AS SHE digs the ground to plant her potatoes, pulls up weeds ferociously and works tirelessly to grow all manner of fruit and vegtables, you would be forgiven for thinking this gardener is a quarter of the age she actually is. Reporter LOUISE NAUGHTON went down to an Ickenham allotment to meet an octogenarian who has tended her plot in all weathers for more than two decades.
DORIS Quine, 88, is the backbone of the allotment site in Oak Avenue, Ickenham.
She has been up tending to her beloved plot almost every day for 21 years and on most occasions stays up there all day.
She keeps the memory of her late husband Bill alive by carrying on the hobby that he loved so much. It seems appropriate that her plot is in the centre at the Oak Avenue allotment site, as she has established herself as the inspiration for all the 'rookie' gardeners.
It gives Mrs Quine a bustling social life, and she visits the Women's Institute market in Ruislip every Friday morning to sell her produce.
When her son told her that she should give up the allotment because it is too much to handle, she replied: "Well what else am I going to do, sit inside and mope? I can't just sit in all day, every day and watch TV. I have to be doing something."
Nothing seems to stop Mrs Quine from working away on her fruit and veg.
She damaged her shoulder 15 years ago when she was pulling out a sprout with an usually long root.
She also has a metal pin in her leg after falling at home, and is unable to straighten her arm after breaking her elbow. Mother nature does not deter her either.
She said: "If I think it is going to rain, I'll just put my mac on. If I have got to do something, I have to do it."
Mrs Quine is a determined woman with a strong work ethic. It is obvious when she looks around her patch the pride that she feels.
She is not just doing this to get out of the house, she genuinely loves what she does.
She said: "I enjoy the fresh air and meeting people.
"I get a great sense of achievement each day and feel closer to my huband when I am here."
She says she does realise her age, and questions how long she will be able to carry on working with such intensity.
She said: "In December I am going to be 89.
"I have to use a stick to get about at the moment. I do ask myself: 'Am I still going to be able to do this when I am 90?'"
For now at least, Mrs Quine continues to be an inspiration and deservedly so, not just to her fellow gardeners or peers but to everyone she meets, and anyone who has ever thought about growing their own produce.