Ages ago, we received the regular form through the post, requiring us to update our details on the electoral roll. There was a leaflet along with it from West Oxfordshire District Council advertising “West Oxfordshire Week.” This was indeed a long time ago ago: think of this post as a little sliver of Smallbeds Gold.
For most people reading this leaflet, the fact that West Oxfordshire Week was on its way probably came as a surprise. What was even more confusing, though, was a voucher for the Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens. This offered a rather dubious-sounding “free child entry with full paying adult”, but stipulated that you could only use “one voucher per car.”
Last time I checked, the biggest audience for attractions in West Oxfordshire Week was human beings, not inanimate motor vehicles. So it seems like odd phraseology to make your vouchers depend on a thing that not everyone might have; nor might they bring them along when they come to tourist attractions, especially ones which involve walking around. Cars are hard to push along the quite narrow footpaths that go between the animal enclosures at the park. So why would the voucher’s wording implicitly depend on one?
It all becomes a bit clearer if you visit the Cotswold Wildlife Park website, which has this to say about visiting the park if you don’t happen to own a car:
It is a difficult and expensive journey to the Park if you intend to travel by bus and taxi. There is no regular bus service that stops outside the Park. The nearest Bus Stop is on Burford High Street, so it would be best to organise a taxi from here to pick you up when your bus drops you off.
We would advise against attempting to walk the 2 miles along the A361. No footpath is provided and it is a fast road.
I don’t know about you, but in my head this reads more or less like the following:
Basically, don’t come by bus: there isn’t a reliable one anyway and lobbying for one probably hasn’t occurred to us. Don’t come by taxi either as it’s too expensive; far more expensive than private cars because they’re subsidised when you compare their cost to the environmental damage they do.
Certainly don’t walk. Idiot! You’re going to walk? All those cars we’re making life easy for… they’re dangerous! You’re probably even more of a fool if you cycle. Don’t. Just don’t.
Shouldn’t a wildlife park be promoting sustainable transport rather than actively discouraging it? How can such a park’s website effectively disrecommend sustainable methods of visiting itself? Does that in any way constitute a sustainable, environmentally sound, forward-thinking, animal-loving stance? What part of its remit is fulfilled by discouraging sustainable behaviour to such an extent?
Anyway, there seems to be the uncompromising, grimly off-putting solution to my original confusion over the voucher: if you’re not in a car, you’re probably best if you simply fuck off elsewhere. Come back when you’ve got a car. And get a free child while you’re at it; then you can finally use your incredibly convenient voucher.
In the end, I think I fucked off for the whole of West Oxfordshire Week instead. I even did it on foot.