Remember you’re a Womble

I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples

Mother Theresa

The other day I was filling in a survey from my MP Alex Norris (Labour, Nottingham North) and he asked what could be done to improve the area. My response was something about cleaning up the streets of the estates, because I genuinely believe that the tidier a place is, the less people throw crap everywhere.

Minutes later, literally minutes, I was browsing Twitter when I saw a tweet from The Nottingham Forager saying she was doing a litter pick in Aspley and would anyone like to join her. Now I live in Aspley and had just been waxing lyrical to the MP about how the streets needed cleaning up. So I really had to put my money (or my efforts) where my mouth is didn’t I?

So I messaged the Forager, who goes by the name of Lucy, and arranged to meet her at Aspley Library at 2pm on Saturday. I was to bring gloves and binbags, she was providing a hi-vis jacket and a litter picking stick. It turns out Lucy is a Nottingham City Council Community Champion and the council has provided her with some basic equipment to help in her volunteering.

Lucy started cleaning up the areas where she was walking her dog Holly, and Holly came litter picking yesterday too.

It’s a lovely little cut through footpath by the side of the library, I didn’t even know it was there. Lucy goes foraging there; there’s a hazlenut tree, several plum trees and lots of blackberry bushes – free food in the middle of the city.

We started at the bottom by the library and worked our way up. Lucy has spent quite a lot of time on this stretch already so it wasn’t disastrous, but it wasn’t good. There were lots of plastic bottles – some containing some very suspiciously-coloured liquid – empty beer and energy drink cans, a couple of condoms (unused and still in their packets), sweet wrapper, crisps packets, plastic bags etc etc etc.

A couple of people walked past and smiled (not in a ‘ha ha, you’re doing community service’ sort of way, just in a friendly way) and others said hello. Then one woman, who was probably in her 20s, walked past and said ‘thank you for picking up the litter’. She said the same to Lucy when she passed her. It made my afternoon.

In just 45 minutes, the two of us had collected this little lot.

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And just look at how clean the footpath looks. That’s Lucy and Holly with our collected rubbish and our litter pick sticks.

I had to admit, I felt very virtuous. It was lovely to meet Lucy and I have every intention of meeting up with her again – maybe we should tackle the area around the library next time because it was shocking. It also didn’t take up very much of my time and it got me out in the sunshine, quite apart from the environmental benefits.

Lucy gave me my own litter pick stick, so I am now officially a Womble. I intend to start with the footpath that leads to my house and then do at least some of our road.

Incidentally, I met Elizabeth Beresford (Wombles author) once. I was wandering around Alderney and I came across her house (you couldn’t miss it, there were Wombles in every window). There was a note on the door that said: ‘I’m in the garden, come round the back’. So I did and spent the next couple of hours chatting with her over coffee in her kitchen – at one point some German tourists peered through her kitchen window and took a photograph of us. She signed some books for my daughters and was completely and utterly charming.

Here’s me as a Womble – I chose Tobermory.

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Well at least, they’re my eyes and glasses. I’m not really that furry.

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Traveler, writer, photographer, seeker of knowledge

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