CONSUMING THE RURAL
For as long as carts have rolled into cities from the countryside laden with crops and fuel and stone, there have been pleasure-seekers who have headed in the other direction, into the country, to hunt, play, stroll, bathe and escape the pressures of urban life. The idea of the rural as a space of production, examined in the previous chapter, has always had a mirror in the similarly powerful idea of the rural as a place of consumption, particularly as a location for leisure and recreation. In some cases, rural sites have simply hosted activities that are not in themselves intrinsically rural – various sports, for example, or, in recent times, theme parks, car boot sales and shopping malls. Commonly, however, the use of rural space for recreation and leisure is tied to an idea of in some way consuming rurality, or, at least, consuming attributes associated with an imagined rural idyll.