The one without the cleanup!
Even though the rain had been lashing down through the night and was still torrential on the morning of our cleanup, the van was loaded up with all the kit and driven to Ravensbury Terrace, in the vain hope that the forecasters had got it wrong and we could still tackle this 50m stretch of litter strewn Wandle upstream of Penwith Road.
And indeed, about 30 or so of our regular volunteers, and a few new ones, braved the elements to come down and check out what was happening.
As we all stood in the car park with the rain dripping down our necks, in spite of us wearing hats and hoods, we witnessed a fast flowing, murky Wandle with the level of water visibly rising, so much so that the concrete divider downstream towards Penwith Road bridge was completely submerged.
Then, suddenly, all sorts of rubbish floated by. We not only counted half a dozen footballs but also logs and pallets too. All this flotsam and jetsam had obviously been dislodged further upstream and was being transported at high speed towards the Thames.
The safety of our volunteers is paramount at the Wandle Trust, so for the first time in cleanup history we decided to cancel the event. This was especially disappointing for the team from Earlsfield-based estate agents Seymour Green who were supporting this cleanup and had been looking forward to it.
In order to get over this setback, there was only one thing for it: we gathered under the wooden gazebo that sits beside the river and broke out the tea, coffee and cake.
Huddled together beneath its roof, enjoying chocolate sponge, a ginger tray bake and delicious biscuits brought by Rob, it was a perfect, if rather soggy opportunity for us to say a fond farewell and a huge thank you to Jo for all the cakes she’s baked for us over the years. With an average 2 cakes per cleanup and having attended more or less 60 cleanups, she’s brought along a staggering 120 cakes over the years, and we’ve enjoyed every crumb!
We will miss her whilst she spends a year or so in China, but she’s promised to stay in touch and let us know what’s happening in downtown Shanghai.
Having made an impressive dent in the refreshments…
… we packed up and headed home for hot baths and dry clothes.
All photographs: Sally Ann Symis