Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Freedom to roam. Freedom to take pictures.

This morning I ran along the Donkey Line bridle path to go to the market at Uppermill. The bridle path itself was quite passable but the path leading to the start of the Donkey Line was a positive quagmire. Of course, this may be because it is supposedly a piece of private land. At one point it was actually fenced off, despite local,people having walked, run, cycled, ridden their horses there for donkey’s years. (Totally intentional play on words there, by the way!)

Part way along the Donkey Line is a stile that gives access to a field, a place where we took our children sledging, back in the days when the snow hung around long enough for sledging to be a realistic option. Next to the stile there is now a large notice which tells us that this is PRIVATE LAND, that you can’t go in, and that, in case you are tempted to go in anyway, there are CCTV cameras keeping an eye on the place. I almost felt personally insulted!

Walking to and from our village you come across a bit of a footpath that goes through the shared gardens of a row of four houses. In fact, the footpath doesn’t so much go through the gardens as just go past one end of them. Technically on their shared land but not really intrusive. We always used to walk that footpath, regarding it as a public right of way. Nowadays there are signs at both end reminding us that this is private land, we go a different way round now.

Now, here is George Monbiot talking about that very problem. The legislation he talks about is intended to stop travellers/gypsies taking up residence of empty land but it might affect all of our right to roam. Complicated stuff!

When I am out and about, I take photos of where I’ve been. I don’t take selfies. People who want to see me can see me without my being all over social media. But I take and post pictures of places I go. And I take and post pictures of interesting stuff I eat. And now the chef Heston Blumenthal has criticised people for doing just that. Well, he criticised diners who appear more interested in photographing their food than eating it.

Well, there’s no chance of that being the case with me.

Apparently he has to resist the temptation to go and tell people what he thinks. “At the Fat Duck, we’ve debated this for several years now. If we say to people, ‘Your food’s going cold’, you put up a barrier between you and the diner,” Blumenthal said.

Yes, I suppose you do. More importantly, food-photographing diners might not return if told off.

Such are the problems of famous foodies.

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