Thursday, August 04, 2011

Are we still free to roam the countryside?

This won't happen very often I promise, but today's blog entry is going to be a bit of a rant!
Stay with it if you can though, as it concerns us all; at least all of us that love to walk in our beautiful countryside.

As an amateur photographer and keen invert-ist (I just invented that word) I love nothing more than getting out and about with my camera and notebook, photographing and recording insects & bugs. I do it for many reasons and uses but most of all for the solitude and tranquillity of meandering through meadows and fields, at my own pace, totally absorbed in my hobby but also aware of just how lucky I am to live in such a fantastic area of outstanding beauty.

So what is my gripe? 
Simply this-why can't people just leave me alone, let me go on my way, harming nobody without having some petty excuse to stop and hassle me?

Over the past few months I have been chased off land, accused of photography peoples property (houses), threatened with violence if I didn't "**** off". Verbally abused on numerous occasions, told that "I must show my photos" to somebody to prove I was only photographing insects, bothered by dogs off the lead with no owner in sight and then yesterday, the worst yet!

I need to state right at the outset here that I was in the wrong this time. I had parked my car partly obstructing an entrance gate to a field. In my defence I can only say that the gate is falling from it's hinges and looks as though, not only would it be impossible to open without great difficulty but it has not been moved for years. I have also parked there many, many times before without incident (again, no excuse, I know).

Anyhow, off I went photographing butterflies. When I was just about done I heard somebody honking a car horn but still didn't think it concerned me. A short while after a man walked towards me asking if it was my car at the end of the lane. I explained that it was and he said "Well move it, you're blocking someone in" with which, he turned and walked away with me following.

When I reached the car it was clear that I was stopping a tree surgeon from exiting the field. I apologised, saying that it was a genuine mistake, I really didn't think the gate was in use. He seemed O.K. about it and just asked me to park further back next time so as not to block the entrance, I agreed.

Then the other chap (the one who found me on my way back) who was standing the other side of my car, suddenly started shouting at me to "Move the ******* thing now" or he'd move it for me.
I was so shocked by this that (and I s'pose on reflection, this made it worse) I said to him "Alright, I've apologised and I am about to move-calm down or you'll give yourself a hernia, It's just a mistake, I haven't killed anyone" 

He rushed around my car and started pushing me in the chest, almost pushing me over. I shouted at him at this point "That's enough, calm down why are you being abusive, I'm trying to move" He then grabbed my camera, I managed to grab it back but he pushed me so hard that I was now off balance, then he thudded into me forcing me onto the bonnet of the pick-up truck that the tree surgeon owned.

He pinned me against the car, unable to move (I'm only of small build and very slight, he was a strapping farmer?) then he grabbed my car keys, unlocked my car, put them in the ignition, grabbed me (still trying to protect the camera), threw me against the car, knocking the mirror out of it's socket and shouted "Now get in the ******* car and move or else" As I got into my car he was still shouting and ranting at me (the other man said nothing, just stood by and watched it all) I left feeling shocked, bemused, assaulted and sore from his attack on me.

Whilst I agree it must have been annoying for the fella that I blocked in, he was fine about it, this man had nothing to do with the situation as far as I could tell and surely, nothing warrants a violent reaction like this?

It ruined my day and left me feeling that once again, it has proved difficult to find anywhere that I can just roam without fear of such incidents. What is happening to our beloved countryside? If it isn't something like this it's disgusting litter everywhere, or PRIVATE signs springing up everywhere I walk.

That's it then, it's off my chest and already I feel better. On a serious note though, it is a major problem and behaviour is becoming more and more unpredictable with violence becoming the norm.
I am a pacifist, I can't abide aggression in any form, I have never knowingly shown violence towards anyone and I try to live my life that way, when someone shows violence towards me it shocks and hurts me mentally more than the physical pain.

Thankfully my camera seems O.K. and I do have the butterfly photos. I'll post another (more upbeat) blog entry real soon!


(If you stayed with me and read this I thank you) 

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