I excitedly present Whimsical Winnie – round of applause, please!
Well, I say, Winnie or Wynette, but you may address her by Your Majesty – curtsey please – is immensely charismatic; and bursting with buoyancy!
Oh, and she’s blessed with magical ‘green fingers’ – just one teeny-weeny touch of a seed, and hey presto it’s blossomed into an abundance of fruit or vegetables! And of course, I’m always chuffed to receive a hamper of Winnie’s harvest from her bountiful allotment at Fulham Palace Meadows where she’s been a plot holder since 1996.
In fact, 2016 marked the 100th year anniversary of Fulham Palace Meadows; Winnie’s 75th birthday; and 20 glorious years tending her allotment. I say, this extra special triple celebration took place in the main hut, where allotmenteers joined the gaiety and chumbled away on cake and of course, raised a teacup to Winnie – The Queen of Fulham Palace Meadows!
Oh, and before you ask – nosey! In 1962 Winnie toddled over to the chilly isle of England from the sun-kissed island of Jamaica – How spiffing! Where eventually she was given the cheeky title of Whimsical Winnie because of her saucy sense of humour, lively nature, and well, I must add she is a bit of a ‘hoot’ – He, he, he!
Darlings, now Miss Windsor requires your undivided attention, as she wishes to fortify your mind with some exceedingly interesting titbits about Fulham Palace Meadows – I say, what a beautiful name for a congregation of allotments!
Okey dokey, this splendorous snippet of London is located next to the River Thames, which is comfortably nestled within the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham (abbreviated as LBHF) Oh, and you’ll be flabbergasted to discover that the meadows boast, drum roll please….406 allotments “Cor blimey!” I hear you shriek. And I dare say, darlings, it’s the largest allotment site in the whole of London.
Now, as I roll back to ancient times, apparently those notorious Romans actually settled on the meadows from AD43 to AD410. And thereafter the land was used by Anglo Saxon farmers, and in a way, with the exception of cattle, is still being farmed today by the residents of Fulham.
You see, back in the olden days, well, 1916 to be exact! there was a generous old chap known as Bishop Winnington-Ingram who granted the land to the good folk of Fulham for food production and as part of an early WWI ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign. I say, this news excited me greatly, as I’ve just been gifted a delightful cookery book - Eating for Victory - by the lovely lady of Fortune PR (www.fortunepr.co.uk)
PHOTO CREDIT - CLICK HERE
Darlings, I feel utterly compelled to mention that during the retro years of the 1970’s, and according to The Fulham Palace Meadows Allotment Association ‘The first female plot holder arrived in 1970, hitherto permitted tenants were male, although from 20th February 1955 only married men or widowers could take a plot’.
Well, I beg to differ darlings – the male species may have had their name on a plot, but remember who worked the land whilst the boys went to war?
I say, your history lesson is now over, so you may join Miss Windsor for fun and frolics along the rather green, yet earthy, meandering pathway to Winnie’s most precious allotment, where you lucky devils will witness the ‘fruits of her labour’!
You see, as I approached Winnie’s thriving plot, I was completely mesmerised by the rippled green cascades of unripe cherry tomatoes, followed by the odd plum or beef type – in fact, just one whiff of that unique herbal-like aroma and I was instantly catapulted back to my childhood, where I spent many sultry days in Grandpa Larry’s greenhouse. My goodness, and how I adore the smell of those furry, yet pointy tomato leaves, especially when it lingers on one’s fingers!
Now, as my mind returned to the present day, I recall scanning over the rest of Winnie’s allotment whilst I absorbed her ‘green fingered’ greatness! I say, it was bursting at the seams with all sorts – kohlrabi, cabbage, turnip, carrots, cucumber, broccoli, sweet potato, spinach, gooseberries, runner beans, French beans, bolita beans, beetroot, onions, garlic, and sweetcorn.
Oh, dear “No sweetcorn this year,” Winnie piped up from across her empire “They were eaten by naughty squirrels”. She then instantly filled the air with her soprano-esque cackle – Oh my, it was like music to my ears!
