Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Bad behaviour on both sides of the fence

Certificated Locations or CLs - that's Caravan Clubspeak for farm sites - can take only five caravans or motorhomes, and so they usually feel spacious and uncrowded. It mainly depends on two things: how big a space the farmer has allocated to the caravans, and where the electric hookups are located.

You can get a very big field, but with everyone clustered in just a corner of it, because the hookups are too close together. That's irritating and unnecessary, and indicates that the farmer is too mean to spend money on a lot of underground cabling. A bad sign all round.

I recall one CL in Hampshire that had a single post with five electrical sockets on it, so that everyone had to pitch within a cable's length from that post, say ten metres at most. Only those who had the foresight to carry a spare cable, allowing them to double their distance from that post, could pitch further away and enjoy peace and quiet. When M--- and I went there, we had to join the huddle, having just the one cable. It took the edge off our pleasure. Nowadays I always bring along a spare cable to overcome any unforeseen problems at sites that I haven't tried before.

Curlew Farm near Lyme Regis has a lovely view, and plenty of space to pitch in, with sheep to watch in the fields in the foreground. There's nothing not to like. Well, one thing does sometimes cause a problem: there are only two hookup posts, one with three sockets on it, the other with two. Two posts for five caravans. Human nature being what it is, caravans sometimes get plugged into the wrong socket. Occasionally a caravan at one or other extreme end finds itself without a socket within a standard cable's length. Someone else has rather stupidly used 'their' socket. The unwelcome prospect then arises of having to ask the offender to change to another socket. Unwelcome, because anybody who pays no regard at all to the needs of people yet to arrive is likely to be a belligerent moron who will respond badly to any such request. And sneakily replugging their cable without asking isn't on: they will immediately know whodunnit, and an angry thump on the caravan door will be the inevitable response. This is especially certain if disconnection upsets something left running while they were out for the day - a recharging device, or a recording TV programme, say. And you thought caravanning was a gentle pursuit? It's the Law of the Jungle.

Me, I avoid any such confrontation by dragging out my spare cable, joining both cables together, and running this trans-Atlantic sized leviathan from my caravan to the only hookup socket left vacant by the morons. I don't mind too much. I can wear the armour of clear necessity. I have to trail my cable close behind three or four other caravans, invading their space, stepping over their stuff, possibly disrupting their barbecue, and generally pissing them off. That's my revenge for the inconvenience they have caused me. And it's blindingly obvious that I have no choice. I give them a polite smile, and a polite 'good afternoon' in my poshest voice. They give me a bleak look, eyes blazing, fists clenched, teeth grinding, but they can say nothing because their error has been exposed, and it is embarrassingly crass and blatant. Some actually do apologise, but an apology from the inconsiderate or unthinking means nothing. I walk smugly back to my caravan wearing a haughty air of pure virtue, and leave them to choke on their raw prawns.

No such management has been needed on this visit. So I have been free to give my full attention to the view - and the little lambs. Except that they aren't little lambs at all, not even ewes, but proper rams. Six of them. That's unusual to see so many. Rams are rather like bulls: kept for one purpose only, and therefore not often glimpsed. I'm quite sure they are male sheep because they are more heavily-built than a ewe, have differently-shaped heads, and they move more deliberately. They walk in fact like John Wayne. And this is because slung between their hind legs is an enormous scrotum. It must be really awkward to have that weighty thing donging about with every ponderous step taken. Not once have I yet seen any of these rams run. My guess is that running is impossible.

There are more signs of maleness. They don't say much. No baaaaa noises. Ewes are much more vocal, especially when lambing, but these very macho sheep are strong and silent. I suspect they are grouchy, touchy, and not to be trifled with. I saw one butt another out of the way in a bullying manner. He definitely wasn't being playful. You could tell. There was an edge to it. The farmer has plonked a large plastic box of something at one end of their field. Presumably this contains pellets of some highly-nutritious food that rams love. Every once in a while they sashay up to this box, like mean and moody gunfighters with a horrible hangover from too much badly-made whisky, and nibble some of the contents. In the main they take turns, but sometimes they go in a gang and push and shove each other to establish who's top ram. Sounds familiar? How parallel human and animal male behaviour is!

Well, I hope they don't get ideas. The water tap is next to the fence, which is only waist high. I don't want a ram, high on pellets and all sexed up, leaping the fence and trying his luck. Yes, I know I'm not glamorous to human eyes, but I dare say I look pretty good to a randy sheep eager to get his end away.


  1. I think I understand... if the ram doesn't get you, the mad campers will. Isn't country life wonderful? Our little holiday cottage in Rye, with its near-vertical staircase, was mundane in comparison.

  2. Huh. I always wondered why John Wayne walked like that.

    You crack me up Lucy!


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