Home » Writing101 » JUNE 27th, 2014 Writing 101, Day Twenty: The Things We Treasure

JUNE 27th, 2014 Writing 101, Day Twenty: The Things We Treasure

Tell us the story of your most-prized possession.

It’s the final day of the challenge already?! Let’s make sure we end it with a bang — or, in our case, with some furious collective tapping on our keyboards. For this final assignment, lead us through the history of an object that bears a special meaning to you.

A family heirloom, a flea market find, a childhood memento — all are fair game. What matters is that, through your writing, you breathe life into that object, moving your readers enough to understand its value.

Today’s twist: We extolled the virtues of brevity back on day five, but now, let’s jump to the other side of the spectrum and turn to longform writing. Let’s celebrate the drawn-out, slowly cooked, wide-shot narrative.

How long is long? That’s entirely up to you to decide. You can go with a set number — 750, 1000, or 2000 words, or more (or less!). Alternatively, you could choose your longest post thus far in the challenge, and raise the bar by, say, 300 words, 20 percent, three paragraphs — whatever works for you.


 My mind takes me back over twenty years. I had never actually come into contact with my treasured possession at this time, and I have to admit, I would not have placed a very high value on it at all.

Most of my working life was spent in a nine-to-five job in an office, I lived in a flat in London leading something of an inner-city life.

My stepfather, Jack, was elderly , on his own and becoming disabled, showing signs of his age. I got into the habit of helping him with his garden and tending to the vegetables on his allotment as he became more poorly. I worked with him, he supervised my efforts and I began to develop a very deep love of gardening.

Sadly Jack passed away and I continued to work on the allotment in Chorleywood. I would travel by car along the M25 motorway, from London, once a week to garden and harvest the produce. That allotment was located on a piece of ground adjoining a local common. There would be many people walking their dogs through the allotments who would stop and pass the time of day. The setting was beautiful, with hedgerows of Elderflower bushes and Dog Roses intermingled with Hawthorn Bushes. I loved spending the day there, happily gardening before braving the traffic on the M25 back to London. I remember one occasion when I got back to my flat in London, to my horror I could not find my house keys. I furiously drove back to the allotment, where I was fortunate enough to find my keys, resting on some freshly turned soil, where I had last been working. From that day forward, I purchased a chain that holds the keys securely fixed to my belt.

I had applied for an allotment in Highgate, in London, where there was a very long waiting list due to the location. Many people in the locality live in blocks of flats, without a garden, and competition for allotments is always very fierce. One day a letter arrived from The Highgate Allotments Committee, offering me an allotment, No. Y14, I excitedly went to view the overgrown plot and I immediately snapped it up.

This is when my treasured possession came into my hands.

I had left Jack’s garden tools behind in Chorleywood, and I began to buy and accumulate some replacements. I was browsing around a car-boot sale in Islington, when I saw it: A garden spade! Not just an ordinary garden spade, this spade was exactly the garden spade I was looking for. I tested it for size, for weight, and bartered with the owner. I paid the princely sum of six pounds for my treasure, and carried it home, before transferring it to my new allotment. My new spade was a used, blue metal spade with a nice sharp cutting edge.

Then began the task of clearing my new allotment of the unwanted weeds, there was a huge Blackberry hedge, growing out of control and covering up to one third of my allotment with fierce prickly branches. I dug them out, root by root, with my new friend, “Spade”, we were a good team, and the perfect match. One elderly person complained that these were Highgate blackberries I was removing, I replied they were Highgate trespassers on my plot! Spade and I then dug out some beds, neatly double-dug, to two measures of Spade’s blade, and planted a wonderful selection of vegetables. We were turning the soil over at a furious rate and exposing some really tasty worms and insects for the local bird-life. Two robins, I remember were furiously fighting and staking out their territory, and some very tame Blackbirds were visiting to collect food for their young.

I would spend a couple of hours a day on my allotment, very early in the morning, I was up with the lark, watering and taking care of the vegetables before I went to work. I am sure there was never a day when Spade and I were not together working, turning the soil or digging weeds out from the paths. I made some firm friends there and we would exchange spare plants and information, I always thought there was sometimes a little too much information composed of Old Wive’s Tales and hearsay. I purchased and erected a greenhouse, and a very good friend, Angelo helped me to build it. During the Winter months, Spade would live in the allotment shed, I would liberally oil his blade and the handle to prevent rust, although during the Winter months, there was usually some work for Spade and I to take on.

Suddenly, life radically altered, when I became bereaved, and lost my  wife, after thirty very contented years together. I retired from the office. The allotment and Spade, played a very big part in that period of my life. Time passed, and I met Margaret, we got married about nine very happy years ago and my friend Angelo was our best man at the wedding.

I moved to Norfolk on the east coast of England to live with Margaret, where I was fortunate to get another allotment pretty quickly, Spade, together with the rest of my garden tools and a large quantity of my allotment plants came too. I remember Margaret and I making several trips to transport some prized Blueberry bushes from the allotment in London to Norfolk. Spade was needed, as we had to dig the bushes out from the containers and transport them separately in the car.

The new allotment in Norfolk was also very overgrown and Spade and I had our work cut out, getting rid of endless weeds and preparing some new beds. Our house had a garden at the back that was full of builders rubble and waste. Spade was instrumental in helping to get this into a beautiful condition. Margaret and I joined the allotments committee, sharing the secretary duties, Spade was in constant use on a daily basis in the early hours of the morning. We spent about five years, producing some excellent vegetables, and Margaret performed magic in the kitchen, preparing tasty meals and jams and pickles from the harvest.

Change came along and Spade and I were to be on the move again to another allotment site, on the next field. This was a very well laid-out site, purpose-built by a local businessman. There was a lot of work for Spade and I, as we had to dig and prepare the beds for planting, starting from scratch once again. I had a nice new shed provided, this was the perfect home for my tools and Spade, I oiled his blade and gave him an extra polish.

We have worked very hard together over the years and Spade has become a daily part of my life. Can Spade be termed a treasure? I think so, he would be very difficult to replace, we are the perfect match in size and fit each other perfectly. I could not begin to put a monetary value on Spade at all, it would be impossible to find a valuation for the affectionate memories attached to my “Spade”.


Copyright © Written by John Yeo~ All rights reserved,



6 thoughts on “JUNE 27th, 2014 Writing 101, Day Twenty: The Things We Treasure

  1. Thank you Meredith~A very ancient practice that dates back to the period of land enclosure ~ When very poor rural folk were allotted land to cultivate~This is now becoming very fashionable as folk want to grow organic and pesticide-free food. Allotments are protected and in some areas impossible to obtain due to very long waiting lists and land developers attempting to take them over to bury them under concrete for profit.

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