1 Jul 2020

The new park etiquette

Between Blur and Percy the Park Keeper, the rules for conducting oneself in a British park have been fairly well documented. With the exception of keeping dogs on leads and knowing when you can and can’t feed the ducks, there isn’t too much you can do wrong.

But between the warm summer weather and the restrictions on meeting up indoors, the public spaces that were once the preserve of low-key picnics and weekend jogs are becoming popular social hubs. Debrett’s senior business development manager Dan Scothern has shared his advice on best park practice for your next visit.

Groups:

Put very simply, stick to the government guidelines: keep groups at 6 or less, and keep your distance if members of the group live in a different household. Similarly, be sure to allow plenty of distance between your group and others when setting up camp.

Children and Dogs:

Without wishing to equate the two, small children and dogs can pose a similar challenge when it comes to social distancing, being both naturally curious and heedless of personal space. Keep a close eye on them – and dogs on leads if necessary – to ensure they don’t wander off to investigate another group’s picnic.

Music:

Some gentle audio accompaniment is fine within your own area, but beware of ramping up the volume: others might not share the same tastes as you, or want to listen to music at all. This may change as the afternoon fades into evening, but if you must elect yourself park DJ, consider your audience and keep it clean.

Ball Games:

A socially distant game of frisbee is harmless – less so using a bustling common to practise penalties ahead of next season. Just because a ball isn’t physically hitting another group, doesn’t mean it’s not affecting their afternoon or forcing them into an uncomfortable state of catlike readiness. Exercise your best judgment here, and if in doubt, play elsewhere.

Alcohol:

Whilst it’s not illegal in the UK to consume alcohol in public, drink responsibly and remember that the park is not an extension of your garden. Bear in mind that increased consumption will not only reduce your inhibitions (and spatial awareness) but also likely require a visit to the loo, with no guarantee that any will be open nearby.

Litter:

Always take it with you when you leave. There’s very little elaboration needed with this one, and no excuse for thinking that others should tidy up your mess.

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