Thursday, 30 October 2014

2 Minutes of Fame (my opinion on cycling in the New Forest)

I still can't quite believe that I was on TV last Sunday, did you see me? 

About 2 weeks ago I was just getting myself kitted up ready for my usual cycle in the forest when I received a phone call.  A very nice lady introduced herself as Jessica Parker from BBC South and explained that she was calling about a current debate that's going on here in the New Forest National Park about cycling, and she wondered if I was willing to talk to her about it.  Well anyone that knows me would know that if I have any knowledge or opinion on a topic I will talk to anyone about it, so it was a no brainer really.  
So, after about a 15 minute discussion she asked me if I would be willing to be filmed for TV at my B&B for a short programme she was making about this debate as she was interested in using my views on how this issue could affect small local business's.  I had obviously given her the right answers to her questions on the phone :)  I was a little surprised but instantly said "yes", as I think we all have this "thing" about being on TV lol.  We agreed a day and time and then I went off and did my cycle, smiling & feeling quite chuffed with myself.  

Filming was set for Monday 20th Oct at 4.30pm and all that weekend before, I was panicking, cleaning, tidying, cleaning again, gardening, panicking, cleaning again, until in the end I had ran out of time.  I had been worrying about what I should say and if I knew enough about the topic to give an informed opinion, so I had debated it with everyone I bumped into and all my guests too, and obviously told them that I was going to be on TV. 
The time arrived, and they were very prompt.  The decision was made by the camera man to shoot the whole interview in our guests breakfast room for ease.  He did quite a bit of filming around the room picking out all my homemade jams & marmalade's and any literature that involved cycling.  He also filmed me setting up the table for breakfast from start to finish.  
It was a very structured interview as she had very specific questions she wanted to ask and I answered them all honestly.  Afterwards though I felt that I could have said more.  I could have expressed a stronger opinion in less words, because after seeing the finished item on TV I realised just how short and sweet it was - most of what I had said was cut out.  
I was told that the interview was going to be part of the Sunday Politics Show which is aired on BBC1 every Sunday at 11.00am, and that our bit was included in the local debate at 11.30am.  Who would have thought it, me being part of a political debate show! 

For the next 5 days I was left wondering what exactly it was going to be like, how much they would use and whether or not they would hash my words around to make something completely different to suit their needs. I told everyone in advance that I know to watch it either live or via iplayer or Facebook and we all waited in anticipation.  
On Saturday night I was actually put out of my misery, as I was given a link via Twitter to a sneak peak of the finished piece and it was really weird watching myself.  I was a little disappointed that it was so brief but they did only use my words and chose some that obviously suited the programme.  The shots of our signage are great publicity for the business which is always a bonus and the support and extra activity on our website, Twitter & Facebook pages is also invaluable.  
I did also watch the full programme, just to see how it all fitted together and if there was any further debate about the film afterwards - there was some discussion, one of the ladies actually supported and agreed with me & our plight as small business's, before they cut her off :)

You can watch it here if you missed it:

The whole experience was a little surreal but fun and well worth doing even if just for the publicity for my B&B, but don't get me wrong - I do really support the pro-cyclists in this very emotional and important argument. I do feel that if we turn our backs on cyclists in the New Forest National Park we will loose out on a huge amount of visitors and a lot of money being brought into the local economy here.  We rely on tourism and that includes cycling.  
Funnily enough we are being encouraged as B&B owners to push the "Green Tourism" concept - Yeah you might laugh! how can we really do that if we object to people cycling.  The health benefits too of getting out and doing some exercise on a bike whether it is just a couple of miles or a whole sportive event, everyone is telling us we need more exercise, it's all just backwards!  How does driving cycling away from here fit in with the government's "get people cycling" campaign?  The government have actually awarded a £3.57m grant to extend & improve the cycle tracks and implement a new extensive cycle hire scheme throughout our National Park, which is predominantly what the argument is about, and the fact that if it doesn't go ahead the money will be withdrawn. 
Other places manage to deal with cyclists and we are in serious danger of loosing them all to places like the Isle of Wight & Peak District simply because they welcome them and encourage them.  If the grant ends up going to somewhere like that and it becomes a success lots of people will have egg all over their faces!!

We need to open our eyes to see the big picture and the oppourtunity for this National Park, it's a special place for all to enjoy, not just the blinkered, small minded minority that think it belongs to them.  For the Park and surrounding areas to financially survive and continue to be a leading vacation destination we need happy visitors that stay and spend money, and as long as the infrastructure (whether it be new or modify what we have) is put into place it should be able to include everyone.   
I am all for live and let live :)