.....or, more accurately, the azada, or the djembe, or the Chillington hoe. Somehow this tool, bought by chance as part of a job lot of second hand garden tools at a pre-millenium auction, became know to us as 'the hadge'.
Heaven knows how many years it had been around before it became my first choice in the garden and at the allotment. But it met its end as a tough tool among the rubble and bramble roots at the Open Space Orchard; too hard a battleground for such an aged veteran. Now it will be retired to lighter pastures.
The new one had to be bought online. I can't understand why such a useful tool isn't available locally. I once saw one at Bath's Green Park market - but that's about it.
This one's sold as a 'trenching hoe' - seems like the design's unchanged (the blade's much thicker and half-an-inch longer than the old one, but that's probably down to wear and tear). It's beauty is in its functionality - it makes many tasks easier, but above all, cultivating neglected ground. One swing into the soil (at a slight angle if the soil or the weeds are extra thick skinned). A quick lever up or sideways, using the leverage offered by the long handle, to detach the clod and draw it forward. A twist of the hoe and a downward thwack to break the clod up and separate the roots. A lighter pull to bring the rooted weeds to my feet, for disposal. Job done. If you have the self discipline, you can even dig over a four foot bed without treading on it.