Lately, while cycling here and there, I’ve noticed an inundation of fridges, mattresses, televisions, tyres and bashed-about wardrobes dumped in otherwise pristine countryside. It strikes me, there must be a fair few forgetful people around who go for a walk in the woods and then forget to take their fridges home with them.

Then there’s all that litter that accumulates at the roadside: plastic drinks bottles, sandwich wrappings and empty packets from crisps and cigarettes. Every now and then you see someone throwing a bag of this or a wrapping of that out of their vehicle window and it makes you want to throw it back in at them. I once did something similar when I was cycling down the middle of a line of traffic in central London. Just in front of me a man dropped his burger wrappings out of his car window. Rather than cycle over it all I scooped up the box and bag and lobbed them back through his window telling him that he seemed to have dropped them. Needless to say he didn’t take kindly to this and once the lights had changed he gave chase and tried to knock me off. Usefully, bikes can fit where sometimes cars can’t and I lost him down a narrow side alley.

Molly is not keen on roadside littering. When she spots some from her seated helm on the bike she alerts me to her findings with, ‘Mummy! Stop! Look! Litter! Pick up!’ It’s slow enough cycling with four panniers, a trailer and a weighty two-year-old on board but when you’re forever being ordered to stop to grovel around in a roadside ditch to extract a polystyrene coffee cup or a tin of Red Bull or to untangle a shredded Tesco bag from a hawthorn hedge you can spend a very long time getting nowhere.

This is where the bike trailer comes into its own as a litter receptacle, because it has a bike boot – flop open the back flap and there’s space for, if not quite a fridge, then at least half the contents of one. These days we seem to spend more time cycling to the various local recycling bins to off-load our litter-pickings than cycling to where we are supposed to be going. Trouble arises when we ride into the nearest town’s dump to throw our non-recyclables away: we always come away with more than we arrived because … well, you know how it is, other people’s rubbish and all that – how useful it can be!

In transit with litter and Molly on board...

In transit with litter and Molly on board...

In transit with litter and Molly on board...

In transit with litter and Molly on board...

PS: A few months ago I cycled with Molly and the builder to the Steam Fair at Singleton Museum. The highlight was this man who had built his own steam-powered bike. Who needs a Rohloff with one of these fine contraptions? Keeps your hands warm too on chilly winter mornings.

Steaming along at speed

Steaming along at speed