Yesterday morning I was complaining that everyone seemed to be on their holidays and I was a bit jealous. Well, it turned out that my plan for the afternoon wasn’t quite a holiday, but it was a much more inspiring and even relaxing experience than I’d bargained for!
I went down to the Leicester Outdoor Pursuits Centre to volunteer for a few hours picking litter out of the river. Since lockdown their regular litter picks have been on pause, but came back with a vengeance this week. In a week volunteers have pulled 150 bin bags of rubbish out of the river, and the new seabin is finding its feet and starting to bring a lot of hard-to-catch smaller pieces of plastic and debris out.
We spent three hours on a large canoe of some kind, I don’t know the technical description… With out trusty litter pickers we searched, troll-like, under the arches of the bridges, and pulled out rotting carrier bags from the banks, hauled an old traffic cone out and our instructor even managed to bag himself a shopping trolley!
Messing about on the river
And I was surprised at the peaceful beauty of it all. Some elements, paddling toward the National Space Centre are extremely picturesque. You have no concept of how close you are to the city. We saw endless freshwater clams, snails and crayfish scuttling around (and often making their homes in the litter). There were also dragonflies flittering, glistening along the surface and no shortage of tiny fish, darting off where my paddle disturbed them.
Under the bridges we found a lot of much older debris, Victorian glass and brick that has lain undisturbed for a century. There was also a surprising amount of offerings put down by the Asian community, including one cremation which had been deposited only in natural fibres and would soon breakdown without harming the environment so we left it be. Along with statues and garlands, there was no small numbers of coconuts. I must have seen at least 20 over the few hours we were out – definitely not something I had thought native to the river Soar!
My absolute treasure for the day was this piece of Anglo-Saxon bonework, an incredible and unexpected find which I recorded the location for and will be sharing with the local Finds Liaison Officer to ensure it is properly recorded. I was looking for unnatural shapes to find litter covered by river silt and the circle of this piece stood out to me. It really took my breath away when I saw the concentric circle design! More on this when I have it.
So, amazing day, great fun and a good work out (I have one stiff bicep from paddling this morning). Thanks to LOPC for a fun time on the river (even if mighty stinky in parts) and if you’ve enjoyed reading this, please bob over to the LOPC website and make a donation to help support all of the great work they do.