The Wombles of Kingston Cemetery

The Christmas sprout that got away

What started as a bit of exercise back in April 2020 and the start of self-isolation and lockdown has turned into a weekly event. Two friends and members of Chat over Chai decided to get a bit of well needed exercise and what better place to do it than in Kingston cemetery? 

The cemetery dates back to Victorian times. It is vast and has a huge collection of very old trees that stand proudly against the skyline.  It is a beautiful place to walk. 

At first the pair had just gone for a walk, but on noticing how much litter was appearing they decided to make it a regular event of aiming to pick up as much litter as possible. Armed with kitchen tongs and a few bin liners, the walk would not only benefit people visiting the graveyard but the litter pickers, a chance to catch up while living in extraordinary times, especially after self-isolating for so long. A chance to see a friendly face was most welcome.

Every week, mostly Thursdays as this was the regular Chat over Chai day, and they were both missing it so much, it became something to look forward too. They found a part of the cemetery that had so many people from Bangladesh, they saw family names they recognised from their many friends from Chat over Chai. This became a priority every week. Neither of the pair had originated from Portsmouth and didn’t have family members buried in the cemetery, but the friends from Chat over Chai had become like family, so it felt like they were doing it for family members.

Proper litter pickers were invested in and a big roll of bin liners were taken on every visit, and essentially a bag of nuts to give out to the many squirrels they encountered on route, even seeing the white albino squirrel a few times. They would notice the many names on the graves when they would tidy up the flowers that had been blown over as it is a very open space and can be pretty windy at times, they even spotted a name of someone that had been on the Titanic and remembering one in particular that had said on the back of it ‘Put the kettle on mum, I told you I was ill’ 

The pair continue to litter pick while the weather allows and they feel that they are needed. They feel that they have benefited so much from having such a beautiful place pretty much on one of their doorsteps, a place of beauty, a place of calm where they feel they can do ‘their bit’ and take each day as it comes in these very extraordinary times.