18 May 2008

ten gallon hats

The ladies at Mudchute are assiduous waterers. Hoses are not allowed, so they patiently walk backwards and forwards from the water tanks with their cans, sensibly protected from the midday sun wearing a variety of lovely hats. Much nicer to look at than the flat cap brigade.

I'm sure these ladies thought it was quite odd of me to ask permission to snap their hats, but it was a good way to meet the neighbours and make new friends. The owner of this checked hat and her daughter (above) have an incredibly productive plot, packed with Chinese greens, peas growing up stout bamboo poles and an assortment of brassicas. They posed patiently and very sweetly offered me a spare squash plant - it'll be interesting to see what the fruits are like.

I've been enviously admiring the hat below for some weeks. The owner told me it comes from Hong Kong and folds up so that you can put it in your pocket. She is another squash lover and was putting in her Uchiki Kuri, a tear drop shaped squash, bright orange and reputedly delicious (if you manage to get through the very tough skins). Her seed originally came from Japan, but she saves some from the fruits every year and said that in the main she has been lucky in avoiding cross fertilisation, one of the pitfalls of saving your own squash seed on a small plot.

And here's mine, bought on holiday in Tunisia about 15 years ago. It only cost about a dinar I think, but even though it was cheap I didn't want to abandon it at the end of the holiday and insisted that it came home with me. It has come out every summer since.

It's probably worn a bit better than I have.

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