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I’m Alright, Jack

Andrew Ditton on Kite Surfing in Wales

Last year I enjoyed caravanning on the Isle of Angelsey in Wales. One of Angelsey’s main attractions to a kitesurfer like me is the amazing beach at Rhosneigr.

A crazy wind was blowing. I decided to take a chance, launch my kite, and see if I could get out onto the wild sea. One failed waterstart later saw me being dragged dangerously towards the rocks. Common sense prevailed; I struggled out of the water, and lowered my angry kite.

It is possible to self-land a powerkite by releasing one of the lines, but doing so in such strong winds risks damage to a thousand pounds worth of kit. Good surfers help each other launch and land kites.

Imagine my surprise when three neoprene-clad figures walked on by as I lie face-down in the sand, teetering dangerously on the edge of control. After what seemed like an eternity (but what was probably thirty seconds,) an energetic young chap raced down onto the beach and helped me land the kite safely.

Thanking him profusely, I mentioned the three people who ignored my plight.

‘Yeah, well they’re windsurfers’ he replied, as if that made it all right. I was aghast. Are we not all fellow fans of the wind and the wave despite our differing ways of enjoying the ocean? Where I normally sail at Camber Sands in the so-called ‘unfriendly’ South East, windsurfers and kitesurfers generally help each other out when needs arise.

So what’s this got to do with caravanning?

Well, I’ve just encountered exactly the same narrow-mindedness, only this time from a minority of campers, caravanners, and motor caravanners. And it saddens me.

A quick flick through the comments book at the site I’ve just visited reveals sarcastic comments from nameless individuals who seemed to think that their personal choice of camping outfit gave them more of a right to enjoy the campsite than others. Tent campers made comments such as ‘Lovely site, shame about the caravans.’ Caravanners complained about motor caravanners who parked their rigs in a selfish manner and blocked their view. Motor caravanners moaned about the tent campers making a noise and leaving scorch marks in the grass from their disposable barbecues.

One evening I heard a motor caravanner talking to the site warden, praising the site and saying ‘Of course, the wonderful thing about having no Chemical Disposal Point is that it keeps the caravans away.’ This lady, I add, was in an enormous white motorhome with all the Brutalist style and aesthetics of a margarine tub.

We all know that there is good and bad in every collective. But surely, regardless of personal choice of touring outfit, we are all enjoying commonality of free spirit, independence, and love of the outdoors? It doesn’t matter if you’re happier than Larry in a two-man tent or the biggest monster of an American RV, the important thing is to conduct yourself with courtesy and respect to everyone around you and to the environment. Don’t we go camping and caravanning to get away from such elitism and separatist values?

Peace, love, and enjoyment of the outdoors to all.

– Andrew Ditton has eight years’ experience as Chief Caravan Tester for Caravan Magazine. Click here to view his full profile.