The picnic table in the shade of the trees, next to the pirate ship playground on the shores of the Firth of Thames, looked rather inviting on a hot day.

So, while the two grandsons climbed to the deck of the ship, swished cutlasses and fired flintlocks, my daughter and I strolled over for a rest in the shade.

The children played happily, the waves lapped softly on the beach, a gentle breeze took the edge off the midday heat and some passing shorebirds piped away melodically.

It would have been idyllic ... if hadn't been for the rubbish scattered all around and the unpleasant odour wafting from a disposable nappy someone had thoughtfully disposed of under the picnic table.


We were outraged. What sort of person dumps a disposable nappy under a picnic table in a family playground? It's bad enough that people licking icecreams, drinking milkshakes or eating fish and chips feel it's okay to just dump their rubbish on the ground instead of walking a whole 20m to the bins provided. But a soiled nappy?

My daughter was so angry that she walked across the road to the Kaiaua Seaside Store to ask for a bag we could put rubbish in and the owner kindly gave her a pair of plastic gloves as well. Instead of resting, we spent half an hour collecting three large bags of rubbish, including - unbelievably - five disposable nappies.

Needless to say by the time we had finished, and the picnic area was clean, the boys were bored with playing pirates and it was time to move. We headed back to our bach for lunch.

But my incredulity at such slovenly behaviour remains. I simply cannot understand how people can go to some pristine beauty spot and, having enjoyed its beauty, blithely set about making it dirty, ugly and unpleasant. In particular, what sort of person could possibly think it okay to leave soiled nappies alongside a picnic table?

This doesn't happen just at Kaiaua, of course. It happens everywhere. Even in quite remote places it's not uncommon to find discarded picnic lunches, fish and chip wrappers, piles of bottles and cans ... or worse.

What goes through the minds of people who behave that way? Probably not a lot. Ever.