What a rubbish, awesome day, that has left us with a feeling of “a job well done” with a sense of frustration at what we just did! Confused?!
I hope that is slightly confusing to read. It left me feeling slightly confused as I tried to write a semi-legible oxymoron, that was more than just a few words.
We decided that we wanted to be constructive today and do a good deed, so we set out this morning at 8.45am and drove to Tyndrum on the West Highland Way, for a litter pick organised by the awesome Real Food Cafe.
The Real Food Cafe or more specifically Sarah (the owner of the Real Food Cafe) organises local litter picks on the last Sunday of every month for 6 months throughout the spring/summer. We first became aware of them through Facebook and had been on our radar for the last few months to go and join in.
Part of the reason for this is to help give Eve another home education experience by volunteering to do selfless activities and to push us all outside of our comfort zone by meeting people. The Real Food Cafe litter pick is as much a social event as it is a litter pick!
The whole experience was awesome and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Litterpicking might not sound like a great way to spend your Sunday but don't knock it until you try it. I think you will be pleasantly surprised if you let yourself experience things that you would otherwise not consider as ‘your sort of thing’. We all love a good litter pick.
Arriving at the Real Food Cafe we parked up, put on wellies and headed in to be greeted by a table full of other people who were also there as part of the litter pick which was awesome! The variety of people there was surprising. There were families, children, single people, farmers, and business owners. There were local residents and people who had travelled a lot further afield than we did. It was a very diverse group, but everybody was welcoming and friendly. I am not sure how many people were there but I would estimate at just over 20 people which is a fantastic turn out!
The first activity was to enjoy a cup of coffee and a slice of amazing triple-layered homemade sponge cake, all provided free of charge by the cafe for people participating in the litter pick. Thank you!
We then all received the obligatory safety brief, and due to the number of people who participate, our allocated picking areas. We were allocated Tyndrum due to having Eve (a child) with us, to be away from the main road where paths were available. Other groups travelled to target hotspots such as laybys and other specific places with a minimum of 2 people per group.
The safety brief and being given allocated areas was unexpected, but a very good idea for several reasons, and not just for safety.
We feel the safety brief helped to give the event structure and to bring people together more with a common purpose. Not to mention, allowing everybody to see the results from their work as people we were not going over the same places. We still met up with other pickers as we helped each other and even started unofficial competitions on bag numbers ‘spotting’ rubbish! Eve at times was running off in search of items to ‘bag’! I have to confess that I am not sure why Eve enjoys litter-picking as much as she does, but she gets something from it and was very enthusiastic throughout.
We were all given a high visibility vest, litter picker, bin bags, bin bag hoops and gloves. As soon as we had our equipment we headed off. At this point it started to rain! Not just a little bit, the heavens literally opened. Luckily we checked the forecast so were aware of the expected rain. But it didn’t dampen our spirits.
Our route took us down (south) the main street (A82) from the cafe before crossing over and heading north and passed the Green Welly Stop before crossing over again and heading back towards the cafe. We searched hedges, behind walls, the kerb, edges of burns and countless nooks and crannies.
Unfortunately, we didn't have to look hard for some of the rubbish. It was so disappointing but also showed Eve exactly why we strive to be good people who do good things for others.
As we stood waiting to cross the road just passed the Green Welly Stop, we saw several men standing around a car who had been watching us litter pick for the last 10 minutes or so.
We then watched them, as they looked straight towards us, throw their cigarette butts on the ground get in their car and drive off!! It felt like they were saying “fk you” without saying it, but worst of all, I don’t think they were thinking anything at all, their heads void of any consciousness or consideration. I think that’s worse than “fk you” but we didn't dwell on it. We were not angry (surprisingly) but we did feel a deep sense of annoyance and disappointment. We paused, walked over to where they were standing, checked the cigarette butts were extinguished and picked them up. People like this are the very reason that we spend so long teaching Eve to be a good, honest and caring person who considers the impact her actions can have on others.
Two hours later with two heavy bags of rubbish, we finished our litter pick and headed back to the Real Food Cafe to get cleaned up and enjoy some food. We had been out in the rain and midges and enjoyed every moment.
If anybody is questioning whether joining this litter-picking group is a good idea, this is where it gets even better. Upon completing the litter pick everybody comes back together for a meal in the cafe.
Sarah (The Real Food Cafe Owner) gives everybody a free meal! There is a £5 fee that goes towards the food, however, the money does not to the cafe, but towards something else. Sometimes this can be the staff tip-jar (the staff are some of the best, most motivated and happiest employees we have ever seen) but today the money was allocated to a charity…
The charity that the money is going towards today is Scottish Autism! We were given the cash to go towards our Just Giving page. We we blown away with this amazing gesture!
I can not over exaggerate both our shock and our gratitude. We were not expecting it nor did we know that Sarah (the cafe owner) follows us on social media so knew who we were before we’d even arrived.
We enjoyed our meal immensely and sat looking out at the rain that had not left us for the duration of the litter pick making polite conversation with other pickers. The food was amazing and Eve still declares it as the best fish and chips she’s ever had!!!
We said our goodbyes and thanked Sarah for everything and headed off to drive home.
I know litter-picking might not be everyone’s idea of a great way to spend the weekend, but we cannot recommend it enough. It was a thoroughly great way to spend some time together, meeting like minded people and doing a good deed for others and the environment.
We fully intend to make the effort to do it again and we look forward to the opportunity of doing our bit to help clean up a beautiful area of Scotland.
If you are interested in joining the next picking session here is a link to The Real Food cafe's website
Lastly, if you are driving through Tyndum over the next few weeks and it’s looks clean and tidy we all did that, so please take your rubbish (and cigarette butts) home.
Keep safe, and please take your litter home 😉
We hope you had a great weekend and we will see you again tomorrow when we are back on the Fife Coastal Path
Ian, Sarah and Eve