We went from this
via a hernia surgery (husband), a fractured patella sleeve (youngest son) and other health issues which prevented a lot of the labour intensive work
My main gripe is a farmers field right next to the site which was left to go to weeds the last two summers because he sold it to a developer. Inevitably the weeds spread across to the allotment site and the area at the side of my plot was at least waist high for most of the summer. The council don't cut the paths on our site and there was no way I could keep on top of it. At the end of summer the builders moved into the field so *fingers crossed* the weed seeds are contained albeit at the side of my plot. My plan is a new petrol strimmer and a weekly strim along the other side of my boundary fence. Although the council have drawn up some quite impressive swanky new guidelines so I may well badger them if they don't want any weeds causing problems. I attended a roadshow last week about the new guidelines and the lady agreed to send a team to cut the weeds down once a year. Better than nothing I guess.
Once we got the biggest of the weeds pulled out and had chatted to other plot holders we discovered that a lot of the plot had been lawn and only the side bit next to the fence had been cultivated in recent years. One plot holder said the old man who used to have the plot kept the grass like a bowling green. Then somebody else took it on and let it go and to be honest we would struggle to roll a bowling ball down the ruts it now has in it. We made the decision that for the first year we would leave it as grass and concentrate on the side bit and actually get something in the ground.
Husband and child got cracking (after the hernia recovery) and made some very rustic beds.
I laid some big cardboard boxes from the bike shop over the bits we didn't manage to dig in time to try and keep on top of the weeds. I then put compost on top and grew a few bits and pieces. The cardboard rotted down and this spring I could dig it all over. I didn't get anywhere near as many weed roots from these bits as from the rustic beds further up but I blame that on the hand rotovator we borrowed right at the very beginning chopping the roots up and the cardboard covering the undug area.
That was pretty much all we did in the first year apart from a chicken wire fence, planting some fruit trees/bushes and building a compost bin from pallets.