As I wandered down a narrow Hertfordshire lane last Sunday stopping at depressingly regular intervals to pick up litter from the verges I could not but help ponder on the mentality of those who had dropped it.
Of course there must be a proportion of simply mindless individuals who amuse themselves by flinging fast food wrappers into the wind. I am, however, willing to bet there are also a proportion of those who leave energy drinks cans, wet wipes, bags of dog faeces and empty gel packs in their wake who would also be ready to lecture us about the countryside, what we do in it and how we manage it. People who would happily pontificate on the evils of hunting and the horrors of modern agriculture on their return from a drive or bike ride through a countryside created for and maintained by farming, hunting and shooting.
I try never to be surprised by hypocrisy, it is part of the human condition, but there are times when you do wonder at the ability of people to speak and act in such total opposition.
Before we get too depressed, however, it is important to remember that the vast majority of the people driving their cars and riding their bikes through the countryside do not drop litter, nor are they antagonistic towards the normal working of the countryside. They come to the countryside because they enjoy it, and respect it whilst they are there.
They will be just as frustrated as we are by litter, fly-tipping and other blights on the countryside, and be grateful that hundreds of you took to your lanes to clear them of litter last weekend. The great effort that many of you made will, of course, make our environment nicer for us and those who visit it, and it will also remind everyone that the stewardship of the countryside is an endless task much of which is delivered without benefit or the expectation of reward.
Follow me at @CA_TimB