Martin Roberts

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When you're touring, how do you mark your pitch? Martin Roberts takes a light-hearted look at the issue – here's to a more friendly caravanning experience!

All animals have their own ways of doing it. Some break off branches. Others dig trenches. Some create huge mountains of dung. Most urinate on just about everything within a prescribed radius. I am, of course, talking about marking their territory.

I have noticed, with increasing bemusement, the lengths to which some caravanners go to define – and presumably protect – their allotted pitches. It appears that the battlements begin to be erected as soon as the van is manoeuvred into position.

I choose the word ‘battlements’ with care, because you may think that they were preparing their spot for a siege – complete with catapults and a Trojan horse.

Working from the outside in, first of all a white picket fence lures the unwary into the armoury that awaits. A small electric fence is next. “It’s to keep the dog from straying,” they will say, in a feeble attempt to disguise their arsenal. Fido would light up like Blackpool illuminations were he to unwittingly connect with the 40,000 or so volts fizzing through these wires.

After that, a trench follows. “Ahem, to stop flooding,” they fib. The tons of earth that have been shifted in such a remarkably short time indicate that they must be towing a JCB behind the caravan. The kind of ‘flood defences’ that would protect Venice and the Somerset Levels would seem a touch over the top, were sinister undercurrents not apparent.

And finally, something that looks like a beach windbreak completes the ‘Ring of Steel’ around the tourer. Despite appearances, it is not constructed from striped flimsy plastic material, but rather is forged from the latest high-tensile graphene cobalt carbon fibre alloy, designed to withstand extremes of temperature of up to 3000 degrees and the charge of an adult rhinoceros.

I would imagine that the interior of the caravan has largely been sacrificed in order to make way for a plethora of state-of-the-art surveillance and monitoring equipment. Here, the caravanning equivalent of Jack Bauer or Captain Kirk monitors the plasma force shields and prepares to fire photon torpedoes at unsuspecting visitors. It’s the high-tech equivalent of the pitchfork-wielding farmer from Viz screaming, “Get orf moi laaand!”

To my mind, it’s all slightly against the spirit of the hobby. I prefer the ‘borrowing a cup of sugar’ touring ethos, in which an open house and a ‘what’s mine is yours’ spirit prevails.

Each to their own, I guess. As long as I don’t start seeing people daubing trees with the contents of their chemical toilets...

Visit Martin’s website for information about him, his books and his property training weekends, and follow his adventures on Twitter
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