Darlings, and one mustn’t forget to mention Winnie’s ravishing raspberries and sexy strawberries! You see, Winnie chummed up with one of her allotment neighbours and together they developed a type of ‘liqueur’ which they make at home.
Apparently, it’s an easy recipe, just combine the fruit with vodka or white rum, add sugar, then with the aid of the hot sizzling sun (for about three months on a windowsill) – voila - you’ve created a terribly nice tipple!
I say, but to Winnie’s dismay the original recipe included mint, and so she proclaimed, “I didn’t like it at all, it tasted like toothpaste”! But on a fruity note; and on special occasions such as Christmas and birthdays, Winnie invites friends and neighbours over to enjoy a quaff or two of their luscious liqueur.
Now, you’ll be pleased to hear that Whimsical Winnie is an extremely keen cook, who merely just ‘watched and learned’ from her parents in Jamaica, and so enthused to Miss Windsor “I believe in cooking every day from fresh. NO TAKEAWAYS” - Hear, hear!
You see, Winnie is very fond of Caribbean cuisine, and so using her allotment grown goodies whips up: chunky vegetable and chicken soups with dumplings, rice and peas, salads, carrot and beetroot juice - you name it, Winnie can make it! Oh, and when asked what her favourite meal is, Winnie joyfully expressed “Rice and peas and chicken!” followed by her captivating chortle!
Now moving swiftly on, I was eager to explore every nook and cranny of Winnie’s delightful ‘glebe’, and so I proceeded to amble around this, well one would say, a gardener’s paradise.
Indeed, darlings, it was bustling with vegetation, with the honorary flower here and there, such as a striking yellow daisy which stood proudly next to Winnie’s bolita beans, and a rather cute row of marigolds which I found snuggled up next to Winnie’s greenhouse – Oh, how cosy! Apparently, these little cuties assist Winnie with her snail patrol duties, because of their natural ability to repel any unwanted critters!
In fact, I was utterly thrilled when I stumbled upon Winnie’s, let’s say, ‘home from home’, which was almost camouflaged by a giant beanstalk; and appeared slightly obscured whilst playing hide and seek behind her greenhouse!
Nevertheless, darlings, as I sauntered towards this rather charming russet brown coloured erection – Oh, I say! I spied a cottage-like window sporting a dainty net curtain. But I must admit, the door was somewhat ajar, so naturally, I popped in and had a good old nose around Winnie’s estate!
And what a frightfully fabulous experience it was, as I felt I’d walked straight into a fully equipped kitchen-diner - albeit the stove was a portable type perched on a foldaway table, huddled next to a deck chair where one presumes Winnie rests her green fingers and toes!
Oh, yes, and this tiddly abode has many functions, as it’s occasionally used as Winnie’s dressing room, hence her powder-pink smock hanging from the rafter!
Darlings, you’ll be fascinated to read, not only does Winnie enjoy a tea break within the comfort of her luxurious surroundings, but she also prepares ‘slap up’ meals on her portable stove of beef steak accompanied by her allotment grown veggies; and on occasion a hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs – I say, isn’t she a wonder!
Now, before I scurry off with my hamper of Winnie’s allotment harvest, which one shall use to re-create a recipe or two from my Eating for Victory cookery book. I must divulge that darling Winnie is an extremely snappy dresser and so is also known by the title of Waistcoat Winnie! Simply because of her love for tailored waistcoats - especially the leather sort – Oh, I say!
Darlings, I must go now, because the war effort is calling for my culinary assistance. But before you leave, please do CLICK on the LINK below for Miss Windsor’s Beetroot & Green Bean Fritters – ration book friendly, exceptionally healthy, and a delicious product of Winnie’s allotment harvest!
Here's the LINK:
MISS WINDSOR'S BEETROOT & GREEN BEAN FRITTERS!
Cheerio for now,
ALL PHOTOGRAPHY BY MISS WINDSOR - EXCEPT FOR WINNIE, GRANDPA LARRY & BISHOP WINNINGTON-INGRAM.