This month the Wandle community cleanup was in South Wimbledon only half a mile from where I used to live in Garfield Road and where I first made my acquaintance with this river back in 1980.
Setting up base camp
The day always starts with donning waders, gloves and the safety briefing at base camp. Risks include drowning, 'sharps' and Weil's disease contractible from contaminated water. I also always wear safety glasses after a couple of A&E visits following some extreme gardening incidents. They protect against water splashes and pokey shrubbery.
Hauling a mattress up the pilings
Unusually no shopping trolleys this session but masses of carpets and a couple of mattresses. Hauling a water-sodden mattress up the pilings required some team heaving and grunting.
Another unusual feature was the large number of half coconut shells; South Wimbledon is not known for its tropical climate so why so many coconuts? The answer, it would appear, is the nearby Hindu Sree Ganapathy Temple in Effra Road offering sacred coconuts to the nearest river.
Soup to defrost the fingers
Lunch is provided at one o'clock: home-made soup to warm the fingers followed by cake and a cuppa. Then back into the river.
Working our way upstream
If you want a reason to support container deposit legislation you need look no further than the number of soft drink cans and lager tins on the bed of the River Wandle.
Rubbish collection point
A fair haul for four hours work from 41 volunteers.
Full set of pictures on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/markmclellan/sets/72157629313589231/detail/