One Monday afternoon while back in London I went to the East Finchley Allotments. My cousins have an impressive allotment there, and invited me along to do some sketching with them, and catch up after so many years. It’s been a while since I was in East Finchley – I used to pass through on my way to work every day, a million years ago it seems – but I found the place, a large and historic allotment site behind a primary school, surrounded by woods and residences. For those who don’t know, an allotment is kind of like a garden space that you rent and maintain for non-commercial use, a bit like the community gardens you get here in the US. My cousin Dawn (check out her lovely site London Clay Birds), who I had sketchcrawled with a couple of days earlier, met me and showed me around, and we did some more drawing. She built the shed above, in fact, and my other cousin Lester constructed the roof. It was a sketcher’s paradise, and very peaceful too. I drew one of several birdhouses (also Dawn’s creations), in that brown pen I go on about so much. My cousin Claire came along a little later, with their Mum Sue, and we had some lovely catching up. Claire brought her incredible sketchbooks too (check out her site The Quiet Revolution), and then we explored the site a bit more, doing some more drawing.
Some of the allotments really are rambling patches of loveliness, with a lot of hard work and devotion involved. I’m always impressed at the dedication people have to gardening; being essentially living things, gardens are not something you can just ignore. Dawn writes the newsletter for the East Finchley Allotments, and showed me the impressive map she is working on, hand-drawn of course. I like drawing old things like sheds, so we got some more sketching in. The one below drew me in largely because of the French signs in the window.
It was a hot day, and after stopping to sketch the quick scene below (the sloping grounds of the allotments leading up to a primary school which looks a lot like the one I went to, but isn’t), we all sat in the shade of the allotment and caught up. Dawn gave me a bag of wonderful hand-made goodies, including some of the beautiful London Clay Birds (check them out on her Folksy and Etsy stores). It was a very nice afternoon, I hope to have more of them.