CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Cotswold Life today CLICK HERE

Editor’s comment July 2016

PUBLISHED: 10:00 16 June 2016 | UPDATED: 10:00 16 June 2016

Cotswold Life editor, Mike Lowe

Cotswold Life editor, Mike Lowe

Archant

Should restaurant reviewers declare whether or not they have paid for their meal?

I have never been much of a gardener. When I lived in the Forest of Dean I inherited a greenhouse and set about tomato production with some limited success. To be fair, it was also somewhere to disappear to with a bottle of chilled white and The Archers omnibus on a Sunday morning.

I would still like to dabble I think – some more tomatoes, onions, garlic, herbs, potatoes and carrots. Useful things. Things you can eat. And this is where I struggle a bit with flowers. Pretty, yes; but surely ultimately pointless?

Not so my wife. She approaches our modest patch as Michaelangelo might tackle an empty ceiling. Every square inch of soil - front, back and sides – is called into action. Even the public footpath on our land is dressed to impress. And when the ground can take no more, there are always the pots – dozens of them – and the hanging baskets, window boxes, tin baths...

She’s marauded through Malvern and decimated Dobbies. The chap on the market in Tetbury now drives a Testarossa. When Aristotle wrote that “nature abhors a vacuum”, I have a good idea who he might have had in mind.

When I had the temerity to suggest, some weeks ago, that the garden might actually be ‘full’, I received the sort of withering look that could strip the paint off the Forth Bridge. All I achieved was to drive the daily arrival of another car-load of new plants underground. Illicit irises and contraband clematis were smuggled in under the cover of darkness. Suspect salvias and dodgy dahlias sprang up overnight.

But I have to admit that it was worth it. My wife is a green-fingered genius and the garden is an absolute delight. It’s just that when I was sitting out there the other evening sipping my low-fat, sugar-free organic Vimto, I worked out that the outside of the house was now worth more than the inside...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I know I shouldn’t get annoyed about this, but the plethora of food bloggers who now infest the internet have driven me to raise the subject.

The question is, should restaurant ‘reviewers’ - in print or online - declare whether or not they ate a free meal at the invitation of the establishment or whether they turned up anonymously and paid their way? It matters, you see. If you are there at the invitation of the pub or restaurant concerned, you will inevitably receive special attention. Extra care will be taken over what goes on your plate, fine wines will be consumed, and a smiling chef will pop out for a chat. You will then go away feeling obliged to write nice things about your hosts having enjoyed an experience often unavailable to the regular paying customers.

(My position means that I could eat out for free every day of the week. I don’t, for the reasons above.)

And then there’s the issue of who does the ‘review’ in the first place. Will it be someone whose judgement you can trust or will it be a junior reporter more used to the delights of Nandos who has been given the freebie as a reward for hard work?

(My ertswhile colleagues have also been guilty of this. I still cringe at the memory of one of our now-extinct Midlands magazines sending a vegetarian advertising rep to ‘review’ a new steakhouse.)

I have no quibble with the resturants and pubs that offer these jollies. They quite rightly want all the publicity they can get in a hugely competitive market. And these ‘guests’ are unlikely to be problematic, in person. in print or in pixels.

It is really about a matter of trust. People buy this magazine for information and advice and, when making decisions about where to spend their money, need to know that we are independent and objective.

That is why when reviewing a restaurant or pub, we turn up unannounced and we pay for our meal. We’re proud to state this in print every month. Perhaps it’s time for others to do the same.

Follow Mike on Twitter: @cotslifeeditor

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Cotswold Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Cotswold Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Cotswold Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & about

Mon, 13:15

Tracy Spiers takes an impressive, if hypothetical, budget on a shopping spree in Cheltenham’s independent stores

Read more
Mon, 12:23

Get out and enjoy seasonal celebrations with a Cotswold twist

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

If you’re looking for things to do in the Cotswolds this month, we have gathered plenty of events for you to pop in your diary

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Hundreds of participating National Lottery-funded visitor attractions across the UK are saying ‘thanks’ to people who have raised money for good causes by buying a lottery ticket, including a number of venues in the Cotswolds

Read more
Monday, December 3, 2018

“We’re looking forward to lots of festive fun this Christmas festival and hope to welcome lots of people to our town.”

Read more
Monday, November 26, 2018

“Faringdon upholds old-fashioned values through its traditional shops, personal service and shop owners who go the extra mile to make their customers feel at home.”

Read more
Friday, November 23, 2018

Home to some of the country’s most breathtaking architecture and picturesque gardens, the Cotswolds boasts plenty of beautiful stately homes you need to visit. We pick eight special locations that are made even more magical during Christmas time

Read more
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Taking the classroom outdoors is fun, inspires fresh ideas, broadens horizons – and encourages a new generation to enjoy and care for the Cotswolds

Read more
Monday, November 19, 2018

Chipping Campden – once the meeting place for a council of Saxon kings – now offers the warmest of welcomes to all its visitors, from the humble shopper to the seasonal shin-kicker

Read more
Thursday, November 15, 2018

As well as three days of action-packed racing and tradition, there’s plenty to do away from the course at this year’s November Meeting. Neil Phillips, The Wine Tipster, shares his 14 suggestions on how to make the most of your time at Cheltenham Racecourse

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Warwickshire town of Alcester is considered one of the best understood Roman settlements in the country. Tracy Spiers digs below the surface to discover its hidden jewels

Read more

Thanks to the impact of ground-breaking comedy This Country, the quiet market town of Northleach has become one of the Cotswolds’ hottest film locations. Katie Jarvis is sent to investigate

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Stephen Roberts walks in the footsteps of the Oxford scholar who enjoyed attending parties dressed as a polar bear, and once chased a neighbour while dressed as an axe-wielding Anglo-Saxon

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

I send this postcard from Cirencester, complete with the discoveries and viewpoints from four members of my family – both the young and not so young

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search