I am currently in Cornwall where I am spending the last week of August with my family. I cannot claim to have been basking in sunshine — the weather here is no better than the rest of the country — but I am luxuriating in the warm glow that comes from being on an environmentally friendly holiday. As I make my way towards Fifteen, Jamie Oliver’s restaurant in Watergate Bay, I exchange approving nods with the other dads. I had no idea that saving the planet could produce such a powerful sense of wellbeing.
Admittedly, this feeling is quite hard to sustain once I have returned to the car park. I have borrowed a VW Caravelle for the week and while it is diesel-powered and does a respectable number of miles to the gallon, it is the size of a horsebox. I have two excuses for this. The first is that it is a thousand times more convenient than any other so-called people carrier. In addition to my wife, I have four children and a nanny and trying to shoehorn all of us into my Vauxhall Zafira, which laughably bills itself as a ‘seven-seater’, reminds me of that episode of The Record Breakers in which Roy Castle tried to squeeze several dozen people into a Mini. In America, I hired a Kia Sedona, but even that, which Hertz insisted on calling a ‘mini van’, was too small. Of all the people carriers I have driven, the Caravelle is the only one that can accommodate three adults and four children in comfort, with room for our luggage in the boot.
My second excuse is that offered by up by Colin Brazier in his recent article for Civitas about the social and economic benefits of large families.