Saturday, 7 April 2012


I know that some people don't take holidays. They may have nobody to go with. Or it just seems like a huge effort, all that airport stuff, when all you really want to do is stay in bed and not get up for work. Or the hassle of putting pets into catteries and kennels, or asking reluctant neighbours yet again to look after them, is all too much.

And of course some people simply don't have the money. For instance, unemployed trans people in bedsits, especially if they're so depressed that the thought of a nice holiday is a fantasy.

Camping in tents is usually inexpensive, and I'm not saying that it can't be fun. Many revel in the experience. I just think that even 'civilised' camping, in a modern tent with modern gadgets, is way too uncomfortable and inconvenient to get excited about. I can't see the pleasure when it's frosty outside (and inside as well), or when it's teeming down with rain, or blowing a gale. There's no heating in a tent, no oven, no fridge, no ensuite bathroom with piping hot water, no loo. And no security. Given a choice between a tent and a decent hotel or guest house, or even a cabin, it would take less than a heartbeat to decide. Good hotels (and high-class B&Bs) have a solid comfort and luxury to them; and nothing beats a refreshing shower or hot bath after a day spent travelling there. Not like arriving in late afternoon, and having to set up a tent on a sloping pitch in a rising breeze, assuming the thing is dry and was logically packed away last time, and all the bits and pieces are there in the bag, and you can find the air pump and the hammer.

While in Dorset, I discovered a nice country hotel at Evershot - the Acorn Inn. I had a good but not too expensive lunch there, and formed the impression that it might be nice to stay at. Here's a picture from their brochure. It really was like this:

The brochure also showed interior scenes of heartwarming comfort and good cheer - nice decor, four-poster beds, succulent meals, roaring fires, all of that. Just the job indeed for a Merry Christmas. I rather fancied rubbing shoulders with ladies and gentlemen of a certain age and mellowness. I was moved to enquire about prices. But as expected it wasn't cheap. Costing it all up, I'd need to find a minimum of £525 for the room and normal board for the three days from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day, but Christmas Dinner was £60 extra, and then you'd have to factor in drinks, and a couple of shopping expeditions. They did lay on some free stuff - a bottle of champaigne when you arrived, and use of their own spa. And you could enjoy things like strolling about the village, and the grounds of Melbury Hall, and watching the local hunt foregathering, tweeting their horns and toasting each other in a sea of over-excited hounds. But there wasn't a lot that you wouldn't have to shell out big bucks for.

Even so, I was tempted...although their description of the bedrooms as 'delightful and discreet' made me wonder what mellow unattached ladies and gentlemen might get up to when in their cups! But all told I'd be spending some £800 on this three-day Christmas indulgence. Phew. That's an awful lot of money.

Sanity has prevailed, and I've now booked more caravan sites. How about this: I've just had twelve nights away in Wiltshire and Dorset for £123. Now I'm having nine nights in the Cotswolds in late May for £95, and seven nights in Cornwall in early July for £71. This is more like it - this is how I can afford my clothes and meals out.

And they're proper Caravan Club sites too, at Cirencester and Camelford. They won't be intimate and secluded, but they will be neat and tidy, with trees and nice shrubs and beautifully mown grounds, and the usual excellent facilities. I've checked them out on Google Earth (my invariable practice, to see what access is like - and what's next door that they haven't mentioned).

I haven't touched on travel costs. I always want to do it by car. I currently reckon on £20 per 100 miles, fuelling Fiona with diesel. If I'm not towing, I tend to race in Fiona. If towing, it's all more sedate, but the load and the wind-resistence tend to impair fuel consumption by 10%: so I get 27mpg instead of 31mpg. Not much difference really, unless travelling a very long way. I can easily do 500 miles on one tankful if not towing, and 400 miles or so if towing - it depends on how much low-gear stuff there is. So, given an initial topped-up tank, a sudden fuel-delivery drivers' strike wouldn't prevent me getting home, even if I were then grounded for the duration.

So that'll be 28 caravanning nights under my belt in the first half of 2012, for a combined cost of £289. You can pay that for one night at a middling-posh hotel nowadays. And I still get all the creature comforts of my well-appointed little home-on-wheels.

I'm so sorry to be self-satisfied. It's a great weakness of mine. And I do hope it won't disgust anyone if I just lie down, relax, shut my eyes, and bask in the sun...


  1. And well done you, why not? Hey that works out at a wee tad over £10/night, you can't argue with that! I think I'd want to be in a van rather than a tent too!

    Shirley Anne xxx

  2. The price of hotels is outrageous these days and puts us off doing anything like that in Britain, seem to get better value in France but not quite as good as in the past...

    It was a very sad day when our old VW camper van died, could never go back to tents after that!

  3. I really must slow down my reading and make more sense!

    I have been searching for Camelford in the Cotswolds thinking that I thought it was in Cornwall! You make England almost seem like a place for a holiday...


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