An accident at the allotment started me thinking. When our tools eventually give up the ghost what should we do? Struggle on and use them as best we can for as long as possible? Or should we treat ourselves to something new and shiny? Or do we try and get them repaired?
I guess it all depends on the tool, our attachment (or otherwise) to it and whether it's possible to have it repaired in the first place.
Early in 2019 we were asked to dig over a few beds for a new build property in Frome. We'd been told by another landscaper that the developer had removed all of the top soil - apparently the site had been a market garden in the dim and distant past - and had simply left a combination of good old clay and builder's rubble in it's place.
Not to be deterred we got stuck in - and managed to bend the tines of several forks in the process! Now we have to be honest - we were using cheap and cheerful forks that simply weren't capable of allowing us to do a "Proper Job". That experience reinforced the old adage that "you get what you pay for" and we haven't been back to that store since!
Back to that accident at the allotment. Well the other week I was using an old fork that once belonged to my grandmother. She has a lot to answer for as 40 odd years ago it was her who ignited my passion for gardening and for being outdoors. Unlike the ones that we used last year this was one that was from a different era.............
Anyway I was digging away. I'd not really looked after the fork as I'd always thought that it would go on for ever. And then disaster struck. Not with the tines - I always romantically imagined that they'd been hammered away by a Joe Gargery-type blacksmith - but with the handle. It snapped..........
Now we're in the middle of a worldwide pandemic and most places were in lockdown. I thought about sending it away to have the handle replaced and the tines fettled but everywhere I tried told me there would be a delay as new handles were hard to come by.
And then I realised. There was a shop in Frome that might be able to help. So a hike up the steep, cobbled hill and a quick chat with Dan at Frome Hardware and the deed was done. Dan was going to have a go at sourcing a handle and then fixing my old gran's fork.
And here's the result! Alongside a temporary and cheap and cheerful replacement that I bought whilst waiting for Dan. Putting to one side the sentimental attachment to the one on the right the two just simply don't compare. One's a thing of beauty. The other is just a fork!
Not only is it more sustainable to repair rather than replace - the new wooden handle was sourced and made locally as opposed to the other fork with it's plastic handle that was probably made and imported from afar - it wasn't that much more expensive. And we've now got the old fork back and we're confident that we'll be using it for many more years to come.
My old grandmother would be delighted!
And we were so impressed with Dan we've asked him to take part in our up and coming radio programme on FromeFM. We're going to be talking tools and everything about them. New and old. Repair or replace.
So if you want to know more and to learn how Dan tackled the fork make sure you tune in. Sunday 18th October. 1pm - or so we're told!