The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Sunday 15 November 2015

Colin’s Life in Numbers


It occurred to me this morning that it was four years ago last Wednesday that we bought Colin (our WildAx Constellation panel van conversion motorhome), and thus we have now completed four ‘Colin years’. Accordingly, I started looking at some figures related to his usage this year and how that compared with previous years.

After we bought him I played around with some numbers on a spread-sheet (completely out of character, I know…) and concluded that we needed to use him for 34 nights a year to make his purchase worthwhile. So little was he used in the first year (we both found ourselves employed and that hadn’t been in the plan when we’d splashed the cash) that we did consider selling him; fortunately that didn’t happen, as we’ve now more than made up for the slow first couple of years.

Here are the illustrated facts and figures:

Number of Nights

A disappointing 22 nights’ use in Year 1 has risen to a pleasing 106 nights this year.

Type of Night Stop

‘Free Nights’ may be car parks, laybys, on-street parking or friends’ driveways. We have actually paid for some of the car parks, but on all bar one occasion the payment was a voluntary donation to a charitable cause and on the one occasion when it wasn’t a donation, it was only 50p meaning it wasn’t worth creating a new category for it!

Total Costs

Oooh look! In Year 4 we spent approximately 3 times more nights in Colin than in Year 2, yet the accommodation cost wasn’t much different. The LPG cost for Year 2 looks high, but the reality is that the vast majority of that gas was used in Year 3. The amount of gas used has a direct relationship to the number of non-winter nights spent in free locations, running the fridge on gas.

Average Costs Per Night

I suspect that we may now have bottomed out on the average accommodation costs per night (i.e. the cost of campsites). The overall cost is a less reliable measure as it is heavily affected by the price of diesel (as well as depending on how far afield we wander for what duration). In Year 2 we paid around £1.45/litre for diesel on more than one occasion. This year we’ve paid as little as £1.04/litre.


All very interesting (to me, anyway!), but the key thing, which I can’t convey in a graph is how many trips we’ve had, places we’ve been, and hills we’ve climbed, that wouldn’t have happened in the absence of Colin-type accommodation.


  1. Fascinating stuff.Writing more subjectively I can only praise the comfort, hospitality and perfect suitability from the couple of very welcome breakfasts I enjoyed in Colin this year. Long may the spreadsheets expand and the usage continue.

    1. I'm sure the spreadsheet will expand, and I must start recording mileage - that's the one subject on which I have very little information recorded.

  2. This proves that a 'Colin' in our lives would be an advantage, what with the far-flung competitions we need to attend.
    And I am proud to know our driveway features in the statistics (although not the only one, I'm sure 😊)
    (Had to re-write part of that comment due to early morning brainfog and an inability to spell. Ugh)

    1. You don't just have two driveways featuring in the statistics, but yours is also the most re-visited. I look forward to our next visit :-)

    2. So do we! Often as you like.

  3. I think you need to give up retirement Gayle.

    1. Too much time on my hands, you think, to come up with all these stats and graphs? You're probably right ... time for another trip (in Colin, of course) methinks!

  4. Interesting, it makes me think, maybe I ought to try and log up hours spent on public transport??

    1. I look forward to the resulting graphs :-)