access to his wireless network. It was on one of these nights that the judging of the carrot contest was held. Tony had forgotten all about it and was sitting in the back bar minding his own business while his carrot was still growing in the drainpipe on the allotment about a mile away down one of the quiet lanes leading out of the village.
The bar manager offered to drive Tony to the allotments in her transit van to fetch his carrot. So, off they went into the dark night in the van. On arriving at the allotment gates Tony realised that he had not got his key with him and so they parked the van in the verge and then took a couple of torches out of the back of the van before scrambling over the perimeter fence into the allotment site. It was too dark to extract the carrot from the drainpipe on the plot and so they carried the carrot, drainpipe and all, over the fence and into the back of the van.
Not much happens in the village without someone noticing. Naturally the combination of a van in a secluded spot, torch lights, and a long pipe being loaded into the back of the van had made someone suspect that the cable thieves were back. Before the van made it back to the pub they were stopped by a police patrol car.
The police officer, thinking he had nicked the cable thieves, asked what was in the back of the van. I would have loved to have been there to hear Tony tell them that there was nothing there but a five foot long carrot and to see the policeman's face when this turned out to be true.
Tony went on to win the carrot growing contest.