As previously discussed, there are many surprisingly enjoyable perks to getting older. It is OK to go to bed early, for example, and you can afford better wine, and elect not to watch shows like the X-Factor without feeling like a social pariah. But one of the biggest and best surprises is that, with age, it becomes entirely acceptable to develop an interest in gardening, however amateurish your attempts may be. My dear friend Matt was way ahead of me on this one, subscribing to Gardener's World from the age of about 25 (for which I soundly and relentlessly mocked him, obviously), but these days even I can be caught talking lovingly to my tomato plants and nipping out into the rain to cut a bit of fresh tarragon for my salad - and it's ACE.
So good news, then, that this Saturday 3rd August sees the start of Dig the City, a nine day Urban Gardening festival that aims to show the residents of Mancunia that living in a conurbation doesn't have to mean no greenery. Trees and show gardens are currently popping up all over the city in readiness for the event - have a look at the festival's Twitter account (@digthecity) for more details, where you can also take part in an online event today between 4 and 5pm using the hashtag #digthecity, sharing your own garden photos and ideas and asking any horticultural questions you may have (my own being, WHY DOES MY BASIL ALWAYS DIE?)
Other interesting-looking events include the Dig the City dinner at Harvey Nichols, which takes place this Monday 5th August at 7.30. The lovely Second Floor Restaurant is worth a visit at pretty much anytime, but if you've never had the pleasure of being cooked for by Mary-Ellen McTague or Lisa Allen, Head Chefs at Aumbry and Northcote respectively, then this is your chance - each will prepare two courses highlighting local produce and foraged foods, with a Q & A session to finish. Tickets are £60 per person, which includes a drink on arrival, a four course dinner and coffee - full details can be found here.
(image courtesy of www.digthecity.co.uk)
I've also already reserved my place for the Dig the City Disco next Friday 9th August, for not only do you not hear the word "disco" anywhere near enough in modern parlance, this event will feature XFM DJs Gareth Brooks and Clint Boon, in Exchange Square, amongst 70 trees that are currently going up as we speak - and if you don't want to sing along to This is How it Feels with Clint in the midst of a temporary forest in the middle of Manchester, then quite frankly there's something wrong with you. Tickets are free and can be reserved here.
There will also be a food market, a picnic, events for kids, and talks from Rachel de Thame, Matt James and King Monty himself - have a look at the website for full listings. Many events are free, with Exchange Square acting as the hub of the festival (where there will also be a temporary pub, courtesy of Harvey Nichols) - beer, food AND a disco? I'm just sorry I didn't get into all this gardening business earlier...