This is a good old-fashioned moan.

Motor homes have changed enormously in the past few years. Modern technology and vehicle design have allowed advances undreamt of when Mr Dormer first put a campervan on the road. We now have vans no larger than a Ford Transit accommodating two people in sumptuous surroundings, including twin beds with overhead concealed lighting, a dining area, gas cooker and grill in a fully fitted kitchen, microwave, fridge/freezer, shower and toilet cubicle, laptop cupboard, book shelves, solar panels, satellite television and DVD, numerous 13amp plug sockets, copious tanks for fresh water, waste disposal systems, his and hers wardrobes, safes, a garage, wind-out awnings and glimpses of the sea. They’re capable of breaking all UK speed limits without a rattle, accelerate as fast as a 1960 Porsche, drive like a saloon car and will deliver up to about 35 miles to the gallon. Some British manufacturers are even discovering that colour can enhance the external appearance and interiors don’t have to be tacky. Not many, true, but a few.

With all this wondrous ability to use space as if it’s made of Tardis elastic, and the close links supposedly forged between motor home designers and camp site operators, I can’t help wondering why it’s beyond the whit of architects of camp site amenity blocks to design a sensible and functional shower.

True, I have a shower on board my motor home, but it’s rarely used. If I’m asked to pay up to £25 a night for my pitch because “you have full use of our facilities” I’m going to use them. And it saves draining the grey water tanks and lugging buckets across the camp site every day. Gradually though, the message is filtering through to me that every shower-block designer in the land is a confirmed bather. I’m convinced not one has ever actually taken a shower, yet alone in one of his or her own design.

Some are so bad I find myself looking for a hidden camera monitored by Harry Hill. Take for example the coin-operated shower where the slots are positioned on the far side of the building. Do you strip off first and make a dash naked over the freezing floor, or do you undress after paying? The disadvantages of both are too obvious to be worth mentioning. Camp site Harry Hills laugh loudest when the coin runs out immediately after your body is foaming with lather and you have to make another farcical sprint across the now soaking and slippery floor. And that assumes you have found a place to keep the necessary 20p pieces. Leave dignity at the entrance to the shower block.

A few have no hooks for clothes; most have one and some have two. Even two is not quite sufficient. Where do you put everything? Waterproofs, day clothes, underwear, socks, shoes and spectacles – plus a large towel, a heavy bag for toiletries, shaving gear (men and women) and hair-dryers – all need to be hung from two tiny hooks on the back of the door, one of which is probably loose and immediately swings through 180 degrees, with yet more obvious results. A luxury shower has three hooks with two screws – each – but these are on sites charging premium rates for super pitches. When bed and breakfast is less expensive than camping fees, you know something is wrong with the system – and maybe even society.

So here I stand with my shampoo in one hand, conditioner in the other, shower gel between my knees, toothpaste under one armpit, mouth wash under the other and an entirely creative if unhygienic anatomical holder for the toothbrush. What is wrong with providing sensible stainless-steel baskets large enough to hold at least part of this array of toiletries? I know the answer – the proprietors probably did but somebody kept stealing them for bending into use as television aerials. They are probably taken by the same campers who insisted on removing one screw from each of the hooks on the doors.

And what about so-called dry areas inside cubicles? DRY? Too many showers have been constructed with slopes towards the door. This is exacerbated by positioning showerheads on the back wall so a jet stream of freezing water is power-blasted over everything, pushing aside flimsy shower curtains and saturating everything within a 3 metres radius, especially the pile of clothes deposited on the floor by rotating hooks.

Why do shower cubicles have to be quite so compact? In a few I’ve even been required to step backwards into the shower tray to open or close the door. And in these excruciatingly confined spaces are countless overweight men and women, desperately trying to swing a bath towel to dry their backs without battering down dividing partitions and seriously bruising knuckles. By the way, the ‘dry area’ is now awash and water is only prevented from flowing under the door by the pile of clothes on the floor.

And – AND – what about those infuriating little knobs you have to hit about 200 times just to rinse away the lather? No doubt they are types of water misers, installed to prevent us leaving taps running all day in an attempt to conserve water supplies during droughts. Droughts? On the north-west coastline of Scotland? In years of motor homing, I have never yet found a shower being left to run unattended. So we must question the logic behind the idea of these curious forms of water torture.

Little white stools are puzzling. What are they all about? The Caravan Club seems especially fond of putting one in each shower cubicle. Perhaps somebody ordered them intending to buy white stalls for showers and was too embarrassed to admit his or her mistake, so the surplus (all of them) was distributed around the network. What on earth did the wardens think when lorry loads of the things started to arrive? A new type of tent for gerbils? Caravan steps for the elderly? I never know whether to sit on it (too low), stand on it to get out of water (too weak), put my foot on it to dry my toes (not enough room), pile my clothes on top of it (too unstable) or simply shuffle it around with my feet until I can get the damned thing out of the way. I usually leave it outside the cubicle, much to the annoyance of other users who seem to be incapable of seeing anything white at calf level. Campers in shower blocks swear a lot.

Finally, what policy decides how many shower cubicles should be pressed into use at any one time? I recently stayed at a site where I was informed that I was lucky to take the last pitch, yet half the showers were locked because “we’re not on peak season.” Two showers on a site of about 100 pitches can’t really be considered adequate. Or am I being too fussy?

Perhaps we need a campaign to persuade architects of shower blocks to rethink their befuddled design criteria. To kick it off, we’ll hold a collection and distribute the money so in the meantime wardens can afford to buy screws and hooks for the backs of the doors. Maybe we’ll offer prizes in a competition to find practical uses for six trailer loads of little white stools. And top prize goes to the most original suggestion of where I can keep my toothbrush and a little pile of 20p coins.


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