My relatives have a static caravan at Hayling Island. It’s about twenty years old, and even they admit that it’s falling to pieces and will eventually be condemned on H&S grounds. This year they’ve been down there just twice: in the Spring to open it up, and this weekend to shut it down. It was the same last year.
“Why do you keep it?” I often ask. “It’s not exactly value for money, is it?” (The site rent isn’t negligible.) The answers aren’t what you’d call rationally focussed, ranging from “The walk round the Creek’s still lovely”, through “It’s interesting to see how the place changes”, to “We’ve been going to Hayling (Reading-by-the-Sea, it used to be called) since we were babies.”
This is why the title of this post is an oxymoron.
You may recall that I too have a static caravan, in south Pembrokeshire. (New readers, if you’re brave, click on the label at the bottom.) I’ve been there just twice this year. I have excuses, but shamefully this is the first time since 2002 that I haven’t gone down to mothball it for the winter. I had to sub-contract that to Joseph (who’ll do it probably better than I would have). But I miss it. There’s something about ingrained rituals that leave a hole in your psyche when they’re broken.
And “consider carefully” doesn’t meld with “miss”. Rationality and emotional intelligence are hard to reconcile. I can’t put in words why this is so, what it is I miss – the joy of arrival and opening it all up; the ever-shifting constant sea; fallen leaves on the patio; long shadows of neighbouring caravans at sunset; the rabbits, robins and partridges. I’ll have to try and pull together some photos. In the meantime, I’ve paid next year’s rent.