23/06/2020
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The perfect campsites showers - do they exist?

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Penny Granger reckons the shower facilities are what a motorhome and caravan campsite review should be all about…

When you have visited a new campsite with your caravan, campervan or motorhome, what’s the first question anyone asks?

I bet it isn’t about the size or levelness of pitches, how far it is to the nearest pub/shop/bus stop, or even the strength of mobile, WiFi or satellite signals. It’s almost a dead cert to be, “What are the showers like?”.

Campsite showers are, on the face of it, much of a muchness: somewhere to go in, wash, dry, and leave, after mopping the floor, naturally.

But those of us who use campsite showers know that they don’t always come up to scratch. Is the cubicle big enough to get into, particularly if the door opens inwards? If there is a thoughtfully provided free-standing stool, how easy is it to manoeuvre in order to close the door? Are there enough hooks on which to hang a towel, jim-jams, washbag and, if it’s raining outside, a wet umbrella or waterproof jacket clear of dry stuff? Do you have to leave your flip-flops outside or hanging on the door handle to prevent them getting wet?

Having hung everything up, you are now ready to approach the business end of things. Is there anywhere to put shower gel, shampoo, etc, within reach? If it’s coin-operated, have you remembered to feed the slot before entering the cubicle AND taking everything off?

When all is in order, you approach the actual shower mechanism with some trepidation. If it’s a simple push-button that delivers water at the right height, temperature and for a sensible duration, you’re in luck! If it’s one of those contraptions with several dials and levers, it might take a bit of trial and error before you can get started. If the water temperature is variable, the last person to use it will never have left it at your optimum hotness. And, quite probably, even if you hadn’t intended, your hair will get a wash along with the rest of you.

Now we come to drainage, or not, as the case may be... If there’s a drain running along the length of the block you may get some of your neighbour’s shampoo bubbling up on your side of the wall, and you may find your shoes are now wet. You have to be really lucky to find anywhere even relatively dry to stand while you towel yourself down, and hope there's a small shelf or stool (as aforementioned) to sit or put your feet on while drying them.

The whole palaver can be almost enough to persuade me to fire up the Truma and shower in the ’van instead! As a veteran of campsite showers on Club sites, Premier Parks and in several different countries (including en suite facilities in Oz), as well as conducting in-depth research among friends and fellow campsite shower users, I think I am in as good a position as anyone to design the perfect campsite shower.

It will have a door that opens outwards, a low shelf or stool, a minimum of four hooks, a simple, but efficient, shower head and a shelf or basket for unguents and pungents. The floor will slope towards a central drain, whose cover is lower than the floor on either side of it, so most of the water will drain away. And it will be free to use. Is that too much to ask, do you think?

The showers at the York Rowntree Park Caravan and Motorhome Club site (pictured above) are among the best I’ve encountered, except for the drain covers behind which water collects, despite there being a plastic curtain between the shower and drying/dressing area. The facilities block is raised several feet above ground level because the site regularly gets flooded – from the neighbouring River Ouse, not the showers.

But standards generally have risen, too. I still have a 1989 guide to campsites in mainland Europe, where all too often you read the dreaded words: “WCs: continental, not v clean.”

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