John and his wife Ann have lived, these past six years, on the side of one of those steep valleys near Stroud. Their back garden rises vertiginously to way above the level of their chimney pots, with narrow tiers of productive level ground carved out as you ascend. They fight the good fight against the woodland scrub that encroaches from above, and the badgers which lumber destructively, right down as far as the bird feeders by the back door of the house. And they seem to be winning: seldom have I seen so much cultivation within such a small area, with 30 fruit trees, a greenhouse and a polytunnel all loaded and stuffed with produce. When if ever can they go on holiday I wonder? It certainly makes me feel inadequate, achieving so little, on our flat, badger-free patch.
The garden we visited is one of 37 open this weekend under a scheme devised by Transition Stroud: only by chance did I hear about it on Thursday, via the Gloucestershire Churches Environmental Justice Network.