Caught by the River

Mrs Bun’s Allotment Diary: an extract

23rd June 2024

Newly out on Green Eyed Publishing, ‘Mrs Bun’s Allotment Diary and The Culinary Capers of Felix & Pi’ casts back to the allotment-tending, catering-business-running days of Nina Walsh — musician, gardener, and DJ-producer partner of the late Andrew Weatherall — as documented in her Mrs. Bun’s Allotment Watch Caught by the River column from 2011-12. Read an edited extract from the book below.

The middle classes wear their plot numbers with virtue, parading their bio-dynamically grown artichokes as they jump into their duel fuel 4-wheel drives and head home via Waitrose to pick up the condiments. Most have gardens big enough to grow substantial amounts of sustenance if they were truly desperate, with green houses and potting sheds to boot. Instead they dutifully allow their fertile gardens to ‘re-wild’ into glorious meadows in order to provide for the insects. Meanwhile, the peasants sit and wait for several years to obtain a small parcel of land that was once a legal right of the common people to cultivate food in order to feed their family. The grazing of livestock now outlawed, of course and the provision of food banks to ease their wait.

Something is wrong here and needs to change. In these days of obscene inflation, supply chain breakdown and incoming food shortages is it not time the criteria for allotment allocation is reviewed, based on income and genuine need?

The irony of our weekly delivery of Royal horse shit from the Palace says it all and the folk who govern what’s left of this ‘common land’ have so much time on their hands that they are more concerned in legislating rules and restrictions on what fruit trees can be planted, how high they can grow and how much fun is allowed. The better worked plots being privately passed around these ‘decision makers’ before they even make it onto the waiting list of available rods.

I have always felt so grateful to have my little piece of this green and pleasant isle to grow food and have freshly cut flowers on the table, to escape the clutches of a greedy polluted city but now my own circumstances have changed.

I moved away to the countryside, cut my rent in half and have somehow found myself working the walled vegetable garden in a glorious Elizabethan manor house that the gardeners no longer maintain, providing food for the small community who live here. My humble yet beautiful dwelling in the grounds of the manor came with no garden so I was allocated a mostly shady spot of piled rubble, chalk and flint that sits raised behind the carpark. This I have transformed into a magic wonderland for my dog, Binky, and I to privately enjoy in harmony with the frogs, lizards and birds. The occasional wafts of muck spreading from the neighbouring farm and road noise, mostly large agricultural vehicles, are the least of my concerns.

Once again, I am grateful.
Mrs Bun is back in business xx.


While the stealthy yet persistent machine that is Codex Alimentarius continues to criminalize many health promoting herbal preparations and remove them from our shelves, I have been busy planting my own medicinal herb and flower garden in order to prepare my own tinctures and tonics later in the season. Included in my selection are Arnica, Echinacea, Feverfew and Chamomile. As yet I believe this is still allowed so long as we don’t go pushing them onto the sick and vulnerable, God forbid! I’m not so sure that a bed of flowers is exactly what some members of the allotment committee really want to see. However, I have managed to pass the annual allotment inspection with all rods intact. The rules are 3⁄4 of your allotted rods must be cultivated otherwise you have to hand some of it over to the five year long waiting list. Seems fair enough.

As this year has been so incredibly dry many of the plots are looking a tad on the disheveled side so I am assuming that the committee were exceptionally forgiving and laid back with the eviction orders which is how I managed to get it through unnoticed. Let’s see what they have to say in a month or so when the entire bed turns bright pink and yellow without a
vegetable in sight.

The latest little critter to appear on the plot is a relative newcomer to the UK, the rosemary beetle or Chrysolina Americana. Despite its name it actually originates from Southern Europe and hangs out mainly on Rosemary and Lavender plants. It has now become established in London and the Home Counties and will happily devour an entire plant over the course of a summer. Apparently the best way to deal with these little blighters is to flick them off and squash them.

However, I am going to try treating the grubs, who actually do the damage, with a blast of colloidal silver which is fatal to primitive lifeforms yet completely non-toxic to us so called evolved sorts.


It’s that time of year. The unmistakable aroma of the Elderflower is a sure sign that summer is upon us. It grows in abundance in the UK yet still remains one of the most expensive cordials to buy in the shops so I highly recommend you get out there and bottle up as much as you can store. It is a wonderfully refreshing summer drink and even more wonderful when combined with a large glass of chilled Prosecco! Elderflower cordial also has some versatile culinary uses too. Apparently if you massage the cordial into
chicken (no, not a live chicken – thank you Little Barrie!) it makes a deliciously sweet glaze.

35 to 50 sweet smelling elderflower heads
2 oranges, 1 lemon, 1 lime
2 ounces of citric acid (you can find this in a chemist or in the
Indian spice section at a supermarket)
3 pints of boiling water
3lbs raw cane sugar

1. In a large pot, boil the water and dissolve the sugar. Allow it
to cool.
2. Zest the lime, slice all the fruit and add with the lime zest to
the cooled sugar water.
3. Stir in the citric acid. This will preserve the cordial and will
allow you to store it for up to 6 months.
4. Add the elderflower heads.
5. Cover with a lid and leave for 48 hours.
6. Once brewed you will need to filter it through a jelly bag, a
clean stocking or a piece of unbleached muslin into another pot
or jug.
7. Sterilise your bottles and decant.


‘Mrs Bun’s Allotment Diary and The Culinary Capers of Felix & Pi’ is out now, and available here from the Caught by the River Bandcamp page (£12.50). The first 100 copies come with a limited edition bookmark.