will find a ditch full of carpet off-cuts (they've been there since Christmas Day. I know, because I reported it), a pile of used tyres on the edge of a field and a mattress in a small lay-by. Not only that, but on one particular lane, there is a trail of Isla Negra Sauvignon Blanc bottles (there are so many that I could identify the brand!), accompanied by the occasional beer can. On another corner, McDonalds wrappers and cups vie for space with energy drink cans.
Why? What makes someone so disrespectful of the countryside and the people who live there, that they would dump their waste in a ditch or on a corner? When someone throws out their Maccie Dee's wrapper, what on earth makes them think that it is better thrown on the side of the road than kept in their car until they find a bin? And as for the wine bottles....well, I can only think that there is a teenager somewhere who is tapping away at a parental supply, or someone has a very guilty drinking problem. The point is - don't dump it! It would take just as much effort to find a bin or take your bigger rubbish to a commercial dump. I would have taken on some tyres (for raised beds) if someone was happy to deliver them (they were happy to dump them....) AND if you're thinking that there's an excuse not to use the municipal tip because it is closed - most are not. AND if you need to get rid of a mattress, councils will remove bulky items for not very much cost.
Why leave your mess for someone else? I don't get it. Especially now that the countryside and open places have become so important and precious.
Rant over (for now...)
As lockdown drags on for what must certainly be the 99th month, I have reflected on how my priorities have changed. With holidays and travel out of the question, I have found that I think very carefully about where I spend my money.
Historically, I am very middle class in my shopping habits. Waitrose, when I had a local, saw a lot of my footfall and then I did the discrete move to Ocado. However, all of that changed in March 2020 when delivery slots suddenly became like hen's teeth. It was then that I discovered more local alternatives such as Ashlyns (http://www.ashlynsorganics.co.uk), a company that used to supply the hospitality industry, but were forced to move into home delivery to keep afloat. There are dozens of such companies across the country. And there are good reasons to use them : their prices tend to be reasonable and their produce tends to be locally sourced. I don't eat meat, but my husband does and it is important to me that I know where the meat he eats comes from. If you use a local company, they should be able to tell you (try tracing the source of meat in your Tesco shop - not so easy!) By buying from a local company I am also supporting local farmers.
And here I must also mention our fantastic local pub, The Fox. A family-run business, they have done everything to support our little community, including opening a shop to supply essentials, on top of regular takeaways. During the worst days of panic buying, they were, literally, a lifeline for many. Now that things are not quite so dire, they still provide a non-supermarket option (and give my pre-teen a chance to go off by herself to buy a muffin once a week - a very precious outing in a time of no outings!)
Of course, the panic buying and lack of delivery slots of early 2020 have now faded into the past. I never did go back to Ocado. By the time I found a slot, it cost £6.50 for a delivery and that just seemed outrageous. So I tried Iceland. Yes, really. A definite departure from my middle class habits. What I did find was that slots are regularly available and that their fresh produce (albeit a bit limited in variety) is of really good quality. Their frozen veg is fab and they also sell a good bottle of wine. What's not to like? They also deliver free for orders over £35. And their customer service, at least in my neck of the woods, has been great.
The other solid alternative is Tesco click and collect. You pay a small packing charge, but it is super convenient and it saves going into a store for those things that you cannot get anywhere else but a supermarket.
I now buy cleaning products in bulk. I prefer to use eco-friendly products and have found that this is cheaper (and less wasteful) when bought in bigger packs. I like Big Green Smile (https://www.biggreensmile.com) because they have a good range and their delivery is quite quick. Bigger packs mean less plastic, mean less waste. I regularly buy laundry liquid (Ecover), dishwashing soap (Ecover) and hand wash (Bio D) in 5l containers. They also stock a good range of eco-friendly and paraben free personal care products.
And then there's good 'ole Milk and More who have been consistently reliable over the last year. There is something very lovely about opening your door to find a pint of milk on your doorstep.
Going forward, I wonder how much my - and the collective `our' - habits will change. I would hope that we all try to support local (eat local, buy local). Our world has become small over the last year. While that isn't always a good thing, it has been useful to pause and think about what we have and how we can make it better. It is a more profound question than simply where we buy our cauliflower, but I would hope we consider carefully where we put our hard-earned cash and which companies we reward with our business.
Meanwhile, outside, the snowdrops are in bloom and the daffodils are poking through the water-logged grass. Hang in there, everyone, at least Spring is on the way!