19 June 2011 (Sunday) - Slow Worms and Caravans

Having joined the Friends of Kings Wood last year, I’ve since made great show of being a member of the Tree Huggers. And I’m afraid that I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m rather disappointed: there’s not a weirdie-beardie-tree-hugger to be seen. In fact they all seem to be (like most of humanity, really) a rather decent bunch of people. Having said that, I’ve noticed that over the year, the children of the Friends of Kings Wood have taken to calling each other “Tree Huggers” as a form of insult. I can’t help but wonder where they picked that up from.

Today we went on a Reptile Ramble with the Tree Huggers (I shall continue to call them that!). Having met up, we then drove through miles of tracks through Kings Wood to an obscure corner. Having parked up in the obscure corner we then walked along even more obscure paths to find a wonderfully secluded valley. This was perhaps one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen; but the view was marred. There were random bits of corrugated iron here and there, and on closer inspection there were random bits of roofing felt littered about. My immediate reaction was to have a tidy-up, but our guide stopped me.
Our guide was one of the herpetologists from the nearby university, and the corrugated iron and roofing felt were carefully laid out to attract reptiles, and to make it easier to find them. Corrugated iron and roofing felt make warm areas which reptiles like: they formed part of an ongoing survey, and the herpetologists just hated people like me tidying up what looked like litter. Woops!

We were told that four of the UK’s six indigenous species of reptile have been found in this valley, and ten of us spend a couple of hours watching the experts doing their survey. Today we only saw two reptile species: a common lizard that was too fast to be photographed, and about a dozen slow worms. Personally I was hoping that we’d see a snake, but then I would, wouldn’t I?
Our resident expert really brought the subject to life: he was keen and enthusiastic. Amazingly he said that it’s not unusual to find reptiles under the corrugated iron and roofing felt at any time of year. He’d even found adders under them when there was snow on the ground.
And far from being asked not to go back there unsupervised, we were told we were welcome to have a look-see if ever we were passing. But we were told to be sure to report any reptile sightings back to him. I intend to go back in the autumn when the reptiles will be a bit more sluggish.

Rather than going home we then drove on to the motorhome showroom on the Canterbury road. I’m afraid I’m going off the idea of “tent”: “tent” takes hours of setting up, hours of packing away, and can be cold. “Tin tent” might cost a bit more, but will save time and effort, and will effectively lengthen the camping season by a couple of months. Weekends at Sumners Ponds and early and late kite festivals become feasible propositions.
The prices of motorhomes ranged from fifteen thousand pounds up to fifty thousand pounds. I quite liked the look of the ones in the twenty to thirty thousand pound price bracket. We got chatting to the salesman (always a bad thing to do) and it transpires that the road tax and insurance on a motorhome is comparable to that on a car (i.e. affordable). The major problem would be the initial outlay of lots of thousands of pounds for the thing in the first place. We said we’d think about it some more, and made our way home.

On the way home we saw a sign for a new Koi shop, so we thought we’d pop in. The car park was by a second hand caravan showground. One of the caravans caught my eye, so we thought we’d have a look. We got chatting with the salesman. It has to be said that this salesman started at a serious disadvantage – he looked just like Dexter from the BBC series “Survivors. I was honestly scared of him, and I was expecting him to pull out a shotgun at any minute. But the bloke spoke sense.
The sort of motorhome we’ve been looking at will cost about twenty five thousand pounds. Borrowing that amount of money is easy enough, but the repayments would be crippling. We may well inherit that sort of money following the death of parents (to be rather mercenary and heartless), but that money would be far better given to the fruits of my loin for them to get houses. And if we’re camping in a motorhome and we run out of milk, then the entire motorhome has to go shopping.

I can get a second hand caravan for about a tenth of the price of a motorhome, and it wouldn’t cost anything in road tax or insurance. It would have all the mod-cons of a motorhome and the same storage problems and costs. And when camping if we needed to buy anything we could just unhook the car and go off shopping. Admittedly neither of our cars is up to pulling a caravan for any distance, but the ‘er indoors TM –mobile is on its last legs and needs replacing anyway.
I shall think some more about this idea. I’ve asked for advice from friends with caravans and motorhomes. I shall seriously review the situation once the mortgage is paid off in a month or so…

1 comment:

  1. We had a touring caravan for years. I loved it.
    It was a second hand one when we got it and not posh or anything. It took us all around the country...right up to the north of Scotland and down to Cornwall. You can buy books (or on the kindle I suppose) which list caravan parks, large & small. I personally like the small places which were cheap to stay and you got to know your neighbours. We would never have been able to visit so many places if we had had to pay for hotels etc. I would still like to travel around with a caravan. Over here they tend to have huge motorhomes which are bigger than our house. I wouldn't like that so much.