This article first appeared in the December 2022 edition of Birdwatching Magazine
I love my Hyundai Tucson Hybrid (other hybrids are available). Being decrepit I went for my first automatic. So, I can no longer imagine myself to be the boy racer, rattling through the gears as I take the optimum line around a curve. Not that I was ever into Formula 1… the attraction of which was described to me once by a comedian friend (and committed leftie) as a chance to watch rich boys wipe out. I can’t stall at roundabouts and it cuts the leg cramps on long journeys by 50%! Its not quite ideal for my physical proclivities… that would be a super comfortable ride that could cross fields and be tall enough for me to look over the top of hedges.
It wasn’t my vehicle of choice… that would have been a fully electric model. However, like half the population of the UK I have no driveway. Theoretically, I could have installed a charger in my garage. The trouble is that the garage was built only a couple of decades after the house. In the 1920s most things were on a smaller scale. It remained ideal right up to the first Ford Prefects rolled off the production line. After which, it’s just wide enough to drive into, but my car has no sun roof so I’d have to stay in the car until ready to drive out again. Like more than half the population, for garage, read ‘place to keep all my junk dry’.
Luckily, I have a disabled parking bay right outside my house, which is rarely abused.
I looked into whether I could run a cable across the pavement. Not allowed by my local authority. I asked if there were any plans to introduce charging points in residential streets. The response was, I suspect not untypical… “You what?”.
Guess what, 80% of drivers say that it’s the lack of charging points that stops them buying electric. I could have taken the plunge if I was mad keen to spend a couple of hours sitting outside of Primark or underneath my local Sainsbury’s.
Even if there had been a way to charge at home I, like most of you, was put off by the surveys that shows that even where motorway services have charging points half won’t be compatible, and half of those that are, will be out of order.
The UK plans the biggest electric car battery plant in Europe, but the rest of us need to use steam driven motors for fear of running out of oomph hundreds of miles from home. Politicians promise zero carbon emissions, but do zero to make it happen.
I have thought about giving up the car and buying a mobility scooter, but by the time I got to anywhere birdy I’d have no fuel for the return journey. Anything rugged enough for birding down tracks is too damn big to go in the car. If I’d have bought an adapted car, big enough to take a scooter, I wouldn’t be able to afford the scooter. Never having chased the dollar, country cottages are beyond my means, and anyway I’m too long in the tooth to want to be that far from A&E.
Trying to be green is giving me the blues and making me red in the face. Still, there is one good thing about parking in the street. Guano! If bird flu didn’t make its collection dodgy I’d have plenty of fertilizer for my pots. I could just scrape it off the car where it is deposited daily by the ungrateful gulls I fight to conserve!