Today the Ranger had the delight of taking a walk along some of the South Downs Way, for the first time since the declaration of the new South Downs National Park. It was a simply wonderful day. With the dry white chalky fields stark in the bright sun we walked high, high above the smoky weald. The skylarks were so loud as to nearly drown out the distant traffic; and once we gasped at the whisper of a glider sweeping past – seemingly low enough to touch.
After taking this picture – which does scant justice to the landscape – I noticed something and went to inspect it. You can just see a brown object by the old post in the foreground. Whatever do you think it turned out to be? Well, I’ll bet you wouldn’t have guessed this, and I could hardly believe it was true myself. I spent quite a bit of my early professional life picking up litter, and my stories of odd things I’ve picked up are a constant source of delight for my long-suffering friends and family (“Go on Dad, tell us about how you found the washing machine again…” is a phrase I am still waiting to hear). But this one I’ve never found before. Have you spotted it?
Yes, it’s a funeral urn. This is the container in which somebody’s ashes came out of the crematorium. Just to check, I peeped inside and sure enough there was an empty clear plastic bag, which is normally the inner container for such receptacles. I was incredulous, but it really seemed as though somebody had taken the trouble to bring the remains of their loved one all the way up here, had presumably scattered them in a location that had some meaning for them… and then… and then, just chucked the empty container away and walked off. This must take the prize for the most thoughtless incident of littering I have ever encountered. Any other contenders?