Bottling It

May 7, 2018

Planting out my peas the other day, I realised that my collection of old plastic bottles that I use as mini cloches has become somewhat diminished over the years. A combination of the house move, my disorganisation, and last year’s less-than-convincing gardening efforts means a fair few have gone missing, and others may have simply become too tatty to be used, although some of them must be almost a decade old and pretty much unchanged, which I suppose illustrates the problem with plastic in the first place

We don’t buy that many drinks in plastic bottles any more but that’s not a problem because empty ones apparently grow on trees – or at least in verges, ditches and parks. Anyone who’s cycled with me in recent days has had to put up with me slamming on the brakes and suddenly swerving to the side of the road or doubling back as I spot a particularly fine specimen to add to the pile on the back of my rack. Even being picky and sticking to the freshest-looking new arrivals, I usually run out of room before I run out of bottles.

bottles on bike rack

I feel a little bad only picking up some of the litter but I suppose each one salvaged and put to work for the next ten years in my garden is one more not clogging up the gullet of an albatross chick, so it’s better than nothing. Especially now that summer has arrived even in Bigtown (I actually heard someone say ‘taps aff’ this afternoon) and people are apparently feeling the need to keep themselves well hydrated and then helpfully leaving their bottles out for me to pick up, in some cases just yards from a bin …

summer in Bigtown

“Aye, it’ll no last, mind”

That is, if I’m allowed anywhere near the garden for the next few weeks, as the other half reported he couldn’t complete the strimming round the back because there was a tiny leveret hanging out in the long grass. Fortunately not so tiny that it didn’t have the sense to get out of the way – finding one baby hare in the garden is wonderful, finding half of one, not so much.


On the Fly

March 16, 2014

I was walking back from noticeboard tree having put up a POP poster, when I noticed a car had pulled over ahead of me, and something was flung out of the window, possibly bits of bread crusts. I was just taking that in when the possible crusts were followed by a definite discarded cup and a scrunched up plastic bag. At this point I had drawn level with the car so I spoke to the driver through the still-open window and explained to them the error of their ways whereupon they got out of the car and picked up their rubbish and then, weeping hot tears of repentance, proceeded to pick up every single piece of rubbish along the entire road.

OK, I didn’t really – you can take the girl out of London but you can’t take etc. I did give them a really hard stare though.

Fortunately, it is the parish litter pick next week so the rubbish won’t be there long. Every year whenever we take part, I find myself wondering just who these people are who think nothing of flinging rubbish along the road. This year, at least I’ll have the dubious pleasure of knowing what kind of car they drive.

(Oh and to make it worse, someone has apparently fly tipped rubbish at the waterfall. Despite the fact that they could have driven five miles further on and dropped it off at the council tip for free. What is wrong with people?)

Little Society

April 3, 2011

I realised this morning, rather guiltily, that it was the day of the annual parish litter pick & I had done nothing about it. Last year I’d rung up, arranged to pick up some bags, told the organisers which bit of road we’d do, and let them know where to pick up the resulting haul but this year I’d not got hold of the number and then I’d forgotten all about it and now it looked as though it was going to be too late. There was no central starting place or time so I couldn’t just show up and join in. It’s the time of year when litter is all too readily and nastily visible and it seemed a shame that our bit of road would not get cleared just because of my disorganisation.

At that point it struck me that there was no reason why I couldn’t just grab a bag and clear exactly the same stretch of road as last year. I had my own gloves, we had plenty of bin bags, and we’ve got plenty of room in our bin as we’d be hard pressed to fill a wheely bin in a month, let alone a week. Why not just do a litter pick all of my own?

Well, there was one reason. My childhood walks were often blighted by the humiliation of my mother’s insistence on bringing along a plastic bag and picking up all the litter that she saw along the way. Going on an organised litter pick was one thing – it’s a social sort of occasion, becoming part of the community. Just picking up litter is the exact opposite, an eccentricity that sets one apart, and besides, who knew where it would stop? If I start turning into my mother in this particular, pretty soon I’d be doing everything else: listening to radio 4 at all hours, lecturing shoe shops about the importance of properly fitting shoes, and feeding the birds on an industrial scale.

But, as I’ve said before, there are worse things to turn into. So I turned off Desert Island Discs, slipped into some sensible shoes. left the other half refilling the bird feeders from the 5kg bag of nyjer seed and went out to pick up litter along the road for an hour with my inner teenager cringing along behind me hoping no one saw.

Happy Mother’s day, Mum…

Riddle me This

June 8, 2010

By what logic, do you suppose, is the result of a beach clean, by volunteers, in order to make Bigtownshire’s coastline more beautiful and to preserve its varied sea life, classified as ‘trade waste’? To be disposed of, mark you, at a cost to the organisers of £1.50 per bag (with larger items charged at £3 each). Especially when said organisers themselves work for the same council which is charging for the uplift*.

Please explain, showing your working, and with diagrams if necessary, just how this makes sense and encourages the ‘Big Society’ of which our new leaders dream.

*And that’s uplift in the Scottish sense of picking something up, rather than in the ordinary sense of the feeling of renewed faith in human nature you get when someone gives up their time to volunteer and do something useful, like, say, clean up a beach…

More Signs of Spring

March 26, 2010

Summer’s vegetation has died down completely, the snow has passed, and the spring rains are washing away the winter debris beside the roads.

And suddenly the greys and browns and greens of the verges show other, brighter, splashes of colour:

Yes, the Litter Bugs have survived the winter, you’ll be pleased to hear.

Some have clearly overwintered, lurking under the shelter of leaves and grasses

Some have adopted a duller protective winter camouflage

But some are clearly freshly arrived, evidence that the ‘driving with your car window open’ season is already under way.

How fortunate that Sunday is the parish litter pick. We have two bags for our half-mile stretch of road. I’m wondering if they will be enough…

Battle Commences?

December 14, 2009

Cycling back with the paper this afternoon I came across two of Bigtownshire’s finest standing staring at a piece of verge with a newly erected fence on it. Obviously, I slowed down and said ‘hello’ in a tone of voice intended to convey that I might be an important witness in whatever fascinating crime they were investigating, if only they were to stop me and ask, but they didn’t take the bait. Honestly, what’s the point of standing around in the country obviously being police officers if you don’t satisfy the curiosity of everybody passing about what you’re doing? They know we don’t get out much.

So in the absence of any hard information, and with the local paper not due out until Friday, I am forced to speculate wildly. Chicken rustling? Guerilla fencing? Photography? Or could it be that strimming the vegetation to erect the fence had revealed that the drive-by litter taliban had been at their heinous work again? In which case, expect the whole rural road network shortly to be taped off as a crime scene…

A Little Known Offshoot of the War Against Terror…

December 2, 2009

When we lived in London, the only time the sirens stopped was when England were playing in the World Cup. And even then, you weren’t sure if it was the absence of crime, or the absence of police officers willing to go and fight it that caused the lull. Up here, things are a little different. We had cause to check out the Bigtownshire police report for the year, and found that, while some prominence was given to what appears to be the county’s only murder, slightly more was given to:

The Battle Against Litter

I’d like to report that it’s one that they’re winning, but the litter mongers are like the Taliban only more tenacious and – to be fair – a little less deadly. They’re both rather too fond of roadside devices as well.

There is, however, no news on the war against garden implement theft. Priorities, guys, please.