Today was the first day of the school holidays, at least in this area. Excited children, looking forward to the next six weeks with no routine. No getting up early, and being able to play out in the fresh air albeit supervised, (at least the young ones) by parents or grandparents.
By the time I got out with Ollie today, the skies were darkening, and the forecast was for showers later in the afternoon. Once again, I exchanged my stick for an umbrella, taking no chances. I was pleased to see so many youngsters out and about. They were playing on the park equipment, enjoying the swings, and the small slide. Older children were using the football court, and some had set up a cricket match on the large open area. It was all looking pristine, as the grass was only cut last Monday, and they had even used strimmers, to clear around and under all the benches and play areas.
I wandered off with Ollie, down towards the river. I hadn’t got far when the first large raindrops began to land on me. By the time I reached the bend, the rain was evident on the water, and coin-sized splashes could be noticed on the dry areas of the path. I completed a circuit, which took me back towards the park once more. By now, my umbrella was up, and the shower had turned into constant rain. I felt sorry for the families who had been enjoying the facilities, as they rushed to put on coats, retrieve their belongings, and make a rush for nearby houses, or the shelter of cars parked near the entrance. Their efforts to enjoy the open space in the fresh air of Beetley had yet again been foiled by our unpredictable weather, and the seemingly endless rain.
Ollie and I were soon alone, left to continue our watery promenade in the now deserted space. Turning back to walk in front of the football court and playground, I was dismayed to see the rubbish discarded by those who had just departed. Much of the boundary of the enclosed court was littered with refuse casually flung away by those same children as they left for home. Plastic water bottles, metal drink cans, sweet wrappers, crisp bags, and even large plastic fruit containers, were strewn around the whole area. And these children were being supervised by adults, some of whom had been inside the fenced area with their offspring. They must have seen the things being thrown on the ground, and said nothing. It isn’t as if the area is short of rubbish bins. There is one right by the gate of the football court, and that had an empty can placed on top of it, almost a gesture of complete defiance.
I found a carrier bag blowing around the field, and went into the court. In a few moments, I filled the bag to capacity with all the rubbish, and put it into one of the bins nearby. I am no saint, and I do not sit in judgement of everyone who has ever carelessly thrown something away. But in this area, where vandalism and graffiti is almost unknown, and the local authority tries hard to provide facilities for the residents, and to keep them clean, tidy, and well-maintained, I have to say that I thought this was a little depressing.
Once the weather improves, and there are ten times as many people around, I dread to think what a state the place will be in. Roll on back to school, in the first week of September.