Passion, love and er ... gardening

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Out There column by Ingrid Kent

JANUARY 2

AS 2003 dawned I was already looking forward to another year in the garden.

I'm so happy that the days are getting longer and there are signs that my spring bulbs are already peeking out of the earth.

Very little has been happening on the gardening front as the weather has been so wet.

Instead I've been reading seed catalogues and watching gardening programmes on the TV.

At Christmas there was a particularly good programme featuring well known gardeners and garden designers on BBC2 called 'The Joy of Gardening' - the analogy that gardening is as pleasurable as sex was not lost on me.

Gardening celebrities including Alan Titchmarsh, Kim Wilde, Rachel de Thame, Charlie Dimmock, Ivan Hicks and gourmet chef Raymond Blanc, waxed lyrical about their gardening passions.

Viewers got a rare look at their gardens and I was comforted to see that, on the whole, the gardens of these celebrities in winter are not scrupulously tidy and manicured - if anything they're wild, untamed, beautiful.

It was funny to see that Diarmuid Gavin's garden is not full of trendy concrete 'garden rooms' and imposing steel sculptures. Rather, it is understated and full of wonderful flowers and foliage.

Incredible

The surreal and humourous garden of Ivan Hicks was also a delight to see. It's great to have a bit of fun in the garden and I'm planning to do more of this in the next few months.

While he was interviewed, Ivan was sitting next to a long metal spike with rotting apples on it. Sounds disgusting but it looked incredible.

I'm keen to build more unusual structures in my garden, but they must complement the more traditional aspects.

The TV gardeners all seemed to be saying that they like every season, however, I must admit to being more keen on spring, summer and autumn than the winter.

I see very little of the garden in winter because I work in an office and all it seems to do at weekends is rain. Those lovely, crisp, frosty winter mornings have eluded me so far this year.

On Christmas Day (a wet but warm day) Matt's family and I had a sneaky look at gardening presenter Fred Downham's allotment in Galgate. It's a lovely little plot full of all kinds of vegetables. Something to aspire to!

New Year went by in a flurry of booze, dancing and laughter.

I went to the Yorkshire House with a bunch of mates and my neighbour Erika who was rather cheesed off to be celebrating her birthday on New Year's Eve.

We heard a band that hadn't played in Lancaster for years called 'The Press Gang'. Erika's husband Bruce is their new bass player and fine job he did too.

Walking about the pub I saw faces that I hadn't seen for at least five years. After the Press Gang's set (sadly we didn't hear The Three Ages of Elvis), we sprinted over to The Gregson where DJ Donald, Steve Jarvis and Matt MacDonald were on the decks doing a fantastic job of getting absolutely everyone to dance.

Where else could you see a woman with tie-dyed dungarees and unshaven armpits dancing alongside pensioners, goths, townies, kids, salsa dancers, rock chicks, trendy 30-somethings, women in ball-gowns, nu-metallers, skater boys, reggae heads and men in suits?

Pretty much nowhere, I'd say.

The music was fantastic and the good vibes lasted long into the new year.

What a cracking start to 2003.

JANUARY 6

OOPS! I have to take back some of what I said earlier in this column.

Over the weekend I managed to go out for a fantastic walk in the frosty weather.

Matt and I took a hike up Clougha and even managed to have a snowball fight!