It’s fair to say in our short history of owning a caravan, we’ve (more correctly, I’ve) been one of them that would only allow number ones in the loo and the shower was generally used for dirty washing storage, rather than washing dirty people, so with lockdown easing and travel permitted, how were we going to cope with using all our on board facilities at sites which had decided to keep their amenity blocks closed?
With restrictions eased and postponed trips now on the horizon the thought of travelling and using all the onboard facilities filled me with trepidation. The way in which we used our caravan had to change!
The modern caravan is designed to be a mobile home from home, with fairly much everything you need on board for a comfortable trip, after all, we’ve probably all made our choices based on specification, comfort and to be as stress free and easy as possible. When I think back to when we selected our caravan we didn’t have much on our wish list apart from a fixed bed, large fridge, practical kitchen and a loo I could sit on with the door closed and although I had no intention of using the onboard shower, instead relying solely on the site facilities we visited, I still wanted something that would accommodate my 6’4” height and allow me to turn around in. Challenging, given I resemble one of those bouncy pillow things you see at an open farm when I lay on my back, but in hind site, it’s a good job I did!
As our travel dates fast approached, I started to think more and more about life after lockdown and using all the onboard facilities. I knew I could sit on the loo and fit in the shower, but we had never used them as we were going to now.
I’m generally not squeamish and as a dad have dealt with my fair share of pooey situations but the thought of carrying a large vessel swilling and mixing 3 occupants secretions to the disposal point filled me with dread, maybe it was that fear of the not uncommon splash back or maybe seeing the now shaken not stirred cocktail leave the cassette.
Despite my fears the reality was, if I wanted to go away and enjoy our caravan, I’d just have to get on with it and get on with it I did. The one thing I knew I must do, was to ensure I had an appropriate chemical for my toilet. Previously I’d always carried 2 bottles, the pink & blue, but after a recommendation from Here We Tow, I opted to stock up on 40 Shot Cassette Toilet by Qualkem. This dual use chemical (suitable for cassette and flush) comes in a handy single bottle with measuring guide for perfect dosing and has a pleasant almond/marzipan smell, if you like almonds or marzipan that is! It’s important that you have a chemical for your onboard toilet as not only does it help to break down the waste, but also controls odour and trust me, you need it in such a confined space and especially if the weather is hot, so make sure you’re stocked up with whatever you decide to use.
Emptying the contents of the loo is definitely the most unglamorous side to camping. If you’re lucky though, you may be on a site that has an automated machine called CamperClean, something we found on a site last year and can be seen on our youtube channel (view here), however they are few and far between. It’s here I can’t help but think of a better time for sites to be investing in this technology, providing a stomach churning free, clean & hygienic alternative to emptying your toilet cassette waste in to a hole in the ground. As for the £2 fee, I’d be very happy to have this waste eating machine take care of the job for me and leave the cassette sparkling clean and avoid that splash back! But for the most it’s definitely going to be a manual job and coming to terms with it being the most undesirable part of using all the onboard facilities (for which there’s generally no volunteers), was something I needed to come to terms with. It turns out that during our trip the most annoying part of all of this this was forgetting to empty it and having to make a midnight run. The 40 Shot was doing it's job well and after a couple of trips, seeing the waste was just the norm and something I no longer paid attention to. For all my worrying, if this was as bad as it gets, then I’m as happy as a caravaner in sh…!
But what about that shower? The one I knew I fitted in but had never used! In the 18 months we have owned our Adria I can only ever recall trying it once for our daughter during our shakedown weekend after purchase. My lingering memories were of it lacking any umph and quickly running out of hot water. Because of this, every subsequent trip the shower cubicle was consigned to being a very large oversized wash basket. This was now the norm for our trips and we hadn’t really given it any more thought, but here we are, having no option but to use our shower.
It’s here something quite remarkable happened, I took it upon myself to……….read the instructions. I know, I know, I can hear it now, along with a chorus of tut’s and I told you so.
With my new found knowledge, I was eager to get away, to see if we could indeed enjoy our entire stay using all the onboard facilities, I was skeptical, but others had said it was possible and I wasn’t about to let it stop me! As it turns out, it’s not hard at all. I really should have read those instructions earlier! If I had done, I would have realised we had a perfectly useable shower, that could also provide enough hot water for three. Okay, I admit, it’s no luxury 5 star hotel bathroom with a tropical rain shower head or whatever they call those things, but it did the job and was practical. It was also made easier by the fact we were on a fully serviced pitch, so no running out of water mid wash and the grey waste just drained away without the fear of an ever overflowing waste master. I can’t believe it was this simple, if only, well you know, I hadn’t been so stereotypically MALE!
Caravanning has given us the freedom to enjoy family time to get away from it all and it’s always sat alongside our other holidays. Something else to enjoy depending on what we were doing or where we were going. But now more than ever it’s really come in to its own. To be away during these uncertain times where once we would have been very happy to be in a hotel or hiring a cottage, now really doesn't appeal. The unknown, the uncertainty, being somewhere we had no control over was not something we wanted to risk, but our caravan eliminates that. It’s ours, it’s home from home, we can control who comes and goes and it’s our safe space.
As much as we have always enjoyed the adventures in our caravan, now more than ever we have a whole new appreciation of what it can offer and with it in tow, life after lockdown just got a whole lot better!
Be safe, look after yourselves and until next time,