Border Lines

From London to Berwick: Culture shock? Oh, yes!

Walking through the pain, the rain – and anything else on the path

We enjoy loads of beautiful views on our training walks – but the scene on the ground isn’t always so lovely

Did I mention I’m doing the Edinburgh MoonWalk? On the night of June 9th, five days before the Olympic Torch passes through Berwick, I shall be pounding the streets of Edinburgh, wearing a decorated bra and a determined expression. The good news is that I won’t be alone. I shall be in the company of thousands of similarly clad women (and plenty of men too).

Many, like Paxton Friend, will have had breast cancer, or be undergoing treatment even as they walk.  According to Cancer Research UK 1 in 8 women will be affected, and it’s growing faster in Scotland than anywhere. Reports (World Health Organisation) show that many breast cancers could be prevented by reducing alcohol, change of diet, exercise and, most importantly, keeping a healthy weight. For many, the MoonWalk is the first step to a lifestyle change. It will be an emotional and exhilarating night. After all the training and blether we’ll actually be doing it – walking 26 miles. Fast.  The atmosphere will be brilliant –embodying Walk the Walk’s motto: raise money, raise awareness, get fit and have fun! And, yes, we’ve set up a fundraising page – do give if you can. Thanks!

London Daughter, two former school friends and me before our one and only team walk so far

I was prompted to do the London MoonWalk eight years ago after my mum had breast cancer. Staggering over the line, London Daughter declared, ‘I shall never do that again!’ I’m chuffed she and her two former school friends are joining me. But virtual training is tough. So I advertised myself on Facebook asking the people of Berwick to train with me. One response was all I needed – and that’s what I got. Step up Paxton Friend.  Our four or five-mile walks have become 12 miles; 15-minute miles, 12-14-minute miles. We’ve invested in ‘technical’ footwear to support our high insteps and rolling gaits. When family chat lulls, we do body checks: ‘Have you got that achy thing in your toes?’ ‘No, but my shins are throbbing and one of my glutes is pulling.’ Training makes you hyper aware of every little ache and pain.

It also makes you hyper aware of your environment – the terrain you’re walking on, and the scenery that whizzes by. The Husband insists I’ve lost the ability to simply walk and enjoy my surroundings. He’s right that I even treat putting the bin out as a training expedition. However, my powers of observation are alive and kicking.

Living around Berwick it’s hard not to be aware of litter hotspots such as the Nile Delta of cans down the bank above the Tweed, beneath Meg’s Mount.  Others are less obvious but equally unpleasant. There’s a lovely circular walk along the Tweed via New Road and back along the other bank from the picnic site at East Ord. It’s blighted by the stream of detritus you have to pick your way through beside the A1. Do people think litter evaporates when thrown from a moving vehicle?

Nile Delta of beer cans above the Tweed in the heart of Berwick

The other day, at a well-known fast-food outlet on the outskirts of Berwick, the car in front received their goodies through the window. Moments later, wrappers flew out. Did they realise what they were doing? Do they know that councils spend thousands of pounds of our (and their) money clearing litter? If ‘dine and dump’ were an Olympic sport – we’d be in the running for a medal.

Sight for sore eyes – litter along Goody Patchy, the disused zig-zag railway track above Tweedmouth down to Dock Road

When I was a gal, my mum would reduce us to tears if a scrap of sweetie paper so much as fluttered from our tiny, chilly fingers. At school ‘litterbugs’ were thoughtless creatures worthy of contempt. Whilst Paxton Friend and I are engaged with a campaign that enables a whole cross-section of society to choose to do something positive for themselves and for others, it’s kind of ironic that, each time we go out, we are faced with the evidence of people choosing to do something that has a negative impact on everyone.

(A version of this article was first published in The Berwick Advertiser on 3 May 2012)

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6 thoughts on “Walking through the pain, the rain – and anything else on the path

  1. Jackie, I so completely agree with you, litter will one day give me a heart attack and kill me! We live opposite Tweedmouth West School. You would not credit it but young mums waiting to collect after school, have changed baby sibling and dumped nappy out of window. One would regularly leave a Macy D kids meal box, every Thursday, never able to make time to identify individual.
    Many years ago, when I was a copper in London, I was on my motor bike stopped at lights in Putney when the car window next to me wound down and the ash tray was emptied onto the floor at my feet.
    Standing about six feet eight in my full face helmet, boots and massive suit, I gave him two options. Pick up every dog end, or leave his vehicle through the window dragged by the hair. He chose the first option.
    Sadly that was thirty odd years ago. No doubt political correct, liberal bottox which has created this would see me fired and prosecuted for such behaviour if it were repeated.
    Hell in a hand cart!
    Last year a fly tipper was reported to the council in Berwick, photos were provided, statements were taken, a full report was completed and “there was insufficient evidence to prosecute”!
    It is all mind over matter Jackie. Those in power don’t mind, and we don’t matter!

    • Thanks for taking time to read and comment, Mike. It’s certainly a highly emotive issue. I’m often puzzled by those who choose a beautiful place to stop and picnic or have a drink and then leave their rubbish behind. However, there are bright spots because I do often see people collecting up some of the litter left behind others and just popping it in the bin. So all is not lost. Jackie

  2. Lynne on said:

    Hi Jackie. I love your column. I feel as though you speak for me personally. Re: litter. Last week on one of my twice daily dog walks I collected in excess of 30 cans without having to look for them. Today I filled two carrier bags. On almost every walk I pick up someone else’s rubbish and pop it into the bin. I don’t expect thanks but I do get annoyed at having every walk spoilt by unsightly rubbish. I just want to enjoy the beauty of the surroundings like the family I saw gazing out to sea last Sunday who couldn’t be bothered to get out of the car to put their chip boxes in the bin 2 feet away. The doors were opened just enough to drop them on the ground. (Well it was a bit cold and damp). My partner dragged me past before I could remonstrate with them! Keep the comments coming – and enjoy your MoonWalk.

    • Hi Lynne – thanks for taking the time to leave a comment and for the encouragement. I really appreciate it. It is so sad that people have become so disengaged from their environment – or was it always thus? We will walk our legs off on June 9th! Best wishes Jackie

  3. Kath Liddington on said:

    Hi Jackie

    Well done! Not only doing the Moonwalk, but training and writing so beautifully about it!

    I’m the same vintage as you Jackie. I was brought up NOT to drop litter. To the extent that today I don’t think I *could* if I wanted to! Haha!

    The downside is that I don’t understand why anyone would drop litter. Maybe Mike is right – the “stick” isn’t there is we don’t face any (serious) consequences. But the “carrot” may not be there either – if there is no sense of belonging to the local community with the responsibility that would bring, littering is an anonymous action that doesn’t affect anyone we care about. Or even more depressing, maybe those we care about don’t care either…!

    I think Primary schools are doing great things in embedding a good understanding in children. I am kept on the straight and narrow by my 10 year old on a range of environmental issues! There is hope!

    Keep up the training Jackie!

    • Hi Kath – thanks for dropping by! I’ve just returned from my 20-mile training walk with my London Daughter – apparently we only did 17 which is disappointing…I’m still optimistic for 9th June!

      I did notice a call to action ad on the tube in London asking people to volunteer to clean up London ready for the Olympics. I wonder how many people will volunteer? I do think there is a whole issue around disengagement and simply not thinking or understanding the impact of littering. You’re right that many young children are extremely focused about it – do some of them then see dropping litter as a form of rebellion as they get older, I wonder?

      I do think it is a family and parental issue as well as a school one – some things that are taught very carefully at school are quickly overturned by home attitudes/environment.

      As with so many things there is no quick fix.
      Love Jackie x

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